Enjoying Boulder City

Boulder City, NV

It’s been a while since our last post, but we’ve been busy settling in to our new home in Boulder City.  The photo below shows one of our favorite activities here.

Both of our children have flown out from the east coast to visit and check out our new place.  Kevin was first, flying in from Atlanta for a couple of days.  During his visit we drove down to see Boulder Dam from the O’Callaghan-Tillman Memorial Bridge.

John and Kevin head out on the bridge

Great view of the dam and Lake Mead from the bridge

We also spend some quality time hanging around the pool.

Years of training went into this scene!

After Kevin headed back to Atlanta we spent a couple of mornings hiking in the nearby River Mountains.  While hiking near Railroad Pass we finally spotted our first Desert Tortoise.

Later in the week we hiked up to nearby Black Mountain, which has a great view from its peak.

The trail winds up a series of steep switchbacks

At the top of Black Mountain you can see Las Vegas to the west, Boulder City below you to the south, and Lake Mead to the east.

Looking west at Las Vegas

Boulder City to the south

Lake Mead to the east

On the hike up to the top we saw some Bighorns grazing on the hillside.  On the way down the herd was feeding on both sides of the trail.  They seemed content with us passing them, but they are still wild animals so we proceeded with caution.

Fellow hikers on the trail

As we passed by we spotted two little ones romping around near their mother just above us.

Each keeps a close eye on the other one!

One of the neat things about the west is the ability to find hot temperatures and cool temperatures within a relatively short distance.  One day temperatures in the Las Vegas valley were predicted to be in the 100s, while just a few miles to the northwest temps on  Charleston Peak were to be in the 70s.  There are many hiking trails up there, so one morning we headed out to enjoy a hike and some cool temps.

Driving through a desert with snow-covered Charleston Peak in the distance

Charleston Peak is commonly called Mt. Charleston.  At 11,916 feet of elevation it is the highest mountain in both the Spring Mountains and Clark County and is the eighth-highest mountain in the Nevada.  The village of Mount Charleston lies at its base to the east.  We opted to hike the Cathedral Rock Trail, which starts in a parking area on the south side of the village.

The trail is a 2.7 mile out and back hike with an elevation gain of almost a thousand feet.

Our lunch spot high above us!

The hike is a steady climb from the moment you leave the trailhead on a very rocky trail, but there are strategically placed benches along the way with some great views.

Made it to the top!

Once at the peak we enjoyed great views of the mountains all around us and Kyle Canyon a thousand feet below.

Lunch with a view

After enjoying a cool (literally) lunch at the peak, we made our way down and drove back into the heat of the desert.  Below are two photos of the dash thermometer in the Jeep.  It was 75 at Mt. Charleston.  Forty miles later we were driving through Las Vegas where the temperature was 103!

We were recently treated to a visit by our daughter, Jessica, who flew in from Pennsylvania to check out the new house.

As a little girl she loved to swim in a pool so we finally got one for her, albeit a little late.  Nevertheless, she enjoyed it as an escape from the 100+ temperatures we had during her brief stay.

One morning she was up early and off for a 10 mile run (part of a training plan for an upcoming race).  She decided that her reward for the long effort would be to jump in the pool with her running clothes on.

Experiencing some second thoughts . . .

. . . but here we go!

A few days after Jessica’s departure we drove about 70 miles north to Valley of Fire State Park.  We had not seen our friends Howard and Linda (RV Dreams Journal) in a few year as we have mainly been in the west and they have mainly been in the east.  They’re now here in the west and so when they invited us up to one of our favorite parks for a hike, we headed north on a beautiful Sunday morning.

We’ve stayed in this park two times in the past and hiked most of the set trails.  But it is more interesting here to just park and head out among the rocks to explore.  The previous day Howard and Linda had done just that.  We were so impressed with the photos they posted we asked if they would lead us through the same route.

After meeting them in the campground and getting a tour of their beautiful new Winnebago Aspect 27K, we jumped into the Jeep and headed deeper into the park for our hike.

Their new home

No matter how many times we visit here we still find the views stunning.  Howard lead us through the rocks as we soaked in the colors.

See the faces?

As we passed through a narrow wash a hummingbird seemed particularly anxious about our presence.

Linda’s sharp eyes spotted the cause of the bird’s anxiety in a nearby bush, a small nest with two tiny eggs.  After a quick look we moved on, allowing the mother some relief.

Linda, John, and Howard

For the most part, the “trail” was pretty tame, but there were a few challenging spots.

Young couple out for a stroll

We’ve really enjoyed our two month stay here in Boulder City.  But the temperature is on the rise and we’re getting the urge to get back on the road for a bit.  So our plan is to leave here the first of June and head east.  Our first objective is Atlanta for a visit with Kevin.  We’ll then head north into South Carolina with a stop at the Freightliner Service Center in Gaffney to have the coach serviced.  Then we’ll continue north to York, PA for a couple of weeks to visit Jessica and her husband Dan, and step-daughter Ella and complete some yearly medical visits.  We also want to empty a small storage shed rented in York and bring the contents to Boulder City.  We have emptied almost everything out of the motorhome storage bays to make room for everything.

Once all that is completed we’ll head up to New York State for a visit with Dave, Sue, and Lewis (Beluga’s Excellent Adventure) at their beautiful spot along one of the Finger Lakes.  We’ll leave the motorhome there while we drive up to Clayton, NY for a visit with Pam’s mother.

More on all that later . . .

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Enjoying a New Ride

Boulder City, NV

For many years before we retired we enjoyed touring the country on a 1999 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic.  When we went full time in the motorhome, we purchased a trailer that would accommodate the bike and a car (front wheels on the trailer, rear wheels on the road).

We enjoyed the bike but found that we were not riding it much during our travels.  We also found that using the trailer was a bit of a hassle (take the car off, take the bike off, move the hitch to the car, move the trailer, etc.).  So in 2012 we sold the bike and trailer and bought our Jeep.  We always wanted a Jeep but since the manufacturer states not to tow a Wrangler with two wheels off the pavement, we couldn’t have one.  Once the bike and trailer were sold we were off to the Jeep dealer.  While we missed the bike, we loved the Jeep and the ease of towing it.

But we always said that if we ever bought another house, we would buy another bike.  When we bought the house in Boulder City recently, we decided to wait until the Fall to look for one since we would be traveling all summer (and will not take the bike with the motorhome).  But remember how quickly we found this house the first day we looked?  The same thing happened with the bike.  We were driving through Boulder City on our way to one of those chain coffee shops headquartered in Seattle when what do we see parked in an empty lot with a For Sale sign on it?  The exact bike we were looking to purchase in the Fall.  The next day we met with the seller (also a Boulder City resident) and struck a deal.  After a fun visit to the Nevada DMV for registration and four days from the time we first saw it, we were touring the shores of Lake Mead on our new ride!

It’s a 2010 Harley Davidson Ultra Classic, almost identical (except the color and some improvements made by H-D) to the one we previously owned.

Our first ride on the new bike was along the west side of Lake Mead on Lakeshore Road.  This road runs for 14 miles from US 93 near Boulder City (and Hoover Dam) to an intersection where it becomes Lake Mead Parkway.  Continue on the parkway and you end up in Henderson.  We turned right and headed north on  Northshore Road (NV 168), which continues north another 55 miles to the small town of Overton, 10 miles south of its termination at I-15.

The road to Overton is one of the nicest motorcycle rides we have ever done.  The smooth road winds its way through colorful hills with stunning views all along the way.

Our goal was to visit Valley of Fire State Park, south of Overton, to do some hiking.  But rain clouds to the north made us change our plans and stop at Redstone Trailhead,  a small area of red rocks with a paved parking area and picnic area (with toilets).

We hiked the half mile loop trail that goes around a major formation of red sandstone.

Looking west from the trail

A little wildlife along the trail

Friends, Steve and Joan (FOSJ), are nearing the end of their volunteer assignment at nearby Lake Mead National Recreation Area.  Since they also have a motorcycle, we contacted them and arranged a ride up the same roads on Sunday, this time continuing all the way north to Overton for breakfast.

We took a short break at Redstone, where we had hiked two days earlier

Although we had ridden this route just two days earlier, the scenery is so stunning you could drive it every day and see something new every trip.

After a couple of days riding our new toy it was time to get some work completed.  The motorhome was in need of some cleaning, as it had not been washed since January.  With no significant rain since then the dust was building up.  Then we had driven on some wet roads leaving Bluff, which always sprays dirt all over the sides.  The roof over our RV space is not quite high enough to comfortably wash the roof of the RV (unless you enjoy crawling on hands and knees) so we pulled the motorhome out to the street so John could get up there with the hose.

With the front wheels at the curb the back is still just under the cover, so a little crawling is needed to get up on top.

Once the roof was washed, we put the motorhome back under the roof so John could wash the rest of it out of the bright sunlight.  Some extensive cleaning is now on the schedule as we prepare for our upcoming summer travels.

But until then we will still find time to explore the area, with some hiking and biking on the agenda.  More on that later . . .

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A Little Hiking Near Lake Mead

Boulder City, NV

We are slowly settling in to our new home here in Boulder City.  Since we purchased the house furnished, the move-in has not been very difficult.  The biggest change for us is living with all this space!

We did manage to get out for a couple of hikes during our first week here, one we did on our first visit to the area and one was new to us.  The first was a hike out to the Liberty Bell Arch.  The trail for this hike begins as an offshoot on the trail for the Arizona Hot Springs.  To get to the trail we drove south on US 93 into Arizona.  A bit over three miles south of the Colorado River there is a clearly marked left turn into a parking area for the Arizona Hot Springs trail.

The Arizona Hot Springs trail begins by going under US 93 following a wash.

It begins in loose sand, but soon goes through a narrow section of sandstone.

Less than a mile down the wash there is a sign posted up on the right (north) side of the wash directing you to the trail to the arch.  This is a new sign since our last visit.  We missed this turn the first time we tried to find the arch so the new sign is a welcome addition.

Sign for the Liberty Bell Trail

The trail to the arch winds up a small wash and joins an old, narrow road that leads to an old mine site.

Can you see the nimble hiker coming up the Brittlebush lined trail?

As the trail passes the old mine we could see the rock containing the arch in the distance.  You can’t tell it’s an arch from this side view, but we knew what it was from our previous visit.

As we continued up the trail we could see the hole creating the arch come into view.

But you have to hike past the arch and look back at it to really see where it gets its name.

Beautiful views in each direction

We continued past the arch for another mile until we reached the summit of Black Canyon  where we were treated to a great view of the Colorado River below us.

Looking to the north we could see the The Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge that takes US 93 over the Colorado River just south of Hoover Dam.  Lake Mead is just over the peaks by the bridge.

A little color at the summit

Lunch with a view

A few days later we decided to take a short hike up a canyon just past the entrance to Lake Mead National Recreation Area.  Once through the entrance we drove .9 miles and turned left (west) on a maintained dirt road.  Just a half mile in front of us we could see an old water tank where we knew to park the Jeep.

Looking to the west we could see a gate that blocked the road into a gravel pit.  We knew the hike would take us up the wash to the right of the pit into a canyon.

The canyon is called Seven Falls Canyon.  The hike is an off-trail scramble into the River Mountains through a deep and narrow canyon blocked by seven pour-overs or “seven falls.”  The exact number of pour-overs depends on how each is counted, but regardless, this canyon makes for a good scramble on volcanic rock.

Heading up the wash into the canyon

The canyon walls were very colorful in spots

Things quickly become a bit difficult

Looking for a “go around” trail at a pour-over

We hiked up the canyon for about two miles before coming to a difficult pour-over, where we decided to turn around.  As we came up the canyon we spotted a group of Big Horns dining on the north side.

They kept a sharp eye on us as we went by.  On the return trip back down the wash they continued to eyeball us.

I see you down there!

We really enjoy driving the highways in the west, taking in all the beautiful vistas.  To enhance the experience we purchased a new vehicle to travel on.  We’ll describe this in more detail in our next blog.

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Exploring in Bluff, Pt. 3 of 3

Bluff, UT

Toward the end of our week in Bluff we headed back up on Cedar Mesa to explore Shieks Canyon.  To get to the trailhead you follow the directions to the more popular Bullet Canyon Trailhead (between mm 21 and mm 22 on UT 261).  Once at that trailhead, continue following the maintained dirt road (it turns right at the trailhead) for another mile and a half.  At the “T” in the road turn left for another mile to the parking area.

It is a bit confusing at this point because the road continues, but a small sign said to park behind the sign due to road damage.  When we hiked the road we found that we could have continued in the Jeep for another half mile to where the road ends.

The actual trailhead is not well-defined, as cattle have grazed here so there are trails all over the place.  The best thing to do is just follow the road to the end, where the actual trail veers off to your left.  But we hiked what looked to be a main trail until we came to the edge of the canyon.  OK, so how do we get down the steep cliff?  We flipped a coin and turned to our right.  After hiking about a half mile without success we flipped that coin again and hiked back to the left.  A short distance from where we first came to the canyon (and two miles later), we found the trail going down into it.  Just a short distance down into the canyon we came to the ruins we were seeking.

Yellow House Ruins above

The Yellow House Ruins site holds three structures, the largest being a semi-circular, yellow walled dwelling with a perfect, original and unrestored ceiling made of large logs crossed by smaller sticks at right angles.  The gaps are filled with adobe.  The ties are made from the Yucca plant.

The yellow ties are in fine shape

We hiked further down the canyon but found it to be rough going.  Our legs were a bit tired from a long hike the previous day and the search for the canyon, so we decided to turn around and return to the Jeep.  Another 2.5 miles down to the bottom of the canyon is the Green Mask Ruin.  We’ll try that another time.

The trail is a bit challenging

Our final day in Bluff was Founder’s Day, a celebration of the arrival of Mormon pioneers who arrived to settle the town in April of 1880.  One of the events was a parade through town.  Although small in numbers, the participants (many were relatives of the original settlers) were very enthusiastic.

The organizers advertised that two bands would be participating.

Local Country and Western group

They had no ID but must be from the high school in Blanding

Replica of handcarts pulled by Mormon pioneers

Three local hermits who came to town to enjoy the festivities!

Basket weaving demonstration at the Twin Rocks Trading Post

Our original plans had us leaving Bluff and heading north for a two week stay in Moab.  But we have been to Moab many times and were both anxious to spend some time at our new home in Boulder City, so we cancelled Moab and headed back to Nevada.

The San Francisco Peaks north of Flagstaff, AZ

After a long drive of almost 450 miles we arrived at our house and quickly backed the motorhome into its new spot.

It fit into the space perfectly, even with the slides out.

We plan to spend the next few weeks here while we settle in.  Then we’ll hop back into the motorhome for a summer trip east to visit family.

But remember, there are many, many hiking opportunities around the Las Vegas area, so we’ll still be lacing up the boots for some exploration.

More on that later . . .

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Exploring in Bluff, Pt. 2 of 3

Bluff, UT

The nimble hiker recently read about a beautiful canyon located west of the town of Blanding, which is 20 miles north of Bluff.  Arch Canyon has three large arches and a number of ancient ruins.  We didn’t go into the canyon, instead driving around it to check out the great view from above.  To get there we drove north from Bluff on US 191 for 22 miles.  We then turned west on UT 95 and drove 19.4 miles to the right turn for the Mule Canyon Trailhead.  After turning off of hwy 95 follow Co. Rd 263 past the trailhead for South Mule Canyon and House On Fire Ruins. Continue for about a mile until just after you cross the North Fork of Mule Canyon and stay left at the fork.  Stay on this road until mile 5.2 where you will reach another fork- stay right on the more well used road and continue to 6.4 miles where you will reach another fork.  If you’re worried about clearance, you can park here and walk the final .2 miles to the overlook, otherwise turn on this road and continue to the parking area.  A narrow point jutting out of the edge of the canyon provides a great viewpoint of the beauty below.

Can you see someone on the point?

Crop the above photo and you can see John a little more clearly

There is a bit of a drop off on the path leading out to the point, but an Eagle Scout project installed a nice ladder allowing easy navigation past that barrier.

The view on the right

The view on the left

See the arch across the canyon to the right of Pam?

Oh, there it is…Cathedral Arch

Lunch with a view

After getting our fill of the gorgeous canyon, we drove back down the road to the bridge that crosses the north fork of Mule Canyon.  On the west side of the bridge is a trailhead to hike up the wash into the canyon.  North Mule Canyon isn’t as popular as South Mule Canyon so we had the place to ourselves.  There are at least six different ruins along the first three miles.

Hiking up North Mule Canyon

About two miles up the wash we passed a granary above us on the cliff to our right.  This granary was our indication to begin watching the north wall for the ruins we were seeking.  But the ruins are hidden as you go up the wash, so we missed them and ended up extending our hike more than a mile.  We finally realized that we had missed them at 3.3 miles and turned around.  Going back down the wash we spotted them as we rounded a bend.  While small in size, the ruins are impressive for the wooden roof still in good condition over one of the rooms.  There are two other alcoves with ruins right near by.

Very well preserved structure with a Kiva in the front

We have one more hike and a parade to talk about to finish our visit to Bluff.  But that will have to wait until the next post.

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Exploring in Bluff, Pt. 1 of 3

Bluff, UT

During our week stay in Bluff we re-visited some places we had been on previous visits and found some new places to explore.  Steve and MonaLiza arrived here mid-week and joined us on a visit to San Juan Hill, a spot famous in Mormon history where a group of pioneers took their wagons up and over a steep rocky outcropping on their way to settling Bluff.  Dave and Sue followed in their Jeep, along with a very excited Lewis.

To get to the site we drove seven miles to the south on Rte. 163.  At the bottom of a cut through Comb Ridge, we left the highway and drove about four miles east on a dusty, one lane, dirt road.  The road has many areas of deep sand that required the use of four wheel drive.  In other areas the path was very rocky  requiring a high clearance vehicle.

After a bumpy, dusty four miles we came to our destination.  The pioneers who made the almost impossible climb up this hill named it San Juan Hill.  Looking at the photo below, the pioneers drove their wagons on to the rocks right where the sign is today.  They first moved up the rocks to the left, then turned right and went diagonally up to the arrow.  You can just see a faint line of the trail they hand dug into the hillside.

Up close it is difficult to see the path up the rocks.  But from a distance you can see the route much more clearly.

In parts of the hill you can see ruts in the rocks made by wagon wheels as the pioneers made the steep ascent.

As the group slowly and painfully approached the top of the hill someone etched their relief in the rock wall.


Lewis keeps the group together during the climb

Once back at the Jeeps we continued on the dirt road another mile or so for a visit to the River House Ruins.  The stone dwellings were occupied by Ancestral Puebloans between 900 and the late 1200s.

Our tour guide

We have more adventures to report from Bluff, but they will have to wait for another blog.

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Hiking to the Citadel – Bluff, UT

Bluff, UT

We’ve hiked to many ancient pueblo ruins in the area around Bluff (southeastern Utah) during our four previous visits.  But after a bit of research the nimble hiker found a site up on nearby Cedar Mesa that turned out to be one of our favorites – The Citadel.   To get to the trailhead leading to the ruins we first drove south of Bluff on US-163 for 20 miles.  At that point we turned right (west) on to UT-261.  UT-261 is a nice paved road except for a three mile segment called the Moki Dugway.  The Moki Dugway consists of three miles of steep, unpaved, but well graded switchbacks (11% grade), which wind 1,200 feet up on to Cedar Mesa from the valley floor.

Look real closely and you can see a car traveling above us

The road has no guard rails, but it is wide enough that it will not bother most people.  The view from the top is quite impressive.

Looking east from the top of the Moki Dugway

We continued north on UT-261 to just before mile marker 20.  A sign there points to a right turn (east) on to Cigarette Springs Road, a well-maintained dirt road.  Just under a mile from the pavement there is a self pay station with envelopes for you to deposit $2/person and tear off a day pass.  We continued on Cigarette Springs Road for a total of 6.1 miles from the pavement.  At that point we made a left turn and headed north on an unnamed dirt road that is not well-maintained.  This spur ends at a small parking area by the trailhead (6.9 miles from the pavement).

Part of the un-maintained road

Any vehicle can do the 6.1 miles of maintained road.  The last portion is a bit rough, but it can be driven by most vehicles.  But if you are uncomfortable on this road you can find a place to park and hike to the trailhead.

Parking area at the end of the road

Trailhead next to the parking area

The trail begins by heading east on a packed sand trail along the south side of a canyon for about a mile and a half.

It then crosses an area of flat slickrock well marked with cairns. The trail then cuts down between boulders and follows a slickrock shelf around a rock outcropping.

A small cairn marks where to climb down

Shelf area across the slickrock

Rounding the rock outcropping we came to a beautiful view of the Citadel in front of us connected to the mesa by a land bridge.

We scrambled down some more slickrock and headed across the land bridge to our destination.

The bridge is very wide and posed no danger, but you wouldn’t want to get too near the edge as it is a long way down!

We scrambled back up the rocks (right side) on the other side of the bridge and looked up to see the well-preserved dwellings above us.  One more scramble and we would be there.

Cool free standing boulder by the dwellings

These dwellings are nicely preserved and show a high level of sophistication by the builders.

Interior of one of the rooms

Note the use of cornerstones for support

Lunch with a view

After checking out the ruins and enjoying the views we headed back down to the land bridge.

See the nimble hiker?

Climbing back up the slickrock

The Cedar Mesa area around the Citadel has been eliminated in the newly restructured  Bears Ears National Monument.  As we hiked back along the edge of the canyon we could see the two mesas that give the monument its name.

The Bears Ears

Even if there were no ruins, the hike out to the Citadel would be worth the effort just for the vistas.  The well-preserved ruins make the hike all the more interesting.

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