Seligman, Arizona – Birthplace of Route 66!

October 2019 – Back in the early- to mid-1900s, Route 66 was the main highway — the ONLY highway — between Chicago and Los Angeles, and looking back (with not quite 20-20 vision), it seems like it was 2,448 miles of sheer fun.

Earlier this week we stopped in for a visit at Seligman, Arizona, which we found out was the birthplace of Route 66!

Seligman Arizona Birthplace of Route 66

Seligman Arizona – Birthplace of Route 66

Sometimes it’s not easy to trace historical roots accurately, so we’ve since found that Springfield, Missouri, is also considered to be the birthplace of Route 66…!

Either way, the little town of Seligman, Arizona, has just a few stores lining both sides of the main drag, and every single one is dolled up with decorations celebrating Route 66 history. Everywhere we looked we found another fabulous photo op!

Mural in Seligman Arizona on Route 66-min

Lots of buildings in Seligman Arizona have fabulous murals.

route 66 memorabilia Seligman Arizona-min

Seligman Arizona offers a total immersion in all things Route 66 and early 20th century!

Murals Seligman Arizona on Route 66-min

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This place is a memorabilia lover’s paradise and a great place to find gifts for loved ones.

Let's all go to the gift shop Seligman Arizona on Route 66-min

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Back in the day, Seligman was an important stop for motorists to gas up, and there were several gas stations in town. Nowadays, these gas stations have found new life as boutique gift shops, but the original architecture remains.

Old car and gift shop Seligman Arizona on Route 66-min

The old gas stations in town are now gift shots, but the architecture remains as it was.

Old gas station Seligman Arizona on Route 66-min

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Old car and Texaco sign Seligman Arizona on Route 66-min

Visions of another era

There were lots of vintage cars parked here and there, and Mark even found a motorcycle like the one James Dean rode!

Posing with James Dean motorcycle Seligman Arizona on Route 66-min

Mark found James Dean’s motorcycle!

Then he found James Dean himself. He was having a smoke outside a store.

Posing with James Dean Seligman Arizona on Route 66-min

Tough guys.

Betty Boop was in town too, wearing a hot outfit and roller skates and serving burgers and drinks.

Betty Boop Seligman Arizona on Route 66-min

Betty Boop!

It seemed that every square inch of town offered a glimpse into times past. Music from the 50s played in the gift shop doorways, and relics from the early 1900s were all over the place.

Looking at our photos later, we even found an original Good Sam Club poster with Sam himself looking quite different than he does today!

Funky Route 66 art Seligman Arizona-min

Good Sam was in his red circle but looked older and less sporty!

Route 66 store front Seligman Arizona-min

You can’t get lost here — you’re on Route 66!

Snow Cap and old cop car Seligman Arizona on Route 66-min

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Of course, there was plenty of history in this area long before Route 66 was built. This was the Wild West, after all!

We turned a corner and suddenly saw a classic old western storefront with a cowboy standing in a doorway on the porch and a few ladies of the night luring visitors to sit with them by the front door.

Old west store fronts Seligman Arizona on Route 66-min

A nod to the old Wild West… Seligman BEFORE Route 66!

Obviously, Seligman is 100% a tourist town, and some might call it a tourist trap. But we loved it. And we weren’t the only ones. Several tour buses came in and disgorged groups of people looking for a souvenir and a photo of themselves eating a burger at a classic 1950s diner.

Tour buses Seligman Arizona on Route 66-min

Lots of tour buses stop by Seligman!

Tour buses and RVs aren’t the only way to get here, though! People come to Seligman in all kinds of vehicles.

As we admired various antiques in one shop, we noticed that all the tourists in the shop were decked out in black Harley Davidson logo motorcycle gear: black leather jackets, black t-shirts, black pants and boots with black leather chaps. And black bandanas on their heads. They’d ridden in on motorcycles and their bikes were parked out front.

We overheard them chatting among themselves, and it sounded like German. But Mark noticed a French flag on one of the bikes. I asked one of the fellows where they were from. “Europe!” he said. I kinda smirked, and he laughed and said, “Europe’s big. We’re from Holland.”

Motorcycles Seligman Arizona on Route 66-min

A line of Harleys (all rentals with Montana plates!)

Well, Mark and I hadn’t been too far off! Dutch sounds a lot like German from a distance, and the Dutch flag looks much like the French flag flown sideways and with the colors reversed.

He told me his group of friends rides motorcycles together in Holland. They were on a two week loop tour going from the west coast to the Grand Canyon and back, hitting many fabulous stops along the way and doing it all on wonderfully scenic and swoopy roads ideal for motorcycle riding.

“Are your wives with you?” I asked, since I hadn’t seen a single Harley mama anywhere.

The fellow guffawed and winked at me.

This was definitely a two week trip these guys had dreamed of for a long time, and it had a boyhood sign all over it: “No girlz aloud.”

Foreign tourists traveling between the great American national parks stop in Seligman, Arizona, often, and one gift shop had a colorful spray of foreign currency under glass at the checkout counter. How totally cool was that!

International currencies at gift shop Seligman Arizona on Route 66-min

People from all over the world come to Seligman!

We wandered the streets and poked our heads in the stores for a while longer. What a fun spot.

Historic Sundries Seligman Arizona on Route 66-min

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Route 66 relics Seligman AZ-min

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Antique truck and gas pump Seligman Arizona on Route 66-min

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Gravestone Seligman Arizona on Route 66-min

Don’t touch that Edsel!

Life is short Seligman Arizona on Route 66-min

Good reminder!

Seligman is an easy town to visit while traveling east-west on I-40 in Arizona.

There is an I-40 exit on either end of town, so you can pull off the interstate at one end of town, cruise into town on Route 66, park, walk around and have lunch, and then drive out on I-40 at the other end of town.

Route 66 goes right through the heart of Seligman, so you can also venture down the historic highway a ways, either east or west, and imagine what it was like for Americans travelers crossing the country on this skinny strip of road back in the early 1900s.

Route 66 sign Seligman Arizona-min

Seligman is definitely worth a stop.

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Stunning Grand Canyon with a Private View at Timp Point

July 2019 – We’ve been exploring back roads leading to the lesser known edges of the Grand Canyon for the past few weeks, and we’ve seen some fabulous views at Saddle Mountain and Point Sublime. But those overlooks require a long drive in a 4×4 high clearance vehicle to reach. This week we discovered an overlook called Timp Point that offers some gorgeous private views that can be reached — with a bit of patience — in a passenger car or truck.

Timp Point Overlook Grand Canyon Arizona-min

Timp Point Overlook at Grand Canyon Arizona

We took our Polaris RZR 900 side-by-side on a fun 50 mile round trip romp on a well maintained dirt road out to Timp Point, and we just loved the views we found at the end of the road.

Polaris RZR ride through ponderosa pine forest in Arizona-min

Our little RZR took us through the beautiful ponderosa pine forest to a glorious Grand Canyon overlook

For anyone venturing on this road with a car or truck, sticking to the main roads is a good idea. They may be a washboarded and dusty, but if you go slowly they’re passable. However, since we have a zippy little buggy that can take on just about any kind of crazy terrain, we decided to skip a few miles of the graded road and take a cool shortcut on a pretty two track road.

Dirt road through the woods on the Kaibab Plateau-min (1)

“C’mon guys. Let’s go!”

We’d driven a few miles on that two track road with our pup, Buddy, running ahead of us when suddenly Buddy screached to a halt and looked back at us with a huge question mark on his face. Mark put on the brakes too when we saw a huge ponderosa pine tree had falled right across the road, blocking our way completely.

Polaris RZR ride stopped by tree trunk across trail-min

Oops — there’s a tree blocking our way!

We got out of the RZR to see if we could find our way around it, but the woods were extremely thick with all kinds of evergreens and aspen in addition to ponderosa pines. There was no way to get around this blockage. So, we did a U-turn and made our way back to the main road.

Tree trunk across trail in the woods-min

It was impossible to get around this tree.

It’s about a 25 mile drive from the paved highway, AZ-67, out to the overlook, and no matter what kind of vehicle you’re in, a comfortable average speed is less than 20 mph. But when we finally reached the overlook the views were spectacular.

Grand Canyon overlook at Timp Point-min

It was a long dusty ride to get to the edge, but what a rewarding view greeted us!

Timp Point overlook at Grand Canyon-min

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Grand Canyon view at Timp Point-min

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View of Grand Canyon at Timp Point-min

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There was a small hiking trail that went out to the rim and followed the contour of the land for a while, giving us beautiful views of the Grand Canyon. We were surprised that at this part of the Grand Canyon, which lies northwest of the North Rim Visitors Center, many of the hillsides in front of us were covered in lush green vegetation.

Timp Point Overlook view at Grand Canyon-min

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Green hillsides at Grand Canyon-min

A blanket of vivid green

Limestone peaks at Grand Canyon overlook-min

Limestone pinnacles far below

The views were not unobstructed, however. We had to peer over bushes and between tree branches to take in the stunning landscapes. Unlike other parts of the Grand Canyon, especially within the National Park where the viewpoints are on huge treeless rock outcroppings, the tiny trail hugged a slope and it was a bit treacherous in some places to find solid footing where we could comfortably savor the views.

Polaris RZR ride through the woods to a Grand Canyon overlook-min

Mark makes his way towards the view

Timp Point Overlook at Grand Canyon-min

We had to scramble and balance precariously to get our photos…

Timp Point Overlook at Grand Canyon-min (1)

…but once we steadied ourselves, the views were spectacular.

The Rainbow Rim Trail is a hiking and mountain biking trail that goes from Timp Point north to several other viewpoints. Each viewpoint is reachable by a motorized trail as well, but each fork leading out to a viewpoint is several miles long, making it the kind of area that is fun to explore at leisure over the course of a few days. Trying to drive to all the viewpoints in one day would constitute a lot of slow bumpy driving on dirt roads for just a little overlook-gazing.

Overlook at Timp Point in Grand Canyon-min

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Likewise, a map of the Rainbow Rim Trail showed that it wandered away from the rim into the woods and then wandered out to a viewpoint in a zig-zag manner, flirting with the views of the Grand Canyon in between long treks through the woods.

Overlook at Timp Point in Grand Canyon-min

Greenery and red rocks

Red rock cliffs Timp Point in Grand Canyon-min

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Timp Point has two overlooks that are only 6 miles apart, so we decided to visit both. At North Timp Point yellow wildflowers were in vibrant bloom everywhere.

Wildflowers at North Timp Point Grand Canyon-min

Beautiful wildflowers were in bloom at North Timp Point

Wildflowers on trail at Timp Point Grand Canyon-min

The little hiking path was lined with flowers

The wonderfully fragrant Cliff Rose was in bloom too, and even Buddy was impressed by its incredibly sweet smell.

Puppy sniffs cliff rose at Grand Canyon-min

Buddy checked out the sweet fragrance of a cliff rose flower

We slowly strolled along a narrow hiking trail around North Timp Point, taking in the beautiful views. Fewer trees and bushes had grown up along this trail, so the views were a little easier to see, and they were magnificent.

Grand Canyon overlook at Timp Point Arizona-min

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Orange and green landscapes at Grand Canyon-min

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View at Grand Canyon Timp Point-min

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Beautiful overlook at Grand Canyon Timp Point-min

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Grand Canyon Overlook Arizona-min

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Patterns in Grand Canyon view-min

Intriguing patterns in the distant landscape

After enjoying a PB&J lunch break with a view, we hopped back in the RZR and made our way back through the woods. Once we got the RZR loaded back on its little caboose trailer behind our truck, we stopped at the North Rim Country Store to refill its gas tank.

This little country store is all there is for gas and groceries on the 45 mile long Highway 67 that goes between Jacob Lake and the North Rim. They carry all the essentials and have even more on their shelves than can be found at Jacob Lake. However, like the highway to the North Rim itself, it is seasonal and is open only between mid-October and mid-May.

North Rim Country Store Grand Canyon Arizona-min

North Rim Country Store offers a whiff of civilization in a vast wonderland of nature

Way back when we first started traveling full-time and visited the North Rim, we met the couple who had just purchased this country store, and we were delighted this year to discover that their son and daughter-in-law have opened a coffee kiosk right on the property.

How awesome it was after an early morning RZR adventure in the wilds of the Kaibab Plateau to be able to sip a luxe hazlenut latte with a heart drawn in the steamed milk on top! We might have been dusty and dirty, but this little bit of yumminess was a nice taste of modern luxury!

Meadow's Edge Coffee Kiosk North Rim Country Store Grand Canyon Arizona-min

Need a fluffy coffee before or after your adventure? The new Meadow’s Edge coffee kiosk has one for you!

If you have the time after visiting the more easily accessed and mind blowing overlooks at the end of the paved roads inside Grand Canyon National Park’s North Rim, and you don’t mind a long slow and occasionally bumpy drive down a dusty dirt road, Timp Point makes for a fun day trip.

Road through the Arizona woods-min

As rugged dirt roads go, the one to Timp Point isn’t too bad for a passenger car or truck.

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Point Sublime – A Wild Ride to a Stunning Overlook in Grand Canyon!

July 2019 – While visiting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon this year, we made it a point to visit a few overlooks that aren’t easily reached by car. Saddle Mountain Overlook on the northeast side of the North Rim Visitors Center was lovely, but Point Sublime Overlook west of the Visitors Center was calling us. With a name like that, we just had to go see it!

Pt. Sublime Overlook at Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

Point Sublime – It wasn’t so easy to get there, but what a feeling when we finally did!

There are two ways to get to Point Sublime, and both involve an 18+ mile long adventure on a rugged dirt road.

One day we started out on the more southerly of the two roads which is accessed from the Widforss turn-off of Highway 67 inside Grand Canyon National Park. But we forgot to bring our map and we weren’t really prepared.

We met a passenger car about a half mile down the road and asked them if we were going the right way. “You are, but it’s a four hour drive to get there,” the woman said. “And it’s a miserable drive.”

“Even in this?” We asked pointing at our RZR.

“Even in that!”

We sure didn’t want to embark on a four hour drive just then, especially without having studied the map a bit and brought it with us too! So, we decided to go to Saddle Mountain that day instead which we wrote about here.

Polaris RZR ride in the ponderosa pine forest-min

Our little Polaris RZR 900 has made it possible for us to get to some wonderfully remote places!

The more northerly route to Point Sublime goes through the Kaibab National Forest and is the route the Forest Service and Park Service rangers drive their trucks on when they have to get out to the Point Sublime area.

It is known to be very washboardy, but at least it isn’t super rutted or have any crazy steep sections. However, it starts with Forest Service Road 22 next to Demotte Campground, and we’d driven that road a little bit already and it was incredibly dusty.

The more southerly route is known to be a wild ride in any kind of four wheel drive vehicle. It has sections that are full of huge holes and steep grades, and it’s very narrow in places. It goes through the woods and isn’t especially dusty or washboardy, but it does a good job of shaking you up even so.

After mulling it over, we decided to give the more southerly route a second try despite its fearsome reputation. Why not have a true RZR adventure? So far, our trips on the RZR had been on pretty easy to drive dirt roads and two track trails.

At first the road went through a lovely wide open meadow, ideal for our energetic pup Buddy to run ahead of us and get some of his wiggles out before we got to the tough stuff.

On the road to Pt. Sublime with a RZR and a puppy-min

Buddy loves to hop out of the RZR and run ahead of us at top speed.

Pup runs ahead of the RZR on the road to Pt. Sublime Grand Canyon-min

Zoom zoom.

The 18 mile drive took us about 90 minutes all together in our RZR, going from the paved state Highway 67 out to the Point Sublime overlook. The only other people or vehicles we saw on the entire trip out there was a single guy on a dirt bike. He waved as he rode past us. For the whole rest of the trip we had the woods to ourselves.

Dirt bike heading to Pt. Sublime Grand Canyon Arizona-min

The only other person or vehicle we saw on our trip out was a guy on a dirt bike.

The two track deeply rutted road wound its way through the ponderosa pine forest. In many places the forest floor was carpeted with a beautiful tapestry of purple lupine wildflowers and lush green grass. We stopped several times to enjoy the quiet and peacefulness of the forest and its spring flowers.

Polaris RZR ride to Point Sublime Overlook at North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona-min

Half the fun of our RZR rides is getting out of it to explore on foot.

Lupine blooming at foot of scorched ponderosa pine trees-min

Beautiful waves of lupine were blooming between the trees

Ponderosa pine and lupine in the National Forest-min

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Buddy loved sniffing all the earthy smells around him. At one point he climbed up on a log and did a little tightrope walk along it.

Puppy tightrope walks on a log in the ponderosa pine forest-min

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We had such fun taking pics.

Photographing model puppy in lupine wildflowers in ponderosa pine forest-min

Buddy poses in the flowers for Mark.

Beautiful dog in lupine wildflowers-min

Nice shot!

About five miles into the drive the road became extremely rough. We averaged 4-5 mph for quite some time as we navigated the deeply eroded ruts in the road.

At times the little RZR tipped wildly off camber, but it never seemed like it would tip all the way over (thankfully!). Side-by-sides are like miniature tanks. Mark put it in four wheel drive and it was able to grind up or down just about anything.

Eventually the road smoothed out a little bit and then the trees parted on our left side, revealing our first glimpse of the Grand Canyon stretching into the distance.

Limestone cliffs near Point Sublime Grand Canyon Arizona North Rim-min

Limestone cliffs on the outer fringes of the Grand Canyon

Exploring Grand Canyon overlooks near Point Sublime-min

We had a blast climbing around on the rocks (not too close to the edge, though!)

Grand Canyon overlook near Point Sublime-min

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Huge craggy boulders begged to be climbed, and rugged rocky outcroppings jutted out into the view. We wandered through the woods and along the edge of the overlook for a long time, thrilled by the extraordinary vistas and the utter solitude and peace we felt in this far remote corner of the earth.

Grand Canyon view just before Pt. Sublime at North Rim-min

The views were so immense!

Overlook near Point Sublime at North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona-min

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This warm up spot for the “real thing” at Point Sublime was a good place for a snack and a little drink.

Water break on the road to Point Sublime at North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona-min

Water break!

We climbed back into the RZR and followed the two track road a few miles further. We knew the Grand Canyon was just over our left shoulders, but the woods were thick and the road wandered away from the edge, so we waited patiently as the buggy rolled along until suddenly we were driving out onto a huge peninsula.

To our right, as we drove out on the peninsula, the late morning sun lit up the multiple layers and many rich shades of Grand Canyon’s red rock cliffs. Wow!

Brilliant red rock cliffs at Point Sublime Overlook Grand Canyon-min

Our first view at Point Sublime. Just gorgeous!

Colorful red rock cliffs Point Sublime Overlook Grand Canyon North Rim-min

Red and orange of every hue.

Spectacular red rock cliffs at Grand Canyon Point Sublime-min

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After not seeing a soul besides the one dirt bike rider at the beginning of our journey, it was a surprise to find a big pickup truck parked at the end of the Point Sublime overlook.

I asked the fellow standing next to it if he’d come the way we had, the southern route through the National Park, and he said no. He’d come through the National Forest on the northern route and he said it wasn’t too bad. This was good to know since we now realized we’d never consider taking our dually pickup (or any other car or truck) on the road we had just traveled!

The Point Sublime peninsula jutted so far out into the Grand Canyon that it gave us 270 degree views. We wandered along the edge utterly enchanted by the way the views changed from one side of the peninsula to the other because of the way they were lit by the sun.

Stunning view at Point Sublime on North Rim of Grand Canyon-min

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First glimpse at Point Sublime Grand Canyon North Rim-min

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Point Sublime Overlook at North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona-min

The views and lighting were different in every direction

Grand Canyon Pt. Sublime view at North Rim-min

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Point Sublime has a few rock outcroppings that hang out over the view and we took turns peering over the edge. Such majesty!!

Puppy checks out Point Sublime Overlook at Grand Canyon-min

Buddy takes it all in.

The remoteness and the vastness were overwhelming, especially after such a long drive through the woods to get there.

Point Sublime Overlook Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

What a view!

Photographer at Point Sublime Overlook Grand Canyon North Rim-min

Mark takes it all in.

Point Sublime Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona extraordinary view-min

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Far in the distance we could see the Colorado River. There were some whitewater rapids out there, and undoubtedly there were river rafters riding down the narrow ribbon of water and gazing up at the sheer cliff walls, admiring the Grand Canyon from a totally different perspective!

Grand Canyon carved by the Colorado River at Point Sublime Overlook-min

The Colorado River was faintly visible far in the distance.

View of Rapids on Colorado River at Point Sublime Grand Canyon North Rim-min

There were probably rafters down there blasting through the white water rapids!

As we started back from Point Sublime in the RZR, we met a couple coming towards us in a pickup truck. They had just finished the most hair rising part of that more southerly route we’d taken.

The guy leaned out the driver’s window and we started to ask him how the ride had been. But we’d barely gotten a few words out when he blurted out in total exaspiration, “What’s the fastest way to get to a paved road?”

His wife was in the passenger’s seat, and she was white as a ghost. “It was horrible!” She said staring straight ahead out the windshield, eyes like saucers. “Just awful! The worst drive you can imagine.”

Tree and shadow Point Sublime Overlook Grand Canyon North Rim-min

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Unfortunately for them, the nearest paved road was at least an hour and a half away. But the Point Sublime overlook was just a few miles further on and the last bit of road to get there wasn’t that bad.

Best of all, they’d be able to confer with the guy in the other pickup at the overlook who could give them directions for the washboarded but slightly easier route through the National Forest back to the highway.

Fifth wheel RV camping at sunset-min

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If you have the chance and a rugged four wheel drive vehicle and a taste for adventure, give the trip to Point Sublime a try. It is well worth it.

But if you don’t have a way to get out there, the other North Rim overlooks that are accessible via paved roads are just as wondrous and every bit as breathtaking.

Sometimes it’s about the journey, but a lot of times it’s really about the destination, and the Grand Canyon is glorious from every angle!

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    Saddle Mountain Overlook – A Different View of the Grand Canyon!

    June 2019 – The Grand Canyon is a huge, winding crater that wanders across the northen part of Arizona for about 275 miles. However, Grand Canyon National Park’s North and South Rims take up just a few miles on either side of the Colorado River in the middle of it all. For anyone up for a little adventure, there are lots of other places along its length outside the National Park where you can peer over the edge in awe.

    Saddle Mountain Overlook above the Colorado River in Grand Canyon Arizona-min

    Outside of Grand Canyon National Park there are many absolutely stunning overlooks.

    This past week we took our Polaris RZR on a back country tour through the woods and the aspen trees of Kaibab National Forest to check out one of the many overlooks that are outside Grand Canyon National Park: Saddle Mountain Overlook.

    Two track road through aspen trees-min

    Our RZR ride took us through ponderosa pine forests and aspen groves.

    The two track road was fun to ride on, but the best part came at the end when we got to the overlook at Saddle Mountain. Wow!

    Saddle Mountain Overlook Grand Canyon Arizona-min

    Saddle Mountain Overlook

    Saddle Mountain Overlook Grand Canyon Colorado RIver-min

    What a wonderful view this was after riding through the woods for a few hours.

    Grand Canyon Saddle Mountain overlook in Arizona-min

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    Colorado River overlook at Saddle Mountain-min

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    We walked along the edge and admired the amazing views. Every time I see the Grand Canyon, I marvel that a narrow ribbon of river along with some wind and rain could have carved all these extraordinary patterns in the cliffs!

    Erosion patterns Colorado River overlook at Saddle Mountain-min

    Beautiful patterns carved by the Colorado River over the course of millions of years

    Red rock erosion patterns Saddle Mountain Overlook at Grand Canyon Colorado River-min

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    Saddle Mountain overlook on the Colorado River at Grand Canyon-min

    Saddle Mountain Overlook offers a different view of the Grand Canyon!

    We had jumped out of the RZR as soon as we saw the views, and savored every one. After we’d gotten our fill of the beauty, we decided to continue down the two track road a little further to see where it led.

    Puppy watches the approach of a RZR side-by-side-min

    Buddy ran out front for a while and then stopped to watch Mark drive the RZR down the trail.

    Puppy watches the approach of a RZR side-by-side-min

    “Want a ride?” “Sure!”

    What a wonderful surprise it was to arrive at another overlook.

    Panorama view of Saddle Mountain Overlook at the Colorado River Arizona-min

    A little further down the trail we found another stunning view.

    Grand Canyon view from Saddle Mountain in Arizona-min

    We made our way through the brush for a closer look.

    Grand Canyon from Saddle Mountain Overlook-min

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    There was a narrow trail that led down a hill and then climbed up another, and Buddy and I just had to find out where it went. Mark stayed behind and watched us make our way out to the end of a stone peninsula. It didn’t seem so scary to us out there — there was plenty of room!

    Walking to the overlook at Saddle Mountain Grand Canyon-min

    Mark hung back to take pics while Buddy and I ventured out on a rock outcropping

    I have to admit, though, that when I crept towards the very end to get a photo, Buddy wisely stayed seated behind me. I scooched out in a sitting position!

    Grand Canyon Saddle Mountain Overlook Arizona-min

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    The American West is full of places that have experienced huge land upheavals. The Kaibab Plateau, which surrounds the Grand Canyon, is part of the larger Colorado Plateau, and in some places it is easy to see exactly how huge expanses of land were thrust upwards, sometimes at an angle.

    Uplift of Kaibab Plateau and Colorado Plateau-min

    “The earth moved under my feet.”

    Overlook at Saddle Mountain on the Colorado River-min

    The Vermillion Cliffs are in the distance. Three “prescribed burns” of about five square miles each were burning on both the North and South Rims, making the air hazy.

    In the distance we saw the Colorado River winding towards us. It’s amazing how the land at the top is flat and featureless for miles and then a deep trench cuts across it, dug out by the river over many millennia.

    Looking down on the Colorado River from Saddle Mountain Grand Canyon-min

    Lined by steep cliffs, the Colorado River disappears into the distance.

    Colorado River views from Saddle Mountain overlook at Grand Canyon-min

    The Colorado River lies at the bottom of those steep canyon walls.

    We hopped back in the RZR and were soon back in the woods. The trees were really green and the cool shade felt so good. What a fun little excursion that was!

    Happy campers in the aspen trees-min

    Mark and Buddy took a break in the cool shade.
    What a contrast to the sun baked and wind whipped red rocks of the Grand Canyon!

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    Grand Canyon’s North Rim – Breathtaking Bright Angel Point!

    June 2019 – Grand Canyon National Park is one of America’s crown jewels, and the magnificent North Rim is, in many ways, the sparkling diamond in the crown.

    Grand Canyon National Park North Rim in Arizona

    Grand Canyon National Park’s North Rim in Arizona

    We’ve been to the North Rim several times, and each time we have been enchanted by the 45 mile long scenic drive that goes from the main highway intersection at Jacob Lake down to the tiny community at the North Rim.

    This winding road passes through forests and meadows, and the shifting light on the aspens and ponderosa pine trees is beautiful

    Grand Canyon North Rim Scenic Drive meadow-min

    The 45 mile long scenic drive from Jacob Lake to the North Rim goes through some gorgeous meadows.

    There are bison in the park now, and we heard from another camper that a fellow recently encountered 200 of the beasts crossing the highway as he drove to the North Rim!

    Grand Canyon North Rim Scenic Drive meadow and bison sign-min

    Bison now graze in these meadows!

    There is a wonderful little dry camping campground about 7 miles outside of Grand Canyon National Park nestled into the woods in Kaibab National Forest called Demotte Campground. We swung through the campground loop for old time’s sake, fondly remembering tent camping there many moons ago.

    04 721 Aspens and ponderosa pine Demotte Campground Grand Canyon North Rim_

    Road through Demotte Campground

    Once we got into Grand Canyon National Park and on to the North Rim, we were like kids on Christmas morning. As soon as we got the truck parked in the small parking lot at the Rim, we dashed to the edge of the parking lot to get a glimpse of the Grand Canyon.

    It doesn’t matter how many times we see the beautiful shapes and contours of this magical land, it takes our breath away every time.

    First glimpse Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

    First glimpse – WOW!!

    We hurried past the Grand Canyon Lodge to get a better view. What a majestic place this is!

    Admiring the view Grand Canyon North Rim_-min

    The intimacy and friendliness of Grand Canyon’s North Rim is unlike any other major National Park

    The more popular and more populated South Rim of the Grand Canyon is relatively dog friendly, allowing pooches on leashes to stroll with their owners on the paved paths along the top of the Grand Canyon. The North Rim, however, is not as dog friendly. Buddy could take a peek at the view from the main yard by the Grand Canyon Lodge, but that was it.

    Admiring the view Grand Canyon North Rim-min

    Dogs aren’t allowed in many places, but Buddy got a glimpse from the yard next to the Lodge.

    So, it was back to the truck in the parking lot for him for a little while so we could take the half mile walk out to Bright Angel Point.

    The parking lot is well shaded by towering ponderosa pine trees, and lots of other pups were waiting patiently for their owners to snap some pics and return to their cars. A cacophany of barks greeted Buddy as he took his place on our truck’s center console where he had a bird’s eye view of everything around him.

    This parking lot is not really RV friendly, but a few had wedged themselves in. We noticed one motorhome with a fun message on the back: Living the Dream. Yes indeed!

    Living the Dream in an RV-min

    When you’re Living the Dream, the National Parks are at the top of the list!

    There is a dry camping campground at the North Rim where very small RVs and tents can perch right on the edge of the canyon, and some sites have extraordinary views. But for those who don’t want to camp, the Grand Canyon Lodge is surrounded by charming stone and log cabins with tiny porches and big log rocking chairs. What a great place to spend a few days!

    Grand Canyon North Rim cabins-min

    The campground overlooking the Grand Canyon is hard to beat,
    but if you’re not a camper, these cabins look sooo romantic!!

    Grand Canyon North Rim cabin made of log and stone-min

    A porch and room right on the rim!

    Log rocking chairs on the porch of a cabin at Grand Canyon North Rim-min

    The cabins are rustic, but in the most gracious way.

    Out on the paved trail that goes to Bright Angel Point the views got better and better the further out we got.

    Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona Bright Angel Point Trail View-min

    Heading out on the half-mile paved trail to Bright Angel Point

    View of the Grand Canyon Lodge from Bright Angel Point Trail-min

    Looking back towards the Grand Canyon Lodge

    Grand Canyon North Rim overlook-min

    Looking down on folks at a lower overlook

    Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona Bright Angel Point Trail-min

    The vast scale is hard to comprehend. It’s like looking at a huge painting.

    Red rock cliff views Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

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    One of the best things about the North Rim is that it is the only major National Park that isn’t inundated with busloads of tourists. Thankfully, it is such a long drive to get there that most folks visit the much easier to reach South Rim, call it good, and leave it at that.

    The visitors to the North Rim are primarily American families who are out on long summer driving vacations, and they are often hitting the fabulous cluster of National Parks in the area — Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.

    Hiking, camping and family time together spent discovering America’s most spectacular settings are what it’s all about.

    View from Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona Bright Angel Point Trail-min

    What a view!

    Majestic view Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona Bright Angel Point Trail-min

    Majestic!

    Patterns in Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

    I loved the zig-zag diagonal patterns.

    Bright Angel Point Trail Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

    There are lots of places to climb and scramble to see the views on the edges of this trail without anyone nearby, so even with groups of people walking on the main part of the path, it still felt intimate and personal

    Like all the National Parks, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon can be experienced at a glance if you wish. Simply walk out to Bright Angel Point as we did.

    But it can also be savored in depth with a multi-day stay in a cabin or at the campground. This allows time for the long drives that go to the other major overlooks inside the Park along with doing a few of the many hikes along the rim or through the woods or even down into the canyon and across to the South Rim (and back if you’re hardy!).

    Grand Canyon framed by limestone-min

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    We weren’t staying at the North Rim for an in depth visit, so we slowly strolled to Bright Angel Point and back, soaking up the view, chatting with other visitors and taking a gazillion pics.

    Curvy dead tree Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

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    View on Bright Angel Point Trail Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

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    Photographing Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

    It’s impossible not to take a million pics!

    Built in 1928, the Grand Canyon Lodge is one of those gorgeous old stone and log National Park lodges that were built in the early days of the National Park system to give visitors a comfortable place to stay right in the heart of each Park.

    Grand Canyon Lodge entrance at the North Rim in Arizona-min

    Grand Canyon Lodge evokes another era.

    In those days, tourists took a train to Cedar City, Utah, and then boarded National Park buses to go to Kanab, Utah, where they spent the night, and then they continued on to the North Rim.

    Even though the roads were dirt and the drive was undoubtedly bumpy and dusty, there was an elegance or mystique to travel in those days that can be felt as you walk through this inviting lodge.

    Roughrider Saloon and Coffee Lounge Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim-min

    The Roughrider Saloon has an espresso bar in the early morning and craft beers on tap later in the day.

    The Grand Canyon Lodge is really all there is at the North Rim for tourist services, so they do it all, although on a small scale. There’s a tiny post office for sending out mail, a few spots to get a bite to eat or a drink, and copious places to kick back in an old log chair and sit for a spell.

    Log rocking chairs outside the post office and saloon Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim-min

    Dogs are allowed in the common areas and Buddy met quite a few when I went into the saloon to get a beer and a latte for us to enjoy outside in these big log chairs

    At the Roughrider Saloon, the gal pouring Mark’s beer and my latte told me this was her fourth summer working at the North Rim. Her winters are free, so she likes to travel then. What a great gig!

    Espresso drinks and craft beer on tap at Roughrider Saloon and Coffee Saloon Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim-min

    Inside the Roughrider Saloon. It was a cozy setting but dogs have to be outside. So, outside we went!

    The Grand Canyon Lodge has huge comfy sofas in a room lined with enormous plate glass windows looking out at the Grand Canyon. Some of the sofas face the view. What a place to relax for a while.

    View from picture windows at Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim-min

    Huge comfortable sofas face these enormous picture windows. What a spot to unwind!

    But the spot that always captures my imagination is the outdoor stone patio deck. A long row of log chairs is lined up along a short stone wall on this deck, all facing the exquisite view. People come and go from these chairs all day long, bringing a drink or a book or a friend to chat with.

    Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim stone patio deck-min

    Here you can kick back in a log chair in front of one of the world’s most magnificent views!

    To me, this is the spirit of the old National Park system where visitors can relax at leisure and enjoy the incomparable beauty of the place, unhurried and at peace.

    Grand Canyon Lodge stone patio deck at the North Rim_-min

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    We had the amazingly great fortune on this trip to bump into a woman who was a 6th generation resident of nearby Fredonia, Arizona, and she told us that her grandfather had been born in a cabin at Demotte Park (where Demotte Campground now stands) and that he had designed this fabulous stone patio at the Grand Canyon Lodge.

    How incredibly cool is that?!

    Grand Canyon Lodge stone patio deck at the North Rim-min

    Where all the cares of the world are forgotten

    The dining room at Grand Canyon Lodge is both intimate and awe inspiring. When we poked our heads in, the staff was eating at a back table right before opening for lunch. But this fantastic dining room would soon be full, and lots of happy visitors would be gazing out the enormous windows overlooking the Grand Canyon over lunch!

    Grand Canyon Lodge Dining Room at the North Rim-min

    Elegant and classy.

    If you are traveling between Page, Arizona, and Kanab, Utah, a quickie 100 mile detour down to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is a really worthwhile trip. It isn’t big rig friendly or dog friendly, but the ambiance and views are out of this world.

    If you have an important birthday or anniversary coming up can, leave the big rig and dog at home, and get a cabin with a porch overlooking the Grand Canyon view for a few nights. What a way to celebrate (it’s on our bucket list!!).

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    RV Camping in the Arizona Woods – Coconino National Forest

    June 2019 – Arizona is one of America’s most beautiful and varied states, but lots of people think of it as a place that has only cactus and dry desert landscapes. The surprising thing is that Arizona is home to several radically different types of ecosystems that vary by altitude, and lately we’ve been enjoying some wonderful forest camping in the pines at a cool 7,500′ elevation.

    Happy RV campers in the forest-min

    We’ve been enjoying warm days and cool nights in the forests of northern Arizona.

    Deep in the ponderosa pine woods of Coconino National Forest we’ve been getting out on small two track trails to see what we can find.

    RZR ride on a trail in the forest-min

    Our RZR took us on some cool two-track dirt roads.

    While most of the scenery is just woodsy landscapes filled with pine trees, one day we came across a small stream.

    Polaris RZR on the trail in the forest-min

    What a neat surprise it was to find a small stream!

    It was early morning, and as we followed the streambed we saw some fantastic mirror-like reflections in the almost-still water. In an instant we parked the RZR and began exploring on foot.

    Beautiful stream in the woods-min

    The reflections in the glassy water were very pretty.

    Forest stream in the woods-min

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    Reflections in a forest stream-min

    I just loved this rock and its mirror image!

    Puppy wades into a forest stream-min

    Buddy marched right into the reflections.

    Stream reflections-min

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    After a nice stream-side stroll, we got back in the RZR to explore some more trails and then got out on foot again to hike in the woods and soak in the peace and solitude.

    All of a sudden, we saw a wooden cross near a tree. As we came closer we noticed a big pile of stones in front of it.

    Was someone buried out here?

    Grave in the woods-min

    Is that a grave? Yikes! Whose??!!!

    The wooden cross was well constructed. When we bent down to get a better look at it, we noticed it had a dog collar wrapped tightly around it. We could see the word “Good” hand-written in pen on the visible part of the collar. Maybe it said “Good Dog” on it?

    Carved into the varnished wood was the name, “Mause” (perhaps an “r” was under the collar?). The words “Bird dog” and “Companion” had been carved on it too. On either side of the cross were the dates 11/04 and 04/18. He’d lived to be about 13 1/2 years old.

    You could tell just how much this dog was loved by the care with which his owner had buried him. There were flowers placed under the cross. We wondered why this particular spot had been chosen and if it had a special meaning to the owner or the dog, or both.

    Grave marker cross in the woods-min

    Beloved bird dog “Mause” lies here.

    We left the dog to rest in peace but returned to the little stream a few more times during our stay in the woods. Buddy just loved it there, and he’d run in crazy circles between the two of us to let us know just how great he thought this place was.

    Perhaps that bird dog had loved the spot near the tree in the woods just as much as Buddy loved this little stream.

    Puppy plays on the rocks in a forest stream-min

    Buddy loved coming to this stream.

    Puppy poses on a rock in a forest stream-min

    In between poses, Buddy ran in happy circles between us.

    These were lazy, happy days for the three of us, and Mark and I both took endless photos of our playful puppy as he posed and pranced along the stream.

    Taking pics of puppy in the forest-min

    Mark caught me taking Buddy’s pic…

    Pretty puppy poses by a stream in the woods-min

    And here’s the pic I took!

    Puppy in the forest-min

    At home in the woods.

    Puppy poses on a rock in a stream-min

    Posing one way…

    A puppy poses on a rock in a stream-min

    …and then the other!

    We planned for this year to be our test-run with the new RZR to see if it was fun enough to bring along in our future travels. Even though the triple towing is a bit of a hassle (but, really, would maneuvering a 44′ to 47′ toy hauler be any easier?) we’re finding that our little 4×4 buggy is taking us places we would never get to otherwise.

    Polaris RZR adventure on a forest trail-min

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    Forest reflections in the early morning-min

    A beautiful place for reflection.

    Other years we have traveled through five states by June. But covering shorter distances and staying for longer in each place has given us wonderful rewards this year.

    Early morning by a forest stream-min

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    Sunburst between the trees in the forest-min

    The morning sun twinkles between the trees.

    Sunrise in the forest-min

    Dawn light.

    Fifth wheel RV in the forest at sunset-min

    Sometimes it’s nice just to relax in the forest and get away from it all!

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    Grand Canyon – A Winter Wonderland with Snow!

    January 2019 – Even though we have a new Polaris RZR waiting to take us on lots of exciting back road adventures, we’ve had a hankering to do a National Parks Snowstorm Tour for several years now. Our snowy day trip to Jerome a few weeks ago further whetted our appetites, so this week when a blizzard was predicted for the Grand Canyon, we hit the road!

    Grand Canyon National Park in snow-min

    Grand Canyon National Park is a Winter Wonderland when it snows!

    We drove up from Phoenix to Flagstaff, Arizona, and when we got there we had to laugh at all the signs by the road advertising hats and gloves. Desert dwellers love to go to Flagstaff to see snow in the wintertime, and sometimes they forget their winter duds (or don’t even own any!).

    Snow had been in the forecast for Grand Canyon, but we saw only dustings and flurries until we climbed the last few miles to Grand Canyon’s South Rim about 75 miles north of Flagstaff. Then it began to snow hard, as it had been doing there for the last 24 hours.

    It was a little difficult to tell what was where under all the snow!

    Snowed in at Grand Canyon National Park-min

    Things looked a little different at the Grand Canyon than we’re used to seeing !

    But much to our surprise, despite the snow, Grand Canyon National Park was hopping. Cars zipped here and there, the shuttle buses from the hotels to the rim were packed, and as usual, the languages we heard around us were from all over the world.

    Exhilarated, we bundled up and hustled out to the closest overlook we could find on the Rim Trail.

    Ready to walk the snow trails at Grand Canyon National Park-min

    There was a lot of snow, but we were ready for it!

    What a shock it was to find that fog filled the entire Grand Canyon! We could barely see from one overlook to the next, never mind across the whole Grand Canyon to the other side 10 miles away.

    Drifts and blowing snow at Grand Canyon National Park overlook in snow-min

    Fog filled the Canyon and even obscured one viewpoint from the next!

    Nevertheless, tourists slipped and slid down the icy trails and out onto the overlooks to see what they could see — which was nothing!

    Grand Canyon overlook in snow-min

    Tourists filled the overlooks even though there was nothing to see!

    Despite the lack of a real Grand Canyon view, the fresh snow was beautiful and gave the Canyon a mystique we don’t often see.

    Fresh snow in Grand Canyon National Park-min

    Fresh snow, fog and mist gave the Grand Canyon a special beauty.

    Grand Canyon National Park snow and fog-min

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    The fog blew in and out and the snow began to fall harder and harder. A woman standing next to me wondered why I was hanging over the edge taking photos.

    Photographer in snow at Grand Canyon National Park-min

    A photographer takes photos of…fog?

    This was her first trip to the Grand Canyon, and although the snow and mist was lovely, she was really disappointed not to see the real view. “What does it usually look like?” She asked forlornly.

    Snow at Grand Canyon National Park in snow-min

    When you’ve come all the way to the Grand Canyon, you’ve gotta get out on an overlook,
    even if there’s nothing to see!

    Grand Canyon National Park overlook in snow-min

    Usually this tree has a great view!

    If only she’d been able to stay another day. When we got to the rim the next day, the snow had stopped falling and sunlight had begun to shine through.

    Rim Trail Grand Canyon National Park in snow-min

    The sun came out and cast shadows across the Rim Trail.

    And what an appearance it made. The light show across the canyon was spectacular!

    Clouds and snow at Grand Canyon National Park in snow-min

    The sun and clouds chased each other across the Grand Canyon.

    Grand Canyon National Park stormy sky-min

    What a glorious light show!

    We were blown away, and so was everyone else. A crowd began to form, and the usual dance of tourist antics and selfies began.

    Tourists at Grand Canyon National Park in snow-min

    Word got out that the Canyon was on display again, and the tourists lined up!

    Views and snow at Grand Canyon National Park-min

    Embracing the view.

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    This Aussie/American couple was narrating a video about visiting the Grand Canyon in a snowstorm.

    We were mesmerized watching the light and shadows chasing each other through the billowing curtains of mist and fog.

    Light and shadow at Grand Canyon National Park-min

    Meanwhile the light show went on.

    Fog and clouds Grand Canyon National Park-min

    Puffs of misty clouds swept by.

    Snow at Grand Canyon National Park-min

    The Grand Canyon is magical at any time of year, but this was a special moment.

    Everyone was taking selfies and handing their cameras around, so we joined right in and did the same.

    Happy campers at Grand Canyon National Park-min

    We joined the selfie mania. Why not?!

    Puppy in snow at Grand Canyon National Park in snow-min-min

    Buddy loved the view and being part of the view too!
    Fortunately for him, leashed pets are allowed on the trails above the rim.

    Most of the Grand Canyon overlooks were closed because the road to them hadn’t been plowed. The whole drive to Hermit’s Rest on the west side of the South Rim was closed and the road to Desert View on the east side was closed as well.

    Grand Canyon National Park after a snowstorm-min

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    Great Crevasse Grand Canyon National Park-min

    The canyon walls in that crack are thousands of feet high!

    So, everyone stayed on the Rim Trail and visited just one or two viewpoints. The funny thing is that even though the total number of tourists at the Grand Canyon was a tiny fraction of what you’d see midsummer, because we were all concentrated in one small area it was still packed!

    But it didn’t matter and the makeshift nature of things kind of added to the fun. This was a very special moment to be in this place, and everyone was thrilled to be here.

    Blizzard at Grand Canyon National Park-min

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    Virgin snow Grand Canyon National Park-min

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    We all knew the sun would last for only a short while this afternoon because more snow was on its way. So the mood was almost giddy.

    Grand Canyon National Park after snow storm-min

    What a view!

    Grand Canyon National Park snowy view-min

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    Grand Canyon National Park snow-min

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    We had buzzed up from Phoenix in our truck and left our fifth wheel trailer behind. Even though the trailer camground was open at Grand Canyon and we saw some rigs with snow on their roofs, we’d decided to take a vacation from our vacation and stay in a hotel.

    Snow at Grand Canyon National Park-min

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    Grand Canyon National Park snow view-min

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    The fantastic thing about the Grand Canyon in the wintertime is that a lot of folks cancel at the last minute when they see snow in the forecast. So rooms were available for 50 cents on the dollar.

    Clouds and snow at Grand Canyon National Park-min

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    Grand Canyon National Park snow at overlook-min

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    If you’re in Arizona for the winter and you want to see something very special, watch the weather forecast at the Grand Canyon and head there when the snow falls!

    Clouds and fog Grand Canyon National Park-min

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    Puppy plays in snow in Flagstaff Arizona-min

    Next time you see snow in the forecast for the Grand Canyon, go for it!

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    Grand Canyon’s North Rim – Magnificent & Intimate by Day or Night!

    October 2016 – After driving through the red rock wonderland of the Vermillion Cliffs in northern Arizona, we found ourselves at 10,000′ elevation on the Kaibab Plateau in beautiful pine forests. This is the home of the Grand Canyon where the earth seems to have split apart, revealing the massive crimson hued jagged walls that rise up from the Colorado River thousands of feet below.

    Red cliffs of North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

    Red cliffs at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon

    The Grand Canyon runs east to west for 277 miles and spans as much as 18 miles between its north and south rims.

    A huge region towards the middle of the chasm has been set aside as Grand Canyon National Park, and it has two entrances you can drive to, one on the north side of the canyon and one on the south side. At each of those spots you can wander along the rim and peer over the edge to look 6,000′ down.

    North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona view through trees

    A glimpse of the Grand Canyon through the trees.

    The South Rim is much more popular than the North Rim and is quite overrun with tourists, many making a once-in-a-lifetime bucket list trip from far distant corners of the planet. It is wonderful, but it is extremely busy.

    Colorful cliffs North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

    View from the North Rim.

    The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is a bit out of the way, so far fewer people go there, and most visitors are from the surrounding states. The North Rim sees 10% of the tourist traffic that the South Rim does and is 1,000′ higher in elevation.

    Chasm North Rim Grand Canyon Arizon

    Looking across the Big Ditch!

    The North Rim has a very special lodge that was built by the National Parks Service in 1927. This wonderful and inviting stone building is perched right on the edge of the Grand Canyon, and the huge picture windows look out on a spectacular view.

    View from Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim Arizona

    The Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim – What a view!

    There is also a huge dining room where diners can eat dinner while watching the sun cast its golden glow across the ridges of the canyon right next to their table!

    Dining Room Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim Arizona

    A historic and beautiful spot for a dinner…with a world class view!

    Outside the lodge there is a low stone wall and a line of big wooden chairs where you can sit and take in the view over a beer.

    View from deck of Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim Arizona

    The deck behind the Lodge offers a relaxing spot to enjoy a drink and take a few pics.

    What a fantastic place!

    View from deck Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim Arizona

    Tourists kick back at the North Rim.

    There is a feeling of intimacy and wonder on the rim here as strangers chat with each other and snap pics and take in the incredible view, enjoying a unique National Parks experience.

    Deck view North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

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    A short trail leads from the edge of this deck out onto a peninsula that just into the Canyon and ends at Bright Angel Point.

    Hiking to Bright Angel Point North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

    The trail to Bright Angel Point at the North Rim

    This is a fun paved path that provides endless opportunities for jumping up on the rock pinnacles on either side to get a better view.

    Hke to Bright Angel Point North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

    There are lots of places to scramble a little higher for a better view.

    Of course, the best light in the Canyon is early in the morning and late in the afternoon.

    North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona View

    Late afternoon’s golden light brings out the contours of the jagged cliffs at the Grand Canyon.

    The sun was sinking in a very hazy sky when we were there, but the towering walls of the Grand Canyon still radiated a soft light, as if from within.

    Golden hour North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

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    North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona overlook

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    Rock formations North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

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    Here and there couples and friends staked out a spot on a precipice to watch the sun fade away.

    Sunset North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

    Catching the sunset at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon

    As the shadows crept up the canyon walls from the bottom, the tips of the craggy peaks held the light the longest.

    View of Red cliffs North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

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    In the final few moments of daylight, a thin ribbon of orange hovered over the Canyon.

    Chasm view North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

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    As the sun sank deeper behind the horizon, the colors in the sky grew ever more rich.

    Sunset North Rim Grand Canyon

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    Once the sun was gone from the sky, the contours of the Grand Canyon flattened out, revealing beautiful patterns.

    Color Patterns North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

    Patterns in the view at the Grand Canyon after sunset.

    Without any shadows to show depth, near and far blended together.

    Patterns North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

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    Cliffs North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

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    Because of the 10,000′ altitude at the rim, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is very cold, except in midsummer, and the Grand Canyon Lodge closes October 16. The 45 mile drive on Highway 67 between the hamlet of Jacob Lake and the North Rim remains open but isn’t plowed, and the self-service gas station in the park closes December 1.

    In mid-October we shivered in overnight temps that dipped into the 20’s. Nevertheless, we snuck out onto the trail in front of the lodge in the pitch dark, lighting the way with our new and very cool Lumintop flashlight (we reviewed it here) and got set up to take some shots.

    Overlook night stars North Rim Grand Canyon

    Night photography at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon

    Above us, the lodge was well lit and looked very cozy and inviting. Occasionally we heard the excited conversation of revelers out on the deck and saw flashes from their cameras.

    Stars over Lodge at North Rim of the Grand Canyon starry night and fifth wheel trailer RV

    The Lodge at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

    Slowly the stars began to shimmer above us, forming a dome full of glitter over the Grand Canyon.

    Stars at North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

    Stars began to fill the sky

    Both rims of the Grand Canyon are decorated with the skeletons of dead trees whose gnarly branches reach out in all directions. The Milky Way formed a majestic backdrop in the sky.

    Tree and Milky Way North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

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    The moon was setting and slowly sank into the horizon. It was nearly full and glowed orange.

    Milky Way at North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

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    Seeing the moon at the horizon below the Milky Way reminded us of our many nights at sea on the Pacific Ocean. Sailors doing their first overnight passages are often shocked as they fly along in the pitch dark at full speed, squinting hard to distinguish the sky from the ocean, and then suddenly see a very bright light on the horizon right in front of them.

    More than a few hearts have skipped a beat, and more than a few frightened sailors have dashed to their radar display in a total panic as they tried to figure out what kind of mammoth ship was about to crash into them.

    Then they’ve suddenly collapsed in embarrassed laughter when they realized the enormous ship approaching them was actually the rising moon.

    We’d read these stories before our cruise, and of course we knew we were far too smart ever to fall for Nature’s little nighttime tease. So, it was particularly funny when it happened to us too!

    Milky Way at the Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona

    Good night, Grand Canyon!

    If the Grand Canyon is on your horizon for your RV travels, you can camp right on the rim in the campground at the North Rim. How totally cool is that?!

    However, you need to have a small to mid-size RV to fit into the campsites and drive the camground loop, and it is best to reserve a spot in advance. There are other RV camping options for slightly bigger RVs in Jacob Lake.

    For folks without an RV, the Grand Canyon Lodge has a collection of charming small cabins that surround the main lodge building, and they are just steps from the rim as well.

    The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is quite vast, and many of the overlooks require a drive of 50 miles or so round trip to reach them. We breezed through the North Rim on this RV trip because it was late in the season and we couldn’t drive through Jacob Lake on our route from east to west across northern Arizona without dipping down to say “hi” to the Grand Canyon, if only for a moment.

    However, like all the National Parks, the Grand Canyon deserves a week or more to enjoy its many nooks and crannies in depth. During our second year of full-time RV adventures, we stayed for a month at the North Rim.

    More info and links below.

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    Some details about Arizona’s North Rim of the Grand Canyon:

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    What is happening to our Public Lands?

    Fifth Wheel Trailer RV near Vermillion Cliffs National Monument Arizona

    Will photos taken on public lands like this beautiful spot on the Utah/Arizona border require an expensive permit in the future?

    October 2014 – There have been some interesting and disturbing developments on America’s public lands lately. For the last month, photographers have been up in arms over a proposal put forth by the US Forest Service to charge big fees for permits to take pics on public land.

    This news has gone viral since the USFS first announced the proposal in early September, and there have been oodles of irate blog posts and tweets from some of the biggest online news outlets.

    Read More…

    Petrified Forest NP and Mogollon Rim – Cool pines & hot rocks in AZ!

    RV blog post - We camped in the cool pines of Arizona's Mogollon Rim and hiked amid the colorful rocks of the Petrified Forest National Park.

    Getting to the US required 3 planes.

    Tulips bloom in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Tulips bloom in Fraser, Michigan. Bleeding hearts bloom in Fraser, Michigan.

    Bleeding Heart.

    Saguaro cactus blooms in Scottsdale, Arizona.

    Saguaro cactus top in

    bloom.

    Starling chicks emerge from a fallen saguaro cactus in Scottsdale, Arizona.

    Starling chicks in a saguaro nest.

    Starling chicks emerge from a fallen saguaro cactus in Scottsdale, Arizona.

    Mom takes good care of the babies in their fallen home.

    A cardinal enjoys a seed snack on our picnic table at Roosevelt Lake, Arizona.

    A cardinal enjoys a

    snack on our table.

    Looking out over the Mogollon Rim, Arizona.

    The Mogollon Rim.

    Getting a photo from the scary edge of the Mogollon Rim, Arizona.

    It's a little scary right at the edge, but

    few can resist a shot.

    Smoke from the Gladiator Fire approaches the Mogollon Rim.

    Smoke from the Gladiator Fire approaches.

    Smoke from wildfires obscures the sun at the Mogollon Rim.

    Wildfire smoke obscures the sun.

    The paved and scenic Rim Lakes Vista Trail on the Mogollon Rim.

    The awesome little paved rimside trail.

    Standing on the edge of the Mogollon Rim in Rim Lakes Recreation Area, Arizona.

    It's great to be alive.

    Looking out at the views from the Mogollon Rim, Arizona

    Mogollon Rim.

    Spring brings new growth to the Rim Lakes Recreation Area on the Mogollon Rim in Arizona.

    Spring - a time for new growth.

    Wild lilacs in the Woods Canyon Lake Recreation Area on the Mogollon Rim in Arizona. An elk calf rests in the grass at Woods Canyon Lake Recreation Area, Mogollon Rim, Arizona.

    An elk calf in the grass.

    We ride our bikes down to Woods Canyon Lake on the Mogollon Rim in Arizona.

    Woods Canyon Lake.

    Jim Gray's Petrified Wood Company has lots of petrified wood for sale.

    Jim Gray's Petrified Wood

    Company.

    Petrified wood logs ready for splitting at Jim Gray's Petrified Wood Company, Holbrook, Arizona.

    Petrified logs ready for splitting.

    Geodes at Jim Gray's Petrified Wood Company, Holbrook, Arizona.

    Geodes ready for opening.

    Dinosaur displays at Jim Gray's Petrified Wood Company, Holbrook, Arizona.

    Dinosaur country!

    Don't get bitten by a dinosaur at Jim Gray's Petrified Wood Company, Holbrook, Arizona.

    They're cute, just don't get bit.

    Dinosaur head, Crystal Forest Gift Shop, Arizona. Petrified logs at Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona.

    Petrified Forest National Park.

    We traveled to see colorful petrified logs at Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona. A single tree trunk split into logs at Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona.

    A tree trunk that has cracked into drums.

    Agate House at Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona.

    Agate House.

    We hike down to Agate house at Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona.

    They built 'em small in 1200 AD

    We hike the Long Logs trail at Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona.

    The National Park calls these rock structures "teepees."

    We meet a collared lizard on the Agate House hiking trail at Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona.

    Collared lizard on a petrified log.

    Cows watch us as we drive through Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona.

    Cows watch us approach.

    We hike to Puerco Pueblo Indian ruins at the north end of the Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona.

    Puerco Pueblo housed 1,200 people.

    We hike past petroglyphs on Puerco Pueblo trail at Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona.

    A stork carrying a baby, for sure!!

    The Santa Fe Railroad rumbles beneath us at Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona.

    Santa Fe Railroad.

    The Santa Fe Railroad disappears in the distance at Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona. A rusting hulk of of a car sitting along historic Route 66 near Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona.

    A rusting relic near the old Route 66.

    Spectacular views at Painted Desert in Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona.

    Painted Desert.

    Mogollon Rim & Petrified Forest National Park

    April-May, 2012 - It took us a few days to decompress after our awe inspiring three

    weeks in inland Chiapas.  We had studied Spanish in colonial San Cristóbal, seen

    Mayan ruins in Palenque, Yaxchilán and Bonampak, and visited sparkling waterfalls

    at Agua Azul and Misol-Ha.  But we had received alarming news while in the jungle

    that Mark's parents had unexpectedly taken very ill.  Their prognosis for survival had

    become bleaker by the day.

    We scrapped our plans to

    sail 200 miles further to El

    Salvador where a rollicking

    annual rally of 50 boats was

    in full swing, and instead

    prepared our boat Groovy for a six month wait at Marina Chiapas while

    we made a hasty retreat back to Mark's family homestead in Michigan.

    It was jarring and disorienting to rejoin

    modern American life after months of

    immersion in southern Mexican culture.

    Far more upsetting, however, was suddenly finding ourselves face-to-face with the specter of

    death.  We passionately pursue our dreams everyday, always feeling the immense pressure of

    time, but now the grim reaper was at the door trying to collect.  For days we huddled inside the

    drab sterile walls of a modern health care facility trying to be positive while pondering the

    incomprehensible.

    Fortunately, spring was in full bloom outside.  Flowers were bursting with

    color everywhere, and flowering trees seemed to grace every front yard.

    Every time we stepped outside we were greeted by the cheerful image

    of tulips, a heartwarming flower neither of us had seen for years.

    Very gradually, and totally miraculously, both of Mark's parents began to

    recover and were able to return home.  As they gained strength we did

    too, and the dark, raw emotions in our hearts began to ease.  Out in a

    friend's garden a cluster of bleeding hearts reminded us that often the

    most precious things in life are also the most fragile, and that life itself is

    a gift we receive every day.

    When we eventually returned to our own hometown in Phoenix, Arizona, we

    found spring had sprung there too.  Our beloved saguaro cactuses were

    wearing their little springtime crowns of white flowers on every limb.

    Just a few weeks earlier an ancient saguaro in a friend's

    yard had died and toppled over.  It now held the fledgling

    chicks of a starling that had moved into her condo when

    the cactus was still upright.

    Despite living in a house that was now eight inches from the ground,

    not a great spot for a small bird, she bravely got those chicks raised to

    adolescence, and in no time they had all moved out.

    We got our trailer out of storage, dusted it off, and set up camp at

    nearby Roosevelt Lake.  Still recovering from all that had gone on, and

    feeling a bit battle weary, we reveled in watching a cardinal come to

    our little seed plate every day.  We could have stayed for a month, but unfortunately the desert temps

    were climbing and soon became intolerable.

    Fortunately, just 80 miles north of Phoenix we found ideal temps

    up on the Mogollon Rim (pronounce "Mugeeyone").  At 7500'

    we were in the cool pines, and we found a camping spot right on

    the edge of the rim with views to the valley floor far below.

    The rim is a jagged shelf of flat rocks that stick out in layers.

    The views are expansive and the smell of the ponderosa pines

    is invigorating.  There is something about the edge of the rim

    that is very alluring and draws people to it, even though the

    sheer drop-off is a little unnerving.  At all the scenic overlooks

    everyone gets out of their cars and walks right out to the edge

    to take in the view and get a photo.

    While we were there four huge forest fires were

    burning in the valley below us.  The Gladiator Fire

    made the national news, and we saw the hotshot

    firefighting team's base camp nearby.  Firefighters

    had been flown in from all over the country to help

    out, and some 1,000 people were fighting the

    blaze.  The smoke was intense

    at one point, and it billowed

    over us like a huge wave.

    That evening the sun was

    almost totally obscured by the

    smoke.  But the hotshots

    managed to wrestle all the

    fires under control, and in just

    a few days the air was clear

    again.

    We discovered a wonderful

    paved trail that runs along the

    edge of the rim for a few miles.

    Luckily for us, it had just been

    lengthened by a mile.  The edge of the rim

    is magical, and at every rock outcropping

    we found ourselves stopping to get another

    look.  This same trail also heads into the

    forest towards Woods Canyon Lake where

    it weaves past several campgrounds.  We

    rode our bikes along the trail and savored

    the crisp air and pretty views.

    Spring was happening up here too.  The

    pines were all adorned with their new

    feathery soft needles, and we found flowers

    that looked like wild irises growing in a

    meadow.

    We passed a mother elk

    sitting under a tree

    chewing her cud.  Nearby

    her young calf was

    hanging out chewing its

    cud too.  They were

    totally indifferent to our

    presence -- or to that of

    the cars that had started

    to stack up in the road as

    everyone grabbed their

    cameras and jumped out

    for photos.  We stood

    there for quite some time

    watching the mouths of

    these two large animals slowly working around and

    around while their gazes wandered calmly between us

    and the cars.  It was as if they were kids hanging around

    at the street corner, chewing gum, and waiting for

    something to happen.

    Woods Canyon Lake is cool and serene, surrounded

    by pines.  Families were out fishing and an energetic

    guy rowed a skull back and forth.

    We stayed in this beautiful mountain forest

    for two weeks, settling into our homestead

    as if it were our own private mountain home.

    Every day we ran, biked and walked.  Then

    we read, napped, played on the internet and

    watched the boob tube, something we hadn't

    done for eight months.  Isn't it amazing, we

    kept saying to each other, that we can get 12

    Phoenix digital TV stations via our antenna

    and good internet from our nifty new Verizon

    MiFi unit, while we are camped several miles

    down a dirt road deep in the woods on the

    edge of a cliff?!

    It was hard to leave, but once we

    got the wheels rolling on our

    buggy, we couldn't wait to get out

    and see our beautiful country.  Our

    first stop was the Petrified Forest

    National Park.  Actually, we

    stopped just before the National

    Park because the guy who owns

    the vast acreage next door has

    been mining petrified logs from as

    deep as 30' down in the ground for

    decades, and the collection he has

    on display and for sale at his store

    "Jim Gray's Petrified Wood Company" is astonishing.

    Petrified logs are created when a log gets buried in sediment, preventing rot, and then becomes

    infiltrated by silica in the groundwater, replacing its organic material.  This stuff eventually

    crystallizes and "petrifies" the whole log.  Over time, as erosion peels the ground out from under

    the log, it cracks into short drum-shaped pieces that for all the world look like they are ready for

    splitting.

    We wandered through the

    endless display of petrified logs

    and even found a pile of geodes

    out back.  This pile stood almost

    10' tall and maybe 30' around at

    the base.  What a treasure trove!

    This is also dinosaur country,

    and the local gift shops have all

    kinds of fun making crazy

    displays for tourists.  Mark found

    a few out by the geodes.

    Petrified Forest National Park is an easy park to miss

    inadvertently because it sits on a road that cuts between an

    Arizona highway and an interstate.  We had made that mistake

    years ago.  We had driven along at 55 mph waiting to see a

    Forest, and we skipped the pullouts because there was no

    evidence there was any Forest there.  After an hour we emerged

    at the other end of the park having seen nothing but wide plains

    and a few scattered logs in the distance.  That goof-up has been

    a standing joke between us ever since.

    The only way to see this national park is to get out

    and do some hikes.  The hilly field behind the

    visitors center is strewn with huge logs, many

    resting in a row and fitting together to make an

    entire tree trunk.  These things are massively heavy

    and are 8 times harder to cut than granite.  From a

    distance the crystalized bark, knots and tree rings

    look lifelike, but up close the agate colors merge

    and swirl in non-treelike patterns.

    We hiked on the Long Logs trail which features one tree

    trunk after another, each one segmented into shorter

    logs that lie end-to-end.  Looking around the sweeping,

    empty, grassy plains it is hard to imagine that 260 million

    years ago this area was a logjam in an ancient riverbed,

    back when all the continents were joined and Arizona's

    latitude was somewhere around modern day Panama.

    13 species of large but extinct pines forested the area.

    Out at the Agate House we

    found an ancient Indian

    pueblo made of petrified

    wood pieces.  Archaeologists

    believe it was constructed

    between 1050 and 1300 AD.

    Those guys built very small

    buildings.

    The trail took us past tall,

    horizontally striped "sand

    piles" that are now solid

    stone.  It looked like a gravel

    yard that had been carefully

    layered in different types of gravel.  The heights of the

    dark stripes matched from one pile to the next.  There is

    an otherworldly quality to this landscape.

    As we walked back to the

    truck Mark spotted a collared

    lizard sitting on a hunk of

    petrified wood.  His little pink

    mouth seemed to be grinning,

    and his long skinny tail trailed

    almost twice his body length

    behind him.

    This is cattle ranching country

    too, and before we could get

    to the petrified log that spans a chasm -- the Agate Bridge -- we had to

    get past a group of cows standing in the middle of the road.  These

    guys didn't move an inch as we drove past.  Only their heads turned to

    watch us as our enormous truck and trailer nearly brushed them when

    we drove by.

    The Puerco Pueblo hike took us to an ancient Indian settlement built

    around 1250 AD.  It was home to some 1,200 people.  6'x8' was a typical

    room size, and unlike the mammoth Mayan and Zapotec buildings we'd

    seen a few thousand miles to the south, these ruined walls have been

    reconstructed to

    just a foot in height.

    Far more intriguing

    for us were the

    petroglyphs that the

    ancients had

    pecked into the nearby rocks.  One showed what

    looked to me like a stork carrying a baby.  I'm sure

    the archaeologists would disagree about that, but

    these images are often a bit like ink blots -- what

    you see in them is up to you.

    The park road crosses I-40 and deposits visitors in

    the middle of the Painted Desert.  But first you get a glimpse of the

    Santa Fe railroad and some relics of the old Route 66.  While we

    were wandering the hiking trails closest to I-40 we kept hearing

    the horns and rumbles of endlessly long trains rolling past.  I

    climbed up on a bridge overlooking the tracks and caught a train

    as it approached.  Running to the other side I watched it

    disappear around the bend.  These tracks date back to 1882

    when the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad went through.  Early visitors

    to the park arrived by train and took guided tours hosted by the

    Fred Harvey company.

    Mark was fascinated by an ancient rusting hulk of a car

    that had been abandoned long ago on the side of the

    old Route 66.  Stretching 2,200 miles from Chicago to

    Los Angeles, that historic road passed right through

    this area, bringing tourists to the park in their own

    private cars instead of by train.  Now this part of Route

    66 is overgrown by prairie grasses.

    Our final miles along the park road

    took us past some incredible vistas

    overlooking the Painted Desert.  This is

    a colorful area of more gravel-pit

    looking solid stone "sand piles," and

    we had taken so long

    getting through the park

    that we arrived while the

    late afternoon sun was

    lighting the vivid

    landscape to its most

    brilliant hues.  Gazing out

    at this exotic land, the

    sun beating down on us

    and our sinuses rapidly

    shriveling up in the dry air, it was hard to imagine what the ancients or the early

    settlers must have thought or how they even survived.  So harsh and yet so

    beautiful.

    By now our spirits were fully restored.  As we studied our maps we decided to

    head north via the tiny squiggle labeled "Indian Route 12" and head towards

    Canyon de Chelly National Park.  This road was marked as a scenic route

    but despite being Arizona residents before our traveling lifestyle we had never

    heard of it before.