A Hawaii Vacation!

October 2019 – Sometimes we get a little busy in our full-time traveling lives, and not all of our adventures make it onto the pages of this website. That’s how it was in the spring of 2017 when we were still posting our photos of our mind-blowing trip to Thailand and Cambodia even as we hopped on a plane to Hawaii.

Hawaii Vacation on Oahu

A wonderful tropical vacation on Oahu!

Once we got back to the mainland after reveling in the Hawaiian tropics for a week, we dashed off in our RV in such a flurry of excitement that we never even mentioned our Hawaii trip on this blog (although we did later publish an article about it in the Nov/Dec 2018 issue of Escapees Magazine!).

View of Waikiki from Diamond Head Oahu Hawaii-min

View of Waikiki from Diamond Head on Oahu

So, this week, as we embark on a little blogging vacation, it seemed fitting to share our pics and stories from this classic vacation destination!

View of Waikiki from Diamond Head Oahu Hawaii-min

Waikiki

We stayed on Oahu right in the thick of it all next to Waikiki Beach. There is nothing like getting off of a long plane ride and moments later strolling along a tropical beach!

Waikiki Beach Oahu Hawaii-min

Waikiki Beach is a short trip from the airport!

Waikiki Beach Oahu Hawaii-min

Waikiki Beach.

Our hotel room at the Sheraton was just steps away from the beach, many stories up in the air, with a balcony that hung out over the inviting pool far below.

Swimming pool Waikiki Oahu Hawaii-min

A palm tree’s shadow fills the water in the pool below our balcony

Waikiki is a bustling tourist city of high rises. There is a special beauty along the waterfront at night, and we discovered wonderful pockets of tranquility tucked away in quiet corners during the day.

Waikiki at night

Night lights.

Palm trees at sunset in Waikiki

Palm trees and volleyball at sunset.

Hawaii palm trees-min

Relaxing.

On other parts of Oahu, away from the urban hustle and bustle, we found remote beaches that were pounded by wild seas. As we strolled along the water’s edge, the seething surf crashed so hard the ocean had dug deep valleys in the sand.

Surf on Oahu in Hawaii

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Surf's up in Hawaii

Surf’s up!

Beautiful beach north side of Oahu Hawaii-min

Vivid turquoise waves carved patterns in the sand.

Everything about Hawaii is tropical, from exotic flowers to familiar birds dressed in fabulously outrageous outfits.

Flower Oahu Hawaii-min

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Red crested cardinal Oahu Hawaii-min

A red crested cardinal

A hike up Diamond Head gave us incredible views of the city and a wonderful glimpse of Diamond Head Lighthouse far below.

Diamond Head Lighthouse Oahu Hawaii-min

Looking down on Diamond Head Lighthouse

Our favorite spot was Hanauma Bay State Park where a crescent bay embraced a vibrant reef system soaked in warm, shallow turquoise water.

Hanauma Bay State Park Oahu Hawaii-min

Hanauma Bay State Park

Hanauma Bay State Park Oahu Hawaii-min

The brown patches are a coral reef that’s teeming with tropical fish

We rented some snorkeling gear and waded in from the beach!

Snorkeling Hanauma Bay State Park Oahu Hawaii-min

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We had done a lot of snorkeling on our sailing cruise of Mexico’s Pacific Coast and we’ve both snorkeled quite a bit in the Caribbean on various bareboat charters and commercial cruises. We also had a great snorkeling adventure in Thailand. But the variety of fish here at Hanauma Bay may have been the best of all!

Fish light Hanauma Bay State Park Oahu Hawaii-min

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Reef fish Hanauma Bay State Park Oahu Hawaii-min

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Tropical fish Hanauma Bay State Park Oahu Hawaii-2-min

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Colorful fish Hanauma Bay State Park Oahu Hawaii-min

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Spotted fish Hanauma Bay State Park Oahu Hawaii-min

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Tropical fish Hanauma Bay State Park Oahu Hawaii-min

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Many of the fish swam alone, but when we turned a corner around a coral head, we found ourselves in the middle of a huge school of fish!

Reef fish Hanauma Bay State Park Oahu Hawaii-min

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Years ago when we were sailing Mexico’s Costalegre (which cruisers have nicknamed the Gold Coast), we’d visited the aptly named (and little visited) Paraiso anchorage and seen a school of tiny fish that was so massive we thought it was some sort of rock or sea grass darkening the sandy bottom. At the time, we were scouting out spots to drop the anchor, so what a shock it was when this huge dark patch on the sand moved away!!

Back in Hanauma Bay, once the wall of fish parted and let us through, we saw a parrot fish hanging out with his pretty little orange buddy.

Hawaii Parrot fish and friend Hanauma Bay State Park Oahu-min

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Parrot fish and friend Hanauma Bay State Park Oahu Hawaii-min

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Parrot fish and friend Hawaii Hanauma State Park-min

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Hawaii is one of those “you can’t go wrong” types of destinations. This wasn’t our first trip and it won’t be our last, but every visit is utterly unique. A trip to any part of Hawaii is a wonderful way to spend a week immersed in tropical beauty.

Hawaii 2017

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This website has been home to our travel stories and the tips we’ve learned about the sailing and RV lifestyles since we first created it while camping at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon back in the summer of 2008. Not only was that some 165,000 truck miles (or so) ago, but it was also long before we bought a sailboat and cast off the lines to cruise the Pacific coast of Mexico!

Sailboat in Hawaii sunset-min

Hawaiian sunset.

We’ve had a lot of fun posting articles here ever since, producing new articles anywhere from 3 to 12 times a month. In the process we’ve created a travelogue and travel lifestyle resource for RVers and sailors of around 1,000 articles!

At long last we’ve decided to take a little blogging vacation. Among other things, during this time we’re going to revisit some of our older articles on here that are still read hundreds of times a day (even though they were first published as much as 10 years ago) to make sure they remain up to date.

If you’re on your way to the beautiful Sonoran Desert in Arizona with your RV for the winter, that’s where we’ll be. You’ll find dozens of articles on this site to give you ideas for places to go, things to do and sights to see in this rich desert landscape.

Click here for an index of all our Arizona travel articles.

Thanks for reading. Happy travels. Back soon!

RV under the Milky Way-min

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Williams, Arizona – Home of the Grand Canyon Railway!

October 2019 – We have spent a lot of time in the neighborhood of Grand Canyon National Park this year, and in recent days while traveling with our RV along I-40, we paid a visit to Williams, Arizona, the Gateway to the Grand Canyon.

Williams Arizona Gateway to the Grand Canyon-min

Welcome to Williams!

Williams lies at the junction of I-40 and the road that leads to the popular South Rim of the Grand Canyon, so its “gateway” claim is well deserved. But it is also a Route 66 town and was the last town on Route 66 to be bypassed by I-40.

But perhaps it is most well known and beloved for the Grand Canyon Railway, a train ride that starts in Williams and goes through ponderosa pine forests before arriving at Grand Canyon’s South Rim.

Trains cars on the Grand Canyon Railway in Williams Arizona-min

Williams is the home of the Grand Canyon Railway

Mark and I took this delightful train ride nearly 20 years ago as a weekend getaway and loved every minute of it. So, on this trip we wandered down to the train depot to see the train off one morning.

Railroad crossing Williamd Arizona 2-min

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The trees were changing color and the daytime temps were pretty cool. Overnight temps in the area were in the low to mid 20s, and we were glad to have our trusty blue flame heater keeping us warm in our rig.

Fall colors in Williams Arizona-min

Fall was in the air!

The Grand Canyon Railway ride is a great family outing, and the train trip is popular in every season. The ride is especially popular with kids, and there are tons of family amusements all around the depot to keep everyone entertained while waiting for the 9:30 departure each morning.

With Halloween around the corner, the whole area was decorated with pumpkins and ghoulish goodies.

Ticket booth in Williams Arizona at Grand Canyon Railway-min

The ticket booth was decorated for Halloween!

We had fun taking photos of each other with the many props.

Corpse in a coffin at Grand Canyon Railway on Halloween-min

There are all kinds of fun things to keep passengers entertained while they wait for the train!

Pumpkin man and puppy-min

Buddy checks out Mr. Pumpkinhead!

Buddy saw Mark posing as Mr. Pumpkinhead and he wanted to join in the fun too. He spotted a circus lion cutout and wanted to poke his nose through!

Puppy dreams of being a lion-min

Puppy chow!

Suddenly we heard the distant rumble of a train and we looked up to see a Grand Canyon Railway train rumbling down the tracks.

Grand Canyon Railway train arrives in Williams AZ-min

The train arrives at the depot

The train essentially backed into place with the conductor at one end and the engineer at the other. The engineer gave us a wave and then climbed down out of the train.

Train engineer on Grand Canyon Railway Williams Arizona-min

The train’s engineer waves to us.

Train engineer climbs out of Grand Canyon Railway train car-min

It’s a long way down!

The Grand Canyon Railway has been in operation for all but 20 years since 1901. Back when it opened, the fare was $3.95 which was a whole lot cheaper than the alternative $15 stagecoach ride to the South Rim from Flagstaff. It was probably a whole lot more comfortable too!

Sunset Cafe train car on Grand Canyon Railway in Williams Arizona-min

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We walked along the train cars and were astonished to count twelve of them. Could that many people be taking the train to the Grand Canyon on a Tuesday morning in October? We sure didn’t see that many people around.

There were lots of fun references to train travel around the depot grounds, and we noticed a park bench made from two train wheels. After staring at the park bench we had to check out the real wheels on the train cars. Who’d ever think of recycling old train wheels to be park benches? Very cool!

Park bench made from train wheels Williams Arizona-min

This fun park bench was made from train wheels…

Train undercarriage Grand Canyon Railway-min

…so we had to run back and see what the train wheels look like when they’re on the train!

Suddenly we heard a loud train horn blast. Buddy jumped and so did we!

Horns on train car 239 Williams Arizona Grand Canyon Railway-min

Those horns could really let out a blast!

As we walked along the train platform we noticed a large group of people gathered at the far end. As we got closer we realized they were gathered on the edge of an old western town.

Crowd gathers at old west gunfight-min

There was a crowd gathered by a mock-up of an old frontier town.

We stood on our tiptoes and peeked between everyone. To our surprise a midget cowboy was expertly twirling a rope getting ready to lasso someone or something.

Roping

He could really make it spin!

Then we heard a shot, and the midget was on the ground!

Gunfight at the saloon in Williams AZ-min

Uh oh… it’s a shoot out!

We noticed a cowboy reaching for his gun and then there were some more shots and some more cowboys fell to the ground.

Reaching for his gun-min

Watch out!

Old west gunfight Williams AZ 2-min

Two down…

Old west gunfight Williams AZ 3-min

Oh dear, now they’re all dead.

The crowd laughed and applauded and then slowly made its way to the waiting train. A gal walking next to me said, “That was fun to see here, but I hope they don’t do it on the train!”

I just smiled. Back when Mark and I had taken this train all those years ago there was a holdup in the middle of the woods, complete with horseback riders rushing the train and forcing it to stop. The cowboys had jumped off their horses and run through the train cars making quite a commotion!

Tourists line up to take the train at Grand Canyon Railway in Williams Arizona-min

Everyone made their way to the train platform.

As the passengers filed onto the train we chatted a little bit with the conductor, Bernie. He said today’s train was a small one with only about 500 or so passengers on it. On busy summer days the train would be about twice as long with 1,000 passengers on it.

Taking tickets at Grand Canyon Railway in Williams Arizona-min

.Lots of folks take overnight bags and spend a night at the rim.

During the holidays, from November 8th to January 4th this year, the Grand Canyon Railway runs the Polar Express train. Bernie said about 100,000 people, mostly kids of course, take that ride each year. Wow!!

In no time the train was full. As it pulled away from the depot, a small group of us on the platform waved and the people on the train waved back. We were all grinning. It might all sound a little hokey, but it was all a lot of fun even though we didn’t get on the train this time around.

Grand Canyon Railway train departs from Williams Arizona-min

The train heads off on its two hour journey to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

As we walked through the Grand Canyon Railway yard back into town we noticed a funny looking little train car on display. It was a Cog Railway train car that was used on the Pike’s Peak cog railway in Colorado.

It was tilted forward because it was designed to crawl straight up the mountain.

A few years ago we took the Mt. Washington Cog Railway train ride in New Hampshire up to the blustery tippy top of Mt. Washington in the White Mountains. It was a blast. Ever since then, the Pike’s Peak cog railway ride has been on our bucket list!

Cog railway car from Pike's Peak on display at Grand Canyon Railway in Williams Arizona-min

One of the old cog railway train cars from Pike’s Peak in Colorado.

After all this train excitement, Buddy said he wanted to go to the coffee shop. We’d been going to a really nice place on the main drag called Brewed Awakenings during our stay, and he excitedly led us right up to the back door.

Ready for a puppaccino at Brewed Awakenings in Williams Arizona-min

Buddy led us right to the back door of Brewed Awakenings.

Before my latte order had even been made, Buddy was quickly devouring his puppaccino (whipped cream in a bowl). Yum!

Puppy eats a puppaccino 2-min

Is there anything better than a puppaccino??

If you are traveling to the Grand Canyon and want to go to the heart of the South Rim’s historic Grand Canyon Village, the Grand Canyon Railway is a great way to go. Revived in 1989 after shutting down in 1968, the train has reduced the number of cars visiting the Grand Canyon by some 50,000 since it reopened!

Even if you don’t take the train ride, if your RV travels take you along I-40 in Arizona and you have a hankering to walk the pretty main street of a Route 66 town and join the excitement of the train’s daily departure, Williams makes a great stop!

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Drag Boat Races in AZ – Top Speed FUN on the Colorado River!

October 2019 – We took our RV to the Colorado River area near the town of Parker in the northwestern part of Arizona and just happened to hit the river on the right day. The Arizona Drag Boat Association was holding a weekend of drag boat races!

Arizona Drag Boat Association Race in Parker Arizona-min

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We could hear the noise of the drag boat engines long before we saw them, and we quickly ran down to the water to catch the action.

Boat 506 Arizona DragBoat Association Race in Parker-min

Racing drag boats in the Arizona desert.

There was a line of drag boats on trailers in the parking lot, and one by one they were being launched at the boat ramp. From there they were towed out to the starting line by people on jetskis.

Boat tow to the start line Arizona DragBoat Association Race in Parker-min

Getting a tow to the start.

The race was a “liquid” quarter mile, and they raced it in pairs with the winner of each race advancing to face another challenger in another race.

Arizona Drag Boat Association Race at Blue Water Casino on Lake Havasu-min

High speed fun!

Each drag boat leaped into action and then flew past us. One guy got such a fast start that he was knocked right off his feet in his boat. Luckily he was okay and his safety tether stopped the boat engine so it didn’t fly off with no one in control.

Driver falls in ADBA dragboat race at Blue Water Casino-min

Oops!

The sound of the engines and the speed of these drag boats was astonishing. To capture the motion we played with slowing the shutter speeds on our cameras and panning the action so we could blur the background but keep the boats in focus.

Arizona Drag Boat Association Race in Parker AZ-min

Weeeee!

Arizona Drag Boat Association Race Blue Water Casino Parker AZ-min

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It was an absolutely perfect day to hang out on the grass and watch these exotic drag boats fly by. Even though it was mid-October it felt like summertime!

Spectators at Arizona Drag Boat Association Race at Blue Water Casino Parker AZ-min

A beautiful sunny day on the Colorado River.

Fun at Lake Havasu Arizona-min

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Arizona Drag Boat Association Race in Parker AZ at Blue Water Casino-min

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Up in the air a helicopter flew around, hovering over the drag boats at the starting line.

Helicopter surveys the starting line of Arizona Drag Boat Association Race at Blue Water Casino-min

A helicopter hovered over the start line.

As each boat leaped into action it popped a wheelie. What fun!

Popping a wheelie at the start line of Arizona Drag Boat Association Race in Parker AZ-min

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Drag boat racing on Lake Havasu Arizona-min

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Hole shot at Blue Water Casino drag boat race-min

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Some of the drag boats came clear out of the water!

Flying high on Lake Havasu in drag boat race-min

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Out of the water Arizona Drag Boat Association Race in Parker AZ-min

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On shore, some people were so inspired by all this racing action that they couldn’t help but fly off the ground in a full sprint too!

Puppy leaps for joy-min

Leaping for joy!

Above it all, the helicopter chased after each pair of racing drag boats to the finish line and then circled back to the start. When things got quiet between races it flew up and down the river close to the shore.

Helicopter chases two drag boats at the ADBA drag races on Lake Havasu-min

Getting a bird’s eye view of the finish line.

Blue Water Casino hosts Arizona Drag Boat Association Race in Parker-min

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Blue Water Casino island ADBA drag boat rades-min

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They were taking pics of us as we were taking pics of them!

Flying helicopter at ADBA races Blue Water Casino Parker AZ-min

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Not all the water action was dragboat racing. This section of the Colorado River was closed to through traffic for the day, but periodically they had to pause the racing to let some boats cruising the river pass through.

Inside the marina a fellow played on practice wakeboard that was tied to a cable system spanning the calm water.

Water play Blue Water Casino Parker Arizona-min

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And in between heats of drag boat races a few jetskis took to the race course to see how fast they could go.

Jetski flies on Lake Havasu in Arizona-min

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But drag boat racing was the game of the day, and the spray was flying. Many races were neck-and-neck to the finish.

Speedboat drag boat race in Parker Arizona on Lake Havasu-min

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Racing drag boat on Lake Havasu Arizona-min

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Neck and neck drag boat race at Blue Water Casino Park Arizona-min

She got him in the end!

Most drag boats had huge towering engines, but one yellow boat had an outboard. When he lost his race Mark caught an image of him behind a fantastic wall of spray left by the winner.

Drag boat with outboard motor Lake Havasu Arizona-min

How will the outboard do?

Through the spray in a drag boat race-min

Well, he was left behind in the spray!

We were about to leave and started walking back to the parking lot when Mark noticed some truly exotic drag boats being backed down the boat ramp. These drag boats had covers that flipped down to protect the driver.

When the first boat got into the water and revved its engine we could feel the rumble in our chests. We asked one of the people helping roll the drag boats into the water what racing class this was and she said it was the top level group called “Pro-Outlaw.”

OMG. We couldn’t leave now!

Closeup of drag boat engine-min

Raw power!

Pro-Outlaw class of drag boats at ADBA race in Lake Havasu Arizona-min

The Pro Outlaws line up to race.

The drag boats sat at the starting line and rumbled for a while. Then we saw two boats lower their hoods. And off they went!

Pro-Outlaw drag boat racing at ADBA Lake Havasu race-min

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These Pro-Outlaw boats were hitting over 190 mph. Holy smokes!!

Pro-Outlaw class ADBA drag boat races Lake Havasu-min

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Drag boat race on Lake Havasu in Parker Arizona-min

190+ mph!

Pro-Outlaw qualifier race Arizona Drag Boat Association Lake Havasu-min

Pro Outlaws.

The Colorado River and Lake Havasu area in northwestern Arizona always seems to have something going on, and we’ve enjoyed several stays there.

From an unexpected and really fun “timeshare tour” of an RV park timeshare program to balloons rising over Lake Havasu to a VW microbus rally to a close encounter with burros on the California side of the river, we’ve bumped into some fabulous thrills in this water-filled part of the Arizona desert!

Drag boat race on Lake Havasu in Parker Arizona-min

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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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Heavenly Theatrics in Utah’s Red Rocks

September 2019 – We spent a lot of time roaming around in the backcountry of Utah in recent weeks, and some of our best days were when we the skies grew gloomy or when the sun and clouds chased each other across the beautiful vistas.

FB 1200 Light and Shadow in the red rocks of Utah

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Some of the trails and two-track roads we ventured out on started out simply enough.

Backcountry trail in Utah-min

Red rocks beckon in the distance.

And then within a few minutes we’d find ourselves staring at the most amazing view from up on a plateau.

Red rock vista Utah-min

What a view!

Sometimes storm clouds would gather, and we’d notice the patterns they formed in the heavens complemented the patterns of the rock formations on the ground.

Red rocks and clouds Utah-min

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As we would gawk at the mysterious wonder of the beauty before us, Buddy would keep it real and look for chipmunks in the bushes!

Puppy in red rocks Utah-min

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There are vast networks of trails and two track roads through all the Utah National Forests, and the possibility of discovery lured us down one trail after another.

Red rock view from a Polaris RZR in Utah-min

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Cloud formations and red rocks in Utah-min

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On some excursions the dramatic views changed with every turn in the road or trail. Our little Trail Scout would lead the way, but sometimes he’d have to run back to us to see what was taking so long (we’d be busy with our cameras!).

Red rock trail in Utah-min

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Puppy on the trail in the Utah red rocks-min

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Running on a red rock trail in Utah-min

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Shades of orange and red dominated many landscapes, but we found the most curious patch of yellow rocks mixed in with the orange ones in one spot.

Yellow patches in the Utah red rocks-min

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The cloud patterns were astonishing and everchanging. One day, we watched one group of clouds that looked like space ships moving across the sky. It was amazing how these clouds and others seemed to mirror the shapes of the rock formations below.

Crazy clouds in the Utah red rocks-min

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Wild cloud pattern over red rocks in Utah-min

Wow!

Beautiful red rocks in Utah-min

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One afternoon the sun came out and chased the big fluffy clouds all over the sky. The sun spread warmth and light across the hills only to have the clouds sweep everything into darkness for a brief moment. Then the sun would return and embrace the land once again.

Dramatic sky and red rocks in Utah-min

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Light and shadow on red rocks in Utah-min

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Red rocks in Utah light and shadow-min

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Utah red rock cliffs and clouds-min

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Afternoon sun in the Utah red rocks-min

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Utah continues to be our favorite state, and it’s easy to see why: breathtaking views like these are all over the place. It’s no wonder that lots of folks say Utah’s most minor destinations would likely be National Parks if they were located somewhere else!

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A Utah Backcountry Adventure!

September 2019 – We enjoyed several trips into the backcountry area near Capitol Reef National Park during our Utah RV trip.

View from one of the many backcountry roads in Utah.

On each excursion we just loved the sudden transition that came after riding our Polaris RZR through the woods of Fish Lake National Forest when the thick trees cleared and the red rock views of Capitol Reef National Park far below began to come into view.

Running the trails on Thousand Lake Mountain Utah-min

A backcountry road crosses a meadow in Fish Lake National Forest

Near the top of the woodsy mountains it was very cold, and we all bundled up in winter jackets, even our pup Buddy!

View of Capitol Reef National Park from Thousand Lake Mountain Utah-min

It’s coooold up here. But between shivers, what a view!

While we drove in our side-by-side behind him, Buddy zoomed down the twisting road ahead of us as the incredible views grew ever larger all around.

Running free near Capitol Reef National Park Utah-min

The descent had some fabulous views.

Overlook at Capitol Reef National Park from Thousand Lake Mountain Utah-min

View from an overlook.

Storm clouds were brewing overhead, giving the astonishing views a really dramatic flair. As we descended towards the valley floor, we hoped the clouds would clear once we got free of the mountains and out into the red rock desert.

Red rock views looking down at Capitol Reef National Park Utah-min

An exhilarating run — with views!

Capitol Reef National Park Utah views during run on Thousand Lake Mountain-min

A new view with every turn.

Running above Capitol Reef National Park Utah Red rock views-min

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Storm and rain over Capitol Reef National Park Utah-min

Light and shadow.

By the time we got to the bottom, though, the sun had come out and the air had warmed up at least 20 degrees. Buddy shed his jacket but Mark and I hadn’t been running like he had, so we kept our hats, jackets and gloves on a while longer!

Taking a break-min

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The backcountry roads in and around this area go on forever with lots of little off-shoots and detours and diversions along the way. There were signs pointing out different destinations, but we just followed the roads that looked intriguing without a particular destination in mind.

RZR ride in Capitol Reef National Park-min

There are dozens of roads and just as many great destinations.

Lots of rain all summer long had left the valley unusually green. The lush verdant carpet of vegetation around the base of the red rock pinnacles and cliff walls was just wonderful. One especially prominent pinnacle was Solomon’s Temple.

Capitol Reef National Park view-min

First glimpse of Solomon’s Temple.

Pinnacle in Capitol Reef National Park-min

Solomon’s Temple.

As we walked around taking photos, the storm on the horizon seemed to intensify.

Photographing Capitol Reef National Park during backcountry drive-min

This whole area was wonderful for taking photos, especially as the storm rolled in!

Storm in Capitol Reef National Park Utah-min

Rain was falling in the distance.

The backcountry road weaved and twisted and turned as it ran between the pink sandstone hills.

Backcountry road in Capitol Reef National Park Utah-min

The gravel road was very squiggly!

Pink sandstone hills in Capitol Reef National Park Utah-min

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There were storm clouds in every direction by now, and we began to feel droplets of rain here and there. We wanted to keep going, but the clouds were becoming really threatening.

Storm clouds Capitol Reef National Park Utah-min

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Storm threatens RZR ride in the red rocks-min

Hmmm… those clouds were getting very dark.

Storm clouds descend in Capitol Reef National Park Utah-min

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Storm clouds Capitol Reef National Park Utah-min

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We began to head back towards the mountain we’d come over hours earlier, but we noticed that a huge storm was pelting the very place where our road went. Yikes!

As we watched the thick rain cloud gathering steam over the distant hills, we realized it was headed our way.

Arriving storm

A particularly threatening storm cloud hung over the mountain we were returning to.

We looked around and noticed a group of ranch buildings and barns nearby. We ducked into a three sided barn for quick shelter. Luckily, the three walls around and behind us protected us from the approaching tempest.

Waiting out a storm-min

We hid out for cover for a few minutes

While we huddled inside waiting for the storm to blow over, Buddy noticed some rabbits zipping around. He could hear and smell them on the other side of the barn wall. Gosh, did he go crazy over that!

Puppy hears rabbits behind barn wall-min

Buddy passed the time eavesdropping on the rabbits on the other side of the wall

A bunch of old, used horseshoes had been hung on a half wall that formed a pen for smaller animals. How cool!

Horseshoes

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Fortunately, the worst of the storm missed us, and before long the sun had come out again. We made our way back up the switchbacks and over the mountain just in time to see a rainbow crossing our fifth wheel.

Rainbow over fifth wheel RV-min

A beautiful rainbow filled the sky after the storm passed.

The network of backcountry roads around the outside Capitol Reef National Park and in Fish Lake National Forest surrounding the Park is immense, and there are all kinds of interesting things to be seen, whether by 4×4 vehicle, side-by-side, mountain bike or horse!

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Fish Lake Utah – Fun Things To Do in the Lakes and Mountains

September 2019 – The area around Fish Lake is a wonderfully remote corner of Utah that we’ve enjoyed exploring, and the tiny spot that is at the heart of this place is the Fish Lake Lodge.

Fish Lake and Forsyth Reservoir Natural Beauty in Utah

The Fish Lake area of Utah is remote and full of Nature’s wondrous beauty

Fish Lake Lodge is open only during the summer, and we arrived late enough in the season that the fantastic dining room in this decades old log lodge was closed. But we were able to tip-toe into the dining room and take a peak. Wow!

Fireplace in dining room at Fish Lake Lodge Utah-min

Fish Lake Lodge has an inviting dining room and very cozy fireplace.

The dining room has a wall of windows that face the lake. Talk about dining with a view!

Dining room in Fish Lake Lodge Utah-min

Dinner with a view at Fish Lake Lodge

FIsh Lake reflects in the dining room windows at Fish Lake Lodge Utah-min

Outside on the deck, the wall of windows reflects the image of Fish Lake

Built between 1928 and 1933, this historic lodge made from locally harvested spruce logs has hosted travelers for nearly 90 years. Modern day travelers can rent charming lakefront cabins on the property, and RVers can set up camp with full hookups in the RV park.

The deck at Fish Lake Lodge Utah-min

Fish Lake Lodge

Exterior of Fish Lake Lodge Utah-min

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As we wandered around the outside of the building, we came across an absolutely fabulous old door.

Cool doorway at Fish Lake Lodge Utah-min

What a cool door!

There are lots of trails for hiking, walking and slow strolling in the area around Fish Lake, and every morning Mark took our pup Buddy out for a run.

Running with puppy

Buddy leaps into action — all four paws off the ground — at the start of his morning run with Mark

Buddy just loves his morning run, but his fast pace makes it tough for two footed runners to hang with him.

He likes to start his runs with a steady four minute mile pace, and he doesn’t throttle it back to a five minute mile pace until he’s gotten a mile or two under his belt. Yikes!

Running with puppy-min

Four short legs are a lot faster than two long ones!

My absolute favorite trail in the Fish Lake area is the portion of the miles-long Lakeshore Trail that goes southwest from the Fish Lake Lodge. It winds along the water’s edge for a mostly shady mile or two.

Lakeshore trail through aspen grove Fish Lake Utah-min

Lakeshore Trail heading southwest from Fish Lake Lodge was my favorite.

Buddy loves this trail too. It goes through a beautiful grove of aspen trees and is just wide enough to walk, run or bike comfortably yet stil feel intimate as you progress under the canopy of trees.

Aspen grove on Lakeshore Trail at Fish Lake Utah-min

Some folks run this trail and then have to wait for their slower companions to catch up

Puppy leads the way on Lakeshore Trail at Fish Lake Utah-min

The trail winds along the lake

Along the Lakeshore Trail there are lots of places where you can get down to the edge of the lake. We zipped up and down these short paths, and at one point we found a few aspen trees that beavers had gnawed on. One was even toppled over and had a huge pile of small wood chips next to it!

Beaver chewed aspen tree at Fish Lake Utah-min

Beavers had been busy!

In the middle of the aspen grove, the trees suddenly parted and the trail opened up to the sky. Looking down at our feet we found a wonderful area of rocks, wildflowers and deep puddles where Mother Nature had done some exquisite landscaping.

Mother Nature's landscaping at Fish Lake Utah-min

Beautifully casual landscape designs by Mother Nature

Flowers at Fish Lake Utah-min

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The Lakeshore Trail wanders all along the shores of Fish Lake both north and south of the Fish Lake Lodge, and it is a truly delightful walk.

Pretty view at Fish Lake Utah-min

A nice spot to rest a spell…

Fishing at Fish Lake Utah-min

Pretty in Pink!

Forest shoreline Lakeshore Trail Fish Lake Utah-min

Shoreside view of Fish Lake

In addition to hiking and biking trails, there are also lots of two track motor vehicle trails, and we took our RZR on one two track trail that took us way up into the hills where we got a beautiful view of Fish Lake.

Fish Lake Utah-min

View from a bluff in the hills on a brilliant sunny day which made the water a vivid blue

Horseback riding is very popular around Fish Lake, and there are lots of horse-friendly trails.

Horses preparing for a ride near Fish Lake Utah-min

Horseback riders prepare for a trail ride.

One of the many US Forest Service campgrounds in the area is an equestrian-only campground. This unique campground has solid, well built horse stalls right next to each campsite. Some are single stalls and one can hold four horses! Most of the stalls are well shaded.

However, you can only stay at this campground if you have a horse with you!

Horseback riders near Fish Lake Utah-min

Riding at dawn

There are lots of smaller lakes in the area, and we spent some time at nearby Forsyth Reservoir, both walking and riding the RZR on the wide trails that criss-cross the area.

Forsyth Reservoir Utah-min

Forsyth Reservoir

Trail at Forsyth Reservoir Utah-min

Our little trail scout leads the way down the trail at Forsyth Reservoir

Forsyth Reservoir Utah-min

Our RZR took us high above the lake

Buddy absolutely loves water (but only wading…no swimming!), and he drank freely from a spring that flowed down to the reservoir.

Something about the fresh air, fresh water, and the little beach area brought out his inner puppy, and before we knew it he was doing high jumps!

Puppy jumping-min

Buddy jumps for joy…

Puppy jumps for a stick at the lake-min

…and throws in some dance moves!

Since this is a mountainous area, the weather was highly unpredictable and ranged from really hot to really cold to crystal clear skies to fabulous storm clouds.

Light and shadow with storm clouds Forsyth Reservoir Utah-min

Light and shadow play on the land at Forsyth Reservoir

Rainbow

After the storm…

Puppy watches storm clouds-min

Saying goodnight to the clouds at sunset

RV under stormy skies at sunset-min

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Late one afternoon we were surprised to see an almost full moon rising. We took note of the time, and the next day, about an hour later and a few degrees to the left of where the moon had risen the day before, we watched the full moon rise out of the trees on a distant hillside.

Full moon rises above the trees-min

The moon rises behind the trees on a distant hillside

Full moon rising behind the trees-min (1)

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Full moon rises from the trees-min

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Full moon rises from trees-min

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Full moon at night-min

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We’ve really enjoyed exploring this quiet part of Utah where it’s not uncommon to see deer crossing the highway and herons stalking fish in the lakes. We even had a troop of five elk walked right by our campsite one evening! If your travels take you to central Utah, Fish Lake is worth a detour to see.

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Fish Lake Utah – Alpine Beauty & Brilliant Stars in Dark Skies!

September 2019 – We loved our hike and RZR ride near Red Canyon, Utah, but at 7,500′ elevation it was pretty toasty in the afternoons during summer’s final big heat wave. So we dashed further north and up to an altitude of 9,000′ at Fish Lake, Utah, where the early mornings were downright cold and the night skies were incredibly clear.

Star trails over RV in clear night sky

Star trails over our trailer!

The area around Fish Lake is hilly and filled with babbling brooks, ponds and pretty lakes. The Fishlake Scenic Byway is a twisting and winding route that goes between the villages of Fish Lake and Loa, Utah. The scenery is just gorgeous.

Scenic vista near Fish Lake Utah-min

A pretty lake with a hillside full of yellow wildflowers.

Fish Lake Scenic Drive Utah-min

The Fish Lake Scenic Drive takes in some spectacular views

Stream near Fish Lake Utah-min

We found streams and lakes galore

Views near Fish Lake Utah-min

The hills were full of pines, aspen trees and open meadows

Up in the hills above Fish Lake there is a stand of aspen trees called the Pando Aspen that is thought to be the biggest and oldest single living organism on the planet.

Aspen trees are not individual trees. Each one is connected to its neighbors, and the Pando Aspen is over 100 acres in size and is estimated to be about 80,000 years old!

Pando Aspen Fish Lake Utah-min

At over 100 acres and 80,000 years of age, the Pando Aspen in Fish Lake, Utah, is the largest and oldest single living organism in the world

There are lots of hiking trails and dirt roads to explore in the area around Fish Lake. We drove past the Lakeshore Trailhead and could see a cute little wooden bridge going over a stream in the distance. We just had to check out the wooden bridge, so we circled back and let our pup Buddy lead the way.

Puppy ready to hike the Lake Shore Trail in Fish Lake Utah-min

The little wooden bridge at the start of the trail was too cute to pass up


There were three trails to choose from, and Buddy promptly ran straight uphill into the woods on the trail marked “Crater Lake.”

Of course, this wasn’t THE Crater Lake of Crater Lake National Park fame in Oregon (the upcoming November 2019 edition of our Trailer Life Magazine back page column features one of Mark’s glorious photos of THAT Crater Lake!).

But we were curious what THIS Crater Lake was like. So up we went behind Buddy.

The trail went straight up. Not just a little up, but a whole lotta up and up, and then up some more. We huffed and puffed and kept looking for signs that the summit was just ahead, but the more we hiked into the heavens the less likely it seemed that we would ever get there!

I hate to say it, but we finally had had enough of climbing and decided that since we hadn’t brought any water or prepared for a big hike it was probably best to save the view of this Crater Lake for another time.

Down we came, having seen only woods!!

Hiking Crater Lake Trail near Fish Lake Utah-min

We didn’t make it to Crater Lake, but we got a good hilly workout!

The streams in the area were delightful, and on most hikes and walks we were able to find a stream where Buddy could get a drink and play for a while before we turned around and headed back.

Creek near Fish Lake Utah-min

There are lots of creeks and streams in this area

Stream near Fish Lake Utah-min

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One day he had so much fun sprinting through a stream that he splattered mud on his face. He looked like he had put on makeup or was dressing up as a tiger!

Puppy with mud mascara-min

The mud was flying when Buddy zipped along the riverbanks!

In one spot wer found horses grazing by a stream. Such bucolic scenery!!

Horse grazing in Utah-min

A horse grazes in the middle of a postcard setting

Horses

These horses were very friendly

Buddy found a trio of cows and began talking to them in a very loud voice.

Puppy with cows-min

Buddy gave some cows an earful

Smiling puppy with cows-min

They seemed to take it in stride.

There are lots of dirt roads to explore too, and we headed down one that looked especially inviting. Unfortunately, no sooner had we started than we found the way blocked with huge boulders in front of an old wooden bridge. The bridge was pretty rickety, so that’s probably why the road was closed to vehicles.

End of a RZR ride in Utah-min

Our RZR ride ended when we came to a small bridge that was blocked. So we hiked instead!

No matter. We hopped out of the RZR and walked on the wide dirt road which was now wonderfully free of any kind of traffic.

The road followed a stream that was lined with wildflowers, and I soon realized the theme for this little excursion would be “wildflowers.” They were all kinds of shapes and colors and sizes.

Stream with flowers in Utah-min

The dirt road went alongside a stream.

Pink wildflower in Utah

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Unusual wildflowers in utah-min

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Beautiful noxious weed in Fish Lake Utah-min

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While we snapped pics of the flowers, Buddy ran ahead to scout for chipmunks and squirrels. One squirrel watched him warily from a branch high up on a tree.

Squirrel teases puppy during hike at Fish Lake Utah-min

This squirrel eyed Buddy from the safety of a high branch!

The flowers continued to enchant us as we strolled slowly along the edge of the river, and we were surprised how many were in full bloom so late in the summer season. Then again, we saw leftover winter snow in the nooks and crannies of the mountains, so these flowers had had a long wait for the warm weather to arrive!

Lavender wildflowers Fish Lake Utah-min

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Yellow daisies Fish Lake Utah-min

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Dandelion gone to seed Fish Lake Utah-min

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Yellow wildflowers on Fish Lake Utah hiking trail-min

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Suddenly, we noticed a bush with the familiar spiky leaves of raspberries. And sure enough, there were hundreds of tiny wild raspberries. These weren’t the big cultivated raspberries we all see in the supermarket. There were just a few bumps on each berry. But they were unmistakeably raspberries — and the birds and possibly the bears had been enjoying them.

Wild raspberries near Fish Lake Utah-min

Wild raspberries!

Down at the edge of the lake we found lots of marshy plants growing. A few herons and other waterbirds poked around at the water’s edge.

Weeds at Johnson Valley Reservoir Utah-min

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The weather at Fish Lake is unpredictable, and on several afternoons storm clouds gathered overhead and we could see rain falling in the distance.

One afternoon the clouds turned black while the sun shone through beneath them, making for a fantastically dramatic image.

Dramatic scenery at Fish Lake Utah-min

A wildly stormy sky heralded the start of an intense summer storm!

No sooner had I taken that photo than the heavens opened up. Hail the size of peas fell in torrents!

Hail storm at Fish Lake Utah-min

Hail pounded the lake

Almost as soon as it had started, the tempest ended and the sun came out. But the evidence of the hail storm was plain to see on our patio mat.

Hail on an RV patio mat-min

The sun came out right after the storm, but the hail stuck around for a little while

After a few days of afternoon monsoon storms, the skies cleared and we had sunshine all day every day. Late one evening Mark headed out the door and then dashed back in: “You wouldn’t BELIEVE the Milky Way!” he said.

We both grabbed our cameras and ran outside.

The MIlky Way was as bright as could be and was coming right down on top of our rig!

Milky Way over an RV in a clear night sky-min

We caught the Milky Way AND a shooting star over our rig!
(The shooting star is the thin line to the right of the Milky Way)

Milky Way with an RV night sky astrophotopraphy-min

The Milky Way came right down to our rig!

Luck was with us, and for the next few nights there was no moon in the early evening and the sky was completely clear of clouds.

One night we headed down to the edge of the lake with our gear and caught the Milky Way as it fell towards the lake.

Milky Way Fish Lake Utah-min

We drove out to the edge of the lake to get some shots of the Milky Way diving towards the water

Remote parts of Utah are known to have wonderfully dark skies, and the above photo shows just how easy it is for artificial lights to affect the magic. The yellow glow in the lower right part of the image is from just a handful of buildings behind the hill.

Mark took out his 12 mm fisheye lens and got some neat effects.

Milky Way Fish Lake Utah-min

A fisheye lens view

Milky Way Johnson Valley Reservoir Utah-min

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When we got back to our rig we noticed that the Big Dipper was right above it.

Big dipper over RV-min

The Big Dipper was right over our trailer

The Big Dipper can be used to locate the North Star which sailors and outdoor adventurers have used to navigate for ages. The North Star is in line with the last two stars in the bowl part of the Big Dipper.

Big dipper over RV with outline-min

The Big Dipper can be used to find the North Star

As I lined up the stars to find the North Star, I suddenly realized that this might be a perfect time to do a “star trails” photo.

It’s a little tricky to conceptualize, but as we stand on the earth and it rotates around its north-south axis, the stars in the sky appear to rotate around the North Star.

This reminded me of when I was a little girl and I used to spin around in a small room in our house with my head thrown back as I stared up at a light fixture in the ceiling. I would spin and spin while staring at that light fixture, and then when I stopped the whole world would keep spinning. I’d try to take a step and would promptly fall on the ground, totally dizzy, and crack up laughing. I thought this was hilariously funny and would do it over and over again!

Well, such is the silliness of a six year old girl making herself hopelessly dizzy. But now, many decades later, the star trails effect over our trailer was sensational.

I set the camera up on the tripod and left it to take a photo of the stars on a 14 mm lens for an hour at f/2.8 and ISO 64. When I tiptoed back out in the black of night and felt my way back to the tripod (without bumping into it or knocking it over!), I was thrilled with the image I saw on the back of the camera:

trails

Star trails!

Fish Lake is popular among fishermen and hunters, but it isn’t high on the list for other travelers. However, if you are looking for a quiet spot that is 20 miles away from the nearest real town (of 400 people), a place where there’s precious little internet access but lots of nature everywhere, consider putting Fish Lake, Utah, on your itinerary!

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Red Canyon – Arches Trail – Windows & Hoodoos in Utah!

August 2019 – Red Canyon in Utah is a little jewel that lots of folks miss in their excited rush to get to nearby Bryce Canyon National Park. But we’ve loved our visits there, and this time around we decided to hike the Arches Trail.

Arches Trail in Red Canyon Utah

Some of the windows seen on Arches Trail in Red Canyon Utah

Arches Trail is a half mile long loop trail, but there are so many offshoots and overlooks and fun nooks and crannies to explore that it can take well over an hour to savor it all.

When we got to the fork where the loop begins and ends, our pup Buddy and I headed one way while Mark headed the other. It wasn’t on purpose. We were all so busy looking around that we didn’t even notice we’d split up!

Buddy and I went to the right, and in no time we were doing a steep scramble. Buddy was already on all fours, but I nearly joined him on my hands and knees!

I looked up from my scramble for a moment and saw a fabulous arch in front of me.

Big arch Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah-min

Way above me I saw an arch that was eerily familiar!

When I got closer to the arch I suddenly had a feeling of déjà vu. Mark and I had been in this exact spot many years ago (blog post here).

It had been late afternoon when we got up here back in August 2011, and the sky had suddenly gone black just as we got to this spot. A monsoon thunderstorm had chased us down off the trail and we had barely made it out before the deluge!

Big arch Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah-min

The last time I saw this arch, it framed a big black threatening cloud!

Buddy and I decided to head down and see what Mark was up to, and I wanted to share this memory I’d suddenly had. How funny that neither of us had recognized the trail or the trail name at the start. I guess we’ve seen a lot in all these years of full-time travel!

Mark had gotten a beautiful starburst photo of the sun peeking around the edge of a red rock cliff.

Starburst in the red rocks-min

Morning light on the Arches hiking trail

As we continued on the trail all together, we started hunting for arches. We had heard that there are 15 arches on this trail.

We passed a mysterious stone structure that had a very rough roof made of loose logs. Buddy ran over to inspect it. “This is an arch, isn’t it?” He seemed to ask.

Stone building Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah-min

What’s in here?? Hey, does this count as an arch?!

Not quite. The arches on this trail were supposed to be hewn by nature’s powerful forces of wind and water and not by human hands.

Mark discovered a ponderosa pine tree trunk that was marvelously twisted.

Twisted ponderosa pine tree Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah-min

A fantastically twisted ponderosa pine tree trunk

The hike went up and up, so whether you did the loop clockwise, like we were doing, or counter-clockwise, there’s a bit of climbing involved.

Hiking up Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah-min

Up, up, up!!

Mark and Buddy found a cave. It didn’t quite count as an arch, but it was cool.

Cave on Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah-min

This cave is almost an arch…

The trail got so steep that a set of stairs had been installed to make it a little easier to climb. How handy!

Stairs on Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah-min

A convenient stairway alleviated the scrambling.

Puppy on Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah-min

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Finally we got up to the top where the views went on forever in every direction.

View from the top of Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah-min

Ahhh… it was worth the climb. What a pretty view at the top!

Views on Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah-min

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Red rocks and green meadows Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah-min

We loved the contrast of the red rocks around us and the green open land beyond

We wandered off to see the views and soon found ourselves on opposite sides of the canyon.

Across the canyon on Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah-min

Hello..ello..ello..ello!!!

Across the canyon on Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah-min

I hear you-oo-oo-oo!

I wandered over to one edge where we had a good view of the Losee Canyon wash. Just at that moment a group of horseback riders appeared walking down the wash.

Forest red rocks and a wash on Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah-min

Way far down in the wash we noticed a horse trail ride underway.

Horses and riders Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah-min

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Horses in a wash near Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah-min

What a fun ride!

Trail rides are popular in this area, and there are rides of various kinds to all kinds of pretty places.

We continued our hike, wandering down little mini trails off the main path. It was fun to scramble up to higher heights and get pics of the vast landscape. What a place!

Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah Hike-min

Such an incredible landscape!

Suddenly, we rounded a bend and came across a row of giant chess pieces.

Pinnacles on Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah-min

A row of hoodoos appeared in front of us!

Pinnacle on Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah-min

Each hoodoo pinnacle had its own personality.

These hoodoos were standing very close together and touching each other here and there, forming interesting arches and windows in between them.

Windows on Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah-min

We checked out the hoodoo windows while Buddy checked out the chipmunk in a tree.

Pinnacle in an arch on Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah-min

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Tree in an arch on Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah-min

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Window on Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah-min

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At this point we we’d lost count of the arches we’d seen, but we just loved these funny people-like hoodoos.

Chess piece pinnacle on Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah-min

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Red rock hoodoos Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah-min

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The trail wandered around, clinging to the red gravel hillside and luring us on into the ever-changing scenery.

Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah in the morning-min

We were loving Arches Trail

Hiking trail Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah-min

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Buddy sprinted ahead while we took baby steps behind him, entranced by our surroundings. He zipped up and down and in and out while we progressed at a snail’s pace. Every so often he’d stop for a while and wait for us to catch up.

Running puppy on Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah-min

Buddy sprints down the trail…

Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah puppy pause-min

…and then waits for us to catch up

Finally we scrambled down from the highest heights and back to the trailhead. What a wonderful morning this had been!

Arches Trail Red Canyon Utah hiking-min

We’d seen arches of all kinds, even an arbor arch at the end!

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Casto Canyon Trail – A Delightful ATV / UTV Ride!

August 2019 – When we were casting about on the internet to find beautiful places to ride our Polaris RZR side-by-side, we came across a claim that Casto Canyon in Utah is one of the top 10 ATV trails in the country. Wow!! We had to go!

Casto Canyon ATV and UTV trail ride in a Polaris RZR-min

Casto Canyon is a gorgeous ATV / UTV / hiking / biking and horseback riding trail

Casto Canyon (there is no “r” in the word “Casto” ) is located on the back side of spectacular Red Canyon, a unique collection of red and pink hoodoo pinnacles that acts as a warmup show for visitors heading to Bryce Canyon National Park.

We eagerly hopped into our RZR and hit the two track trail.

Two track trail across a wash in Casto Canyon Utah-min

Casto Canyon Trail is a two-track trail that follows the route of a huge wash.

The Casto Canyon ATV trail follows a wash that winds through the canyon and criss-crosses it repeatedly. In no time we had a view that totally warranted that “Top 10” designation we’d read about.

Casto Canyon ATV trail goes alongside a wash in Utah-min

After just a few minutes we were in the middle of a gorgeous red rock canyon.

Our little Buddy ran along ahead of us in his usual role as Trail Scout and sprinted down the two track trail as it ducked back into the woods.

Casto Canyon trail goes through the woods for a while-min

The trail wandered between the wash and the woods, perfect for a puppy prance.

Two track ATV trail in Casto Canyon Utah-min

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The Casto Canyon trail parallels the wash and hops back and forth across it repeatedly. We had the whole canyon to ourselves, and the rising sun felt warm on our skin each time we emerged into the wash from the deep shade in the woods..

Red rock pinnacle and puppy in Casto Canyon Utah-min

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Red rock pinnacle on Polaris RZR ride in Casto Canyon Utah an ATV : UTV trail copy

The red rock hoodoo pinnacles rose up around us.

Red rock pinnacles in Casto Canyon Utah-min

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The Casto Canyon ATV trail crosses a wash many times-min

The Casto Canyon wash is very wide and quite deep. What a rush it must be when it floods!

UTV Polaris RZR ride in Casto Canyon Utah-min

The trail crossed the wash many times.

Casto Canyon Trail is only 5.5 miles long, but we took our time, riding a few hundred yards and then stopping to take pics and explore on foot. At first, the shadows were long and deep, but gradually the sun rose higher and the shadows crept back towards the base of each tree and red rock hoodoo.

Sunrise in the red rocks of Casto Canyon Utah-min

Early morning was a great time to explore this canyon.

Red rocks through the trees in Casto Canyon Utah-min

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Casto Canyon Trail is a multi-use trail that is open to horses, hikers, bikers and motorized vehicles. It would be possible to ride it on a bike, but we knew we’d be jumping on and off our bikes a lot to walk through the more difficult patches.

Casto Canyon ATV trail in Utah winds in and out of a wash-min

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As we explored the fringes of the trail, our gaze was drawn both down to our feet where delicate flowers were in bloom and up high above us where the red rock spires reached towards the sky.

Flowers in Utah-min

Pretty flowers were blossoming here and there.

Red rock crack in Casto Canyon Utah-min

Such fantastic shapes!

At last we came to an intersection with Barney Cove Trail. This spot marks the end of the dramatic red rocks lining the sides of the wash and the trail. Buddy decided it was time for a rest!

End of Casto Canyon at Barney Cove and Fremont Trail junction-min

We stopped for a break when the Casto Canyon trail intersected the Barney Cove Trail

Suddenly we heard the sounds of a motor in the distance, and then an ATV appeared on the trail ahead of us. The driver stopped and took a break while he waited for his companions behind him.

It turned out that he and his friends were on a 12 day long 300 mile ATV adventure. They had already covered 100 miles in the first four days and they had another 200 miles to go.

They were carrying all their gear on their four wheelers, from tents, clothes and food to drinking water and gas for the ATVs. They were staying on or near the trail in the wilds the whole time, and they were having a blast.

As we watched him and his buddies ride off down the trail behind us, we agreed that they were probably about to see the most beautiful scenery of their whole trip.

ATV on 300 mile journey on Paiute Trail and Casto Canyon Trail-min

A group of ATVs passed us. They were 100 miles into a 300 mile multi-day trip!

Nearby, we found a trickle of a stream flowing. The wash is enormously wide with steep eroded dirt walls that have been carved by blasts of rushing water in some places. But at the moment, in mid-August, there was just a dribble of water here and there, likely from the recent afternoon monsoon storms.

Creek in Casto Canyon red rocks in Utah-min

Recent monsoons had left a dribble of water in a few spots.

We continued a little further on Casto Canyon Trail. Casto Canyon is a narrow trail and we were glad we had a skinny trail model RZR when we squeezed through one tight spot.

Narrow passage on Casto Canyon ATV trail Utah-min

There were some tight spots on this narrow trail.

The trail got rougher as we went along, and the most stunning red rock scenery fell behind us. So, we turned around and headed back. The sun was much higher now, and with the different lighting and in direction the views were all new.

Casto Canyon Utah AtV UTV trail through a wash-min

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View in Casto Canyon on the ATV - UTV trail-min

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The size of the red rock canyon walls is hard to comprehend, but the size of the trees gives a hint.

Green tree in the red rocks of Casto Canyon Utah-min

A big tree snuggles up to the base of a red rock canyon wall.

RZR ride on Casto Canyon ATV - UTV trail in Utah-min

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Even as tall and rugged as the red rock hoodoos were, we kept finding dainty little things down at our feet. We were immersed in Nature’s wondrous beauty.

Morning shadows in red rock country-min

Not only were the towering hoodoos eye catching, we found beautiful things at our feet!

The trail twisted and turned around berms on the edge of the canyon on our way back.

Woods and red rocks in Casto Canyon Utah-min

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Two track trail in Casto Canyon for ATV UTV Horses and hiking-min

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The red rock hoodoos stood cheek-by-jowel on the edges of the wash, each one covered with horizontal stripes. When we turned one corner, we noticed a red rock hoodoo that had slipped on its foundation and was lying at an angle. Cool!

Casto Canyon trail in Utah follows a wash through the red rocks-min

The hoodoos sported horizontal stripes.

Tumble down red rock pinnacle Casto Canyon Utah-min

One of the hoodoos had slipped and fallen!

Even if you don’t own an ATV or small UTV, Casto Canyon is a true delight to explore. The views begin within the first few hundred yards, so even a short out-and-back hike is rewarding. If you are comfortable riding (or walking) a bike across multiple washes filled with loose sand and gravel, Casto Canyon would also be lovely to experience from the seat of a bike.

Casto Canyon ATV trail follows a was through a red rock canyon-min

What a fun morning this was!

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More info about this area:

Other blog posts from Red Canyon and Bryce Canyon National Park:


Our most recent posts:

More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.   New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff and check out our GEAR STORE!!

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