Arrow Rock…Rocks! But does not Explode!

July 6, 2017

To Escape the Fireworks Head to Arrow Rock!

Sign in front of the Lyceum Theatre

Sign in front of the Lyceum Theatre

About one year ago, I created a blog about Arrow Rock.  We were about to launch our southern extravaganza trip and this was our first stop.  Today I am combining some of that data with a new twist on Arrow Rock.

Arrow Rock is one of the first places we took our 24′ Fleetwood many years ago.  It is both a National and State Park or Monument or whatever! And a great place to spend a weekend!  There is plenty of space for camping with 30/50 hookups!

Arrow Rock was ready for the holiday! But the shops were closed!

Unlike a year ago, when we set up our site at sleepy Arrow Rock, this time the town was teeming with tourists.  They were waiting in line to chow down at J. Huston’s Tavern and then on to a play at the Lyceum.  Yet our cellphones would not work and most of the shops were closed. We thought we had entered the Twilight Zone!

Such a lively place!

The Tavern

J. Huston’s Tavern

Arrow Rock is located on the Blackwater River and riverboats used to stop by with loads of good stuff to purchase.  And before it became a town it was a place where Native Americans carved out their flint arrow heads! Their biggest problem was malaria-carrying mosquitos.  A local, Dr. Sappington,  invented quinine which became the malaria-drug and saved the day.

One of the best things about Arrow Rock is the fried chicken dinners served at the Tavern.  This year we spent two lunches at the Tavern and certainly gained a few pounds.

While camping at Arrow Rock we took our bicycles for a tour of the town and stretched the ride on the second day to the Arrow Rock Cemetery and beyond.

Here is Tom showing off his bicycle!

 

 

 

 

The oldest grave we could find was from 1822 and many people died in the 1860’s.  It was interesting to see the different faiths and symbols displayed on the headstones.  Some of the them were unfamiliar to us.

This person was a Mason, a Jew, and what else? If you know what the symbol is on the left, email!

The cemetery was well taken-care-of and a real joy to explore. It  reminded me of the Gilreath Cemetery (My mother’s family) in Holly Hill, Kentucky.  My ancestors deeded the land to the rest of the family.  Some say that slaves are buried around the edges of the cemetery.  I do not believe any slaves were buried in the Arrow Rock Cemetery.  Dr. Sappington had given land to the slaves for their cemetery a few miles down highway TT.

 

We loved biking this road!

Sappington has his own very ornate and elaborate cemetery near the old mansion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It appears that free African-Americans were also buried at the Negro Cemetery.  There were very few headstones at the Negro Cemetery.  I could not find one that mentioned slavery.  Of course slavery had been outlawed when most of these people died.

More than slaves were buried at this cemetery.

Here is a very old headstone carved by someone who did not know how to carve! The name on it is Robert Banks! I could find no history on him.

Tom and I also stopped at the very little town of Blackwater on Highway K that is located just west of Arrow Rock.  It boasts 160 residents (Where were they?)  and Arrow Rock has only 56?  We were looking for a restaurant in which to dine on July 3 with long-time student assistant  and helpful editor Anne and her husband, Elliott.  All the restaurants in Arrow Rock were closed.

And the churches in Arrow Rock were closed too, even on Sunday!

Blackwater’s architecture is amazing!

The family posing for a picture in Blackwater!

We were so lucky to hook up with Anne and Elliott in Blackwater.  Anne has been battling cancer for a year and recently recovered from surgery.  She was, of course, the best and brightest Student Assistant and editor who helped me at UCM!! and later.  Here they are!

How happy they are!  Oh, Twinkers is taking advantage of them!

If you haven’t visited Arrow Rock, take time to do it some day!  You learn so much about the history of our country and the people who live there are beyond kind!  We are so lucky to have a state and a national park system that sees the value in preserving the past as a way of educating all of us!!!!

Here is a a new candid camper for you.  This camper was created by its owner.  It appears to be a SUV.  He told us that it took him six months of work to make the thing work.  It has a fridge and all the amenities!

What a camper! The owners were from Kentucky.

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sleeping in the Bush!

Our pop-up trailer looked something like this when the wheels were working!

RV’s Galore!

Tom and I spent our honeymoon in a tent on the shores of a lake somewhere in Wisconsin. We don’t remember the spot? (Maybe global warming swallowed it up!) I do remember that Tom woke me up at 5:00 a.m. (I say it was 4:30.) in freezing temperatures to head out in a row boat to fish. I declined!

Our first wonderful Fleetwood!

This is sort of like the camper we rented in Alaska. It was small!

 

We spent many years tenting across the United States, gradually upgrading to a pop-up trailer, then renting all sorts of Motorhomes. Finally we purchased a small Class C in 2011 and then our 34 foot home in 2015.

Our first Motorhome adventures began in Alaska. What glorious trips! Twice we rented small motorhomes and crisscrossed the state, taking plane rides, floating across Prince William Sound, and joining some pirates in search of calving glaciers. There was the forceful Kenai River, the spit at Homer, a friendly Moose and her calf, and of course flies as we headed toward Yukon Territory.

We often camped alone (no other campers) and wondered if bears were keeping watch over us. We kept our eyes peeled  for scat (bear poop)  on the trails and sometimes turned back because neither one of us wanted to go first. We adventured in July when it was often cold and raining but we did not seem to mind it!

Notice that this old truck camper is camping where it is not allowed in Alaska!

People camp for a variety of reasons. Many people are homeless and volunteering at a park allows them to maintain a good standard of living. Recently, at Rifle Gap State Park in Colorado, there were at least five volunteer hosts. They perform a variety of jobs including cleaning restrooms, parking sites, picking up the trash, and security. They receive free water, sewer, and electricity and a camping site on which to place their RV. (We figure that amounts to at least $10K a year.) Anyone can volunteer. I thought about volunteering in Alaska near the Blue Ice Trail for a summer but Tom is not too keen on cleaning toilets to save $7.00 a night.

Not a viable option!

We came across many homeless people in the National Forests of Oregon. You can camp for about $7.50 a night. Of course, there are no amenities. So dry camping is the name of the game! We ran into very old people who seemed to pile everything they had in their RV, tent, or boat. Most campgrounds allow you to stay two weeks on one site, but you could move from site to site, and break that rule. We also saw people camping off-road in the mountains of Utah without water or electricity. Many of these small motorhomes looked like they were prepared for the winter.

This is a 10 year old Newmar Class A motorhome. The owners had just painted it! WOW!

Ten years ago we explored northern Utah and beyond. We encountered groups of people living together. At one campground, it seemed as if there were about 24 Latinos in two sites linked together. They had a turkey boiler and were cooking food for everyone. (It wasn’t Thanksgiving.) Their tents looked permanent.

The blue cone-shaped tent is a shower and used to change clothing.

 

And why are Middle Eastern looking people camping in Arkansas? One holiday we parked next to about ten sites of Middle Eastern people outside Hot Springs. They did not use the picnic tables or eat normal meals together. They squatted around fires and had food in their hands, not on plates. The license plates on their vehicles were from Texas. They were not frolicking in the lake or the sun. Tom says that they were new to this country.

 

 

I love retro RV’s. This is a very old trailer.

On one camping trip there was a couple who camped across from us in a tent. The young woman was in a wheel chair. Each morning the man lifted the woman out of the tent, wheeled her to the restroom, brushed her hair, made a fire, and cooked food for her. The rest of the day they sat under the trees or the stars talking to each other. One morning when we got up, they were gone! And so was all the love that they gave to each other.

Typical Nova Scotia Campground–no organization!

Probably one of the greatest shocks for me was in the many campgrounds in Nova Scotia. They were really trailer parks and the trailers looked like they should have been demolished or burned down. The restrooms smelled and parking areas were not very well developed. We were happy we were camping in someone else’s RV.

 

Candid Campers 

In Wisconsin, a female electrician emerged from this one!

Yes, people camp in almost everything. On our most recent trip a family had renovated a horse trailer including bunk beds for the kids in the back of it. I wanted to take a photo of it but sometimes you feel as if you are invading the privacy of others. There are trailers constructed for a single person that remind you of space movies where people are put in stasis to travel into outer space.  In Oklahoma we came across our first Tiny house–and it was too tiny!

The owners came home to let out the dogs and then escaped on a motorcyle.

 

Not cool!

In Moab people were living in buses (not renovated) and beat up vans.

Some people camp in parking lots. Walmarts had dozens of campers throughout the West.

Camping in a refrigerator truck!

 

Sleek and spiffy trailer from Canada.

Follow this link to images of campers that you could never imagine!

Advance Notice!  In the fall I will begin creating tiny travel books under the series name of  “Motoring with Marla.”  The first one will begin with an “A” for Alaska!  

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge.

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Mama, Please Pass the Mush!

The Romance of Dining on the Road.

You can smell it, can’t you? When you camp grub is cooked over a blazing fire while someone plays the guitar! And every one sings Kumbaya and eats Smores? Right? Wrong! Only those who “rough it” cook outside. And they usually bring chewy bars, beef jerky, and bottled water to get them through the night!

Reaching to the Sky

The corn chips looked the same!

Reaching 10K feet above sea level is exhilarating. But our food protested. Cans swelled. Chip bags exploded. Salad dressing spit when opened! Poop flew out the drain at Tom. Yogurt packages looked like they had gained a lot of weight and then spit at you like the salad dressing!!

 

Dining in the Bush

Did you know that one sausage biscuit has 490 calories! Oh no!

Dining, even when you have a kitchen, presents us with many challenges. Usually we have breakfast on board because it is the easiest meal of the day. But sometimes we need to get on the road early and fast because of weather or a recreation reservation we have made. On those days it is a sausage or egg biscuit at McDonalds’s (if we can find one) that fills us.

A Bread Machine?  Really?

My Sunbeam beams!

About thirty to forty percent of the time we are cooking dinner and lunch ourselves. I decided that during this trip we were going to have fresh bread wherever we landed.

Having ventured to the parks long ago, I knew that the food was not very good (and it isn’t) or missing. So about four times on the trip I baked bread in a bread machine. Oh, you laugh, people stopped doing that long ago! Everyone has an old bread machine stowed somewhere in the basement!

Luscious Cranberry-Walnut bread cooked in the RV!

About six months ago our favorite bakery was sold and the bread we loved had a new recipe that we did not like. I thought, “I can bake that bread we love.” And so I began to experiment and create bread. Now, when we are at home, I bake bread about every four days or so. I use a very “cheap” Sunbeam baker and it is terrific.

A door slammed and the bread fell but it was still delicious. This is cheese bread with almost a cup of sharp cheese inside!

A tasty Rye!

 

 

 

 

 

Ham and Cheese on our gorgeous plate from Poland.

 

 

 

Panini Here we Come!

Who likes to eat cold sandwiches? I bought a small Panini maker to take with us so our cheese would melt. Tom and I both like grilled cheese sandwiches with lots of other things and we don’t like cooking them in a greasy frying pan. A hot sandwich in very cold weather really brightens up your spirits! We also have a griddle on board but we did not use it on this tour. Tom regularly used our portable gas grill for good eating stuff. We are afraid to leave a crock pot on board while we tour the countryside so we left ours at home.

Roughing It!

The RV has a microwave that turns into a convection oven in a snap. Tom is in charge of this technology. He whipped up some really good cinnamon biscuits three times on our trip. I also baked pumpkin bread for the gang for the first time! You can see that we are on a high carbohydrate diet. Hee Hee!

Local Food

An acceptable salad at Bryce Canyon Lodge but the rest of the food was awful I could not eat my chicken!

If you are driving and hiking and searching your way around towns and parks, sometimes your energy fades and you have to stop at a local restaurant because your RV is miles away. (We rent cars when we are on the road.) It takes a lot of energy to set up camp and keep the canines happy. Usually on days when we are hiking or boating or golfing or adventuring in slot canyons, we try to find local food to give us some energy.

The Best Dining in Seven States (Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and Arizona)

Tapatio’s came to the rescue!

The best restaurant food we had on this trip was in Page, Arizona at Tapatio’s. The special was only $6.99 (including drink) and we went back twice! In Kanab we dined at a cowboy restaurant that did not offer any cowboy food. At the cowboy museum in Oklahoma City we were served wraps. In St. George we waited more than an hour for food and when it came, Taco Bell would have been better choice.

Milt’s food came in second! This is a BLT!

A salad at Egg and I hit the spot in St. George after golfing. In Hurricane we stopped at JB’s, a local restaurant, only to be served what seemed to be old food. (It looked like a defunct Bob Evans?) Food at the Parks did not make us sick, and we were grateful for that. We were so happy to find Milt’s good food in Moab only to eat at a recommended Fiesta Mexicana in Moab where the food had no taste.

It was like mush!

 

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

 

 

 

Posted in Bread Machines on an RV, Camping, Camping in Kansas, Camping in Utah and Arizona, Dining while camping, Motorhome, National Parks, Oklahoma, Rving across America, St. George Utah | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Tom’s Dashboard. Reflections on “Stepping in the River Twice”

Tom’s Dashboard.  An RV with no Name!

Actual view from the road!

Thirty-five days on the road in an RV with no name. Marla, Twinks, Hillary and me, plus all the stuff we could squeeze into the 34 foot Canyon Star (2 guitars, 1 keyboard, 2 computers, cameras, golf clubs bread maker… There was even room for ice cream.). Hard to believe thirty-five days have passed. Some call it camping. More appropriately, as Amanda describes it, we were glamping. Rouging it is when we have only a 30 amp hook up. (We need 50 amp for everything to work on the RV.)

The house with no name at Capital Reef!

The trip was in part a attempted re-creation of a 2 week trip we took in 1992. How things have changed in 25 years! “You cannot step in the same river twice,” and you cannot visit the same desert in the Southwest twice.

Hillary showing off her black lipstick!

No LSD here!

We experienced a lot of the Southwest. Wonderful natural beauty that is hard to describe, and difficult to imagine. Who or what created all of this; Painted desert, Petrified Forest, El Morro, Glenn Canyon, Antelope Slot Canyons, Sand Hollow, Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef and Arches National Parks, the Colorado River and the Rockies? The natural beauty is a complement to the stories of the people who have lived on these lands, the Native Americans (Anasazi, Zuni, Pueblo, Navajo….), the Spanish/Mexicans, American explorers and conquerors, the Mormons.

Glenn Canyon near Page, Arizona! Does it get any better than this?

Beautiful Sites at Bryce!

Native Americans are Still Trying to find their Lives!

We had numerous experiences with the Native American history. There are sites across the southwest that flourished until roughly the 1300s, and then most were abandoned. The reasons are not known, and the purpose of the various discovered buildings in the Pueblos in unclear. Historians/Archeologists seem to describe every other building as having some religious or ceremonial purpose. The fate of the Native Americans is not a pretty one. They were conquered by the Spanish/Mexicans and then the Americans. The Americans stole their land and sequestered them on reservations, only to take that land too if oil was discovered. The current status does not seem good. There is some tourism, but little ability to provide customer-focused services that make visitors feel welcome. Casinos provide income, but we saw few examples of other industries.

Our National Parks are International

As Marla pointed out, the natural beauty attracts many people, and lots of international guests come and explore our country in rented RVs and in large bus group tours. I think they are attracted by both the natural wonders and the American culture.  We have wide-open spaces that they love!

To Squat or not to Squat

Instructions needed!

We were surprised by the number of Asians.  In 1992, we ran into mostly Europeans on this journey. Today, we were surrounded by mostly Chinese. Think of it this way. If with the growth of the Chinese economy, 1% of their population can afford to travel, that is 14 million people who can visit our National Parks. If you have been to China the picture below will show one of the cultural challenges. (Note by Marla.  Even in fancy restaurants in downtown Tokyo you will find restrooms with squat toilets.  And most of the toilets throughout Asia are squat.)

Over-Dressed for the Occasion

Ruby Red Slippers on the trail at Arches National Park!

People watching is always a fun part of traveling. In the national parks you run into all kinds. Typically we see a lot of city folk, dressed up with hiking boots, hiking sticks, and rugged clothing from L.L. Bean only to walk on  level paved paths. We also see the other extreme; people hiking the same trail in their ruby red slippers or high heels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was both a challenge and refreshing trip, and we are very thankful that we continue to have the opportunity to travel and explore this great world we live in. And I am thankful to have such a wonderful companion to continue this journey with. (Me too, Marla)

She is calm in tight situations!

As always copyrighted by Thomas C. Hemling and Marla J. Selvidge

Posted in Camping, Camping in Utah and Arizona, Motorhome, National Parks, Rving across America, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Float with Your Dog down the Colorado River!

Discover the Cities and Towns of Our Country!

Here are Tom and Hillary on that road. WOW!

We left Moab a few days ago taking U128 East to Interstate 70 heading home through Colorado and that pesky State of Kansas. This ancient road creeps along the Colorado River hugging the buttes rising thousands of feet in front of and above you. While the rest of the tourists were standing in line to enter Arches National Park, we were enjoying this lonely road with few other travelers.

Arches is Overwhelming!

How do you capture such a magical place. This is one of Tom’s photos.

Arches lives up to its hype! The formations are out of this world. We hiked the Windows Trail and a few other sites, lucky to find a parking spot. After facing so many crowds, we decided not to travel over 150 miles to Cannyonlands National Park.

 

Such a peaceful hike!

Arches is so beautiful that we thought we would spend another day exploring it, but we did not. On the way to the Visitor’s Center we found a trail outside the park that took us across the Colorado River and into the canyon below. It was so quiet and peaceful with a few cyclists. We did drive back to the line for the Visitor’s Center to watch the introductory movie but left the park to the hoards that were still in line. Busloads and Class C Motorhome tourists were everywhere!

Motorhomes by the Dozen

Tom wanted me to include this photo. I drove this big jeep and had to slide down out of it because it was so tall!

RV enthusiasts in the Midwest usually prefer a trailer attached to a huge pick-up truck when they travel. In the West we saw enormous numbers of Class A, B, and C Motorhomes. We have never seen so many motorhomes on the road and most of them were rented from El Monte. We rented motorhomes from Alaska, Canada, Nova Scotia and the lower 48 for about 10 years but we were in the minority. Now, we are told, that people from out of the country rent most of the motorhomes.

This is not a parking lot at an RV dealer. These Class C’s are parked at a national park.

 

They travel together across the country in rented RV’s. These are Class C.

Extreme is the Name of the Sports in the West

Grrrrrrrrrrrrr….

As we traveled the byways, we encountered people doing extreme sports everywhere. We had never seen the “mean” machines, as I call them, until we camped outside St. George. (And were also caught in the middle of an Iron Man competition.) They are called OHV-Off Highway Vehicles but some states allow them to drive on local streets. They were so ugly! A gathering of those machines was to have competitions right next to our campground in a couple of days. We were happy to leave.

Nice ride on the Colorado River!

There were people rock climbing huge buttes in most of the parks along with dirt bike enthusiasts and cyclists. There were jeep caravans that took you into the desert and then back for a ride on a zip line. We took a boat trip down the Colorado where lots of people would spend a whole day kayaking, tubing, or floating. The rapids were not so easy to navigate. There were dogs on some of the floats. We couldn’t believe it!

This is not our photo but I thought you would like it.

Thinking about the best and interesting days so far on this trip, I have to go back to the towns, cities, villages, and people we have met. The parks, and especially Page, Arizona were stunning, but if I had to do this trip again I would head to the small towns throughout the United States. They have so much to tell you about who they are and the history, architecture, famous people, and importance of their town. Near every National Park are fabulous scenic roads. You won’t find busloads or strings of motorhome caravans on those roads. They are as gorgeous as the National Parks themselves.

Tom and Marla after five weeks in the desert!

We are singing, “We went to the desert with a house (RV) with no name….”

Take it Easy!

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge and Thomas C. Hemling

 

 

Posted in Arches National Park, Camping, Camping in Utah and Arizona, Extreme Sports, Floating down the Colorado River, Motorhome, National Parks, Uncategorized, Uranium Deposits in the Colorado River | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

From Tom’s Dashboard. Solar Energy and Milt’s Diner

Solar and the Energy Future.

Solar House Panels. Tesla is offering roofs that look “real.”

Texas and Oklahoma had the wind turbines. In New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, everywhere you look you find solar energy panels. We found them on houses, small company building, lights on signs along the highway, government buildings, small portable units for people dry camping, and the large energy company installations. The make no noise, they give off no odors. Pretty neat. Great to see the progress in sustainable energy.

We saw campers using these!

Some place the solar panels on the roof of their RV!

Government testing the Colorado River for Uranium traces. Unsuspecting tourists are frolicking in this water.

Radioactivity.

Outside Moab Utah between Arches and Canyonlands National Parks we saw an unfortunate example from our energy past. There is a very large pile (450 acres) of uranium tailings leftover from the extraction of uranium for energy and nuclear weapons. No mention of it in the tourist brochures. It looks harmless from the highway, and the reports indicate radon and other radio-active particles are no higher than background. However, it has leached into ground water, so it is being moved to a safer location. The commercial companies that made profits on uranium are of course are conveniently bankrupt and we taxpayers are stuck with the clean-up, which will take until the mid 2030’s if funding is maintained. I would rather subsidize advances in clean energy like solar and wind, then subsidize nuclear, but it looks like we need to do both.   Now back to the fantastic scenery or the American Southwest.

Tom forgot to mention the first Tesla we saw on the road. The owners from Vermont raved about it. There are Tesla charging stations all over the West. Their GPS creates a roadmap so that they drive by the stations. On one charge they get 350 miles or they can charge on 50 amp or 100 amp, like at home or at the campground, and get 50 miles. I think my next car will be electric!

Milt has his own Diner.

Tom’s Dad, Milt, died about ten years ago. HIs mom is in a nursing home in Wisconsin. In some of the paperwork that had to be sent to the state, Milt was listed as being alive. He would be 95 this year.

In a brochure, Tom found that a person by the name of Milt had a diner and wondered to his siblings if dad was indeed alive? So we had to find the

Here he is! So proud of his father’s Diner! He he!

diner, and when we arrived it was packed. Most of the tables were outside under trees. Of course we ordered a cheeseburger with a slice of green chili, a BLT, and a Heath Bar malt. We feasted all the while remembering Tom’s Dad! WooHoo!

 

As always this post is copyrighted by Thomas C. Hemling and Marla J. Selvidge

 

 

 

Posted in Camping in Utah and Arizona, Milt's Diner in Moab, Solar Energy, Uncategorized, Uranium Deposits in the Colorado River | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Through Rain and Wind and Weather ….

Be Thankful!

Life in the high desert of Utah is harsh and demanding.  I woke up one night with the tune “Rawhide” bouncing in my head.   There is no phone service.  WIFI flickers like a candle.  Gas stations serve as grocery stores with the bare necessities at high prices.  Silt invades everything each time the wind decides to blow. The environment is majestic but it is also rugged and lacking in comfort!  It ages you!

 St. George, Utah.  A Mormon Stronghold.

Everything was perfect! And all the people sitting around the temple were dressed perfectly!

Roads leading in and out of the city and in every neighborhood feature a LDS church.  And they all look the same. At the center of old St. George is a gleaming white Mormon Temple reaching to the sky.  It is a stunning building whose origins began in the 19th century.  So far, we have not seen any non-Mormon religious sites in town.  A lonely website claims that there is a Catholic and Baptist church somewhere within the borders.

Missionaries stood guard at this beautiful home!

Of course we toured around the Temple and quickly found the colorful and substantial winter residence of Brigham Young nearby.

The more I learn about this very powerful man, the more I understand how he lived as a “king” with great authority over women and men.  He led people West from Nauvoo as President of LDS, became governor of Utah, and founded a university in his name.  His winter residence compared with other Mormons who barely survived in the desert was a shock!!

 Retiring To St. George

 Years ago, we think around 1998; we came to play golf in St. George.  The courses were the most beautiful that we had seen at the time.  Back then; it was a lazy town of about 46,000.  We walked everywhere and loved the quiet, clean and wholesome atmosphere.  We both said that this would be a good place to retire.

 Back to the future of 2017 and the St. George we discovered is gone.  Talk to the folks who live there and they will tell you stories.  The main city, housed in a valley, is now about 80,000 people with 200,000 in the county.  It feels more like Chicago or Los Angeles than the St. George we discovered so long ago.  The townies drive at a frantic pace!

St. George built roads leading in all directions and around the buttes that button in the town.  They area also constructing retirement homes, rentals, condos, and RV Parks everywhere. We saw construction in every area of the city.  They are even knocking down older houses in the central area and replacing them with new ones.  Everything looks new.  The grocery stories, gas stations, shopping centers, you name it, look new.  And as we drove back and forth from Sand Hollow State Park (gorgeous) we saw literally thousands of new homes.  So we decided to check out a community offering retirement homes.  After all, if all of these people are moving to St. George, there must be a reason.

Such creativity! My favorite trailer so far!

A retirement resort advertised houses in the $200,000 range.  So we thought that sounded good.  When we arrived we toured some models.  All of the homes are built on concrete slabs.  There is only about two feet of space between houses and four feet in the back yard, usually with a four-foot concrete fence.  We asked about lots.  Oh, if you want a larger lot the price could go up another $100,000.  How about a view other than the window of a neighbor?  Oh that would cost you also?  They told us that the houses we toured were upgrades but the bathrooms had plastic inserts in the tub area, single-pane windows, and non-quartz or marble counters.  After a few questions, Tom deduced that for a 2,000 square foot home, it would cost us at least $600K and that is still with a four-foot backyard.  That was way too pricey for us!  But Californians, as they told us, think they are bargains.

Bryce Canyon National Park and Capital Reef National Park

As stunning as it was decades ago!

Winds were howling around 40 mph and the temperature dipped to 29 degrees with rain on the days we visited Bryce.  It is still a beautiful site! To find some peace and quiet we hiked the rim because of the hoards of people.  Again, it is not high season but every shuttle, every parking space; everything was over run with people.  Our campground was not full probably because of the cold weather. We saw many, many busloads of people.  There was no room in the visitor center.

Leaving Bryce to the West. We were afraid to drive to the East because of the switchbacks at 20 mph..

Too many photos with which to bore you!

Capital Reef was a visual Makkah (Mecca).  We came over a hill on highway Utah 24 and right in front of us were these gorgeous buttes.  I thought they looked like the Valley of the Kings or Abu Simbel in Egypt.  This park is a visual feast!  While hiking Tom noticed that one of the buttes was actually named “Egypt.”  So I wasn’t the only one who noticed the similarities.  As we left the park, every parking space in and around the visitor center was taken with quite a few people circling as they waited for a space to park.  We were happy to get back on the road!

What a drive!

We don’t remember visiting Capital Reef.  It became a park in 1971 and perhaps we missed the road to it or we took another route to Moab.  It was a mistake.

As we tooled down U24 toward Moab from Capital Reef, we could hardly believe our eyes.  This byway was certainly created for the mighty gods.  We could not take our eyes off the scenery.  The rocks were yellow, gold, and grey, blue, white, red, orange–you name it!  Even if you had a psychedelic brain, you could not imagine the formations or color schemes.  Go East on U24!!!

 Moab (Coming soon!)

Today we are in Moab and the line to enter Arches National Park was a mile long.  From where are all of these people coming?  I guess they are not on airplanes?

If you are reading the posts, I gratefully thank you!

 As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

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Posted in National Parks, St. George Utah, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

There is Magic in “them there hills.”

A Quasi-Disney Experience at Zion National Park

The minute we jumped on the required shuttle to visit this majestic park, I felt like I was having a virtual experience. Take off the glasses! Wait, isn’t this live? Aren’t I physically present at Zion!?  Children were screaming and no one could hear the narration. Why are children visiting a park during the middle of the week anyway?  Windows would not open and fabulous vistas were just whizzing by.

Whatever happened to pristine? Where is the adventure and spontaneity we find in other parks? We felt like the park staff had programmed us into what they wanted us to visit. No cars allowed. No safe walking paths between stops. Walk on the path please!  I understand how this type of militaristic planning can preserve the park road and keep people from trampling down foliage, but I felt as if I was totally controlled. I guess that is because 4 million souls tread on this ground every year. It was a cattle run!

Shuttle stop to make the hike easier?

Only this morning we talked to folks in St. George and they agreed with us.  They said if you can’t get to the park the minute it opens, your day can be ruined.

 

One of the most interesting aspects of this visit was that we only heard about 10% of the people speaking English.  Everyone else seemed to be from far-away-place!

Double-Shuttle Bus circling the Park.

Programmed Walking Space.

 

Crowded into a bus! Is this a vacation?

 

 

 

 

Tom reminded me of our visit to Angkor Wat. We thought that visiting this ancient Buddhist archaeological site in the middle of Cambodia was going to be an exotic adventure. When we arrived, (to our dismay) thousands of Chinese were just getting off their buses. Since the pyramids had been shut down, they were trampling Angkor Wat instead. The place was a riot!

How long do you wait for a shuttle?

Tom and I visited Zion around 1992 and then again in 1998. It is not the same park. Zion is no longer a pleasant restorative experience. People were bouncing around like mosquitos. Their body language said, “Get out of my way.” And this is off-season. My advice is “Skip Zion if you need a little peace and quiet.”   And don’t go near it in high season, you might suffocate!

Another Zion!  Winslow, Arizona

Is Tom waiting for someone?

Our friends, Jon and Jim, from Texas bragged that they had taken selfies standing on the corner of Winslow, Arizona. So Tom thought that we should do the same thing! Little did we know that there would be a flatbed truck, two statues of performers, and a host of shops just waiting for our arrival.

We could not believe the number of people posing for pictures in front of a huge sign that read, “Winslow.”

Do you remember the Eagles? Do you remember the tune, “Take it Easy?” Here is a link, if you don’t know the tune. Tom had to have his pic taken in front of the flatbed truck. Remember the lyrics, “Standing on the corner of Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see! It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford slowing down to take a look at me.”  One of Tom’s friends said that we should plaster the slogan “Take it Easy,” on the back of our RV!

Magical Landscape in Page, Arizona

Here are a couple of pics from Page, Arizona.  If you have not visited this magical place, take time to see it before you die!

Hiking Antelope Slot Canyon

What a sight! The Colorado River.

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

Posted in Camping, Camping in Utah and Arizona, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Folding Space in the Land of the Pueblos

Memories and the Worm Hole Back in Time.

Example of ancient Native American ruins sometimes called Anasazi or Puebloans

In the 1970’s I spent several weeks out West attempting to discover every Anasazi (The term is no longer used.) settlement I could find that was listed on a Native American map except for Mesa Verde only because the road was closed. Last year I finally got to Mesa Verde.

I took my old Chevy Vega down so many trails of dust and sand that I had to sell it when I returned home! The air filter was clogged with dirt and it started using a quart of oil a week after my 10,000 mile journey.

In the forty or so years since that epic adventure, archaeology has changed. Discoveries have been made and sites that I once visited have blossomed into destinations. They are no longer a few rocks at the end of a bumpy gravel road. There are visitor’s centers, paved roads, guided tours, and lots of stuff to buy.

The Best of Archaeology

This church is still large but you would not call it a cathedral today!

Two of the pueblo sites we visited near Santa Fe, New Mexico were Pecos National Historical Park and Bandelier National Monument. Both sent your imaginations into the stratosphere.

At Pecos the local indigenous people built a huge pueblo (town) that served 2,000 but were eventually subjugated by both the Spanish government and Franciscan priests who were seeking gold and land. Along side of the pueblo a Catholic church with scores of residences was built. The church was 150 feet long and its walls were 22 feet thick. (Sounds like a fort to me!) It was impressive! I am sure it was a sign that both God and country approved of the domination of these people. But the people did not approve and soon revolted. They did not want to be punished for practicing their own religion.  This revolt eventually led to the end of the pueblo.

It is truly remarkable to walk the length of the pueblo and to think about the people who lived there. We know so little about them, even today.  If I could fold space, I would visit them!

You could climb right up into the living room of one of the ancient ones.

Bandelier National Monument is a treasure that preserves both a pueblo and rock/cave dwellings. We know even less about these indigenous peoples who lived in the Frijoles Canyon. Volcanic dust created a landscape full of caves along Frijoles Creek. They have excavated a pueblo that dates back to around 1200 CE and have discovered the presence of peoples that date back 10,000 years.

Reconstructed home that was attached to the caves.

High about the pueblo are residences of people who lived in the caves. The caves were a much safer place to live because the Frijoles Creek below regularly floods and it protected them from approaching enemies. The people who lived in these caves built structures along side the walls that look like porches. There were holes in the stone walls which probably supported houses also. They entered the caves using a ladder and then pulled the ladder up with them. Some call them cliff dwellings.

This is a model of the pueblo below the homes on the cliffs.

We saw and visited similar caves at Mesa Verde last year but were watched closely by a park employee. Here we climbed up steps hundreds of feet about the pueblo down below — for almost a mile. The journey took us back in time. You could see smoke stains on the inside of the homes and some of them had created art work.

There were also two ball courts or kivas. WOW!

Yesterday we visited Wupatki National Monument. The park service has done a bang-up job (again) in allowing visitors to visit an ancient pueblo in spectacular surroundings. What a wonderful place to live!

 

Around 1969 I found this monument also at the end of a dusty sand road. It did not look the same today because of additional excavations, reconstruction,  and the building of a visitor center. I asked the park ranger if I was losing my mind. He told me that the entrance to the monument was on the other side and that the visitor center was being built in 1969. Today exploring the area was so easy. We drove right up to the monument on asphalt and took a hike all around it on level ground!!! So beautiful!

We are so lucky to live in a country that values the history of its peoples. What would we do without these wonderful places that inspire and educate us!?

Santa Fe

Artisan and Farmers Market in Santa Fe

One of the reasons we chose to visit Santa Fe was to spend a little time with Jim and his lovely partner Laura. Tom had known Jim for almost 20 years and bumped into him in several places around the globe. We had lunch with them and they extolled their love for Santa Fe. It is a small town, around 70,000, but offers fine restaurants, art, and architecture that they enjoy and admire. As they drove us around town, it was apparent that living in Santa Fe was a romantic adventure for them. This is where they have retired. And this is a place where Jim’s parents had lived.

Tom and I spent time at the Farmer’s and Artisan Market at The Railyard District. The experience was exhilarating. People were enthusiastic and kind. We bought lots of pastries and fresh veggies. But the prices were often exorbitant. Eggs were $6.00 and $8.00 a dozen. I bought two donuts for $6.00 and Tom bought a piece of strudel for $3.50. The prices for jewelry and art were out of our league. The cheapest pair of earrings I saw was $56. At our campground some of the folks told us that paintings in Santa Fe, on the cheap side, were about $14,000.

Lame Tourists

So when we came back to our campsite, we decided not to hoof our way around Santa Fe. There are wonderful churches and history that dates back 400 years but we were not in the mood for crowds. The town itself is small and the buildings mirror a pueblo. The shops are very close together and the sidewalks were full of people. We had been camping under the skies with miles of land around us and did not want to face the hustle and rush of trying to find a space on the sidewalk to stroll. I can’t imagine what it will be like when the tourist season arrives.

Taking Care of Your Pet.

Thought you might like to see how some full-timers manage their pets.  This is the first time we have seen something so elaborate. Look, there is a door for the dogs to come and go in the motorhome! Notice the fence and slide that gets them down to ground level.

Unique approach to managing pets!

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

Posted in Archaeology of the Southwest, Bandelier, Camping, National Park Service, Pecos, Route 66, Rving across America, Santa Fe, Uncategorized, Wupatki | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Daddy, where does Wind come from?

From Tom’s Dashboard:

Heading West from Lake El Reno OK towards Santa Fe NM

This stretch of the trip was just a necessary drive to get us to New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, but we always find interesting stuff along the way.

This pic reminded Marla of eating at Judd and Helen’s as a kid.

“Get Your Kicks.” Oklahoma actively promotes the Route 66 history with a very professional tourist guide to “Main Street of America”. The Oklahoma portion of historic Route 66 crosses from Northeast corner in Miami to the Texas border at Texola. We visited the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton, which chronicles the road from the 1920’s to the 1960’s. The museum interestingly reminds you that with the invention of the automobile, a little over 100 years ago, many other things needed to be invented: roads, parking lots, parking meters, roadside dinners, motels…. It was a non-critical nostalgic look at this famous route. The visitor book at the museum was mostly filled with visitors from other countries like China, Brazil, Australia, UK….

A visitor arrived in this wagon train! How exciting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is an interesting way to travel!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Weatherford OK to the Moon: If you have any interest in flight, find your way to the Stafford Air and Space Museum in Weatherford OK. The Museum started as a tribute to Lt. General Thomas Stafford, local boy who became an astronaut, and later a General in the Airforce. One of the most intellectual astronautics, Stafford’s Apollo 10 flight around the moon was the “Trip Advisor” for Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 moon landing. The museum has relics or replicas from the earliest flight to plans for future outer space explorations. It was a very surprisingly large exhibit in rural Oklahoma. I give it 5 Stars but the museum could use 2X the space to better feature the hardware.

Texas is so advanced! Who da thought?

Daddy, where does wind come from? Answer:  From wind farms in Texas. If milk comes from dairy farms and corn from corn farms, then wind from wind farms?  Right?Crossing the panhandle of Texas, we saw more wind turbines than you can imagine. Texas with over 10,000 turbines at about $2,000,000 each is home to 2X the number of wind turbines of the second leading state Iowa. This is an amazing investment in sustainable energy production, fostered by federal tax credits, and a state controlled energy grid. These towers look beautiful on the Texas landscape. The wind however was blowing the RV off the road.

That’s all from Tom’s Dashboard on the Canyon Star overlooking Lake Ute in Logan, NM.

From time to time Tom will leave the driving to write from his dashboard!!!

Next post will focus on Santa Fe, Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos National Lab, and more….  We hope!

As always this blog is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge and Thomas C. Hemling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Apollo 11, Lt. General Thomas Stafford, Oklahoma, Route 66, Route 66 Museum, Rving across America, Stafford Air and Space Museum, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment