Thursday, October 29, 2009

Katherine Landing

We spent the last few days with the WINs at Katherine Landing campground, just north of Bullhead City, Arizona. We had the funniest thing happen on our way south on US95 from Boulder City. Driving along we had a feeling that something was different. It took us awhile, but we finally realized that the rig wasn't making any noise. Usually, we are besieged by numerous creaks, groans, and rattles. The road between Boulder City and Searchlight was so smooth that we actually noticed the quiet!

Katherine Landing is on Lake Mohave which is formed by Davis Dam, down the Colorado River from Hoover Dam. I guess that means we would really be in trouble if the Hoover Dam sprang a leak - you know, like in the Superman movie.

The roadrunners were very friendly at the campground.

We had terrible weather for this gathering - it went from hot and windy to cold and windy. Luckily, Bullhead City has every store you want and Laughlin, Nevada is right across the river for those tasty casino buffets.

But one day we bundled up in our nerdiest hiking clothes for a short hike up Grapevine Canyon, famous for its many pictographs.

As I've mentioned previously, I do tend to be skeptical. In addition to the sheer numbers, these drawings are particularly suspicious to me because they are not in protected areas where they could last for hundreds of years.

It's nice to know that ancient people had hospitals.

And what's with this 'HI'?

Mark seems to have spotted something else.

Ron climbed up to get a shot of these sheep. They were more protected and similar to pictographs we have seen in other places. In other words, more believable.

After the hike, we rode up to Christmas Tree Pass which had some impressive rock formations.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Boulder Wrap-up

Somehow I spent nine nights at the Boulder Beach campground just north of Boulder City and never saw the Las Vegas Strip or Hoover Dam. Even to me that seems a bit Un-American. I had no particular desire to see Las Vegas after my last visit there a few years ago. They have given up on any semblance of family entertainment with their 'what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.' At the risk of sounding prudish, I'm sorry to see that happen. (I know, I know, it's just business.) As for the dam, I just never got over to see it this time. I went shopping with Diana the day Ron went with some others. The new bridge they are building to bypass the dam is interesting. It's been a work in progress for years, but is nearing completion now. The supporting structure is finished and just needs the roadway added to the top. Donna got a nice shot of it that she put on Flickr. Click here to see it.

So here are some snippets of what filled our time at Boulder Beach. One day Ron and I decided to try some of the 34 mile paved bike path, 10 miles of which are along Lake Mead. I pictured a nice level path along the scenic lakeshore - wrong! After about 3 1/2 miles of up and down hills, this casual biker threw in the towel. And it wasn't right along the shore, but it did have some nice scenery.

We went to the Clark County Museum - cute and very economical at $1 admission. I took this steam switch engine for my father, the rail enthusiast.

And this for the nostalgic fans of old stuff (and I thought it was cute.)

My favorite thing was this table handmade in the 1950s using discarded casino dice.

And we went to Red Rock Canyon just west of Vegas.

Funny thing - Ron and I were both sure we had never been there, but as we got closer, we started to change our minds.

Sure enough, when we got home, I found this picture I had taken three years ago. Obviously it wasn't the sunny day we had this trip. Those skies look wicked.

And we went to the Hoover Dam Museum in the historic Boulder Dam Hotel in Boulder City. The dam's name had an interesting history.
- The dam was originally called Boulder Dam for the chosen dam site - Boulder Canyon (although the site was later changed to Black Canyon - 20 miles down river.)
- In 1930, at project start-up, the Secretary of the Interior spontaneously named it Hoover Dam.
- In 1933, the next Secretary of the Interior renamed it Boulder Dam.
- In 1947, a joint resolution of Congress restored the name Hoover Dam.
- An anonymous citizen suggested another name - Hoogivza Dam.

Anybody can take a picture of Hoover Dam, but I found this picture of the dam site before the dam was built.

The museum had an interesting 20 minute movie - the official construction film made by the Bureau of Reclamation.

Our last day there, Chuck, Karen, Al, Ron, and I took a short but scenic hike from the Las Vegas Bay campground.

Al claimed he had water in that wine bottle he's carrying.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Murder in Deadwood

Today was the second annual Murder Mystery at the WIN gathering in Boulder Beach Campground. I missed the premier event last year and I have to admit it was the main reason we came this year. The cast of 20 went to the local thrift stores and created wonderful costumes. The actors did a fantastic job with their portrayals and I was highly entertained.

I'm sorry I didn't get good shots of all 20 actors. Here Black Barbara (Jody) conspires with Banker Bonnie (Brad.)

Gambling Jack (Phil) seems to be having a minor costume malfunction while talking to Harry High-Stakes (Peter.)

Minnie Money (Joanne) tries to sweet-talk her father Montgomery Money (Paul.)

Billy the Bartender (Mark) seems overwhelmed by Henrietta High-Stakes (Carolyn.)

Anna Belle (June) confronts Holly Hickok (Nancy.)

Saloon Girl Taffy Garrett (Vivian) really sparkles. (Actually I think Viv was born to be on stage!)

"This man is dead!" declares Marshal Dalton (Tom) while standing over Mitch Maverick (Randy.)

Also appearing were Sheriff Sam (Bob), Sally Starr (Bobbe), Elizabeth Money (Carol), Jesse Wales (Chuck), Banker Bob (Janet), Poker Alice (Judy), and Clay Coldwell (LJ.) Three people, including my brilliant sister Diana, guessed who the killer was. Director Joey deserves a lot of credit for putting the show together. Plus she managed to keep everybody organized - quite a feat for a bunch of WINs.

If you want to see last year's pictures, click here to see Judy's blog post on the Margaritaville murder mystery.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Heating things up

After being so cold when we stayed overnight at almost 8000 feet, we high-tailed it to a lower altitude. First we had to climb even higher over the mountains between Bryce Canyon and Cedar City. By the way, there are lots of good dispersed camping spots there along UT14 for summer stops.

I believe the pass elevation was close to 10,000 feet and the visibility was terrible. I would have just parked and waited for the clouds to lift which might have taken days. Ron just drove on.

Finally it cleared up and was beautiful on our way into Cedar City. Whew! I was exhausted from the drive. How did I ever do it myself?

Question - What happens when you don't see a Walmart for three weeks?
Answer - You spend $189 stocking up!

The next day we continued downhill for 200 miles (Wow! Did we really drive 200 miles in one day?) and joined our WIN friends at Boulder Beach campground in Lake Mead National Recreation Area. In this picture you can see how much the lake is down. Our campground in the trees in the upper left used to be on the lake. (The RVs you can see right in front of the the trees is acutally run by a concessionaire and costs a lot more than the one run by the National Park Service. Of course they do have hookups.)

Our first morning here, I got up before sunrise for this early morning shot. Sounds impressive, but sunrise was about 7:10 and we had just gained an hour crossing into Pacific time.

The campground is nicely laid out with spaces large enough for us and lots of trees for shade. Usually we look for full sun for the solar panels, but it is so hot here (in the 90s), that we picked one with morning and afternoon shade, but still a clear shot to the south for satellite TV. Perfect. The only problem here is the campfire smoke that just hangs over the campground. We've had to keep our windows shut in the evenings and overnight and even with that I woke up last night with a runny nose that wouldn't stop. I finally took some Benadryl. I know, what kind of a camper am I? (A wimpy one.)

There are Oleander bushes all over the campground which surprised me. It only takes one person who doesn't know they're toxic to cut a branch for a hot dog roasting stick. They sure are pretty though.

On Saturday there was a half-triathlon in the area. On our way to town, we passed some of the athletes biking among the sheep. That stuck us as funny.

Although they seem to be pretty used to people, the rams did keep an eye on the strange rolling creatures.

Nearby Boulder City is a very cute town. Although close to Las Vegas, it has a small town atmosphere with a very active downtown. There are wonderful bronze statues all over town. Here a just a few.

Being very close to the Hoover Dam, Boulder City's history is closely tied to the dam. I like this memorial to the 'Puddlers' who spread the concrete to create the dam.

At the height of construction, over 7000 men labored on the dam. Although his job wasn't as glamorous as some, this man was very important to the operation. He swept the outhouses and kept them supplied with paper.

With jobs available in the area, men brought their wives and families who made Boulder City into the pleasant town it is today.

I found this cute outhouse behind the 'Tastie Pastrie' and took it for my cousin. I loved the 'No Dumping' sign.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bryce Canyon NP

Well, we HAD to stop at Bryce Canyon - surely the most unusual place on earth.

We were there on a cloudy afternoon, but luckily you can't really take a bad picture at Bryce. This is the view from Sunset Point.

But we wanted to go down among the hoodoos.

We took off down Navajo trail - lots of switchbacks lead to this much photographed tree.

Then we made a loop with the Queens Garden trail. Somebody got a little crazy with the trail markers.

Along the way, I found the spot where I took this very same picture about 15 years ago when I was here the first time with Diana. I don't think the little tree has grown at all.

And yes, it was cold up there at 8000 feet.

I call this 'Holding on by your toes.'

Luckily when we stopped at Bryce Point, the sun did peek out between the clouds for a minute.

Really, is there any other country that has the range of scenery found right here in the USA?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lower Calf Creek Falls

Continuing on our way across southern Utah, we stopped for a few nights in Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument at the top of Hole-in-the-Rock Road. Although I would love to see the famous Hole-in-the-Rock where the Mormon settlers lowered their wagons down a crack in the cliff to the river below, it's a long drive on a really bad road. (How spoiled are we?) Instead we did the 6-mile (round trip) hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls - in my opinion, the prettiest waterfall I've ever seen.

Diana and I had been there before (twice for her,) and Ron and Phil thought we were crazy to hike six miles to see a waterfall in the desert. We assured them it would be worth it.

The hike follows Calf Creek up a pretty canyon with little elevation gain, if you don't count all the times you go up 30 feet and back down again. Are the guys wondering if a rock is about to fall on us?

No, they were looking at this interesting tree. So great to hike with fellow nature lovers.

What beautiful scenery!

This must be the picture log.

The canyon narrows down for the last mile and ends at the 126 foot Lower Calf Creek Falls. You can only see a hint of its beauty in this picture, you'll have to wait for Diana to get it on her blog for a good shot. The colors, especially that green behind the falls, are amazing.

When it's a hot day, there are always hikers frolicking in the pool. We had a perfect day, but it was really cold at the waterfall.

On our return trip, we ran across this guy in the path. He was only about as big around as a pencil and about 1 1/2 feet long. He kindly posed for me . . .

Then suddenly took off after a 2 inch lizard like this one. It might have even been this one and he circled around to use us for protection.

I appreciated this rock garden along the way.

I highly recommend this hike, but do it on a cool day. It must be a killer in the summer with most of the trail in the sun.