Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Ron and I really went all out on our costumes this year!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Wrapping Up

After visiting with the relatives, we spent a week at the Las Vegas Campground in Lake Mead National Recreation Area with our WIN friends.  It's like a little oasis in the desert.

Since the WINs have a gathering in the area every year, we have been here many times.  Once again, we walked the new bridge (completed in 2010) for the best view of Hoover Dam.
For my Hoover Dam post from last year, click here.

We hiked the Bluff Trail out of the campground and even blazed our own trail on the return trip.  This is one place I don't mind doing that since you can see for miles in the desert.

And although we didn't go to Fremont Street this year, for a view of their spectacular light show, click here.

However, we also did some new things this year.  Greg, a WIN who lives in Las Vegas, invited us all over for a potluck.  The WINs have perfected the art of the potluck.  I made brownies and Ron picked up some frozen mini eclairs at Walmart - always a crowd favorite.

Here are some of the WINs with Greg in the back there.

He says his place is a work in progress.  I think he's one of those people who keeps finding more things to improve.  He has a gorgeous RV, but at this rate, he might never get on the road.  He even has a pool, but it was really windy that day and only Phil made an effort to try it.

We all had a great time as always.

Last night we went to Boulder City to attend a 50's show that was really fun.  Unfortunately, I didn't take my camera, but the singers were very talented and I'm sure I wasn't the only one who was chair dancing.  And we stopped at the marina where they were having a Halloween party.  There were lots of great costumes with a plethora of pirates and wenches.   (Sorry, no pictures.)

This morning we left our friends to head back to Mesa.  After driving 203 miles, the most in one day all summer, we stopped at the Escapee Park in Congress, AZ.  Yes, we are in Congress and we didn't even run.

We're back to those pretty Arizona sunsets with a full moon bonus.  Tomorrow, we'll be back at our winter home, but I'll try to find something to write about.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cutest Baby

Yes, here he is.  I know you've been waiting for more pictures.  Although I did take a few, the best shot is the one that Kelli sent from home.

Here's Harper all packed for the trip.

But before we get into our babysitting adventure, I have some good news.  I was under the impression that none of the Vegas casinos near the strip allowed RV parking unless you are staying in their hotel and not in your rig.  Thanks to a tip by the campground host at the Elks in St. George, we found the most perfect boondocking spot at The Orleans.  Located just about a mile west of the Strip, right on Tropicana Avenue, The Orleans has a GIANT lot for RVs and trucks.  We were there for three days.  It was perfect!

The Orleans might not be the most elaborate casino in Vegas, but it is the home of the 'big giant head.'

And the 'Country Alligator Jamboree.'

But the Monte Carlo where Ron's family stayed had girls who danced on the bar.
Gosh, I hope she gets paid a lot.

So last night was our big babysitting experience.  We thought, "We can do this.  Heck, between us, we had five kids."

It began very smoothly.  We took Harper around in his stroller, which he loved.

We stopped at the food court where Harper enjoyed some refreshing water.

Back at the room, we laughed at his fascination with this belt.  (You just can't trust Grandparents.)

But then things fell apart.  At bedtime he wouldn't take his bottle and just cried.  We tried everything to calm him down so he could fall asleep.  Nothing worked.  Finally Ron suggested we try just putting him in bed.  Well, Ron is a genius!  Within minutes, Harper was asleep.  I couldn't believe it.   To go from crying, even screaming, to asleep that fast seemed unbelievable.

Harper and his parents left this morning.  I don't know about him, but I'm still recovering.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Virgin River Canyon

Driving Interstate 15 from St. George, Utah, to Las Vegas, Nevada, one is treated to a very special experience.  The road cuts through the Virgin River Canyon in the northwest corner of Arizona.  Although they could have followed the old route 91 around the canyon, the interstate gods decided to give the weary travelers a treat.

And to make a good thing even better, the BLM has built a lovely campground where we stopped and stayed for four days ($8 a day, or $4 if you're old.)

There are some trails in the area, but we were pretty lazy during our stay.  Mostly we just walked around the campground or along the river.  Here's the view of the Virgin River from the day use area.
(I know, it looks pretty much like the first picture.)

When we left today I snapped a couple of pictures out the front window (even lazier.)

Parts of the road required blasting through narrow stretches with towering cliffs.

And sometimes the route looks impassable.

So now we're in Las Vegas but not for the gambling.  Ron's kids are flying in tomorrow.  All three are coming, plus two spouses, and the cutest baby in the world.  And Ron and I are babysitting little Harper on Saturday night while they all go out.  Cool!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Snow Canyon

Just north of St. George, Utah, is Snow Canyon State Park.   Gotta go.

I never get tired of interesting rocks.  They change from red at the south end (first picture) to white as you look north (third picture.)  And if  you look closely, you can see lava along the canyon floor and in the foreground of this picture.

There was a young man at the overlook taking pictures of his shiny brand new car.  I thought, hey, I can do that.  
(Hmmm, not quite the same.)

We did four of the hikes during our visit.  Don't be too impressed, it was only about 4 miles total.

Beginning at the north end, we took the White Rocks trail to a natural amphitheater.

Climbing up the back of the bowl, you get a peek down the canyon.

Next up  was the Pioneer Names trail where we saw names, written in axle grease, dating back to 1881.  Pretty cool.

Then we took Jenny's Canyon trail, billed as a children's hike.  Maybe because of this owl along the way.
I think I'll call her Hedwig.

The hike ended abruptly in this slot canyon right where I'm standing.  I don't think I've ever seen a dead end slot canyon like this.

Our fourth and final hike was Johnson Canyon.  We were lucky because this trail is usually closed from March 15 to October 31 to protect the wildlife, but opened early this year.  We didn't see any wildlife, but we did see lava.

I wasn't going to include this picture, but after I made Ron climb the rock for me, I just had to.

There is an arch along the canyon with a 100 foot span.  It's really hard to see in this picture, but the shadowed area is the bottom of the arch and the area beneath that is the wall on the other side.

Is this really a wild flower that I spotted along the trail?  It looks more like a ground cover that should be in a garden.

This trail also ended abruptly, this time in a box canyon.
It was a great day for rocks.

While in St. George, we also took a walking tour around town which included an inside look at Brigham Young's winter home and visited the Rosenbruch Wildllife Museum.  Both times, I forgot my camera.  The wildlife museum was a 'gem' in the AAA book and consisted of Mr. Rosenbruch's extensive collection of animals from all over the world.  I know not everybody approves of hunting and taxidermy, but personally I'd rather see them like that than in a zoo pacing like, well, like a caged animal.  Just my opinion, of course.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


We moved on to St. George, Utah, where we had the happy surprise of running into two WIN friends, Judy and Bobbe.  We all pulled into the Elks lodge parking lot which is bordered by gorgeous red rocks.
(That's our RV, but Judy's car.)

Although we had been through St. George before, we had never stopped.  Bobbe and Judy had already planned to attend a couple of performances at nearby Tuacahn Amphitheatre.  The amphitheatre is artistically situated in Padre Canyon, surrounded by 1500 foot red sandstone cliffs.  I tagged along with the ladies when they attended a performance of  Disney's Aladdin.

We had to get into the 'picture' too.  Bobbe, Judy, and I hammed it up as Jasmine, Aladdin, and the Genie.

The show was amazing, worthy of the Disney name.  The scenery was clever and changed with no interruption in the story.

There was a suitably villainous villain (with funny sidekick.)

And to keep the guys entertained, there were dancing girls.

The special effects were pretty cool. Aladdin and Jasmine took flight out over the audience.

And the genie flew off for a tropical vacation.

The whole cast was terrific and it was a magical night.

It also brought back wonderful memories of all the musicals I was in, first in high school, then with a community choral/theatrical group.  I wasn't much of an actress, but I loved being one of the dancers and singing in the chorus.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Bits and Pieces

To wrap up our visit to Zion, we have a few miscellaneous pictures.

First we found this strange tourist attraction.  I call it Dr. Seuss's wild west.

Although it doesn't show up too well in pictures, the buildings are all larger at the top than the bottom.

Then there's the shoe tree.

Not sure of the purpose.  Is it making some kind of a statement?

Ron's checking for a pair in his size.

We paid a visit to the historic ghost town of Grafton.  In 1859, it was one of eight settlements that the Mormons established along the Virgin River with the purpose of growing cotton as a cash crop.  Unfortunately, there was hardly enough flat land to grow food for the farming families.  Only three of the eight towns survive today and you can bet they're not growing cotton.

All the beautiful scenery that surrounded them couldn't help their situation.

A plant seen throughout the Zion area is the Datura, a beautiful, but potentially deadly plant.

Most parts of the plant contain toxic hallucinogens which can even cause death!  I assume you have to ingest it, but I don't take any chances and don't even touch it.  Makes me shiver.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

One More Hike

About 15 miles north of Virgin on Kolob Terrace Road is the trailhead for the Wildcat Canyon trail.  How can you resist that name?  I sure couldn't.  We decided to take it for a mile, then turn on the Northgate Peaks trail for another mile.  This makes a very easy 4-mile round trip with very little elevation change and some rewarding views.

Since the weather had cooled off and this trail is at a higher altitude, we waited until about 11 AM to begin.  You can see how level the trail is.

Part of the trail had obviously been a road and dead trees and bushes had been planted to keep hikers off one side to allow revegetation. I just had to laugh.

I thought the ferns among the Ponderosa Pines were worth a picture.

Once on the Northgate Peaks trail, you follow along a ridge with occasional views of Wildcat Canyon (more if you're willing to go off trail.)

The view at the end cannot be appreciated in a picture, although maybe a late afternoon or evening shot would show it better.

I promised myself that I wouldn't post any more pictures of aspen trees, but those kinds of promises are just made to be broken.  We found these farther up Kolob Terrace Road on the road to Lava Point.