High Times in Show Low

Before we left home in December, we hauled out our maps and plotted a general course that we wanted to follow once we hit Arizona.  We made a few reservations at campgrounds where we thought they would be critical, and left big gaps where we could fill in as the spirit moved us.  Thus, we found ourselves with only four days to fill in two spots we had targeted to see – a violation of our new (this year) 3 Night Minimum Stay rule.  But you know what they say about rules…..

So, we found ourselves heading to Fool Hollow State Park in Show Low, AZ.  Map here.  It was about the right distance from our prior stop at Roper Lake – we really don’t enjoy long days in the truck.  Laundry duties and grocery shopping always seem to take a big, unwanted bite of our time.  So, our anticipated 170 mile drive was plenty.  It’s John’s day to drive, so I set up navigation on my phone, and off we go.  Consulting my atlas (I LOVE paper maps), I see we’re going to pass through a place called Salt River Canyon, but I really don’t give it much though.  As we roll along, suddenly, the high rocky sides of the road give way, and we find ourselves in the most gorgeous canyon. 20150120_10342620150120_101134 My photos really do not do it justice.  It was spectacular!  What a surprise!20150118_13265620150120_103128Rolling into Fool Hollow, the Ranger allowed us to drive up into the campground to select our own spot.  This is my favorite time of any day – the suspense of arriving at a new, unknown campground is a great happiness to me.  We were not disappointed.  Fool Hollow SP is pristine.  Gorgeous.  Only one of their five or six camping loops is open, but there are only four other occupants.  One’s a T@B!  We are foolishly delighted to find kindred spirits, and take a spot near them. 20150118_161447 The sites here are so huge that it wasn’t like needlessly parking right on top of someone.  We walked every inch of this park in the days we were there – it must be heaven in the summer – at 6300′, it must surely be a cool haven.  Every site was raked and cleaned – I felt guilty for the footprints I left (everywhere) looking for firewood to feed our hungry firepit.  It was cold at night (high 20s), and there were bits of residual snow from the past weeks.  But, it warmed into the high 50s during the day, making it perfect for bike exploration of Show Low, the nearby town.

Why is it that the minute we get on our bikes, we are starving?  We dive for a spot to eat, finding a tiny little tortilla shop called El Milagrito.  Perhaps this is not the ideal spot for everyone, but we LOVED it.20150119_133005 We ordered a taco and a Sonoran hotdog.  omg….the warm chips and salsa we were served prompted us to order a bag of chips to go.  This was a piece of heaven.  Plus, they have the best sign – EVER!20150119_132958Show Low is named because control of the town was won in a card game between the two principal landowners in 1876.20150119_132313 Deciding that the town was not big enough to support two families, the two played poker for control.  When they decided to draw for low card to win, the first gent thought he had it made when he drew a 3.  Alas, the second card was a deuce.  Hence the town was named Show Low, and the principal street is called Deuce of Clubs, the card drawn.  We wandered around a bit, then headed back – not much happening in Show Low.20150119_131512Back at camp, we basked in the beauty of our surroundings, and endeavored to meet our T@B neighbors. 20150118_174631 After the second morning, we two were the only campers in the entire State Park.  How cool is that?  We share Happy Hour and camping stories with Loren and Deb Trout of Boulder(ish) CO.  I hope that we’ll stay in touch, or better yet, stumble across them in another campground somewhere.

Moving on…..




Hangin’ Out in Vegas

Hard to believe we’ve been camped in Gail/Dan’s driveway for over a week.  Is it remotely possible that we’ve overstayed our welcome?  Um, yes.

But, what a terrific family holiday we’ve had.  We arrived on Christmas Eve afternoon, about 10 minutes behind my sister Lynn and husband Jerry, who traveled from Green Valley, AZ.  We tucked the Fireball in behind Gail and Dan’s coach.  It was intimidating enough that we slept with one eye open every night!wpid-20150101_144731-1.jpgGail’s son Mark, along with his wife Tatsumi, and kids Erin and Shaw rolled in from Laguna Hills, CA on the 26th to complete the holiday celebration.  This is our whole gang – Lynn/Jerry, Gail/Dan, Tatsumi/Mark, Shaw, Erin, John and me.  Jezzy sneaked into the photo, although the other five pups somehow were left out.  20141229_115213Gail/Dan bought everybody remote controlled helicopters for Christmas.  An aerospace engineering degree apparently didn’t  help Mark much with his launch.  Who knew these would be so difficult to fly?John also a tough run with his mini-helicopter, managing to fly it into the light fixture over the dining room table, delighting the peanut gallery, and terrorizing all the dogs.

We did get in a bit of a hike at Red Rock Canyon National Park (sans Gail and Dan), despite frigid temps and high winds, over unenthusiastic protests of teenagers Erin and Shaw.  We scrambled over boulders and through narrow crevices on a clear, cold day, and enjoyed the spectacular scenery (in spite of ourselves).  Here’s Mark, Tatsumi, and Erin.20141227_130003 Tatsumi gave us a real Cheryl Strayed moment when she slipped out of her shoe while scrambling over some slickrock.  Fortunately, her shoe tumbled down onto John, who snagged it as it rolled past.20141227_13570420141227_13592220141227_130537 20141227_133039 It was a photo-perfect afternoon, highlighted by the appearance of four wild burros, sighted shortly after we drove into the scenic drive.  Although we know they are in the area, this is the first time we’ve even seen them – what a treat!  We kept our distance, so this photo is somewhat less than National Geographic quality.t20141227_122458 Much of the rest of our time was spent playing games (I may be the family cribbage champ, although Gail and Mark tried hard).  Have you ever played Dumb Ass?  A crazy fun board game with lots of laughs.  Perhaps the weirdest game was Heads Up, which utilized an iphone.  It was ridiculous, separating the generations among us even more quickly than Name That Tune could have done.

While Mark and Shaw played dominos, Erin created a beautiful pagoda with the spare bones.  She casually created what the rest of us could not have done with an instruction diagram.20141228_134754 Thank you, Shaw and Erin for hanging in there with us – I can’t imagine myself being quite so gracious as a young teen hanging out with my great aunts and uncles.

Mark, Tats, and kids rolled away on Monday, Lynn and Jerry on Tuesday.  So, we decided to gorge on sushi on Tuesday night.  One of the most enjoyable feasts we’ve had.  20141230_195428Our Fireball refrigeration has crapped out again (for the last time).  We’re junking this fridge, but have decided to go without any electronic refrigeration for the next month, while we camp.  Just too much hassle (and expense) to get one shipped in to Vegas, so that we can install it while we are still here.  Does that qualify as roughing it?  Doubtful!

wpid-screenshot_2015-01-01-17-22-28.pngJezzy and I have patrolled the area since we’ve been here, trying to make up for the three lost days of activity while we were in transit.  Here’s my activity log from my Garmin Vivofit for December.  I purchased it on December 4 – can you tell which were our three travel days?  Not too bad for 27 days!

John and I took the bus down to the strip on December 31 (afternoon) to check out the decorations at the Bellagio.  Stunning.  Unfortunately, there were too many people, and I have too little patience to have anything to show for the day.  But, the gawk-worthy Chihuly ceiling there did merit a photo.20141231_132412Taking the bus was a blast, but it did account for a big portion of my mileage for the day (about 10.5 miles).  We waited patiently at one stop, after running out of energy to push ahead on foot.20141231_143200The oddities of Vegas, and especially Gail’s neighborhood will never get old for me.  20141228_200916We awakened every morning (around 3am) to the rooster that her neighbors keep in their back yard.  Apparently, they also brought in some turkeys (at least one of whom escaped the Thanksgiving axe).  It’s a bit unnerving to hang out in the back yard, and hear a turkey next door – although we never got a glimpse of him because of the wall between.  The house around the corner has two horses in the yard.  It’s wild and woolly in their unincorporated neighborhood.

Christmas decorations without snow will always be an oddity to me.  These strings of lights, laid right on the roof would never last in Michigan.20141227_165656Palm trees?20141227_16592020141231_165408But, now it’s time to camp!  Tomorrow at this time, we’ll be in Lake Havasu State Park.  That’s our first stop in a month-long trek around the perimeter of AZ, traveling along the west, south, and east borders.  All of our destinations are campgrounds we’ve never visited, and we’re excited to cycle new roads, and hike new trails.

So, bye to Gail and Dan (for now).  They’ll be heading to Green Valley in February, staying just yards from Lynn/Jerry, and a few miles from our rented house in the area.  For now, we’re shedding no tears at parting.

We did finish out our year with 179 days of living in our T@DA.  Not sure if we can outdo that in 2015, but we will dream about it.

Happy New Year to all.  Hope there are adventures in your future!




Goblins and Grouches

Goblin Valley State Park, UT – we’re here on the advice of a guy at our neighborhood hardware store in Grand Rapids, where we spend lots of our time (and money). “There’s nowhere like it – completely unique”, he promised.20140329_073043
Maybe we’re wrung out with the magnificence of the National Parks we’ve visited in the past weeks, but our general feeling is “meh”. It’s all right, but just not up to the scale to which we’ve become accustomed. How spoiled can two Michigan kids get?

The attraction of Goblin Valley is the curious landscape of ground-down sandstone rocks from the San Rafael Swell.  The entire valley looks like some kind of Devil’s chessboard. 20140328_160648What’s unique is that these structures are unprotected, and you can climb, scramble, and walk anywhere you want. That’s so rare. Because many of these rocks are munchkin-sized, it’s a kids’ paradise. It’s crawling (literally) with kids. Every campsite has at least five kids. The campground itself is pretty nice, with about 25 campsites, each with a sheltered picnic table and fire ring. No services, but flush toilets and a few really lame showers. Our neighbors are a gang of boy scouts of the age where they have these really LOUD, excited voices, and Generator Man, who constantly powers up his rig. Why? There’s no phone, radio, or TV anywhere for miles. We can’t quite figure it out.

We did hike a bit, exploring a cave called Goblin’s Lair, which tested our scrambling abilities. 20140329_104017Apparently, we’re neither as brave, nor as limber as we think we are, as there were a few nervous moments. 20140329_104215On the way back, we passed families heading out to the same spot with their dogs and three-year olds. Really? Bet most of them turned back before getting into the cave – there sure are better family hikes than this one.  20140329_103232

Evil winds wracked the campground this afternoon, so we hunkered down with books and naps. It was nice to do nothing. As much as I like to think that we are superoutpeople, I’m just tired. Nice to just goof off for an afternoon.

By the time anyone reads this, you’ll probably know the results, but GO SPARTANS! We sit in the Firetruck and listen to tiny bits of the basketball games on our satellite radio, hoping to cheer MSU on. The Fireball radio is nothing but static, so the truck is all we’ve got for connetions to the outside world. Pathetic, in a really funny sort of way, as neither of us are basketball fans at all. It’s hard, for me especially, to be separated from the news. We’ve been 10 days without cell service, stopping only once for an hour (doing laundry), when we could update the blog and check email and make a few quick phone calls. That’s tough.20140328_191834
Tomorrow we’re heading to Dead Horse Point State Park, near Canyonlands NP. We’re hoping for more superb hiking – we’re amazed at how many miles we’ve put on our boots in the last month. Then on to Arches NP. Hoping that we can find a decent grocery resupply spot between here and there. John had to bake bread, dutch oven style, this afternoon, because we had used up the last scraps of the stuff we purchased in Salt Lake City, over a week ago. All our fun food is gone, and we’re reduced to eating dregs from the larder. Backcountry Utah is no place for a couple of food snobs with limited storage space.

I’m posting this from a parking lot at a grocery store in Moab.  Every car we’ve passed on the road has one or two mountain bikes atop.  It’s an outdoor paradise here – skydiving, zip lines, biking, rafting.  We’re in for six days of big fun.

Good Living in New York State

So far, so good here in New York.  The drive into the Finger Lakes region was beautiful along I-86.  Lush, rolling green hills made the journey quite pleasurable.  We opted for a slightly longer route to our Cayuga Lake State Park destination so that we could detour thru Ithaca and dine at the Moosewood Restaurant.20130919_143432 I had been there once before while on a cycling trip, and was anxious to go back.  John’s stuffed pepper and my lentil soup were our reward for the additional miles.  20130919_150301The Red Ale from Ithaca Brewing didn’t hurt our attitude, either.  Sometimes, you just have to pamper yourselves a bit, right?  While strolling around town, John lurched off a curb and rolled into the street – holding his iphone high for protection. He’s still mad because my first instinct was to laugh before inquiring about his well-being.  “I don’t expect any sympathy from you,” were his exact words, I believe.

We rolled into our campsite, which we had reserved weeks ago, to find that we are about 50 feet off a state highway.  No Kidding!  I sure can pick ’em.  Lots of trucks and car traffic, but it quiets down at night, so it’s really not too annoying. I’m mad at myself though for not selecting one of the rustic sites across the street, which are more secluded. 20130920_083607Cayuga Lake is beautiful, though.

Friday (yesterday), we decided to cycle around, and check out the area.  Seneca Falls is the nearest town, and it’s home to the birth of the women’s rights movement. 20130920_120854 The Women’s Rights National Historical Park is crammed with photos and exhibits documenting the movement from it’s tentative beginnings.  My favorite photo showing two female police officers in Ann Arbor in 1972 is below.  Hard to believe that their uniform included shoes with high heels! 20130920_123536 Not easy to be a pioneer.


The Women’s Hall of Fame was our next stop.  It’s a small building with framed photos and short bios of the 250 women included.  Interesting, but not too lively.

We pedaled on to Auburn, fighting a nasty headwind and lots of noisy traffic for about 15 miles.  Wandered around for a bit and checked out the Willard Chapel, which is the only complete and unaltered chapel designed by the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company known to exist.  Yes, that Tiffany. Not only are the many stained glass windows and chandeliers designed and produced by Tiffany, but the elaborate woodwork, pews, valted ceiling, altar, and mosaic floor were all designed and produced under his direction.  My poor photos certainly don’t do justice to this splendid chapel.20130920_151639

20130920_152247We sailed back to camp with a tailwind, picking up a load of firewood along the way, which John neatly bungeed to the back of his bike.  Pretty slick.  Dinner was Dutch-oven baked potatoes, the last of our homegrown tomatoes and pesto, and grilled pork chops with a coffee-pepper rub that I bought at Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor.  Excellent way to polish off a great day.

Pay Attention!

For the past twenty years, I’ve lived in the same house.  And, for eighteen of those twenty years, I’ve had a dog (first Bogey, and now Jezzy) that I’ve faithfully taken for two walks each day.  So, it would seem that I should know my way around my neighborhood, right?  But, yesterday I strolled down the opposite side of a street that I’ve walked on hundreds, if not thousands of time since I’ve lived here.  And,this caught my eye.


The elf house on this telephone pole has probably been here for the entire twenty years that I have.  First time I’ve ever seen it, and I was charmed.

So, I’m resolved to Pay Attention!  Crazy that I stroll around without paying any attention to my surroundings.  Today, I noticed (again) that everyone’s hydrangeas are doing MUCH better than mine are. sigh.  The other thing I noticed is that I’m likely to take a header on my new discovery tour – the sidewalks here are pretty uneven because of all the mature trees.  Jezzy is so busy sniffing every tree and blade of grass that she’s totally startled every time I stumble and lurch behind her.

On a foodie trip to Ann Arbor this week, I spotted this sign at Zingerman’s (a foodie mecca).


Good advice from folks who really know their way around smoked meats!