Tales From The Camping House

Tales From The Camping House

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Time To Catch Up

I can't believe it's been over 2 months since I posted, so I thought I would catch up on what we have been doing.  We arrived back in Texas the first part of October.  We wouldn't have gotten here that early except we were attending Jim's family reunion in east Texas.  This was the 90th reunion and Jim's father is the last remaining of 11 siblings.  All of his kids were there.  It's not often they are all together.

We have landed at Pecan Park RV Park in San Marcos.  It's a great rv park with great winter Texan rates, close to town, but far enough out of town to give you a peaceful feeling.  It's also a good halfway point between Austin and San Antonio where our families are located. We will probably be here until spring when we will take off again.

We have had sleepovers and get togethers with our 3 "grand girls"

Pumpkin Patch in San Antonio

We have gotten together with friends.  We met up with Bob and Susan from Travel Bug again in New Braunfels before they took off for Australia. (that's how long it's been since I've posted, they're back from their month there).

We also met our friends Byron and Linda in Wimberly for a fun day.

Byron and Jim were roommates in college.  Byron and Linda were married in June and we were married in August.  We will both be celebrating our 40th anniversaries in 2013!  We have sometimes gone several years before seeing each other again, but when we do, we take right up where we left off.

December has been a whirlwind of activities.

We went caroling on the river in San Antonio.  We went with my parent's church and rode a barge down the river as we caroled the night away.

We took the girls to Wimberly's Trail of Lights,

then went back to the rv to decorate Christmas cookies and have a sleepover.

Right before Christmas, the whole family met for dinner in Austin and then went to the Trail of Lights there.  It had been several years since the Trail of Lights had taken place in Austin and it was as spectacular as always.

We had a potluck dinner the Saturday before Christmas and enjoyed visiting with people staying here at the park.  

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were spent with our families watching the girls open their parents and getting together at my brother's house in San Antonio.  It was a wonderful time spent with our family!

It seems there hasn't been as much to write about since we haven't been traveling,  but it is amazing how quickly the time goes by.  Here's hoping I do a better job of updating this blog. :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

We're Still Here!

I can't believe over a month has gone by without posting anything!  We got busy and time got away.  I am going to go back after Bryce Canyon and catch up.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Onward to the Grand Canyon

We had a nice week in Hurricane, Utah, but it was time to leave.  We are beginning our way back to Texas to spend the winter.  We're going back a month early to attend a family reunion in October.

We hadn't originally planned to go to the Grand Canyon, but after seeing we were only about 150 miles from there and it really wasn't out of our way, we decided to head that way to spend a couple of days seeing it again.  We had last been there 25 years ago.

We pulled into the Cameron Trading Post about 2 in the afternoon.  The RV Park was across the street, but we had to check in at the Trading Post.  For a little place on the road, it was crowded!  Jim had to pull the rv into a bus area and I parked my car and went in to pay for two nights.

When I came out,  there was a tour bus with German tourists circling around our truck and fifth wheel taking pictures!  They just couldn't believe how big it was.  Jim said he felt like a movie star with all the cameras pointing at him. ;)

We were about 20 miles from the east entrance of the park so we headed over there after we got set up.

The Watchtower is the first thing you come to after you enter from this side of the park.  We pulled in and went to the observation deck.

It was pretty hazy outside, but the canyon was still beautiful.

We drove around to several overlooks, but then headed back to the fiver.  Our plan was to get up early and be at the park about 7.  Arizona does not observe daylight savings time, but we decided to just keep our clock and watches on mountain savings time which would make us one hour earlier Arizona time.

The next morning we arrived at the east gate at 6 a.m. Arizona time, no one was at the gate, we drove on through.  The sun was up and the canyon was much clearer this morning.

We headed to the visitor's parking lot by the visitor's center inside.  Just as we turned into the parking lot we saw this beautiful elk.

We parked the car and noticed some people in the parking lot pointing their cameras.  We turned around and saw this gorgeous animal!

Then as we were watching him, he began to bugle at the elk cow.  We had never seen or heard an elk bugle before, absolutely beautiful!

The south rim of the Grand Canyon is also only accessible by shuttle.  We took some water with us and boarded the shuttle.  Basically, you can get off and on the shuttle at each overlook, then wait about 10-15 minutes for the next shuttle or take the trail and walk to the next overlook.

The Grand Canyon is one of those places that takes your breath away when you first see it.  There is no way a picture can show the massiveness of the canyon, but I'll try. 

We found out they had just finished their monsoon season and that is why there is so much green in the canyon as well as the Colorado River being so muddy.

 We took the shuttle to some of the overlooks and then would walk around to another, then get on the shuttle again.  This is one of the overlooks.

My "I was there" shot.

The view from another overlook.

 At one of the overlooks, there was a painting class.  They had a great subject!

We caught this picture of a squirrel on the edge overlooking the canyon, I guess he was admiring the view too.

Our last stop was at Hermit's Rest. It was built in 1914 as a rest area for tourists on coaches operated by the Fred Harvey Company.

 There were more beautiful views of the canyon.

We stayed for awhile, sitting on the outside porch overlooking the canyon.  Then, we got back on the shuttle to take the nonstop ride back to the town shuttle that would take us back to the visitor's parking lot.

After leaving the parking lot and heading back to the rv campground, we saw this mountain lion crossing sign.  A first for us.
It was a beautiful day and we were so glad we made the trip back to the Grand Canyon.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Journey to Zion

We arrived in Hurricane, Utah without any events (always a good thing).  We got set up and finally were able to level the fiver.  We had problems with the hydraulics and thought maybe our batteries were going bad.  Then, our refrigerator began losing power and our lights were flickering.  After some research on the forums, we were pretty sure our converter was going out.  We called a rv repair service and that is exactly what it was.  Since we would be here for a week, we had them order another converter to be installed before we left.

The day after we arrived, we made our first journey into Zion National Park.  We were about 25 miles away and got a late start, not getting to the park until just before noon.

From April 1 to the end of October, you must take the shuttle from the Visitor's Center to see the park.  We arrived at the Visitor's Center, but all the parking places were taken so we had to go back into Springdale to catch the shuttle there.  We're not great shuttle fans since you have to be sure to take everything you need with you and can't go back and forth to the car.  We didn't wait long before the town shuttle came and dropped us off at the walkover to the Visitor's Center where you can catch the park shuttle.

The first thing you notice is the sheer massiveness of the rock walls.

Because we got such a late start, we just took the shuttle through the park getting off at the last stop which was a paved walkway to the beginning of The Narrows hike.  We took the walkway along the river, out heads continually looked up at the massive walls.

The Narrows is one of those "can't miss" hikes but we decided we didn't really want to walk through the water.  You must walk across the stream in order to begin the hike.  

These hikers are beginning their trek through the narrows.

We returned two days laters, much earlier and knowing a few of the secrets.  There are actually two parking areas in the park, one at the Visitor's Center and another at the Museum Visitor's Center a little farther into the park.  We arrived about 9 and had no trouble getting a space at the museum.  We went through the museum learning about the geology and wildlife in the park, then took the Riverside Walk by the Virgin River.  There was a great paved walking path and very few people as we made the easy 2 mile hike.

After hiking by the river, we caught the next shuttle.  The shuttles run constantly and we never had to wait more than 3 or 4 minutes for the next one to come.  Sometimes they were crowded with standing room only and other times there would be only a few people on them.

We stopped at each of the stops to see the view.

We took the short hike up to Weeping Rock which really does seem to be weeping as the water seeps from the rock.

More views from other stops.

Next, we got off at the Zion Canyon Lodge and took the Emerald Pools hike.  It was pretty much a steady upward climb.

 We reached one of the little waterfalls caused by the runoff from one of the pools.

As you walked under the drizzle of water, a different view of the mountains could be seen through the drops.

This was one of the Emerald Pools.

We took the shuttle back to the museum getting into our car to drive to the other side of Zion National Park.   We saw more spectacular views as we drove there along State Route 9.

We came to the Zion- Mt. Carmel Tunnel, a 1.1 mile tunnel began in the late 1920's and finished in 1930.  It was built to create a direct link from Bryce Canyon National Park to Zion National Park and Grand Canyon National Park.  After 1989 as trailers and trucks were getting larger, a study was shown that more accidents were occurring as a result of these larger vehicles crossing the median.

Now, if you are wider than 7 feet 10 inches and taller than 11 feet 4 inches, you must have an escort through the tunnel, as well as paying a $15 tunnel permit.

When we went through the first time, we didn't have to wait, we were waved right through.  1.1 miles is really long in a tunnel!

We came out on the other side, drove about 2 miles, then turned around to come back.  This time, there was a trailer and motor home waiting to go through.  We had to wait for the traffic to come out from the other side, then we made our way behind the escorted vehicles.

We were really glad we came around the longer way rather than trying to go through this tunnel with our fifth wheel.

It had been another beautiful day!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bryce Canyon National Park

We arrived at Bryce Canyon Pines RV Park on Saturday.  We took Highway 22 through a valley between the mountains making for a pleasant and pretty easy drive over to Bryce City.  We ate lunch and then decided to make the short 10 minute drive to the park.

We weren't quite prepared for the awe inspiring view of the canyon.  I can only compare it to when I saw Grand Canyon, it just takes your breath away for that split second when you first see it.  Again, pictures just can't show its total beauty, but I'll try. :)

We were only going to drive around a little, but we kept walking to the next view point.  This is even higher at Sunrise Point.

 We spent several hours at the park, then decided to call it a day and head home.  We decided the next day we were going to take the trail down to the bottom of the canyon, across, and up to the other side.  It would be a little less that 3 miles.

The skies were beautiful Sunday when we arrived at Sunset Point about 10:00 to start our hike downward.  As you descend into the canyon, you get a feeling of just how large the hoodoos (rock formations) are.  You can see people at the bottom center of the first picture and bottom left of the next to get the perspective.

We got to the bottom and couldn't get over how the hoodoos tower over you.  The trees were also gigantic, but they were dwarfed by the rocks.

We walked across the bottom even passing through some of the formations carved out for the path.

It took us about 2 1/2 hours to complete the trek through the canyon, but it was worth every climb and out of breath moment I had.  This hike is listed as one of the top 20 in National Geographic National Parks Hikes and it is definitely a hike we will not soon forget!

We went home to grab a quick lunch and then returned to the park to finish the driving tour to the tip.  There were many beautiful stops overlooking canyons and more formations.

 This is Fairyland Canyons and that is just what it reminds you of, either a giant fairyland or giant sandcastle formations.

 This is Natural Bridge.  It is actually an arch carved by wind and water and not a bridge that was carved by water alone.  It really doesn't matter, it's just gorgeous!

Since we had seen most of the canyon, on Monday we decided to take the Scenic Byway on Highway 12.  Our first stop was the short hike to the Mossy Cave and waterfalls.

We proceeded on Highway 12 through Escalante and then towards Boulder.  Before you get to Boulder, you come across or I should say through these giant red rock mountains.  This was another way we could have come from Torrey, but we were real glad we didn't when we saw the curvy roads and 14% grade signs.

We made it to Boulder, then turned around to see the magnificent scenery the other way.  Today, we are pretty much stuck inside with rain that is forecasted to last all day.  It does look like it will clear out before we leave tomorrow.  Next stop, Zion National Park.