Monthly Archives: April 2019

Grand Canyon NP South Rim Part 2 APR 25, 2019

Grand Canyon National Park has a great free shuttle bus service. Since private vehicles are not allowed in the Hermit’s Rest western area of the Park between March 1 and November 30th, it is the only way to get around and see the area. The buses arrive at each the many stops throughout the Park every 10 to 15 minutes and the bus drivers are friendly and helpful. The first eight seats are reserved for seniors or the disabled and the drivers are pretty aggressive about keeping those seats available for those who need it. The buses are well utilized and stay very crowded and a few times we had to stand which wasn’t a big deal to us. As I mentioned in the last post, the Park was very busy the week after Easter. Most of the people we heard talking on the buses or trails were non-English speaking tourists.

One day we walked part of the thirteen mile paved path along the Canyon rim. In the distance we could see snow on the mountains (San Francisco Peaks) near Flagstaff.  IMG_20190424_134720We had a view of all the buildings that make up the Grand Canyon Village which includes the Visitors Center, lodges, restaurants, a grocery store and a train depot. IMG_20190424_135047PANO_20190424_135414.vrAs we walked along the rim we could see all the trails that lead down into the canyon. We could see people like tiny ants walking on the trails. As you look at the pictures look for all the trails. IMG_20190424_135618Also look for glimpses of the Colorado River. In how many pictures can you spot a piece of the river at the bottom? IMG_20190424_13155220190424_13250220190424_13274420190424_132900IMG_20190424_13503220190424_141703

After walking on the trail and enjoying the views we hopped on a bus and rode to Hermit’s Rest, the westernmost point and end of the bus line. Hermit’s Rest was built in 1914 and is another Canyon structure designed by architect Mary Jane Colter. It was built as a rest stop for tourists who came by train to visit the area years ago. img_20150505_152001a

Another day we took the bus to several popular viewpoints. It was easy to hop on and off the buses since we knew another one would be along in 10 to 15 minutes. IMG_20190426_140555IMG_20190426_14355420190426_14445200006IMG_00006_BURST20190426134308One stop was Powell Point where there is a large granite memorial to Major John Wesley Powell. In 1869 Powell led one of the first documented explorations down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. He led another exploration in 1872. 20190426_133916IMG_20190426_134050IMG_20190426_134020

We also stopped at Hopi Point, Mohave Point and Pima Point, all with amazing views. Do you see the trails and Colorado River in the pictures? IMG_20190426_135833IMG_20190426_144010IMG_20190426_135933IMG_20190426_135925IMG_20190426_143957

We loved our five days in Grand Canyon National Park and can’t wait to go back. IMG_20190424_135142

Next up: We are currently in Show Low in the White Mountains of northeastern Arizona for the month of May.

Grand Canyon NP South Rim, part 1, APR 24, 2019

The week after Easter we visited the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park for five days. 20190422_125006We didn’t realize it when we made the reservation, but the week before and the week after Easter are very busy in the park. We knew that to be true by the long line of cars waiting at the entrance gate to enter the park. We last visited Grand Canyon in 2015 and this time we stayed at the same campground inside the park. I was delighted to see elk roaming free throughout the campground, just like last time. 20190422_170133IMG_20190422_172348These Rocky Mountain elk were brought to the park from 1913-1928 from Yellowstone National Park. They appear to be tame and unafraid of people or cars. Regardless of how tame they are, we obeyed the rules and kept our distance and didn’t feed them. 20190422_174618

We couldn’t wait to get to popular Mather Point for our first view of the Canyon. One of the Seven Wonders of the World, there are no words to adequately describe the Grand Canyon. Amazing, vast, awe inspiring, beautiful are words that do not do it justice. It is hard to comprehend that the Colorado River carved this magnificent canyon. IMG_20190425_145521The canyon is 277 miles long, four to 18 miles in width and one mile deep. IMG_20190423_143350IMG_20190423_14352620190423_143536IMG_20190423_144807

The Colorado River flows below at an average speed of four miles per hour. The river averages 300 feet wide and 100 feet deep. It flows through the Canyon and eventually empties into the Gulf of California in Mexico. From the rim of the Canyon the Colorado River is small and hard to see. However there are whitewater areas that make rafting on the river challenging and dangerous. The depth of the Canyon erodes about the width of a sheet of paper each year, so the Canyon is continually changing. IMG_20190425_132216

The Grand Canyon became a national park in 1919 so this is the 100th anniversary of the 1.2 million acre park. 20190423_152136Recently there have been three deaths in the park due to people falling to their death. The day after we arrived we heard a 70 year old woman fell to her death. Some people ask why the park rangers can’t do more to prevent this from happening. The park is huge and with over six million visitors a year, there is no way the park service can prevent accidents from happening. There are warnings everywhere about not getting close to the edge. The Grand Canyon can be a dangerous place and people have to accept responsibility for their actions. In the five days we were there we observed people doing crazy, dangerous things. And in all cases it was because of picture taking. A few times I had to walk away for fear of seeing a tragedy I wouldn’t be able to forget. No picture is worth risking your life. IMG_20190423_145040

Most of the areas of the park can be reached by their free shuttle buses. But Desert View Watchtower has to be driven to by car. So one day we made the 25 mile trip to the eastern most developed section of the park to see the tower and the beautiful views of the Canyon. The four story 70 foot stone tower was built in 1932 and designed by architect Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter. 20190425_120815IMG_20190425_121119-EFFECTSIMG_20190425_121654IMG_20190425_121627-PANO

We climbed to one of the lookout points in the tower and then had a picnic lunch. 20190425_12331420190425_124825

We really enjoyed the drive there and back because there are scenic viewpoints along the way. As we started home, heavy clouds began to form which can dramatically change the lighting and appearance of the Canyon. No two days there are the same. IMG_20190425_131343-EFFECTSIMG_20190425_132228IMG_20190425_140634

Next up: part two of our visit to Grand Canyon National Park

Las Vegas, NV APR 18, 2019 REVISED

Our next stop was Las Vegas. Bill and I are not the typical Vegas tourists. We are not gamblers or big drinkers. We did not even find a show we were interested in seeing this time. When we were last here in 2015 we went to a Rod Stewart show.

This visit was more about family. Bill has a cousin (his Dad’s Mother’s side) who lives in Las Vegas and we spent a lot of time with Marion and her husband Bob. 20190419_12061120190419_130421
We also were able to visit the homes of their sons, Mark and Troy, and their wives and children. Bill and Marion are really into genealogy so they had a great time comparing notes, looking at pictures and filling in the blanks.

One day Marion and Bob drove us to Mt Charleston, elevation 7,510, where we had lunch and enjoyed the views. This was a place we probably never would have thought to visit on our own and it was just the kind of place we love. It is a great year round destination with camping and hiking during the warm months and skiing in the winter.  Marion and Bob have many fond memories of coming here with their family, and their sons and grandchildren still enjoy visiting Mt Charleston, especially during the winter to ski. IMG_20190419_134337


Looking North Into the Nevada Atomic Testing Area


One evening Bill and I drove to the Las Vegas Strip to see the outdoor Bellagio fountain show. It is always beautiful and Bill was able to capture some pictures and video. Since there are shows on the hour and half hour we were able to see two shows and we were pleased to see each show was different with different music.

click to see video

click to see video


click to see video

We walked around for awhile but it was wall to wall people, making it hard to walk down the street. It felt uncomfortably warm and claustrophobic with so many people. When we were here in 2015 we toured Fremont Street and didn’t feel the need to do that again. IMG_20190418_20294020190418_203609IMG_20190418_203546IMG_20190418_204319

We did see the construction of the new domed Las Vegas Stadium for the Oakland Raiders NFL team which is moving to Las Vegas and will be called the Las Vegas Raiders. It is estimated the new stadium will be ready for the 2020 season. 20190412_13114620190412_13115320190412_130846IMG_20190418_21032320190418_202037

Next up : The Grand Canyon!

Valley of Fire State Park, NV APR 15, 2019

Four years ago we visited Valley of Fire State Park and it is one of many places we have always wanted to revisit. We had a choice of two routes from where we were staying. One took us through the crazy Las Vegas traffic and the other route took us through the peaceful Lake Mead National Recreation Area. I think you can guess which route we took. IMG_20190416_105637IMG_20190416_105731

Valley of Fire is Nevada’s first and largest state park and gets its name from the red sandstone formations. These formations were formed by great shifting sand dunes during the dinosaur age 150 million years ago.  When the sun hits the rock formations they appear to be on fire. There are also rock formations of limestone, shale and conglomerates. IMG_20190416_112914IMG_20190416_112927IMG_20190416_113737IMG_20190416_115948

Many movies have been filmed in Valley of Fire including “Viva Las Vegas”, “Total Recall” and “Transformers” as well as tv shows and commercials. On this formation “Star Trek:Generations” filmed the death of Captain Kirk.IMG_20190416_145636IMG_20190416_145645

It was a less than perfect day to visit the park but we were on a tight schedule. It was cloudy which made for less than ideal picture taking to showcase the beautiful colors, but also extremely windy and downright cold. I am usually not one to bundle up much when hiking, but even I put on a jacket. IMG_20190416_123109IMG_20190416_134105

We had read about a hike called “Fire Wave” and was said to be the most popular hike in the park. We had missed it on our last visit and wanted to do it this time. The hike wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. IMG_20190416_123518It seems during the entire time we were either trudging uphill or downhill through sand or walking across rocks. I really don’t do well with rocks. You can see in the pictures people on the rocks we had to walk across on the trail. IMG_20190416_125438IMG_20190416_125445IMG_20190416_130543IMG_20190416_131429IMG_20190416_131432

We reached the destination which was supposed to be rock formations that looked like waves. I guess I built up an image of something spectacular because the real thing was a bit of a letdown. IMG_20190416_131405IMG_20190416_131413Maybe it was the cloudy skies, the cold and the wind. By the time we trudged back across the rocks and sand, the wind had picked up even more and it was cold. We had planned on doing three hikes but by the time we got back to the car we pretty much looked at each other and said one hike is enough today. Let’s save something for next time. The thought of getting back out of the car into the wind and cold just wasn’t appealing. IMG_20190416_144013

Despite the clouds we did enjoy driving around the park looking at the beautiful red formations. Not even clouds, wind and cold could change that amazing experience. IMG_20190416_144242IMG_20190416_144222

As we made our way home through the Lake Mead National Recreation Area we drove through some pretty heavy rain showers. We were very thankful the rain held off until we were on the way home. IMG_20190416_144255

Next up: A busy few days in Las Vegas


Boulder City, NV APR 12, 2019

Leaving Lake Havasu City we drove to Boulder City, Utah for a six night stay. Boulder City (pop 15,600) is a lovely city which was built in 1931 to house workers contracted to build Hoover Dam, formerly called Boulder Dam. 20190413_150655Previously, men who hoped to work on the Dam were living with their families in tents and shacks on land chosen as the site of the Dam. The town was built by the Bureau of Reclamation as the “Boulder Canyon Project Federal Reservation”.  Federal rangers maintained law and order on the “reservation”. Boulder City is very rare in that it was fully planned under government supervision. The town was designed to house around 5,000 workers and the status of the workers was reflected by the size and location of their house. Commercial development was restricted and severely limited by a stern, iron fisted city manager. There was no provision for schools at first because it was assumed only single men would be working on the Dam. No hospital was built for years with injured workers taken to nearby Las Vegas. When a hospital was eventually built, it was a number of years before females were allowed to be admitted.  Visitors to Boulder City had to go through a gatehouse, and gambling was prohibited. Today, Boulder City is one of only two Nevada cities which prohibit gambling. Alcohol was prohibited until 1969. Las Vegas had campaigned to have the workers housed in Las Vegas but because of its rowdy, risqué reputation, it was passed over in favor of Boulder City. Today Boulder City is very proud of its nickname “Home of Hoover Dam”. The federal government gave up control of Boulder City in 1959 when it was incorporated.

We visited the Boulder City-Hoover Dam Museum located inside the historic Boulder Dam Hotel. The hotel, built in 1933, is on the National Register of Historic Places. 20190413_150536

In the 1930’s and 1940’s the hotel was the accommodation for Shirley Temple, Betts Davis, Howard Hughes, Will Rogers, Boris Karloff and other celebrities who came to see the Dam being built. The museum had an excellent movie and exhibits on life in Boulder City in the 1930’s as well as the construction of the Dam.  Working conditions were hard and treacherous to say the least. Because of a fine of $3,000 for every day the construction ran over deadline, the men were pushed to the limit and often competitions were used to push the men even harder. 20190413_13514720190413_135544Occurring in the days immediately after the Great Depression, men were afraid to complain of unbearable heat and working conditions for fear of being fired. Only American citizens could work on the Dam which essentially meant whites only. In 1932 only a few African Americans were hired but were not allowed to live in Boulder City. This changed after Franklin Roosevelt was elected.20190413_13512820190413_13502320190413_135556IMG_20190413_14030020190413_134902

We enjoyed walking around the town doing some geocaching. Evidence of the town’s history was everywhere. 20190413_150356


34 Ton Water Runner Converts Water Power To One Generator

One day we drove to the nearby Lake Mead National Recreation Area. This is the nation’s first national recreation area and the largest reservoir in the country. It was formed by the Hoover Dam in 1935 and provides water to twenty million people and farmland in Arizona, California and Nevada as well as some to Mexico. The Lake has not reached full capacity since 1983 due to water demands and drought. In August, 2017 it was only at 40%.

Our main reason for going there was to hike the Historic Railroad Trail. IMG_20190415_122735This trail is a portion of the former railroad route that carried supplies from Boulder City to Hoover Dam during construction of the Dam. The trail is no longer a railroad but has been replaced with crushed rock. Along the trail are panoramic views of Lake Mead. 20190415_123839Hikers pass through five tunnels approximately 300 feet in length and 25 feet in diameter. The trail can take you all the way to Hoover Dam but on this day we had to stop at tunnel three because the tunnel was closed due to unstable conditions. Since it was a hot sunny day with no shade on the trail, we were okay with turning around at that point. We had walked 10,000 steps by the time we returned to the car. 20190415_12590020190415_123435IMG_20190415_123702

We then drove to Hoover Dam. Back in Jan, 2015 we visited Hoover Dam and took a tour of the facility. This time we wanted to stop at the visitor area at the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge which is the first concrete-steel composite bridge in the United States and the widest concrete arch in the Western Hemisphere. IMG_20190415_141507At 880 feet above the Colorado River it is the second highest bridge in the United States and the world’s highest concrete arch bridge. IMG_20190415_142635IMG_20190415_143317IMG_20190415_143255The bridge connects Arizona and Nevada.  The visitor’s area, in Nevada was super busy with limited parking. I did the musical chairs game with all the other cars trying to find a parking spot. In the meantime Bill walked up the steep trail to the top of the Bridge. It was a very windy day and when he walked out onto the bridge he took his sunglasses off because he was afraid they would blow off his face! IMG_20190415_142510IMG_20190415_142145He took some great shots of Hoover Dam from the top of the bridge. IMG_20190415_142156

We then drove from Nevada over the dam to the Arizona side to have another look at this marvelous structure.


Hoover Dam from the Arizona Side With Memorial Bridge in the Distance

Another day we hiked around the Nature Discovery Trail and Rock Garden. We loved the beautiful rocks, desert flora and giant statues of desert animals. Plaques gave interesting facts about the animals and flora. Did you know jackrabbits can run up to forty miles an hour or that the roadrunner can survive its entire life without drinking water but receives moisture from its prey? 20190413_15225920190413_15273720190413_15262620190413_153051

We finished the day by finding a geocache at the Nevada State Railroad Museum. We not only found a geocache but some great old trains too. IMG_20190413_155028

Railway Post Offices (RPO) were used to transport and sort mail using the hanging mail bag system. RPO were started in the 1830’s and ended in 1950’s. IMG_20190413_160306IMG_20190413_160526IMG_20190413_160534

We had a wonderful time in Boulder City.

Here is the link to our previous visit to Hoover Dam where we took the inside tour January 27, 2015 Boulder City, Nevada

Next up : Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Catching Up & Lake Havasu, AZ Apr 8, 2019

Yes, it has been a long time since our last blog posting. We spent the winter in Yuma, AZ, one of our favorite winter destinations. It was cooler with more rain than past winters there, but still better than cold and snow.


A Saturday Sunrise In Yuma AZ

In February we took a two week break from Yuma and attended the amateur radio Quartzsfest in Quartzsite, AZ. This year the amateur radio gathering broke a record with over one thousand people attending. Bill spent the time at seminars on all things related to amateur radio and we both attended the daily happy hour gathering where hundreds of prizes were given away. We didn’t win anything but the daily anticipation of possibly winning was fun. 20190120_135137IMG_20190126_140210

March found us back in Yuma and Bill helped out with the three day Yuma Amateur Radio Hamfest. One day was cool and rainy and unfortunately that was the day Bill had to be outside all day helping park RVs attending the event.


Waiting To Win A Super Radio At Yuma Hamfest

By the end of March there was a mass exodus of snowbirds since Yuma was getting way too hot. It was time to move on with our spring travels.

First stop was Lake Havasu City, best known for their London Bridge and water sports. Lake Havasu is a large reservoir formed by Parker Dam and provides lots of opportunities for boating and fishing. The city website advertises 400 miles of coastline, 300 days of sunshine and 60 miles of navigable waterways.IMG_20190410_160048

In 1968 Businessman Robert McCulloch bought the London Bridge from England for $2.5 million. The bridge was being replaced in England and McCulloch hoped bringing the London Bridge to Lake Havasu City would attract tourists and encourage people to select the city as their home. The Bridge was disassembled and shipped stone by stone for another $7 million and it took three years to complete putting it back together. The Lake Havasu City website says it is the second largest tourist attraction in Arizona after the Grand Canyon. I question whether that is really true. IMG_20190410_155700IMG_20190410_155721

One day we rode over to see Parker Dam located on the Colorado River, 155 miles downstream from Hoover Dam. Parker Dam is known as the deepest dam in the world. Engineers digging for bedrock to build the dam upon had to excavate very deep beneath the Colorado River. 73% of Parker Dam’s 320 foot structural height is not visible. IMG_20190408_113606IMG_20190408_114125IMG_20190408_114135IMG_20190408_114717(1)IMG_20190408_114717

Construction began in 1934 and was completed in 1938.  Located on the border of Arizona and California, arguments over water rights began almost immediately with the Arizona Governor calling out the National Guard in 1934 to take possession of the land around the dam site. He was angry that water stored behind the Dam was going to be pumped to California. Continuing arguments and litigation stopped construction at times and contributed to the long completion time.

We drove across the Dam into California and looked for the burros that were supposed to roam freely along the roadway. We saw many signs cautioning us to watch for them but had a very difficult time finding any. IMG_20190408_114554IMG_20190408_130432IMG_20190408_125244

We saw evidence of them by the burro poop on and alongside the road. It was a very hot day and we decided they were resting in the shady trees out of sight. Someone decorated this large rock to appear like a alien head. IMG_20190408_121827

We turned around and headed home and suddenly Bill spotted several burros yards from the roadway. Seeing the Dam and the burros made for a fun day. IMG_20190408_123002

The Colorado River is enjoyed by all. IMG_20190408_131921

Next stop: Boulder City, home of Hoover Dam