Our first trip to Grand Canyon South Rim

Arriving at Grand Canyon South Village

The drive from Petrified Forest to Grand Canyon South Village was a bit rainy  until we hit the AZ state line. It was there we realized it was closer to  drive to LA than home. With all the fun we had been having it was hard to realize we had traveled so far already!

la bound

The sun was dropping in the late afternoon sky and I knew we would be lucky to arrive before dark. We had no reservations for hotel or camping (as we had no firm date of arrival – we were on a road trip…) So when we saw the signs for Tex X campground just 4 miles  south Grand Canyon NP and 2 miles outside of town (Tusayan) we stopped to check it out. This campground is stunning! Ten-X is situated in a pleasant Ponderosa pine and Gambel oak forest at an elevation of 6,600 ft. We were pleasantly greeted by a Stellar’s Jay as we checked in at the pay station. there were 70 campsites and 2 group sites but only a dozen seemed occupied. We came at the right time of year!

site 30 ten x

After setting up camp we headed back out to try to get our first glimpse of the canyon before dark…. but there was a distraction. Just after we turned onto the main road we saw 5-6 cars pulled over. We slowed down and I saw them, ELK! We pulled over and I pulled out the only camera I had at the ready – my cell phone! There were 2 young bull sparing with each other in between grazing just 20 ft from the road and a bit further up a majestic mature bull elk just grazing and looking up every now and then at the younger one. They were beautiful! So large compared to our tiny Florida White-tailed Deer. I could have stayed there till dark… but the sun was setting fast and we had to move on.

Bull Elk

As we approached Tusayan I was amazed, they had a fully functioning  tiny city right there. Everything you could want was there. There were elk grazing at the McDonald’s parking lot, dozens of hotels and motels and more stores and restaurants than I could count. They even had shuttles that ran back and forth to the park.

We continued past town and finally saw the main entrance gate. We pulled out our National Park Pass that we had just purchased at Petrified Forest NP collected our maps and headed for the canyon rim…or so we thought. It was still another 10-12 miles to the rim! Well I knew we surely miss sunset there but at Center road we saw a herd of elk doe and fawns and that cheered me up some. Not really knowing our way around we parked by the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and walked around a bit (not knowing we were a short 5 min walk away from the rim at Mather Point) and headed back to camp.

hwy 64 n

The next morning we were up early and after a quick breakfast and coffee we were off like kids going on a field trip! We arrived at the same parking area and headed into the visitors center for info.  The guides there are wonderful and shared so much info with us. We decided we would not need the car the rest of the day as the shuttle system there is amazing and ran every 15 minutes to all points all day. Before the shuttle we headed to Mather Point. This would be our first view of the Grand Canyon. What a sight! There were no words exchanged between Rob and I for a while as we just stood there taking in the size of it all. There were so many shades of pink and grey and green. You cannot in your wildest dreams begin to relate to the size of this place unless you have actually been there. More amazing is the fact that only 1/3 of the canyon is a National Park!

Mather Point

After some time we headed out to catch the Blue Shuttle that would take us through Market Village where you can visit the Pioneer Cemetery, general store, bank and access the Campground and past  Grand Canyon Village where the lodges and hotels were located where we picked up the Red Shuttle that took us to all the lookouts. What is I think the best option the park  offers is from here you can walk the rim trial or take the shuttle or do a combination of both at your own pace and between the points of interest you wish to visit.

Grand Canyon South Rim

There are 9 points of interest and everyone has a unique beauty! Where we walked the trail was marked well and most was very easily traveled. MAKE SURE you take an adequate supply of water if you plan on doing any walking/hiking between stops.

Grand Canyon South

The end of the route is Hermits Rest. There is a small concession area there ( you can get drink ice cream and a small selection of snacks) The building is gorgeous, growing right out from the rim of the canyon. One of the many hikes into the canyon starts here – one of the Rim to Rim Trails runs from the Village to Hermit’s Rest. After spending some time there we got back on the shuttle and headed back to the visitors center where we bought a fantastic sandwich for lunch and then boarded the Orange shuttle headed in the other direction to 6 other viewpoints. There is a hiking trail along the rim for a portion of this route also but this time we opted to just take the shuttle between the point. The shuttles were starting to get busier later in the afternoon and we saw many riders with their backpacks heading out to the South Kabib Trailhead at the end of the orange route.

Hermits Rest

The day was passing fast and there still was so much more we wanted to see. We got the details for the ranger led sunset hike along the Trail of Time and went back to the car where 2 warm cans of mini ravioli were waiting for us on the dashboard (a quick easy dinner!)

It was raining when we arrived for the hike, but we were not to be deterred.  The Ranger gathered all of the group in the museum and started telling us some wonderful details about the canyons, his history with the park and gladly answered some wonderful questions, all the while encouraging us that the rain would soon end because he ordered it in. He said, “I can’t provide you a rainbow in the canyon without a little bit of rain”. And almost as if on cue a rainbow appeared. Beautiful and delicate against the harsh edge rim of the canyon. Our rainbow rose gently out of the canyon drawing everyone outdoors in the last remaining drizzle of the shower to photograph it’s beauty.

Grand Canyon Rainbow

What a way to start a sunset hike! With all the moisture in the air I knew we would be in for a beautiful view. Stopping along the way we were entertained but a comical, yet  historical tale of the first :pioneers” to visit the canyon. Just before sunset started to show us some amazing colors the ranger directed us to turn away from the sun and look at the canyon. This was the way to view sunset, watching the changing light on the canyon walls, so many people miss the show going on behind them to watch the sun set behind the horizon.  We spent the rest of our daylight hours at that spot, with about 100 others taking in the sights and sounds of the night before returning to our vehicle to head back to camp.

Grand Canyon South Rim Sunset

This was a day I will never forget. I have heard said that everyone must visit the Grand Canyon at least one time in their lifetime. I have to disagree, you need to visit more than that to be able to take in the full majesty of the place! Set a date, plan your trip, make it happen. 5 Years ago I said we were coming and finally we are here.

To see more of our photos of (sorry there are lots of them – 3 separate albums) this stop on our trip visit: https://notaclueadventuresphotos.shutterfly.com/

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/notaclueadventures

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A visit to Petrified Forest and Painted Desert National Park

A visit to Petrified Forest/Painted Desert National Park

September 2015

Planned time for visit 1 hour (drive through)

Actual time spent 4.5 hours

The first thing I must share is that when you are on a road trip – don’t plan for anything to be set in stone – we did not and I was glad to have the extra time to be able to visit this unique location! This was our first National Park planned stop on our road trip. We had not planned to spend a lot of time here thinking there was not much to see and noting that we could just drive through thought  we would be able to see most of the highlights of the park – was I ever wrong!

Painted Desert NP

We arrived at the gate not far off of Hwy 40 (old Route 66) Exit 311. This brought us in on the Painted Desert portion of the park. A made a quick stop at the visitors center to get our National Parks Passport and to get it stamped, watch the 18 min introduction movie and get a few souvenirs. It was then, after speaking with the ranger I knew we would not be here just an hour or so!

Painted Desert

The park stretches for 28 miles between Hwy 40 and Hwy 180 where we would then travel west again to our next stop Holbrook.  An average visit here is 2-5 hours – I wish I could have spent a full day. There are many back country hikes and ranger led programs you can plan to do if one has the time. There are 7 maintained trails an you can hike the back country as well. There are about 25 lookouts or stops along the way if you include the Blue Mesa loop (a must see!).

Blue MesaBlue Mesa Trail

Our first stops shocked us with magnificent colored views of a desert more colorful than a rainbow.  We sat just staring out towards the horizon pointing out different features to each other for quite some time. I was not prepared for all this beauty and I would continue to be in awe for the rest of the trip…

Painted Desert Rim Trail

After a few more breathtaking stops we were about to cross hwy 40 /Rte 66. There was a pull over here with the rusty shell of a car looking out towards the new highway, a reminder of a slower time in our not too distant past.

Route 66 Memories

Our next stop was Puerco Pueblo where we got a peek back in time to an ancient Pueblo ruins that housed  over 200  residents and we learned more about them and got our fist look at petroglyphs. They are putting in a new interpretive building which from what we could tell would be open soon.  Just a few more moments down the road was Newspaper Rock. These are the two spots where you can see petroglyphs in the park and this stop is not to be missed. There are hundreds of individual markings in clear view on the rocks in this area. Many of these drawings relate to solar calendar events believed to be from approximately 1300 A.D.

Puerco Pueblo Newspaper Rock

Other stops along the way were Jasper Forest, Agate Bridge and the Crystal Forest – each stop brought more wonders for the eyes and imagination. So hard to believe this was all a vast tropical forest during the Triassic Period. After hiking trails at the last 2 stops we headed down to the visitors center at the south end of the park – The Rainbow Forest Museum. There we found wonderful interpretive displays, the ranger on duty, very nice young man (I hate that I can’t remember his name) was very knowledgeable and we spoke for quite some time about the geology and history of the area. We even answered a few questions he had about our American Alligators.

Rainbow QuartzRainbow Quartz

 

Rob and I then took our final hike on the trails surrounding this area.  The petrified trees (now solid quartz) were full of color and they had some absolutely amazing pieces here o display. There were wildflowers blooming all around from recent rains and many different lizards scattered about running on and out of shaded crevices in the rocks. Unfortunately we had to get back to the car and head out. There was a storm brewing and would be upon us shortly so after a few more photos we were back on our way. Rob and I had much to talk about in the time we had in route to our next stop. Amazing the things that come to mind after a visit to such an awe inspiring place. This is not just a park of dead trees and rocks, it’s is a place of unique beauty, a living history lesson and a place that you will forever hold a special place in your memories of.

DinosaursPetrified Forest

Petrified Forest

For more information on Petrified Forest and Painted Desert National Parks visit : http://www.nps.gov/pefo/index.htm

For more photos of our visit check out: https://notaclueadventuresphotos.shutterfly.com/pictures/11188

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A visit to Monument Valley/Goulding’s Trading Post Museum

Gouldings Trading Post

One of the stops we made on our recent road trip was Goulding’s Trading Post Museum near Monument Valley. We are big Old Time Western Movie fans so being able to walk in “John Wayne’s Cabin” from “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” and check out lots of old movie memorabilia was something we really looked forward to.

John Wayne's Cabin

There are multiple “parts” to the museum. There are wagons and stagecoach outside, The Trading Post, The Movie Room, Living Quarters of the Goulding’s and a beautiful display of area art by Josef Muench.

Gouldings Museum

It only takes about an hour to enjoy the museum. There is no admission charge, this stop is free. If you are doing a sunset tram tour, camping or visiting the local area you can just stop in and check the place out.

Gouldings Museum

Located near the AZ/UT border you will find this many other interesting venues to check out!

Goulding’s Trading Post Museum – http://www.gouldings.com/

More Photos: https://notaclueadventuresphotos.shutterfly.com/pictures/11124

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park – http://www.navajonationparks.org/htm/monumentvalley.htm

More Photos: https://notaclueadventuresphotos.shutterfly.com/pictures/11176

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Visiting Cadillac Ranch

Visiting Cadillac Ranch – Amarillo, TX

Cadillac Ranch

If you are looking for a true Roadside America iconic stop, Cadillac Ranch is it. On our recent road trip from Florida to the Grand Canyon we decided to make a stop at Cadillac Ranch. It has been on my bucket list for a while and I was not about to drive right past it and not leave my mark.

Rob and I were prepared with our can of neon orange spray paint and we aimed the GPS in the direction of Amarillo. Located just off I 40 (old Route 66) you can see the tailfins from the interstate driving by. Heading westbound we took exit 60. There is no admission and visitors are encouraged (dogs also).

Now regarded as a public art installation, this was not the case in 1974. Many wanted the installation removed calling it an eyesore. In 1997 the installation was quietly moved from 2 miles west due to urban sprawl in the area.

There is a short walk out to the cars from the main roadside parking area. You should bring your own paint. If raining mud can and will get deep and if sunny a hat and water bottle may be a good choice to have handy. Please remember not to litter and unless you are handing can of leftover paint to someone who does not have – please take your/trash to the dumpster just outside pasture gate. Many leave their mark by way of initials, simple images, “tags” knowing that within hours they will be covered over by others visiting. The cars are so thickly covered in paint it is hard to believe they will ever rust and occasionally the cars are repainted a solid color. On our return trip 3 of the cars had been painted a full lime green to leave a blank canvas for new visitors.

Cadillac Ranch

I know a visit there just seems silly, but it is a great way to take a break from a long road trip to stretch your legs, leave your mark on a car and get some fun photos. So next time you are near Amarillo, take a few moments and let the kid come out in you.

Rob Painting Cadillac Ranch

 

For more photos visit: https://notaclueadventuresphotos.shutterfly.com/pictures/11095

For more information on Cadillac Ranch check out http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/2220

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Ultimate Cooler Hacks

In Florida we know the importance of a good cooler when camping – here are some tips to make your good cooler even better!

IRV OSLIN

Ten tips on how to get 10 days out of your 5-day cooler

Another good thing about Coleman coolers — The hinges and plug assemblies are guaranteed for the life of the cooler. Just contact the company, and they’ll send you a new set free of charge. Another good thing about Coleman coolers — The hinges and plug assemblies are guaranteed for the life of the cooler. Just contact the company, and they’ll send you a new set free of charge.

If you’re one of those people who can’t afford a cooler that costs more than your car, you can still keep your food and beverages cold for more than a week. Here’s how.

1. Start with quality. If you want a cooler that will keep things cold in 90-degree heat, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg. A few fingers, perhaps, but not an arm and a leg. My Coleman Extreme cooler has served me well for many years. I paid $45 for mine. These days, they sell for around $60.

2. Ice cubes are great for mixed drinks, not

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Help Katelyn Win!

We must encourage our children to love nature if there is to be any left for their children to enjoy…

Limpkin

Limpkin on Hillsborough River

A contact of mine, Andrea Munro, needs your help! Her ten year old daughter Katelyn, along with two of her friends, wrote a song for a contest they had at school titled “OH, SWEET RIVER”, a song about the Hillsborough River. The lyrics go like this:
Up, Down
Up to the river on Sunday
My heart is pounding cause’ I can’t wait
For this day to begin
I’m sitting
Right here with all of my friends
Don’t want this day to ever end
Oh, sweet river
I don’t care if your treasuries
Sweet river
I don’t care if you’re hot or cold
Sweet river
Don’t go cause’ we’ll be here tomorrow
Yes we’ll be here tomorrow
Left, right
Skipping stone to stone
The waters rushing up my legs
I love this feeling
I’m sitting
Right here with all of my friends
Don’t want this day to ever end
Oh, sweet river
I don’t care if your treasuries
Sweet river
I don’t care if you’re hot or cold
Sweet river
Don’t go cause’ we’ll be here tomorrow
Yes we’ll be here tomorrow
We don’t care if the rain comes, pouring down
We’ll all sit around the fire and sing a song
We all sing na na na na na na na na na
We all sing na na na na na na na na na
Oh, sweet river
I don’t care if your treasuries
Sweet river
I don’t care if you’re hot or cold
Sweet river
Don’t go cause’ we’ll be here tomorrow
Yes we’ll be here tomorrow
Alongside writing all of the lyrics, the girls had to create a tune to the track as well. With the help of their teacher who played guitar, they were able to win their school contest, sing the song, and record it on a CD. Their new composition has now reached national level after winning a competition with the popular music sharing website, SoundCloud. We need your votes to help these girls take first yet again! The link attached will bring you right to the girls song and from there all you have to do is click the heart icon under their melody to like it. If you are having any difficulty getting the link to work, here are the steps to get you there on your own:
HOW TO VOTE:
  1.   Go to: soundcloud.com
  2.   Search: “little kids rock oh sweet river
  3.   Little Kids Rock “Oh Sweet River” by Sophia, Hannah, and Katelyn, Grade 4, Tampa’ should be the first thing on the screen.
  4.   Listen to and the select the heart icon to LIKE IT.
  5.   You can sign up or just log in using your Sound Cloud, Facebook, or Google accounts.  It’s up to you.
  6.   Once you are logged in, it will have liked the song for you.
Remember, every vote counts and every vote helps! Thank you so much for helping the girls out!
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Back in Time… Exploring an Old Homestead Site in The Green Swamp

I hope you like this post by Florida Trailblazer Joe Dunn. He is great at finding “forgotten” Florida History on public land

Florida Trailblazer

Painted Sign at Homestead Site Painted Sign at Homestead Site

Let’s take a trip back in time… To an old homestead I found in The Green Swamp where I felt like I was transported back to another time. When homesteaders lived here by an old railroad grade in the early to mid-1900’s.

When I first discovered this place I saw a really nice painted sign at the site depicting what the area had looked like at one time. I saw a couple of abandoned vehicles by an area where they must’ve kept livestock. I searched around extensively and could tell that this was a large property as I found lots of remnants scattered about.

It took me sometime to find the ruins still left from the homestead. Those were in the woods by the vehicles it was just heavily overgrown back there which makes them hard to see at first. I found an old forest…

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