Oh Waldo – You’re SO Hot!

Unfortunately, it isn’t near as sexy as it sounds. If you’ve following our travels, you know we have had a long time problem with Waldo overheating. There were travels days we spent more time on the side of the road than motoring. This has led to some very frustrating days, tears and more than my fair share of unlady-like fits of screaming.

I’ve tried to keep my posts happy and full of America’s breathtaking scenery,  but I’ve decided that isn’t really a fair way to describe our lifestyle. Yes, for almost a year now, we’ve been exploring new areas of the country and having the time of our life. But – it isn’t all beauty and magic.

When we arrived in Beatty, it was in a fit of overheating. We are extremely fortunate Steve is a mechanic by trade. He has been working on cars, trucks and motorcycles for 40+ years. RV maintenance comes easy to him. Changing the oil and filters doesn’t require a trip to a shop. This has saved us countless dollars. But, this nagging overheat issue obviously wasn’t going away. He had already changed the thermostats, checked hoses and replaced the overflow tank, all to no avail. He came to the conclusion Waldo needed a new radiator. UGH! To make matters worse, we had taken Waldo to an oversized carwash to clean away some of the grease and grime which has accumulated around the giant CAT motor. Using the high pressure hose, he began spraying away, only to watch as parts of the fan blades fall to the ground. Great, now not only do we need a radiator, but we also need a new fan. Thanks Steve. But, to be fair to him, the blasted thing is 18 years old and has 190,000 miles on it.

We had only planned on staying in Beatty for 6 nights, but ended up staying for 9 nights. The 3rd day there, Steve called around for parts. We could get a new fan from Freightliner in Las Vegas, a mere 2 1/2 hours away. They could get us a new radiator as well, for the low cost of $2200. When he gasped at the price, the parts guy suggested he call a radiator shop, not far from Freightliner. The woman who answered the phone was beyond helpful! She was pretty sure she could get us a replacement for about half the cost. The catch was, she needed Steve to bring her the defunct radiator so she could check some measurements.  So, with the limited tools Steve brought with him, he set out to dismantle Waldo’s cooling system. The camp host loaned us two 5 gallon buckets to drain the antifreeze. We were lucky the park let us work on Waldo there. Lots of places wouldn’t have. Once the radiator (and all the other miscellaneous crap was removed), Steve set off for Las Vegas. I was feeling more than a bit cranky and was content to let him make the trip alone. By the time he returned, a little before 10pm, I had calmed down – some. Both the fan and the radiator had to be ordered and wouldn’t be in for several days. We spent those days exploring Death Valley.

Wednesday finally rolled around and we headed back to Las Vegas. We picked up the fan and 15 gallons of antifreeze from Freightliner and called the radiator shop to check on the arrival status. It wasn’t in yet, but was on its way – another hour or so. Since we had time to kill, we went to WalMart and did some resupplying. As we were coming out of WalMart, I was nearly deafened by the sound of F-16s flying overhead. It was the Thunderbirds from nearby Nellis AFB. How cool is that?!?!? Since I hadn’t brought my camera, a crappy cellphone pic will have to do…

img_5181

With the excitement over, we headed to the radiator shop. They were just taking it off the truck when we arrived. Perfect timing. With the Jeep loaded to capacity with parts and supplies, we headed back to Beatty. We had just dropped over $1500 in Las Vegas and never set foot inside a casino.

Thursday, Steve got right to work putting Waldo back together. New fan…check…

img_5182

New radiator…check…

img_5184

It took a little longer to put things back together then it did to take it apart. It always amazes me when Steve can take a pile of bolts and know which one goes where. I mean seriously, when he took it apart, he threw all of the bolts into a bucket. When I take things apart, I label everything and take pictures so I can put it back together, maybe that’s why I’m not the mechanic! Soon enough, Steve was ready to start the motor. I have to admit, I might have been holding my breath. But when the “Wait To Start” light went off, Waldo fired right up. We let it run for a while, satisfied everything was good. The real test wouldn’t come until we drove down the road. We have since traveled to Alaska and Waldo hasn’t overheated once, thanks to my wonderful mechanic, husband and best friend. His ability to handle the mechanical problems has saved us thousands of dollars. It is a comfort knowing he can do these things, but it doesn’t help my anxiety in the moment things fail. I’m working on handling things better, but for now, if you hear a scream of panic, it still might be me!

It’s OK – It’s a Dry Heat – Part 2

If you missed part 1 , you can catch up here. Badwater Basin is the lowest point in the United States, at 282 feet below sea level. The walk to the actual spot (about 1 1/2 miles from the marker sign) is along a salt packed trail. The shallow pools of water will evaporate over the summer leaving crusty salt mounds as far as you can see…

Death Valley-6378

Death Valley-6377

Death Valley-6381

Since there was still so much we wanted to see, we didn’t walk all the way to the actual spot. We still had a couple hikes we wanted to do and with the temps pushing 90 degrees at 10 am we decided to move on. Our next stop was the natural bridge. It’s a fairly easy walk, despite being uphill. I can’t imagine the force of the water needed to carve such a bridge…

Death Valley-6392
See the 2 hikers in the shadow of the bridge?

The National Park system did a great job of designing the scenic drives through the park. Most of them are one way and loop back to the main road. One such route is called Artists Drive. It is a 9 mile loop through some of the most colorful formations in the park. The narrow road winds through multi-hued volcanic and sedimentary hills…

Death Valley-6401

At the first pullout, we walked to the top of a fairly steep hill to get a better view of the landscape…

Death Valley-6408

Death Valley-6416
A great location to snap some memories
Death Valley-6410
Steve – finding his focus

Death Valley-6415

Back on the road, I looked over and Steve was grinning, ear to ear. The twisting road had him itching to test the laws of gravity…

Death Valley-6422

The next pullout is at a spot appropriately named Artist’s Palette. The colors were amazing. It’s like Mother Nature filled her paint brush with reds, browns, tans and greens, then spattered the colors much like a child fingerpaints…

Death Valley-6430

As we were exiting the drive, the scenery changed yet again…

Death Valley-6423

Death Valley-6437

We were running out of time at Death Valley, but there was on more place I HAD to see – Racetrack Playa! (Read more about the interesting history and geology here) A playa is a dried lake bed and the Racetrack is nearly 3 miles long and 2 miles wide. Scientists estimate the dried beige mud is at least 1000 feet thick. The surface is so flat, it only varies 1 1/2 inches from end to end. We first attempted to reach the Racetrack via Scotty’s Castle Road. We were hoping the road closure signs meant the road was closed somewhere beyond the turn off to the Racetrack. A freak flood event happened in 2015 and destroyed the road and caused severe damage to Scotty’s Castle. (See pictures here). Of course, the road was closed prior to the turn off, so we had to settle on seeing more abandon buildings (I know, poor us, huh?)

Death Valley-6456

Death Valley-6461

Death Valley-6457
You know I had to go inside and look around
Death Valley-6462
How long do you think these nails took to fuse together like this?

We had one more day and I was determined to get to the Racetrack. We checked the map and found an alternate route. One that comes with a warning…

Caution: Rough and Remote Road
The road to the Racetrack is rough, and good tires, 4×4 and high clearance are usually required. Standard rental vehicles are not recommended, and often get flat tires. Use extreme caution on this road in the summer heat. There is no cell phone coverage in the area. Drive time from Furnace Creek is at least 3.5 hours each way. Other access roads make for even longer and more remote adventures. Driving offroad is strictly prohibited.”

OK…let’s go! When we left the pavement, the adventure began. I was finding it incredibly difficult to make any time. I kept having Steve stop the Jeep so I could take pictures…

Death Valley-6519

Death Valley-6484

Death Valley-6489

There is only one sign along the 26 mile route and I found it rather bizzare…

Death Valley-6515

Death Valley-6518
Legend says early travelers to the area put the first teakettles there to let others know there was water nearby. I don’t know if it is true or not, I never saw any water.

We were still 6 miles from the Racetrack, so off we went. As we rounded one curve in the road, we got our first view of Racetrack…

Death Valley-6523

The outcropping of rocks in the middle is called the Grandstand…

Death Valley-6548

What is so fascinating about Racetrack is the mysterious moving rocks. Although the mystery of how/why the rocks move was solved in 2014 (Read about it here), it still boggles my mind…

Death Valley-6539

Death Valley-6543
See the tracks left by the moving rocks?

Two NPS Rangers were at Racetrack replacing a sign and we talked to them for quite a while. One of them said they have seen the playa completely under water and a day later, not a sign of water could be seen. He also said if people walk on it when it is wet, the footprints can stay there for years. The Jeep was just over half a tank of gas and we wondered if going back the same way we came was the best route. The ranger told us Hunter Mountain Pass was a drive we shouldn’t miss and we wouldn’t have a problem with 1/2 a tank of fuel. OK – Hunter Mountain it is! We drove back to Teakettle Junction and headed into the wild. As I mentioned before, there aren’t any road signs in the back country. Our GPS said we were on Hunter Mountain Road and I figured as long as it said that, we would be fine. Hmmm. When we came to the first split in the road, we went the werong way. That was ok, because it quickly dead ended  at an abandon mine…

Death Valley-6562

Death Valley-6566
End of the line

We got back on what we hoped was the right road and continued on. I could see the road off in the distance as it began to climb Hunter Mountain…

Death Valley-6555

We passed a large area full of Joshua Trees…

Death Valley-6560

And began the climb. The road was barely wide enough for the Jeep and was a continuous set of switchbacks. The summit of Hunter Mountain is 7168 feet and the view is stunning…

Death Valley-6569

Death Valley-6583

I was beginning to worry we were on the wrong road and were bound to run out of gas. I had no interest in being stranded, with no cell service, miles from anywhere! Finally, we passed another vehicle. The folks assured us we were on the right road, but it was still 30 miles to Panamint Springs. We got a bit of a surprise as we rounded a corner – free range cattle in the middle of the road…

Death Valley-6577

Death Valley-6586

When we made it back to the pavement, we made a beeline for Panamint Springs and fuel. When we saw fuel there was $4.99 a gallon, we made the call to continue to Stovepipe Wells -another 28 miles. We made it just after the idiot light came on. But, I have to say, I was beginning to hold my breath a bit! Fuel was still $4.17 a gallon, so we only put in enough to get back to Beatty.

Our time was up in Death Valley. We had only seen about half of it, but we had a time-table to keep. We still had 3344 miles to go to get to Moose Pass, AK. I hope to go back and explore more some day!

Thanks for coming along, I hope you enjoyed our take on Death Valley!

It’s OK – It’s a Dry Heat – Part 1

It was kinda of sad leaving Sunny Valley. We had such a great time with Mike and Dawn (read Dawn’s take on our meeting here), it was hard to say “until we meet again”.

We spent the night in Kingman, AZ so we could have dinner with family…

img_5058

Our plan was to spend the next week exploring Death Valley. Death Valley is the 5th largest National Park in the United States and the largest in the lower 48. It covers 5262 square miles (roughly 3.4 million acres). It is 140 miles long and about 75 miles across at its widest.

img_5405

We decided Beatty RV Park in Nevada would be the perfect jumping off point for our explorations.  On our way to Beatty, we passed the Hoover Dam…

img_5154

And drove through Las Vegas. It was noon when we pulled into the park. We got set up in our site and headed into town, actually, to be completely honest, we were looking for a liquor store. The camp host told us we could probably buy liquor at the casino. My first thought was, yeah, what would THAT cost. After we drove around town a bit, we headed to the Stagecoach Hotel and Casino. Just for fun, we put $6.00 (big spenders, right?) into the one-armed-bandit and hit on the 3rd pull. Woohoo. Let’s cash out of this machine! And so it went. A few bucks here, a few bucks there and at the end of the afternoon, we were up enough to cover the cost of the bottle, which wasn’t as expensive as I imagined. When we got back to Waldo, there were wild burros across the street, which I thought was really neat…

Death Valley-6454
I can just hear the burro, “What, haven’t you ever seen an ass before?”

The next day, we headed into Death Valley…

Death Valley-6352

Once we passed through Hell’s Gate, the temperature started to climb. It was 58 degrees in Beatty and 75 degrees on the valley floor. The wind had been kicking up for days and it was really noticeable in the valley. I knew it would be hard to get great pictures of the overall landscape because of the haze…

Death Valley-6271
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

So, I tried to focus on the smaller scenes…

Death Valley-6266

Our next stop was Mosaic Canyon, a 4 mile round trip through narrow slot canyons and polished rock walls…

Death Valley-6277
Looking back toward the parking area
Death Valley-6280
The canyon walls, smoothed by rushing waters
Death Valley-6287
Steve getting a picture of the landscape

From there, we walked the Salt Creek Interpretative Trail.

Death Valley-6295

Since it was only April, there was still plenty of water flowing. The water is 4x saltier than the ocean. In spite of that, it is home to the Salt Creek pupfish…

Death Valley-6297
Not a great picture, but you can see several pupfish

April is the beginning of mating season and the males were a beautiful shade of blue. As we were walking along, I could have sworn I saw a gorilla face in the mountains…

Death Valley-6301
Do you see a gorilla or was I imagining it?

I was in sensory overload, it’s hard to take in all the naked beauty at once.

It was several days before we got back to exploring. Before you get into Death Valley, there are 2 must see places. The first is the Goldwater Open Air Museum. It seems a strange place for an art museum, in the middle of nowhere, but it is definitely worth the stop…

Death Valley-6307
Fred Bervoets’s  Ode to Shorty
Death Valley-6308
Charles Albert Szukalski‘s Ghost Rider
Death Valley-6312
Charles Albert Szukalski‘s The Last Supper
Death Valley-6315
A very large metal origami crane
Death Valley-6316
Dr. Hugo Heyrman‘s Lady Desert The Venus of Nevada
Death Valley-6317
Onny Huisink’s The Beauty of Decay
Death Valley-6318
Sofie Siegmann‘s Sit Here

Just passed the museum we discovered several abandon homes and vehicles…

Death Valley-6323

Death Valley-6324

Death Valley-6322

This was a prelude to the ghost town of Rhyolite. The town boomed into existence in 1904 and had burnt itself out by 1916. Remains of several of the buildings give us an idea what town was like in its heyday…

Death Valley-6340

Death Valley-6347

Death Valley-6348

Death Valley-6336

I thought one of the neatest buildings was Tom Kelly’s bottle house

Death Valley-6331

Despite the fact electricity to the town had been shut off in 1916, the last tenets of the house lived there until 1969. Tommy Thompson and his family added miniature houses to the property…

Death Valley-6332

Death Valley-6335

From Rhyolite, we headed back into Death Valley. We drove along Mustard Canyon Road…

Death Valley-6364

Death Valley-6366

Then visited Harmony Borax Works

Death Valley-6368

Death Valley-6369
The iconic 20 Mule Team wagon used to transport the borax

Death Valley-6358

Even in this harsh environment, flowers still find a place to bloom…

Death Valley-6360

Our final hike of the day was to the natural bridge…

Death Valley-6392

I’m going to wrap up Part 1. There is still so much to tell you about! So here is my closing shot until I get to Part 2…

Death Valley-6451

Have you visited Death Valley?

Petrified Forest National Park

Since the Petrified Forest National Park wasn’t on the list of places we planned to visit, I hadn’t done any research. Sometimes this works out well, because everything is a surprise. For one thing, I didn’t know Arizona’s Painted Desert is within the 150,000 acres which make up the park.

We entered the park on the north end and drove the 28 mile road through the park. Our first treat was the painted desert…badlands2

Petrified Forest NP-6130

It is hard to give a sense of scale and these pictures don’t do justice to the beauty. We stopped at the Painted Desert Inn and took in the sights…

Petrified Forest NP-6124

Petrified Forest NP-6126
I love how it blends in with the scenery

Petrified Forest NP-6175

Petrified Forest NP-6178
You do not want to fall on one of these!

We stopped at nearly all of the scenic overlooks.

Petrified Forest NP-6161
Notice the white car near the top on the right

Petrified Forest NP-6197

Petrified Forest NP-6191

Petrified Forest NP-6136

Petrified Forest NP-6137

Petrified Forest NP-6141

We couldn’t resist stopping where Route 66 used to be…

Petrified Forest NP-6199

Petrified Forest NP-6204
“Our obligatory selfie to prove we were there”

Another stop was at Newspaper Rock, there are over 650 petroglyphs in the area…

petroglyphs

Imagine a time when you wanted to leave a message for another traveler and the only way to do it was to carve it into the rocks using symbols. There is no “dictionary” for the symbols, so we can only guess as to all of their meanings. Another stop was the Puerco Pueblo. The remains of quite a few building mark the place where as many as 200 people might have lived. There are also petroglyphs here…

Petrified Forest NP-6221

Petrified Forest NP-6208
The building in the background houses several exhibits about the history and culture of the Puebloan people

Petrified Forest NP-6217

Petrified Forest NP-6212
When I look at this set, one of the things I see is a bird eating a frog, other people see a stork bringing a baby. What do you think?

Petrified Forest NP-6213

Petrified Forest NP-6222
And I was worried about rattlesnakes
Petrified Forest NP-6150
Near the beginning of Blue Mesa

We were beginning to see more and more pieces of petrified wood…

Petrified Forest NP-6227

Petrified Forest NP-6235

We were nearly at the end of the 28 mile road when I caught sight of a pronghorn antelope. I had been hoping to see one, but had almost given up.  Steve got this shot.

pronghorn

At the south end of the park is another visitor center with a walking trail passing gigantic petrified logs…

Petrified Forest NP-6251
The man in the pictures gives you an idea of the size

What amazed me the most about the logs was the variety of colors…

Petrified Forest NP-6255

Petrified Forest NP-6240

Petrified Forest NP-6234

Have you ever visited the Petrified Forest? The Painted Desert?

 

 

A Strange Twist of Fate – aka Unplanned Happiness

Our original plan when we left Texas was to head to the Grand Canyon. I hadn’t been making RV park reservations because we weren’t dead set on the dates we would arrive anywhere. This turned into a problem when I started looking for a place near the canyon. Everywhere was booked solid. Apparently there is a water crisis in the park and outlying parks are picking up the slack. I had resolved we would just drive on to Las Vegas and see the Grand Canyon on some future trip. This had left me a little cranky and it didn’t help that Waldo was overheating – again. As I sat in my seat, sulking a bit, and perhaps muttering a few profane words, Steve pulled off the highway and turned into the parking lot of the Petrified Forest National Park (PFNP for short). Hmmm, maybe we should find an RV park near here and explore. I called the Sunny Valley RV Resort and made reservations for 3 nights. The park was right off the highway and only about 20 miles from the PFNP. We were unhooking the Jeep and trying to get settled in when I noticed another rig pulling in. I didn’t really give it much thought, but suggested to Steve he move the Jeep out of the way because we were about to have neighbors. A few minutes later, I came out of Waldo to see if there was anything I could help with outside. This was the moment my entire day turned around!!!! I was watching the camp host escort the incoming rig to the site next to us. She was walking with the passenger as the RV followed behind. When they got near us, in a less than ladylike fashion, I hollered, “Holy S*#T, I know you!” Technically, I didn’t really “know” them, not personally, but I have followed their blog for quite a while. It was Dawn and Mike from Random Bits of Trial and Error! Luckily, they almost always include what Dawn calls “Our obligatory selfie to prove we were there” so I knew it was her. At nearly the same instant, we ran towards each other, like some corny romantic beach scene, threw our arms around each other and hugged. We’ve been conversing via blog comments and email for close to a year and it felt like meeting a long lost friend. But, just think about this, we only stopped at THAT park on a whim – no planning. I had no idea Mike and Dawn were heading back east. They had no idea we would be there. I can’t even begin to calculate the odds of us arriving within an hour of each other. There are dozens of parks either of us could have chosen, but we both ended up at Sunny Valley.

Steve and I went back into Waldo and had dinner. I just kept saying “How flipping cool is that!” “What are the odds?” I have personally met a few of the bloggers I follow, but it was always by design, not some strange twist of fate. After dinner, the four of us sat out by the picnic table and talked and laughed over a few glasses of wine (well Steve was drinking beer).  It was the perfect ending to what had been such a crappy day. Actually, it wasn’t exactly a perfect ending because the wine went straight to my head (I’m going to blame it on the elevation about 5400 feet above sea level) and I fell off the picnic table. Doh! Thankfully, Dawn and Mike just laughed it off, but I was pretty embarrassed.

Over the next few days, we each did our own thing during the day and spent evenings around their very cool propane firepit. Mike still works full time, so Dawn does quite a bit of exploring on her own. While we were there, she visited the ghost town of Two Guns. I can’t wait to read her post about it and see all of her pictures!

We had dinner together our final night. I brought stuffed shells and she made a huge salad, garlic bread and dessert. I was truly sad we were leaving. Looking back, I’m really bummed I didn’t take more pictures of us together! It was such an awesome experience meeting them in person! Thank you Dawn & Mike for being the best neighbors we ever had at Sunny Valley!

“Our obligatory selfie to prove we were there:”

img_4987

If you enjoy reading about cool places and great people, check out Random Bits of Trial and Error

Have you ever accidentally met up with someone on the road? Did it turn out as well for you?

Up next my post about PFNP

Stepping Back in Time

The post title is about the museum, not that I am 3 weeks (or more) late in writing about it. I promise, I am trying to catch up.

When we left Palo Duro Canyon, we stopped in Amarillo at Jack Sismore’s RV Museum. It is free (one of my favorite prices). We drove by and it looked a little tight to get Waldo towing the Jeep in, so we disconnected at Walmart and drove back. I have to say, it was definitely worth the hassle of disconnecting!

We asked the lady at the front desk where the museum was and she happily pointed us to the back door – no really, the museum is in a building out back. We were instructed to stay between the red painted lines and take our time and enjoy ourselves.

Jack Sisemore owned a Chevron station…

RV Museum-4968

He started renting motorhomes, barely a year later, he had 6 rentals and started Jack Sisemore Traveland.

RV Museum-4974

The oldest “RV” is a 1921 Ford Lamsteed Kampkar…

RV Museum-4950
I can’t imagine bouncing around the roads of rural America in this beauty.

He started collecting and restoring unusual vintage RVs over 25 years ago and has quite the collection.  See for yourself…

RV Museum-5021

RV Museum-4981
1946 Tear Drop Kit

One of the neatest RVs he has is the 1948 Flxible which was used in the Robin Williams movie RV…

RV Museum-4960

RV Museum-4963

RV Museum-4962

He also has the very first Itasca ever built, serial number 1…

RV Museum-4966

And the world’s oldest Airsteam, a 1935 Torpedo…

RV Museum-4959

Not his only Airstream…

RV Museum-5010

RV Museum-5012

 

He bought this 1953 Fleetwood from an 84 year old lady who had decided it was time to quit life on the road…

RV Museum-5004

RV Museum-5007

Also pretty neat is the 1976 FMC coach which was owned by Max Factor Jr (1904-1996)…

RV Museum-4995

Other cool RVs…

RV Museum-5017
1976 Argosy
RV Museum-4990
1973 Starcraft
RV Museum-4972
1970 Avion

RV Museum-4973

RV Museum-4965
Not restored

To complete the throw-back feeling there is an old A&W drive up restaurant…

RV Museum-4952

And other vintage items, like this cigarette vending machine.  When’s the last time you saw one of these?

RV Museum-4953

Not only are the RVs lovingly restored, but there is a ton of period material to make the experience more real…

RV Museum-5015

RV Museum-4986

RV Museum-4978

RV Museum-4955

Overall, I am glad we stopped in. It really was neat to see these old RVs and to think of how far we’ve come in the world of RV living.

If you are ever in Amarillo, I highly recommend stopping in!

Next post…Unplanned Happiness!

 

 

 

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

After New Orleans, we were ready for a little quiet time. We thought stopping at Wind Point Park for a few days would provide us with that. Boy were we wrong! 4 non-stop days of catching up with friends. 3 non-stop nights of bonfires and brews. It was awesome to visit the place we worked for 5 1/2 months and to see the people we’d become friends with, but damn, was I tired when we left! Our next stop was guaranteed to give us the down time we needed.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Driving along the north Texas plain, the scenery can be a bit – well – boring. Sorry Texas! But miles and miles (and miles) of this…

img_4899

can give you the feeling the scenery will never change. I was sitting in my customary position, foot rest up-seat tilted back just so, just comfortable enough to doze occasionally. I was jolted awake from my snooze when Steve hit the brakes on Waldo a little harder than normal. I was STUNNED. The scenery had gone from miles of flat nothing to a mesmerizing view of the canyon…

img_4912

I had taken advantage of our Texas State Park pass when I made our reservation. All we had to do was check in at the ranger station and get our site number. Sites are assigned on a first come first served basis. In 2019, you will be able to reserve a specific site but for now it is pot luck. I think we did OK!

img_4923

Looking back, I wrote in my journal, “It is not a hard thing to wake up to.” Peace and quiet! Only a few friendly neighbors. Our first full day in the canyon had us scouting out possible hikes, nothing too strenuous, but trying to take in everything we could. I got a bit frustrated because they give you 2 maps. One of the campgrounds and one of the hiking trails. It’s really hard to match the maps up and the signage wasn’t as good as it could be. We drove through the park first, getting the lay of the land, so to speak. It was hard to get anywhere, because I kept saying “Stop, I want to take a picture.” With sights like this, how could I not?

Palo Dura Canyon-6068
The setting moon

Palo Dura Canyon-6089

Palo Dura Canyon-6084

Our first hike was to “The Big Cave”. We parked on the side of the road and started up the trail…

Palo Dura Canyon-6082

Palo Dura Canyon-6072

 

I climbed to the mouth of the cave first and looked back to make sure Steve was coming…

Palo Dura Canyon-6074
Steve trying to decide the best route
Palo Dura Canyon-6081
Looking back towards the Jeep. Can you see it?
Palo Dura Canyon-6076
I couldn’t get far enough back into the cave to get the entire opening

From a distance, the rock looks smooth. When you get close up, it looks like this…

Palo Dura Canyon-6079

From here, we walked along the Juniper Riverside trail…

Palo Dura Canyon-6087

Palo Dura Canyon-6086

While the scenery was spectacular, I was getting tired so returned to the Jeep. I’ve been fighting a sore throat and a sinus infection, so this was enough walking for one day.

Once back at Waldo, we set our chairs in the shade and relaxed! As we were sitting there chatting, I spied something out of the corner of my eye. I wasn’t sure what it was and I nudged Steve to look in that direction. A few moments later, a little head popped out of the ground, looked around then dropped back into the hole. I sat with the camera trained on the hole, waiting for the critter to reemerge. He did, but from another hole. It took me a while, but here is our visitor…

Palo Dura Canyon-6106

It is called a pocket gopher. Come to find out, there must have been dozens them. As we sat there quietly, they popped up and down like the game of whack-a-mole. Right after Steve put my camera away, we had another visitor, so this is a cellphone pic…

img_4925

Roadrunners crack me up. I love watching them. The next morning, I looked out the window towards the tent across the way. If the folks sleeping inside had been awake, they could have reached out and petted the mule deer who was grazing at their front door. I was loving all the wildlife. This what exactly the relaxation we had been needing.

We spent most of the day driving through the park. We stopped at the visitor center and learned a lot about the fascinating history of the park. I had heard of the Civilian Conservation Corps, but never realized what an impact they had on our park system. They spent 5 years working on Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Many of the building are still in use today. Below is a picture of what is left of the mess hall. 85 years later, this chimney is still standing…

Palo Dura Canyon-6097

As we were driving along, I had Steve pull over and give me the binoculars.

Palo Dura Canyon-6094-Edit

Yes, the arrow is pointing to a person! I’ll bet the view was amazing, but, not my kind of hike!

Our final morning found us wishing for more time to explore. More time to just relax and spend quality time together, but we still have a long way to go. (4,698 mile to be exact) We had one last visitor before we left…

img_4933
Another cellphone pic, but you get the idea

The road in and out of the canyon is steep and full of switchbacks. We decided not to hook up the jeep and force Waldo to tow it out. So, with me driving the Trouble, I followed Steve out of the canyon. Just to give you an idea, here is a short video I shot out the window as I was following…

Steve almost gave me a heart attack when the rear wheel slipped into the culvert! Once we were at the top, we hooked up and headed towards Amarillo. Not surprisingly, I had him pull over once again for a picture. What gave me pause was thinking about how much is the same and how much has changed. Two windmills, both harnessing power, the old and the new…

Palo Dura Canyon-6108

Up next…a really cool RV museum in Amarillo.

I know I am really behind in keeping up with our travels. We were at Palo Duro Canyon April 4-6th. We’ve seen so much since then! Right now we are in Winnemucca, Nevada, but I don’t want to get too ahead of the story! If you want more up-to-date information on our adventures, Like TheWanderingRVer on Facebook