Our Vermillion Cliffs Camp

The Chiweenie Brothers are up early this morning, and are ready to take a walk and hike a couple legs.  That out of the way I make us our breakfast. Soaked kibble mixed with some raw hamburger for them, oatmeal with coconut, banana, and cinnamon for me.  I want to make it to State Line Campground today and take a few days to rest up, so one more quick walk and I fire up Freedom and we’re off.

I don’t drive more than a quarter of a mile and a huge sign on the left announces BLM land and lots of it.  Looks like pretty good dirt road, and I decide this would be better than a packed campground any day! I turn right and it’s not far until I find a spur road on the left that looks like it goes behind a small hill.  Seclusion sounds wonderful, and we slowly make our way behind this hill to a wonderful quiet camp that we have all to ourselves.

We spend a  couple of wonderful windless days all to ourselves on a knoll above the valley with the Vermillion Cliffs in the background. The peace and quiet is soothing. I can see the highway and the tiny cars and trucks climbing the Kaibab Plateau, but I can’t hear a thing.

It’s early morning on the third day. By the time I get out from under my cozy warm bed, and get my shoes on the let The Chiweenie Brothers do their morning thing the wind picks up, and storm clouds gather.

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And it begins to rain, then this happens …

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The boys want outside and I try to tell them they won’t like what’s going on, but being ever suspicious that they might miss something they have to see for themselves. I leash them up and open the side doors and they look outside. I can’t push them out.  “WHAT????” is the general consensus. “We’re not going out there!!!”

“Fine with me,” I tell them, and we climb back under the covers and wait for a small break in the storm.  They dash out and get their potty run, then it’s back inside to listen to the thunder roll.

It seesaws back and forth between showers, partial clearing, and then the clouds are blown back in, and it rains or sleets for a time. The clouds move on, then the angry wind hustles them back in. And so it goes most of the day until the wind seemingly tires of pushing the dark clouds around and gives up, leaving some nice clear skies and some cold air behind.

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Thanks for stopping by! Hugs, Shawna

 

 

Balancing Rocks and a Big Bird

Once past the Navajo Bridge and the official part of the Vermillion Cliffs, we find the Balancing Rocks.

The one on the far left looks like a hippopotamus to me.  🙂

This was a fun and interesting little break in our day’s drive, but there’s more to come and we head onward.

We drive on with the intention of making it to Stateline Campground for a couple night’s stay, but it’s been a very long day. About 150 miles, but lots of in and out of the van grabbing photos and fighting the wind to get back into the van. I need to stop and The Chiweenie Brothers need another walk.
Up ahead I see what looks like a promising stopping point only to find out it is House Rock Wilderness Area and it’s 25 miles of rough dirt road to get back to this remote area where buffalo roam and CONDORS were introduced in 1998. Tempting, but 25 miles of rough dirt road is just not appealing this late in the day. I just don’t have it in me. Wait …

I look at the photo of a condor on the wall of the information kiosk. It can’t be. I pull out my bird identification book. White stripe on the wings. Bald yellowish head with a sturdy beak. Oh my gosh! I think it was a condor I saw gliding above the Colorado River back at Navajo Bridge!!!! This is beyond exciting and wish I had gotten a photo of that bird dang it! I am so tempted to take this 25 mile drive, but with high winds and possible rain I don’t feel that my chances of spotting a condor are very good, and 25 miles of dirt road … I pull back out onto Highway 89A.

And where do we end up? A gravel area alongside Highway 89A. We are the only ones here, and we park for the night. It ends up being really nice and quiet as once night settled in traffic became nil.
Thanks for stopping by 2Dogs.

 

Navajo Bridge and The Vermillion Cliffs

After the Little Painted Desert, the landscape changes to the beginning of the Vermillion Cliffs. It’s more gorgeous scenery.

Once we get to the “official” section of the Vermillion Cliffs, the National Monument portion, we also come to Navajo Bridge, the bridge that spans the Colorado River on this section of Highway 89A. It’s high at 700+ feet and the view from the pedestrian bridge alongside the highway bridge is spectacular. Colorado, which means red, doesn’t apply here. The water is a gorgeous emerald green flowing through the steep rock walls on both sides.

The scenery just before Navajo Bridge

I see an odd looking buzzard and am unable to get him photographed as the wide metal walkway has high security fences and while I was able to photograph the river through security fence of the walkway, capturing a moving target proved impossible. It’s a vulture of some kind with large sturdy beak for ripping carrion and a strip of white on the upper side of its wings.

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These photos, below, are the “official” beginning of the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, with electrical wires  we forget there  civilization out here.

Thanks for stopping by!
Hugs, Shawna

The Little Painted Desert

April 19, 2018
The gorgeous pueblo ruins of Wupatki are left behind, and I point Freedom’s nose once again northward on highway 89A.

Cameron is the destination for an overnight, but it ends up only being a small respite because I do not find anywhere that looks like a good spot to camp even for one night. I do find a spot to park, have lunch, and walk the dogs, but this is Navajo Reservation land. I don’t think we will find anything unless a casino pops up. It doesn’t.

I haven’t been looking forward to this part of our journey as it looks pretty dreary on the map, but just beyond Cameron the scenery changes from blah to beautiful in an otherworldly way. We are entering The Little Painted Desert. Small hillocks of gray with colorful bare mountains in the background and it changes every few miles to something else as equally interesting.


The wind begins to kick up and it’s blowing with a furious force. Fortunately it is coming from the south so we have a nice tail wind to help us along. Getting out for photos is another story, but I am perfecting my wind stance. Clear, in-focus shots may be something else and not due to dropping the camera either. That’s a whole ‘nother problem, but I snap away and hope for the best as the wind tries to keep the doors closed on the van.

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I call this “Spilled Toffee” as those square pieces of rock look like toffee to me.

We take a little break, I walk the boys beside this totally weird and wondrous landscape, then it’s back in the van to continue on.  Charlie gives the go-ahead, assuring me there are no errant lizards about.

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The Chiweenie Brothers and I thank you for tagging along on our adventures. Hugs, Shawna

CURRENT READ:  Dead Mountain by Donnie Eichar. The untold true story of the death of nine hikers in Russia.  The author searches for the reason the young college students died, and the findings are pretty amazing.

 

 

 

Wupatki National Monument

April 18, 2018. It’s a gorgeous morning, and I can’t believe the sleep I got last night! Not a single sound in our camp. We were totally alone and the stars were particularly bright.  

We  head out to visit the different areas where Wupatki Pueblo ruins can be seen.

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We start with the Wupatki National Monument Visitor’s Center, the hub of it all where visitors get the brochures and all the info about this beautiful place.

Wupatki Pueblo was built and occupied during the 1100s and abandoned after a nearby volcano erupted and forced them to vacate the high desert land they had cultivated for 400 years.

Their homes were built with stones cemented with clay and entrance was gained through the roofs made with wooden support beams, support poles, and covered by shakes, grass and clay or adobe. The rock and mortar are still here today, however the roofs are long gone due to rot and scavenging by those needing the wood

We motor back down to the Citadel Pueblo. As I grab the camera (which focuses, after being dropped, some of the time … there’s a lot of fiddling) and leave the boys in the van with the windows partly down I hear howls of protest. Geez, can’t even get a bit of time to myself! Poor spoiled babies.

Are these awesome or what? I am fascinated with these ruins, and the thought crosses my mind that Arizona has so much to offer.

Hopping back in the van I fire her up and we head to the Lomaki Ruins

If I have the opportunity to come this way again I will take the road to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument coming out of Flagstaff and do the loop which will only add 15 miles to our northerly trip and will be able to take in both Sunset Crater and Wupatki.
Now it’s decision time. Go? Stay? I opt to head out. The predicted wind doesn’t seem like it’s going to be much of a problem … Ha!

Thanks for stopping by 2Dogs! We’re having a blast and I hope you are enjoying coming along for the adventure. Hugs, Shawna

Walnut Canyon National Monument

Our final day at this campsite near the Walnut Canyon National Monument starts out with a long walk for The Chiweenie Brothers to give them some exercise to start their day off right.  When finished with that I finish breaking camp and we head out to take in the monument before the “to-do” list gets in the way.

You know those days when everything that can go wrong does?  It’s one of those days for us.  Breaking camp, visiting Walnut Canyon National Monument and finding out I could have taken the dogs on one of the trails—oh well, The Chiweenie Brothers never tire of another walk!—dropping my camera, a Wally stop, laundry, Charlie throwing up in the van, getting the van’s tires rotated. It was a very trying morning, but like all “those kinds of days“, it got better, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The highlight of our day:  Walnut Canyon, just east of Flagstaff is so named for the small walnut grove growing there. It was once home, 800 years ago, to the Sinaugua (without water) people who built their cliff dwelling homes in the limestone layers resting on Coconino limestone.

The walnut trees, leafless this time of year, grow in the bottom of the canyon

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The cliff house of the Sinaugua people

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All photos are taken at the rim of the canyon. There is a trail to hike to the bottom, but it looks like it would be a brutal trip back up to the top. My excuse not to do it is that the dogs can’t stay in the van that long, and I have a ton of things to do today. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

We head out and get our “to-dos” done and head north on Hwy 89A.

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I drive about 30 miles—and I may be way off on this. I am so tired—I spy the sign for Wupatki National Monument. Hey! I want to see that! Blessedly I find our secluded campsite and decide Wupatki I will see, but it can wait until tomorrow.

As the sun reclines toward evening and the shadows lengthen, I take the boys for their evening walk. They so enjoy every new camp with all the new smells and places to explore.               Humphrey Peak from the north side.

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The area is covered in black cinders as there has been volcanic activity in the area as recent as 100 years ago.

On the way back to our camp after our evening walk I spy this cleft in the earth. We walked right past it on the way out, but it’s plainly visible on the way back. I don’t know what’s down that black hole, but for sure I am not going to try and find out!

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As the sun sinks farther and evening begins to slide in I admire our view of the San Francisco Mountain Range and Humphrey Peak, the tallest mountain in Arizona at 12,633 feet, from the north side.

DSC_0007Thanks for stopping by 2Dogs. Hugs, Shawna

 

 

Flagstaff and Walnut Canyon

After our few days on the Forest Road off of 89A we head on into Flagstaff. The usual routine ensues.  Walmart to pick up groceries, water, and ice, and find the local dog park.  Flagstaff has THREE. I find the one closest to where we are and the boys get their playtime in. No photos of the little beasts as the park is completely shaded. And besides I am too lazy to go back to the van and get the camera.

Flagstaff is a beautiful town nestled in pine trees. It is surrounded by volcanoes and in most places you can see Arizona’s highest mountain, Humphrey’s Peak, 12,633 feet in height.

After The Chiweenie Brothers are sufficiently tired out we stick around the park and I check out the map then we’re off to Walnut Canyon.  We can stay very near the Walnut Canyon Monument and still be within ten miles of town when we need to re-supply.

We find a very nice spot beside an huge old juniper tree.

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Charlie, forever on the lookout for lizards even if it means wiggling under the windshield cover in the early morning sun.

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The boys enjoy some sunshine outside while waiting for me to get the gear gathered for a walkabout in our second camp within this same boondocking area of the Coconino  National Forest on the east side of Flagstaff.

DSC_0001 (1)Thanks for stopping by!  Hugs, Shawna

 

CURRENT READ:  Turbo Twenty-Three, a Stephanie Plum novel by Janet Evanovich