El Morro National Monument

It’s about 20 miles from El Malpais to El Morro.  It’s a nice drive along Hwy 53, two-lanes with not much traffic.  We climb a little in elevation and get into some timber. I make a mental note to look for an entry onto BLM land here, and almost as soon as we are in the timber we are heading back down out of it.  Dang!

Entrance Sign With El Morro in the Background

DSC_0032 (1)Informatiave Sign for El Morro
Click the photo to enlarge

El Morro, famous as a wayside and the Blue Pool that provided water to travelers in the 1800s and prior, is an interesting place. Travelers left messages for others on the sandstone cliffs known as Inscription Rock inscribing said messages or just a “I was here” with whatever was available to them: a knife, a stick, perhaps an eating utensil.
Talking with the friendly staff in the visitor’s center I find The Chiweenie Brothers are welcome to take the walking tour with me. Come on Boys let’s check this out!

DSC_0033 (1)El Morro     DSC_0041Path Along the El Morro Loop

DSC_0039The Blue Pool
The Blue Pool, which was destroyed, in a flood if I remember correctly, was repaired then fenced off.  Hard to get a good shot of this amazing water source out in th middle of nowhere.

 

 

DSC_0055Magnificent El Morro

An easy interesting walk, a walk around the rock would be nice, but it’s getting hot.  We continue the loop that takes us back to the visitor’s center. The Boys eagerly jump into the back and slurp up fresh water.  “Refreshed guys? Let’s go check out the campground!”

El Morro National Monument has a small free campground with water, a vault toilet, tables, and fire rings.  The few choice shaded spots are all occupied.  We try staying a bit in one of the sunnier spots but after just a few minutes it is apparent that it will be too hot to stay here long enough for the sun to get low enough to make it bearable.

Sadly, we will not be making the walk around El Morro’s perimeter, and we head back out to Hwy 53 and search for a spot back where the pine trees and juniper make an appearance.  Fortunately we find a lovely well-shaded spot to park for the rest of the day and stay the night here. It’s quiet and peaceful behind a closed gate.

August 23rd — It’s our Vanniversary!! We’ve been traveling for two years, and what a wonderful two years it has been! So many beautiful places, so many wonderful experiences.  And a big THANK YOU to all of you have come along for the ride.  Yes, this is my personal journal of our adventures, but how nice to have you all come along with us. Again, THANK YOU! Hugs, Shawna

Durango, Colorado and Mesa Verde National Park

After the marvelous tour of the Aztec Ruins we get back on Hwy 550 and head north to Durango, Colorado where we find Walmart and get our supplies and ice before catching Hwy 160 toward Cortez, Colorado.

Looking for a place to stop for the night we come up short and end up staying in a rest area just a mile beyond the entrance to Mesa Verde National Park. Any port in a storm, right?

We are up early and 2DogsTravel can’t wait to go through another ancient ruins area.  My senior pass gets us into the park for free, but guided tours here require a purchased ticket available at the visitor center that is located below the entrance to the park itself.

The ancient people who settled here were cliff dwellers and the tours involve a lot of climbing,  some steep stairways, and ladders so I forego the tours, choosing instead to get the best photographs I can from afar, which of course, I haven’t found for this marvelous stop either. *SIGH*.

The park is huge, and we spend almost the entire day here. Lots of driving, and climbing in and out of the van getting photographs of this land the Pueblo people made their home over 700 years ago.

One can see the dwellings just fine, but you miss out on a lot of information by not taking the tours.  I do purchase several informational brochures so I don’t think we miss any of the facts by not taking a guided tour, but I know I miss a lot of the personal observations a guide would have given.

  • The park protects over 4500 known archeological sites including 600 cliff dwellings.
  •  The cliff dwelling known as Cliff Palace includes 150 rooms, 75 constructed open areas, 21 kivas, and two “kiva-like” structures.
  • Balcony House has 38 rooms and two kivas.  The site is divided into three plazas or courtyards with associated rooms:  Lower Plaza, North Plaza, and the Kiva Plaza.
  • The six-mile long Mesa Top Loop Drive shows the full range of architecture in this national park from the earilest pit houses to the cliff dwellings. 
  • The Puebloans lived here for six centuries, from around A.D. 600 until about 1300.

Read about the magnificent Mesa Verde National Park HERE , and if you are in this area it is MUST SEE.  They have a campground in this park, places to eat, and much more.

The Boys and I end up back at the rest area where I observe a guy go to the back of the rest area where he goes through what looks like a locked gate. He’s gone for a while, but once he comes back out we go to inspect the area where we find the gate isn’t actually locked, but a sign cautions to keep the gate closed.

The method for keeping the gate closed involves a heavy chain that is looped around a post and one of the links is to be inserted into a channel cut in the iron.  This keeps the gate closed and from afar it appears to be a locked gate.

It is BLM land!  BLM land means public access is allowed, and we trot back to MissAdventure , fire her up, drive through the gate closing it behind us, and find a spot to camp for the rest of the week. It’s good to be shut down for a few days and just kick back in the cooler temps of the mountains.  Warm days, not hot days, and wonderfully cool nights make for some good rest.

On August 12th, rested up and rarin’ to go we head to Cortez, a short 10 mile drive, where we find the dog park.  The Chiweenie Brothers get their freedom to roam for a couple of hours.

Once The Boys are worn out and ready for a nap, I then mark the required Walmart stop off our list, and begin planning our next stop.  Do we take in Canyon of the Ancients? Four Corners? Hoven Weep?  All three?  Decisions are to be made, but we’ll worry about that tomorrow.  Walmart is our stop for the night, and as I lay my head down on the pillow a decision is made on where we’ll head tomorrow.

Thanks for coming along with us on our adventures. Hugs, Shawna

CURRENT READ:  What you Did by Claire McGowan

January Doings

January 2019 became a mish-mash of camping sites, moving back and forth between Ehrenberg and Quartzsite, Quartzsite and Yuma. The nights have been cold—relatively speaking for those of you experiencing real winter weather—and a bitter wind rocks MissAdventure on the morning of New Year’s Day. After the morning “To-Do” list the boys and I cuddle up back in our snug bed and while away the rest of the morning. They are content to nap. I play a few games on my phone, read, write, call family. We’ve been coming to winter in “Q” for four years now, and this has been, by far, the coldest, wettest, windiest, and most prolonged.

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DSC_0049Flooding at Hi Jolly
Torrential Rain at Hi Jolly

In the middle of the first week in January I decide to leave our exposed camp on the desert plain near Tom Wells Road and go back to Hi Jolly in Q. I need gas. While fueling I notice a pool of gasoline coming from under the van. Panicked, I quit fueling, fumble with the hose to get it back in place on the pump, and take a deep breath after jumping in the driver’s seat and turn the key in the ignition.

I stop at Everett’s Auto Repair in Quartzsite and talk with the secretary. She can’t get me in today and suggests putting a piece of cardboard under the fuel port and tank to see if anything shows up, see if the van is using more fuel than usual, and come back in a day or two.

Off to Hi Jolly to make camp. It is packed with people, and after two nights I need solitude. We head out to Dome Rock Road and stay there for a few quiet nights before heading back into Q and checking in with the mechanic at Everett’s.

I report to him that there were no wet spots on the cardboard and gas consumption seems to be normal. He says there is no smell of gasoline on the outside or inside and that’s a good sign. “Be back at 2:00,” he says, and I’ll put it on the lift just to be on the safe side.

He thoroughly checks things out and finds no sign of anything leaking. He assures me it looks perfectly fine and suggests that maybe I was using a high velocity pump? Or didn’t have the nozzle pushed all the way into the port? I don’t know, but there hasn’t been a problem since.

Sunrise and Sunsets Remain Stunning

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Interesting Rock Openings on the Bouse Cutoff Road

Thanks for stopping by 2Dogs.

 

We’re Back in Q

                                                                Life is short

November sure has whizzed by.  The Chiweenie Brothers and I made it to Arizona, spent a couple of nights at Craggy Wash in Lake Havasu where some guy tried to roust us from our spot beside a nice shade tree by whining about how this was the third time he’s lost out on this spot and HE needed shade­­­—like we didn’t!—and when I refused to give it up  he hopped in his rig and peeled out spraying us with small rocks and dirt!

When we left a couple of days later I got the tires rotated on MisAdventure, and then we spent some time at the SARA dog park. SARA Park has much to offer besides a wonderful dog park: Hiking and biking trails, an equestrian area, and more.

We move on to Parker where we spend one night off Hwy 62.  Last year’s camping area is inaccessible. Not sure if it was due to flash flooding or just the fact the road has been graded, but nothing looks familiar and I can’t find a spot with shade. One night here and we move on. Q (Quartzsite) here we come! 

I drive straight into town, get ice and fill up the generator (I love being able to use my Instant Pot!!) then head to the dog park.  Big surprise here.  The “Big Dog” side is closed for some unexplained reason and all are using the “Small Dog” side.  It isn’t working too well as the big dogs have pretty much taken over and there are plenty of little dogs that don’t like being in with them.  But, it is what it is. We will either spend more time in other areas of La Paz County or we can change our preferred time to be at this dog park to later in the afternoon. We’ll work it out!

Once the boys are ready to leave the dog park I drive to the library and try to get a blog post done.  I no longer have mobile internet as ATT said I used too many roaming hours and they cut me off everywhere there is no ATT cell tower.  Hmph!  This may be a long winter with fewer posts. Not surprisingly I still have to pay until my contract is up so I won’t be getting anything different at this time. Again … It is what it is.  I’ll work it out!

Meanwhile, out in the desert we settle onto BLM land with a sweet, shady spot at the Hi Jolly 14-day area.  Long walks with the boys in the chilly air of morning, some reading, checking email­­­—fortunately I can get my email and get onto the internet with my phone, but no way can I do a blog post from it— and I am able to make an appointment with my dentist in Los Algadones. But, before that happens we will head to Bouse and stay a night or two.  The boys will get to romp in the HUGE dog park there, I will get veggies from the truck that brings in produce fresh from the fields, and I will also attend a get-together with the Bouse Genies, the local genealogy group. 

This trip to our wintering grounds has brought some frustration, yes, but there has been blessings, too:  Lying in bed one night with the back doors open I watch the space station glide silently through the night sky.  Early mornings, before sunrise, I watch Venus hanging huge and glittering, low in the east as day tries to make her disappear for another 24 hours, Sun demanding her time in the sky. One morning Venus was next to the quarter moon; so beautiful!   

Some mornings Sun brushes past the distant mountains with a silent but huge burst of light, other mornings she makes a magnificent entry wearing a cloak of the softest pinks and lavenders or bright red and gold if she’s feeling brassy.

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Coyotes howl across the desert.  I do consider this a blessing, although it’s not much fun when they come in close trying to trick The Chiweenie Brothers into coming out to play which they did three nights running at one point.  Sends a chill up my spine.

Gorgeous sunsets and sunrises.  They make my heart sing in their beauty.

Thank you for stopping by 2DogsTravel. We appreciate you coming along on our adventures, and appreciate your patience while we get through this little internet glitch. Hugs, Shawna

The SnoPark, Timber Lodge, and Zig Zag Falls

Friday, July 20, 2018. It’s a warm, sunny beginning to the day even at 6:00 a.m.  As I pull out of the rest area north of Madras, Oregon I think of the cooler weather up ahead. At least I am hoping it will be cooler.

We are headed west, still on Hwy 26, and drive through the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. Other than the casino at the very eastern end there isn’t much out here but a few houses here and there, brush and some timber. The wind is blowing sideways, and it’s pretty strong.  I white knuckle through and we gain the SnoPark with no mishaps.

The plan is to stay at the SnoPark in the Mt Hood National Forest for a few days.  Upon arrival I note there are a few travel trailers and a motorhome or two. The very large parking area is divided in half by a strip of brush and trees, and the vault toilet is located here, too. I find a spot on the west side. There is only one other vehicle parked here and he’s at the very tippy top, next to the road. It’s a peaceful quiet night.

July 21st, Saturday.  I feed the boys and we take a walk.  I discover, on the other side of the access road to the SnoPark, a small dispersed campsite on a dirt road.  We finish our walk then we move to the new camp.  Big mistake.

As the morning gives way to afternoon we are bombarded with dirt bikes. Waves of dirt bikes in groups of five or six roar past our camp and envelope us in dust.  Once the herd is past it is quiet for the rest of the day, but they again gear up and roar past in the evening.

We take a wander across the road to the parking lot and discover the SnoPark has filled to capacity with a sea of moms and dads, grandpas and grandmas and their motor homes and travel trailers, some tents.  All manner of recreational vehicles and trailers here for a motor cross event!  Oh boy, that explains the dirt bikes. We hear a few oohs and awwwes, directed toward The Chiweenie Brothers. I know they are smiling!

It does quiet down for a good night’s rest, but next morning I hear revelie.  The motoring herd will once again make an appearance.  Enough of this, we’re outta here. It takes a mere ten minutes to pack up and we are on the road. I love being so mobile!

We drive to Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood.  I LOVE Mt. Hood.   There is just something very special about this mountain, but I have no idea what.  Maybe the lush green that surrounds it?  Maybe the way it juts up into sky with a commanding air?  I don’t know.

You can read more about historic Timberline Lodge HERE .

I make a quick, illegal stop along the highway on the way back down the mountain to get a couple of shots of these small waterfalls alongside the road.

As we tip over the top and begin the decent down Hwy 26 toward civilization again, I begin looking for the road into Zig Zag Falls that I had found on the map last night.

An easy hike and a beautiful water fall.

Love this old bridge, part of the old highway that once went through here at one time.

As we are taking in the bridge and surrounding area I discover a small empty campsite right at the perimeter of the parking lot. It’s banked on both sides with green bushes and sits right along Zig Zag Creek. We spend the night here before continuing on down the highway.

 

 

From Richland WA to Beautiful Hwy 244 in the Blue Mountains of Oregon

June 30th. From our camp at Scooteney Reservoir we head out, late morning, our goal the dog park in Richland WA where the boys get a good romp. Oh my, the traffic!

Next morning we head out, cross over into Oregon, doing the Wally thing yet again in Hermiston and then Pendleton. I find the headstone of an uncle, Guy O. (for Olinger I am thinking) Ritcheson in the old cemetery on the way out of town.

From Pendleton I point Freedom’s nose south along Hwy 395, stopping long enough in Pilot Rock to fuel up and purchase a block of ice. Onward we travel to a little town called Ukiah where I take Hwy 244 into the Blue Mountains of the Umatilla National Forest finding a wonderful little boondock, a hunter’s camp, not too far in.

 

We spend five days here, trying and succeeding in staying away from the holiday traffic and noise, but instead of down time it was a very busy time: Cleaning and waxing the green beast, doing a mini makeover inside, updating the list of things I want to remove when we get back to Cali, updating what I want to ADD to our van home when we get back, setting up the shower and reveling in the warm spray. I also go through the box on the hitch tray. I do some reading, and take mini walks with the boys. We are right by the highway in a small federal piece of land next to privately owned land with our only neighbors the cows next door.
It may seem like we are on a perpetual vacation, but there’s always some chore or another that needs to be done, and this simpler life—well, most everyday chores that are done around a sticks and bricks takes 2-3 times as long to do living this way. 🙂 
On July 8th we head for La Grande OR, and I notice along the way many places to camp. Not necessarily boondocks, although there are those, but many actual campgrounds. I would definitely come this way again. It’s a beautiful relaxing drive with very minimal traffic.

Some of the beautiful old buildings along 395 and 244

Just a few miles from La Grande, off I-84, I stop and the Arched Bridge, a beautiful piece of bridge design, and fix lunch.

DSC_0035Arch Bridge off I-84 near La Grande OR

 

 

Fishtrap BLM Campsite

June 26, 2018.  We are up early — and have been most every morning since leaving the mountains of Montana and Idaho.  Dang! Sunrise is early when there’s no mountains to delay it! We really don’t mind because the air is deliciously cool.  I feed the boys and make coffee, and of course the morning walk. It’s quick, quick, quick, no longer than needed to take care of business. I am anxious to leave the city behind; some peace and quiet is needed.

We head to the Laughing Dog Park so The Chiweenie Brothers can get in one last romp here. It’s all but empty, but we three walk the perimeter a couple of times, then back in the van, and I poke the van’s nose out into traffic from the on-ramp and head west on I-90.  Spokane traffic is unbelievable, but I suppose that’s just me.  Not used to it, and don’t want to get used to it.  However, we are soon out of the city proper and traffic thins.

We are headed west is all I know at this point, to eventually get to Moses Lake, when I spot the sign for Fishtrap with the little brown triangular sign that signifies camping. And what do you know, it’s BLM land.  It’s easy to find the designated site, and there’s only two other people here, camped at the only table.  There’s room for four or five very close campers, but we’re only here for a night or two. We’ll deal with it.  There is a vault toilet and gathered-rock fire rings.

The campsite is on a bluff that overlooks Smick Meadow and a lovely little pond.

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On the bluff to the left is an old barn. I leash the boys and wander over to the sign that tells all about the area.  This is Folsom Farm, or what’s left of it, from the early 1900s. The barn still stands along with another outbuilding.  The house is long gone from a fire.  The farm was sold many times between it’s beginning and end.


DSC_0001 (7)     I am pleased to see that no vandalism has occurred here.  How nice!!!

All is quiet here during the night except for a distant train on occasion.

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In the morning I hear a coyote howl which reminds me of Arizona, which reminds me of the glorious sunrises and sunsets in the Arizona desert.  As if in answer to a silent yearning, the second morning we are blessed with this

DSC_0023 (5)There are no trees to give shade in this camp and considering it’s almost July, it’s beginning to warm up.  Too warm.  We head out, to once again take I-90 west.

I can’t resist stopping for a few moments to get shots of the wildflowers blooming with abandon along the road into Fishtrap Camp.

Thanks for stopping by 2DogsTravel. Hugs, Shawna

 

CAMP AMENITIES
Water:  No                                   Garbage: No — pack it in/pack it out
Bathrooms:  One Vault Toilet  Electricity: No
Tables: One in Camp area        Shower: No
Fire Pit: Makeshift fire rings   BBQ:  No
# of Sites:  Room for four/five Fee: Free
Other: There are picnic tables past the gates (they ask you that you keep the gates closed) and a hiking trail down to the pond.