Cokeville, Wyoming and Fossil Butte National Monument

We leave Evanston late in the morning, May 23rd, and head north on Wyoming’s HIGHWAY 89! It is a toss-up as to whether to go 189 or 89 ending up in Kemmerer or Cokeville. Considering we drove through Kemmerer late last summer — the mother store of JCPenney Company is located there along with James Cash Penney’s modest home, AND a dog park—I choose to head toward Cokeville, a name that for some reason sticks in my mind.
It’s still early in the day when we arrive at the junction the turn to the left to go to Cokeville, or turn right to go to Kemmerer. I want to see Fossil Butte National Monument so we hang a right and while the boys wait in the van (there’s that abuse again!) I enter the building along with two busloads of school kids to look at the impressive display of fossils.

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The display is well worth the stop, but I decline the five mile loop drive through the area. It has a—GULP—17% grade to deal with. NO! Just no. It looks so benign, but I am not going to question it.  NO WAY! DSC_0001 (2)

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I consider going on into Kemmerer (Fossil Butte N.M. is on a connecting road that links 189 and 89) to let the boys run through the dog park, but decide not to burn the gas and put the extra miles on the van. They’ll get an extra long walk this evening.

We travel back toward the junction and head to Cokeville, a tiny town of about 500 plus residents. We go through some lovely ranching area, and make a quick stop at the Cokeville Wildlife Refuge. A walk out where there is a bench and a lovely view provides me with this great photo opportunity. Unbelievably, I hear the mournful cries of the rare
BOVINE!!!

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What the … ??? *laughing* Not a bird in sight!! Information at the kiosk says the refuge has partnered with some of the ranchers in the area to make the refuge benefit not only wildlife but the livestock of the area as well. The ranchers provide water and plant various grasses that supposedly provides the area with what the wildlife needs to thrive.

Leaving the refuge I begin looking in earnest for the city park in Cokeville where one is allowed to “camp” for two nights. It’s pretty easy to find, the town being so small. It’s right in the town proper, right along—and I do mean right alongside—the very busy rail road tracks. I had intended on spending two nights, but I think one is all we will be able to handle.

The town’s people are very friendly and I did purchase a few items as a thank you for their hospitality, but we leave early the next morning.

I find a spot to stop alongside the highway to make lunch,

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and I pull out the copy of the booklet on what to see and do in Southwest Wyoming I picked up at the visitor’s center in Evanston to read while I eat.

As I thumb through it I come to a very small article on Cokeville. Among this tiny town’s claim to fame is the informal title of “Sheep Capitol of the World” from around 1918 when the industry peaked here with the addition of railroad access, the robbery of the State Bank of Cokeville by the Whitney Brothers, early female political activism when a woman, Ethel Huckvale Stoner, was elected more than 80 years ago (elected to what it doesn’t say!). Cokeville is also known for a miracle that happened in 1986 when a duo consisting of two terrorists trying to blow up the elementary school with classes still in session ended up blowing up just themselves. THAT’S IT! This is why Cokeville rings a bell. I read the book several years ago, Witness to Miracles: The Cokeville Elementary School Bombing giving firsthand accounts of most of the residents who were involved in this terrible attempt to kill children and adults here. I will have to reread it, because most of it I can’t remember.
Hugs, Shawna

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

 

 

White Sands, NM

October 22, 2017. We leave Roswell taking Hwy 70 south with the intention of making a stopover in Hondo. It didn’t happen as I couldn’t find the little park mentioned in freecamping.net. Being fresh from our three day stay in Roswell/Bottomless Lakes it’s no problem to keep heading west.

We begin to climb and drive through part of the Lincoln National Forest and the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation.  It’s a beautiful day and a beautiful drive.

Little do I know we will end up in Las Cruces, 150 miles from Roswell as we can’t find Lake Holloman either, the next camp I am looking.  When the clerk at Dollar General looked at me with that blank stare that signals, loud and clear, “I have no idea what you’re talking about lady,” we press on.

White Sands National Monument near Alamogordo in the Tularosa Basin of the Chihuahuan Desert is on our itinerary and it doesn’t disappoint. The dunes are made up of gypsum left when the ancient Permian Sea retreated. Mountains rose and carried the gypsum high, and later water from melting glaciers dissolved the mineral and returned it to the basin. Rain and snow continue this process.

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The wind and sun separate the water from the gypsum and form selenite crystals. Wind and water break down the crystals making them smaller and smaller until they become sand. The ever present strong southwest winds keep the gypsum sand moving, piling it up and pushing dunes into various sizes and shapes.

Thanks for stopping by 2Dogs! Hugs, Shawna

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Fries gives the Chiweenie Stamp of Approval for this stop on the road to Q!