27 May 2016

Out in the Middle of Nowhere

Meteor Crater 

Not a National Park or National Monument, (on private land), but still worthy of a visit. 
This site has piqued my interest for several decades. It's like; how often would you get to see something that was the basis for several 'end of the world' type movies?
This crater is almost a mile across and 300 ft deep. The example they used to help you visualize the size was; the floor would hold 20 football fields, and 20 million people could sit on the sides and watch those games at the same time. It's pretty big.
It's also the best preserved METEOR crater on earth. We found out there is a difference between meteor craters and collapsed volcanoes that leave a crater behind.  NASA has used this location to train astronauts for lunar missions, hence the example of the lunar module.

Look up "Out in the middle of nowhere" in the dictionary. This is what you'll see

How often do you see a 'Warning Sign" and then actually see the item in question???

Big Hole. Out in the middle of nowhere. Literally.

Just an idea of the size. That platform with the rail is probably 30 ft from the rail to the shelter

The very old man and the crater

Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park

Up to this time, probably the most beautiful and interesting place we have visited so far. Red Rock State park was at the top of that list, but Painted Desert took over the top spot. This park is huge. It's divided into two locations under one umbrella. You actually have to cross I-40 (Route 66) to get from one park to the other. The driving trail is over 29 miles long. Not counting scenic turn outs. 
The first half of the park is Painted Desert. The views and the vistas were spectacular every step of the way. I must have over a hundred pictures of Painted Desert alone. Unfortunately, this was one of the very few days we had rain, and some of the color looks washed out in the pictures. 
One of the scenic turn outs shows evidence of past civilizations as left in rock carvings and such. That was very cool.  


As you pass over I-40, there is a marker denoting the original Route 66. I've included a couple of photos here, but will do a separate blog on the "Route 66" journey, including Holbrook, Winslow and Williams.

Cool bench the rest your ass

My next project. Studebaker

They ripped out Route 66, but left the 'pole line'.

 After crossing I-40, we were in the Petrified Forest half of the park. Just as interesting as the Painted Desert, but for different reasons. 
If you don't know, the National Park is only a small portion of the earth where they 'preserved' history and left the land as found hundreds of years ago. It stands to reason that the original inhabitants of this area, as well as early travelers through here would only imagine this area as too rocky to survive here. Once we realized that there 'rocks' were actually 215 million year old trees did we finally create this park for future generations. There are many, many places where you can buy petrified wood. Rest assured that this did not come from the National Park, but rather the rest on the several hundreds of thousands of acres out here owned by private citizens. 
It was amazing to drive through this park and try and imagine ourselves as the original settlers crossing this country. (Something we have been doing the whole trip, by the way). 
These Parks are truly part of 'America, the Beautiful'. 

Proof that the aliens DID come here before us. Just sayin'

 The next post will be about our "Route 66" experience, Holbrook, Winslow and Williams AZ.

24 May 2016

But wait; there's more

Sedona: Part Duex

One of the private home as seen from the Chapel

The "Barking Frog". I don't know. But the food was great

 Alcantara Vinyards , Sedona AZ

So; just as a 'heads up', neither of us drink wine. G'ma is a 'Pollyanna' and wine gives me a headache.
Sedona has several vineyards to tour. We thought since we had one more open day, we'd be big shots and go on a 'Wine Tasting' visit. Since this winery is listed as one of the best, and it was close, we went there for our first exposure to the world of 'wine tasting'.
Our first hint that it was going to be a disaster was the road into the place. It was probably two miles of hard packed, very rocky and bumpy dirt road. With the suspension on the truck already being set hard, it was an extremely harsh ride in.
Once we got to the tasting room, it was very cool. Nice setting. Great view of the vineyard. When the hostess seated us, she handed us the menu of wines along with THE PRICE OF THE TASTING. I said to myself; "Self. You GOTTA pay to TASTE their wine"? Then I said it out loud to G'ma. She was already thinking the same thing. I knew that because I could see it in her eyes. 
Since this was our first time, AND we let the hostess know this, we stayed and figured, 'What the hell. Something we'll never do again'. 
We opted for the "Five Samples for $10" menu. The hostess helped a lot in helping us pick which samples we wanted to try.We explained the we promised a friend of ours that we would bring her home a bottle. Explained what we wanted, and of course, it's the most expensive item on the menu. (Oh. Did I forget to tell you that you need something to 'cleanse your palette' in between courses? Of course you do. Let's order the $20 Antipasto tray!). 
Five tiny tastes of five different wines later, (no buzz of course), we ordered a couple of bottles of wine to bring home. The day we picked to do something cheap only cost $110!!
Then we had to drive that stinking road out again. That gave me the headache. 
This trip is about exploring and experiencing new and exciting adventures. I have learned that I do not like wine tasting. (Still looking in the AAA Tour Books for that elusive Vodka tasting place).

Thats Two Miles Of Hell

Yay. We made it.

Amid the rocks, the trees. A really beautiful area.

 Nest blog: Meteor Crater and Petrified Forest N.P.

23 May 2016

I don't think we're in Kansas anymore

Sedona AZ

I've said it before, I'll say it again several more time: this trip has taken us places that I really didn't think existed except in the minds of people who like to exaggerate. Sedona is one of those places. 
During the planning of this trip, several people had said; "You GOTTA see Sedona". (People have also said "you GOTTA see Flint" too, so tend to be skeptical when folks say 'I GOTTA see or do anything).
Sedona ended up being one of those places that you GOTTA go see! Clearly, one of the most beautiful places on Earth, both geographically and socially. People here were actually nice. And the scenery is unmatched, anywhere in this country, (so far). It's a bold statement, but for now, I stand behind it. 
Sedona AZ always came up in conversations about great places to retire to. It's the main reason I had Galveston, Lake Havasu and Sedona on the itinerary. It's not that we could move to any of these places, but I needed to see the appeal. We have not been disappointed so far. As I write this blog, we are in Monterrey CA. Just got here last night and we have a couple of sightseeing days ahead of us.  
Since the original site I picked for our stop in Sedona could not fit our rig, (I love it when they say 'It's TOO big!), we redirected to Distant Drums Campground. As noted by the name, it was a CG connected to an Indian Casino, named appropriately Distant Drums. This could possibly be the nicest Indian Casino CG you can go to. All the sites were concrete, perfectly level, with every amenity you could need. Not much grass, but even the stones around your site were raked to make them appear neat every night. Never seen that before. The place was loaded with $1M motorhomes and high end fifth wheelers, as well a few entry level travel trailers. Great place to stay.

Distant Drums Campground. Great Place
Yes. They rake the rocks at night.......

Montezuma's Castle National Monument

Not on our original itinerary, but as mentioned in an earlier post, we are stopping at as many National Parks, Monuments and Sites as we can get to. This was a site we saw on our way to Sedona, so we added it to the list.
MCNM is small in comparison to most National Monuments. In fact, it was a 'walking' park, but it was so small, Gma and I could handle it.  Montezuma's Castle is a series of preserved cliff dwellings and exhibits showing how the people lived in the past. It was a worthwhile addition to the trip!

Yep. Our new apartment. Right up there....

That's the Interior Decorator getting it ready for us.

Chillin' like a Villian'

Red Rock State Park

We had no 'state parks' on our list. When you mention 'state parks' you think of recreational facilities, boat ramps, camping, etc. Red Rock State Park is none of the above. The fact that this facility accepts the National Park Intersystem Pass speaks volumes as to what it's official designation should be. This one Park epitomizes the Sedona area. It's beauty is breathtaking. I took so many pictures at this one park that my camera literally broke down. We had to finish the day with the cameras on our phones. (No, the battery didn't die, the camera BROKE). This area has a road thats listed every year as Autoweeks 'Ten Best Roads in America'. (More on that in a bit).
Like any great 'attraction', RRSP doesn't hit you all at once. The scenery starts slow, and builds to a crescendo of breathtaking beauty that, literally, has to be seen to be believed. Like the Grand Canyon, pictures do not tell the whole story. 
One of the things we have seen out here is that there are private homes in some of the parks out here. The homes in RRSP are special as well. 
One of the best sites during our day was the "Chapel Of The Holy Cross". Built on the site of a mountain in 1954, it rates right up there as one of the 'Must Sees'. 
I mentioned earlier of the 'Ten Best Roads In America'. Like so many 'Ten Best' lists, this is always open for discussion. But Autoweek is an enthusiasts magazine that like to appeal to automotive fantasies. This list includes places like Woodward Ave. (been there), Mulholland Dr. in SoCal. (Been there). The Causeway to Key West, (Been there). Route 66. (Finally got there!)
But there is a road in Arizona, right near Sedona called 179. The stretch between Rte. 89 and US17 is unbelievable. This road has made this list before. I never gave it much thought, because I never thought I'd get out here. But we have, and I got to enjoy the thrill of driving this stretch of road on a beautiful day. (It would have been more fun in my Corvette, (oh wait, I don't have a Corvette. But you get the idea).  
After a long day of sightseeing, we headed back to the town of Sedona and ate at a local restaurant named "The Barking Frog". It was just a delightful as the rest of the day. 

As you hopefully can imagine, there are hundreds of details I am leaving out. To y'all, they might become boring. We are taking in sights and places we have dreamed about for forty years. I literally have taken hundreds of photos each day we go sightseeing. The photos I post here are but a minute sample of what we have seen at each of these spots. (I have over 200 of the PIMA air museum alone). But, to this point of the trip, Sedona has been a real highlight!


Will add more when I get them edited from phone format.

For those of you reading this post, please do not be afraid to leave a comment. I can see the count of how many people visit the blog, but I have no idea who's visiting. Please let me know what you think of this blog in the comment section. And don't forget that I am a very sensitive guy.

Will do another post later today, as today is a 'work day'!
See ya soon