Sunday, October 27, 2019

Howling wind!

I wasn't going to post anything for a few days but had to pass this on now.
We left Grand Canyon this morning on our way to a spot just east of Flagstaff. When we got up we noticed it was a bit breezy at the canyon and the forecast was for strong winds over much of northern Arizona. Not thinking too much of it, we packed up and hit the road about 9:30 or so. Heading south back towards Williams it was a bit breezy but nothing too crazy. The truck and trailer were handling it just fine. Once we turned east at Williams and got out and away from the trees and back to a more open desert type terrain, things really got windy. To top it off the wind was blowing almost directly across the road from right to left. The trailer was bumping around a bit but didn't seem too bad. We carried on to the Twin Arrows Casino, which is about 20 minutes east of Flagstaff, where we unhitched and went inside to check on staying over night. That was when we realized just how strong the wind really was. Walking to the casino and back, there were times we were almost blown backwards. The wind had to be gale force at least!
After checking in we got back in the truck and carried on to our planned days activity (without the trailer). That was the Barringer Meteor Crater. This one one of the sights I have wanted to see for a while.
The crater is only a few miles further east so it only took a few minutes to get there.  

We saw this cute sign on the way in.

This is more of a panorama shot from the viewing platform. Click on any of these to display the full size photo.

There is a private company that runs the displays and the info centre here. I found their displays and information interesting, but I am not sure they warranted the $34 admission for the 2 of us.  Most of the same information can be found on-line.
We did find out while we were there that the weather station at the crater had recorded a peak wind gust that morning of 93 MPH and was recording sustained winds in excess of 50 MPH! Those translate into a force 8 or 9 gale with hurricane force gusts! Yowzers!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

The Grand Canyon

After leaving Craters of the Moon, we headed to Jerome. We have friends who live in Twin Falls which is just across the river. We had stopped here on the way north last spring and wanted to stop again on our way south. Leaving Craters we drove through another good snow storm however fortunately nothing was sticking to the road and we made it to Jerome without issue. This time we decided to overnight in the Walmart which worked well. Monday we ran a few errands in Twin Falls then met up with Eric and Suzanne for a nice visit then carried on to Thatcher and a visit with another couple we originally met 2 years ago, Vince and Wendy.
They have spent the summer on a piece of property owned by Wendy's daughter and son in law. They also had a spot for us with a power connection which was nice. We spent another nice afternoon and evening visiting with them. They have a beautiful spot overlooking the valley.

The next morning we carried on. We will meet up with Vince and Wendy again in 10 days or so. This leg took us as far as Mesquite, NV. Again Walmart provided us a place to spend the night.
Wednesday it was onward. Our next stop is Grand Canyon National Park.
This turned into another fairly long day. I believe our travel time was about 6 and a half hours. We took highway 93 and I-40 between Vegas and Williams. The only comment I can make here is that it isn't the greatest road for towing. While it is a divided highway for most of the distance, it is in pretty rough shape. Rough being the operative word!
We arrived later in the afternoon with a pretty good idea of where we wanted to stay. There is a short gravel loop road just south of the main park gate where boondocking is allowed. There are only about 2 spots that would be suitable for us but luckily we were here early enough and managed to get the best one. It was a bit of a tight squeezing between a couple of pine trees but we managed to get in OK.

We even managed to get enough southern sky exposure to get the dish up and locked onto the Shaw satellites.
After setting up we didn't go anywhere Wednesday except the info centre in Tusayan where we grabbed some brochures.
Thursday, we headed into the park and made our first stop at the main visitor centre on the south rim. After spending some time there we walked up to the rim at Mather Point for our first glimpse of the canyon.

There is a very good, paved path along most of the south rim in the park so from here we just wandered around a while and took in the sights.

Even this late in the season, there are a surprisingly large number of people around. We got in fairly early so at first it wasn't too bad, but a bit later it started to get a bit difficult to get 'guard rail' time to be able to get photos.

This was early on. Later on it started to get quite crowded in places.
The weather on Thursday was a bit cool and there was a good breeze blowing but full sun so wasn't too bad. The days high was only around 10 or 11 or so.
The south rim is about 7,000' above sea level and both Chris and I were noticing the altitude. Especially when climbing uphill! Nothing serious but it was noticeable.
Friday, we headed to the East end of the park and spent some time exploring around the Desert View Watchtower.

There aren't too many areas in the park where you can see the Columbia River that created the canyon, but this spot has a pretty good view of the river.

Up until now we have been doing our sightseeing in the middle of the day. Later on Friday we went back to see what the difference would be with afternoon lighting and waited around until the sun set.

Even after the sun had set, the change in lighting was quite spectacular. If anything some of the colours were even more vibrant.

While this is Chris's first time here, I was here back in the 70's with my family. While I don't remember too many of the details, I do notice a lot more development this trip. Also a lot more people. Not that that is a bad thing. Some of the interpretive displays are more informative than I recall as well.
Anyway, this has been a pretty long post. We are here for one more day, then on to our next stop.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Craters of the Moon

We left Kamloops on Oct 12 and made our way to Vernon where we parked the trailer for a couple of nights at the Real Canadian Superstore. This was the last chance we would have this season to see my Mom and Chris’s parents so I spent Saturday afternoon visiting with my Mom while Chris was at her parents catching up on some laundry. It is always nice to spend Thanksgiving with family and Sunday everyone gathered at over Chris’s parents. We were joined by our good friend Laura from Kelowna as well as my brother Ken. Chris and Marilyn cooked up a wonderful meal of ham, scalloped potatoes, veggies and, for desert, what else but pumpkin pie.
Monday morning we pulled out and officially began our winter travels.
Our first planned stop was just south of Calgary in Okotoks, Alberta. We took Highway 1 and were a bit concerned about the weather crossing the mountains but that part of the trip was a piece of cake. We did run into a pretty heavy snow shower around Kananaskis which lasted for about 20 or 30 Kms but fortunately it was warm enough and the snow wasn’t sticking so wasn’t an issue. We pressed on and arrived in Okotoks about 6PM.   I will expand on our reasons for this stop in another entry another day.
Tuesday we pulled out and headed south. Our goal for the day was to get across the border at Coutts, AB and if possible, get as far as Great Falls, Montana. The roads and weather, with the exception of some fairly strong headwinds, were good all the way. We crossed into the states about 1PM with no issues and made it to Great Falls by mid afternoon where we parked at a WalMart. Of necessity, we crossed the border with minimal grocery supplies, especially produce, so replenished those in the store. We also met an Alberta couple who were parked beside us and spent a bit of time chatting with them. They were also on their way south for the winter and spend most of their time in Yuma. We traded contact info and may connect up with them when we are in that area later.
Wednesday was another driving day and we pushed on to Idaho Falls, ID. I-15 through this country can be a long tedious drive. It is quite high, sometimes exceeding 6,000 ft for long stretches and quite sparse. At least the road is in good shape so makes for an easy drive. We still had quite strong headwinds most of the way which is causing us to use about 20% more fuel than the norm. You could tell that they had had quite a dump of snow about a week earlier as there was a lot of it left along the shoulders in places as well as in the fields along the highway.
So far the days have been quite nice; sun and cloud mix with temperatures in the mid teens during the day but getting chilly at night. Pulling into Idaho Falls though it was getting quite warm. I saw 23C at one point and it was still in the mid teens when we went to bed.
Our goal for this first part of our trip was to make it to Twin Falls, Idaho where we were planning to meet up with some friends we had met on our first trip south 2 years ago. We also stopped here on our way home last spring. They had had a last minute change of plans so they could go on a hunting weekend with their grandson so we decided to take a couple of days and detour via the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. It was only a short detour and sounded interesting.
Craters of the Moon is an area in Southern Idaho that has had recent (geologically speaking) volcanic activity. It got its name in the 1920’s after a geologist of the time described it as “The surface of the moon as seen through a telescope”. There is a volcanic rift (The Great Rift) extending some 50-60 miles northwest to southeast cutting across the Snake River valley. Covering this area are large lava fields and old cinder and spatter cones. The volcanic activity started here only 15,000 years ago and was actively erupting as recently as 2,000 years ago. This area is a remnant of a magma plume or hot spot in the earths mantle that is currently under Yellowstone National Park. Scientists are fairly sure that this area will see activity again in the future.

The campground here is built amongst the lava flows. It was built quite a long time ago when RV's were quite a bit smaller. It was a bit tricky getting our big beast around some of the tight turns in the park.

This is the Google Earth shot of the Lava Flow campground. The site we had is marked with the red X.

Being we are still at about 6,000 ft, despite being sunny for the most part, it has been cool with daytime temps only around 10C or so and dropping to freezing at night. Also during the day it has been quite windy which is the norm here apparently. We spent a couple of days here at the campground but the forecast for Sunday is a change in the weather and more snow, so we will move on. Next stop Twin Falls.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Back in Kamloops for a few days

I don't have a lot to relate this time. After leaving Princeton last Monday, we headed to Savona and Steelhead Provincial Park. We have been there several times in the past, most recently in August on our way back from 150 Mile House.
Unlike Princeton, the weather there wasn't too bad. A bit windy but at least no rain and not so cold. We stayed there for 5 days, during one of which we made a day trip into Kamloops to take care of some business.
Yesterday we pulled up stakes at Steelhead and headed into town. After stopping to dump our holding tanks, we continued on to the KMAS flying field. I was a bit concerned about getting our new trailer up the hill and parked as there is a pretty sharp corner at the bottom of a pretty steep hill. We never had a problem with the old trailer and as it turned out it wasn't much of an issue with this one either. We got up the hill and parked without a problem. The biggest issue was getting turned around.

This shot was taken today (Sunday) which turned out to a perfect flying day.

We plan to be here through to Wednesday and then move down to the Kamloops Tournament Ranch where the High Country Flyers are hosting their last fun fly of the year.