Day Thirty One: Goin’ Back to Cali : Nevada, California

(Events of Wednesday, April 15th, transcribed Sunday, April 19th)

We slept well at the North Shore Inn, and were able to use the morning to take care of chores: blogging (not really a chore), laundry, and recharging all the electricals. The wind had died down a fair bit, and (this second part of the sentence is entirely unrelated to the first part) upon spotting an auto repair shop next door, I decided to stop in and see if the mystery of the blown refrigerator fuse could be solved. It was Cal’s Repair Center, and I was lucky enough to be assisted by the man himself. Eagle-eyed Cal immediately spotted that the two repair dudes who had helped me at Zion had not only left their wrench under my hood, but they had also left off the cover to my fuse box and set it in an area where it got mangled. Cal was not amused. Cal located the blown fuse and shook his head, this was not going to be easy. He was going to have to head down to the parts store a mile away. While he was gone, his twenty-something assistant (whose name, if I knew it, I’ve forgotten) started chatting me up (not like that). He was well impressed with the looks of Marigold, and more so when I told him what Annie and I were up to. He immediately invited me to come to his place for a hot meal (along with his girlfriend and 3 year old daughter, and a random assortment of other hangers on.) It was exceedingly nice seeing as I’d known him all of four minutes, and I wasn’t surprised to learn he was originally from Kentucky, as the gas station attendant I met in Kentucky was one of the nicest, most genuine folks I’ve come across in a month filled with surprising generosity and acts of kindness. Cal returned and. alas, the fuse was too obscure for the likes of NAPA, so off he went to do some online research, and  finally offered to order one from Camping World, but I’d need to stay in town a day or two. As time was not permitting of that, he gave me directions to another location as I headed west (I never found it and the refrigerator continues to be an overpriced drawer). THEN, all on his own, he goes to get a hairdryer to help reshape my fuse box lid into its proper shape. While he’s doing that, a crusty old timer (a category Cal falls into as well) ambles over to regale me with stories of flying his prop plane into the Grand Canyon, and a B52 that supposedly lays at the bottom of Lake Mead. Enjoying the company of these fine gentlemen, and having a rare moment of automotive responsibility, I ask Cal if he can check my oil while he’s at it. And of course he does, and it turns out I’m only a quart low, so he tops me off, and I ask what I owe him for the good thirty minutes he and his “team” have spent helping me, and the only charge I receive is $4.94 for the oil. That’s it! That’s the list! I don’t think he even added on tax! So if you’re ever in the Overton Nevada area I cannot recommend more highly Cal’s Repair Station. The most honest mechanics since Click and the late lamented Clack.

Caught up in this fever of industriousness I even got another futile car wash in an attempt to fight the onslaught of bug corpses on my front windshield. All our tasks completed, it was back into Marigold for yet more miles across the barren desert.

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But wait, what’s this rising up out of the vast wasteland?

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Las Vegas! Sin City! The Gambling Capital of the World! But seeing as Annie doesn’t gamble, and I’m not in the mood for sinning, we drive right on by without stopping.

I could tell you that the main reason we’re not stopping is that I’ve made a pledge to myself that this trip be entirely new experiences, and no revisits to places I’ve already been. And this would be true. And it would explain why I’ve not stopped at beautiful and enchanting towns like New Orleans, or Asheville NC, or Charleston, or the Natchez Trace. But I’m also only  about twenty minutes from throwing that pledge out the window. Because soon Marigold is driving past a sign I drove past  fourteen months, almost to the day, prior.

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Red Rock Canyon. Which I visited in February of 2014 with my best friend from high school, Mary V, who has admitted she barely reads the blog and thus may never see this shout out 😉 In any event, it was there that I had perhaps the latest, and one of the most significant, moments that was the genesis of this grand adventure. When we went out to hike the canyon that day, it was a gorgeous sunshiny spring afternoon. And at the first stop we came to, I saw several people walking with their dogs. And their dogs happily clambering over the rock formations and sniffing all the desert flowers. And I thought how much Annie would enjoy it there, and how cool it would be for her to see other landscapes and smell other smells, and experience walks that were totally different than the walks she is so accustomed to at home. And I missed her and felt a little sad that I was having such a fun experience without her. And I think the wheels first started turning then about all the places she might enjoy exploring, and how I could make that happen. So I wanted to stop by and make that old dream a reality and commemorate the (somewhat) start of it all. But as Thomas Wolfe said… “You can’t go home again.”

It started with an abrupt traffic slow down thanks to a caravan of whatever the hell these are stretching along the road. Yes, they look cool, but you don’t want to be behind a fleet of them.

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Red Rock Canyon is a one direction loop road, with stops at various trail heads and overlooks. So if you’re an idiot and don’t realize Stop One is where the magic happened until you’re halfway to Stop Two, you have to drive alllllll the way around the thirteen mile drive at 35 mph if you’re lucky because you’re still behind the clown cars, before you can try again. And if you decide to stop somewhere else along the way it will be REALLY cold and REALLY windy and turn out to be a REALLY long walk along boring stuff before you can get the cute dog photo that truth be told is probably the only reason you’re still carrying on with it at this point.

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And FINALLY you make it back to the cool rock formations, but it’s lateish and you’re tired, and the weather is REALLY unpleasant, and so after all the time and effort and romanticizing it took to get here, you’re back in the car within 15 minutes, and as soon as you drive the loop AGAIN, will be out of here.

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And after some more hours of driving, and finally starting to see some palm trees, we roll through a little town with the unfortunate name of Pahrump, Nevada and make a pit stop at a mini-mart that sells canned Bud Light & Clamato which MAY be the vilest sounding thing I have espied today, but may get you in the right frame of mind to plop down at a slot machine in a convenience store. Who needs Vegas?

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Side Note: Pretty much every town with more than four streets that I’ve been through since hitting the desert has an Anasazi Road. The dirt mountains get taller for a bit, then flatten out again into dusty flat scrub as we cross over into California with little fanfare. The sun gets low and hazy. Suddenly, the ground between the grass clumps turns white. It’s kind of eerie even once I realize it’s probably salt flats, which must mean we are almost in Death Valley.

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And soon we are in our campground, and it is warm and lovely, and I can see but not photograph the sun setting over distant mountains, and once the sun sets more stars than I may have ever seen in life come out and twinkle in a jet black sky and I fall a little bit in love with this place.

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Day Thirty: Blowin’ In The Wind : Utah, Nevada

(Events of Tuesday, April 14th recorded Saturday, April 17th)

So we wake up to a glorious sunshiney day in Zion. All rested and recovered from our debacle last evening. And ther first thing I see is a mule deer just ambling through the campsite like he owns the joint.

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Seeing the deer reminds me of my horseback ride yesterday, and that I forgot to mention that halfway down the canyon I totally dropped my driver’s license out onto the desert floor as I was pulling my iPhone out of my jacket. Classic Eden move. Luckily, one of the eagle eyed Swiss spotted it and it was a place where the guide could rescue it fairly easily.

In any event, after a refreshing shower and some minor housekeeping, I decided to take Annie on a longer exploration of the dog friendly trail we had wandered on briefly the night before.

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Apparently I was REALLY out of it yesterday, because this trail is AMAZEBALLS! Gorgeous rock formations rising up on every side. Beautiful cottonwood trees blowing in the breeze, and the clear cool Virgin River babbling beside us. There was a light breeze, but the sun was shining and the more we walked the prettier it got.

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The whole thing was so energizing, that apparently Annie decided to break all of her personal rules and VOLUNTARILY go for a swim! I led her over to the river’s edge at first thinking she might have worked up a thirst. The next thing I knew she was wading about and then quick as a flash she was actually swimming!!! I had to pull her back in because she was getting a bit too close to the faster moving water.

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We walked about three miles and the view never disappointed for a second.

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The wind was picking up a notch when we returned to the car and I called the Zion Adventure Company, who were featured in my handy Ruff Guide to North America as offering 4×4 tours of the canyon area that welcomed dogs as well. I called and was told there was still room on the tour for that afternoon. I said “Great, that will be one person and one dog.” The guy seemed confused when I said that and replied that he would need to check the charge for dogs.I pointed out that both his website and this book they had probably paid to be included in said dogs rode free. Then he cxame back and said the dog would be free, but they had three other people signed up already.  OK, so? Before he could finish, ANOTHER dude got on and said that in deference to the others they would have to call them all and see if they objected to Annie and get back to me. Which seemed… needlessly complicated. I said: “This book told me you were a very dog-friendly company, that’s the only reason I called you.” And he responded: “We are dog friendly, we have dogs around the shop!” OK, but if you have a half page ad that shows 6 dogs sitting in one of your vehicles waiting for a tour, and then you give me static about bringing my ONE dog, you’re not that dog friendly. I really can’t see how allergies can come in to play in an open air vehicle, that would apparently be 1/3 full so we could easily sit away from the others. And if that SI a concern, then don’t advertise that you welcome dogs!! He said he would call me back once he investigated, and then he never did. Which may have ended up for the best.

With that bad taste in my mouth, I decided to end my Zion experience and head to our next stop- Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. The GPS directed me out of the park and to an impossible to pass up lunch spot:

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So first off, the Thunderberry Pie was excellent. And second off, this place has a really cool history, including our…. drum roll please…. BAWOTD! IOn 1931, just one year after the tunnel pass into Zion was completed, Jack and Fern Morrison opened up a small service station, with Fern serving homemade pies to the truckers. In 1940, they expanded with a small cafe. It was during WWII that Jack made the first sign, and because wood was scarce in those days, he only had enough room to spell out Ho-Made Pies, rather than the full words. The folksy spelling caught on, and it wasn’t until recently that it’s raised an eyebrow.  More to the point, Jack passed away in 1961, leaving Fern with a business to run in a time and place when this was something of a scandal. She also found her water rights threatened and decided to build a nine hole golf course in order to protect them. Fern never quit expanding and improving the business and providing service with a smile right up to her death in 1998. It’s due to the courage and determination of this BAWOTD that the business still survives and thrives. Respect Fern!

Upon leaving the Thunderbird, the GPS then curiously directed me BACK through Zion, so I can only surmise I was meant to eat there (it also had great WiFi, superb service, and a mighty tasty burger).

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We drove through Utah, and then Arizona, and by the time we hit Nevada the wind was gusting so hard I could barely keep Marigold on the road, much less in our lane! The wind was blowing up dozens of tumbleweeds and stray debris and so much dirt and dust that everything was seen through a dim haze. It was more than a little scary. I was on a road with no signs of habitation in sight for miles and miles when this popped up on my phone.

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I made an executive decision that perhaps this was NOT the ideal night for camping, and started searching for a hotel. There didn’t seem to be much available and it was getting darker and windier. Finally, in the tiny town of Overton, I stumbled upon the North Shore Inn. I literally had to struggle to get my door open and basically blew across the parking lot. To my great relief they would welcome Annie on to their beds and chairs for a modest $10 fee. We were saved! AND we stumbled across a rebroadcast of the Game of Thrones premiere! Winner winner chicken dinner! We drifted to sleep listening to news reports of planes diverted and highway truck rollovers all due to the 50mph winds and were very grateful there was room at the inn.

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Day Twenty Nine: Been Through the Desert On a Horse with No Name : Utah (Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon)

(Experiences of Monday, April 13th, recorded Wednesday April 15th)

So my plan had been to get up and go see the sun rise over the hoodoos. Because sunrise over the hoodoos is supposed to be the bomb. But, as I may have already mentioned, getting up in the mornings when it’s chilly and I’m cozy and snuggly with a cuddly furball is a bit of a challenge. Bounding out of bed is never easy in the best of circumstances, and the hassles of going to the bathroom, having breakfast, and getting dressed are magnified in a campground, so I’m never that eager to face them. Suffice to say-the sun did indeed rise, but I was not there to witness it. BUT, I didn’t linger overlong with the cuddles as I had a very important appointment to make!

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Yup! I was going to ride a horse down to the bottom of Bryce Canyon (and better, back up!) So it turned out there were only 3 other riders signed up-an early twenty something girl from France (sporting an American flag scarf-a dead giveaway she was a foreigner), and a couple from Switzerland. It was a little annoying that we were told in no uncertain terms to be at the corral by 9:30, and although a chaps-bedecked man was galumphing about down there, he didn’t even acknowledge us until 9:45. But no matter, our trail guide was to be a perky blonde named Nikki whose parents live in… Sterling VA! It’s a mad mad mad mad world. We bonded over cherry blossom nostalgia. And then we were off! (and also leaving) (Step Doug may be the only one to get that joke.)

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The morning was glorious, sunny and not to cold or windy. The air smelled like fresh pine (except when Stingray in front of me there had some digestive issues). And the views grew even more stunning as we descended.

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Me, astride my noble steed Dandy:

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Our guide pointed out some of the lesser known formations… can you make out the ‘Naked Lady of Bryce Canyon” silhouetted here to the right? (It takes a bit of zooming in, and a lot of imagination.)

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Perhaps due to a lack of total comfort with the language, no one else on the ride seemed to want to chat, despite Nikki’s best efforts to get us gabbing. I was usually the only one to laugh at her canned patter. When she asked if anyone had seen ET, referencing the likeness below, I was the only one who assented. Later on, when she asked if anyone had seen Mrs Doubtfire, I lied and said I had as I was starting to feel badly for her.

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At one point a lonely little mule deer scampered into view and posed for a pic!

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This tree may be even more Bad Ass than the one from yesterday. It’s a Bristlecone Pine, and is one of the oldest tree species around, and one of the few that can live in the harshest desert conditions. Just an inch in diameter of its trunk can represent a hundred years. The oldest one in Bryce has been estimated to be 1,700 years old.

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EEEEKK! It’s Skull Mountain!

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This formation is known as Falling Rock, and as our guide painfully worked her way through her canned patter, she told us that she and “the boys” had been out earlier and propped it up with a stick so that it wouldn’t fall over and block the trail during our ride. As we rounded the bend, after only I had chuckled in acknowledgement, we could see a tiny twig propped under the overhang, which she said has actually been there for 30 years.

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Nikki also clued us in to the fact that, due to the unusually high iron content of all the red sandstone surrounding us, the canyon is actually a literal magnet for lightening strikes. They actually have at least one fatality every year. Which explains the prevalence of these signs at every trail head. (Side Note: Make up your mind rule makers! If I can’t have my pet on the trail, then I’m going to be leaving my most valuable possession in the car, you can’t have it both ways!)

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I could have ridden all day… well.. parts of me could, my backside was well relieved to say Adios to Dandy and crew. But after one last peek around, Annie and I were on our way out of Bryce.

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Just outside of the park proper is a conglomerate known quaintly as Ruby’s which is a hotel/RV Park/grocer store/gift shop/snack bar/post office/gas station/bordello (maybe not-I don’t really know for sure on that last one.) I stopped in to mail some cards and was confronted with this. Is this really a thing?! Please say it isn’t so.

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Next on the rotating agenda of National Parks: ZION! (Yeah-I’m not digging the new pink sunglasses from the Bryce General Store either-the original too big sunglasses got misplaced in the Grand Canyon.)

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Zion is unique in that you’re observing and exploring primarily from the bottom of the canyon, rather than the top. It’s also just insanely beautiful and everyone should visit here. But first, you need to drive through a mile long tunnel. Make sure you have your lights on!

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Mule Deer Crossing!

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Soooo.. by the time we got to a campsite, which may well have been the last available campsite in the park, I initially had been told they were all full, I was kinda tired from the driving and the horsing around and such. And there was cell service at the campsite! So we lounged about for a couple hours and then decided to check out the Visitor Center and take a short hike. So I cranked up Marigold and then noticed I still had the lights on from going through the tunnel. I turned them off and drive five minutes to the Visitor Center. I was out of the car ten minutes finding the darn place and determining it closed at 5pm (FIVE PM? That’s ridiculously early). Got back in Marigold, and she wouldn’t start. The lights came on and the annoying seat belt bonger bonged, but not so much as a grumble out of the engine. Crapballs.  Luckily, I had brought along my portable battery jumpstarter for just such a situation. I lugged it out, hooked it up, and gave it a go. Nada. I started asking passerby if they had jumper cables. Of course not, everyone is in a rental car. I finally encountered one nice couple, Adam and Theresa. They were on their way somewhere, but promised to fetch cables from their car if I still needed help when they returned. I keep trying the jumper battery to no avail and meanwhile Annie is getting hot in the van and BARKBARK at all the confusion, and I’m hot too and still accosting randoms, and FINALLY two nice couples probably my ageish stop and they don’t have cables, but one of the dudes, we’ll call him Blue Shirt, is a real fixer kinda guy and after several suggestions go nowhere he scampers off to the nearby RV campsite to see if anyone there has some. In short order he is back with the cables. Annnndddd… the campervannie still won’t start. Crapballs redux. Blue Shirt now surmises the problem is the starter and his pal offers me a ride into town to look for a mechanic. Annie and I join the wives in their nice cool car as we wait for Blue Shirt to return the cables. But wait!! Blue Shirt returns with the owner of the cables, a real handy type we’ll call Shorty. (Because he was also in a blue shirt.) Shorty starts tapping on the starter and tightening cables and climbing all under and in and around the engine. Shorty is stumped as well. But before he will declare it the starter, he wants to run off and fetch a test light. OK-sure. Only now Blue Shirt’s compatriots have realized they got places to be.  Understandable. It takes all of my strength to forcibly pry Annie off the floor of their car where she has pancaked herself directly under the cooling vent. I am left with Shorty. But wait! All of a sudden Adam and Theresa return! I explain that I don’t need their cables as the problem is not the battery. Adam is also a problem solver and he and Shorty immediately fall into high level auto mechanic talk that goes way over my head. Discussing theories and eliminating variables, and continuing to poke and prod poor Marigold. We are about to give up, when Shorty decides he will hop in and take over my duty of cranking the engine. AND IMMEDIATELY THE VAN STARTS RIGHT UP! Whaatttt?!?!?! So, and I don’t fully understand this, but apparently it was NEVER the battery-the whole lights left on bit was a total red herring. Somehow I had inadvertently done something which caused the car to go into “Shift Safety Mode”? And it could only be started from neutral, not from park? Some sort of voodoo magic I will never understand, but we were as good as new!

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Additionally, while they were turning Marigold inside out, Adam discovered that the likely cause of my non-functioning refrigerator was a blown fuse just off the battery. Excellent! That won’t possibly be a pain and a half to resolve! (spoiler alert).

The whole debacle left Annie and me tired and stressed and cranky. We took an abbreviated walk, had our dinner, and conked out.

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Day Twenty Eight: HooDoo You Think You Are? : Utah (Bryce Canyon)

(Events of Sunday April 12th recorded Wednesday April 15th)

We rolled in to Bryce Canyon in the waning hours of the previous night, snagged an open campsite, and I attempted to relax by the fire while Annie attempted to BARKBARK enough to get us kicked out. It was a slightly less frigid, but still pretty chilly evening and we awoke to cold and wind. I hadn’t yet ascertained where the showers were, so decided to get right to the gawking at natural wonders. Bryce Canyon is known for its hoodoos-fanciful spires carved out of the red sandstone canyon to resemble animals, faces, castles, and whatever else your imagination can dream up. Hoodoo is a Paiute Indian word meaning “People and animals turned to stone,” and they refused to even approach the canyons believing they too would suffer the same fate upon entering.

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We reached the first overlook just as a giant busload of foreign tourists was disgorging which was NOT ideal to say the least. The wind was pretty fierce as well, so it wasn’t like you wanted to linger waiting for them to jog on. But wait we did, and in waiting ambled down the path a bit, and enjoyed some glorious views in the solitude. Next I decided to take the advice of my invaluable National Geographic Guide to the National Parks and head to the end of the loop drive and work our way back through the stops. So off we went to Rainbow Point.

Oh, did I mention it’s another freaking high elevation  area AND there’s still SNOW everywhere?! Where the hell is my spring?! I am so sick of my winter coat and hats!!

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No one as happy about the arctic temps…

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Mostly the morning was spent driving around looking at cool rock formations.

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This one is called Natural Bridge, and I was already pointing out that it’s actually an arch before I discovered the sign correcting the misnomer. #learning

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Then some of us snoozed in the car while others finally took a shower. (Which only took payment in gold coins!)

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Then we went and had lunch on the porch of the General Store which I was told had WiFi but all it had was lies!!! (And yet more friends for Annie.) And some woman from Montgomery County who told me her whole life story, then remarked on how she used to have a black and white dog like Annie, then started speculating about how lovely it would be if we all woke up one morning as a blend of black and white?!?! Look lady, I’m just trying to write some postcards here, can you move it along??

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Annie and I had a nice afternoon hike along the rim of the canyon, then I spent about two and a half hours moving from the Lodge (which had TERRIBLE WiFi) to the Visitor’s Center, (which had decent WiFi but no good place to sit and use it, and also closed at 6pm), BACK to the lodge all in an attempt to get a much delayed blog post out. Readers of that post will already be familiar with my irritation towards small children and rug cleaning devices.

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Upon a “tip” from the desk clerk at the Lodge, we went to the poorly named Sunrise Point in an attempt to see the sunset. It was kind of a nonevent as far as I could tell. But I did see this cool tree, which was originally growing several feet back from the rim, but as time has eroded away it’s surrounding dirt, it is barely hanging on by it’s toenails. (Yes, trees have toenails.) It is FOR SURE the Bad Ass Tree of the Day! BATOTD

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And with that it was time to bed down in Marigold and drift off to dream once again.

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OH! Almost forgot-a couple of follow ups to yesterday’s post about Antelope Canyon. 1.) There were baby Great Horned owls nesting in a nook there! So adorable, but in a spot impossible to photograph. 2.) This Britney Spears video was partially filmed there..

Also: as some of you appear to think all I eat is Spaghettios and pizza, let the record show that on this date I ate a bowl of Cheerios, a Kind nut and granola bar, some hummus and crackers, some tunafish on crackers, a blueberry yogurt, and a can of kidney beans. Yes, I write down what I eat everyday.

Day Twenty Seven: Gettin Lucky with the Slots and Horses: Arizona (Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend)

(Events of Saturday April 11th, blogged Tuesday evening April 14th)

Woke up cold and in a foul mood. Had bad dreams that lingered and left me homesick, grumpy, and over the Grand Canyon. We had stayed an extra night and it was time to move on. Maybe the drive would clear my head. It sure seemed to clear out Annie’s. We passed red sandstone mesas and flat scrubby deserts and… what’s this?? BOAT STORAGE?? Where the heck have we gotten to now??

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We were in Page, Arizona, very near Lake Powell I came to learn, and the site of an amazing looking place I’d stumbled upon on one of those “25 Places You Have to Visit Before You Die” lists that are always circulating on FaceBook: Antelope Canyon. Antelope Canyon (so named because hundreds of years ago antelope actually used to roam these parts) is what is known as a slot canyon- a canyon formed by the pressure of water rushing through rock which causes it to become very narrow and deep. Like a slot! This canyon is located on Navajo land, and so can only be visited on a guided tour.

Traveling with Annie brings many rewards, but it also brings many complications. Balancing her needs/safety/comfort against mine can sometimes be a challenge. For instance, when I’m driving all day, she’s resting. So when I’m done driving and want to rest, I often need to exercise her instead. Also, there are a lot of places I want to go that she can’t, and I have to decide if the issues caused by leaving her alone are worth what I will potentially get out of the activity. Most of the National Parks we’ve visited have had fun looking hikes I would have enjoyed, but knowing how much Annie also enjoys hikes, it doesn’t seem fair to go on one without her. Leaving her briefly for shopping or restaurants is easier to justify. I digress, because Annie wasn’t going to be allowed to come into the canyon with me. And the weather was just a touch warmer than I like it to be to leave her in the van. The canyon guide offered me some local kennel options, but honestly, she would be so distraught if I plonked her down in a strange cage and left her somewhere totally foreign that the emotional damage would likely outweigh any discomfort she might encounter in a warm van, with windows halfway down and a huge water bowl. This canyon was a once in a lifetime thing, so I found the biggest, shadiest tree I could and bit the bullet.

And it was mind blowing! Seriously-you NEED to visit this place! It doesn’t look like much from the outside…

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But inside…. whoooaaahhhh. It’s a twisty, turny, crazy maze with light shining through at funky angles and illuminating all the striations and colors on the walls.

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And then we had this brilliant Navajo guide who knew all the best camera angles and settings to get the coolest shots. In this one, if you focus on the brightest light patches at the center, it resembles a twisting candlestick with a flame shooting off to the right at the top of it.

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In this one, the shadow outlines the form of an illuminated bear.

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Here we have a heart. Seriously, it started to get to the point where I was like “could we just focus on how cool the canyon is and enough with making sure all 14 of us get a wacky shot around every corner?”

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My attempt at a personal photo alongside of his. I look even more stoned in his.

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This one did kinda blow my mind though. It looks like I’m holding a lit torch!

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It was so magical in there and so unlike anywhere I’ve ever been and just stunning. There were also spots with fabulous acoustics that could make your voice do crazy things and markings where whirlpools had formed and odd tree limbs stuck in crevices that he could date to the month and year, but none of those make good photos.

And, spoiler alert, Annie was just fine and none the worse for wear after two hours on her own.

Just around the corner from Antelope Canyon is another amazing spot that the interwebs alerted me to – Horseshoe Bend. It’s basically just a bend in the, say it with me now, Colorado River (previously spotted by my campsite in Moab and forming the Grand Canyon), but it’s carved out this huge lump in the middle that is just stunning to look at. Of course, first there’s a mile long walk in the hot sun to reach it (Was I really freezing under layers of blankets just this morning?)

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Phenomenally breathtaking. The water is an insane greenish blue, it’s just beyond. You also have to get super close to the really uneven rocky ledge to get anything close to a proper photograph, so it’s a bit unnerving. If the weather had been cooler and I had been less tired from the day it would have been a perfect spot for a picnic.

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Did I mention that the mile walk in the hot sun to get there was DOWNhill? Which means UPhill alllll the way back. Ugh.

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On the road again, and here’s a familiar sign… where could we possibly be headed next?

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Day Twenty Six: Life on the Edge : Grand Canyon

(Events of Friday April 10th blogged Tuesday April 14th) Another super chilly morning up on the South Rim. It’s really hard to drag one’s self out of… van when you’re all cuddled up with a snoring bundle of furry warmth. In fact, I would likely sleep the day away if the snoring bundle didn’t quickly stop snoozing and start grumbling to empty her bladder and fill her belly.

I did, however, take a few minutes to get the van organized so I could show off my sleeping and eating compartments for the curious.That drawer on the bottom right is my “refrigerator”.

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After waiting in line behind a pack of giggly teenage girls at the $2 shower (which allegedly lasts eight minutes, but seemed much longer), Annie and I decided to hike a four mile section of the rim trail which involved turning right at the main observation point, when most of the tourists were turning left. We quickly left the bulk of them behind, but Annie still found a few admirers.

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In fact, at one point we were waiting behind an Asian family to use the facilities, and the small boy and girl took quite an interest, asking loads of questions about Annie and petting her and complimenting her. They seemed so taken with her, that I asked the little girl if she would like to hold the leash while I went in the loo. Up until this point, Annie had been calm, cool, and collected. The moment I stepped two feet away, she lurched toward me BARKING up a storm and nearly pulling the girl off her feet. I offered to take the leash back, but the mom stepped in to hold it. Annie then proceeded to BARKBARK like the world was on fire the entire 3 minutes I was out of her vision, despite seeing exactly where I went and receiving plenty of reassurances. She can’t let me out of her sight, but she’s more than willing to tiptoe up to the very edge of danger when she’s exploring.

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Of course, most of the time she’d rather have her snout snuffling down a much smaller hole.

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We hiked all the way to one of the main trailheads for folks who actually have the lung power to hike DOWN into the canyon (and more importantly, back UP). As per usual, loads of folks who seemed far less fit than I,, and frequently in inappropriate clothing and footwear, chugged up and down with no problem. At one point I started to take Annie down just a tiny bit of the trail (which she wasn’t technically allowed on), when we saw mules coming back up! Discretion seemed to prove the better part of valor, and we beat a hasty retreat.

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And that wasn’t the only animal meandering about. We also encountered a small herd of elk on our hike. (Trying to keep Annie from noticing while simultaneously trying to snap a photo was a feat in itself.)

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After all that excitement, one of us was so tuckered out she fell asleep on her water bowl.

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I was fairly worn out as well, but decided to take advantage of  her snooze to ride the free shuttle to points of interest to the westward side of the park that weren’t accessible via car. Every time you hop on and off the shuttle to view different overlooks, you get a different driver when you get back on. And they were a mixed bag for sure. Some were fonts of fascinating information about what lie ahead at the next stop, and some just played their pre-recorded tapes about proper exit etiquette. Lacking info from the drivers, these “cell phone guides” would have been a great help. Provided there was working cell service at any point on the rim. Ah well.

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Same canyon, different day. You can tell because I’m in a different shirt. Also it was warm and sunny and lovely. I only remember this because I’m wearing my short sleeved Bluebird Cafe T I got in Nashville.

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I did see a California Condor perched on a rock which I thought was super cool until I learned later this was most likely because he had a broken wing or some other malady.

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These two were doing synchronized selfie stick shots. They were embarrassed when they caught me watching until I explained I was a proud member of the club as well.

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This is just a cool pic of one of the trails going down into the canyon. It’s just so freaking vast!

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I had planned to travel all the way to Hermit’s Rest at the end of the line, but I was rapidly growing cold, tired, and worried about leaving Annie alone for so long. What I had anticipated to be a ninety minute jaunt was turning in to closer to three hours. Even though I knew she was safe in Marigold, and she had water and pillows, and it wasn’t near warm enough to be concerned about overheating, I was nearly frantic by the time I got back to the parking lot. I don’t know if it was having my ability to get back to her basically out of my hands, or the fact that I was at the point of exhaustion, but I was convinced I was going to find her in a terrible state. Of course, she was contentedly snoozing away.

I was running on fumes, so we swung by the Grand Canyon grocery for some grub and were soon back at our campsite, nestled in our bed, awaiting another freezing night ahead.

Day Twenty Five: The Alpha and The Omega: Arizona (Grand Canyon)

(Thursday April 9th, written Tuesday April 14th)

We finally made it to the Grand Canyon! We snuck in under cover of darkness, and it’s about a 30 mile road from the turnoff to the entrance, and then another 30 miles to get to where the campgrounds are. All in pitch black, unable to see one of the most jaw dropping sites in the world. We were in the park a good twelve hours before we ever actually saw the darn thing! First we had a filling breakfast in the forested campsite. Much needed as it had been literally below freezing the previous night and I we both spent it buried in all the blankets and sleeping bags we could find …

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Then I got pulled over by a cop. Yeah, that’s right, I managed to commit a traffic violation in the middle of the Grand Canyon, with only one other car around! And the guy was a total asshole! So I’m driving along, trying to find the Visitor’s Center, because even just the complex of the Grand Canyon is massive and overwhelming before you even get to the actual hole in the ground. And I’m following behind another car, and not going very fast, and all of a sudden there are flashing lights behind me and the Ranger Fuzz are on my tail! Whaatttt?!?! So he immediately demands my license and registration. OK. Then he says I “blew through” two stop signs. Well, I was going about 25mph, so I HIGHLY doubt I blew through anything, AND I was following another car which means he “blew through” them too, AND there’s not another car on these roads. But OK. So I apologize. Then he orders me to take my keys out of the ignition. Like Marigold and I are gonna go all Bo and Luke Duke (or mayber Thelma and Louise considering the location) on him! I have NEVER been asked that by a cop before in all my (multitudinous) traffic stops. THEN he demands to know if I have guns, or drugs, or illegal items in the vehicle! I actually chuckled. And thanked my lucky stars I had ignored friends who suggested I bring a weapon for protection, or pick up some pot in Colorado. Or smuggle jewels (OK not that one.) He was just mean and rude all out of proportion to the offense, he could have just said-hey you missed some stop signs-pay attention out there. He did, smugly, let me off with a warning, so I guess there’s that, but it put me on guard for him the rest of the visit.

But once we finally arrived, what a sight it was to behold…

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For some reason The Grand Canyon has always been sort of the lynchpin of this trip for me. Yes, I’ve always wanted to see it, but more for the fact of it being a bucket list item, a must do, a classic piece of Americana, than any real desire or curiosity. It’s just so iconic. Whenever I would talk about the trip, I would use it as a reference: “I don’t want to be worrying about an Air B&B guest losing the key when I’m standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon.” “I’m not going to pick up that phone call when I’m standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon.” “The worst time for Annie to pull a runner would be standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon.” That sort of thing.

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And it IS cool. And HUGE. So huge you can’t really take it all in. It’s more than the mind can comprehend. And more than even a Selfie Stick photo can properly capture.

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It was also cold. And CROWDED! Oh my goodness, so crowded! An estimated five million visitors pass through each year, and even though it isn’t yet prime tourist season, they were ALL at the main Visitor Center and overlook area. I guess that’s why there had been none on the roads. It was a mob scene, and claustrophobic (On the edge of a gaping chasm) and I constantly felt like we were in the way of someone’s photograph. Annie, on the other hand, was making friends left and right. It was funny how so many people would rather take a moment to scratch her ears or tell her how cute she was than look at one of the Wonders of the World.

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But who can really blame them-I’m just as smitten.

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In an attempt to get as far from the madding crowds as possible, we drove Desert View Drive (which is basically the 30 mile road we took to get into the park, just with the added bonus of daylight, stopping at many lovely overlooks, enjoying a picnic in some pines, and finally ending up at The Watchtower. I had never heard of The Watchtower before, and at first glance it appeared to be another cool “Anasazi” dwelling like the ones at Hoven WEEEEEEP (as I like to say it). Alas, it was built in the 1930s a sort of a tribute to all of the different Native American groups that used to populate this area, and it was nice and all, but kind of inauthentic after seeing all the real things.

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The other problem, which I really had to work not to show in these pictures, is it was MEGA crowded. Take all those folks spread out along the rim, and condense them into one rather narrow space and I just wanted to run screaming. And many of them were kids. Bored kids. Noisy kids. Always in my way kids. The problem with tourist attractions is there are just too darn many tourists!

So we went back to the campground and took a nap, and did some laundry, and tried to avoid the weird hiccuping dude who wanted to stand over me the whole time I was folding my underwear incessantly apologizing for his hiccups when what he really needed to apologize for was HOVERING OVER MY UNDERWEAR!

Another freezing cold night lay ahead of us…

Day Twenty Four: Monumental Discoveries : Colorado, Arizona

A bit of clarification. Due to WiFi challenges the last week, the blog is lagging about five days behind real time, (Dear lord I didn’t realize it was THAT bad!) This blog post will deal with the events of Wednesday April 8th, but is being written on the evening of Monday April 13th. If you follow me on FaceBook-that will contain more up to date information. I apologize for the confusion and do hope to eventually be caught up. Just typing that has left me totally discouraged.

*takes deep breath* OK-shake it off. I can do this…

To answer a few other questions regarding the 57 Chevy school bus:yes, I made the decidedly odd move of swapping a van for a bus. Primarily because I learned the campground at Mesa Verde wasn’t open yet for the season, partially because it seemed random and cool, and partially because it had a shower.

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Yes,  it had/has electricity and a solidly functioning space heater. There was a sink… but no tap… but I could use water from the water cooler (like an office style one) in the opposite corner? I don’t know, I didn’t try. There was a fridge. Down the “road” a bit there was a workshop that had a bathroom with shower and composting toilet. This one had cedar shavings that you scooped over your leavings-it wasn’t all space age like the one in the Nashville Tiny House.

It also allegedly had “lovely hiking trails” steps from the front door, and they were scenic, but also weird, and rocky and full of random computer graveyards and…. art??

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But we did sleep quite soundly, and managed to find some nice spots to walk amongst the crap.

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Oh, and about that “road”. Sooo-unbeknownst to me, to access this hidden gem, one had to go uphill along a rickety, stone bedecked dirt road. And then there wasn’t a driveway or parking space per se, one just… stopped. In the middle of the “road”. Which I didn’t really think about until an hour later when I decided to go into town for pizza. And realized there was no real easy way to turn Marigold around. There were a lot of fits and starts, and I MAY have cracked a paving stone leading up to the bus, (because what that whole area needed was more random rocks strewn about), and I MAY have knocked over a few of those little solar powered garden lights you stick in the ground.

Returning that evening, I thought I had found a better spot to park, but upon leaving that morning, it was a total nightmare! I had parked by some trees and the branches were scratching all over the top, and every time I tried to make a turn I ran up on a rock, or got stuck in a rut, and it was going from bad to worse and I was freaking out because technically I’m not supposed to be driving the van on dirt roads, and ohmigod I didn’t want to be stuck or have to call the bus lady for help. So I got out to assess the situation, and there was this, well, car part looking thing on the ground? Like a roughly 3.5 foot twisted metal pipe type thing? And I didn’t know if it had come off Marigold or was just lying there anyway, either of which possibility seemed equally likely. But it was a bit to the side, not right under the van, and it wasn’t hot to the touch which it seemed like it should have been, and I thought about bringing it along with me in case I needed it, but it was big and awkward, and I wasn’t going to sleep with a mammoth metal pipe. So I got back in the van, said a little prayer, gunned it, and got the hell out of there.

And immediately stopped for breakfast (all that stress works up an appetite!) I went to the Absolute Bakery, which had been HIGHLY recommended by both Yelp and my hostess for the previous night. It was a super cute place full of charm, not to mention a totem pole of Post-It comments, and a miniature replica of itself on the counter…

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And yet… the breakfast burrito was kind of crap, and doesn’t have a PATCH on Anita’s.

The cookies were decent enough though, so I grabbed a to go bag and we were off again! And this time I decided to take a little detour, based entirely on a postcard I ad seen for a place with a cool sounding name… Hovenweep. Tell me that name doesn’t rock! I had first stumbled across reference to it in the gift shop at Dead Horse Point State Park. When I asked the ranger lady about it, she kind of waved it off as a poor man’s Mesa Verde. But I was not going to let that deter me from heading 45 miles out of my way!

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So this place was basically more ancient cliff dweller stuff, except this time they built TOWERS! It was all very Game of Thrones.

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And there was a MUCH easier and more scenic hike to tour the dwellings, AND Annie was allowed to go on it with me!

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All in all it was a far superior experience to Mesa Verde in my book. But time was ticking and we had miles to go before we slept.

Miles like this…

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Annie was less than impressed…

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But that feeling was not to last for long, because soon, very soon, we’d be at Four Corners National Monument where she would set a personal best of barking in FOUR states at once!

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That’s Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona for those keeping score at home. I will say, the visit got off to an inauspicious start when we were greeted with this…

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But, I mean, that just applies to REGULAR dogs right? Well I for one had not driven an hour out of my way to be deterred by that nonsense! Now I can understand and respect (for the most part) many of the restrictions the bigger parks have placed on dogs. But this was a concrete plaza. No different than walking down the street. Nothing for her to harm or upset. And we certainly weren’t any more of a nuisance that the brats who had to take multiple spread eagle shots while a kid in a wheelchair sat waiting. As I was approaching the plaza, I saw another couple with a dog, who were reading the sign. I said: “I’m willing to ignore that sign if you will. What’s the worst that can happen? They ask us to remove the dogs?” But, alas, this was no BAWOTD, and she tied her dog up to a post, while Annie and I forged confidently ahead.

First attempts at record setting were half hearted, but she soon found her stride.

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No time to rest on her laurels, as we had one more monument to check off… sunset at Monument Valley…

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And where did we finally lay our weary heads that evening? Tune in tomorrow to find out!

Day Twenty Three: Better Homes and (Rock) Gardens: Utah, Colorado

It will be a miracle if my photos ever download to give this post some pizzazz, but I’ve ferretted out a working WiFi and am attempting to blog again. If I can remember this far back. OK, so, when last we left I was in Moab, camping on the Colorado. I was soon to bid farewell to these red sandstone outcroppings, but first I thought I’d take Annie on a nice four-mile hike through what my brochure referred to as Negro Bill Canyon, but what the sign in the parking lot indicated was (Awkward Space) Bill Canyon. In any event, as I was stuffing my daypack, I noticed that Annie seemed to be reluctant to jump out of the camper. This was odd. A closer inspection revealed BLOOD OH MY GOD IT’S BLOOD coming from one of her back claws.


I’m not good with either blood or Annie trauma, so I went in to panic mode rather quickly. I had to drive about ten minutes to even find a parking lot where I could get online. The web (excellent medical resource that it is) seemed to indicate it was a minor injury that I could probably treat myself with: dog nail clippers, hot water, and a sterile surface. I had none of these. Luckily, Moab had an animal clinic just two miles away, so we flew there with all haste. The lovely vet technician reassured me it was a common malady in this area and easily remedied. I just had to lay Annie on her side and restrain her with my forearm across her neck while the vet did her work. No biggie (major biggie). In about ten minutes my girl was patched up, and we were on our way.

With the big hike off the agenda, I decided to pay one last visit to Arches to see a few spots I missed when Missouri Clinton had me heading for the hills.

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One of the coolest spots is the Windows area, where the majority of the park’s many arches can be found. I think that’s what it was called anyway, who even remembers anymore, and for the love of god must everyone bring their drooling rugrats who are too young to care anyway with them to every golldarn National Park. I can’t even hear myself think between that and the distant vacuum cleaner, but the other spot that was supposed to have WiFi only had nattery twenty somethings . . . I think I’m ready to become a hermit.

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ANYWAY! I remember these were called the spectacles and I was going to make some “clever” remark about feeling like I was being watched or some such.

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And here’s some other archy things.

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Soon enough we were on our way out of Moab and headed east (East?! Yes, East!) towards Colorado (Again?! Yes, again!). Not far past town I saw an intriguing sign looming over the highway . . .

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I drove around to the other side and found . . .

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. . . that’s right! One of the most AMAZEBALLS places on the planet!!!

Of course it has an outdoor arcade . . .

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And a two story outhouse . . .

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And Bigfoot . . .

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Anyhow-it turns out that this shrine to awesomesauce was originally built as a home. Like, this dude, who had a homestead claim entitling him to this ginormous rock, decided to take half sticks of dynamite and blast some rooms into it. And then he made part of it a diner. Oh, and he also practiced taxidermy and KEPT HIS TAXIDERMIED HORSES AND MULES INSIDE THE HOME! Maybe like five years later he died. And then there’s his wife, Gladys, who agreed to live in a HOLE in a ROCK. With DEAD ANIMALS sharing the space. Who lived there while he continued to BLAST OUT new rooms. Who built her own soaking tub out of clay and plumbed it herself. Who designed and created their funeral plot out back. So Gladys decides to open the place as a museum, and runs it solo for the next TWENTY years while swanning about in fancy dresses and rock jewelry she made herself. For that reason Gladys is our Bad Ass Woman of the Day! (I’m so annoyed that I was finding these women everywhere, until I decided to make it a thing, and then POOF, they vanish! But Gladys for sure deserves the honor!)

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The place is a total tourist trap, it even has a zoo with purported camel rides, (although I could never see over the fence), and given the “Bigfoot” sighting, it wouldn’t surprise me if you ended up riding a plastic camel or some such. But underneath all the claptrap and folderol is a really cool story about some really unique individuals. I was fascinated.

I could have hung around there all day and taken the tour a few more times (it is EXTREMELY unfortunate that they don’t allow photos inside, because that place was off the chain), but I had a date with some cliff dwellings. Yes, technically I did just spend an hour walking around a home built inside a rock wall, but I’m talking about the ORIGINAL old school cliff dwellers-the Anasazi-or-as we call them now the “Ancient Puebloans.” I was headed to Mesa Verde National Park.

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Mesa Verde is the largest archeological preserve in the US, and it was created by Teddy Roosevelt (#letTeddywin) in response to some nefarious doings along the lines of the dude who moved all the cliff dwellings to Manitou Springs. Teddy wanted to make sure these ancient communities remained where they were built.

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The park also has a legit museum with fascinating artifacts, not just old marketing props. See those brown things at the bottom of the case? Those are kernels of corn. That were stored in that urn. With the small bowl on top. And preserved totally undisturbed for THOUSANDS of years. Yes, I totally would have eaten some if I had found them.

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As per usual on this trip I was a little too early in the season for all of the habitations to be open for exploring, but I did get to poke around the Spruce Tree House (not an actual treehouse). It was remarkably similar to the dwellings I had seen in Colorado Springs. Except for A.) being exactly where the original occupants built it, and B.) being FILLED WITH CHILDREN, Most of which were old enough to know better about how to behave. Most of these communities had a central kiva built underground-basically a ceremonial space. This one could be accessed via a ladder. That all the kids kept running up and down. So, you know, no chance for the adults to soak in the culture or anything. It was also cold and windy and a HUGE hike down (translation: huge hike back up afterwards), and I was basically over it. As you can see by my expression. I drove around a bit afterwards and saw a few other spots from overlooks, but I just wasn’t feeling it that day. There was also a LOT of driving just within the park to get where you needed to be.

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I left the park and made a short drive to my “home” for the evening. Made sure not to stop at this place . . .

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Annnd here we are . . . home sweet home!

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Yup-it’s a 57 Chevy School Bus! Another Air B&B find. It’s not a cave blasted out of a rock or a limestone tower built under a cliff overhang, but for 2015 it’s pretty wild. Don’t worry, I didn’t go full Into The Wild . . . I made sure Annie gave the place a proper once over . . .

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Refrigerator for food and a comfy bed? Yup-we should be all set. And with that we collapsed in exhaustion. . .

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Day Twenty Two: Red Dirt Road: Utah (Moab)

Lemme just start by saying: ARCHES ROCKS! (Chuckles at terrible pun.)

Anyhoo, we awoke to a fabulously glorious (if a tad windy) morning in the Colorado River Recreation Area. Annie and I had such a nice time just pottering about the campsite (as best I can recall four days later) that it was hard to get going.

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But get going we must! First stop-Arches National Park. Arches is an unbelievably gorgeous area of the desert that is chock full of cool sandstone formations. FULL OF THEM! Many (as you might surmise) in the shape of . . . arches. The ONLY downside to Arches is that they are SUPER dog unfriendly, and Annie wasn’t allowed anywhere other than the car. Mega bummer. Luckily, lots of the cool stuff can be seen by driving the main loop road and stopping at short overlooks or doing quickie 10 minute hikes. And I had something much more fun planned for her later.

Lots of the formations have been given cute anthropomorphic names-which is RIGHT up my alley. Couldn’t get a good shot of the penguin trio who greets you at the entrance, but the grouping on the left here is known as the Three Gossips, and if you squint you can see The Sheep off to their right. (The other photos you can make up your own names for.)

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Gotta love a park that gives me a shout out.

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Even in the desert you can still find signs of spring.

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The most famous rock formation in the park, and the one that gets all the pub, is Delicate Arch. Unfortunately, to get a proper look at it, you really need to take the 3 mile STRENUOUS hike that is a mile uphill to get there and means leaving your dog all alone in the van for a few hours while you have fun without her. Not gonna happen. So I took a gander at it from the nearby overlook (which neglected to mention its “stroll” was about half a mile straight up). It’s also where I met Missouri Clinton. Clinton seemed like a nice enough chap, and struck up a conversation with me at the overlook. He was a little gripey though, complaining that he felt all the photos of the arches on signage had been photoshopped to make them seem MUCH more colorful than they actually were. I suggested that certain times of day and lighting could make them more striking, but he would have none of it. Next he declared that Delicate Arch was just too touristy and he was going to go off down a random dirt road instead. Ok then. Clinton seemed to be lingering a bit long, as I was ready to go and he had arrived before me, so I made my exit.

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Did I mention it was a bit windy? This area is known as the fiery furnace because at sunset the rocks glow so brightly it seems as if they are aflame (Suck it Missouri Clinton). The cracks and crevices are so narrow and twisty you can only hike down there with an authorized guide.

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Another super famous formation is Balanced Rock. This one has to be three times the size of the one in Garden of the Gods. Apparently, years ago, some dude insisted there was a layer of concrete affixing the ball to the pedestal. He refused to accept the Ranger’s assurance that this was not the case, and later got stuck atop the ten story structure attempting to prove himself right.

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Probably my FAVORITE spot in the park was the conglomeration known as Sand Dune Arch. To reach it, you pass through a crevice between several stones, and enter into a space with high smooth red walls rising all around you. The ground beneath your feet is cool sand, eroded over time from the surrounding rock, and protected from the days heat by the towering monoliths. Some of the rocks glow like highly polished copper, and the feeling is more akin to being in a cathedral than a desert.

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The loveliness of the moment was marred however, when, upon exiting, I bumped into Missouri Clinton again. Didn’t go down that dirt road after all I guess.  Attempting to be friendly, I commented that this was a particularly spectacular spot. Clinton responded: “Maybe you could walk with me and show me.” Flustered, I said I couldn’t as I had to get back to my dog waiting in the car. As I hustled back to Marigold, I could hear him cry after me: “I only wanted to see if you would hang out with meeeee…” Ugh. Way to make it awks Clinton. I then spent the rest of the morning furtively darting from spot to spot, hoping not to run into him again and cursing my distinct lack of stealth mode when traveling in a wildly colorful hippie van. I ended up leaving early.

But the good news is, that meant it was ANNIE TIME! Following an online tip, we headed about 30 miles north to Dead Horse Point State Park, where Annie could gambol about the trails to her heart’s content. And gambol she did!

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The park has a jaw dropping overlook into yet another gorge formed by the Colorado River (spoiler alert-there will be more ahead).

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Now in full disclosure, I must say, that as much as Annie enjoyed this hike, and as amazeballs as the scenery was, I hadn’t prepared well. It was longer than I thought so I didn’t bring water, or chapstick, or a snack, and it was sunny so I was hot, and then it was WINDY so I was cold and I was never entirely sure where the trail was, and I was just cranky the whole time. Dudes, I am not joking about the wind, which you know I hate. This is not a reenactment.

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Oh, and did I mention if you Google Moab it basically means red dirt every-flipping-where all the flipping time? This was taken within five minutes of exiting Marigold.

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Giddy upon the heels of our (separately) fun explorations, we decided to get REAL adventurous and bust out the pie iron Allyson gave us to make dinner.  First up:a grilled cheese sandwich. Unfortunately my GOOD cheese was a casualty of #FridgeGate (something oozed out and leaked under the wrapper giving it a nasty taste). So I had to use my individually wrapped cheddar slices I brought for snacking.

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And the result???

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Looks like I’ll be supplementing with a hot dog then.