Monday, October 26, 2009




After bidding goodbye to Gary and Diane, we headed southeast towards Taos, New Mexico. With one detour due to snow over a 10,000 pass, we arrived and settled into an RV park just outside of town. We spent 3 days in Taos, visiting the Taos Pueblo and the Kit Carson Museum. As a collector of pueblo pottery, the Taos Pueblo is a great place to buy directly from the artist who made the piece. After helping out with the local economy and with the threat of snow we continued our journey south.

Our RV is currently parked in the yard of friends Terry and Sharon in Rio Rancho, just outside of Albuquerque. So far the weather has been sunny but cool. The forecast is calling for rain and snow in a couple of days, so we just might stay put until it passes.
Today we drove to the Jemez Mountains just north of here. Terry and Sharon like to hike as we do, so we took what was to be a 4 mile trek along the Jemez River. With a light dusting of fresh snow, it was a really beautiful and peaceful. Terry had heard of a “water cave”(whatever that is) a bit further down the trail and the 4 miles ended up being 10. We never did quite make it to the water cave as the trail became very steep and icy. None the less we had a great hike in the snow.




Wednesday, October 21, 2009


If you have ever traveled in the southwest and stayed in campgrounds and RV parks you notice right away a large number of folks driving rented motorhomes. In my own unscientific survey, I determined that most of the people driving these RV’s are European with Germans making up the majority. While camping in Bluff, I noticed a European style motorhome with German plates in a nearby campsite. In an effort to promote friendship between our two peoples, and to find out about their motorhome, I invited the occupants to join us around the campfire.

Hans, was traveling around the southwest with his 21 year old son, Frank and a rather large and intimidating looking Sheppard. Hans told us he shipped his motorhome to the states via container ship from Germany to Baltimore and has been traveling around the west for close to 5 months. He said he had to return to Germany on the 1st of November but intended to store his RV in Los Angeles. Then in the spring he would return for 5 more weeks of US travel ending in Baltimore to ship his RV back home.

In two nights of campfire talk, we learned that Hans was in the same business as Gary and I and worked in a small town in the Black Forest. He had saved up his leave time for his trip to the states. Hans gave us a tour of his very compact but well designed and built Mercedes RV knowing full well, that someday we will have to downsize for economy sake. He gets 20 MPG compared to our 10. Gary offered to find a place to store his RV when he returned to Germany and Hans took him up on the offer. With Cathie and I going to Europe in the spring, Hans invited us to come and visit him in the Black Forest, which, if he’s not in the U.S. at the time, his invitation will be accepted.

After six weeks, Gary and Diane have decided to head for home, this being the longest they have ever been away. The previous record for them was 2 weeks. We parted company in Cortez, Colorado with Cathie and I heading to New Mexico. The weather is turning cold, with snow in the nearby mountains, so it’s time to head south.



Sunday, October 18, 2009



We found a really nice BLM campground in Bluff, right on the San Juan River. We have been having great clear weather with cold nights but warm days in the high 70’s. The trees in the campground are all turning gold making this the prettiest place we’ve stayed so far.

As I mentioned in the last entry, we’ve come here to explore some cliff dwellings which after hiking to, you can explore on your own. No rangers or guided tours. Our first exploration took us to a place called Mule Canyon, where after hiking about 1.5 miles we came to our first ruin. With easy access we scrambled up the slickrock to a small cliff dwelling located under the cliff overhang. The popular name for this ruin is, “House on Fire”, and if you look at the photo below you can see why. There were several small individual “rooms” at this site possibly used as granaries.


We next continued up canyon to another small ruin. At this point the ladies decided to head back to the truck because, “once you’ve seen one ruin, you’ve seen them all”. Gary and I continued on finding one more ruin high on the cliff. We could climb to a spot about 15 feet below it, but we couldn’t scale the vertical wall to make entry.


I had read about a ruin called “Moonhouse Ruin” located in the area, so the following day, Gary and I headed out to see if we could find it. I had some detailed directions found on the internet and in a book I purchased but I had some doubts if I could make it. You see, I am very afraid of heights, especially those which involve me walking on narrow ledges over deep canyons. (Well actually anything over about 8 feet) Reaching this ruin involved walking on these kind of ledges in addition to climbing down what in these parts is called a pourover, but is more commonly referred to as a waterfall. The only positive that I could see was that the waterfall was dry. There was a second positive of sorts and that was if I fell, at least Gary could point out the location of the body to the authorities.

So with my fears firmly in check, at least for the drive to the trailhead, we headed out. After a 9 mile sometimes 4 wheel drive road we managed to locate the spot where one must take his life in his hands and climb over the edge of the cliff. So with Gary’s encouragement we started down. This was a pretty deep canyon with Moonhouse on the opposite side. The trail, if you call it that, was marked with cairns (piles of little rocks) and was very steep. The first obstacle was the pourover. Gary went first so that I could see that it was possible and of course if he fell over then I would be the one who pointed out the body. Once Gary made it, then it was my turn. Some kind soles had made a large pile of rocks at the bottom of the fall, thus making the traverse slightly less scary. By sliding down the near vertical rock on my butt, I gingerly lowered myself down until my feet were firmly on the nice, but wobbly pile of rocks. Now that I was down that part, I began to wonder if I could make it back up.

It wasn’t over yet because next we had to walk a narrow ledge for about 75 yards with a sheer drop off of several hundred feet to the canyon bottom. So by clutching my walking stick, like that would keep me from falling, we inched along. After some more down climbing we finally made it to the bottom. Now we had to go up the other side, which was steep and mostly on slickrock, but a piece of cake compared to what we had already been through.



Once we reached the ruin, I decided the terror I had experienced getting there was possibly worth it, but I wouldn’t make that final judgment until such time as we were back in camp. Moonhouse consists of 49 rooms, some which are behind an outer wall which creates a hallway leading to the entrances of the interior rooms. The condition of much of Moonhouse is excellent considering that it was built so long ago. Scientific studies suggest Moonhouse was built in three stages between 1226 and 1268 AD. Don’t ask me how anyone determined these dates, but needless to say, the place is old. I think perhaps an old Indian told them. There still exist some of the painted decorations on the walls consisting of a wide white stripe with numerous little “moons” painted over it. There were other rooms separate from the main structure many in very good condition.

Since we were high on this cliff ledge, which was pretty wide and not too scary, we walked along it for some distance exploring several other ruins, before heading back.

Because you are reading this blog entry, you can assume that I made it back safely, which I did with only minor scrapes and scratches on my shins and knees received when crawling up the aforementioned pourover. If someday some of you would like to see Moonhouse, give me a call and I’ll put you in touch with Gary.




(notice white paint on wall behind Gary)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009



After a week in Capitol Reef National Park, we headed east to Moab. We keep returning so I guess you could say we like it here. There are lots of places to hike here with Arches and Canyonlands National Parks right next door. Cathie and I hiked up Negro Bill Canyon to Morning Glory Natural Bridge. The trail follows a beautiful clear stream and is a popular hike here. Yesterday we hiked down Courthouse Wash, a 5.5 mile hike from Arches down to the Colorado River. Gary and Diane dropped us off at the start and we hiked down a beautiful canyon filled with Cottonwood Trees and a sometimes stream. Towards the end we came to deep water around some beaver ponds. We had to cross the stream to continue and for a while thought we might have to swim. After looking for a place to cross without getting wet, we finally managed to cross by walking across the beaver dam. Later in the evening we all hiked to Delicate Arch, a trek we make every time we come here.

Gary and I spent one morning and hiked to Corona Arch, a very large and impressive arch in an area outside of the National Park.


After 6 weeks, Gary has started to relax and has been seen omitting extra security devices on his Jeep, even in downtown Moab!

Tomorrow we head south to Bluff, Utah, just north of the Arizona Border. The plan is to spend more time hiking, this time to some cliff dwellings which are plentiful in the area.





Thursday, October 08, 2009


No, no, not the Vegas kind but the canyon kind. One of the natural features of the southwest are slot canyons. Here in southwestern Utah, there are numerous. These vary in length, depth, and beauty, but they are all interesting. Some are difficult to gain access to requiring repelling and climbing gear or require hiking several days to get to, while others you just walk into. The latter are the one’s we’ve been exploring. The three most impressive that we have explored are, Headquarters, Surprise, and Little Wild Horse Canyons. Little Wild Horse was by far the most interesting, being deep, narrow and about 3.5 miles long, with the actual slot being about 1.5 miles long.

Here are some of the photo we took of these canyons.





Wednesday, October 07, 2009


Gary, who is traveling with us, owns a 1996 Jeep Cherokee that he tows behind his motor home. Living in Southern California he takes certain precautions to prevent some low life from stealing it. While camping in the Sierras, he continued to take his anti-theft precautions believing that perhaps some of these lowlifes may have followed him north.

He is very concieious about maintaining his anti-theft measures, believing that his ’96 creampuff would be a prize for any would be car thief and would be the envy of his thieving peers.

He has a device which he attaches to his steering wheel with one end and his break pedal with the other. Then he has this bright yellow cover which goes over the steering wheel with a notice on it warning any potential car thieves to stay away. Now in Southern California these measures might be necessary, but I doubt it, because any thief worth his salt wouldn’t be looking the steal a 13 year old Chrysler product.

Here in Utah, Gary remains paranoid. Recently we took a drive on the Burr Trail, a 75 mile dirt road through parts of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and Capitol Reef National Park. We stopped for a short hike up a slot canyon, and true to form Gary secured his Jeep. Here we were 48 miles from the nearest paved road out in the middle of nowhere and Gary is still worrying about that lowlife.

I am attempting to get him to relax and have some faint hope that by the end of our 3 month sourjourn he may loose some of his paranoria, because it is doubtful that he will loose his Jeep.



Saturday, October 03, 2009

HITCHHIKING GRANDPARENTS! (kids don't try this at home)


Yesterday, Cathie and I went for a hike down Sulfur Creek in Capitol Reef National Park. To make the hike a one way hike, we left our truck at hikes end and hitched a ride with Gary and Diane to the trailhead. The hike follows Sulfur Creek for 5 miles through a deep red rock canyon and involves crossing the creek numerous times as we head downstream. I was told by a ranger that there was one spot where we would have wade through a deep pool, but otherwise it was to be an easy hike.

So off we went until about halfway down the canyon we came to this deep pool. What the ranger didn’t tell us was that the pool was at the bottom of a 10 foot waterfall, with no way to climb down. You would have to jump or dive down into the deep pool at the bottom of that fall. Not wanting to get “that wet” in freezing water and with the air temperature around 50 degrees we opted to turn around and head back to the trailhead. So 2-1/2 miles down, 2-1/2 back.

Of course, once at the trailhead the truck is parked at the end of the hike so we had another 3 miles of treking down the highway. We tried hitchhiking but I guess we must have looked like dangerous grandparents as no one stopped to pick us up.

Thursday, October 01, 2009


After Elko, we headed east towards Utah. First an overnight stop in Fillmore, before arriving at Kodachrome Basin State Park. Located a short distance from Bryce Canyon, it’s a great location for exploring Bryce and the surrounding area. We were here last year in a tent, with nighttime temperatures in the mid 20’s. This time it’s been in the 90’s during the day and mid 40’s at night, although the weather report calls for it being cooler with possible snow showers later in the week.

We checked out Bull Valley Gorge, a very deep slot canyon. The road crosses over the gorge on a narrow natural bridge with the gorge dropping off on each side. I you look closely in the photograph you can see what’s left of an early 50’s pickup truck. Three men were killed when in 1954 their truck somehow fell off the road and into the gorge. The truck became forever suspended above the gorge bottom when it became stuck in the narrow crevice. Look for the chrome front bumper with the tire directly below it.


We also walked down and back up the picturesque Willis Creek where it is only a few feet wide. There are so many canyons like these in this part of Utah, it’s doubtful that you could see them all. Of course some require mountaineering skills as the only way into them is by repelling.


We spent part of a day hiking down into Bryce Canyon. The hikes are on maintained trails and are full of tourist. It’s sort of funny to see some of the Chinese and Japanese tourist who arrive by the bus load. The women dressed in their sequined blouses and sandals trek down into the canyon right beside the German tourist who arrived in rented motor homes and are wearing their hiking boots and backpacks. The sights are fantastic though as evidence by the 65 photographs I took.