Good Geode Hunting

The theme of this week’s hike was geode hunting.  Following directions down an unmaintained forest road we found ourselves just north of  the Mexican Border at an abandoned corral.  2017-09-02_13-15-43_0002017-09-02_13-11-37_000The summer rains have filled the canyon with life.2017-09-02_13-21-20_000.jpegCaterpillars and butterflies everywhere.  2017-09-02_13-55-46_000

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2017-09-02_13-32-24_000There is a slight breeze gently whispers through the valley.  We have our picnic in quiet reverence.

Time to find what we came for. The hike up the canyon is beautiful and we are looking for a 90 degree turn north where a geode collecting area is located. The suspense hunting for treasure is exciting.  2017-09-02_13-25-20_000I turned & jumped when I saw this Chupacabra…2017-09-02_13-40-49_000 It’s just G holding up a COW PELVIS. Gross.  Of course he wants to take it home. “You could make something from it!” No no no. Nope. No….Sigh.

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The canyon is beautiful.

So far the hike is the treasure. 2017-09-02_13-27-54_000We aren’t sure what we are looking for.  About 100 yards past the 90 degree turn in the canyon north, rocks  peppered with small geodes are everywhere.2017-09-02_13-48-47_000

There are big holes in the cliff walls where large geodes were removed.  It’s so hard to get them out. Someone had better tools than we are using.

It takes a really, really long time to chip out with a pick. Now we have a few little geodes to cut & polish…2017-09-02_13-29-19_000…and beautiful memories.2017-09-03_15-38-11_238

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A very photogenic calf. 

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Sand Between My Toes

2017-08-18_06-42-01_454 (1)Two weeks ago we took off for Puerto Penasco Mexico. Selfish with the beach we travel just as school starts and before a major holiday it is a guarantee that we will encounter few other travelers.  2017-08-18_14-14-28_155We set up our RV by 11am and head to town to a favorite restaurant.  The tide is extremely high and we enjoy hours of great food and drink with an unmatched view.

 

2017-08-18_15-06-49_504The ocean’s rhythm washing away months of stress.

Long walks on the beach with the tide out seem to be mandatory as we are drawn to explore tide pools and ever-changing sand.

2017-08-20_13-59-33_518.pngThese parents have found a creative way to keep their children occupied for hours building a spectacular fort.  2017-08-19_07-52-04_000Later squeals of joy as the tide washes their work away.

2017-08-19_08-03-44_000Time moves slowly, effortlessly.

2017-08-18_12-36-30_867Then there is the shopping.   My favorite store is Mercedes Rusticos but it is closed this weekend.  We wander next door to this shop that has been here for as long as I can remember. The owner says 30 years and some of the items seem to have been here just that long.2017-08-20_10-01-42_466.jpegThe view from the 3rd story after climbing a rickety stair/ladder is spectacular.

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Rooftop

 

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Sometimes the shopping comes to you.

Don’t forget to stop and get a fresh coco…

It’s even an adventure at the grocery store with entirely different cuts of meat, giant watermelon, and the biggest bag of Cheetos ever.

Moments later we are back on the beach with our feet up, cool drink in hand watching the beach activities of the day.  The importance of doing nothing to refresh one’s soul. All  I need is this sand between my toes.

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Creature below exhales water and sand leaving beautiful patterns. This one is very semetrical.

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Footprints
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Nogales Sonora Mexico Has My Heart

As long as I can remember I loved trips to Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. We lived a mere 70 miles north of the Mexican border and the ever-changing City of Nogales.  We had traveled through on our way to  Guaymas many times when I was a child but only stopped long enough to obtain a visa and move on.  It seemed as soon as we crossed the border, life immediately changed.5457530386_195d144b37_z (2)

We often crossed at night so I had to strain to see the city as dimly lit buildings flashed past the open truck window.  Delicious smoke from open fire grills and outdoor stoves made me want to stop and stay with the families.   Later my older sister would be allowed to take a high school trip with her friends and returned with colorful stories and fancy souvenirs.

e40118b9-c3ca-4c1b-a63c-71c6cd2ac294It would be years until I would be old enough for my parents to let me go on my own. Nogales offered just what I needed as a teen in the 70’s. Leather shops, blankets hanging in the sidewalks, colorful wood carvings and ceramics everywhere. Now mixed with the delicious smell of Mexican food and firewood was leather, wood and hot blankets in the sun.

Since then we have made several friends, visited houses on the cliffs, stayed too long, not long enough…Nogales.  I love the smells of this city.  We found a Cantina on a back road with chicken cooking on a grill outside and the smell was AMAZing!  There were many locals waiting in line for their order.   img_7486A friendly man saw me taking pictures and came out to tell us that yesterday the streets were flooded with 5 or 6 meters of rain. He showed us the pictures of the arches across the street barely above the waterline.  I didn’t get his pictures but below is the picture of the approaching storm. We are all  hoping it would not flood like yesterday.  Shops were ready with sandbags and everyone was optimistic.  img_7490It seems Nogales has grown up right along with me. Medical tourism is now a large source of income. Pharmacies and dental offices line the streets where blankets once hung over sidewalks.  Medication may cost less than half here.  My favorite dentist is here.  We like to wander before and after appointments.  Of course one MUST stop at La Roca to eat.

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A view of La Roca from the bridge.
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La Roca Entrance to the courtyard.

38dd285c-2b07-4c4e-af28-8809742fe74fThe plaza is cool and inviting.  6c69007c-93d2-4aab-8263-e7fd0089eee5Bright Colors and art adorn the sidewalks.77260f39-1ba3-4a04-bdaf-98714bf68cb4Walking back over the bridge we are above the lines of cars crossing the border from Mexico into the USA.2f29a39b-c9cf-49bf-9bfd-fee19d8b2685There are still some  tourist shops.  These young men played dominoes to pass the time during the slow summer season.  The  intense one on the right is winning.  img_7498Curios still line the streets as traffic leaves Mexico to enter the US.1224fedd-a706-43eb-84e0-80b29868354aOld meets new.  edbbbc13-bc6c-4d50-b1ae-cab02932d616

05fd4559-4044-45ff-ade2-f6c0a6c5ec7eThere is a feeling when I cross the border through the turnstyle, walking on slick tile, then the bricks, past the chatter of the taxi drivers,  toward the main street of  Obregon.  Although the city changes with the needs of the tourists, the people and the city we love stays the same.  Nogales, Sonora, Mexico.

Row Of The Mighty

Traveling east on I 10 from Tucson there is a MIGHTY unusual sight.  Miles and miles of train engines coupled together.  They have been there for months.

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Did I say miles?  YES it’s miles.  They stand like regal soldiers and like faces, no two seem to be the same. Some carry scars and scrapes & some polished to pampered perfection.

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We have seen this sight several times over months and each time I wonder at the magnitude of the meandering yellow line.

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I asked a railroad man why these giants of metal and deisel have been exiled to the dry AZ desert.  It seems sad that the once proud  engines have been retired as they are no longer needed.  Knowing this felt lonely as I wander along the tracks listening to the wind creak between them like metal whispers.

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Pondering this idea and feeling  watched, I touch them one by one and imagine their journey. It seems like I have been walking a long time to find the end and beginning.Soon I come to a bridge that I can cross under.    I cautiously approached the underpass and find this graffiti which confirms everything.

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ALWAYS WATCHING…

Suddenly a swarm of wasps from the largest nest I have ever seen attacks.    Wasps make excellent train engine guards.

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I couldn’t help the opportunity to lie on the tracks in front of a train just this one time as I say goodbye.

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Zion For Days

We planned several days to explore Zion and still not enough time.  Choosing to enter from the East end of the park was a great decision for us. The RV site located less than a mile from the entrance was much less crowded than the Hotels and camping areas to the west.
I would recommend the Hi-Road Campground for  convenience and surrounding beauty.


However, a rake and a little maintenance would go a long way. WiFi only in the laundry room/showers only and sites were not policed for trash and debris. Even though conveniently located just off the highway, the traffic simply stops around 8pm when the National Park closes. Very dark and quiet.  Great for a cozy fire & stargazing.

 Hiking, hiking, hiking for all skill levels.   Starting at the visitors center, and with the help of some knowledgable park rangers, we were able to find exciting and challenging trails.


On one of the trails we were approached by a barefoot young man and his very friendly dog named Bogart. We chatted for a while learning he was from Maryland and how sad he was that  he had to be  back at work in 10 days.  We played with Bogart and listened to his stories about traveling across the US in an RV aloneand the people he met along the way. He gave us directions up the dry riverbed to a lovely area. We said our goodbyes and headed out.
About half way through the hike under a ledge we saw a piece of paper flapping in the breeze on a jar full of green buds and flakes. It had rained the day before so we knew the note was freshly placed.  G investigated and the note said “From Me to You”   Inside the note  went on “Trainwreck, use at your own risk!  ENJOY!” We laughed and surmised that our new friend fashioned himself as some sort of modern-day Johnny Appleseed, and whatever “Trainwreck” was he wanted to share.  We left it for the next person to discover.
A storm moved in the next day creating an eerie fog near the peaks of the mountains.
We were excited to see the water in action. Whichever one of us was driving the passenger was on waterfall patrol.​
Sometimes we are lead to a place and we don’t know why. West of the park we pulled in to discover the Fort Zion Virgin Trading Post.



I have to say it was one of our most colorful stops!  We enjoyed the quirky buildings outside. They even have a petting zoo.  It is a definite must see!!  Be sure to save time  for some Homemade Ice Cream after  a yummy lunch at the restaurant.
We asked about the area and were introduced to the Owner, Andy.  We talked for about 90 minutes and were fascinated by his interesting stories.   One I can share was about the Coyote Dance. The indigenous people of the area believe that on  full moons Coyote’s gather high on a certain mesa and dance in a circle to celebrate their strength and victories.  Andy and a friend were hunting on top of a mesa in the area and came across disturbed ground in a circle  around a some brush. He whipped out his phone and showed us pictures of the circle and zoomed in on what surely seemed to be coyote footprints.1087535980Here’s the coincidence; One of G’s favorite artists is  Robbie Robertson to whom he listens every morning during workouts. His favorite song is Coyote Dance.     <Click on the link to listen.Ahhh Beautiful Zion, I will see you again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The North Rim Made Me Cry

As many times as I have been to the South Rim, hiked down in to and  rafted through the Grand Canyon, I had never been to the North Rim.  I’m so glad we took the time. It is truly hard to explain the experience of such a wonder. We started by just relaxing and mapping out our hiking day at the Grand Canyon Lodge viewing patio. Plan on spending some down time here! 
Someone pointed out a peregrine falcon soaring over head. At one time there were only 70 in existence.  This male peregrine is banded with a metal leg band 7/X black over green.  The band code identified him as breeding 4 miles from his natal territory on Elkins Marsh on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Photo by Barton Paxton.Now thanks to the efforts of the National Park Service conservation there are over 400.

 

 

A tourist bus exploding with nylon tracksuits &oversized  visors  poured out just as we started down the trail  This interesting lady had just the hat for the occasion!

 (Go Dog Go quote “Do you like my hat?”) 
I recommend taking a lunch and eat at one of the high tables on the  observation deck. We did and enjoyed the view and the fresh air.  The lines for the one restaurant can be very long and lots of people were eyeballing my hoagie and pasta salad. We decided to head out to  Cape Royal. On the way we witnessed the devastation of a forest fire from years ago. Young Aspen trees have taken over where Ponderosa Pine trees once stood.  Soon the burned areas of the North Rim will be covered with lush Aspen trees. I was so Excited to see Window Rock!  I have always wondered where it was.  Walking on top of it is interesting. There is a 3′ wide by 4′ long rock to walk over to the point.  Both sides are straight down for a very long way. We noticed many people waiting on more solid ground for their friends.  No matter how their friends coaxed they wouldn’t venture out. Having never heard of Cape Royal I thought it was probably rocks that looked like a castle. I was soooo wrong. Cape Royal made me cry.  We walked along the twisted juniper path bundled in jackets because we were near 9000 feet elevation and there is still snow on the ground.  The people coming toward us on the path were silent.  Most smiled and nodded.  Thinking perhaps it was trail etiquette we stayed quiet too.  About a half mile later we turned a corner to a 270-degree view like I cannot describe.I couldn’t move.  Just as I gasped a cold breeze pushed extra air into my lungs.  My eyes filled with tears while my mind tried to accept this view.  No picture can capture that moment.  I tried.

 

We stayed for quite a while.  I wish I could stay forever.

On our way down we wanted to shout to the people coming up the path -“just wait! It’s so beautiful! You’re gonna CRY!” Instead we were silent, smiled knowingly and nodded.

Stop Locking Your Love On Bridges 

I have an unreasonable fear of bridges.
This includes bridge like structures such As the Eiffel Tower; which G points out stress cracks and rusty bolts holding thousands of tourists a day.  It’s like Gabriel Iglesias says about when a 400 pound person is getting on an elevator and we begin to calculate weights of the passengers.

This is how I see it.

The Navajo Bridge is now abandoned to cars which does not make me feel safer. I know that engineers spend their lives calculating the weights and measures on these projects. That’s why I started this by saying my fear is unreasonable.  Now this bridge is an attraction to take pictures like this:

and this:

I realize I am about half way and think I can always jump to the emerald water below if the bridge under my feet gives way.  The heros of ALL action movies hang on to the correct piece of rope/wood/steel and swing to safety.  Only bad guys fall to their deaths.  Then I see this sign which makes me question everything.

Perhaps the jump isn’t survivable so I hold on tightly to the rail and distract myself with the locks couples put on bridges now as a symbol of their love.  I do NOT want to put a love lock on the bridge because the engineers didn’t plan on that extra weight did they lovers?

Holding onto the rail I find this etched from 2010.

I know there is a story here so I Google the name.  Good to know he survived.