Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Will it fit? (Home Day 2)

We went through everything and eliminated anything that wasn't essential to purpose. We packed and repacked, trying consolidated and rearranging to take up the least space.

Today was the practice run to learn if it all could fit in the car while we slept in the back. I loaded everything in to the front seat and it didn't fit. I took everything out. I loaded the foldable lawn chairs, tripods, and camera bags in the gap between the front seats and the folded down back seats. They fit. Next I loaded the suitcases onto the front passenger seat. They fit. Lastly, I loaded the tent bag and back packs onto the driver's seat. They fit!

We can sleep in the car . . . without removing everything in the car.

Tomorrow: try to clean the interior car of the debri and fine dust.

PS: The weather is still cold and wet in Wyoming. We are glad we decided to wait for the weather to clear.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Clutter (Home Day 1)

We took so much stuff to the Grand Canyon that in order to sleep in the car at Death Valley, we had to unload everything into a picnic table. I though about adding a roof top carrier to the car, but then we couldn't go through car washes.

Clearly, we had to de clutter. Peter Walsh suggests asking, "Does this item or thought or response move me closer to my vision for my best life? If it does, great. If it doesn't, what is it doing in your life?"

So, we went through everything. I simplified my wardrobe and decided to take only navy blue sweatshirts that match everything. Only four changes of clothes. No jewelry. The average precipitation in Yellowstone is only about 1.5 inches in the months that we will be there, so no rain boots.

However, the biggest cut eliminates 1 suitcase of tools, 2 totes of canisters, and 1 camp stove. We haven't cooked in camp in years and aren't bringing the supplies on the off chance that we want to cook. Luckily, the utensil, fuel, and stove were purchased from REI within the last year, so we were able to return them.

If we can't reduce everything so that it can fit inside the car while we are sleeping, we'll need to buy a tail veil To put the excess in. More stuff to hold the stuff!

Tomorrow, we gave a practice run at fitting things in the car.

Meanwhile, the fine soil from the Grand Canyon clung to the tent footprints, so Mule ended up washing them in the washing machine. They came out clean.

I started cleaning the inside of the car, but it still has debri and fine dust. it's going to be a challenge. Last night, I tried using sticky tape on the passenger front seat floor; but since then I lost the roll of tape. :)

At least, we washed it, so it won't become dirty car art.

Monday, April 28, 2014

An Audience (Day 17)

While we were camping, early in the morning, we heard sounds outside the tent and that it was leaves or the breeze against the tent. Maybe birds. Today, we got up at 5:30 and discovered that our tent was pitched in the runway of early morning rabbits.

We decided to get an early start and head home by the quickest route, maybe making it in one day, maybe two. Even though we had packed the car last night, it took two hours to dismantle and pack the tent, sleeping bags, and therm-a-rests.

While in the final stages of taking dozen the tent, Mule had an audience.

Finally at 7:30, we drove out. We stopped once for gas for the car and 2 Taco Bell burrito supremes for Mule. He ate them in the car then we dropped non-stop through Bakersfield. On Hwy 58, we refueled then at the I-5 junction ate at Denny's.

From there, we drive straight home and pulled into our driveway, having even gone 17 days.

We plan to leave again in May.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Relaxing (Day 16)

I wanted toast for breakfast so we went to a Best Western that we discovered at Ghe edge of town. After breakfast, Mule walked out to Shoshone Point, where there are covered and uncovered picnic tables. Meanwhile, I read in the quiet parking entrance to the trail. Afterwards we went to the 5:00 dinner seating at Best Western.

The temperatures are in the teens in Wyoming and a Yellowstone ranger suggested waiting to come in June (at which time we also have reservations).

Also, I had had the blogs of other people doing the same thing. It seemed most simplified and took less after they got some experience. So, I packed minimal . . . I thought. We have too much stuff and it's getting in our way. I'd like to go home to drop some of it off.

So, if the tent is dry tomorrow, we might drive home. If I don't tired out, I'd like to do it in one day. It's a 12 1/2 hr drive, going by way of Hwy 40 to Barstow.

Two elk bulls were grazing on a strip of lawn at the front of Best Western. One photographer walked closer and closer. An elk pawed the ground. The photographer walked closer. The elk started to charge. The photographer backed off.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Where's the Pony Express? (Day 15)

We asked the Grand Canyon Village how to receive mail General Delivery.

Employee A pointed to a sign and said "Your name, % General Delivery, Grand Canyon, Arizona, 86023"' which was the same address as on the sign.

So, we ordered our camera parts on Thursday and paid the extra charge for two business day delivery.

Hopefully, we went in on Saturday. it wasn't there. Since the store is closed on Fridays, we weren't even sure that it would be mailed before Monday.

Nevertheless, we returned on Monday. Still no package. Same thing on Tuesday, but I received a notice saying it had been shipped, which meant to me that I should receive it by Thursday. Thursday, still no package. But, by then I had received an e-mail from the vendor with the tracking number and so I was able to look up it's status.

The address is incompete? What the heck?

So, I look it up on-line and it appears that there are two post offices at the Grand Canyon: the one at Grand Canyon Village and one at north rim. So, I call the vendor and he adds Grand Canyon Village and the post office phone number to the UPS address.

Since, it's in Flagstaff, we figure that it will be delivered on Friday.

Friday, we return and Employee A says "'We don't have anything for you." Then adds, "UPS doesn't like to deliver to General Delivery."

It's starting to appear that we won't receive the package.

Next, I receive a tracking e-mail stating that it had been delivered and signed for.

I return to the post office. Employee A says it has't been received. I say it was signed for by xxxxx. Employee A replies, "Well, we get about 200 packages and haven't sorted them yet. We're open tomorrow 11-1."

In the afternoon, we again return, just in case they finished sorting.

The Employee B says, 'the package isn't here.'

I reply 'It was signed for by xxxx.'

Employee A, "Oh, well, he is in Xanterra Purchasing."

Next, we find an Xanterra employee, who offers to guide us to XanterraPurchasing and there is our little package. :)

So, that was all Friday. Today is Saturday and I'm still recovering.

Here's today's forecast. Mule thinks it's beautiful and grand.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Oh Oh (Day 14)

By the time Mule returned for taking sunset shots, I was feeling nausea. It didn't take long for the situation to become worse. Every 20 minutes, shaking, extreme abdominal cramps with the consequences. By morning, I was dehydrated, but couldn't keep water down. Mule notified the ranger, who called the ambulance.

The emergency workers were so gentle and nice and seemed to be happy in their jobs. Soon, I was transported

the Grand Canyon clinic, where the staff was also very gentle and nice.

Three or four people tried multiple places to draw blood and find a vein for a saline solution. Unfortunately, I was too dehydrated. So, they gave me Zortac pills (which dissolve on the tongue) to calm the nausea and I rested there for a few hours before returning to camp to finish recuperating. It could have been either a virus or food poisioning. I think food poisioning.

The new Columbia hat.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Transient (Day 13)

This morning, we tried to heat a regular coffee pot, using the power inverter. The water was heating, but the inverter cord became so hot that I pulled the plug. That's ok. I sat in the deli, drinking hot cocoa with whipped cream, and getting ready to settle into my novel.

We still haven't used the camp stove. We get up around 6:00 in the morning and it's too cold to want to mess with the stove. We return home just before dark and are exhausted. We're considering shipping it home. It feels like we have way too much stuff. Maybe I'll look through everything one more time, to see what can be shipped home. I brought some editing workbooks with me, but I'm usually too tired to want to read them. Maybe I'll ship them home.

The northwest winds dropped to 15 miles per hour; the predicted low for the day is 25 degrees, the high 60 degrees. Sky is covered with white clouds so Mule didn't want to take pictures. It's beginning to look like that's a typical weather pattern, cloudy in the morning and maybe clear off in the afternoon. It takes a week to see the rim; but for photography, extra time is needed to account for days whited out by clouds, windy with dust, etc.

We took the shuttle to Hopi Pt and Mohave so theta Mule could select where he wanted to be for his sunset shot. Then we ate at the Miswoki Lodge. Afterwards, I was tired and so waited in the CRV while went back to take some sunset shots.

The Grand Canyon feels more of a transient park than Yosemite. The lodges don't have comfortable lounges (like Yosemite's Ahawnee and Curry Village) with fireplaces that visitors sit around and visit, read, check email, etc. Most of the other campers seem to stay for only one or two nights.

However, the shuttle bus services most of the rim, except the eastern rim. The drivers are fun and tell interesting stories.

We got acquainted with two more services, under less than delightful circumstances.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Vehicles (Day 12)

Wind gusts were about 30-35 miles an hour today, so we relaxed all day, which was nice. We've seen everything, so we get to meander around, just enjoying the sites, reading, meeting new people.

I met another couple who are also on a camping road trip. They have a car the size of an Honda Odyseey. They also have a hard car top carrier. We should have purchased one; and, if I can find a convenient place, I'm going to buy one. They also had their car painted with a colorful mural. I wish I had taken a picture of it,

Like the Jucy rentals, they have a kitchen in the back of the car. We don't need the kitchen and in Wyoming, I don't want the car to smell like food and invite the bears to break into it. It's interesting that Jucy restricts travel to Alaska and Death Valley, but not to bear country.

Their queen size bed unfolds when the front seat moves forward. When not sleeping, they have stuff stored on it. Instead of having an extra queen size bed on top of the car, they had a hard top carrier. I'm going to buy one as soon as it becomes convenient. We have too much stuff to sleep in the car with the everything in it and I don't like leaving it exposed outside of the car while we sleep . . . both due to potential theft or poisonous reptiles and insects looking for a warm place to slumber.

The, like the woman we met yesterday, are traveling at a much faster pace than us. Going from Arizona, up to Canada, and down the Pacific Coast in a mere two months. Having read the blogs for the past year and a half, a message that seem clear is to slow down and enjoy the surroundings.

Cruise America is the other popular rental that we see. It comes for 3, 5, and 7 people and appears to have all the comforts of home. The blogs have included people downsizing from an RV to van that has been converted to a mini-RV. The problem with RC's, 5th wheels, and trailers is that not all sites can accommodate them so it is less likely that a camping site will be available.

And, of course many other choices . . .

Including. The modified Mercedes Sprinter ..

And, our personal favorite . . .

Come join the fun!

Mishaps today: 0

Wildlife seen: (Mule has never heard of counting wildlife and thinks it's a funny thing to do. My family also counted wildlife, so it's second nature to me. Today we saw

1 herd of 13 antlerless elk
1 group of 3 black tailed does

Times we've used the camp stove so far: 0

Monday, April 21, 2014

Housekeeping (Day 11)

Even camping in a six person tent has housekeeping detail. (Our tent by the way has more square feet than some of the houses on

We've used up some supplies (Kleenex, cokes, etc) and mailed some things home. So we took everything out and reorganized it. For clothing, instead of having like things together (shirts), I grouped it by outfits into mesh bags. (Each of my outfits has three layers, a colored tee-shirt, short sleeved blouse, and sweatshirt. Mule only wears short sleeve polo type shirts. Sometimes, we both wear a coat.) And, of course, along with housekeeping is laundry day.

Following that, we spent the day in camp, reading, watching the elk.

Before coming, I wrote to the park rangers and asked about bear lockers. The ranger replied that at the Grand Canyon, not bears, but ravens are the problem. Today, the ravens decided they had been invited to breakfast at the site next to us. They walked around the table, selecting their tidbits, scattering and tearing apart paper and foil, overturning and scattering silverware. One found what looked to be a half a loaf of French bread and had quite a time breaking it apart.

Meanwhile, the elk grazed, looking as gentle as a horse. But, I restrained myself from going over to hug and pet them.

I met the first person on the trip who is traveling similar to us. She's traveling in a camper and said that the disadvantage is that whenever she moves the truck, she has to bungee cord or tie everything down. We gave her some maps and may see her further up the trail, although it is doubtful because she doesn't stay in one place as long as us. She's making the circuit of the National Parks in California, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Washington, and Oregon. Whew! makes me tired just thinking about that much moving.

I checked the weather forecast. It's in the teens in one of the places that we're planning on visiting. I hope it warms up.

From the comments I received, my opinion of rattlesnakes seems fairly common. Avoid, avoid, avoid them. But, my dad can remember him and his father walking through a nest of rattlesnakes without getting bit. I read today that only one person has died from a rattlesnake in the Grand Canyon. The snake coiled, shook it's rattles, the man stepped back, had a heart attack from fear, and died. Nevetheless, my light goes with me at night. More people fall into the canyon than die from rattlesnakes.

Mishaps today: 0 I hope. I may have mailed an unsigned check. I hope not.

Pictures taken today: 0 The attached ones are from yesterday's walk on the Rim Trail. The subjects remain the same, just different angles and lighting. Mules sorting through the photos to-date, deleting some.

Times we've used the camp stove: 0

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Rim Trail (Day 11)

Last night, a guy yelled, "WOW" and woke me up. Mule said a mixed gender group arrived, built a campfire, and had a party. I said, "Maybe it was a church group setting up before sunrise service." He replied that the conversation was too rough for that. They kept him awake while I slept peacefully. Then finally a guy came to pick them up and they left. Hmmm, Rattlesnake night before last; party last night. I think I'm sleeping sounder than Mule.

Today, for the first time on this trip, we saw elk with antlers.

There are six lodges on the south rim of the Grand Canyon:

El Tovar, which was designed to resemble an European hunting lodge and which was decorated by Mary Coulter. It has 78 rooms on the canyon rim, two gift shops, and a restaurant. It hosted Albert Einstein and Presidents Ford and Clinton.

Kachina and Thunderbird lodges are on the west side of El Tovar. They are contemporary with 104 rooms.

West of the above two lodges are a soda - ice cream fountain, gift shop, and Bright Angel Lodge. Bright Angel Lodge was designed by Mary Coulter. It has 39 rooms and 50 cabins just a few feet from the rim. It also has restaurants, a gift shop, and a history room.

On the east side of El Tovar is the Hopi building (also designed by Mary Coulter) which contains Native American goods and art gallery. Next to it is the VerKamp Visitor Center which includes a gift - souvenir shop.

There are two additional lodges on the south rim: Maswik (278 motel rooms and rustic summer cabins, lounge, and cafeteria ;1/4 mile from the rim) and Yavapai (358 modern rooms and cafeteria; 1/2 mile from the rim).

This morning, we walked the rim trail from the VerKemp Visitor Center to Bright Angle Lodge (we also walked I yesterday). It's only about 1/4 mile.

Above: VerKemp Visitor Center
Below: El Tavor, which is designed to resemble a European hunting lodge.

Below: The Hopi Building, designed by Mary Coulter

Below: Bright Angel Lodge

Above:. The geological fireplace in the Bright Angel Lodge history room was designed by Mary Coulter and mirrors a cross section of the canyon's geology. The top layer is composed of Kaibab Limestone, 270 million years old and the youngest stone in the Grand Canyon. The layer below it is composed of thin stones of the Paleozoic Layers (270-525 million years old). The layer below the thin stones is the Grand Canyon Supergroup (740-1250 million years old). The Vishnu Schist (1.7 billion years old) from the inner gorge is. single dark stone. The fireplace is typical of Coulter attention to detail. (In some of the buildings, she even added soot and cobwebs.)

After walking that part of the Rim Trail, we decided to walk from Mather Point to Yavapai Point (.7 miles). When we reached Yavapai, we considered either returning to the village or walking the remaining 1.7 miles to El Tovar. We were short on water and the water station at Yavapai didn't work. The bookstore staff at Yavapai said that there was another water station on the trail that may work and so we set out . . . A little concerned. I didn't have a hat.

And, discovered the cold spring water spigot worked!

We continued to walk

And walk. It was very slow due to stopping to look at the vista, read the trail interpretation signs about the rocks, and take pictures.

Sometimes, there were benches . . .

in the sun. When we finally came to one in the shade, it was taken and the couple looked like they had settled in for long leisurely Easter rest.

Then we found some rocks in the shade. Ahhhhhh. Mule's hat is no longer on his head, because he gave it to the hatless person. But, on the other hand, it was originally her hat . . . before he lost two hats in Yosemite and she gave it to him.

We completed the maintained part of the rim trail and I took a picture to prove it.

Walked back down the El Tovar steps

And took the shuttle bus to Market Plaza Deli.

where we bought 2 new tan Columbia hats. (Mule's green one has no ventilation and is intended for rainy weather.) I see now why couple begin to wear matching clothes. They shop at the same store for the same purpose :)

Mishaps: 0

Times we have used our camp stove: 0

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Rim Trail: VanKamp to Bright Angel Lodge and Elk (Day 10)

We walked the rim trail from the VerKamp Visitor Center to Bright Angel Lodge. While doing so, the predicted rain arrived, so Mule didn't get many rim pictures. However, I had finished photographing the buildings.

To sit out the storm, we went to the canyon deli, ate chili bread bowl (soft bread, not the sour dough of Boudini's), sorted through pictures, and I wrote the blog. Having extra time, I decided to delete posts from last year that I didn't post. With this program, you're supposed to select edit, then the minus sign next to the post that you want to delete. Instead, I hit the recycle button and deleted all unposted entries. I had done this once before, so as soon as I hit the icon, I realized what I had done. Unfortunately, the IPad doesn't have a recycle bin. The pictures of the buildings and post I had written for today was gone. I'll retake the photographs of the building when Mule returns to take more pictures of that part of the rim.

In the meantime . . .

We've been learning about the Grand Canyon elk which are quite comfortable around people and cars, and think nothing of crossing or rambling down the road.

According to a ranger, the mule deer were not imported. However, the elk were imported to nearby areas from Yellowstone in the 1920's then migrated to the park.

Meanwhile, the wolf population declined to six then by breeding with other canines increased to seventy - other much smaller creatures. However, they aren't a major predator of the elk. The mountain lions (also known as cougars and panthers) are the major predation. I wonder if there will eventually be an overpopulation problem leading to elk starving as happened in Yellowstone.

At any rate, the bulls antlers are beginning to come in and will eventually be as much as 5-6 feet high and 5-6 feet across. However, we haven't seen any antlers. The cows drop their calves anytime in the spring, but we haven't seen any yet. That's all I learned about elk.

The monthly Grand Canyon blog states that the poisonous creatures are out and Mule thought he heard a rattlesnake last night, so I'm back to using a light at night. We had been going by moonlight. The blog states "If you or a hiking companion is bitten by a rattlesnake, quickly move away from the snake and stay calm. The area of the bite may swell dramatically, so remove any tight clothing or jewelry. Nearly a third of rattlesnake bites are nonvenomous, “dry” bites, but you’ll need to assume the worst, so clean the wound, and evacuate the patient as soon as possible. Do not use a Sawyer Extractor or other snake bite kit as it has been shown that they do little good and can cause more damage to the tissue around the area of the bite. Do not apply cold, do not administer pain killers, do not give alcohol to the victim, and don’t apply a tourniquet. Immobilize and splint the wound, and then evacuate."

Per the National Park Service, "A herd of bison was brought to the Grand Canyon region in the early 1900s and has been managed since 1950 by the AGFD in the House Rock Wildlife Area (HRWA) on the Kaibab National Forest through an interagency agreement with the USFS.

"During the late 1990s, the bison began "pioneering" up to the top of the Kaibab Plateau and into GCNP. A combination of public hunt pressure, drought and fire, and reduced forage quality in House Rock Valley during the 1990s may have contributed to the bison moving through Saddle Mountain Wilderness and onto the higher elevations of the Kaibab Plateau. Over the past several years, very few bison have returned to HRWA and most now spend a majority of their time inside the park, with many not leaving GCNP.

"Since 2008, a workgroup consisting of staff from GCNP, AGFD, and USFS has been addressing research needs related to impacts of the bison herd on GCNP resources, and potential management tools, as well as administrative and operational challenges of long-term cooperative management. Also in 2008, the Department of the Interior (DOI) chartered a Bison Conservation Initiative to improve bison management amongst its various bureaus, including the National Park Service. These efforts are ongoing and NPS is now initiating development of a long-term, coordinated approach to manage the current and future impacts of bison on natural and cultural resources of GCNP while supporting AGFD, USFS and BLM goals for management of a free-ranging bison population outside the park.

"Stakeholder input is a central and critical part of this planning process," stated Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga. "We look forward to engaging interested members of the public, other agencies, tribes, and organizations to get their ideas. We appreciate the on-going collaboration of the U.S. Forest Service, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, and look forward to working with the Bureau of Land Management as we work through this process."

Mishaps: 2

Deleted my blog post and building pictures.
We're still driving past our campground when we return at night. This time I realized it as soon as I turned off Market Plaza road onto Hwy 67' which exits the park. Maybe tomorrow I'll finally get it right. The signs are small print and difficult to read even in the day. A road construction guy said that the signs are being replaced with larger signs.

On the bright side, the camera and lens haven't had any more mishaps :)

Below: From the Rim Trail, between the El Tovar Lodge and VanKamp Visitor Center

Friday, April 18, 2014

Orange Route - Blue Route (Day 9)

We stopped at the Visitors Center. The projector is broken so we didn't see the film. But, we looked at the exhibits and a ranger answered my questions about the rim trails.

The Rim Trail passes through piƱon pine forests, connecting the scenic vistas between Pipe Creek Vista (on the east side) and Hermit's Rest (on the west side). The trail is paved from Pipe Creek to Maricopa. Of the paved trail only the portion from Yavapi Point to Bright Angel Lodge is wheel-chair accessible. The remainder of the paved trail is steep. (In order to avoid irritating my back, I avoid trails with an incline.) From Maricopa Point to Hermit's Rest, portions of the trail are not maintained. May be difficult to follow, are close to the edge, and lack protective railing.

We rode the Orange shuttle route and stopped at South Kaibab Trailhead, Yakima Point, and Mather Point vistas. We skipped Pipe Creek Vista because we already stopped there when we stopped at the Desert View vistas.

Yavapai Point includes the Geology Museum. Scientists chose the location as the best spot to view and understand the Grand Canyon's geology. The maps and other exhibits clearly display which layers of the canyons are from each era. It states that anything within the last 270 million years has eroded away (this includes the time of the dinosaurs). There are additional missing millions of years.

Having seen all of the vistas, Mule said that he prefers the Desert View (east ones during the day because the heavy shadows hinder good sunset shots. He likes the Hermit's Rest vistas (west side) for sunset shots.

We visited to Lookout Studio and Kolb Studio then relaxed instead of shooting the sunset.

Mishaps: 0

"In the Grand Canyon there are thousands of gorges like that below Niagara Falls and there are thousands of Yosemite's. Yet all of these canyons combine to form one Grand Canyon, the most sublime spectacle on the earth." John Wesley Powell, 1895. Only a speck of the national park is accessible without going into the backcountry.

Above: Lookout Studio.

Mary Coulter designed Phantom Ranch in 1922. She also designed four structures on the South Rim: Hopi (1905), Lookout Studio (1914), Desert View Watch Tower (1932), Bright Angel Lodge (1935). She also decorated the El Tovar Hotel. The Bright Angel Lodge became the model for National Park Service rustic and Mary is credited for inspiring the Pueblo Deco style. (Underwood designed The Yosemite Ahwahnee
and the Grand Canyon's north rim lodge.)

Below: Kolb Studio with Mule in the foreground