Monday, April 23, 2012

Things We’ve Learned… Take 3

1. Darlene can not turn a corner, eat a banana and honk because she loves liberty all at the same time.

2. Hard water build up on your stainless steel pots got you down?  Don’t scrub.  Just cook something with a tomato base like tomato soup or baked beans.  Wipe clean and enjoy the shine.

3. With a little ingenuity and some spare time, you can experience Vegas on a tight budget.

4. Don’t lick rocks in the desert.  You could catch Valley Fever. (Rock-hound Friend – Dale)

5. And, on that same note, Nicole learned that if you are going to spit on the rock (so that you don’t have to lick it) keep an eye on which way the wind is blowing. 

6. The giant silkworm family of moths did all of their eating as caterpillars because once they become a moth they have no mouth.

7. Condors will eat and try to digest trash and will feed it to their young.  Pick up after yourselves!

8. Food just tastes better when it’s cooked and eaten in the van or outside.

9. Want to see Nicole stare blankly into space.  Ask her to play the game Headbandz.  Definitely not her cup of tea.

10. Keep your eyes on the road, the trail or whatever you are walking on.  Not because you might trip but because you might be handsomely rewarded.2012-03-29 Beaver Dam Wilderness, AZ Virgin River Park (32)2012-03-29 Beaver Dam Wilderness, AZ Virgin River Park (32)
Oh yes, that’s a fiver right there under the cattle guard!  Prior to this, our biggest score on one hike was $1.86 in change.  We were pretty sure we couldn’t top $5 in one walk.  We did managed to tie it the next day though.  Yup, under the same cattle guard there lay another five spotted from a different angle.  Not sure how we’ll top $10 in two days but you can bet we are going to keep looking down.

11.  Darlene would rather be poor than sell lizards on the black market.

12.  The National Park Annual Pass for $80 is a great deal if you enjoy exploring such things.  Even in casual travel over the course of a year it will more than pay for itself several times over.

13.  Emergency Food!  It’s not just for emergencies anymore.IMG_2039 IMG_2044
This stuff is awesome.  We’ve purchased the eggs and a veggie soup base.  Pretty sure only a McDonalds hamburger can beat their opened shelf life of one year.  The flavors have been a pleasant surprise too.  Once they are ‘brought back to life’ you’d think you chopped the veggies or cracked the eggs fresh that morning.

14.  When living the way that we do, friends are not just people you rely on; they are objects too.  Objects that make themselves indispensible for frugal, practical or both reasons.  Take the following: IMG_2232

IMG_2236IMG_2235IMG_2238 A) Baking Soda – An excellent way to keep greasy residue out of your tanks.  Rub a small amount around your pot or pan (stainless steel, of course) to soak up buttery, oily or other similar residue.  Then spray a bit of vinegar and water mixture.  Let it fizzle for a bit.  Wipe it all away with a paper towel and have a happy day.  You can also reuse the same baking soda several times.

B) Non-Slip Matting – Great for being able to leave things on your countertops or to keep hanging things from swinging around so much while driving.  In our case, it also keeps our not yet screwed into place countertops from sliding off their base.   

C) The Mini O2 Cool USB Fan – This little guy was a great find at Wally World.  About $10.  He runs on a USB port which pulls less amps.  We compared him to two other 110v fans that pulled more power and he won out for quiet, compact size, air output and the cool USB feature (which also comes with 110 adapter).  There’s a USB outlet on our inverter so it’s handy for us.  The fan is actually advertised as being run while plugged into your computer which is pretty neat too.

D) Yes, that’s a Towel – The common dishtowel takes on a second use as a stove quieter while driving.  Man that rattle can get to a person!  Now, we just tuck the towel inside, lock it up and it stays quiet as a mouse on those washboard roads.

15. There is an additional tax on gasoline (and maybe other stuff, we didn’t try to find out) within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation.

16. Elevation.  Elevation.  Elevation.  Weather is elevation dependent.  Seems obvious enough if you hail from a state that has a lot of… um… elevation.  Nicole… Florida.  Darlene… Georgia.  We have learned not just to check the weather in a particular city near where we are going but to also consider the actual elevation of where we are going.  It was worth it though to see the desert covered in snow.

17. Our friend, Dale, can take a fifth wheel places most people wouldn’t take a car!

18.  The money found on a hike theory has now been expanded to … ‘If we find money as soon as we arrive at a new site, it’s got to be a good one!’  Fifteen minutes after arriving at our latest site, Nicole dug two shinny coins out of the mud.  .35 cent score and we haven’t event taken a walk or a hike.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

We Were Petrified!

We were hanging out, forty to fifty miles from anywhere, UT, with zero bars on the phone.  It was the middle-of-nowhere and it felt like it.  Then Dale suggested that we take a ride up to the top of the plateau to an old stomping ground of his to look for petrified wood. 

There was a picture of it somewhere but it isn’t turning up right now.  Did you see our last post?  Take that road and add a day of rain / snow prior.  Do you know why they call some of the surfaces in Utah ‘Slick Rock’?  We do now!

A long, slow, tail sliding toward the edge ride up, up, up to the top where the temps went from 54 to 37 and we were there.  Dale did a great job of navigating the road and we did a great job of closing our eyes at all the right times. 

He wasn’t kidding about the area.  Petrified wood everywhere!  We had an amazing time exploring and picking out a few treasures to remember the day by.  Here’s a few shots…

We’ll start off with some shots of petrified wood.  For those who haven’t seen it before, often when it breaks it winds up looking just like a pretty piece of rock.  In this particular location, we managed to see several tree stumps or trunk portions which were a bit easier to identify due to obvious bark, rings, knot holes, etc.

2012-04-15 Petrified Wood, Fry Canyon, UT (27)2012-04-15 Petrified Wood, Fry Canyon, UT (31)2012-04-15 Petrified Wood, Fry Canyon, UT (34)2012-04-15 Petrified Wood, Fry Canyon, UT (11) For a better perspective on the size of the two pieces above, see the photos below.
2012-04-15 Petrified Wood, Fry Canyon, UT (30)2012-04-15 Petrified Wood, Fry Canyon, UT (53)






2012-04-15 Petrified Wood, Fry Canyon, UT (26)2012-04-15 Petrified Wood, Fry Canyon, UT (33)
There was petrified wood everywhere!  Every shape, size, color and consistency you could think of.  Each time we thought we had seen something amazing, Dale would call to us that we just had to see what he had found around the bend.
2012-04-15 Petrified Wood, Fry Canyon, UT (28)2012-04-15 Petrified Wood, Fry Canyon, UT (99)
Colorful fragments and and entire section of fully crystallized pieces.  We would have been content to just hang out and marvel in these sections.  And then we heard it… only it was louder and with more emphasis this time… “Hey, girls!  You’re going to want to come over here!”  When we got there, Dale was way up on the hill so we started up…

2012-04-15 Petrified Wood, Fry Canyon, UT (65) He was right.  We wouldn’t have wanted to miss this!
2012-04-15 Petrified Wood, Fry Canyon, UT (69)
Does he look proud, or what?!

2012-04-15 Petrified Wood, Fry Canyon, UT (83)2012-04-15 Petrified Wood, Fry Canyon, UT (84)
We were all pretty excited as this is not something you see every day in an unprotected/natural state.  So, we took turns posing with hands on for perspective.

It was a great day followed by more great days exploring the area, taking yet another drive down a cliffhanging road (this time to search for turquoise – a search which ended at Lake Powell instead), some dry wash walking and even a little resting and relaxing here or there.  The rest of the photos follow.

2012-04-15 Petrified Wood, Fry Canyon, UT (73)   2012-04-15 Petrified Wood, Fry Canyon, UT (43)2012-04-15 Petrified Wood, Fry Canyon, UT (8)





2012-04-15 Petrified Wood, Fry Canyon, UT (24)

2012-04-15 Petrified Wood, Fry Canyon, UT (58)






2012-04-15 Petrified Wood, Fry Canyon, UT (4)

2012-04-15 Petrified Wood, Fry Canyon, UT (92)
2012-04-16 Fry Canyon, UT2012-04-16 Fry Canyon, UT (3) 2012-04-16 Fry Canyon, UT (5)2012-04-16 Fry Canyon, UT (6)
Load-stone (geodes) we found… outside and inside (after we cut them open)

2012-04-17 Fry Canyon, UT Turquois Trip to Lake Powell (3)Our road and Lake Powell are in there somewhere.
2012-04-17 Fry Canyon, UT Turquois Trip to Lake Powell (30)
2012-04-17 Fry Canyon, UT Turquois Trip to Lake Powell (6)
Our ride and our single lane… very long, windy, up / down road to the lake.
2012-04-17 Fry Canyon, UT Turquois Trip to Lake Powell (19)
Bloomin’ Cactus!

Better get this uploaded.  It’s going to take a while.
As always… to be continued.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Journey...

It was a beautiful drive to our latest destination.  IMG_2525
We left the Navajo National Monument in a sleeting snow.  Our Georgia born windshield wipers were somewhat frozen so they were not contributing positively to the experience.  Darlene did an excellent job navigating the conditions and a few minutes later we were in town purchasing the most expensive 2.5 gallons of water we’ve ever bought.  Not really sure what happened there.  After stocking up on enough to get us through until the drain hose to our regular tank un-froze, we were on our way.
It was all rather uneventful.  A desert tower here.  A desert tower there.  Oh, look!  It’s the Mexican Hat!
And then there was…
Do you see where the road goes?  We didn’t either.
We confirmed that we were not to go through a tunnel.
And then Nicole spotted a flash, like sun reflecting off of a window.
Is THAT the car that was ahead of us up there?  (See yellow rectangle in photo)

Still not convinced… Darlene zooms in on the GPS an says,
”This is what it looks like.”

We look back up at the mountain in front of us and super-impose the above photo over it in our minds.  It looked something like this…
A little further up the road we were comforted by…
Gee, sure wish we had gotten more gas.  Annie’s gonna drink it good on this one.
Oh and the “1 mile” is 1 mile until it starts.  The switchback road is 5 miles long.

About a minute later we decide, “We’ve got this!”  Onward and upward we went.
Shoot.  That’s not too bad.
IMG_2554Oh, wow!  Look how pretty.
That little hill of sand will surely keep us from going over.  Glad they put it there.
See that grey ‘snake’ on the right hand side of the picture?
That’s the road we came in on!  We gained about 2000’ in elevation all total.
IMG_2565We see three.  How many do you see?
IMG_2573A different angle.
Up and up we went.  Turn after hairpin turn.
The views were breathtaking.
By the way, the road goes up the side of this near tower and almost out to the end point before heading back again to the side we took this photo from. 

And when you reach the top you are greeted with…

Since no endings were allowed we decided to continue on and
IMG_2580a cattle crossing
IMG_2582or two later (we were sure to let him know we got his number!)
we had arrived!
More in a bit about our adventures here.  Internet is spotty right now.