Friday, September 25, 2009

Monument Valley, Sept. 24

It is hard to say anything about Monument Valley. The Pictures 'should' speak for themselves and do a better job of it, if you click on each to get the full effect, but text that I can add seems insufficient, so I'll minimize the attempt.
There is no Doubt that 'color' is a real factor here and morning/afternoon and evening colors compete for top honors. Might be correct to say, "you had to be there" to be accurate, but we LOVED IT!

Took a tour from Goulding's complex but some of the local indians also have a service. Our guide, Paul, was a hefty gent with a good sense of humor and good driving skills. He got us around the floor of the Valley for 3.5 hours and ended up with the setting sun right where the camera said "YES! That's IT!"

Saturday, September 19, 2009

"Gunnison Loop", one of America's Scenic Byways, Sept. 20

Every inch of Colorado is mind expanding. The state is absolutely beautiful.

Thankfully, much of the oldest remains of 'man's' building efforts remain this day. This quickly sets the mindset for time and place, along with the timeless beauty of God's work.

I first fell in love with it back in the mid 60's, when I was in Air Force Tech School in Denver. Every weekend that I could, I'd be up in the mountains in my little Bug Eyed Sprite(1959). At 40-50 miles per gallon and 20 cent gas, even a young military guy with near zip for a paycheck, could afford to roam.

There is an artist in the St. Pete,Clearwater/Tampa area of Florida who is known for this type of metal sculpture....made from old automobile chrome parts. Wonder if he did these magnificent pieces?

Back for the 4th time since then, we are now doing it in a motorhome and still loving every minuted.

Crested Butte is and has been sort of a tourist spot and it has very limited growth due to land trust and other issues. A quick meal at a local hole int the wall and a drive down a number of her historic streets set the tone for a relaxed day.

The pair of sculptures were extraordinarily life like!

From here, we started a drive up and around what is known as the Gunnison Loop. It's a Scenic Byway(google it) of America and the first 27 miles of it from Crested Butte, is on 'primitive roads'.


That means rocks/gravel-but quite well maintained. We did have to drive slow, as I did not want to shake the MH into a box of toothpicks!

Prior to Crested Butte, by 5o miles or so, we ran across an old car rally. There was quite a mix of vehicles and even though I thought I knew many of them, having been in the auto repair/custom/renovation of collectibles business when I was younger, did not know this one! It's a 1951 Muntz; a car manufacturer in California that as others, did not make it. Not to be forgotten, the Chevrolet Corvette also came out in 1953 and Ford and others were showing prototypes at car the market leaders had advantages.

The beauty of this "loop" in South Central Colorado, as well as each and every other American Scenic Byway we've been lucky enough to travel, has been so incredible in places, that we could not stop feeling overwhelmed almost all the time.

There was no way to take "THE" picture, that would explain it to others and found ourselves taking hundreds of photos each day.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Ghost Town of Leno, Florida

Some things work and others don't.

Cable bridge over the river and above the original dam.

Ain't that the truth!?
In early days of settlements, it must have been a real kick in the pants when you did everything right and yet something someone else did, toppled your apple cart.

Leno was just such a town. Lumbering was a big deal, but not the only deal, for this little community and it seems everyone involved here was doing a darned good job of making things work.. Until that is, the railroad did not pick their little outpost of a community to be part of the plan.

What a gorgeous place to live and yet they had to move on.

They had modified the rivers flow....making a dam and adding a mill downriver. Designed many interesting engineering twists, to make this little town live off the land and the power of the river, but yet? Well, someone else's dream eclipsed theirs.

Everywhere were signs of early but fundamentally correct and simple engineering feats.

The railroad, highly in tune with the government, decided to NOT run thru their town. so they just dried up to a Ghost Town. Since they could not ship in or out, they became history.

The government then bought the rights to the town and made it a park, nearly a half century later. Big help to the original settlers, huh?

Last photo is a tribute to the CCC.

** As always, click on any photo to enlarge it!**

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Iketuchnee River Tubing Trip

In the early 70's, I passed by what looked like a fun adventure, tubing down the Ichetucknee River in inner tubes.

Things were basic then and the land and river were open to anyone with a spirit of adventure. Now the area surrounding this wonderful spot is "Iketuchnee State Park". Thats a good thing, as now it's protected and kept pristine. A huge number of daily visitors would have eventually really screwed up this place.

The river is slow moving, but crystal clear and it can be done in a bathing suit or an inner tube.
Water temps year round is 72 degrees. Back then, I was on my way to a space shot at Cape Canaveral and could not take the time, but made a mental not to do this river some day.

Well, about 38 years later, I did.

Without hordes of tubers, the quiet surroundings were just wonderful. Turtles stayed put, while you drifted by. Ducks, deer, and wild boar are numerous in the area.

The Underwater enclosure for our camera did not do justice to the water clarity issue. The water was as clear as air, but it seems the plastic enclosure effected the exposures or picked up the mineral content or SOMETHING!

We were lucky to be just out of prime season of summer and most families with kids were not playing in mid-week, so we almost had the park to ourselves.

Otherwise it is common for up to 750 people per day to be floating down river. This day, there seemed to be maybe a dozen and we made sure they were not within earshot.

Great relaxing fun!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

High Springs, Fl., Sept 2nd

I got up this morning to walk the dog and get started finishing up a motor home modification I started months ago. (Hey, I might add that right now, I'm sitting at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and it's blowing 50 knots!) OK, back to the subject...... the coffee pot was turned on/filled the night before, so when I return with the dog, my first cup would be ready.

This Park Service Campground was 10% full, cool, out in the woods and quiet. Lovely.

While enjoying our Breakfast Blend coffee, I pulled out some premixed Awlgrip polyurethane paint(container wrapped in Saran Wrap and stuck in the freezer overnight). Layed the 5 small fiberglass pieces I had made in the days prior to leaving St. Pete and now taped underneath to a cardboard mount, I proceeded to pull out my 75 cent chinese paint brush and delacately and sparingly, stretch the paint onto the surface of my soon to be new Clearance Lights.

The trick is with some paints, is to put it on VERY sparingly. Do not leave a Void, (no paint) but stretch the liquid as far as you can until you re-enter the paint brush into the pot. A few minutes of this and we were off to the next nights campground.

Manatee Springs, Fl., Sept. 2nd


Latter that day, after putting a coat of paint on our upcoming Clearance Light fixtures, we drove not too far west to Manatee Springs, Fl.


This was a special spot Dorothy and I found a few years ago, when once again, "following our headlights". I use this term to suggest being led by nothing but the moment. It's childlike but heck..... following intuition, instinct, love, impulse or "what did that sign say?" feels good. Nice to be free of the Need and into the Want.


Again, a quiet State Park of Florida, on the south side of the famous Suwanne River proved to be ideal. At night it was silent except for the sounds of nature. In the morning, deer were quite close to our campsite and did not seem to be fazed by humans. That's nice as long as humans continue to give them space in these parks.


We walked the paths we walked several years ago and photographed the springs themselves. A quite walk down to the river thru a field of Cypress trees and wetlands leading to the Suwanne. The river was silent but often 7'Sturgeon and larger will be jumping at least once a minute in this prehistoric river breading ground.


Very Special morning....

Grand Canyon Trip ..the Beginning.

Beautiful weather to begin our trip and a morning view from our condo balcony, of an osprey perched atop a sailboat at our dock.

Watchful of everything around it, it's always a pleasure to have these views everyday we are there. Only 100 yards away from us is an island sanctuary for birds. Pelicans, egrets, blue herons, cormorants, pink spoonbills, rosetta ibis and crows. The top dog, or bird as it may be, is the Osprey.

We begin here in St. Pete Beach on Sept.2nd and end up at Manatee Springs State Park, up the coast on the Suwannee River.

Now how many folks can say they've seen a deer dump?

Suwanee River in early morning haze. The river is down as much of the southern U.S. is having a drought. We visited this remote park a few years ago while doing a slow tour of this bend area of Florida on a gentle trip with my father along. We saw at least a dozen 5-7' long Sturgeon jumping out of the river...a common practice I here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Grand Canyon: Hitting the Road, Sept. 1, 2009

Having prepared now for over a year to see the Grand Canyon; we left today (Sept.1st on time-just after breakfast) to follow our headlights until we got there. We had booked a 3 day stay on the North Rim and a 3 day trip afterwards, on the South Rim. The nice part is we had almost 4 weeks to get there! This alloted time to visit friends and family along the way for an evening or two, and yet drift along with options to stop pretty much were ever the mood told us to. Nice!

Fueled up, loaded up with gear and clothes and all those last minute things you find at Camper's World, we were prepared.

We took Dad's little "Lady" with us. She's a 9 lb Rat Terrier, age 1.75yrs and for the 9 lbs. she has to be munching on a 1/4 pounder at the time. After Dad's passing, I just could not give away his dog immediately. So, she rides west!

Today we loaf along roads mostly absent of cars, looking for the smallest and oldest country roads we can find so we "see" something worth seeing rather than miles of Interstate. Near the middle of the day, we settle on High Springs Florida for our first overnight. There is a State Park there and besides being a very reasonably priced/secure place to sleep over, it is quiet and as natural a setting as is available anywhere.

You will notice as we drift along on this trip, that I am committed to several things. Seeing worthwhile things of nature or man, but 'worthwhile' and keeping costs down to where I feel humbled by the experience rather than overwhelmed or upset at the cost.

We have all the comforts aboard our small but very adequate class C motor home. We have provisioned well and everything we don't have is available somewhere soon. We're not broke and we are adamant about having fun.

Follow along and enjoy with us. Also, please forgive me but many times there is no internet so my bloging will be piecemeal. You can always go back and reread a bit, as I will be going back to past posts and adding photos and text.