Silly Squirrel aka red prairie dog

Today and yesterday there were some prairie dogs and I made a few pictures of them. As I haven’ t uploaded the pictures I will only be able to put one from the internet.

Actualy my pictures are much better or more realistic but this is an example… My videos too are much much much better.

I love to take pictures of the prairie doggies because they are cute and to take a picture of their private life, you need to establish some kind of confidence with them(that’ s the part I ‘m good at). I had to approach them very slowly  and wait very long before making another step to theme.

I actually had a favorite one that I named Joky he looked like an old man with his enormous bushy black eyebrows

posted by Silly Squirrel in On the Road and have Comments (2)

Petrified Forest

Aujourd’hui on a dévié un peu de la Route 66.

Nous sommes allés dans le Painted Desert (le Désert Peint) et la Petrified Forest (la Forêt Périfiée) qui font tous les deux partie d’un Parc National d’Arizona. Sur un territoire d’une cinquantaine de kilomètres de longueur, les panoramas et les vues les plus incroyables se succèdent.

Tout d’abord des reliefs colorés, de l’argile blanche ou rouge. C’est le désert et on a du mal à penser qu’il y plus de 200 millions d’années à cet endroits vivaient des dinosaures et qu’il y avait une forêt avec d’immenses arbres ! C’est pourtant ce que nous prouve cette forêt pétrifiés. Des arbres immenses devenus pierre ! Et des pierres de toutes les couleurs !

Tout ça par une journée assez nuageuse ce qui donnait à ce paysage lunaire un éclat particulier dû à la couleur sombre de certains nuages.

On nous a conseillé de ne pas dormir dans l’enceinte du Parc Nationale car il y avait des risques d’averses et d’inondation … l’argile ne boit pas l’eau …

posted by Cactus Killer in On the Road and have No Comments

Grand Canyon dilemma…

We have talked a lot about the whole Grand Canyon thing — whether or not we really want to spend much time there, given the mass tourism aspects of the south rim, and the fact that we could not get the overnight mule trek into the canyon. Currently we have a reservation for the “Abyss Overlook” mule trip, which, according to the guy at the booking agency is designed as a compromise trip for folks who were kind of afraid of riding the mules down into the canyon, but still wanted to go on a mule ride. Essentially the 3 hour trip is just an easy ride along a trail through the forest that takes you to an overlook point where you can see the whole canyon, you get off the mules and take a picture, then get back on and ride back to the lodge. Here is the description from their brochure:

<< If you feel like an adventure but an Overnight Mule ride to the bottom of the Grand Canyon is too much, take a ride from the Grand Canyon Village to the spectacular Abyss overlook.  You will pass through a Ponderosa Forest and a Piñon and Juniper woodland filled with abundant wildlife on your way to a magnificent cliff at the edge of the canyon.  While at the Abyss, riders will dismount their mules and stretch their legs while viewing the Grand Canyon for the first time on the ride.  Here they can take photos atop the 3,000 foot vertical drop and marvel at the beauty of the Grand Canyon’s many colorful pinnacles, buttes and mesas.  Your total ride time includes 2 1/2 hours in the saddle and roughly 30 minutes at the Abyss overlook. >>

At the time I booked it, I took it because the overnight trek into the canyon was full. But the more I think about it now, I am not sure it is really worth doing — particularly because it locks us into a schedule. We can cancel the mule ride (and receive a full refund) up to 3 days before, so we can decide whether or not we want to do it at some point in the future…

However, the Grand Canyon schedule dilemma remains, because we have discussed the idea of reserving a room for the night we will be near there. We had decided to book a room at the Cameron Trading Post, which is on the east side of the canyon nearest the Desert View Watchtower, and on the way up from Flagstaff. I still think this is a great place to stay, but if we do not HAVE to be there on a certain day/time for the mule ride (which I am currently leaning toward cancelling), do we want to be locked in to the date?

If we don’t make a reservation, we can potentially spend an extra day on the road between Amarillo and here… and there seems like lots of cool stuff to do in New Mexico…

On the other hand, we probably should try to stick to the planned itinerary days as much as possible so we don’t build up a delay… so maybe we really SHOULD book the room to give ourselves the obligation to keep to the plan…

Also, if we go without a reservation to the Grand Canyon area we are liable to end up having to take a very expensive accommodation at the last minute…

Any thoughts on this?

posted by Blue Coyote in Planning and have No Comments

The Mojave…and the ghost towns…

So moving forward with planning the Route 66 segment from Arizona to California, i think we definitely want to stopover in the Mojave National Preserve and spend a night roadside camping then spend some time on the desert trails. If we don’t linger too long at the Grand Canyon, as i suggested earlier, we should have time to do this. And we will probably be glad for the emptiness of the Mojave in contrast the the crowd at Grand Canyon.

Picture 6

The locations we are likely to choose for camping can be found on the map above (if you click on the map it opens up much bigger). Considering we will be coming from I-40 (at the bottom of the map), am thinking one of these locations might be good:

Granite Pass: 6.1 miles north of I-40 on Kelbaker Road, just north of Granite Pass, then west on one of several access roads. Campsites are located just north of the granite spires. High clearance vehicle recommended; no RVs.

Kelso Dunes Mine: 4 miles west of Kelbaker Road on the unpaved Kelso Dunes Road. One campsite is located south of the road, 1/4 mile past the marked trailhead. Several others are available 3/4 mile beyond, near a clump of trees. Except at these sites, roadside camping is prohibited along Kelso Dunes Road (including at the trailhead).

Black Canyon Road
About 4 miles south of Hole-in-the-Wall Information Center on the east side of Black Canyon Road, above the wash and near a hill with excellent views of the Providence Mountains. Another site is located about 4 miles futher south, also on the east side of Black Canyon Road, near rock piles.

Rainy Day Mine Site
15.2 miles southeast of Baker on Kelbaker Road, then 0.3 miles northeast on the unsigned and very sandy road to the Rainy Day Mine. Four-wheel drive recommended; no RVs.

THEN, while we are there we can do a JEEP TRAIL :-)

There are actually a number of cool 4×4 trails out there. Here is a list of some of them provided by the park service. The Lava Tube sounds fun… (and also “Caruthers Canyon” for possible camp site?)

Actually might also be really fun to try to get up early and catch sunrise at Kelso Dunes…

About 42 miles southeast of Baker (7 miles south of Kelso Depot), then 3 miles west on a graded dirt road, Kelso Dunes were created over the course of 25,000 years by winds carrying sand grains from the dried Soda Lake and Mojave River Sink. Nearly 700 feet high and covering a 45-square-mile area, they are among the tallest and most extensive dune fields in the United States.

The Kelso Dunes produce a “booming” or “singing” sound when sand with the right moisture content slides down the steep slopes. Try it for yourself—run down a dune slope (but don’t trample vegetation!) to initiate the sound.

Kelso Dunes Trailhead: 3 miles west of Kelbaker Road on the well-graded, but unpaved Kelso Dunes Road.
Hikers at sunrise and sunset are treated to both cooler temperatures and the rose-colored glow of the dunes. The roughly 3-mile round-trip hike might take several hours as you slog through the sand, then slide down the slopes. Moving sands sometimes create a “booming” sound—run downhill and get the sand moving to hear the sound.

we will likely to be able to do these activities ONLY if we don’t spend the extra day at Grand Canyon…

THE FOLLOWING DAY, we continue to Barstow. In Barstow area I think it would actually be fun to stay at the Calico Ghost town itself. It is definitely a hokey attraction, but will likely be the last one we do, as after LA the Route 66 segment of the trip is over and the return has more “adventure”-oriented activities. It seems like the town is a state park. Here is the official parks page . And here is the page for the Calico Ghost Town attraction. We have the option of actually reserving a “mini bunkhouse” here, and maybe we should consider that “luxury” now that we are headed back to “civilization.” (afterall we don’t want to show up in LA looking like savages!)

Through researching Route 66 sites, i think there might actually be a better “Old West Ghost Town” experience at OATMAN, AZ, which is before the Mojave (it is the last town on the Arizona side)… There they have wild burros in the streets, and an actual gold mine you can visit, and daily “gunfights” in the street (at 1:30 and 3:30pm). Might be more fun than Calico town? I can’t really tell, but it seems like it might be a tad less crowded… and comparing the two towns’ websites, i feel like Oatman is “less” disney-ified (though that doesn’t necessarily make it the better experience)…

In any case, we will pass through Oatman on the road, even if we don’t spend extra time there, and if we don’t like it, we can always still do Calico town on the way out (or just camp at Calico town)… Or if we have totally had our fill of  wild west recreations by then, we can just pass by Calico…

posted by Blue Coyote in Planning and have Comment (1)

Mules and so on…


Who knew mule reservations would be so hard to come by? It is January and we are planning for late July and we are too late!!!! I can’t believe it!

We wanted to do the overnight mule trek into the Grand Canyon and when i called for reservations it was completely booked for the entire month of July!!!! Still cannot believe we were too late…

Anyway, I took a reservation for a short half-day trip to “the abyss overlook” which was the only alternative (and i guess i was glad to get even that)!  I really hope it is at least interesting… (we don’t get to go down into the Canyon, just along the rim) … but i guess it is still better than a bus tour!

This will likely change our schedule a bit, and instead of spending two days at the Canyon, i think we should leave in the afternoon when we return from the mule trek. I say this because in researching opportunities around the Grand Canyon, I got the impression it is overrun with mass tourism! There are hotels on the Canyon rim! And huge parking lots! And busloads and trainloads of tourists who just fly-in to see the Canyon! And as we cannot really get into the Canyon on our own, i don’t know what else we would do there…

If it wasn’t one of the “wonders of the world” i think i would say just skip it (as we will be having plenty of up-close Canyon experiences elsewhere along the trail)… but we really can’t just drive past the Grand Canyon without at least having a look!

So, a short mule trek, a quick peek at the Canyon and then an early start to our next location where we can spend that extra day on the trail in the Mojave national preserve (here we have the right to do “roadside camping” in the backcountry along a jeep trail)!

Lesson Learned: we are not as early as we think we are! (and apparently more people like riding mules than you’d imagine!)

posted by Blue Coyote in Planning and have Comment (1)

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