Saturday, November 19, 2011

November 18-19, 2011

California Bound

Spent a very pleasant evening Thursday at the home of lifelong friends, visiting and having dinner.  We don’t see them very often and it was fun to spend one on one time with them.

Friday drove over the mountains to Prescott.  Nice, wide road with some noticeable elevation change but very doable for even big rigs (trucks).  The road south out of Prescott is the fun one.  True mountain road.  Two lane road of comfortable width.  There is a sign just out of town saying trucks over 40’ prohibited.  Soon found out why.  Twisty turny road with MANY tight turns and hairpins rated at 20 mph or less.  And the turns are banked to achieve that even speed .  Ups and downs but no great elevation change ‘till the last part when descending to the valley.  Carbus did fine and fit the turns with no problem.  Best asphalt roller coaster yet.  :)

Once back at lower elevation, the boredom of Arizona roads returns.  LONG, straight stretches with little scenery change.  We stopped in Quartzsite and parked in a BLM area that is several miles north of the freeway.  Very quiet and dark. :)

This morning it was ten miles to California (we are back the same time as all of you) and then 90+ miles of desert.  We are at an ELKS lodge RV spot for the night and then on to Burbank.  Hopefully Sunday traffic will not be too bad.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

November 16-17, 2011

Across New Mexico and Eastern Arizona

Not much to say about western New Mexico.  High desert.  Sage brush and dry grass. 7000’ high.  Flat, wide open expanses that stretch for miles.  So flat and wide open (and remote) that there is a National Radio Telescope Very Large Array  in the middle of it.  Nothing to get in the way.  Near the border hills start to develop.  We crossed the Continental Divide at over 7700’  and went over one summit over 7950’.  In shade protected areas there was still snow from a fall storm about two weeks ago.  The mountains are pretty.  Eastern Arizona is the summer resort area for Phoenix residents.  At this time of year many things are closing down for the winter.  All the state parks are closed in the area and many of the private RV parks are closed or cut way back. 

Camping at over 7000’, in the middle of November, with a steady breeze (wind?) blowing, did not seem desirable to us so we pushed on another hour and 2000’ lower to Payson.  Bustling little town (it does have a Wal-Mart) that is close enough and high enough to be an easy summer escape for Phoenix Valley residents.  Not a problem at this time of year though.  Stayed in a nice little RV park south of town and a mile off the highway.  Very quiet.

From Payson north and west to Cottonwood.  Again climbing over 7100’ before dropping to the valley.  More roadside snow along the way.  Before dropping down the road overlooks the valley.  We got a graphic picture of how Cottonwood got its’ name.  One section of the floor of the valley is filled with Cottonwood trees and right now they are all yellow or light green/yellow mix. 

Right now we are in a small RV park on the bank of Oak Creek.  Google ‘Oak Creek Canyon’ for a description of the scenery associated with this creek.  Thousands of people come to this area  in the summer.  Right now, in this spot, we have it all to ourselves.

IMG_0001001 Outside our door

IMG_0002002 Far bank of Oak Creek.  Near side bank of creek is less than 40 feet from the back if Carbus.


In front of us.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

November 15, 2011

White Sands National Monument

Two years ago when we were in southern New Mexico we somehow missed seeing White Sands Nat. Mon.  We corrected that this trip and avoided some Interstate at the same time.

Miles of fine white gypsum sand dunes in the middle of the desert.

IMG_0001001 IMG_0004002 IMG_0005003 IMG_0007004 IMG_0008005 IMG_0009006

From White Sands, north and west to Socorro, NM.  People say traveling across Texas is boring.  Traveling through most of New Mexico has Texas beat hands down for boring.

Monday, November 14, 2011

November 14, 2011

El Paso

Two hundred mile drive to the western most city in Texas.  Not much to say.  Large city.  Combined population of El Paso and Juarez is over 400,000.  There is a mountain just north of the city that has a scenic drive.  Below are pictures from there.


Downtown El Paso.  Juarez, Mexico in background on hillside.



Juarez in distance


Looking south into the Rio Grande valley.  Building in front is a high school gymnasium.



University of Texas, El Paso

Updated map of trip

November 13, 2011

Along the Rio Grande

Forty five miles from the campground to the west entrance station.  Changing desert all the way.  Ten miles further and we began a sixty mile journey along side the Rio Grande River.  Like the desert we were in, the road changed constantly as did the river.  Sometimes wide and flat.  Sometimes rolling hills and washes that made the ride feel like an asphalt roller coaster complete with banked turns.

 Highway 170 along the Rio Grande

This item is found in many of the wash areas that roads go through.  Would be interesting to see in action but think I will pass on driving this area in the rain.


The river was always slow and shallow but the banks varied.  Broad with lots of trees, sandy bluffs, and occasional rocky mountain sides.  Always changing and always pretty in a desert sort of way.  Highway 170 along the Rio Grande

Highway 170 along the Rio Grande

Highway 170 along the Rio Grande



Leaving the river we went north for sixty miles through wide open high desert.  High enough that cactus was replaced by sagebrush.  Probably the least interesting stretch of the trip so far.

Hwy 67, Presidio to Marfa

There were a couple of interesting views in the high desert.  The top picture is called ‘Elephant Rock’.

Lincoln's Face, Hwy 67, Presidio to Marfa 

   I will let you guess what the formation in the second photo is called.  If stumped scroll to bottom of this entry.









We located in a small RV park in Fort Davis.  After situating we toured the Fort Davis National Historic Site.  Frontier fort that was active off and on in the last half of the 1800s. Quite large with lots of buildings and extensive grounds.




It is called ‘Lincoln Profile’  :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

November 11-12, 2011

Big Bend National Park

Thirty eight mile drive through desert to reach the northern entry station of the park.  Twenty five more miles at 45mph to reach the visitor center in the center of the park.  Twenty one more miles to reach the campground on the banks of the Rio Grande River.  Nice oasis in the desert.  Actually used to be the location of a decent sized farming operation with extensive irrigation. IMG_0030002

Road runner in campground

In the afternoon we drove to site of a former hot springs ‘resort’ and then the other direction to an overlook of the river.

The ‘Grande’ part of ‘Rio Grande’ must refer to the length of the river.  Certainly not the width or depth.  The Pecos river was much more impressive than the parts of the Rio Grande we have seen.  Both spots we saw today could be crossed by wading ten to fifteen yards and not getting your knees wet.  Mexican nationals do it all the time.  They wade over and leave an assortment of trinkets on a prominent rock along with a price list and a receptacle for money.  Some of them sit on the other side and watch the action at their ‘tables’.  I had pictured that a river that was the border between two countries would be more substantial.  The Feather, American, and Sacramento rivers are far more impressive.  There is one place that is very impressive  but the smallness of the river was the eye opener.


Hot spring in foreground.  Not very inviting.  Rio Grande just beyond.


Rio Grande River.  Note Mexican leading horse.


‘Merchants’ coming to check on their wares.


From overlook.


This kid did not want to get his feet wet.

On Saturday we drove the rest of the paved roads in the park and twenty mile section of unpaved back road.  The key word in ‘Big Bend’ is BIG.  This place is vast.  Large expanses of desert with mountain ranges and isolated peaks popping up everywhere and plateaus dropping dropping to desert plains with rivers (mostly dry) running through them. 





Plateau overlooking river valley.  Note notch in plateau beyond.





Note the notch


Mexico on the left.  USA on the right.  Rio Grande River in the middle,

  IMG_0101017 IMG_0102018 IMG_0103019

Interesting what a little (a LOT actually) sand, water, and time can do.



This abode is in the middle of the desert.  We were twenty miles into a gravel back road.  The man who lived here did ranching and farming.  He had several wives and many children.  He died in this house at the age of 108.


Formation called ‘The Window’.  Looking into the desert from within a mountain range in the middle of the desert.  Whole different ecosystem in the mountains.