A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Meike Carter

Valley of Fire

View Our Journey on Meike Carter's travel map.

20181124_104115.jpg While camping in Vegas, it was a must to visit the Valley of Fire for the day.
Valley of Fire State Park contains ancient, petrified trees and petroglyphs dating back more than 2,000 years. At the Visitor Center, Landon was able to complete his Ranger assignment by checking out exhibits on the geology, ecology, prehistory and history of the park and nearby region. Upon receiving his badge we were ready to continue exploring.
We did notice a large number of tourists, something that was unusual for us. Of course we picked the busiest time of the year. The week of Thanksgiving. 5E8F2C2EDCC71D457F573617E097469C.jpg
20181124_104335.jpg There are two campgrounds with a combined total of 72 units. Campsites are equipped with shaded tables, grills, water and restrooms. A dump station and showers are available. All campsites are first-come, first-served. A camping limit of 14 days in a 30-day period is enforced.
Valley of Fire is located in the Mojave Desert approximately 58 miles Northeast of the Las Vegas Strip. It covers an area of approximately 35,000 acres and was named for the magnificent red sandstone formations. They were formed from great shifting sand dunes during the age of the dinosaurs more than 150 million years ago. These brilliant sandstone formations can appear to be on fire, depending on how the sun reflects on them.
We were lucky and had a pretty close encounter with 2 bighorn sheep. They must be used to people, because they were not intimidated. It seemed that they were checking us out too. 5E8D7BB6DD0C5CC47DC24BC30F698561.jpg
While we hiked Petroglyph Canyon our stomachs couldn't hold out any longer and we wrapped up the day . I could spend 2 days here, maybe next time we camp at Atlatl or Arch campground and really experience the Valley of Fire. 5E8E19D4AC0B47BE4CE6E95558184CF0.jpg 20181124_134145.jpg 5E8CF1DBE5C0C676CFD1BAD1750EF0A7.jpg

Posted by Meike Carter 09:15 Comments (0)

Las Vegas

We arrived at Nellis Air Force base in Las Vegas, checked in for 4 nights, to later extend our stay to 2 weeks. 90_20181118_123532.jpg
Upon pulling into our site, we noticed oil leaking onto the concrete path. Tony crawled underneath the rig and saw oil covering the rear axle. He identified that the rear differential seal was leaking and researched RV repair services closeby. Thankfully they were able to work on it the following morning.
We didn't really set up, knowing we had to leave early in the morning. By 8a.m. we were at Affordable RV and spent the entire day there. By the time they finished working it was already dark and we were pretty exhausted. No Vegas for us today. 90_20181118_122824.jpg
The next morning Tony crawled back underneath the coach again just to see that the leak got worse. He noticed the shaft was in crooked. Off we went again, back to Affordable RV and spent yet another day in the waiting lounge. 2 days out of our 4 were already gone. We decided it is better for us to extend and do some serious maintenance on the rig before going anywhere. Our Vegas trip turned into 2 weeks hands on work, but totally worth it.
The rear dif got fixed, a new air brake hose installed. The springs that retract the jacks got WD40d, all fluids and batteries checked, window treatments installed and the awning over the door got repaired and installed. We detailed the interior and caught up on a lot of errands, school work and video editing.
Journey was back in great shape.
We spent Thanksgiving in the coach, cooked, released a YouTube video , talked to family and took it easy. We did not have turkey, but a precooked spiral ham was centerpiece this year. We don't have an oven, just a convection microwave, therefore meal planning is a bit different. Instead of a green bean casserole I fried green beans with bacon and it was delicious. Stuffing was cooked on the stovetop, as well as the gravy.
Some longterm campers were decorating for the holidays and all the kids stayed outside playing. It was very comfortable and I didn't mind being in our RV in a campground over the holidays.
One question I have been getting lately is, if it is starting to get annoying to live in tight quarters. Well, the answer is- no. We stay pretty active throughout the day, our backyard is always changing and the rig is super cozy , easy to keep organized and clean and I concentrate more on my family and adventure time, rather than chores that I used to have when we lived in our 2500 SF home. 90_20181118_120659.jpg
We did go to the Vegas Strip, checked out the Venetian and Treasure Island, walked a couple of miles, watched the water fountain display at the Bellagio and the sculptures of the Ceasar Palace. I enjoyed the atmosphere and energy of the place and wouldn't mind returning one day without our 9 year old. It is a bit difficult to visit Vegas with kids and we knew that already, because we made that trip 14 years ago when our daughter was 6. Now it was our son's turn to see the hustle and bustle of Vegas, baby.
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Posted by Meike Carter 19:06 Comments (0)

Lake Mead, Nevada

Traveling through different elevations sure makes a difference. Two days in the Grand Canyon were extremely cold and windy, I certainly welcomed the sunshine and warmth once we set camp at Boulder beach on Lake Mead. 20181112_153441.jpg
With our "America the Beautiful " card, we entered Lake Mead Recreation area at no cost.
2 campgrounds are situated next to one another, one that provides full hookup which was booked and the other that provides electricity and water for $10 per night.
(discounted rate).
We got lucky and found the last available site, set up and enjoyed our new spot overlooking the lake.
The area and view put us at ease and our lazy side was coming out. We needed to get caught up on laundry, school work, maintenance on the RV and simply lounge on the couch in the afternoons.
We biked and went on this really cool hike on Railroad Trail. 90_20181112_154737.jpg
90_20181112_153847.jpg T 09A1FBD0C1244C1CC5A4BC98F16E1247.jpg he Historic Railroad Trail is an easy hike along a former railroad grade. The railroad route runs to the Hoover Dam and was built to transport building materials that ran from 1931 to 1961. It provides panoramic views of Lake Mead, overlooking the Boulder Basin area. Usually you can hike through 5 large railroad tunnels, but some were closed off. On the hike you will learn and experience the rich history of the construction of the Hoover Dam and the creation of Lake Mead. 20181113_103348.jpg
20181113_102849.jpg Hoover Dam is only 6 miles down the road, but depending on traffic can take up to 40 minutes to enter. That is due to vehicle checks at the entrance. The first few parking lots charge $10, but if you drive a little further you can park on the overlooks for free. We actually preferred them, they were less crowded and had a great view of the Hoover Dam.
We were surprised by the crowds of people standing in line, just to take a picture. We noticed a lot of Security Forces, something that was new to us. We enjoyed the views, took pictures and left after 30 minutes, excited to continue our journey towards Las Vegas. 90_20181113_103723.jpg

Posted by Meike Carter 18:22 Comments (0)

The Grand Canyon

Once we left Wupatki NP we wanted to drive straight to the Grand Canyon and settle for the next couple of days. We were looking forward to some downtime and couldn't wait to see the amazing Canyon that is known and loved worldwide. A7B21D6DB4A631E219ECC9453053C17F.jpg
As the navigator I found a route that leads to the side entrance of the Grand Canyon, yet the GPS kept rerouting us back South to Flagstaff.
I was honestly getting annoyed with the GPS, saying to Tony that she must be having a bad day. She wanted to send us down several dirt roads to make a U turn. That is definitely not happening towing a vehicle.
If you come from Wupatki , take a right onto 89 to Cameron, then left onto 64. That road is perfect for an oversized vehicle and leads straight to the east entrance. Called Desert View. You certainly don't have to drive all the way back to Flagstaff.
Once we were at the gate, we asked where the campgrounds are located and where we could dry camp in case the campgrounds are full. With a park map in hand, we aimed for the full hookup campground first. The place was booked with nightly rates of $ 50. Right beside it is another campground that does not supply any hook ups and basically charges you for boondocking. No vehicles over 30 feet are allowed. Well, we had no other option but to camp in the forest or in a parking lot.
Thankfully a camper service area was easy accessible, where we filled our freshwater to the brim and made sure the other tanks are drained. 3527.jpeg
We drove to the Grand View parking lot which has spots for RV's. We saw the sign "overnight parking for hikers" Great!
Super excited we bundled up, watched the sunset and later the night sky.
I was fast asleep when a loud knocking woke me up. Startled and disoriented I called Tony over to see who is at the door.
As he opened the door, the high beam of a flashlight blinded him. The park Ranger told us we were not allowed to sleep here. He told us where we can set up and waited for us to leave. The sign in the parking lot is very misleading, we were not the only ones that received a visit by the park Ranger. Cars started cranking up left and right.
At 11 pm we had to maneuver our way through Kaibab Forest, ( between mile makers 253 and 254) ,drove down a very dark and bumpy dirt road. About 2 miles into the woods we found an area big and level enough to park.
Exhausted we climbed back into bed. 90_A7B10F75EFD0BCD708F47D7882521EB9.jpg
The following day we checked out the visitor center, watched a movie about the Grand Canyon, had Landon complete his ranger assignment and checked out the park.
The expected overnight temperature was 18 degrees. We gathered plenty of firewood and built a camp fire before sunset.
The coach stayed warm overnight, but the propane was almost on empty. It certainly wouldn't have lasted another night.
Since we had to drive into town to fill up the propane tank, it was best to continue our travels. We stopped at several outlooks at the Grand Canyon, taking pictures and videos and slowly working our way towards the park exit. We had 2 memorable days at the Grand Canyon, but new destinations were awaiting us and it was time to continue on. 20181107_154524.jpg

Posted by Meike Carter 20:45 Comments (0)

Wupatki NP, Arizona

Nestled between the Painted Desert and Sunset Crater Volcano NP, Wupatki is a landscape of red clay ancient pueblos, that are scattered across miles of prairie. Where food and water seem impossible to find, people built pueblos, raised families, farmed and traded 90_20181107_140029.jpg
Wupatki National Monument is one of several sites preserving pueblos of ancient peoples. The pueblos all have a distinctive deep red color and were made from thin, flat blocks of the local Moenkopi sandstone. Wupatki is reached by the same loop road that passes Sunset 20181107_133352.jpg
All the dwellings were built by the Anasazi and Sinagua Indians during the 12th and 13th centuries. The eruption of Sunset Volcano in 1064 caused the people to move further into the desert, because ash and lava made the surrounding land infertile.
In the early 13th century all the settlements were abandoned, as were most other villages in this part of the Southwest, although it is believed that some of the present day Hopi are descended from the former inhabitants of the Wupatki pueblos.
We have visited several pueblos by now and were familiar with the kivas, which were used for ceremonies. This place had a ball court, an open round structure built of the same red rocks with a ledge that hugged the walls for seating. I am not sure if it was meant for ceremonies, or if they actually played a sport and had an audience.
Walking the trail in the warm sun felt great, we noticed a couple of petroglyphs and spotted some people ahead of us that looked familiar. It was the couple from Meteor Crater and they recognized us as well. We asked them if they were going to the Grand Canyon next, since it is the closest attraction north of us. When you travel it is not unusual to run into the same people. Strike a conversation and you find out great tips and ideas. It is always nice to see a familiar face in a foreign place. 90_F3989490DE5297CC5E48A685AD449598.jpg

Posted by Meike Carter 09:02 Comments (0)

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