A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Meike Carter

Sunset Crater Volcano NP, Arizona

20181107_120926.jpg We continued our trip right after visiting Walnut Canyon, which is only 10 miles outside of Flagstaff. After that beautiful hike we returned to the RV and continued our drive. We wanted to find a spot for the night before the sun goes down. Shortly after, we were on 89 heading towards Sunset Crater. The park was about to close and we talked to the park ranger about overnight stays in our RV. The park has it's own campground , but closes for the Winter. Usually by mid October they shut it down.
Crossing over 89, directly across the Sunset Crater Volcano NP entrance, is an area that belongs to the National Forest service and allows campers yearround, free of charge. Of course you don't have electricity or hookups, but you can dry camp up to 2 weeks.
Happily we took Journey down the dirt road and set her up in an opening that was level enough for us to stay. 90_20181107_115428.jpg
All set up, it was time to relax.
We were back at the park entrance bright and early the next morning, for Landon to participate in the Junior Ranger program.
We still had to homeschool that morning, but had trouble getting a good hot spot connection. The park Ranger suggested one of the big parking lots further into the park, that has better reception. Sure enough! We connected and did school at the base of the volcano. 90_20181107_115224.jpg
With some classes done. It was time for a break and a beautiful hike through lava paths. In the background were snowcapped mountains , turning this place into a picturesque landscape. We drove through the 34 mile scenic loop that winds from Highway 89 through Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki National Monuments. The scenic loop leads you from the high Ponderosa Pine forests of Sunset Crater, down nearly 2,000 feet in elevation to the red rocks and painted desert vistas of Wupatki. F3977631CA4A13B51A6D1C663EC62E08.jpg
90_20181107_121646.jpg Once we arrived in Wupatki the landscape completely changed from forest to desert, even the temperature was different. I couldn't get out of my winter boots quick enough.
Good thing we have our house on wheels. It was time to change into more comfortable clothes before exploring Wupatki.

Posted by Meike Carter 08:48 Comments (0)

Walnut Canyon NP, Arizona

Not far from Meteor Crater is a very interesting place that used to be home to the cliff dwellers. We were told not to miss that National Park! It is located right off Interstate 40 heading West right before Flagstaff, AZ. 20181106_143631.jpg The small seasonal stream Walnut Creek has carved a 600 foot deep canyon as it flows east, eventually joining the Little Colorado River en route to the Grand Canyon. Today, the appearance of the canyon and ruins is quite reminiscent of the more well known Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, that we visited just days before.
Under limestone overhangs, the Sinagua built their homes. These single story structures, cliff dwellings, were occupied from about 1100 to 1250. The people that lived here moved on to become the modern pueblo people of today. Walnut Canyon is one of their ancestral homes. You can hike two trails, the rim and the island . We chose the island trail, a better and much more popular, although slightly more strenuous, 0.9 mile loop path that descends steeply (by 185 feet) via a series of 240 steps.
Once you reach the cliff dwellings you can't help but marvel at the breathtaking view of the cliffs and canyons. 20181106_144336.jpg
20181106_144347.jpg I tried to imagine how life must have been raising a family in a cave on the edge of a cliff. A terrifying thought as a mother, but they had it figured out and were adapted to that environment. I walked into the rooms that were nestled into the rockwall and noticed immediately the charred surface on the ceiling and wall, a sure sign of a fire that kept them warm and helped them prep their meals. Not all rooms were used as living space, they used the majority as storage rooms. Large urns made of clay held rainwater and were stored away against the cool rock walls.
Unlike Mesa Verde, you can enter all the dwellings and let your imagination take you back into the past of the Sinagua.
Walnut Canyon has been one of my favorite hikes, it is worth a visit when you're near Flagstaff AZ. 90_735AA3E8CF6E2437B8950A41545A1FF7.jpg

Posted by Meike Carter 20:57 Comments (0)

Meteor Crater, Arizona

Did you know that a meteor collided with the earth's surface in the Arizona desert around 50000 years ago? 56D8214CFB6DB7E5BE029089EAE233DF.jpg
20181106_112214.jpg The impact was as intense as a 20 million ton of TNT explosion.
Meteor crater is almost one mile across in diameter with a circumference of 2.4 miles. It is more than 550 feet deep. 20181106_112819.jpg
Researchers believed that a volcanic eruption caused the crater, but that was debunked rather quickly due to the lack of magma.
Several shafts were drilled into the bottom of the crater in hope to find a meteor. What they didn't take in consideration at that time was, that the meteor shattered into billions of pieces. Our amazing tour guide provided proof that explains that theory. 90_20181106_115342.jpg
Using a magnet he held it over sand stone, rocks and a piece of a meteor. The only piece that clung onto the magnet was the meteorite piece due to it's high iron content .
Then he demonstrated that we are walking on parts from outer space. He whirled up an area of dust & sand and raised the magnet up for us to see. Sure enough, tiny pieces of meteor remnants attached themselves to the magnet
He said, there is your explanation, and the reason nobody ever unearthed the meteor. It is simply part of this area in the Arizona desert. 56D92934C21027CC54F0CC132A1D64E8.jpg
90_20181106_105522.jpg It was the closest related surface to the moon and hosted not only research teams, but also the Apollo crew.
Training missions were conducted by NASA for several years. 20181106_112811.jpg

Posted by Meike Carter 07:39 Comments (0)

Painted Desert & Petrified Forest

We started the day extremely early, after boondocking in the Walmart parking lot in Gallup, NM. By 6 AM we had already bought groceries, drove to the Continental Divide and were on our way west on Interstate 40.
We arrived at the Petrified Forest NP entrance, parked our RV and ate breakfast before they opened the park.
With our " America the beautiful " we entered for free and were informed that we drive through the Painted Desert before reaching the Petrified Forest. I read some Google reviews pointing out the issue with the directions, and want to clarify that both parks are connected.
When you arrive from the East on I 40 you enter the Painted Desert first.
The view is beautiful and the colors of the layered rock formation change, depending on how the sun is positioned.
You can hike several trails along the way, we were particularly interested in the Puerco Pueblo by the river. Not only did we see the remnants of the homes, we saw petroglyphs on rocks as well. One petroglyph looked like princess Lea. We were told by the local guide that the native females of that tribe wore their hair twisted into buns on both sides above the ear.
On newspaper rock you can use one of the binoculars provided and zoom in on an entire wall of petroglyphs, hence the name "newspaper rock". Noone really knows the exact meaning of the symbols carved into stone, but it could possibly show the tribes migration and their way of life.
As we continued our drive in the RV through the desert we entered the Petrified Forest.
We went on several hikes, usually a mile loop each. One hike stood out to me. We had to go down a pretty steep slope that opened up into an entirely different looking terrain. Weathered rocks took on the appearance of elephant skin. Scattered split wood and shattered tree trucks were within reach, close enough that you can see the glassy look of the wood.
The deeper you drive into the forest ( which is more of a desert feel) the bigger and longer the logs.
Visiting both parks was very interesting, allowing you a glimpse back in time. Use your imagination and you can envision dinosaurs roaming that area. A piece of History well preserved.

Posted by Meike Carter 12:03 Comments (0)

The Four Corners

View Our Journey on Meike Carter's travel map.

After visiting Mesa Verde National Park we squeezed in a quick visit at Four Corners.
The southwestern part of Colorado and the Four Corners area are backdrops to over 40 movies.
The place was supposed to closed at 4:30 but they still let us in at 4:38. We were lucky and made it just in the nick of time, took some pictures, checked out the area and talked to some other RV travelers. They just came from the Grand Canyon, and told us where to camp and what other National parks to visit. They mentioned Antelope Canyon, the painted desert and Petrified Forest NP.
The sun was setting pretty quick, we had to say our goodbyes and continue our drive thru the desert to Gallup, NM.
I was pretty excited, because this was our first night sleeping at the Walmart parking lot. We heard so many people talking about it and were anxious to find out for ourselves how it feels to stay overnight in such a public place.
We parked amongst other campers, cranked the generator long enough to warm the coach, kept the slides in and went to bed.
I couldn't fall asleep for the longest time, my mind kept racing, recapping all the cool places we have seen already.
Suddenly our logo for our upcoming Vlog popped into my head. I almost woke Tony up to share my idea. It was my lightbulb moment and with that, "C's the JOURNEY " was born.
If I operate like that, I might just have to spend more nights in the Walmart parking lot.
I must have been in a deep sleep when Tony woke me up to let me know he is getting some groceries. It was only 3am but he couldn't sleep anymore and wanted to get a headstart for the day. An hour later I had coffee made, got dressed and had the coach ready for takeoff. Tony arrived with armloads of groceries. We rolled out minutes later, arrived at the Continental Divide while it was still dark, took some pictures and drove toward the Petrified Forest NP.
What a way to start the day!

Posted by Meike Carter 10:10 Comments (0)

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