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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

4-27 Otter Creek State Park


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Otter Creek State Park

We left Coral Pink Dunes and headed towards Otter Creek but did a side trip to Bryce Canyon National Park. On the way to Bryce we drove through a couple of cool tunnels and saw beautiful red rock formations. We have been to Bryce a couple of other times but this time the shuttles were running caused by the increase of visitors to the park. Larry parked the Minnie and off to catch the shuttle we went, we thought the shuttle was going all the way to the top of the canyon, we were disappointed to find out it only went to Sunrise Overview. There was another shuttle that was called the Sunrise Shuttle that went all the way to the top and took three hours and the next shuttle was at 1:30 and it was a couple of hours away. So we rode the shuttle from the visitor center to Sunrise Overview and back then we had lunch. We decided that we had been here a couple of times before that we weren’t going to take the Sunrise Shuttle so we said good-bye to Bryce Canyon National Park.

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Larry and I at the welcome sign to Bryce Canyon National Park
On the way to our next destination, which was Otter Creek State Park we went back through the two tunnels, saw the red rock formations and drove through a pretty canyon. Otter Creek State Park is a nice park with site on Otter Creek Reservoir and the other sites have a view of the reservoir. It is known for fishing, boating, camping, water skiing and bird watching. While there we walked around the park and let Flo put her feet in the lake, I didn’t want her to go swimming because it was too cold for me to sit outside with her while she dried.

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Driving through a tunnel

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One of the red rock formations in Dixie National Forest by Bryce

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Flo getting her feet wet at Otter Creek

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Otter Creek Reservoir

4-26 Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

 

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Coral Pink Sand Dunes

Good-bye Zion National Park, we had three marvelous days now it’s time to move on. As we were leaving we drove through two tunnels and saw another side of Zion landscape with more trees and the sandstone had different details. When we went through the tunnels they had to close traffic coming from the other direction because they didn’t want any accidents and we had to drive down the center of the road. The first tunnel was huge and had cutouts that gave you nice views of Zion and the second tunnel was very short. We stopped at an overview of Patterns in Stone, the pattern was a unique checkerboard.

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One of the cutouts in the tunnel

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Pattern in Stone

After leaving Zion we stopped at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park for the night. It was a pretty park with pink dunes that are open for off-highway-vehicles (OHV), they run for miles and miles but only seven miles are open to OHVs. The park provides a nice day area where you can see the dunes, barbecue on a gas grill if you bring your own propane and restrooms. The sites have no hook-ups but they have concrete pads for the table, grill, fire rings and a lot of trees. There are bathrooms with running water and showers, we were grateful for the showers. Flo really wanted to lay outside but it was too cold for me. When it was dinnertime the sun came out so Larry barbecued chicken with charcoal and Flo and I kept him company.

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Camping at Coral Pink Dunes State Park

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Larry barbecuing

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The dunes from the day area

4-25 Keeping Dry


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Larry’s finger is getting better

It rained all night and on and off all day so we spent most of the day in the Minnie. The only time we left was to take Flo for a walk and when Larry and I hiked the Pa’rus Trail. The trail starts from the campground and goes to the Canyon Junction and the Visitor Center, round-trip was 3.5 miles. We hiked to the Canyon Junction and caught the shuttle to the Zion Human History Museum, where we watched a movie about Zion National Park. The trail was paved and we walked over bridges that went back and forth over the Virgin River. We saw a lot of beautiful views of the canyon and the cactus were in bloom with pretty flowers. The Pa’rus Trail allows dogs but it was too far for Flo to walk and we took the shuttle to the museum. The movie was informative and well put together.

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A view from the Pa’rus Trail

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A diversion dam to supply water to Springdale

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A cactus in bloom

4-24 Hiking in Zion


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Zion National Park

We hiked three easy trails, they were the Riverside Walk, The Grotto and Lower Emerald Pool. This was our third visit to Zion so we knew the trails but we still enjoyed looking at the spectacular canyon walls. The Riverside Walk is paved and is 2.2 miles round-trip, if you want to go longer you can but it’s in the cold water of the Virgin River. Larry and I aren’t brave enough to attempt this but many people do with wetsuits or dry suits. While hiking we saw a mule deer grazing on the edge of the trail, a turkey walking along the Virgin River and squirrels. We combined the Grotto and the Lower Emerald Pool trails to make the hike 2.5 miles round-trip. We started the hike by crossing over the Virgin River on a metal bridge and we ended the hike doing the same thing. During the hike we climbed stairs, walked along a ledge, walked on a paved trail to the falls and pool and we saw gorgeous views of the canyon. As we walked the paved area at the pool we got sprayed with water from the falls and it felt good because were we sweaty and hot. We saw a deer during the hike. We had a super day of hiking.

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A turkey walking along the Virgin River

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People brave enough to walk through the river

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Zion Canyon during the Riverside Walk

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One of the waterfalls at Lower Emerald Pool

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A view of the canyon from the Grotto Trail

4-23 Zion National Park


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Springdale

Wow, I can’t believe that we started our fifth week on the road today. We have visited so many marvelous places, some we have been to before and others that are new to us. We didn’t realize that the time changed when we got to Utah until we got to Zion National Park and South Campground was almost full, we thought it was 9:00 and it was 10:00. We drove around the campground a couple of time before we found a site, a young family from Germany was moving to another site because theirs was right off the main road and it was too noisy. They said we were welcome to have their site so we took Flo for a walk to pay for a couple of nights, we were almost to the pay station when we found a better site, Larry walked back to get the Minnie, while there he talked with the young family. By the time we paid for the site the campground was full and this was only 10:30. We spent most of the day relaxing except when Larry and I took the shuttle bus to Springdale, which is right outside the park. It’s a cute little town with art galleries, grocery store, restaurants, hotels, gift shops and a Laundromat. The weather was very nice so Flo decided she wanted to stay outside and I joined her. The sites are well used and very dusty so Flo is no longer white she she now a filthy dirty dog. We had a very nice day.

4-22 Sand Hollow State Park


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White Domes Area Trails in Valley of Fire State Park
As we were leaving we drove through the rest of Valley of Fire State Park. We stopped to hike White Domes trail, walk through the Visitor Center and the three CCC cabins. White Domes is known for its picturesque geologic formations and many Hollywood movies were filmed here, some of the remains from the sets were left behind. While at the Visitor Center we learned that Valley of Fire is Nevada’s first state park, the center has very nice exhibits about the park and its history. The CCC cabins were built in 1930’s out of native sandstones to shelter travelers. We had a wonderful time at Valley of Fire State Park.

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Larry on the trail that went between two rock walls
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Not much room to walk through
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Larry in front of a CCC cabin
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Petroglyphs by the cabins

We continued on for 120 mile to Utah, we drove through a pretty mountain range, and part of Arizona. We arrived at Sand Hollow State Park about lunchtime so we had all afternoon to enjoy the park. The park has a small reservoir but the camping area was too far away for Flo to walk. It was warm but Flo was tired of being in the Minnie so she and I sat outside for a little over an hour under the covered ramada. The neighbors were leaving and didn’t want to take their firewood with them so they told me I was more than welcome to have it, I took what we wanted and then Flo and I joined Larry in the comfort of the air conditioner in the Minnie.

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Arizona welcome sign

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The mountain range we drove through

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Sand Hollow State Park

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Sand Hollow Reservoir

4-21 Valley of Fire State Park


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Camping at Valley of Fire State Park

After a couple of fabulous nights in Las Vegas it was time to move on, we moved down the road 50 miles to Valley of Fire State Park. It was a pretty park surrounded by red mountains and it has hiking trails and a 84 step staircase to petroglyphs. We spent the day enjoying our site either inside under the air conditioner or in our chairs under the covered ramada. Flo spent most of the day outside sunning and cooling off in the shade, she was one happy dog. Once the sun started down Larry and I walked over to the petroglyphs.

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Climbing the staircase to the petroglyphs

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Petroglyphs we saw

4-20 Excitement Abound


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Elvis is still alive in Vegas
Have you ever spent an evening roaming around Fremont Street in Las Vegas? If not and you get the chance you really should. Fremont is a closed off for about four or five blocks, it is covered in some type of material that blocks much of the sun and at night things are projected onto this covering. During the daytime people wander  in and out of stores, perhaps purchasing something at a shop or from one of the kiosks in the center or maybe they do a bit of gambling in one of the smaller casinos. Very casual and relaxed. At night the place comes alive, music is pounding, Elvis is preforming, lights are flashing, characters like Michael Jackson, Captain America, and Iron Man are hanging out taking pictures with tourist for tips. In between providing drinks barmaids can be seen dancing on the bars. People are everywhere, some simply staring at all the sites while others might be dancing in the street or flying by 30 feet above your head on a wire. As the evening wears on more people are crowded in the same area and many of them have consumed large amounts of alcohol, everyone is having a ball, you have never seem more people simply having a great time. At the start of each hour a incredible light show choreographed to songs is projected above the entire street, people slow down to absorb this but when it ends everything once again goes wild. Larry and I spent a large amount of time last night strolling the street enjoying the experience, kept him up past his bed time. Fremont Street after dark should not be missed.

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Light Show

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Dancing on a bar

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A human statue

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Waiting to have a picture taken with a tourist

4-19 Sunday, Where “O” Where are They???


As most folks know we don’t really plan our trips, we have an idea about where we might want to go and we kind of go from here to there until we finally get somewhere, once we have arrived Larry will start to think about where we might go next. We left Texas headed west, roamed around in New Mexico a bit, moved a bit further west to Arizona, then we moved even further west and ended up at the Pacific Ocean. Spent a few days moving up the coast watching waves, beaches and all things related. Since the motorhome will not float we could go no further, we headed a couple of hundred miles east and ended up in Kings Canyon / Sequoia National Parks (still in California). We had been there about 6 years ago but due to impending bad weather we did not stay long, this time we spent almost a week, didn’t seem that long but then again we had to drive all the way up and down the  mountain  twice to get Larry’s finger worked on. We figured we would be in California for a couple of more weeks but once again mother nature did not agree, seems it was going to start raining in the areas we wanted to see and was suppose to continue raining for the better part of a week, now many times in the past we have holed up for a few days waiting for inclement weather to move through but we did not want to be sitting around for a entire week.  Sunday morning Larry fired up the Minnie and said I think maybe Utah is where we should head. Well, let me tell ya, it is a long drive from Kings Canyon to Utah and there was no way he was driving that far in a day, so how far did we make it??? How about Las Vegas, somehow Larry found the most wonderful place to camp that is only about two blocks from the downtown casinos. OK, maybe it is not camping but it is an RV parking lot with full hookups,  showers, laundry and it is really inexpensive. I have convinced him that since we arrived late in the day and I would really like to do laundry we should spend at least two nights here. We have not been to Vegas in at least 25 years, I am so excited. Sure hope I find time to get that laundry done before he decides to leave, so many casinos and so little time.

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Golden Nugget Casino

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Golden Goose Casino

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Mermaids

Saturday, April 18, 2015

4-17 We’re Back


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Returning to Kings Canyon National Park
 We spent the in the night in Dinuba because it was 7 miles away from San Joaquin Prime Care Clinic. We arrived at the clinic when it opened and was only there a short time. Larry’s finger is healing well but he was told he couldn’t do dishes until the incision was healed. I guess I’ll have to dishes for the rest of our trip. The doctor told him to keep the cut clean. The nurse put some triple antibiotic ointment on finger and a bandage and she put extra bandages and ointment in a bag for us.

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The clinic that worked on Larry’s finger
When we finished with the follow up we went across the road to top off the propane cylinder. Larry had to pull out of the parking lot of the propane place and get the Minnie closer to the propane tank. While he was doing this he hit the step hard and bent it. After getting the propane we went next store to Ace Hardware to look at the damage and we ended up buying a couple of bolts. Larry and I put one of the bolts on the step and headed back to the mountain to Azalea Campground in Kings Canyon National Park. After we had lunch we worked on the step. Larry did a super job of bending it back into shape so we could use it once more. Thank you Larry.

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Larry straightening the step

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Works just like new

For the rest of the day we hung around the campsite and relaxed. When it was time for dinner Larry barbecued bacon for our dinner.

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Barbecuing bacon

4-16 Sequoia National Park


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Giant Forest Museum

We had a wonderful day driving around Sequoia National Park and hiking the trails,  we hiked the Giant Forest Trail, General Sherman Trail and Congress Trail. The Giant Forest trail was a beautiful trail around a meadow and had point of interest signs explaining the ecosystem in the forest. General Sherman is the largest tree in the world not because of its height but the volume the tree. The top of the tree is dead but it still grows in width. We hiked the Congress Trail at the Sherman Tree area, which was 2 miles long and went up 212 feet in elevation. At times it was very strenuous because we were climbing up hill and we were at 7000 feet. During the hike we saw a black bear it was the biggest one we ever saw. The Sequoias were magnificent.

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Larry standing between two Sequoias

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The black bear we saw

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General Lee Sequoia

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Larry walking under a fallen Sequoia on the trail