Thursday, April 28, 2016

Driving to Cedar City, Utah

On Wednesday Bob and I decided to drive 80 miles to Cedar City and 1) visit Cedar Breaks National Monument, 2) pick up some items at WalMart, and 3) buy my daughter Kristen a Starbucks You Are Here mug for Utah. Not only does Cedar City have the closest WalMart to the campground we are staying at, it also has the only Starbucks in Utah that is south of Salt Lake City.  We would love to visit SLC but it is not going to happen on this trip.

We started out with cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid 50's, but as we turned into Dixie National Forest the temps started to drop. The road climbed over mountains and the temperatures continued to drop, into the 40's, 30's, and then 20's. The road became icy in spots and we saw snow covering the ground and hanging on tree branches.
Bob and I decided to run our errands first, so we hit Starbucks and picked up the mug before heading to WalMart.
We headed back into Dixie National Forest and it started to rain...
 ...then it started to snow.
The scenery that we could see was lovely. Not exactly what we expected at the end of April, but very pretty nonetheless. Unfortunately, not only was Cedar Breaks National Monument closed, but there was a foot of snow on the unplowed road leading to it. We'll have to come back and see that another time, too.

The weather looks pretty lousy for the rest of the week, according to The plan is to be leaving this campground on Saturday morning and moving to one closer to Bryce Canyon and with (hopefully) better WiFi. However, on Saturday and Sunday we may get snow. We will be watching the weather to see if we can travel at all. If not, we may be here a couple more days. It's all good!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Zion National Park

I've been looking forward to this National Park for a long time now. Whenever a group of RVers gather and discuss fun places they've been to, sooner or later someone will say, "Have you been to Zion National Park yet?" When you say no, they will sigh and say, "You HAVE to go."

And they are right. It is an amazing place.

Weather reports for this week have been pretty lousy, predicting rain every day. So when Tuesday came and the weather reports looked OK, we decided that was our day. Unfortunately, so did everyone else who was in the area. The lines were long to get into the park and the roads were a bit crowded, but that did not dampen our spirits. We were going to Zion!

Words escape me in describing this place, so I am sorry but I am just going to post a few photos out of the hundred or so that I took. You will see that the morning started out cloudy before starting to clear. I just ask that you view these by picturing the scale of these cliffs and mountains.  They are unbelievably huge. Remember that, to get a real idea of what it's like driving through this park.


The scenery was almost too beautiful; everywhere we looked there was another breathtaking scene. But this is one place that everyone needs to put on their bucket list to visit.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Best Friends and Weaving a Roller Towel

We are settled into our campground in Utah, not too far from Zion National Park, and have taken a couple of days to relax after some frequent travel days. It was an easy drive to Utah and we have some pretty spectacular scenery from our campsite.
On Sunday I started a weaving project. On Ravelry a group of us are doing a Weave ALong (WAL) to make a roller towel. You probably remember these if you are of a certain age. Every public restroom had a towel on a roller bar to wipe your hands on after washing up. Ick. They are no longer being used in public restrooms in the US, but are actually a pretty nice way to keep your towel hung up in your kitchen without it ending up on the floor. And you don't need a wide loom to weave one. The ends may be fastened together with Velcro, buttons, snaps, or ties. Here is the start of my towel, being woven 11" wide on my Ashford Knitters Loom:

On Monday the weather was pretty iffy so we drove into the town of Mt. Carmel to see what was there. We ran some errands, then called Best Friends Animal Society to see if we could visit. We signed up for a tour of their facility.

This place was amazing. Set into a cliff, the administration building features a gift shop, movie theater, and offices. We met our tour guide and hopped into a company van to ride out to Dogtown.

 Dogtown consists of groups of buildings with 8 runs encircling each one, each run containing 1-3 dogs. We were encouraged not to get too close, to avoid getting the dogs worked up.
Inside each building the dogs were fed and behavioral training was given.
We met Joy, a 6 year old pit bull who loves people but who is aggressive towards other animals. Most of the animals here arrive as "unadoptable" and are given intensive training to rehabilitate them. Michael Vick's abused dogs are here and several have been adopted out after this training. They are referred to as the "Vick-tory" dogs.

Besides dogs, the Animal Society cares for cats, rabbits, parrots, chickens, pigs, horses, goats, and sheep. There are volunteer opportunities for individuals as young as 6 years of age and up, and for 1-2 weeks or more in duration.

We found Best Friends Animal Society to be an amazing and inspiring place, and despite the weather (which turned rainy and windy and very cold) we were glad we took the tour.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Neon Museum and Hoover Dam

Boy, we have been busy! I am looking forward to a quiet Sunday to rest up (and do a little weaving.) But let me tell you about our Friday.

After we spent much of Thursday walking around Las Vegas we were ready for something else to do. I found this little museum called the Neon Museum not very far from the campground, where old neon signs are restored and displayed. We had to check it out.

The office of the museum is housed in the historic La Concha Motel building, newly restored and very beautiful. The mosaic inside is a reproduction of the original one that was displayed in the reception area.
Our tour was led by Amy, a volunteer docent who leads tours on her one day off a week. Amy is passionate about neon signs and really knows her stuff.
And oh, the stories behind the signs! We visited "The Boneyard," where the signs are kept, some of them restored.
The Green Shack was originally located next to the Hoover Dam, and the owner sold bootleg whisky out her kitchen window. When the dam was finished and the men left, she moved to Las Vegas. Her business was very popular in the 1930s.
We saw the sign from the Stardust Hotel....
...and the Sahara.
But my favorite stories were the ones told about simple signs like this one. This MiniMart was located outside of Vegas, and they did, indeed, give away free aspirin. It was said that you could give them $20 to hold, go into the casinos to gamble, and when you lost all your money you would go back to the MiniMart. The owner would return your $20 so you could afford gas to get home.
The Frontier was where Elvis first performed. The audience hated his music and lewd movements so much that they ran him out of town, not to return for many years.
This statue was created by an artist who showed up for the museum tour last week. He was very upset to see that his work had been painted and the figure given a Hawaiian shirt. He had intended it to remain unpainted with a rust finish.

After we left the Neon Museum we went back to pick up Auggie and drove to the Hoover Dam. We learned about the building of it from the Boulder City Hotel Museum, near the Dam.

It is truly an amazing structure and a fascinating part of our history. Here are some fun facts to know and tell:
  • The Hoover Dam is 726 ft tall, 171 ft taller than the Washington Monument in Washington, DC.
  • The base of the Hoover Dam is as thick as two football fields measured end to end.
  • There is enough concrete in the Hoover Dam to build a two lane road from Seattle, WA to Miami, FL, or a four foot wide sidewalk around the Earth at the Equator.
  • Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the US and contains enough water to flood the entire state of NY with 1 foot of water.
  • Between 1931 and 1936, when the dam was built 96 men were killed in industrial accidents. None, however, were buried in the concrete.
On Saturday we drove 208 miles to our next campsite in Utah, where we will be for at least a week.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Las Vegas Strip

We arrived in Las Vegas on Wednesday afternoon after an easy drive from Mojave, CA. There's not much to say about Mojave--it was a stopping point between our campground outside Sequoia NP and Las Vegas, but it was quiet and only $20 for the night.

Today Bob and I drove to the Las Vegas Strip and parked in the Venetian's parking garage (free!) so we could walk around. Inside the hotel we located the shops and enjoyed gawking at the sights.
You can take a gondola ride on the water but we passed on that. I loved how it looked like we were outside on a street in Venice. That's a painted sky but it looked real.
The ceilings were all elaborately painted in the casino. And did I gamble? Yes, I did.  I borrowed a dollar from Bob, asked another gambler how to do it, and put my money into the machine. Ten seconds later I was down a dollar and I walked away. If God wants to make me rich, he knows I will give him one chance at the slots, which I play every time I am in a casino. 

So far I have gambled away a total of $2 in the last 15 years. What can I say? It's the call of the slots!

We left the casino and walked down the Strip, where we dodged women trying to give me moisturizer samples and people offering shows at discount rates. 

The buildings were very interesting.
 The 1/2 scale Eiffel Tower at Paris
The Roman Colosseum at Caesar's Palace

We also saw some interesting characters walking around.
 Yoda and Chewbacca
 Sexy police officers
Michael Jackson

Bob and I decided to go to Hexx for lunch. I ordered a Turkey Club/French Fries but asked the waiter to hold the bread, cheese, and fries. He brought me this.
I'm finally one of those people who photographs her food! But it was nicely plated and very tasty.

By the time we finished our meal and walked back to the Venetian we were ready to head back to the campground. I am very glad we got to see a little bit of Vegas. Since we are not into clubs, gambling, shows or drinking, the little taste of the Strip we had was enough. Tomorrow we will go to a museum and to see the Hoover Dam, and Saturday we head for Utah.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Kings Canyon National Park and My Scarf is Finished

I have to admit that I had never heard of this park until we decided to come to Sequoia NP. The two parks are, in fact, attached, with Sequoia to the south and Kings Canyon to the north. We set out to see what we could see.
 First off, I must show you this shot of the area near our campground. It is Lake Kaweah and is as pretty a spot as you can find anywhere. Sequoia NP is off in the distance.
Like Sequoia NP, one travels to Kings Canyon NP by way of a long, winding road that continues to increase in elevation. There are not as many scenic turnouts as in Sequoia but you can see over a dozen mountain peaks from these vistas. If you love roller coasters, you will love driving in this part of the country!

We entered Kings Canyon National Park and stopped at the Visitors Center, where it was confirmed that the actual canyon was still closed for the winter. However, we could visit one of the Sequoia groves that featured General Grant, the third largest tree in the world and the one that had the widest trunk.
Pretty impressive, eh? This tree is forty feet across, about the same width as the length of our motorhome. A fence prevented us from getting too close, and I did wish that there was something in the photo that would provide scale, but there it is. 

Fun facts! If the trunk of the General Grant Tree was a gas tank on a car that got 25 miles per gallon, you could drive around the earth 350 times without refueling.

This tree is so wide it would take about 20 people holding hands to make a complete circle around the base.

If this tree's trunk could be filled with sports equipment, it could hold 159,000 basketballs or more than 37 million ping pong balls.

This tree was proclaimed to be the Nation's Christmas Tree by President Calvin Coolidge in 1926, and in 1956 it was designated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to be a National Shrine, a living memorial to those who have given their lives for their country.

We headed back on a different road, that took us through a beautiful countryside. As we passed a small restaurant, out in the middle of nowhere, we spied this in the road in front of us.
This bull was lumbering along, not at all afraid of our car even when we passed it. My window was open and I could hear a woman sitting in front of the restaurant as she commented, "Oh look, she's videoing him." It sounded like the bull was a frequent visitor to the restaurant. In any rate, we had no cell service to call the police about him, so we continued on. The bull stopped at the entrance to a nearby farm, turned in, and headed for the barn, cool as could be. We got a chuckle out of watching him.

While I rode along I kept my hands busy twisting fringe on the scarf I finished weaving, and when we returned home I washed it and tossed it in the dryer on air dry for 10 minutes.  I am pleased with the way it turned out.
To the lower left you can see the back of it, which has no floats but shows subtle striping. It has a nice drape, too. Details are on my Ravelry page.

We have really enjoyed this area but it's time to move on. The plan is to stop for one night in a campground on the way to Las Vegas, to break up the trip a little. After all, we are in no rush!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sequoia National Park

On Saturday, Bob and I drove into Sequoia National Park. The day was pleasant with blue skies. We tend to avoid free National Park days because of the crowds, but Sequoia is not the most popular park in the system, so we didn't feel too crowded. 
On the road into the park we passed a lovely river.
The park sign is just inside the entrance, and features a native American carved into the sign.
The parking for Tunnel Rock was over crowded, so we kept on going, not bothering to stop.
The road kept climbing, over 7000 feet above sea level, and the views were magnificent.
We wanted to see General Sherman, considered the largest tree in the world. Our National Park system assumes that if you are not officially "handicapped" you are able to manage a challenging hike, and only cars with the handicapped placard were allowed to park near the tree. I was a bit concerned about the ability of my knees to handle a steep path, but really wanted to see this tree. So we parked at the non-handicapped parking area 1/2 mile above the tree and hiked down to it.  The path was paved but quite steep in areas, with 94 steps to get down in total. I was glad I had my walking stick with me to help a little! Going down the path was harder on my knees than going back up, and I was a bit wobbly at the end. It was worth it, though--the tree was magnificent! You can just see a person standing to the left of the tree, to get an idea of the scale of this monster.

Walking back up the trail was difficult because of the altitude.  At 7000 feet you are going to feel the thin air, and we were glad to have benches to rest along the way. At one bench, a 20-ish Israeli man offered his seat to me , saying, "It's good to help the elderly." I chuckled--are we elderly? I guess we must be but except for my knees, I don't feel old.

My knees ached the rest of the day but feel better today. Bob's hip was hurting him, too. This sight-seeing thing is tough on, shall we say, our mature bodies! 

Weaving update: My scarf is almost finished and I hope to have a photo to show you all in the next day or two. I've been weaving every evening while I listen to podcasts on my iPod. We get almost no TV stations here, not that I really miss TV.

It's Sunday as I write this and we are having a quiet day at home. Bob went out and bought a new propane grill since the one we got from LL Bean about three years ago has had a mishap and is kaput. We met a couple camped in the site next to us and the woman is a weaver, so we exchanged info. It's fun to meet weavers on the road--there aren't a lot of us out there!