This blog is about our travels in our solar powered "Airstream" and living off grid, in our passive solar home, near Bancroft, Ontario, Canada.

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Saturday, 31 March 2012

Desert Blooms

Here in the desert of New Mexico spring has arrived. The hills around Rock Hound State Park are a lovely golden yellowish orange thanks to this little flowers.

These little flowers cover the desert floor for miles.

As the sun begins to set on another perfect day these little flowers close up for the night.

Looking across the valley from our campsite we see the hue of yellow and orange as the desert blooms in spring.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Tire Blowout

We met Kip and Anita a few days ago in Canyon De Chelly. They pull a lovely small (24ft) 5th wheel and were heading home when we met.

This is their trailer tire after a blow-out doing 60 mph down I-40 in New Mexico. I'll let Kip tell the story in his own words.

This is the article Kip sent to the local paper in appreciation for the way he was treated.

My wife and I are like migratory birds, who travel the USA in our little fifth wheel. Today, we stopped for gas in Dalhart on US 54 where the highway takes a left turn. As I got out of the truck, a young woman, coming out of the gas station, called to me and told me that I was
missing a tire. She was right! We had hit something on the road on our way into Dalhart and it took out one of our tires. She asked me if I would like some help. This was not a difficult question to answer. She called her office at Continental Credit and told them she would be a bit late on her return to work. Dorothy then got the number for Heiser Tire Service for me and then she decided to call them herself. She told them exactly what the problem was and where I was located. This Good Samaritan then promptly left for work. Within five minutes, the service truck from Heiser Tire Service came to the church parking lot next to the station and took
off the tireless rim and put on our spare tire. We followed this helpful guide to Heiser Tire Service. They quickly assigned a team of workers to replace the tires on our fifth wheel and check our brakes and wheel bearings. The service was friendly, quick, and the work was carefully done. I'm so thankful for Travis and his A+ team of workers (especially Jose), who helped us get back on our way in under two hours. If this is an example of the people in Dalhart, Texas, then I can only believe that it is the home of USA's Good Samaritans. Bless you all!   Rolland and Anita 

Please, check your tire pressure, the age of your tires, the condition of your brakes and wheel bearings before you leave home. This accident had a safe ending, many don't.

Thanks for letting me use your photo Kip and allowing me to share this with our readers.

Safe travels everyone.

Thursday, 29 March 2012


Yesterday we pulled into "Rock Hound" state park, here in New Mexico after a lovely day in City of Rocks SP. Rock Hound is one of Mary's favourite parks and she can collect rocks for home as the park encourages everyone to take 15 pounds of rocks when they leave. We were also hoping to see Carl, a Korean war vet, we met last winter. So far no Carl.

After lunch we went into Deming for supplies and when we returned found a business card stuck in our trailer door. It had a beautiful Airstream trailer pictured on the card and the names Mike and Connie. WOW! Mike and Connie are in the park. Went outside and looked around and there they were waving at us from across the park.  So wonderful to meet quite by chance here in New Mexico. We met Connie and Mike in Quartzsite a few months ago, said our goodbyes when they left and planned to meet in Parker. That didn't happen but we were glad to see them yesterday. We love surprises.

No pictures from Rock Hound yet but I'll share a few from City of Rocks.

Our trailer tucked into a campsite amongst the rocks.

Every campsite and section is named after a star. They have their own observatory here and on Friday and Saturday nights hold "Star Parties" How cool is that for a state park program?

Yes tress grow amongst the rocks, here in this hot, dry region of New Mexico.

Mary, checking out some ancient grinding holes.

Here are the holes created as the Indian women would grind their seeds to make flour. From here they had a beautiful view across the valley.

Safe travels and thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

City of Rocks, SP, NM

Had a quiet night at "City of Rocks" state park in New Mexico. This is a small park, a geological wonder that rests beneath some of the darkest skies in the country. This makes it a perfect location for star gazing and they even have their own observatory. Unfortunately for us,"star Gazing Parties" are held on Friday and Saturday and today (Wednesday) we leave for Rock Hound SP.

From a distance, the rock formations look like buildings scattered throughout a city, thus: "City of Rocks" SP.

Most camp sites are located among the rocks a good distance apart from other campers. The campers in the background are located at the electric sites which are closer together.

These formations were created 33 million years ago, from a volcanic eruption, 1,000 times greater than Mount St. Helen's in 1980.

Here we are tucked safely behind some rocks, enjoying the park and the warm temperatures.

Safe travels and thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Twisties in New Mexico

Today we took the 152 highway over to the City of Rocks State Park in New Mexico. We climbed to over 8,000 feet and the truck and trailer performed just fine, no overheating, no brake issues. It is a fabulous drive, slow, because some turn you are down to 10 mph, but beautiful.  We passed a number of campgrounds but most were set up for tents. A trailer or small motorhome could use the parking lot for an overnight stay but not for long term camping. The pictures above were taken as we drove and admired the route. If you are in the area, take the 152, you won't be disappointed.

Monday, 26 March 2012

More Canyon Pictures

As you can see by our entry we really enjoyed our stay in Canyon De Chelly. The canyon is sacred to the Navajo Indians but they are kind enough to allow us to view so many sites along the canyon route and also provide free camping at the mouth of the canyon. The canyon has a long history of human occupation and many ruins are visible as you tour the canyon floor. There are also many active Navajo farms in the canyon so much of the land is off limits for visiting.

Spider Rock in Canyon De Chelly.

Same rock different location.

Looking up the canyon, you can see the tail the 4x4 follow when they come into the canyon.

You will need to click and enlarge this picture but if you look closely there are Indian ruins on the horizontal ledge near the top of the picture. The Anazasi Indians lived here 1,000 years ago. Their homes were 300 feet above the canyon floor facing south for the warmth of the winter sun.This was their winter home, in the summer they would grow crops and stay on the floor of the canyon. The food was stored up in the ruins, carried their in baskets up rope ladders.

Sunday, 25 March 2012


We are still camping on the Navajo Reservation at Canyon De Chelly, Arizona.  Our internet connection here is very slow, and it takes forever to upload pictures to our blog page. We will probably stay here another day or two and then move back to Page and then into Utah.. I will post again once we get better reception.

Safe travels

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Young Talent

When we travel we never know what will happen going down the road or in the next campground. When we did the "White House" hike here in Canyon De Chelly, last Thursday,  Mary wanted to buy a stone etching from one of the artists at the bottom of the canyon. Only problem was we left our money back in our trailer. "No problem", said the artist, "I'll deliver it to your trailer"

Well, Thursday night, the stone etching was delivered, not by the artist but by a friend. Turns out the friend's son is quiet an accomplished stone carver at the young age of 13. "Bring him over.  We want to see what he does."  So last night, just after supper the whole family showed up and we had a wonderful time.

Ramone explains his work to Mary. There is a story with every etching.

Kim and Anita, our camping neighbours,  checked out some samples as well.

We had a lovely visit with mom and dad and their three wonderful children. Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Hiking in Canyon De Chelly

The weather is perfect for hiking and yesterday we decided to do the "White House" trail here in Canyon De Chelly. It is a mile and a half hike down to the canyon floor. It also includes an elevation change of 600 feet, which was OK on the way down, a killer on the way back up. The path is excellent, very well maintained and they even cut steps into the rock to make the hike a little easier.

This is Indian land that we are on and every lookout along the route today had artists selling silver jewellery, pottery and rock paintings. Mary, being the artist in the family, was very impressed with the work and ended up buying a number of pieces. Here the artist explains the meaning of the symbols he used in his art.

Can you see a portion of the trail curving through the right side of the picture? We followed this path down onto the floor of the valley to see some Navajo ruins.

This is what we came to see; the "White House", named for the long wall in the upper dwelling that was covered with plaster by the first dwellers. This settlement was used over a 1,000 years ago and then abandoned because of drought and crop failures. Today, this whole valley is sacred to the Navajo people and much of the area is off limits to tourists. Most interesting is that the Navajo still inhabit the area, farming and raising sheep, cattle and horses, which roam freely throughout the canyon and the towns.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Canyon DeChelly

Yesterday we left Monument Valley just after 10 and headed for Canyon de Chelly in Arizona. We are dancing back and forth across the state line as we try and visit the National Parks in this area.

This was our view out our livingroom window as we ate breakfast yesterday in Monument Valley. It is a place worth visiting if you are in the area.

We even had some folks in a tent, camping nearby. The temperature dropped to 0* C last night. That's cold for tent camping.

Highway 191 is an interesting highway. It runs through the Hopi Indian Reservation.  In all our travels we've never seen domestic animals calmly eating grass at the side of the road as cars and trucks roared by. We saw horses, sheep, goats, cattle all on their own, oblivious of the traffic as we drove towards Canyon DeChelly. So, if you are coming this way, get here before it gets dark. Not sure what the animals do once the sun goes down.

Safe travels and thanks for dropping by.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Monument Valley, Utah

From the cold and snow we moved to the cold and windy. Arrived at Monument Valley visitor's centre early yesterday morning and the first thing we saw was a herd of sheep going through the parking lot. (see picture above) No shepherd, just two dogs working the sheep and keeping them moving. I've never seen that in a parking lot before.

After getting set up in the primitive camping area, there is only one camping area, we had lunch and Mary decided to make cookies and home-made bread before we drove through Monument Valley. It is a 17 mile drive and takes about 90 minutes allowing yourself time to stop and take pictures.

It's a dirt road through the park, very rough and you really need a high clearance vehicle for travel. You can also take an open truck tour but we felt it was rather cold  for us to sit out in the open in the back of a pick-up truck. We opted to drive ourselves.

Everyone wants their picture taken with the monuments in the background so we often had to wait for the view to clear of tourists. Of course every view also had Navajo Indians selling beautiful hand made jewellery so there was lots to do while one waited.

This view is called the "Back Window" for obvious reasons.

Twisted trees, that survived as best they could against the constant wind and summer droughts.

Looking across the valley with a splendid view of the monuments.

Safe travels everyone.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Winter Wonderland

Well it happened; got caught by the snow, but we are loving it. We camped last night at Navajo Monument, Arizona. Spent the day in the park, enjoying the visitor's centre, and hiking down into the canyon to see the ruins.

We left Page when the sun was shining, but as we climbed towards Kayenta the clouds rolled in and the flakes started to fall.  As you can see by the pictures above, big flakes were falling when we pulled into the visitor's centre.

Had a nice chat with the folks travelling in their truck campers. They like the versatilely, comfort and maneuverability of their rigs.

We first sat and enjoyed the movie on the Ancestral Puebloans who occupied this valley from 1250 to the 1300. They then left and it is believed that a long drought and poor crop production forced them to seek another valley in which to live.

After the movie we followed this snow covered path down into the valley.

Unfortunately, being winter, this was as close as we could get. If you visit this site in the summer they have conducted hikes that take you into the village and explain the life of the people who lived there.

Click on this photo and you can see the Indian village. Looks almost like a toy set because it was across the valley, quite a distance from our observation post.

Our camp at Navajo Monument, Arizona. Last night it got down to -9*C.

Sunset from the top of the mountain.

Today we move 50 miles over to Monument Valley where we will camp and take a drive through more spectacular natural monuments.

Safe travels and we are coming home ..................... in a few weeks.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Page - Truck Wash

The pictures above were taken in Page last Saturday. We went in to get groceries and the youth group at the Baptist Church was having a "car wash" but they did trucks too. After 3 months in the desert our truck was ready for a bath. The kids had fun, raised money and we got a clean, happy truck.

We are still on the beach at Lake Powell. All alone, although there are two motorhomes up on the bluff. After breakfast we will move over to Monument Valley and spend a few days exploring that area of Arizona.

It's difficult to see unless you click on the picture above but there is a model on the beach with a photographer and two assistants. They showed up yesterday afternoon and walked, down from the bluffs in the wind and cold. Sure hope it was a successful photo shoot.

Time for breakfast, must run, safe travels to everyone on the road today.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

She Makes Me Nervous

Visited Horseshoe Bend just outside of Page, Arizona the other day. Now if you have been to the Grand Canyon you know how spectacular the views are. But at the GC you are behind a barrier. There is a path. You know where it's safe and you know not to go beyond the barriers.

At the Horseshoe Bend site there are no barriers, just big signs warning you that the edges may look solid but there might not be any supporting stone under the ledge. Not sure what Mary ate that day but she had no fear. Just looking over the edge from a safe distance back gave my stomach the willies, BIG WILLIES!

Not Mary. She was on the lip, leaning way over with my camera, trying to get the WOW! shot. I was way back behind her yelling, "Mary!  Get back here! You're giving me a heart attack" Maybe she's going deaf, not sure, but we both survived and these are the pictures she got. My heart is still racing.

Horseshoe Bend, a breathtaking site to say the least.

Yes, Mary looks very relaxed, but that dropoff is at least a 1,000 feet; one slip, no guardrail, no Mary. Fortunately she finally listened to me, didn't slip and we are still talking to each other.

If the weather co-operates we hope to leave today and head over to Monument Valley.


It is cold and raining this morning. (8a.m.) I think we will just stay put, enjoy a book and Mary's home cooking.

Safe travels and thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, 17 March 2012


Happy St.Patrick's Day to all my Irish readers.

Today finds us camped on the shore of Lake Powell just inside the border of Utah. We are seven miles from Page and will stay here until Monday and watch the cold front move through.

We couldn't be closer to the water. Almost got stuck in the sand but put the truck into four wheel drive and she pulled us out. Now we are sitting on a spot firm enough to support the weight of the trailer. There are four other trailers here but as you can see we all have plenty of space to camp. Cost is $10.00/night; $5.00 for seniors. Don't you just love growing old?

Sunset over Lake Powell. This site is called Lone Rock for the obvious reason.

Yesterday morning we visited the V-V Heritage site where we saw so many beautiful petroglyphs.  These had been cut into the soft sandstone a 1,000 years ago.

Above and below you can see Mary's close up shots of the symbols.

The drawings are positioned in such a way that the spring solstice brings a shaft of sunlight across certain drawings telling the Indians it's time to plant their crops.

Today we will clean house, check out Page and keep an eye on the weather. Stop by tomorrow for some beautiful shots of Horseshoe Bend. It was an amazing site to visit.

Safe travels and thanks for stopping by.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Snow is Coming

We are camped in Coconino National Forest just north of Montezuma's Well. This area contains several pueblo ruins by the Sinagua tribe  who lived here over 1,000 years ago. The pictures above were taken at our campsite when we pulled in yesterday. It was very tight for our 30 ft. trailer but we managed and were the only campers there for the night.

There is a couple from Yuma University camping in a motorhome just up the road. They have 3 young boys and decided to do some travelling during their reading week. The boys had a great time sliding down the rocks in their shorts. Put kids in water and they are happy all day long.

Today we will tour the V-V Heritage Site to view the petroglyphs (Native American Rock Art). We were told this site has some of the best and most amazing native art in the area. I may post pictures after the tour but that will depend on internet connection and time. We want to reach Page, Arizona later today as the weekend weather is expected to turn cold and snow is in the forecast. Brrrrrrrrrr!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Back in Sedona

From the desert floor to the high ponderosa pines, we covered it all yesterday. We climbed over the mountain passes at elevations over 7, 000 feet and my brakes were hot, hot, hot. But we made it safely and now we are camped on BLM land just down the road from the GM dealer Don took me to just a few weeks ago.

Here we are coming off the mountains and dropping down towards Jerome, Arizona.

Did I mention narrow streets, and we are pulling a 30 ft. trailer. What was I thinking?

Even the tourists were taking pictures of us as we squeezed through town.

We made it! Free camping on BLM land just outside of Cottonwood, looking towards Sedona. What a view.

Our first stop was "New Frontiers" for some organic groceries. Look at those blossoms, beautiful!

Not sure about today. We have several options and will decide once we've had breakfast. Tony, we're having fresh scones, just out of the oven, yummy! Oh yes, fresh, orange icing; oh so good.

Safe travels.