Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is our 2nd year in the RV, but last year we spent Thanksgiving with my niece, Katy, and her family so I didn’t do too much cooking.  This year, she’s in Michigan with the family – celebrating the arrival of her new little guy, Graysen,


and we’re on our own in Arizona.  So, it was time to attempt roasting a turkey in our convection oven!

This big ‘ol bird completely filled the oven, so I opted for the oven bag to keep my oven from becoming a disaster!

Ready to go in the oven

Waiting for the boys


While I was busy preparing dinner, Tom and the boys loaded the bikes into the back of the truck and drove to the north end of the park to ride the Pipeline Canyon Trail.

Casey kept watch at the door, waiting for them to return!






It was a beautiful day today,

Quiet day on the lake

and there are plenty of people celebrating the holiday here in the park.  Walking around we saw (and smelled) a variety of turkeys cooking – in deep fryers, on grills, and in roaster pans!

Our turkey took a little longer to cook than I expected, but it turned out juicy and delicious!

Our Bird

We had all the fixin’s to go with it – mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, dressing, corn, cranberry jelly, and homemade bread . . . YUM!

Thanksgiving Dinner

It was a great dinner, and we were all stuffed when it was over!  Nicolas was my clean-up guy, washing all the dishes while I packed away the leftovers, and when we were done, we all took a nice long walk around the campground to wear off some of that food!


Thanksgiving sunset

We finished off the day with some football and some pie . . . chocolate cream pie that I made from a kit, and a pumpkin pie courtesy of Fry’s.



Meanwhile, we’re still waiting for our background check to be complete . . . the other host couple from out of state said theirs took 2 weeks, and I’m sure the holiday didn’t help.  We’re hoping to be able to start working next week, so Tom is going to ride along with the host on duty tomorrow for his training session.

We did a little bit of sight-seeing last weekend, exploring the little town of Cave Creek,     Cave Creek, AZ

which is a cute little artsy town just east of us . . . and drove through Scottsdale . . . Tom and I will have to go back down to Scottsdale to walk around one evening.  It looked like a cute area – reminded me of Naples, FL.







Shortly after we arrived, the host couple on site #1 (next to us) moved across the road so that they would have morning sun instead of afternoon sun.  We had been noticing that site # 1 was quite a bit longer than the site we were on, and had an extra parking space next to it which would get the truck out of our patio area.  So, after a few days of deliberating, we decided to make the move before the last host arrives next week.

Day 330_Our new home

It was a good move . . . we have much more room and open space!  We’ll be happy here!

As we moved all of our peripheral stuff over to the new site, Tom took the opportunity to take his motorcycle on a little ride around the park.


He’s hoping to get some riding in this winter.  Mike, one of the other hosts, has a motorcycle as well, and they are planning some rides on their days off.

After our “3 days of rain” last week, we’ve been enjoying the improved weather . . . highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s, and some spectacular sunsets!


Crazy Clouds










Pre-Thanksgiving Sunset

Amazing sky










Although we miss being with our family and friends on the holidays, we’re very thankful that our family is able to have this time together exploring the US and experiencing new adventures!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Gearing up for winter camphosting in Arizona


We left Williams last Thursday and headed south out of the mountains toward Phoenix . . . just in time, too . . . they’re getting a winter storm up there this weekend!

There were a couple of steep grades on I-17 south of Flagstaff, but we just took it slow and had no trouble at all.  After a quick stop at a rest area for lunch,

Lunch Break

we continued on to Lake Pleasant Regional Park, about 30 miles NW of Phoenix.  We checked in with the Park Supervisor, and were directed to site #2 in the Roadrunner Campground.

We got setup under our protective structure – everything fits!

Camphost_Site #2

We’re out in the desert, as evidenced by the variety of cacti that surround us,     DSC_0023



but we’ve got a great view of the lake and the mountains that surround it – beautiful!


There are two campgrounds in this park – Roadrunner which has 75 sites, all developed (electric & water), and Desert Tortoise which has 75 sites also, some developed and some primitive.  There are 4 host sites in Roadrunner, and 2 in Desert Tortoise.

Tom will be one of the hosts, and the boys and I will help out when we have time off from work & school.  We’ll be here through the end of March.     DSC_0017


On Friday morning we met with the Maintenance Supervisor, and then we headed down to downtown Phoenix to get finger-printed for our background checks.  Since we’re from out of state, the checks could take up to 2 weeks, and we can’t start working until they are complete.  So for now, we’re just hanging out and getting to know the area!

On Tuesday, the 4 of us, along with 3 other new hosts, went to the required safety training – we learned about defensive driving, hazmat, blood borne pathogens, fire extinguishers and suspicious packages.

It was a long day, but at least it’s all done!

Phoenix was having warmer-than-normal weather before we got here, with temps in the 90s still, but it’s cooled down to a nice comfortable 80 degree range since we’ve been here, and staying around 60 at night, with low humidity . . . we’re loving this!  We’ve even been sleeping with a window open, which is great!

We haven’t been down to the lake yet – the “locals” say it’s cold, but our fellow camphosts from Oregon assure us that it’s “all relative”!

Nicolas has been taking advantage of the warm weather to get the car and truck all cleaned up,

Washed & waxed -- looks pretty good!










but it’s supposed to rain all day tomorrow, so they’ll probably get dirty again!  Poor Nick!

The campground is pretty quiet during the week, but fills up on the weekends, and we’re supposed to be packed next week for Thanksgiving – we’re looking forward to seeing lots of people around!

We’ll have plenty of time for exploring the area, so we’re working on our list of things to see and do . . . recommendations are welcome!  We’ll also have plenty of time to relax and enjoy the beautiful desert sunsets!

Cloudless sunset

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Biking the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

Our primary reason for staying in Williams was for its proximity to the Grand Canyon National Park.  We considered taking the train up to the Canyon, but decided to drive instead. 

Grand Canyon Train

Tom and I were here about 20 years ago, but so much of the park has changed since then.  There’s a new Visitor Center near the entrance at the South Rim, and several bike paths.  Bright Angel Rentals is in their 2nd year of offering bike rentals at the Grand Canyon, and has several options for exploring the Grand Canyon by bicycle.  We opted for the Hermit’s Rest package, where we would ride 11 miles out to Hermit’s Rest

Fullscreen capture 11162013 75614 PM

and be picked up by van for the trip back to the Visitor Center where we left our car.

The bike path took us through the woods,

Greenway Trail

past the stables where the mules are kept,

A group of mules

where we saw a mule deer with her fawn,

Baby Mule Deer

and then continued into the Village.  We stopped to eat our lunches on some benches at the Bright Angel Trailhead, where we got our first look at the canyon,

Our first view of the Grand Canyon

Bald Eagle over the Canyonand spotted a pair of Bald Eagles circling overhead.







We had four hours to ride the 11 miles out to Hermit’s Rest, so after lunch we walked a short distance down the Bright Angel Trail to the tunnel. 

Bright Angel Trail

At the tunnel


Near the edge!


The views inside the canyon were amazing, and hard to capture with photos!

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon











Grand Canyon

The boys enjoyed the short walk into the canyon, and were pretty confident that they could have made it all the way to the bottom and back up again!  I told them that they could come back in a few years and give it a try!

In the tunnel

Bryce in the tunnel

For today, though, we were going to get back on the bikes and continue along the rim.

Careful Nick!

One last photo from below!

Tom at the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon











Back on the bikes, it was time to tackle the 6% uphill grade . . . this was the one really tough section of the trip, and it was 1/2 mile long . . .

Biking up the big hill

alternating between walking and riding, we all made it to the top!

We rode along Hermit Rd., with the only vehicle traffic being the shuttle busses every 10 or 15 minutes.  In this area we were away from the edge of the canyon, but each shuttle stop brought us back to the rim, with new views at each stop.

Grand Canyon

The Trailview Overlook offered a spectacular view of the Bright Angel Trail and Grand Canyon Village.

Looking back at Canyon Village


Day 316_Grand Canyon










As we continued along the road, eagle-eye Bryce spotted several elk in the woods on the other side.  They walked casually through the trees as we stood on the shoulder to watch.

Elk in the woods

Our next stop was Maricopa Point,













and by the time we got back to the bikes, the elk herd had caught up with us and were gathering in the road . . .

Elk in the road

The rest of the herd










the same road we needed to ride on – and they had no intention of moving!

Baby & Mama

Tom thought he might get them moving with the bike,

Tom's going to chase them away!

but they hardly even moved off the road when the shuttle bus drove through . . . we rode quickly through behind the bus, looking eye-to-eye with the elk (frighteningly close!), but they left us alone and let us pass.  Whew!

We continued to stop at each overlook, and the further we got from the village, the less people were there with us.

















We finally reached Hopi Point which, at 7071 feet, was the highest overlook on the canyon rim.



Hopi Point

From this point, our ride became mostly downhill and followed closer to the canyon rim.  The boys were ready to go . . . me, too . . . I was ready for some downhill!

Biking the Grand Canyon

We were running low on time to get to Hermit’s Rest by our scheduled pickup time at 3:30, but we could not resist the amazing views at each overlook!












We finally spotted the Colorado River . . . I was expecting it to be blue, so had a hard time finding it!

Colorado River

As the sun peeked out from behind the clouds, the various colors of the canyon began to really stand out.

The sun shining on the canyon

The weather was fantastic for a bike ride . . . cool enough to be comfortable in sweatshirts, and just enough sun to keep it from feeling cold!

Tom & Marci at the Grand Canyon

We continued on, and the last several miles on the bike path went by quickly – we sure were glad no elk stepped out in front of us as we flew down the trail!

One more photo stop,

Almost at the end of the road













and then we arrived at Hermit’s Rest, with our shuttle van right behind us!

At Hermit's Rest

We enjoyed the views from Hermit’s Rest while our bikes were loaded on the trailer,

Our ride back

and took one last picture before the trip back to the Visitor Center.

We made it to the end!

We really enjoyed the bike ride out to Hermit’s Rest . . . it was challenging at times (especially that 6% hill!), but the changing views of the canyon from the various overlooks were amazing!  In previous visits, we had never been past Bright Angel Trail, so this was all new territory for us. 

There are other options for getting out to Hermit’s Rest – walking the rim trail, or riding the shuttle buses, but we really enjoyed the bike ride.  It might not be  quite as enjoyable in the summer – with the heat and the crowds – but November was the perfect time for it!