Tuesday, September 2, 2008

9/1/08 - Houston, Texas

We drove from Ozona to Houston - home at last! When we got home we found that three of our azaleas had died and one of the big plants in the back yard had toppled over because it got too big. Here are some statistics of our trip:

Length of trip - 83 days
Miles driven - 12,297
Gas cost - $3,486.76
Campground cost - $1,325.42
Average gas price per gallon - $4.16
Average miles per gallon - 14.685
Average gas cost per day - $42.01
Average campground cost per day - $15.97

Monday, September 1, 2008

8/31/08 - Ozona, Texas

We drove all day and made it to Ozona, Texas - halfway between El Paso and Houston. We stayed at a semi-dumpy RV park in Ozona.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

8/30/08 - El Paso, Texas

We left the Valley of the Fires and drove through Carrizozo, an old railroad town that has seen better days. We went to the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site which contains over 20,000 petroglyphs scratched on boulders by the Jornada Mogollon Indians over 500 years ago. About the same time Michaelangelo was painting the Sistine Chapel. Then we drove to White Sands National Monument where we had lunch. Then we drove into El Paso (back in Texas at last!) where we got the Pathfinder’s oil changed. We stayed at an RV park in El Paso.

8/29/08 - Valley of Fires Recreation Area, New Mexico

As we left the RV park in Albuquerque we took pictures of a couple of classic cars with matching trailers. We stopped off in Soccoro to have lunch at Soccoro Springs Brewing, then we drove to Valley of Fires Recreation Area near Carrizozo, New Mexico where we camped. This area in the Tularosa Valley was covered by lava flows from vents in the valley floor 1,000 to 5,000 years ago. This flow is 2 to 5 miles wide, 44 miles long, and as deep as 165 feet. We hiked on a trail through the lava flow.

Friday, August 29, 2008

8/28/08 - Albuquerque, New Mexico

We hooked up and went about a block away to the Aztec Ruins National Monument. This is a heavily restored Pueblo Indian ruin dating back to about A.D. 1,100. Then we drove to the Chaco Culture National Historic Park in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. This involved driving on a 13 mile dirt washboard road which took us an hour to drive each way – I thought every rivet in the Casita would break, but none did. Between AD 900 and 1150 Chaco Canyon was a major center of culture for the Pueblo Indians. Part of it was crushed by a major rock slide in the early 20th century. We drove to Albuquerque and stayed in an RV park. On the way we saw a beautiful desert sunset.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

8/27/08 - Aztec, New Mexico

We drove to Mesa Verde National Park where we saw the famous cliff dwellings of the Pueblo Indians who lived here from A.D. 600 to A.D. 1,200. Then we went back to Durango where we went to two brewpubs and a microbrewery (Ska Brewing). We stayed at an RV park in Aztec, New Mexico.

8/26/08 - Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado

We drove around the rim road on the south side of the Black Canyon and took pictures at all the pull-outs and short trails. This canyon is very steep and deep – some of the canyon walls are as tall as 2,700 feet. The overlooks are scary – they are on the very edge of the sheer canyon walls. In many places light colored pegmatite dikes crisscross the darker gneiss rock of the canyon. We hooked up the trailer and drove a few miles down the road to Curcanti National Recreation Area where we saw one of the old steam trains that used to traverse the canyon – it was on the last remaining original trestle crossing the Gunnison River. Then we drove south over high mountain passes through Ouray to Silverton where we had a beer at Silverton Brewing. When we were here a few years ago we rode the narrow guage railroad train between Durango and Silverton. We camped for the night at a National Forest campground near Durango.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

8/25/08 - Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado

We drove the rim drive around Colorado National Monument, went on some short hikes, and took lots of pictures. Then we hooked up the trailer and drove back to Grand Junction where we replenished our supplies at the local Wal-Mart. Then we drove to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and set up the trailer in the park campground. This is one of the few national parks we’ve been to that has electric hookups (but no sewer or water hookups, cell phone or internet.) We arrived too late to do any sight seeing.

8/24/08 - Colorado National Monument, Colorado

We hooked up and drove down scenic highway 191 to Vernal, Utah where we went to the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum. This is another great museum and it is the repository of fossils extracted from the rich fossil beds in the surrounding area. There were exhibits of dinosaur skeletons and other fossils, as well as exhibits explaining the geology of the region. Then we drove to Colorado National Monument near Fruita, Colorado and set up the trailer in the park campground. This park has canyons, monoliths, sheer cliffs, and rock formations carved out by uneven erosion of the soft sandstone. We got there late but took a few pictures before going into nearby Grand Junction where we visited two brewpubs and had dinner at one of them.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

8/23/08 - Mann's Campground, near Manilla, Utah

We updated the blog this morning, took showers, and then hooked up and drove to Fossil Butte National Monument, near Kemmerer, Wyoming. This area has an outcropping of limestone shale known as the Green River Formation from old lakes dating back 50 million years ago to the Cenozoic Era. It contains fossils that are among the most perfectly preserved remains of ancient plant and animal life in the world. We went to the visitor’s center that has examples of the fossils that have been extracted from the butte. Some of these included fish that were in the process of eating other fish when they died and later became fossilized. We saw a lady meticulously cleaning limestone matrix from around the fossilized bones of a fish. Then we took a hike up to an area where two college students working on their degrees were excavating fossils from the side of the butte. They showed us a fish fossil they had just extracted. Half of the fossil was still in the ground and the other half was removed (see picture). We left and drove to a campsite in the Flaming Gorge Recreational Area in northern Utah. We have been in three states today.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

8/22/08 - Montpelier, Idaho

We left the camp and drove south out of the park. A cool front had blown in clearing the haze out of the air so we took more pictures of the Grand Tetons. We went to the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson. This is a great museum. It is only 10 years old and has an outstanding collection of wildlife paintings and sculptures. We ate lunch at the Snake River Brewing Company which claims to be the most prize winning brewpub in the nation. Then we drove on to Montpelier, Idaho where we checked into the KOA campground. We needed to update the blog after so many days without electric hookups and internet.

8/21/08 - Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

These are some of the most magnificent mountains in the world. There are really jagged and they rise abruptly out of the Snake River valley floor with no foothills. We got up at 4:45 am and drove to the Oxbow turnout to see the sunrise and take pictures. This is where Ansel Adams took some of his famous photos. We drove up to a lookout point on Signal Mountain Summit to see a view of the Teton Mountain Range and valley. We visited the historic area of the park where the first settlers made their homes. The historic church was great. It has a window behind the pulpit with a view of the Tetons. We visited the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve. This was land the Rockefellers lived on and was donated to the park system. This preserve opened only two months ago. We went on a hike to a nearby lake. We saw two moose today walking along the Snake River.