Hidden Falls

We began a hike up to Hidden Falls and as we walked along the path, John & I were talking and pretty much not paying attention to our surroundings.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move.  I stopped and looked and this bull moose was about 20 feet off of the path, happily eating some grass and he really couldn’t care less that we were there.

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As we continued along the shores of Jenny Lake, some beautiful butterflies flew all around us.

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Once he realized that we didn’t have food for him, he decided that a nap on a warm rock would have to suffice.

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Moving Northward

We caught our break in the weather and began making our way through Wyoming.  We stayed the first night in Sinclair at a BLM campground along the river which was very nice.  The next day, we continued to Lander.  We originally planned to stay in Lander for a week, however, the snow levels were still too low so we continued over to Grand Teton National Park.

We had visited Grand Teton several years ago, however, like many people, we simply drove through on our way out of Yellowstone.  We had the opportunity this time to spend about 10 days exploring the park.  It was just beautiful!

We arrived and found a place to set up right next to a creek with the Teton Mountains in the background.  It was a great backdrop!

The bison calves had just been born and were grazing in the meadows in the park.

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We continued onto Jackson Lake.  There was still some ice floating in the lake and a few snow patches along the edges.  The view across the lake was beautiful

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Of course, whenever water is anywhere in our path, Riley is begging to jump in.  He had received his official release from the vet to go swimming so, we of course had to comply with doctors orders 🙂

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We continued on to Jenny Lake to enjoy another beautiful view and a picnic along the creek.  Dakota stayed home on this outing and got some much needed rest.

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After a walk around the part of the lake that dogs are allowed on, we continued to Leigh Lake.

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Beautiful views were at every direction that we turned.  We are all so excited to be back in the mountains, watching the grasses wake from their winter slumber to a vibrant green, the baby animals wobbling on their legs and seeing snow capped peaks.

We have several stories to share from this beautiful part of our country in the coming days.

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Springtime in Colorado

After leaving the sand dunes, we made our way into Denver.  We planned on spending Easter with our families along with  11 additional days for hanging out & visiting everyone.  Our 11 days turned into 37!  We had some weather related damage to our awning so we had to wait for parts to come in & then what was supposed to be a sunny April turned into 4 snowstorms!  There was no way that we were willing to travel in the snow. Wyoming, which is our next stop, was being hit with additional storms, so, we just decided to stay put & spend extra time with family & friends.

We started with a beautiful Easter morning that included church, a lovely dinner & lots of egg hunting with Hayvin, Zoey, Xavier & Gavin.  The first hunt, I forgot that little ones under the age of 5 can’t find eggs in difficult places, they have to be easy!  (Its been a while :))

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After searching & hiding eggs for a few hours with all of them, we spent some time with my Aunt & Grandmother.  John spent the day up with his family & enjoyed his time with them as well.

After Easter we had a large mass removed from Riley’s leg which had grown from the size of a nickle to 2″x 3″ in 6 weeks.  We were very glad to find out that it was not cancerous & he is doing great!  He had an extremely rough couple of days after surgery so Dakota took this time to stay at my mom’s house, where she was completely spoiled & pampered and played with Yogi, my mom’s dog.  I honestly wasn’t sure if Dakota wanted to come home after 3 days of being the queen!  Lol

After Riley healed enough from his surgery, I spent a very special girls night out.  I went to see some friend from high school that I had not seen in 20 years.  It was great to see them & hear about their lives & celebrate Shannon’s birthday with her.

During our stay, we enjoyed having Hayvin & Zoey stay the night with us on a couple of occasions & they had a great time tackling their Uncle John to the ground & running around & chasing both of us.

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We also celebrated Hayvin’s 6th birthday while we were in town.  How time has flown!

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We moved up to the north side of town to visit John’s family and enjoyed several dinners with his sisters and parents.  While we were up there we had a foot of snow arrive & the snow was blowing quite hard & it iced everything up.  This was the perfect night at 3am for Dakota to need to go outside!  A hair dryer to the door just in time saved an accident from happening.

Another snow storm moved in & we were starting to question our decision, however, in Colorado fashion, the next day was sunny & 60 degrees.  The herons ,birds, & geese were happily back out on the ponds.

We enjoyed a great get together with some of John’s friends that he has known since childhood.  We laughed and recalled funny moments in all of our lives & overall had a great evening.

The state parks where we stay in Denver have a rule that you can only stay in one park for 14 days, so, we headed back to the south end of Denver & stayed at Chatfield.  If we thought the weather would calm down, then we were seriously mistaken!  It went from 4in of snow to 80 degrees & back to 7 more inches of snow, crazy!

During this time we spent one of the sunny afternoons celebrating our nephew Stefyn’s birthday which was very nice.  They came to visit us after the last snowstorm & his brother Landyn, decided we should have a serious snowball fight!  We laughed & played for several hours that afternoon & we enjoyed our time with both of them.

On the 80 degree day, we took Hayvin, Zoey, Xavier & Gavin to the beach at Chatfield to play in the water & sand which they all had a great time.

We had planned to leave between storms but John had been looking for a new truck while we were there & he found one right before we were set to leave, so we waited another few days so we could switch out the seats, the hitch and other items.

Our last day in Denver we spent visiting some of John’s friends from Costco which was very nice.

A break in the weather approached & this time we quickly took advantage of it and headed to Wyoming!

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The Great Sand Dunes

Our next stop was purely for fun!  We invited my mom and my niece Hayvin to come down and play at the Sand Dunes.  John and I both had been here as kids but I do believe we had just as much fun as adults 🙂

As you arrive, you have a dramatic backdrop of the Sangre De Cristo mountains and the dunes seem to flow right into the mountains yet, they seem completely out of place.

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The first day, we climbed up the first two dunes and attempted to slide down on our sleds.  This idea just didn’t work very well.  The sleds simply would not slide.  After several failed attempts, we began running and jumping off the ledges and rolling down the hills with Hayvin.

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The second day, after a little internet research, we waxed the bottom of our sleds and headed out once again.  The wax worked well for the first few times down the hills and we were able to sled quite quickly.

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We all laughed until our stomach hurt  and hiked until our legs would no longer carry us.  We all had sand in places that really sand should never be found!  Each evening, Uncle John and Hayvin cooked dinner out on the fire and then of course, marshmallows and smores followed.  We really had a fantastic time!

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Ghost Ranch

As we left Santa Fe, we decided to make a side trip in Abiquiu.  I am so glad that we did!  This area of NM is just gorgeous.  We stayed just past Ghost Ranch where the famous artist, Georgia O’Keefe,  spent most of her life painting the beautiful rock mesas that surround the ranch.

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We took some great hikes up to Echo Ampitheater where the water carved out a perfect formation for creating a variety of echoes.  We also hiked up to Matrimony Mesa and Chimney Rock which both are part of the trail system at Ghost Ranch.

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Chimney Rock was a rather steep climb that wound its way up to the top of the mesa which provided for some spectacular views of the entire valley and Abiquiu Lake.

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Near our site, we walked the dogs one evening up to the rock formations to do some exploring.  We came across an old windmill with a water trough connected to it. This system pumps water from a well into the trough for cattle.  The mesas made for an interesting backdrop for the windmill.

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This area reminded us quite a bit of Utah, however, it had the coloring of Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park which is what made it so fascinating.  There was the red sandstone but it was intertwined with sandstone that was yellow, pink and purple.  It was a beautiful mix of colors!

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New Mexico

We left the southwestern desert and began our trip northward.  Our first stop was Mimbres, NM.  A small town nestled in the juniper mesas of New Mexico.  We stayed near Roberts Lake which was home to some Great Blue Herons and Bufflehead ducks.  After our first couple of days in the area we woke to a couple inches of fresh snow.

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We spoke to the local sheriff and he directed us to some pictographs that are only known among the locals.  A short hike up a wash lead us to several drawings on the rock walls.  We couldn’t exactly tell what they used to make their drawings, however, we think it was either a red berry or blood from an animal.  The drawings are quite faded but a few interesting images remain.

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The following day, we made the drive to the Gila Cliff Dwellings.  This a series of 5 alcoves that are connected.  They were built by the Mogollon people  between 1275 and 1300AD.  Archeologists have identified 46 rooms in the 5 caves and they believe that 10-15 families occupied these rooms.  the actual cliff was created by volcanic activity.  The native people found this site a perfect fit.  The Gila River flowed nearby to provide sufficient water and the wildlife that surrounded the cliffs provided an ample food source.  Just like so many of the other cliff dwellings, there is little information as to why these dwellings were abandoned.

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We continued on and made our way through  Albuquerque and on to Santa Fe.

South of Santa Fe, we visited the Kasha-Katuwe  Tent Rocks.  As we made the drive out to the monument, we kept wondering where these rock formations could be among the forested mesas.  We quickly realized that they pretty much appear out of nowhere.

The cone-shaped tent rock formations are the products of volcanic eruptions that left pumice, ash and tuff deposits over 1,000ft thick.  These formations vary in height from a few feet to as tall as 90ft high.  The colors of gray, beige and pink are a result of the uniform layering of the volcano.  In addition to fascinating formations, wind and water has also formed canyons, arroyos and holes in the rocks.

As we hiked through the canyons and made our way to the top of the formations, the colors began to change from mainly gray to the beige and pink bands.  Once on top, you have a great view of the tents with the Sangre De Cristo mountains in the background.

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An Unexpected Sight in the Desert

We took some very nice hikes around Tucson.  Our first hike was a 9 ½ mile hike to Seven Falls.  It began at Sabino Canyon which is basically in a residential area.  You begin the hike walking across a large flat area that is filled with numerous saguaro cacti.  As you cross over several roads, you begin a climb up through a canyon.  Cacti continue up both sides of the canyon as high as the eye can see.

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We came across our first unexpected sight, a stream flowing in the middle of the desert.  Several hummingbirds were flying around the bushes that lined the stream. Small waterfalls continued the remaining way up the canyon.

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As you climb out of the canyon floor, you begin the ascent up the side.  Eventually, you are overlooking a beautiful series of waterfalls cascading down the valley.

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I never would have expected to see this amazing sight in the middle of the desert!

We enjoyed the sights for a while and then began our descent.  As we arrived back down on the desert floor, we were greeted by a gila woodpecker, a kestrel and a male and female phainopepla.

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The following days brought some additional hikes that were quite beautiful.  The first one was up Mt Lemmon.  We drove to the top of this 9100 ft. peak.  It was interesting to be in the desert on minute and then in a ski area the next.  Mt Lemmon is the southernmost ski area in the country.  It was about 35 degrees on top so we headed half way down the mountain and took a short hike up an extremely steep mountainside.  It gave us some very nice views down to the valley floor.  It also gave a different perspective on just how steep the road is that goes up this mountain.

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The next hike was on the outskirts of Catalina State Park, all of the info on the trail said absolutely no dogs on this trail.  As we began the climb we quickly understood why.  This was an extremely rocky and very steep hike.  We thought this would be a quick hike in but with all of the climbing it took several hours.  Our reward at the end was the Romero Pools.  This was a series of pools that cascaded down the canyon.  Several people were swimming in the pools and enjoying the cool waters in the middle of the warm day.  We began the descent down the canyon and there was a very nice view down the canyon.

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Our time here in Tucson has come to an end.  We’re making our way to New Mexico to begin heading north.

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Tucson

We pulled into Tucson and it was nice to see Saguaro cactus inter-twined with mountains.  We decided to stay at Catalina State Park since we’re so close to a city, there really isn’t any place to stay in a dispersed area.

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The park was a really pretty area in the desert.  There were numerous mesquite trees which the birds in the area thoroughly enjoyed and countless trails for us to walk the dogs.  We did see several male and female cardinals which they are absolutely gorgeous.  They are quite difficult to take pictures of as I quickly learned.  The Cassin’s finches, however, were much more cooperative.

 

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The first day we arrived, I saw something run across the grass.  I grabbed my camera and headed over to see what it was.  I was so excited to find out that it was a roadrunner!  Now, for many, this may seem silly as truthfully, it’s just a bird.  However, there is a story behind my love of the roadrunner.  When i was about 4 or 5 years old, my grandfather would sit me on his lap and read to me from the Colorado Outdoor magazine.  One of the many articles that he read to me was about the roadrunner and I became instantly intrigued by this bird.  For years, he would show me any article about the roadrunner that he could find.  In addition, his brother, my great uncle Clyde, sent me a glass roadrunner and wooden roadrunners that could be placed on a fence as a wind gauge which hung on our fence until the day we left Montana.

That’s my excuse anyhow, for running back to John and yelling—it’s a roadrunner!  about 50 times over.  This very cool bird, made several appearances over the 2 1/2 weeks we stayed here so i was able to snap a few pics.

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We had several great bird encounters while we stayed at this park.  It was wonderful to see the hummingbirds that I enjoy so much during the summer in Montana down here in the winter.  We also saw butterflies and an array of other birds.  We also encountered a rare critter.  While walking the dogs one morning, we were in the brush that surrounded the campground.  John saw something up ahead and we both stopped and through the  brush we saw something white romping around.  A closer look revealed an albino skunk which is something that you don’t see every day.  I really wanted to try and snap a picture but John was completely against chasing the skunk for the purpose of a picture.  sheesh! 🙂

Our main reason for visiting Tucson is to visit some old friends of John’s.  He used to live here back in the 80’s & 90’s for about 13 years.  He showed me some of his old haunts and we had dinner with some of his old friends which we both really enjoyed.

We also found after a little research, that Tucson has fantastic farmers markets during the winter which were absolutely wonderful.  I was very excited to find fresh vegetables and grass fed beef available in February.  I even tried prickly pear juice made from the cactus and surprisingly, it was really good. i had no idea that they make jam, juice, breads, etc from the fruit that blooms each spring  from the cactus.   I also  learned about a few recipes that can be made from the paddles of prickly pear cactus so I can’t wait to try those out.

We’ll be here in this area for quite a bit so I’m sure I’ll have more pictures to post.

 

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Oma’s Pride–Nevada

Oma’s Pride–Nevada

I had the opportunity to meet the fantastic distributor in Nevada.  Suzanne from RahRawRah pet food was an amazing person and she provided some great information.  She began with Oma’s Pride when one of her Bichon’s was not able to keep any type of food down.  She tried several veterinarians without success.  As she was running out of options, she tried raw feeding.  Her pup was able to keep the food down and she began to thrive.  Her journey of raw feeding eventually led her to Oma’s Pride and she been a distributor for close to 10 years.  She keeps each of her orders in a cold storage facility that is nothing short of enormous.  During the spring months you can find her at the local dogs shows promoting Oma’s Pride and sharing her passion for raw feeding.

One of the many things I enjoyed about working with Suzanne was her quick response to emails and her ability to facilitate shipping to any area in Nevada or Arizona within a 2 day ground zone.  She delivers to the entire Las Vegas area including Henderson.

If you’re looking for raw food for your dog or cat in Nevada or Arizona, email Suzanne and she will be more than willing to help you out!  rahrawrahpetfood@aol.com?????

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Moving Southward

Nevada to Quartszite, AZ

We left Lake Mead and headed south to Quartszite.  This was a trip that John had been begging to take since we started traveling back in August.  Quartszite, AZ is home to the country’s largest RV show and John wanted to check out all of the rigs and see what the industry had to offer.

We decided to cut the distance from Lake Mead to Quartszite in half and we stopped for 4 days at Lake Mohave.  We explored a few areas around the lake and made our way into Laughlin and Bullhead City.  It was a rather warm 72 degrees so after looking at the map, we headed over to the Bend in the Colorado River State Park.  The dogs were ecstatic to find a cove where they could play in the water!  We took a walk down the sandy beach of the Colo river and then had a picnic on the shore and watched the Ring-Necked ducks swim by.  Amazingly enough, this was January and quite different from January’s in Montana 🙂

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We headed over to take a hike up Grapevine Canyon which is considered a Sacred Canyon for the Yumin & Numic tribes.  We found some petroglyphs that were unique from the ones that we had seen in the prior canyons in Utah and around Lake Mead.

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As we headed out and made our way to Quartszite, we stopped in Lake Havasu to see the London Bridge.  I was amazed at how well this bridge that dated back to the late 1800’s was preserved.  A business man who developed Lake Havasu had the bridge brought over from England, brick by brick, and then re-assembled it in Lake Havasu.

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That afternoon, we pulled into an RV park in Salome, AZ.  Normally, we don’t stay in RV Parks, however, my great aunt and uncle spend winters in this park and it’s been several years since I’ve seen them, so, we made an exception and stayed near them.  We also chose this option so that we could visit the RV show in Quartszite but avoid the craziness in the area.  Quartszite, AZ is home to 3,300 people year round.  However, during the month of January, there is a series of shows from gems and minerals to the RV show.  In addition, there is a massive tent city that is constructed which consumes several city blocks with vendors for every product under the sun.  They have everything from RV products to kitchen gadgets to clothing.  I have never seen anything like it in my life and it’s really difficult to describe the expansive town as it’s something you have to see with your own eyes to fully grasp.   All of this activity causes the town of Quartiszite to grow to over 2 million RV’s, this means an average of 4 million people!

The desert becomes a sea of Rv’s as people stay in the long term visitor areas that are several miles wide.  My uncle took us out to a couple of these areas and they seemed to go on forever.  Rv’s in every length, make and model along with more motorhomes than you could count filled these areas. The next pictures are not taken by me.  The reason for this is because there is absolutely no way that I could give you the perspective from the ground that can be accomplished from an aerial picture.  All of the white spots that you see, are Rv’s in the desert!

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After getting over the shock of all of the people, we headed over to the RV show which had every item you could imagine.  Fortunately, we made it out with minimal credit card damage 🙂

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We took the dogs out for a few walks in the desert and the highlight was a lone jack rabbit that caught Riley’s eye.  They had quite the game of chase going on and I think John wore out before Riley did while chasing the rabbit.

It was nice to spend a few days with my relatives and learn a few full timing secrets from them as they’ve been full time Rver’s for about 12 years and their experience proved to be quite valuable.

Next, we’re headed out to Tucson

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