After a great visit with our family in Lincoln we are ready to get the last leg of our summer "in the north country" done. I put up the wall hanging that Sandy pieced for us. It reminds us of the green vistas of Nebraska and the mountains we love Wyoming.
Hastings is our destination for a visit with Ross. He has just gotten back to from the week in his Becker Transportation truck. We are able to park Luci across the street from his apartment complex and enjoy his nicely appointed apartment and sleep in a comfy bed in his spare room. It is good to see some family things that Ross is now using.
Ross hauls boxed beef from Nebraska packing plants to destinations in the Chicago/Milwaukee area then hauls various products back. He has had some interesting experiences.
He toured us around Clay County visiting fields and farms of folks we remember from living there many years. We drove around Fairfield and Sandy Creek School and back to Hastings by way of the WWII ammunition depot.
On Sunday August 23rd, we are on the road again headed for Laramie. As we get into Wyoming and the vistas of mountains reveal themselves, we can see the smoke haze from the wild fires burning in the northwest.
One last night at Vedauwoo campground and on into Laramie on Monday August 24th to finish up business, do laundry and retrieve the Rendezvous from storage. We camp two nights in the yard at Tom and Marilyn Bryan's house in the country. Dave played for the last time at the VBar guest ranch Monday night with Bill McKay. Tom and Marilyn included me in their family meal that evening.
Tuesday finds us still finishing up last minute business, getting haircuts, checking email, closing out our post office box and making sure all mail gets forwarded to Sun Village.
That evening Judy and Pete Ellsworth host a pot luck send off for us, inviting all our picking friends. Delicious pulled pork and chicken, brisket and homemade buns, lots of music and conversation. It was a beautiful evening on their deck and music flowed even after dark. A wonderful send off to Arizona.
Tom Wilhelm, Stan Miller, Dave, Hollis Marriot, Julia Obert, Dave Mullens, Tom Bryan, and Pete Ellsworth. Tom Rardin, Warrie Means, and Ken Gerow arrived later.
In the morning, we waved the Bryans goodbye as they went off to work then got organized and drove south through Woods Landing and Wycolo into Colorado. Through Walden, climbing into the Rockies and winding through beautiful forests along creeks. We stopped at a nice restaurant near Wolcott, Colorado for lunch, then onto Interstate 70 through the mountains. I drove the Rendezvous in the lead. Dave followed in the Toyota pulling Luci the Airstream. Our destination for the night was the campground on the rim of the canyon at the Colorado National Monument.
Camped for the night
We did some sight seeing and hiking. There were spectacular views at this lovely spot which was not at all busy.
The next morning was misty with fog. We took another hike and got some great pics of the monument shrouded in fog
Then we traveled west on Interstate 70 into Utah turning south past Green River. Our destination for the night was Capitol Reef National Park. We found a great campsite in the Fruita, Utah campground. It was big enough for three vehicles!
This campground is on the site of an early Mormon settlement. The park service has restored several buildings and maintains the fruit orchards. Travelers can pick and eat fruit for free but pay a fee if they are picking fruit to take out of the park. I saw cherry, apple, apricot, and pear trees and some kind of nut tree. Tame-ish deer hung out in the campground lifting onto hind legs to snatch apples off trees.
Fruit pies were for sale at the restored homesite as were craft items and other treats. We bought a cherry pie and it was delicious.
There was a big rain after we got settled and some campsites were flooded. The Fremont river ran reddish and full for a while.
There were petroglyphs along the canyon walls.
The next day we traveled Scenic Byway 12 which starts near Capitol Reef and angles south and west through the beautiful Dixie National Forest.
Through the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, stopping to take pictures and stretch our legs.
Our destination for the next two nights was Kodachrome State Park near Bryce Canyon National Park.
This was a full hookup park with level pads and nice showers and hiking trails. The spectacular views were a plus.
The next day we visited Bryce Canyon National Monument. After talking to the clerk at the visitor center in Bryce Canyon City, we chose to ride the hop on/hop off bus into the park. Bryce Canyon is a narrow area and parking is limited. Our Senior Pass got us in for free but car users have to pay per car plus entrance fee unless they are seniors. The shuttle took us to Bryce Point where we exited and hiked the Rim Trail back to Inspiration Point. Then another bus ride to Sunset Point and a rim hike to Sunrise Point. The views were awe inspiring.
We finished the scenic byway and turned south onto highway 89 which tookus to the north rim of the Grand Canyon and our campground at Jacob Lake. I saw a sign for a German bakery and deli in the town of Orderville coming up. I had to stop for German pastry and coffee. The pastries were gobbled down even before pictures could be taken. We stopped at the visitor center at Kanab. Dave asks about visiting a natural feature called the Waves. Only 30 people a day are allowed into the area. Some have waited weeks to be chosen by a lottery system. On south and we are in Arizona near Fredonia. Our campground and the north rim are accessed by this narrow twisty road and wonder how the really big rigs handle this kind of road. The campground at Jacob Lake doesn't seem designed for the big rigs, either. A level pebbly pad with picnic table and fire ring plus pit toilets are the amenities here. The campground host does keep the toilets very clean, however. One of the first animals we see is the Kaibab squirrel. It is a very large dark gray squirrel with tufted ears and a white tail. I would like to have gotten a picture but they are very fast.
We are back in a tall pine forest with comfortable temperatures after the desert-y feel of Kodachrome Park and Bryce Canyon. Into the Grand Canyon Park on the last day of August. It was a good drive to the rim through forest and meadow. There are buffalo here. Crazy folks ventured out of their cars to get a closer shot of these big animals and their calves.
The North Rim was developed in the late 1920's and has evolved little since then except for big parking areas. A big parking lot is the first glimpse you get of the area and after parking you walk to the big lodge or to the promontory called Bright Angel Point. It is a good hike down and back up but beautiful scenery. We did the hike first.
The scenery is different from the south rim. There is no glimpse of the Colorado River but we could spot some structures on the south rim through binoculars. We could see Bright Angel trail descending the south rim zigzagging down and down. Our friend Shelby Means was down there on a river trip. We thought of her, glad to know that we knew someone who had been there.
After several days of awe inspiring scenery, we were ready for the last leg of our journey. Back onto 89 highway we descended through more beautiful forest on twisty highway. Traffic was light and we made it down to the valley skirting the Vermilion Cliffs.
Crossing over the Colorado River at Marble Canyon, we turned south for Flagstaff through the Navajo Nation Reservation and the Painted Desert.
A stop at Flagstaff for gas and another at Camp Verde for lunch and we continue on the long and sometimes steep descent into the Valley of the Sun. It is good to get off Interstate 17 at the 303 loop exit and soon we see the El Mirage turn and finally Bell Road. Traffic was not bad. Guess all the snow birds have yet to return. Sun Village! Elsie and Marilyn our neighbors greet us with hugs. Cousin Bill McKee has the air conditioner turned down. We are home.