Saturday, March 31, 2007

The final posting.....:-)

We are done, finished, ready to hand back Minnie and spend the last couple of days around the pool (or Malls!!!). 1600 miles, 4 states and several sets of underpants later (mainly when Abi was driving) we're back in Phoenix.

We've had a great time, fantastic, far better than we ever expected and are planning our next RV adventure already. In fact we've decided to sell the house and travel round the US in our Winnie (but not a Minnie). The blogging has been fun too, its more so for our benefit than anyone else. We'll be able to look back and see what we were up to.

In the meantime I'll leave you with this video (Sarah - it's got music so turn the sound down @ work).......Rob, Abi & Minnie xxx

P.S. The video contains a small clip of a guy called Matt Harding from his website 'Where the hell is Matt'. I forgot to credit him. Anyway, have a look if you get a chance. It's an interesting story and a funnnnny video.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Hooking up American Style...

We're about to hit the road for the last time. Today we will mostly be listening to 97.1 Country FM 'Country Music for Cowboys and Cowgirls!!!!' Enjoy the clip :-)

Adventures in Colorado...

We left Moab on a sunny but cold Wednesday morning only to hit a snow storm 20 miles down the road. It was touch and go for a little while but we soon cleared the bad weather and arrived at our RV Park for the evening. We were staying in a small town to Cortez in Colorado. Not the most picturesque of towns, but it was the nearest town to Mesa Verde, the next park on our long list of national parks!!!!

We were off to a great start when I locked the keys in the RV!!!! 20 minutes and $50 later we were back in. The park wasn't too bad, everyone seemed quite pleasant but most of the people seemed to be long term residents. Anyway, after a quick walk to Walmart where Abi picked up some SKORTS (anyone who guesses what these are wins a prize) and a $3 shirt / dress we settled down for dinner & a movie.

It snowed over night and it was SOOO COLD!!!!!!!!! Our little heater couldn't keep up and we ended up underneath a duvet and 4 blankets and we still weren't warm enough. The water pipe and the serwer outlet froze (after I was told that it wouldn't freeze by our park hosts!!!) so I spent a fun hour this morning defrosting the pipes. The sewer hose was a delight.

We left a little later than expected and drove 9 miles to the park thinking that was all the driving we'd had to do that morning. Little did we know the visitor centre was 20 miles from the main entrance on a road that had more switchbacks than the Stelvio Pass (& that has 48!!!!). So an hour later we arrived at the main visitor centre. Interesting park - lots of Indian cliff dwellings, from 500AD (dug in the ground) to early brickwork. In the museum they showed the pottery, early belts made from doghair (!), tools & weapons.

We left the park around 3 for Monument Valley, today's final destination.
Our drive took us from Colorado, into New Mexico for 2 minutes, Arizona for 30 minutes and into Utah. On the way we passed through the Four Corners, the only place that four states actually touch. Its managed by the Navajo Indians and for $3 per person you can stand in all four states at once!!!!! Well we had to go and have a look and here I am....My feet in Utah and New Mexico!!!!! I could have got down on all fours but I didn't want to make a complete fool of myself, I'll leave that to Abi.... (I didn't get down on all fours either - too many people around + it was too damn cold!)

We'd been warned by the guide book that we couldn't bring alcohol into the Navajo Nation. We assumed it was just one of the strange US liquor laws. What we did notice was the huge number of bottles scattered at the side of the road. From the moment we left the Four Corners until we arrived in Monument Valley all we could see was bottles lying at the side of the road. We must have been driving for a good couple of hours. Its a beautiful place and it was such a shame to see. I'm assuming there's an alcohol problem and most people buy their liquor out of state and drink it on the way back.

Anyway, it's been a long day and we have a longer day planned tomorrow. We're off to Canyon De Chelly National Monument for a few hours then heading back towards Sedona for our final night in minnie before returning to Phoenix on Saturday. 7 hours driving covering 350 miles.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Leaving the jeep behind...

It's 10:30 and we're about to leave Moab. It's turned very cold but no snow yet. Abi is in the shower and we've run out of hot water :-) We're off to Cortez in Colorado to visit Mesa Verde National Park. Map below, further details to follow. Pictures have been uploaded to Flickr.

Jerry Jeep and the last trail .....

After a fantastic nights sleep we arose slowly, what with us being on holiday! The sun was shining & we had brekkie, getting set for a new day 'out on the road' - just as we were about to leave Rob trotted happily down the RV steps (avoiding the shoes) and promptly caught his trouser pocket on the door latch, only realising when he was on ground level and there was huge gaping hole in this trousers :-( very upset as they've been a favourite since purchased - so that's 2 out of 3 pairs in the bin and we had big poutty lip & everything. Went for a small search of new combats and nothing (well nothing longer than 30" anyway) - so we're down to the tan pair ... I'm sure a hunt when we reach somewhere with some more shops will prove fruitful!

We headed into Arches National Park again & on entering the Ranger told us to watch out this
afternoon for thunder storms & snow showers ... much to my amusement, he was serious ... the wind had been pretty gusty, but over & above that, not much & it was still knocking 20oC. We had a look round the visitor centre & learnt how & why 'arches' appear. We had a chat with another Ranger about good 'off road' tracks and away we went. I wanted to go to Devils Garden (north of the park) to do a walk to 'Landscape Arch' and then further round (we were told to seek cover if thunder started, but over & above that, we should be OK).

Well, when we got the the Trail Head the clouds came over, dust storms were blowing (due to the
aforementioned wind) & off we set, hardy trekkers that we have now become. Well - hardy or stupid I'm not sure, but it was cold & the sand/dust got everywhere - we went pink & gritty ... your mouth was like a couple of fillings had just been drilled out and there was 'grit' everywhere. Both of us wanted to give up but half of us was saying no - crack on! So, we made it to a very impressive Landscape Arch, but forfeited the rest of the 7mile loop (compromise!).

We then headed off road, which initially looked (and was) very easy - the Ranger had said the first part of the trail could be done in 2 wheel drive & then it split off towards the top. The road wasn't near a massive drop (always good!) and was just gravel - which, I was to soon find out, could be deceiving as we 'lost' the back end a couple of times! 6 or so miles in we took the spur road which warned '4 wheel drive vehicles only - high clearance required' and then almost immediately we saw why.... I, at this point, stopped as I was not confident we were 'high clearance' enough ... Rob however, regaining every ounce of manhood - took the challenge (see below) ... but the weather was getting worse & the fuel light had come on, so we had to call it a day :-(

[Rob here: I've uploaded ANOTHER video to Google Video. Click on play to see the video]

We've both had such a great time with Jerry-Jeep though, will definitely do it again!
Back into town for a fuel stop, lunch supplies for the rest of the week & dinner at a diner - then home, showered & here we are. Off for scabble challenge or James Bond! The jeep goes back in the morning & then we're heading straight off for Mesa Verde - night x

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Final Photo...

I'm unable to add this to the previous post so I've added it here. :-)

The road to hell - Shafer Trail

We did it!!!! We made it up the Shafer trail and lived to survive. Not a great achievement for accomplished 4X4 drivers but it's not bad for us. End to end it was 19 miles and took us just over 2 1/2 hours including stops. It was a fantastic experience that beats looking at it from a viewpoint up above. Most of the photo's can be found on Flickr but I've uploaded a few here.

The speed limit sign did makes us laugh. I mean if you could actually see the terrain we were driving over then you'd appreciate that there was no way we would be breaking the speed limit. Even if we were who was going to stop us? I didn't see any speed cameras.

The photo's below show the trail from Dead Horse Point (left) and Dead Horse Point from the trail. I gives you an idea of how high we had to climb at the end of the trail.

We also created a little movie and uploaded it to Google videos. Click on the play button below to view it or click here to view it on the Google Video Web site.

After we reached the top we headed to a picnic area for lunch then went to Arches National
Park to see the 'Delicate Arch' at sunset. The guide said this was a 3 mile round trip hike with a 500 feet gain over the trail. More like a 1000 feet and 6 miles. I thought my lungs were going to burst by the time I reached the top. Hoping for a romantic few minutes alone we were disappointed. The viewing area was packed with people trying to take the perfect shot. I have to admit it was worth the walk what a view!!!! The colours seemed to change as the sun went down. All we needed was some peace and quiet, a bottle of champagne and some comfy chairs.

More tomorrow x

Monday, March 26, 2007

Driving the Shafer Trail

I found this on you tube today. Shows you what we'll be up against today....:-)

Pucker Pass...

Live from Moab, Utah, a fantastic little town in western Utah not that far from Colorado (click here for a map). It's surrounded by national and stateparks - Arches, Canyonlands, Dead Horse Point to name but a few. Dead Horse Point is very special to us as it was the first park we visited back in October 2003. Blows the Grand Canyon away (way over rated) and has some amazing views.

It's the end of our first day. After a slow start we rented a jeep and decided to blaze some trails around town. We headed up to Dead Horse Point, then onto Canyonlands and from there took the 'Long Canyon' trail back into town. On the map it looked pretty straight froward and it started out pretty well. Then round the first bend and we've got a single track road with a 1000ft drop on one side. It was straight into four wheel drive and into the lowest gear as we inched down the track. Abi was driving and did a sterling job. The highlight was 'pucker pass'. A VERY large rock had fallen over the trail some years back and you drive underneath it (the photo above shows Abi underneath the rock).

There are some fantastic photo's of the trail on this web site. The funniest thing we saw was an electric golf cart coming up the track when we were half way down. No idea where they had come from. The trail is 18 miles long and these two pensioners were making their way up the track in a bright green golf cart!!!!!! Abi thought they might be looking for their ball. I thought it might be one of my dads they were looking for, I saw him practice on the driving range a few weeks ago and his slice is something to behold!!!

We finished up a
t the bottom of the trail an hour later relieved but pleased with our progress. Tomorrow we are going to try the 'Shafer Trail' which runs from Canyonlands (Islands in the Sky view point), down into the park, around the Colorado river and into Moab. Look at the photo below and you'll see park of the trail running across the middle!!!!

As my American friends would say...AWESOME. x

Entering the Lions Den.....

Abi's raining ..... & we're roughing it! We left Springdale early(ish) as we were going to head towards Escalante via Bryce Canyon and have a walk there, heading out through Tropic (where we stayed at a lovely B&B when we were here last) .... However, as we approached Bryce the clouds thickened, then descended and then the rain took hold. On the approach to Bryce we really couldn't see much further than a few feet, so we decided to head straight into Tropic & get some lunch & supplies. Tropic looked a little washed out as we pulled up - we found a rather nice looking restaurant & ordered what is the worst meal we've had since we arrived ... how disappointed were we? The service matched the re-heated meal, so I refused to tip, which meant Rob left the premises before me as he was too embarrassed to stay - BUT you tip for good service & not as a matter of course - so I didn't.

We then drove through to Escalante - stopping at the Visitor Centre on the way in. Both of us were really surprised at the size (or lack thereof) of the town (almost a village) since we'd left Springdale, we'd not seen any shops larger than your local Co-Op (the corner shop variety) ... honestly, if you live in any of these places you'd need to take a day just to grocery shop! The lady at the Visitor Centre was very helpful and gave us all the details required to find Calf Creek Falls (the one walk I'd picked prior to leaving home) - Rob's enthusiasm was as lacking now as it was previously, he didn't want to 'boon-dock' (without hooking up to water & power) even though we have water & a generator - the camp at the falls (by the carpark) is literally that, a camp by the carpark - no mains, no phones, no loos ... but each site had a fire & most people were proper camping, with tents & everything!

Once we had ignored the sign saying 'not recommended for vehicles over 25ft' and crossed over the ford, we eventually secured ourselves at a slight angle, but in a designated 'spot', we filled in the envelope with our details and posted our $7 fee into the honesty box. The rain came down a little harder & we sat in the comfort of our camper whilst wet and dreary people milled about!!!! We didn't sleep badly, although a little chilly and due to the angle it felt as though we'd been asleep on a hill :-) We set off for the falls just before 9.

The 6am alarm had gone off, but we'd not crawled out of bed for 2 reasons (i) it was too damn cold and (ii) it was too damn dark! we both thought it'd be lighter earlier, but we were wrong. Eventually I got up and made coffee and porridge (good hearty food!)
and then off we went. It was a long trek into the wilderness - and that's exactly what it felt like - over boulders, through valleys and following the river. Eventually (3miles on) we came to the falls and well worth the effort it was too. We were the 2nd group to arrive, we chatted to the other guys (from Salt Lake) and asked where there dog was, as we'd clearly heard one on our way up .... oh no, they didn't have one .. that would have been the coyote's then :) We sat for 15mins or so enjoying the calm, cool and quiet & headed back. On the way back we passed heaps of people making their way in, so we'd timed it very well. We saw the wild turkey, indian rock paintings, 800year old storage huts built into the side of the canyons & then we were back with winnie for a cuppa before we headed off for Moab. [Rob here....what Abi didn't mention is that the Canyon is home to Rattlesnakes, Mountain Lions, Scorpions, Coyote's and Poison Oak. A great place to go for a stroll. The photo on the left shows some tracks I picked up on the trail. I'm not sure what it is but the park ranger did mention he'd seen a labrador earlier today. When we heard that bark I nearly wet myself. We were miles from the nearest town and hadn't seen anyone on the walk that morning. I had these images of being chased by Coyote's while Mountain Lions were launching themselves at us from the cliffs above!!!! Abi was also humming 'dueling banjo's' from deliverance. I could just see us coming round the corner and bumping into Billie Bob, Earl and their dog Cletus, drool from the chewing tobaco running down their chins (and I'm including the dog)!!! (Oh when researching Redneck names I came across this excellent web site.)]

The first climb was the side of the canyon we'd just walked through. At the top, we literally were at the summit, the road cut away either side of us & the views were amazing - although not a clue that a 50ft waterfall was somewhere
below us. There were snow covered mountains in the distance and as we continued, we realised that is where we were headed - straight in up and over (9600 feet to be exact) ... it was a climb and somewhat surprising change of climate, but a lovely drive. Once down the other side it was the most b-o-r-i-n-g three hours... through Boulder, Capitol Reef National Park (something and nothing but with fruit orchards at the bottom, which looked odd) and then onto Moab - on a very straight, incredibly baron road .... then we reached Moab.

We pulled up at the RV park Rob had booked and gassed up - the camp wasn't the one he'd thought he'd booked (from pictures) and it was full of ATV's and Dirt Bikes. So we drove on closer to Moab to a
classier RV park just on the outside of town. And that's where we are now.

More details to come and check out the photo's on Flickr.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Iron, Lion, Zion

Sorry for the length of this post, but we haven't had internet access for a while. We're a couple of days behind but we'll catch up over the next few days.

After a late start (partly due to Utah being in a different time zone) we ambled into town for a coffee and supplies. Springdale is a lovely little town, a stones throw from the parks entrance,

which appears to rely on tourism for its main income. Lots of hotels, motels, cafes, tat shops and outdoor enterprises! Whilst Abi was desperately looking for a toilet (I don't know why she didn't go before we left), I popped in the deli to get lunch. $12 (£6.50) for two huge sandwiches and chips (crisps) + I couldn't resist some peanut brittle! We had a coffee before going back to the RV and heading into the park.

The first hike Abi wanted to do involved a 3.5mile walk up one of the canyon walls. Reasonable easy going, but the altitude doesn't help! It ended up at a place called the 'Upper Emerald Pool' (being a middle and a lower too). It would have been a tranquil place to have lunch, had it not been for the group of screaming kids climbing all over the place. We had to chuckle when one of them fell off a boulder & got wet (only her pride was hurt!). I'm sure Americans vocal cords develop differently to ours - they are soooo loud! Why can't people enjoy the scenery without shouting?!?! We decided to head back down another trail to avoid the masses! As you can see from the photo's we had the place pretty much to ourselves. We stopped at a small stream for lunch before proceeding down to the valley floor then walking back along side the river to the RV - quick pit stop and then off again!

We've both commented on how we feel like snails carrying our home around with us, the advantage being you don't get caught short (see first paragraph) and you can brew up whenever we like! So, here we were, in the middle of the most spectacular National Park having a cuppa and a fudge brownie! Makes us feel like pensioners at the seaside :-)

After a brief rest we drove to the end of the Park and hiked another 2miles to the narrowest part of the canyon. We passed lots of returning river walkers - you can hire all the relevant waterproof boots / trousers etc that enable you to walk up the river in waist high water. It looks interesting and after hearing how easy it was, perhaps we should have given it a go. We saw quite a few squirrels on the way back & several deer (Abi thinks they are different as their ears are bigger!!) but that was about it! There are some coyote's around too, but I'm assuming they heard me 'plodding' up the slope & disappeared!

After a short drive back into town & hooking up the RV we walked into town proper for some dinner. We ended up in the Pioneer Lodge - fantastic burgers & an awesome cheesecake (also free Internet access was a bonus as we couldn't connect at the RV Park). What makes me smile is the level of service people expect here (and the size of the tip, 15 - 20%!!). The servers (can't call them waitresses) are very attentive and quick. However, last night I had finished my meal before Abi, the server took my plate away and asked whether we'd like a dessert!! You should have seen Abi's face, it was a picture - I decided to wait until she'd finished before making my selection!

Tomorrow we are off to Bryce Canyon & Calf Creek Falls, Abi wants to hike to a waterfall, but this means that we will have to boon-dock (camp in the wild) without power or water - sounds like fun!!

We have been on the road for a week now and we are enjoying every minute of it, it's been a wonderful experience and a great way to see the States. We are picking up on the RV 'lingo' and getting into the lifestyle, so I thought it was about time that we shared our new found knowledge with you ....

What types of motor home are there?

CLASS A - the big rigs, like buses.

- the vans, think 'the A Team'.

- like ours.

FIFTH WHEEL - like caravans, only bigger and the hook into the bed of a pickup.

- like conventional caravans, but on the large side!

Then there are the PICKUPS with the small caravan type unit on the bed of the pickup (generally with the 'over cab' section).

Some other terminology we've picked up includes: PULL THROUGH - Where you can drive in & out of your camping spot (no reversing required).HOOK UP - this is a phrase which has many different meanings, in the RV world this refers to the utilities you connect when you park in the camp. These include water, electricity, sewage outlet & cable TV.

Our motor home is 35ft long and 10ft wide, this is probably the largest CLASS C type motor home available. It has a 50gal fuel tank, 40gal fresh water tank, 40gal grey water holding tank (washing & shower water) & a 30gal water tank (number 1's & 2's). We have 2 batteries for electrical supply and a generator for boon-docking (see previous post!). Inside we have a standard double bed at the rear with 2 small wardrobes & under bed storage, further forward is shower, toilet & wash basin. In the main living area we have lots more storage, gas powered fridge, 2 sinks, a convection microwave oven & a 3 burner hob. We also have an air conditioning unit in the roof, heating and an extractor fan. We have a table & 2 benches which convert to a small double bed, another 3 seater bench which converts into a single bed and a double bed over the cab - apparently, some of the large CLASS A motor homes have flat screen tv's and hot-tubs!

That's about it for now - I'm off to rub deep heat into my aching muscles! More to come tomorrow x

Friday, March 23, 2007

New flash - College boy has muscles

A quick update - we've hiked Zion - 6.5 Miles at 6000 feet I might add. Easy peasy!!! The workout driving Minnie Winnie each day is helping, just check out this photo.

Flickr has been updated, more tomorrow.

Switch backs and the mighty minnie

Glen Canyon Dam is just outside Lake Powell Recreation Area (why can't they just call it a park??). We decided to stop on the way to Zion as we'd heard they run tours. We missed one tour by 10 minutes and the next tour wasn't due to leave for another two hours. If only Abi had got ready a little earlier we might have been able to see the inside of the Dam. [Abi here: I think you'll find what actually happened was this - I got up early & made breakfast, whilst I was showering etc Rob washed up & went for a shower (at the shower block) when he returned from the shower I (as instructed) was ready to go & walked over to the dump with our rubbish - on returning to the RV Rob wanted another coffee and then another cigarette and THAT is why we didn't make the tour that HE wanted to do - so there!!!!! He lost out and it was all his own fault]. We had a look round an exhibition on the Dam and watched a short film on the environmental impact.

Some quick facts - The Dam holds 9 Trillion gallons of water and provides hydro electric power to seven states (Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Nevada and California). It cost $240 Million to construct and took 13 years to fill to capacity. At the moment the water level is 150 feet below the top and they've generated $2.5 Billion from the sale of Hydro Electric power. Now what about the environmental impact - Well they've lost some beautiful canyons, screwed up the flow of water through the lower states, damaged the environment beyond repair (the hump nosed Trout is now an endangered species!!) and reduced the amount of water flowing out of the US (still it's only Mexico that suffers). On the plus side it's a great place to water ski. It was interesting to note that rafts launch just below the dam for the trip into the Grand Canyon (Lake Powell is fed by the Colorado River). The trip last s12 days!!!

The drive to Zion was filled with some wonderful scenery and the photo's don't do it justice. Apparently we're on the Colorado Plateau, 6000 feet above sea level. Walking around can be an effort at times but Abi's told me it the fags and not the altitude!!!!! We stopped at a place called Kanab for lunch at a wonderful little diner. I had one of the BEST cheeseburgers I've ever eaten and the thickest chocolate milk shake. Sensible Abi had a Caesar Salad followed by.......wait for it.......a chocolate fudge brownie!!!! (note: she shared it!!)

We were staying at a place called Springdale which is just outside Zion, in fact it's so close the town starts next to the entrance. To get to the RV Park (it's actually called an RV Resort which in my humble opinion is wishful thinking) we had to drive through the park. What we didn't realise is that it involved driving along a VERY narrow road, with switch backs at every corner and a tunnel that was so narrow the oncoming traffic had to be stopped as we (and another RV) were escorted through it. Our truck driving skills were put to the test but we managed to get through without incident.

We've met so many lovely people on this trip, RV'ers are a very warm and welcoming bunch. Some can be bores but on the whole they are really likable people always ready to offer advice. Some of the people we've spoken to have been on the road for several months. Most of them appear to have come down from the north to avoid the bad weather. We've met people from Wyoming, Oregon, Washington State, British Columbia, Ohio, Illinois & Australia!!!! Sadly it doesn't appear as if all the people running the parks are from the same breed, some have been lovely but others are almost rude..Wandering into the camp office yesterday I greeted the owner with a cheery. 'good morning, how are you?' .. 'alright' was the reply ... well, we're not all morning people love, but make the effort!

As we're out of season lots of things are shut, the restaurants, the pools, the bars - we had to walk into town tonight for dinner as the restaurant Mrs Moody-Pants RV Park Owner had recommended was indeed shut! Very cold tonight, we'vejust pinged the heating & got fleeces on (thought they wouldn't see the light of day when we arrived!) - but now to bed.

We've uploaded some more photo/s to Flickr. More tomorrow after we've explored Zion.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I drove the bus...

.....I did!!!!! After preparing myself for several hours I finally drove the RV!!!! Of course it was on a back road, in the middle of nowhere without a car in sight. I like to ease myself into these things. I couldn't let my fellow men down, could I? Anyway, back to the blog.

We stopped in Cottonwood for provisions (& the purchase of a duvet!!!) and hit I17 heading north to Canyon country. After a brief detour around Flagstaff - my navigational skills failed us & with new roads being built the satnav got a little confused too! (we got in the wrong lane but managed to turn around in a hospital car park watched by a smiling group of Ambulance drivers) we got on Route 89 towards Lake Powell. Abi wanted to stop at Sunset Crater National Park which is just off route 89. It's 32 mile loop through a volcanic landscape but it also includes the Wupatki National Park
This is where I did my RV practice drive, although the roads were narrower, the speed limit was 35mph & it was quiet :)

We walked up into a crater (a bloody long walk up a steep, cinder path), walked along a lava flow and visited some abandoned Indian Pueblo. Although the volcano was interesting the highlight was the Indian village. I'd always thought American Indians were nomadic people but it seems they also built permanent communities.. up to 800 rooms by all accounts & a fantastic 'blow hole' at the bottom which had cool air gusting out at some speed! At last we've managed to see a little of the 'real' American history. I only wish we'd had more time to spend there. Dusk was approaching and neither of us like driving in the dark.

We had 100 miles to cover through Navajo territory before we could relax. The driving wasn't too bad, I managed to keep it between the lines but did cut a couple of corners :-( It's quite an experience being overtaken by a truck at 70mph and trying to stop weaving around.

We arrived in Page around 7pm, re-fueled (30 Gallons for $75!!!) and drove around Lake Powell in the dark. The only time we actually saw the lake was when we drove across Glen Canyon Dam. After getting lost (again - but Abi's fault this time!) and having a short discussion on the best route we arrived at the camp ground. If you arrive after office hours they post your reservation details on the front door and you check in the following morning. Much to our delight we had been allocated a prime spot on the lake. However, when we got there we found someone had already claimed it. I went and had a 'chat' and found
two guys had 'accidentally' parked there. As they'd already 'hooked up' (RV speak for connecting your rig to the mains & sewer) I agreed to swap in the morning. They'd also been drinking and were smoking HUGE cigars so I assumed they were in no fit state to be driving anyway. After parking and having dinner we decided to call it quits and explore the following morning.

I woke at 6am busting for the loo, had a quick look out the window and this is the view that greeted me... (Abi here: To clarify, Rob stayed under the nice warm duvet & I went out in my jammies & his fleece to get the 'sun up' shot, amongst the cottontail rabbits and lizards! - got back to the RV planning on jumping on Rob [he hates it cold!] but he'd thought as much and was already up with the kettle on!! - I'll get him next time!)

How cool is that!?!?!?!?! I love America, the people, the landscape, the food (big juicy prime ribs - yet to indulge), the music (BB King, Otis Reading..etc)....well just about everything except for the politicians (met a guy from Canada who was less than complimentary about American Politics, but loves to come back for a couple of months each winter!!). I'm so glad we're back, it's fantastic.

Today we explored the resort, rented a power boat and whizzed round part of the lake, ate lunch on a deserted beach in Navajo Canyon, got sunburnt and walked into Utah (twice!!!! the camp site we're in straddles the state line). Tomorrow we leave for Zion National Park (south west Utah). More to come. Oh and check out Flickr as we've uploaded some more photo's. Thanks to Muzza, Mum and Sis for the comments. Always appreciate a little light banter. :-) Be good x

Monday, March 19, 2007

The bus moves on.....

We spent yesterday wandering round the lovely city of Sedona and taking a jeep tour into the Red Rock National Park (see the photo's on Flickr). After a fantastic couple of days it's time to get the show on the road. What do the next few days have in store??? Well let me tell you! We're off to Walmart again to provision (the bedding the company provided in their 'not so cheap' personal packs, is awful so we're going to see if we can't buy a cheap duvet, pillows & fitted sheet!) and we're then heading north on I17 to Flagstaff, AZ. From there we get on Route 89, stopping off at a couple of small national parks on the way to Lake Powell, AZ for two nights at Wahweap Marina/NP. En-route we're going to stop at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument - the shifting cinders make it too unstable to walk to the rim but we can walk the Lava Flow Trail (1mile!) at the base...

The drive should be interesting and I'm sure we'll have a few tales to tell. Everyone we've met in the RV park have been very friendly. People have come over to say hello and offer help. As you can see from the photo of our RV it's obvious it's a rental. I was emptying the bilge tanks yesterday and the hose had more holes than a string vest - nice! we rapidly turned off the valves & bought a new hose! After fiddling about & a couples kind assistance, I managed to empty the tanks. Not as bad as I thought.

Right the sat nav is programmed and we've got to make sure everything is secure before we leave. I'm not sure about Internet access over the next few days but we'll do our best to update the blog when we can.

Have fun.....:-)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The bus tour begins

Well we've arrived in Sedona, Arizona after an eventful first day. We woke up about 06:30 and went for a walk finding a McDonalds & an EggMcMuffin & a coffee for breakfast!. Then back to the hotel and to the pool for an hour or two before we could check in at the rental centre.

We picked the 'bus' up yesterday lunchtime and our first sight of it caused us to start to sweat! It was massive. 35 feet long and 10 feet wide. A huge, gas guzzling 'recreational' vehicle. We spent 30 minutes checking in and watching a video which was intended to help us on our way. It seems pretty simple to use. Water, sewage and electrical hook ups. Several large storage tanks - for grey and black water and the regular appliances. Our concern was driving, everything else would come with time. We did a couple of practice laps each around the car park, mainly to get used to the huge back end & to know how to swing it around the corners without taking out a number of other vehicles / pedestrians!It's at this point I have to mention I chickened out and Abi drove. I just didn't feel comfortable but I'm sure that with practice I'll be OK. We got the sat nav sorted (thanks for the loan Alex, you are a life saver!) and set a course for Cottonwood and our first experience of the WalMart empire. Anyway, we hit route 101 (Phoenix's M25) and headed north to Interstate 17. Abi was a star. She managed to keep the bus between the white lines most of the time and cope with the traffic. You just have to be a lot more switched on and plan way ahead. It seems to fill most of the lane with only about a foot to spare. Not a lot of room for error. Getting carved up by a**eholes who've missed their exit doesn't help but I was proud of her. The rental place only left us with 1/4tank of fuel (gee thanks) so we stopped at a service station & topped her up (at $136 - shes a thirsty little girlie & we're grateful we're not filling her up in the UK!)

From I17 we took route 260 to Cottonwood to provision at the WalMart SuperCenter. It's the biggest store I've ever been in. Looks like a huge aircraft hanger with EVERYTHING you can ever need. From bananas to bikes, fudge to fence paint, sweetcorn to sheets and Abi was in heaven. She loves to find a bargain :-) but we wanted to get 'hooked up' before dark, so we stuck to our list and did a few miles around the store. We've got a bike rack on the back & wanted to pick up some cheap bikes - we found some for $60, which makes it cheaper than hiring them for 2 weeks .. but we're going to have a look in Sedona too as I need one with a taller frame, I was sitting like a man on a tricycle and don't know how high up the seat will come!

All provisioned out, it was now time to find the camp site. The sun was setting as we left & the last 15mins were done in the dark, apart from overtaking a towed vehicle which had to stop and leaving a hairs bredth between us & them, we didn't do bad. The camp site had left out details for us & due to a rather large tree just infront of our spot, we had to pull right forward & then reverse back in - I had to stand by the tree holding a torch so Abs could see where the tree was (!!) but swung it in straight and perfect first time ... I would like to say beginners luck, but she's always a top reverser!

The layout: behind the drivers seat you've got a table & 2 benches & a bench down the side (to seat an additonal 3), double bed above the drivers cab. Kitchen area (microwave, gas hob, double sink, fridge, freezer & cupboards), shower & wc/sink opposite, double bed at the back with wardrobe each side!! So we unpacked, had a clean of the cabin, had a coffee & a cake and called it a night!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

We've arrived in the USofA!

Despite Rob's frantic clock-watching as we left a few minutes late (well, almost 40 to be fair!) we both thought we were going to be running late for our car collection at 10:00 - however, all was hunkey-dorey as we pulled up at 09:55 and unloaded our 3 bags! The flight was trouble-free, we did leave about 20mins late, but being in our huge 'room to stretch' seats, being served champagne, tonic water and macadamia nuts, it didn't prove to be a huge issue!

We were able to sit opposite each other quite comfortably and have dinner, with proper cutlery, a table cloth and everything! (we've pinched the menu for our scrap book!) but it was all quite delicious :) We had the first 2 seats (one each side of the plane) right at the nose (under the pilot) so between us we had 6 windows and I managed to get an excellent aerial shot of T5 as we took off too.

After dinner we both snuggled down for a snooze and managed a good couple of hours each before watching a movie (Mum, I watched 'Happy Feet' but I think I missed the very beginning, it was good though - and the graphics are fabulous ... I had trouble when I was a kid to figure out what was cartoon & not, well - I'd not stand a chance if I was a kid now!!)

The whole flight was done in daylight - so once we were about 1.5hrs before landing we opened the shutters again, just as we were flying over Denver Airport & the Rockies (snow capped), it was really clear in places and we've got some great shots of the scenery. I think we've captured a dam too - but we'll have to see on the 'big screen'! The decent into Phoenix was clear too although we were realling from the shock of the pilot welcoming us to Arizona with the words, 'the temperature at our destination is currently 35oC' ... and we've packed fleeces!!

The hotel was about a 20min cab ride & we just off loaded our bags in the room & went across the road to a sports bar to grab a beer and some bar snacks before heading back for a shower. So now I'm off to chill out with a coffee and then to bed. Excellent first day - the adventure proper will begin tomorrow when we collect the RV (after 1300hrs!) which will be 8pm your time, so think of us then x