Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New Buffalo Michigan

New Buffalo Michigan, originally uploaded by tidy mind.

Another photo is published. This is going to be used on an American Travel site, Radius6 TV. Should be up there very soon. With all the high tech camera gear I have they pick a photo taken with my iPhone :-)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

See you again real soon

I'm writing this entry by the pool in our hotel as Abi catches some last minute rays. We've finally made it back to Phoenix after an epic 19 day tour around the Four Corners. We took Winnie back to the rental depot at 10:30 this morning and apart from the extra mileage charges everything was OK. It's be a remarkable holiday, up there with the best of them. We seen and done so much and the time has flown by.

It's the people that have made the holiday and I'd just like to say thank you to everyone we've met. From Jessa & James in Tucson, to John and Jan in Alamogordo, Jerry in Durango, the motorcyclist we bumped into at Monument Valley and the Dutch couple that helped us get back into our RV. Thanks to all of you.

For me the highlight has to be White Sands National Monument. An amazing place that has to be seen to be believed. I know Abi loved the Desert Museum in Tucson, especially the big cats and the humming birds. Silverton was fantastic and we'll always have the photos we took at Monument Valley.

So here's looking forward to next year....Abi & Rob x

p.s. One final note. After two weeks in an RV I'm sooooo looking forward to my bed :-)

Monument Valley

Please have a look at our photos on Flickr. We spent a lot of time at trying to get the perfect photo at Monument Valley yesterday. I still have some work to do with iPhoto and Photoshop but we're very pleased with the results. Click here for Flickr. In the meantime here is a taste of what we managed to take.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Great days photographing

Yesterday we left Moab (I love that place) at around 10:30 and drove south on route 191 towards Monument Valley. This part of the Southwest is known as the Four Corners. Probably because the four corners of Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico meet. A very arid part of the country but it has some amazing rock formations.

We stopped for coffee just south of Blanding, UT (can't remember the town, it was a blink and miss it sort of place) and chatted to a couple from Durango before continuing our journey (they were proper hardy campers with a tent and a car and that was it! There 3 kids have left home and they're 'touring' ... real style!) We then continued south on route 163 which goes right through Monument Valley.

We stopped short of Monument Valley and spent an hour taking photos. At home in our kitchen we have a large print on the wall of some lovely rock formations and I was trying to take my interpretation of that print. This involved us finding the right bit of road and then waiting for all the cars to disappear while I crouched in the middle of the road to take 100+ pictures. Abi was watching my back and getting a great sun tan at the same time. This area has been made famous by all the movies that were shot here. Just google 'monument valley and movies' to see what I mean. I think I got some pretty good shots but it took some time to get them right. The light is so strong I had to go fully manual and I discovered that playing around with the ISO (film speed) and White Balance helped a lot. Then I was able to fine turn the shots around in iPhoto and Photoshop. I can't upload photos where I am as the internet is so slow. I'll upload them tonight when we arrive at our last destination.

While we were taking photos a motor cyclist stopped to take the same shot. We got chatting and it turns out he lost his job late last year and decided to take a road trip from Detroit to the Southwest (2100 miles). Interesting guy. He had a lovely Honda tourer with all the mod cons. Sat Nav, Radio and a fixed camera to take video of his trip. We all had a drink (it was soo hot) before continuing our respective journeys.

While we were at the camp we went outside, shut the door and for some unknown reason the catch on the back door slipped and locked us out. All the windows were closed except for the very small one above the cab. Abi spoke to some other Cruise America travellers to see if their keys would fit but no luck. Fortunatly a dutch couple helped. Using a broom and the picnic table I was able to put my arm through the small window and flick the latch on a larger window. Then ever so elegantly I hoisted myself through the larger window and unlocked the door. Another lesson learnt!!!

From Monument Valley (Gouldings Lodge) we drive south for about 5 1/2 hours to Camp Verde, AZ. This is our last stop before Phoenix and home. Tonight we'll be clearing out and cleaning the RV and then packing. Not the most exciting of days.

I'll publish the remaining photos tonight and finish up the blog.

p.s. While I'm blogging I wanted to let you all know that I've already planned our next holiday!!!!! Regalrdless of redundancies and work we're going to RV from Seattle to San Francisco next September. Neither of us have been to the Northwest so it should be fun. However, we won't be renting from Cruise America again. Although everything has been OK their RV's are old, ours was built in 2005, dirty and not that up to date (we have a cassette player in the cab for gods sake!!!), Next year it's probably going to be Moutris or El Monte. How are we going to pay for this I hear you say? Stop smoking from next week and cancel sky. That will be more than enough to cover the rental, flights, money, food, gas and plenty of excusrsions. As a plus we'll also be fit and healthy.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

4*4 Photos

Long Canyon Trail, Pucker Pass.

Shaffer Trail

Fins and Things

Fins and Things

I love my jeep

Fins and Things

Fins and Things

Fins and Things

We had a fantastic day taking our little jeep off road. After a 7am appointment at the pancake 'haus' we picked up the jeep up at 7:45. We weren't sure where to go and the gentleman at the hire shop suggested a trail called 'Fins and Things'. Although it was classed as a moderate trail he said he was sure we'd cope. Well it was mainly 'slick rock and sand' and had some vertical climbs and horizontal drops. Rob did all of the driving and did an admiral job - I walked up /down the really scary parts (under the pretence of 'I'll video you my love' ..). There were some stunning views and lots of mad people on mountain bikes, motor bikes and ATV's - some cuts and bruises were obtained, I'm sure!

All in all though it was great and the jeep can withstand some battering and it's just a case of having confidence. The guy in the RV next to us came home yesterday with a few 'bumps and dings' after he'd rolled his jeep and had to get hoisted out ... we didn't try that trial!

As we started early we had a full day of it, although the time went really quickly - we did go back to Shaeffer Trial (along the bottom of Dead Horse Point) and (Long Canyon Trial) Pucker Pass (and it sure did pucker too!) then it was time to return the jeep - in total 100 miles of fun :-)

We got back to the RV and decided to shower all the red sand off - lovely! Then we had a slight plumbing issue in the 'not so clean water' area and Rob had to stick his hand up the pipe and then flush it all through - he feels like a true camper now, but it did mean that a 3rd shower of the day was called for! (Rob here....I was draining the 'black' water tank but the value wouldn't close when I'd finished. I then discovered that the tank wasn't empty and a large wad of toilet paper was stuck in the value. I couldn't leave it as it was so I had to roll my sleeves up and clear it. It was disgusting but at the same time satisfying. Its another string to my bow and a possible career should I lose my current job!!!).

Off to Monument Valley tomorrow - so about a 3hr drive ahead, I want to get there earlyish so we can have a look around and I can hopefully get an hr or two tanning in before the sun goes down!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Todays surprise destination is....Moab..dude!!!!!

Moab Easter Jeep Safari 2007, originally uploaded by HuntWithCharlie

We arrived this afternoon and checked in to our usual abode, the Canyonlands RV Park. It's in the centre of town so it's very convenient. Once we'd got settled we headed down to Cayonlands Jeep Adventures to fill out the paperwork for our rental. Steve hooked us up with a 4.0L modified jeep so we are all set for some serious off roading.

Tomorrow we're up at 6am to be ready for a 7:30 departure. No firm plans yet. We'll work it out tonight. We do know we want to end up at Dead Horse Point State Park (our favourite park) late afternoon to take some shots. To get there we'll probably head up Long Canyon Trail through Pucker Pass. To hardened 4*4 dudes this would be child's play but to us it's a great adventure.

More photos to come tomorrow.

Taking the high road

Today we drive the 74+ miles from Durango to Silverton and Ouray on US 550, the Million Dollar Highway. One of the best drives we've ever taken. We'd rented a car as we thought the RV would be too big for the road. Turns out bigger rigs were taking the same road. However, a car is a lot easier to drive and take the numerous switch backs.

Ouray and Silverton are lovely little towns but I fell in love with Silverton (see the picture below). It's much, much smaller than Durango (takes 5 minutes to walk from one end to the other), no chains (Walmart, McDonald's, Burger King), very much a small town. It has that gritty, outdoor feel that Durango lacks. Lots of lovely independent stores. We even met someone who had spent a lot of time in Devon and Cornwall so he and Abi had a chat for a while. Abi made friends with several dogs, including a 4 month old Rotti cross who appeared to want to make friends with everyone he met. We had coffee in a lovely little shop and they had a Lab Retriever crossed with a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. We both agreed we'd love one of these dogs. As we sat outside we chatted to a couple we'd seen at our RV Park. They are travelling back to Canada on their 40th Wedding Anniversary. The fun part is they are travelling in a Truck Camper. If you have a look at the link you'll see it's just a pick up with a small camper on the back. Very small in American terms.

On the way to Silverton we stopped at a mountain pass and I climbed up on to the snow bank to take a better picture. Abi followed me and promptly sunk into the snow, right up to her knees. Poor girl.

I saw a great bumper sticker today. It said 'Hike Faster, I hear Banjos'.

More to come tomorrow from our mystery destination (what we mean is we don't know exactly where we are off to). Take care. Rob and Abi x

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Moon over durango

After a late start we spent a lazy day wandering around Durango. There's a free trolly bus from the park into the city centre. Durango is a outdoorsy kind of town but not quite like moab. It lacks the grit and the outdoor feel. It has more students (with more tatoos that I have EVER seen) and a smattering of trendy cafe's/restaurants and bars. Moab screams 'come here, get the 4*4 out and get dirty'. Still it's a likeable kind of town. Tomorrow we head up the million dollar highway (US 550) in a rented car. Have a look at the link and you'll be able to see it's going to be an interesting drive.

Below is a photo of the moon from our campsite. Looking forward to the full moon later this week.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Bottom of the Hill

Look what woke us up this morning. A train from the Durango, Silverton Railroad. Very impressive but not being a 'train spotter' I couldn't tell you what it was.

White Sands/Antique Glow

Arrived in Durango, Colorado this evening after a fabulous drive along US-84 from Santa Fe. We drove through desert and then up into the mountains. We're staying in a small ish town on the edge of the Rockies. More to report tomorrow. In the meantime here's a photo of us at white sands. I've been playing around with my photo editing application and boosted the colour and given it an antique finish. I really like it apart from my three chins, Abi looks lovely as always.

And as a bonus here is Minnie looking mean. She is mean - only 10.12 MPG so far!!! Shocking.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Santa Fe Trails

We saw a real life cowboy in Santa Fe this afternoon. John Wayne Haynes has travelled 2000 miles from Michigan to Santa Fe with 2 horses and 2 dogs for company. Sounds like a very interesting person who is living his dream. As John Wayne said 'A man ought to do what he thinks is right'..he also said 'Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid'. Read an article here in the Santa Fe Newspaper. We didn't actually chat with him but followed his progress for half an hour. He didn't seem to go 100 yards before someone stopped him to chat or take a photo. I've attached a couple of photos. Click on them for the larger versions.

Santa Fe was a nice little place to visit. Great to wander around, fantastic architecture, lots of Adobe buildings. We wandered down 'Canyon Road' which is full of little galleries and studios. I bought Abi a silver ring with Turquoise stones mined in Nevada. Before we left we visited a gallery owned by a lady called Lisa Kristine. Have a look at her website, there are some fantastic photos. Very expensive but I'd like to see if I can pick up a print when I get home.
We're camping about 6 miles outside the centre of Santa Fe in a lovely little RV Park, the Trailer Ranch RV Resort. There are restaurants within walking distance and a bus stop just outside the main gate were you can catch a 'Santa Fe Trails' bus into town and back again for $2. A bargin. I found this park on a blog I'm following written by a couple of 'full time' campers. It makes for interesting reading. They're got a second blog reviewing all the places they've camped. That's something Abi and I would love to do for a year or two. Just rent out the house, take off and hit the wide open road. Who knows what will happen, you can achieve anything you put your mind to, or so I'm told.

Tomorrow we leave for Durango, Colorado for a few days. Further updates to follow.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


After leaving Alamogordo we drove 200+ miles north and then west to Grants, NM. Just off I-40 this was an overnight stop before visiting Acoma Pueblo. We stayed in a KOA (Kamp of America) for the first time. Lovely little camp site where I was given a cookie on arrival and you can have 'home cooked' meals delivered to your rig. How good is that? We opted for a Pizza with the works, some Cherry Pie and a six pack (of sodas!!!!)

The following morning we took the short drive to Acoma Pueblo. This is a villiage set on top of a messa (large lump of rock). The Indian tribe has lived there for 1000+ years although most now live in the surrounding area. After arriving at the visitor centre we paid $20 each for the 90 minute guided toor. Each camera also had to have a permit and no photo's were allowed in the Church or the Graveyard (where they are burried 4 deep, but are now on the last 'layer'). It was really interesting and we opted to take the 'steps' down to the bottom ... well it was all carved out of the rock (as I guess it would be) but some bits were a little 'vertical' and narrow - glad we had sensible shoes on!!

Leaving Acoma we headed west back to Albuquerque and then north to Santa Fe, following a thunderstorm with lightening going off all around us, but we only got caught in a little of the rain - although we felt a fair bit of the wind! We are currently camped a few miles s/w of the city centre. Once we've showered and dressed we'll take the bus (yes America has public transport) into the city and explore.

Tomorrow we're heading north towards Taos, NM or Durango, CO. A decision has yet to be made. I leave you a photo of Acoma below and if you click on it to enlarge, you'll be able to see the village perched right in the middle at the top - wow!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Historic Marker

Drove past the following marker today. We were probably 20 - 30 miles from the actual site of the first atomic explosion. A sobering thought.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Photographing White Sands

The following photo and those in the next post were take at White Sands National Monument on Thursday 30th April. I hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed taking them I'm still having trouble with sunsets and I tend to under expose most of the time. Practice makes perfect. Any comments are more than welcome. There isn't a lot I can say about White Sands, the photos speak for themselves. However, it was hot - very, very hot BUT the sand (and it's not actually sand) was cool to the touch. Very strange.

Today we don't know what we're doing. Plans are up in the air. We can go North, South (been there), East or West. Who knows where we'll be going but the plans are a changing. Watch this space.

Note: You can click on all the photos to enlarge them or why not go to Flickr and see the good stuff.

White Sands National Moument, New Mexico