September 30, 2003
: As a recent retiree, after “What do you do?” the second most-asked question is
“Are you planning (have you been on) any trips soon (recently)?”
with the tradition of trying to capture the first two or three days'
events after the fact, I am giving fair warning that I will be
heading for the north rim of the Grand Canyon about 6 a.m. Friday,
then going to a bluegrass festival in Nevada (the same one I
attended last year at this time).
warm in Logandale last year (it’s 60 miles from Las Vegas), but
the North Rim ranges from 7,000 to 8,000 feet in elevation, so any
kind of weather is possible, including snow. The visitor center
there closes October 15, although the road is open all year, weather
permitting. Although it’s cooling off in
Fresno, I’m hoping for relatively warm weather over the southern
be making a long run the first day, to North Las Vegas, since
there’s no place to stop sooner that’s not too soon. This will
give me a fairly short second day of driving to my destination,
Lake, about 30 miles from the park.
return trip will start with an even shorter drive from there to
been a hectic time leading up to this trip, with more stuff
scheduled on my return. My father was ill and in the hospital at the
beginning of September, and I have made a number of trips to my
parents' home in Mariposa. He’s feeling pretty much normal, at least as
normal as you can be at age 89.
a doctor’s appointment the day before I leave, and the retired
employee association lunch the day after I return.
2: Everything is ready except for the last-minute items. The
trailer cupboards, refrigerator and water tank are full, and the
holding tanks are empty. I plan to get up at
since the first day’s drive is over 400 miles.
October 3, 2003: The trip was smooth until I got to
Las Vegas, which is not to say the roads are smooth. California Highway 99
is atrocious, and Interstate 15 from
leaves a lot to be desired in many places. So the smooth pavement
was limited to CA Highway 58 from
about , and made good time until I got to the first off-ramp for the Las
Vegas Strip. For about a mile traffic moved at five miles and hour
or less; then for the remaining 15 miles of my trip, it was like
driving on surface streets – 30 to 45 miles per hour.
to the Hitchin’ Post RV Park about , got set up, had a drink and dinner, and now it’s time to work on
this report. I’ve covered this route before, last October, but the
thing I had forgotten was the three steep grades between Baker and
border. The first one runs about twelve miles, and rises from around
1,000 feet in elevation to above 4,000. There is a drop, another
climb, another drop, another climb, and a final drop into the
on the California-Nevada border. The second climb goes up to 4,700
Pass, and the road drops down to between 2,000 and 3,000 at Primm. Then
it’s just a little up and down into
Las Vegas, about 30 miles from the border.
park is actually in
North Las Vegas, so I am right on the edge of town and will be out of the city
within a few miles when I leave tomorrow. It’s a big park, with
quite a few long-term residents, quite a few vacancies, and very
have a brief noise pollution problem when five or six jets came in
and landed at Nellis Air Force Base, which is nearby. They came in
low over the park, so I grabbed my camera, and got a couple of
photos that look pretty good.
weather was mostly warm, dropping to 65 in Tehachapi and about 70 at
It was a little below 90 when I got here, but there has been a nice
breeze all the time. There are a few clouds, but I have done my sun
dance so they will not rain on me. The official weather map in the
looks good for northern
Arizona. An Internet weather site gave the high as 75 and the low as 37,
but that is for “Grand Canyon,
AZ,” and may not be accurate for the north rim.
drive was way too long, over 400 miles. I like to limit my daily
mileage to about 250 miles, which gives me time to sleep
late, stop and rest as needed, and arrive at my destination in
mid-afternoon. Tomorrow won’t be so bad, only 222 miles according
to my Rand McNally trip planning program. However, there will be a
significant elevation gain to around 7,000 feet, and I don’t know
what the road is like.
there was a storm that closed the road into Grand Canyon, but it was supposed to re-open yesterday. The North Rim is subject
to cold and stormy conditions any time after the beginning of fall.
I’m expecting to make use of my long sleeve flannel shirts.
October 4, 2003
Lake AZ: It was 52 degrees when I got here at , and it’s 43 now at 6:20. With no wind, it was comfortable to sit outside, read, and enjoy
the cocktail hour – with four layers of clothing. I could have
stayed out longer if I added my down jacket, but it’s getting too
dark to read.
rained here yesterday, but the RV park hosts said today started out
clear. It was quite cloudy when I arrived, but most of the clouds
are gone. I’m hoping it stays storm-free and not lower than the
50s. That’s a good hiking temperature, but I wouldn’t mind if it
warmed up just a bit. I don’t know what the temperature in the
trailer is, but it usually registers about 10 degrees warmer than
outside. I haven’t taken off any layers yet, so it’s best not to
trip was smooth in all ways. A few miles past Las Vegas I-15 becomes
a nice smooth highway, and the various state highways I traveled on
were also good. I-15 goes across
for about 30 miles before entering
Utah. Just after you enter
Arizona, you realize the road is heading for some mountains; it’s not
going around and there’s no way it could go over. Then you enter
gorge, barely noticeable till you’re in it, but a deep, dramatic
gash through the mountains. Although the river comes out of
National Park, the gorge is a fairly short section, then you go over the hill and
drop down into
St. George, Utah.
record, I left I-15 a few miles past St. George, on
9, then climbed up a steep grade on
Utah 59 out of Hurricane. The highway changed to 389 at
Colorado City, which marks the
border. From this point I went quite a ways through mostly level
country at about 5,000 feet. The vegetation was sage brush for the
most part, with a few scattered junipers.
I turned southeast on US 89, and soon entered the
National Forest. Here the road began to climb, and for a moment I thought I was in
the Sierra foothills, with blue oaks, live oaks, and dry grass. A
closer look revealed that I was looking at juniper and piñon pines,
with a ground cover of dry grass and light soil. A few more miles
took me up higher and I saw a few ponderosa pines, which soon
completely replaced the other trees. The typical ponderosa
in the mountains east of Fresno
includes cedar and fir, but this area is pure ponderosa with few
other trees or shrubs of any kinds. The campground, at 7900 feet
elevation, is surrounded by
forest, and is very nice.
registered, the park hosts informed me that a ranger would be giving
a talk on the area at , so I got parked but not set up and walked over to the old historic
Jacob Lake Ranger Station (built in 1910). The ranger was dressed in
the uniform of the 1920s, and made his presentation set in that
time. He stayed in character throughout. When someone said, I see
you’ve got electricity, pointing to a bare bulb overhead, he
didn’t even look up, saying “I don’t see no bulb, ma’m.”
He even pretended to be amazed and mystified when some ATVs went by.
He said he was getting the handsome sum of $100 a month, in addition
to free rent in the station, which doubled as home for him, his wife
and two children. He discussed his duties, which included monitoring
the miners at the canyon rim, the cattlemen, and the timber cutters.
Although there are some cattle in the area, in reality most of the other
commercial activity of those days has ended.
now 7:30. The heater is on, the sweatshirt is off, and the outside
temperature is 40. By the way, today’s travel included
temperatures up to 90, but most of the time it was in the mid 80s.
it’s on to the
Grand Canyon, about 30 miles from here, with no trailer to slow me down.
October 5, 2003
: Today I exercised and went on my morning walk, just as I do
most days at home. It’s a nice walking area – I followed the
service road that goes by the camp back about a half mile or so. It
has up and down, which is ideal for good walking, but the uphill
reminded me quickly how high the altitude is here.
breakfast I headed south toward the
Grand Canyon. The road climbed up toward 8800 feet, and soon there were aspens
among the ponderosas. Shortly after that the ponderosas began to
give way to other evergreens, primarily spruce and fir. It is a
spectacular drive, with golden-yellow aspens against the dark green
of the evergreens, and lots of big meadows filled with dry grass.
The road has been recently paved and is smooth as glass (but I
suspect a few high country winters will take their toll).
entrance station is about 30 miles from
Lake, but it’s nearly another 15 miles to the actual rim. I stopped at the
visitor center, then walked out to
Point. The views are amazing, although there is a lot of haze, apparently
from air pollution, so the distant views are not as clear as they
could be. From this side there are few views of the river (none
where I went today), but there are plenty of canyons, gorges,
buttes, spires and other features to enjoy.
return to the visitor center to buy some books, I headed for Point
Imperial, about 15 miles away, the highest point on the north rim. I
thought the view here was more impressive. You can look northeast
toward the Vermillion Cliffs and see the gash in the earth that is
Marble Canyon, which the river runs through before the canyon opens
up and becomes “Grand.” To the south and southwest you can see a
wide expanse of the canyon and its multi-colored layers and striking
lookout point, a man was taking a picture of his wife, and I offered
to take a picture of them; then he took a picture of me. We got to
talking, and it turned out he is Chuck Hoover, a cameraman for
Channel 30 in
Fresno. They are exploring possible retirement locations as well as
enjoying the scenery.
weather was everything you could ask for – if you asked for sun,
clouds and rain. It was clear this morning and is clear at camp now,
but there were scattered clouds over the canyon area. Driving home,
I had a few tiny drops from one big cloud that looked like it could
produce rain. However, throughout the day it was nice enough for
shorts and a T-shirt, although when a cloud went over the sun
late in the day, it felt like it dropped about ten degrees. Most of
the time while driving, the thermometer in my truck registered in the
50s, but I think it was warmer at the rim. It is more open, and
subject to warm air rising from the canyon.
out of the park I had to stop while a flock of wild turkeys crossed
the road, and I saw another bunch later outside the park. They are
native to one side of the canyon (I forget which), but did not cross
the canyon to the other side. However, they have now been
“planted” on the other side too.
saw a deer on my way home. They are reported to be quite thick in
this area. In the nineteen teens, the government began killing off
the predators, primarily mountain lions, to “help” the deer. The
predictable result was overpopulation and massive winter deaths of
deer. After various equally foolish attempts to fix the problem,
including flying the excess deer to another location, nature was allowed to take over again.
got back to the trailer I sat outside and read for a while. With a
T-shirt, flannel shirt, and quilted flannel shirt, it was quite
comfortable at 50 degrees. It began to feel cooler and cooler, and
when it hit 45 I headed inside and started the heater.
I plan to hike on the Kaibab Trail, which goes down into the canyon.
There is a destination about two miles in, which will be as far as I
will go. I suspect there will be lots of uphill hiking on the return
Monday, October 06, 2003
: The North Kaibab Trail goes down 14 miles to the
Colorado River, where it meets the South Kaibab Trail. Only fools try to hike down
and back in a day, and those who do often end up sick, injured or
dead. The recommended maximum round-trip day hike is to Roaring
Springs, 9.4 miles and 7 hours round trip. Needless to say, I did
not intend to attempt this either, but there are a couple of
intermediate destinations, at 1.5 miles and 4 miles down the trail.
a few hundred yards down the trail (and down means steep
uncomfortable walking), I decided I did not want to dodge and smell
mule shit for four miles, and face a two-hour uphill hike after I
was tired. So I turned back, got into my truck, and headed down the
Royal, which offers spectacular views and a number of good stopping
points along a 20 mile stretch from the main road.
road drops down through pure ponderosa forest; at the rim it turns to juniper and piñon. The trail at the end of
the road leads out to several viewpoints, all of which I thought
were more impressive than yesterday’s stops. The point is on a
peninsula of land that runs out into the canyon, so there are views
on both sides. A particularly good stopping point is Vista Encantada,
which I went to on the way back. Later in the afternoon the lighting
is better and the colors are deeper, and this was my favorite spot
of the entire trip. It might not look as good in the morning when
the section of canyon it overlooks is in shadow.
Overlook provides the first view of the
and a wide creek delta where the Anasazi Indians lived and
cultivated crops a thousand or so years ago. The view from parts of
includes Angels Window, an opening in the rock through which you can
also see the river.
addition to scenery, I saw: one deer and one flock of wild turkeys
on the way in; and four deer and four flocks of wild turkeys on the
I mentioned driving through meadows. These are long narrow stretches
– one runs three miles and another six miles. The road runs along
the edge with gentle curves and gentle hills, and you can easily
drive 60 MPH during these sections. Other parts of the road are
winding and marked by hairpin turns, but there is little elevation
I plan to stay in camp. There is more to see at the Canyon, but I
went to the major points, it is a hundred mile round trip from
my camp, and I
would like to check out the Jacob Lake area. There is a visitor center nearby
National Forest, and some shopping to be done in the campground store, which is
offering 20% off on everything. They will close for the winter on
October 15. In fact, everything will close then, in anticipation of
the annual snowfall that totals around ten feet. The road into the
park is open weather permitting, but no services are available.
way, Jacob "Lake" is really a pond less than 100 feet
across. The rocky soil of the Kaibab Plateau does not retain water,
and there are no significant streams here. All water for domestic
use is trucked in. There are a few "lakes," where there is
a section of impervious soil that keeps the water from draining
I will be heading for Logandale, the Clark County Fairgrounds, and
the Southern Nevada Bluegrass Festival.
7, 2003: Although the day started out cloudy and cold, it turned
out to be the warmest so far – a little above 60. There were some
dark clouds and it was cool to sit outside and read this morning at
10, and of course it’s cool again now at
with the sun down and the temperature at 50 and falling.
got up at , I went on a nice mile and a half walk down one of the
service roads out of camp, read a while, then fixed breakfast. I
went to the Kaibab National Forest Visitor Center and then to
the Jacob Lake Lodge/Store/Restaurant. I like to get T-shirts for my
daughters, sons-in-laws and grandsons (as well as myself), and I
found some I liked at the visitor center gift shop. Then I went to the campground
office, which also has T-shirts and stuff, to get the rest. Their
stock was pretty much depleted, and I was able to find only one
there, so I went back to the
store for the rest. Both places had end-of-season 20% discounts.
some things around camp to get ready for tomorrow’s departure, and
will do a few more later. I hope to get up at 7:30
tomorrow, and be on the road by 9, although experience tells me I
won’t get out of here quite that soon. The trip is only 177 miles,
and as I recall, last year they did not let people into the
fairgrounds till about , so there is no big rush. The people I met last year from
are planning to be there, so I am hoping we can get together for
some picking and talk about old times (meaning last year, the only
old times we share).
October 9, 2003
: I got started about 9:30
Wednesday, and arrived in Logandale at 2 p.m.
Dropping down from nearly 8,000 feet to under 2,000 was a big
change, and I haven’t been cool since. Actually, last night was
quite pleasant, and it’s not bad in the shade when the breeze is
and Sherry from
were here, so we chatted and played a little, and listened to some
other people picking. Another couple I met last year, Lonnie and
Halene, arrived today.
Thursday is a “dead day” (no performances), like last year, I
made a trip to the Valley of Fire State Park. I went on a 1.5 mile loop
trail that goes out from the entrance station, past a lot of
dramatic rock formations, including several that look like animals
or faces. For the first time in my life I saw a horned toad
(actually a lizard). I saw something that looked like a big bug
zipping across the trail, and when I knelt down it took me a while
to find him. He sat completely still while I studied him and took a
picture. He was quite round, about the size of a quarter, with a
tail that seemed more like a turtle than a lizard. He had spines on
the side of his body and across his brow.
about 93 degrees, so after I finished my walk I spent some time at
the visitor center, ate lunch, and came back. I’m writing this in
the trailer with the air conditioner on, but I still have not cooled
October 13, 2003
: The festival is over and I’m on my way home. There was no
time or energy to write during the event. As always, I had a great
time. I played and sang a little with the people from
Lake, with several different groups.
on-stage line-up was one of the best aside from the Huck Finn
Jubilee. Each festival I see new groups and usually find one that I
really like. This time both of my new favorites were bands from
and High Plains Tradition. The latter was especially good, and I
bought one of their CDs. Often a CD does not capture the band’s
energy and sound that you experience live, but this collection is
good from start to finish. Open Road is a very young band. The lead
singer has a nice voice, but it will probably be a really good voice
when he gets to be 35 or 40. I hope to get to the
Laughlin-Bullhead festival in February, so I can see this group
Lost Highway, who I’ve seen a number of times, starting with some of my first
festivals in Mariposa. Another group that was here last year, the
Liberty Bluegrass Boys from
Texas, also proved to be as good as I thought they were. They have a
twelve-year old bass player, the son of one of the band members. He’s
been with them since he was eight and a half, but didn’t make the trip
out here last year.
heard a bunch of songs I had never heard before, both on stage and
in the parking lot jams (if I had heard them before, they hadn’t
registered). It always amazes me how people come up with great,
unfamiliar songs that have been done by well-known artists such as
Flatt & Scruggs, Hank Williams or Waylon Jennings, as well as
obscure great songs by obscure artists (Examples: Waylon’s
“Wrong,” Hank’s “I Told My Heart a Lie,” and in the double
obscure category, “Roseville Fair” by
Staines (of course, I know that some of you out there reading this
are very familiar with Bill).
about 440 miles from Logandale to
Fresno, more than I like to drive in a day with the trailer, so I am
staying in Mojave. It’s only about 160 miles home, so I should get
back fairly early tomorrow, but I figured if I kept going today, it
would take me till , and then there could be someone in my parking space. This way I
can empty the holding tanks here, get home early, and have plenty of
time to unpack and do laundry tomorrow.
have built a freeway bypass around Mojave on Highway 58, but the off
ramps are not all finished yet. There are supposed to be three ramps,
but only the north one is open, so I had to bypass the town and
double back. The merchants here are furious with CalTrans, who
closed both ends of the old road, then didn’t do any work on the
new ramps for two weeks. Even the one ramp that is open has cones
and barricades and is confusing and dangerous.
the end result, getting to the RV park in “downtown” Mojave, was
not worth the effort. If it’s not the worst park I’ve stayed in,
it’s in the bottom five. I had considered going on to Tehachapi, only
another 20 miles, and now I wish I had. There are planes, trains,
barking dogs, and until I removed it, there was something left
behind by a dog right in front of my door.
traveler’s note: If you’re in this area and want to eat, skip
the Denny’s and McDonald’s in Mojave and Barstow, and try the
Roadhouse Café at Kramer Junction (where US 395 crosses California
58). It has good food and good service, and while you’re at it,
you can buy gas on all four corners.
end this report here, since there is not much to say about driving
from Mojave to
Fresno. It was a great trip, and I hope to repeat it next year,
Nevada, and a visit to a couple of
Utah’s nearby national parks.
Silver City Pink
Liberty Bluegrass Boys
Stormy Mountain Boys
Aspen-lined meadow on road to North Rim
near Grand Canyon Lodge
from Point Imperial area
Point Imperial view
from Roosevelt Point
from Walhalla Overlook
Window at CapeRoyal
from Cape Royal
Another Cape Royal View
Wild Grass at LeFevre Overlook,
road north of Jacob Lake