This holiday was FULL of surprises for us!
1st.. After being at Palatki for 8 weeks, we finally had a beautiful rain and snow storm, which intensifies the beauty in the area. However, this also means the roads getting to our location are extremely muddy and mostly impassable, so Palatki has to close. This raised some tense moments, as we had planned on spending our days off with Maria and her family, and did not expect a storm.
However, Maria drove the 28-hrs strait to arrive, and because the roads were not as bad as the day before, she braved the mud and 4 miles of back road to meet us at Palatki. We had a quick dinner, gave them a tour of our site, then opened gifts. It was a spectacular evening, but we had to send them to their hotel before dark.
The next 2 days were magical. We spent time in a neighboring hotel with them, and toured Sedona, Jerome, Montezuma Castle & Tuzigoot. We treated her for a birthday dinner out at the Haunted Hamburger in Jerome. I can't believe Maria is 40 already!! WoW! We celebrated with a cake in the hotel, then spent the evening swimming. We saw them off Tuesday, as we took a quick drive to Phoenix and browsed some shops.
Below are some photos of this Christmas and Birthday week.
1st Photo is Mark and Bob beginning a tour. This was a big group, so they divided and conquered.. :-)
2nd - 4th photos are the walk up and in the Grotto Rock Art area. Water in the Grotto area is rare, and when it's there, a small pebble dropped into the water creates a beautiful ripple effect. See the video below. We believe the native people used to do this while smoking their pipes.
5th - 7th photos are during a walk up to the old brother's homestead and garage. In video, Mark explains what is found on the floors.
8th photo was after a rain on our drive home. The beautiful sun reflected on the mountains just so that it looks like lemons! These photos are NOT doctored.
9th photo is on an evening walk to check the trail camera. You can see the pueblo at the bottom left of the photo.
10th photo is our view of the night sky on a 3/4 moon night.
Left early to see some area points of interest and to learn more about the native people that lived here years ago.
Wukoki Ruins: Just north of Flagstaff, these ruins also housed the Sinagua people, the same people we had at Palatki. It was really neat to see and learn more about the natives that used these lands years ago.
Wupatki Ruins: Part of the National Park service, these protected ruins also housed the Sinagua and Hopi people years ago.
Sunset Crater: Just because we wanted to go see it. :-)
Grand Canyon: We were close enough, so why not? Haven't seen the canyon since we went with the kids, so it was neat to reminisce at the same rocks we took photos with the kids.
Lowell Observatory: In the spur of the moment, we wanted to go see the stars through those beautiful large telescopes. We bought a membership which includes many more observatories, and we were blessed with seeing some awesome things in the solar system we've never seen before. Looks like we'll be looking for a new telescope! :-)
Walnut Canyon Ruins: This was a spectacular excursion to protected pueblos from years past. Many different native Americans lived in these pueblos that were built deep in the canyons. This is an amazing adventure for anyone!
Taking a canyon ride on the Verde Valley Railroad was on our bucket list for some time. We were told to do this in the fall so we could see the colors, and even though it wasn't as colorful as the east U.S., it was still pretty awesome. We enjoyed a first class ride with appetizers and lunch with a swig of champaign. It was also warm enough to head out to the uncovered car to get a close-up view of the canyons.
We have finally arrived to the volunteer position we accepted back in Feb 2020! We could only imagine what this place was like, as we have never been to Sedona before.. The beauty definitely did NOT disappoint!
We received an escort from our new boss, and after a 7-mile rocky & gravel road, we finally pulled up to our new 3-month home. After setting up, we were given a tour of the archeology sites as well as the visitor center. We were given our uniforms & badges, and now have a few days to relax before getting to work with our training. The 2nd couple will be arriving tomorrow.
For now, all we know is that I (Jeanette) will be managing the visitor center/museum while answering phones, taking reservations, and giving the tour groups a short introduction and sending them down the path to the site where the docents await. Mark will be working as one of the docents in either the Cliff Dwelling site or the Pictograph Grotto, and giving visitors the information about the archeological sites. As on-site hosts, we will also be protecting the sites, cleaning the area, and getting things ready each morning for the visitors. Since there is another couple working with us, we will work W-Sa, and they will be working Su-W.
On our 3 days off, we hope to visit a LOT of attractions in the area, and get a real good idea of what Sedona is all about.
For now, we have a few days to relax before our training session begins. Enjoy the first pics of our travel and our new 3-month home! :-)
It was great to finally arrive into our winter home state - - where we'll be for the main part of the winter. We love it out here because of the dry climates, and beautiful hills and mountains. This trip was no different.
We were in a good position to see Meteor Crater, Petrified National Park and Winslow, AZ, so we did. I must say that Petrified Forest was stunning! There's no many park you can go to see the Badlands, Ruins, Petrified Rock and Petroglyphs all in one!
Meteor Crater was also spectacular. A lot of people say it's just a hole in the wall, but it was much more to us. It was great to see how the impact of the meteorite traveled, and what a large hole it left for such a small little particle. Anyway, BOTH of these are with the visit!
We also stopped in Winslow on our way through, and when this happens, we really must "stand on the corner" as in the Eagles song. We did much more than that, and Winslow was a great little town to visit!
Stay Details: Homolovi State Park - Site 14
Notes: This park has options for electric or water only. We chose water only, as we were staying 2 nights. The park is home of runs from the Navajo people, and it was also home to about a dozen free ranging donkeys.
Visiting Albuquerque was pretty exciting, especially for Mark. Mark lived here when he was young, so we went to see his old house, run around town and see the sights.
Night 1, we drove up to the Sandia peak for some sightseeing. How awesome to see the views and the mule deer!
Day 2, we headed to his old house, school, and saw the hospital where mom worked. We also went to dinner at El Pinto, and the ambiance there was pretty cool! Finally, we went to his old candy store where he bought swizzle sticks for 10 cents each! They are 2.99 now, whoa!
We also toured some Native American ruins in the area which gave us some more really pretty views.
Stay Details: Hidden Valley Ranch; Albuquerque, NM
Notes: This RV park was really tight together, so we didn't feel like spending time outside at all. At the base of our steps was a railroad tie that separated our site from the neighbors, and it was about 2' to the neighbors hoses and sewer lines. The people were nice, cell service was good, but just know that you will not have a lot of room here. However, it was a great place to park close to Albuquerque, so we didn't have to drive far.
Took a day trip to some fun sites just west of Oklahoma City.
𝐄𝐱𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐂𝐥𝐲𝐝𝐞𝐬𝐝𝐚𝐥𝐞𝐬: The icon of Express Employment, this is the farm that raises the Clydesdales and Percherons.
𝐋𝐮𝐜𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐞'𝐬 𝐨𝐧 𝐑𝐨𝐮𝐭𝐞 𝟔𝟔: This restaurant was built as a replica of the original gas station just down the road. The food wasn't very good, but the nastalgia was pretty cool!
𝐑𝐞𝐝 𝐑𝐨𝐜𝐤 𝐂𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐨𝐧: Then a quick hike in the canyon's Horsetail trail.
𝑇𝑜𝑚𝑜𝑟𝑟𝑜𝑤, 𝑜𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑔ℎ 𝑇𝑋 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑖𝑛 𝑡𝑜 𝑁𝑀.
Stopped over to see Katie & the family before heading west. This was the 2nd camping trip we've had with them this year and we always have a blast (like we do with the other kids).. This time, the weather was beautiful except for some tiny bit of rain in the morning, and everyone had a great time. In the morning we went to the zoo, and Sunday Mark went to see the kids sing in church, then helped Tony with the car in the afternoon. I stayed back with a sick me and sick Pica, but felt better the next morning.
Stay details: Charlestown State Park; Charlestown, IN - Site 141
Notes: We choose this campground close to Katie because it has large sites where we have plenty of room to put multiple tents. The sites are electric only and have no sewer or water at the sites. There are water spigots around the campgrounds, and the shower houses are clean and well taken care of. The playground is in the main loop and has a climbing gym and swings.
I must say, Rhode Island is one of the prettiest states we've been to! Besides the mountains, plentiful trees, and rocky cliffs, everyone we've experienced in this state was very nice and all the drivers seem to be respectful to others.
We took a day trip to Newport while here, and found several gems:
Watch Hill Beach: Mark surprised me with a nice beach walk after we arrived at the campground. We were hoping to find the remaining fort and lighthouse at the end of the peninsula, but it was too rock and the sun was setting, so we were more than happy with beautiful sunset photos instead.
Fort Adams: Started as an Army post by President Adams in 1799, this is one of the largest standing forts in the U.S.. We bought the audio tour, and explored the fort with Pica, which was an added bonus. This fort was active in 4 different wars.
Ocean Drive and Cliff Walk: There are a few very beautiful trails you can take around the Newport Island to explore the beautiful homes. After lunch at Chili's, we took both. We enjoyed the walk better though, and you could see the pretty side of all the large homes/buildings.
Stay Details: Burlingame State Park; Charlestown RI - Site 341
This was a beautiful and very large campground that did not offer any amenities. All dry camping, it has two dump stations and all sites are nestled within the woods.
A bonus of stopping here, was there was a lady stranded in the site next to us. Her car wouldn't start, and she'd lost her keys. The ranger never came back after saying they'd help, so Mark began charging her battery. By the time her husband came with the backup key, the battery was full and the car started. The hour we were there, we talked to her, calmed her down and made her realize that the camping community are mostly friendly people.
Ultimately, the rangers never came, nor did they clean up the surrounding area. So, we did that too.
We were lucky enough to be there after school started, so there was nobody around us. We felt we had the entire woods to ourselves, which was very nice.