Well what do you do when you suddenly find out that the Starlink Falcon9 is scheduled to launch in the morning? Well drive to the coast and wait 9 hours for the launch, that's what!
That's exactly what we did when Mark suddenly found out that Starlink postponed their recent flight and it was now scheduled for the morning! On a whim, we decided to head 2 hours east, find any location we could, and to wait until the launch at 3:13am. We planned out a dark park location which we later got kicked out of, then moved to the roadside location where we walked down next to the water and enjoyed each others company while we waited; about 15 miles straight west from the launch pad. We did manage to get a few hours of sleep during the night, and Pica was very well behaved during this crazy night.
The launch itself was spectacular! The SpaceX live broadcast playing in the background; the rumbling of the boosters; the ground shaking from the mighty thrusters that were lifting 60 more satelites into space.. It was just awe-inspiring and emotional to say the least. I don't know why it got to us that way, but maybe it had something to do with the meaning of the mission.
Twenty-four years ago, we took our honeymoon trip to Orlando. We watch a Space Shuttle launch then too! Now after these many years, Shuttles no longer fly. Instead, reusable rocket boosters send up satelites that promise to bring world-wide Internet and communications; our future. This launch was the 76th safe landing return of the first stage booster Falcon9.
Everyone should try to see a rocket launch some time in their lives, but this night was was absolutely spectacular. Watch the 3-minute video to see the entire thing. It gets blurry, but straightens up around the 1:10 minute mark.
We reserved Hueco Tanks over a month ago, and we were excited about this visit because of the petroglyphs in the area and many remnants of the native american people that once lived here. It is also a dark sky area, and rich with wildlife.
This site was named from the many huecos ("whey-coes") that form in natural rock basins within the mountain. There is a lot of imagery left by the ancient people, and even a good amount of small hikes that are rich with history. There is even a hike that requires hanging on to a chain in order to get to the top!
The campground itself houses 20 campers, both small and large. We have a beautiful spot, but site 15 is probably the prettiest, with trees and a shaded picnic area.
If you book this area, make sure you book a guided tour well in advance, as they were all sold out when I called to reserve our campsite. If you need to wait in line to get in for a pass, arrive early, as they are only handing out 70 per day right now.
The Hike: The next day, we were in line for another hiking pass at 7:30am. Had breakfast, then headed out to the hardest hike first called the chain hike. We had to use chain to climb about 250ft onto North Mountain. We took it slow, used the chain, and explored some awesome mountains, huecos and rock caves.
After lunch and a quick rest, we took off to the other hikes in the afternoon and found a REALLY beautiful in-rock cave that accended through many more slot canyons and climbs. Mark explored this a lot more, and the walk was awesome!
We returned home tired and sore, but full of beautiful memories.. :-)
Site Details: Hueco Tanks Campground; Site # 001. (31.918863, -106.036933)
(See more photos on our ARIZONA page)
We found this spot on Campendium, and after reading the reviews, I wasn't sure if we were going to find a spot or fit into the spots we did find. We could only go so far, so after passing the 5th cattle guard, we pulled over and rode the bikes in to scope out a spot. Low and behold, there were 2 areas that MAY work, and a few spots to turn around if they didn't.
It was difficult to put the rig into position, but even though a bit frustrated, Mark did an awesome job. Once it was in position, it was also work to level the rig, as we were 8" off. We put one side up on blocks, and the other side we dug a little hole so the tires would go down. Came out to 1/4" off, so we called it good and hit auto-level.
The views at this place are spectacular! We walked the area and found recent evidence of cows, Mountain Sheep, and some dog or cat-like medium type animal. We were at the top of the hill overlooking the rest of the campers, so we set up the cameras to face the mountains, in hopes that we'll see some kind of wild animal activity.
The local cows moved in on day 2, keeping their distance yet welcoming us with their presence. :-)
Stay Details: Indian Bread Rocks BLM; Bowie AZ. (32.240677, -109.506086)
We didn't think we'd see many more Saguaros than we've seen already, but wow! This location was littered with them! We had a nice educational drive through the park, and enjoyed seeing the many plant species that were abundant in the area.
What an interesting side trip this was.. Not sure I'd recommend it unless you were going to educate your kids on how our actions affect lifestyles, but it was certainly interesting.
The 𝐒a𝐥𝐭𝐨𝐧 𝐒𝐞𝐚 area. Did you know this sea was created by human error in engineering? It became booming paradise in the 1950's, but began drying up. The sea was sustained mostly by run-off from the area farms which contained fertilizers. Now, the beaches are blocked off and the the toxic area is mostly abandoned.
𝐃𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐏𝐚𝐥𝐦 farms to thrive in the area, but they too are drying up. They are on the northern end by Mecca. It was definitely cool to see how they were neatly planted.
𝐒𝐚𝐥𝐯𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐌𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐚𝐢𝐧 was definitely interesting to visit. Leonard Knight created this by adding gallons upon gallons of paint to items donated on this riverbank in his efforts to spread the word of Jesus. People have added to it over the years and locals see it as a majestic place to be with God. There were even a huge number of squatters living across the road from this mountain.
𝐒𝐨𝐧𝐲 𝐁𝐨𝐧𝐨 𝐖𝐢𝐥𝐝𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐒𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐭𝐮𝐚𝐫𝐲 was created when the area was thriving. It's a place that birds have come to rest during migration, and there are over 120 species of birds found here. It was a pretty walk, but distrurbing as they too live in a now-toxic environment.
Cinder cone volcano, just outside of the Mohave National Preserve, CA.
This is the Copper Ridge Dinosaur tracksite just north of Arches National Park. These Jurassic footprints are the largest I think I will ever see! They are about 13-16 inches! Unbelievable and well preserved, probably from a large Therapod (meat eater) In the third picture you can see a totally different footprint not unlike elephant tracks. These are from large sauropods (think of Land-before-times Brontosaur). It's hard to believe that these footprints are so well preserved and right next to each other. Perhaps from Noah's flood only a few thousand years ago!
Stay Details: Dinosaur Track Site Dispersed Camp (38.8286, -109.7653)
Took a day trip out to Canyonlands and Dead Horse State Park. We were told by one of the locals that we MUST drive on Schafer Trail.. We were both up for the challenge, so we did!
It is a dirt 1-1/2 lane road that scales the cliff down to the valley. We would also suggest going to the horseshoe overlook, then turn around & go back up.
We would both highly recommend this trip if you are NOT afraid of heights. However, we would also suggest turning around at the bottom somewhere and going back up.. We stopped at a beautiful overlook to the horseshoe part of the Colorado/Green River. That's where we should have turned around. We didn't, and ended up finally finishing the off-road bumpy road 5 hours later. however, we did get a LOT of beautiful photos!