After John had his first surgery his brother Gerald told us we should come see him on the Big Island while John was recouping from surgery. So we took him up on his offer. How cool is that!!! Especially sweet of Annie & Teacher Gerald to allow us to come visit for almost three weeks. They also were host/hostest with the mostest and welcomed our good friends Bill & Melissa for a week. We flew out on John’s 69th birthday from Orlando, Fl. Our first stop would be Honolulu. We stayed at Holiday Inn Express…very nice open hotel. Our view from our room was awesome. Mountains in one direction and Pacific Ocean in the other directions. Doesn’t get much better than this.
Our first day to venture out was spent walking to the park and getting a quick look at the Pacific Ocean. Oh my gosh so pretty. For me Honolulu looks a lot like Miami except the water is much much bluer…Honolulu has more high rises then Las Vegas….
We got caught in a rain storm so we decide to continue walking down the beach to find a place to get dry and have a drink…we found the Reef Bar inside of an awesome resort where we stopped and had lunch. Right off of Waikiki Beach…
We headed back to the Hotel after lunch because of the rain. We got soaked but it was all good and a great way to start out our stay in Honolulu….
The next day we got up early took the bus to Pear Harbor. We spend a few hours there exploring Pearl Harbor where the sunken USS Arizona remains and the Monument that you are able to explore and walk around over top of the Sunken Ship….USS Arizona! Once you arrive you take a boat ride out to see whichever ship you want to explore. The USS Arizona is free so that the one we picked. You can also go tour The USS Missouri that you can get a glimpse of it from the Arizona…on a trip back to shore we passed The USS Nevada.
John & I enjoyed the visit of the USS Arizona memorial…my Dad was in Pearl Harbor so it was a bittersweet moment for me…..in my opinion everyone should go visit Pearl Harbor if they get a chance. I’m thankful we got the opportunity….I love History.
We started our next day with a full Island tour we got a great value on Groupon and it was an all-day tour. The shuttle picked us up right across the street from the Holiday Inn ( very convenient ) bright and early and off we went. Our first stop was an Amelia Erhart Memorial. First person to fly alone from Hawaii to North America Jan, 1935…love it!
After we stopped at the Amelia Earhart Memorial we moved on to the two beaches. One with the amazing water & blowhole and then the beautiful beach where we got a glimpse of the beach that was in the movie From Here To Eternity. How cool is that? It very cool that Johnny and I are able to take this amazing journey and be able to see all these interesting places. I sometimes have to pinch myself to see if this is all really happening. I truly am loving life. I hope you guys are enjoying sharing our experience with us! The next stop on our bus tour was the Chinese Hat. I have to honestly say I had no idea what Cy was saying when he was talking about this mountain and when you get to the park and get ready to pose move the camera not the person. Well, we did ok but John’s sister & sister-in-law went thereafter we did and they did awesome on their pictures. It was pretty cool even still…
We stopped for lunch along the way but it rained while we were eating. So no pictures. It was lunch from a food truck. We had shrimp. It was ok. Nothing to rave about. Our next and final stop would be the Dole Plantation. It very large and a huge gift shop and of course served some dole whip that John and I split. Well, I had about 3/4 bites Johnny loved it. Too sweet for me. After that stop we headed back to the hotel we had one more day in Honolulu before we flew over to The Big Island. The Island Tour was great and well worth the money in our opinion…
Our last day was spent walking downtown and hanging around the beach. We did some shopping and had lunch by Waikiki Beach which is amazing. We headed back to go to the airport where we had a fifty-minute flight to The Big Island. Teacher Gerald lives on the outskirts of Hilo which they call the rainforest side of the big island. His area is called Mountain View. He is about 12 miles to Volcano National Park…how cool is that.
Next stop…The Big Island – Hilo, Hawaii….we will catch you on the flip side 🤙🏻
It was time for Melissa and Bill to arrive so we headed off to the airport to pick them up. Of course it would be pouring down rain to welcome them. Nonetheless they arrived excited to be in Hawaii ( a bit jet lagged ) but excited. We headed downtown to grab something to eat first then back to Teacher Gerald house.
Our first day out with Bill & Mel was of course the Black sand beach and that amazing bakery ( Mel has a sweet tooth just like Johnny ) it was a beautiful day and just another amazing drive.
Whittington Beach Park has a broken-down pier that is from 1883 when sugar was the major crop throughout the island and the surrounding areas around Whittington. The pier was created at the time to act as a loading place for ships to fill their holds with a harvest. In the 1930s when transportation became more modern trucks started hauling the cane and ultimately became more efficient. The total demise of the pier came with the 1946 tsunami. The bare bones of the pier still exist with a reminder of the heyday of sugar in a previous incarnation of the area.
After a great day sightseeing we heading back to Teacher Gerald & Annie place to do some grilling and some Kalisik style drinking. Johnny Boy & Teacher Gerald did not disappoint. We saw the puppet, the claw and a few other antics from the brothers. A great night to spend with family & friends. It doesn’t get much better than this.
There really isn’t anything I can say about the above video….it says it all…he is a Kalisik and that is what he does- is drink!!!! Too much fun this night made for a tough next day for Johnny-boy…after a very slow start to the day we headed to Volcano National Park. It was a beautiful day to spend hiking down into the crater. It was a 4+ mile hike with lots and lots of steps but we did it. We took the Kilauea Ike Trail which starts in the rainforest…the descend is a mere 400 ft but it takes you through twist and turns of heavily wooded area and you end up on the crater floor. We crossed the ( still ) steaming crater floor and past the vent that built Pu’U Pua’i cinder cone…this took us up a million steps ( not really but seemed like it ) to the top of the crater rim. Pictures just can not do justices to what we seen. It pretty amazing to be able to walk on the crater floor and back up but when you look at it from the crater rim it actual just looks like nothing but dirt.
The next stop would be the drive down to the Sea Arches. It was a most stop for Melissa & Bill too and the drive is just awesome as well…after that amazing view we headed back out of the park with a stop on the way so Mel & Bill could check out the Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs.. ( which means long hill ) there are over 23,000 petroglyphs at the site. This site is dated geologically between AD 1200-1450…. The earliest written observation of the petroglyphs at Pu’u Loa was in 1823. It was less than a mile hike over gently undulating pahoehoe lava bedrock ( that only Mel & Bill took John & I stayed in the car that why I have no pictures ) to reach the boardwalk of Pu’u Loa. They both said it was worth the stop. Check it out!
After we did the National Park hike we drove to the end of the road where the lava overflowed into the neighbor that I talked about in a previous blog. This was an old eruption but still very sad to see how all this area was affected by the erupting Volcano. Right over the ridge is the Pacific Ocean.
Our next stop was ’Akaka Falls Lookout…at the park there are two falls one that is 422 ft & the other one is Kahuna falls 400 ft ( difficult to see ) in order to see the Akaka falls you have to take a short hike ( .04- mile hike ) walking towards the falls it takes you through a lush rain forest with wild orchid, bamboo groves and draping ferns. Continue on the loop and you come upon the towering falls which plummet 442-feet into a stream-eroded gorge. Akaka Falls is perhaps the island of Hawaii’s most famous waterfall. A must-see in my book.
We got up early and headed to the other side of the island to do some Kayaking and to go to a luau. One of the things that were definitely on all of our bucket lists. We decided to go kayaking in an area called Captain Cook …Capt. James Cook sailed into the area in 1778, returned a year later and the Hawaiian people thought he was a God until the Hawaiian people found out he was not and it eventually leads to cooks death February 14, 1779. The Bay Area is known as Kealakekua Bay…is absolutely amazing. Great snorkeling was one of the draws to the area as well. We got our kayaks and snorkeling gear and headed out in the bay. John & I didn’t snorkel but Melissa & Bill did. The water was just amazing. The pictures do not do it justices. We did get a glimpse of some dolphin fins swimming around the area as well…after a few hours of kayaking, we headed to our condo that we rented for a couple of days. What a great condo we had found. It was a beautiful resort that is part of the Wyndham…called the Kona Coast Resort. The condo was a very larger two-bedroom / two-bath setting on the water. We spend the night and the next day relaxing by the pool…we headed out to the luau around threeish as it was about a forty-minute drive away and it was at the Marriott Resort in Waikoloa Beach.
The Luau was at the Marriott Resort. The place was amazing and it sat right on the ocean…we had upfront seats and an open bar. First things first get our drinks…after that, the luau started the show was amazing, the food delicious and the hula girls were the best. We saw how they roasted a pig which was pretty cool they actual do bury them. Who knew….🤷🏼♀️ Kalia is a traditional Hawaiian cooking method that utilizes an underground oven. The word Kalia, which means “to cook in an underground oven”…which is how they do pigs in a luau. Luau, in Hawaiian, is actually the name of the taro leaf, which when young and small after being steamed for a few hours resembles cooked spinach. Traditionally, a hardwood fire is built inside a pit large enough to contain the pig, the stones, and the vegetation used to cover the pig. Stones are placed on top of the fire pit, taking two to three hours to reach maximum temp. Hot stones are also tucked inside the pig to ensure the meat is fully cooked. Sometimes instead of vegetation, they use wet burlap material the flavor of the ti leaf is what differentiates Kalia Pig from other methods of cooking a whole hog slowly using a hardwood fire.
It was time for the show to start the food was delicious but couldn’t take any pictures as it got too dark. Once the show started they picked guys from the audience to dance with the men of the show. Of course, Johnny made it on the stage. 😂
It was time to head back to Hilo and head home the next day. One the way back to Hill we stopped to check out the cliffs Gerald told us about. What a great stop that ended up being. ( The pictures do not don’t justices ) The lookout is called Waipi’I Valley Lookout. Located on the Hamakua Coast, the sacred Waipio Valley was the boyhood of King Kamehameha I, and an important center for political & religious life in Hawaii. The Valley of the Kings an important site for Hawaiian history and culture, it’s also a place of amazing beauty.
Our last stop was at Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Visitor Center where we got to view how they process the nuts. It was pretty interesting process. We even ended up catching a glimpse of one of the nuts there 😏
Our last night had come to an end with Teacher Gerald & Annie we all went out to eat and then said our goodbyes. Bittersweet we all were ready to head home but we had such a fantastic time it was sad to say goodbye.
It was sad to leave such an amazing place and we had such a great time with friends and family but it was time to head back to Florida…we was leaving on a jet plane & had no idea when we would return.
For those of you that are following my blogs that are not family or friends that may not know we are done traveling on The Mickey Peace bus. Actually, we are selling the bus and really are not sure where our next journey will take us. This will be the end of my blogging until we figure out what or when we will hit the road again. We know we will be traveling we just aren’t sure about how we will travel and when. So, for now, thank you for following us. I hope you have enjoyed reading my blogs as much as I have enjoyed doing them & maybe you read something you didn’t know. Until we meet again….Peace Out ✌🏻
We left Honolulu to head to Hilo which is located on The Big Island. That’s where Annie & Teacher Gerald live and they were kind enough for us to come to stay with them for almost three weeks. The flight was right under an hour and we arrived at dark so not much to see till the next day…
The next day we just hung out and for dinner, we went to downtown Hilo to have Mexican. The umbrella trees are so huge and absolutely beautiful. I couldn’t miss this great photo opt with the umbrella tree in the background. The drinks and the company were awesome that night!
On Sunday we went to one of the littlest church’s we have visited in our travels. We were greeted by the members and John & I both got a lei and during mass a nice aloha from everyone. We felt very special.
After church we went back and got Gerald & Annie to check out the black sand beach and a drive around the Island…the weather was beautiful and we were ready to do some exploring. Gerald has lived in Hawaii on/ off for years. So he was an excellent tour guy. Our first stop would be the black sand beach…
Punaluu Black Sand Beach is one of the most famous beaches on the Big Island. The area is amazing with its coconut palms and if you hang around long enough you probably will spot some large honu ( Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles), basking on the beach. You may be tempted to get some black sand to take home but don’t do it! It is against the law. The black sand is made of basalt ( formed from the rapid cooling of magnesium-rich lava ) and created by lava flowing into the ocean which explodes as it reaches the ocean and cools. This volcanic activity is in the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. You can also see Hawksbill basting in the sun as well and they are one of Hawaii endangered sea turtles too. The swimming area is very rocky ( we actually did not go in the water ) and can be a little challenge to swim in but I will say there were lots of people in the water. The beach also has a large amount of underground fresh water that flows in it. The freshwater is very cold ( we can attest to that we stuck our feet in ) and looks almost like gasoline mixing with water. Legend has it that in the time of drought, the ancient Hawaiians living in the area would dive underwater with a jug to get their freshwater. In Hawaiian language puna lu,’u means spring ( water ) diver for. How cool is that?
It was a beautiful drive up to the bakery and back to Gerald house the scenery along the way with glimpses of the ocean are amazing. The countryside is green and beautiful and Johnny felt like it was just like what you may see in Ireland as well.
The next day we went to downtown Hilo to check out a park that John had thought he had visited before. Come to find out it was not the same place but we enjoyed the park just the same. We also came across a beautiful Saffron Finch…The gardens are 24 acres that have Eco-style Japanese Gardens built between 1917-1919 and are said to be the largest such gardens outside of Japan. The Saffron Finch is native to South America, it is believed that the Finch was first introduced to Hawaii in the ’60s and has been comfortably at home ever since.
Johnny helping out on the weed whacking at Gerald & Annie’s house. They went shopping so he did some weed whacking to help Annie out. That all she has been doing since we arrived. 😂😂 Come to find out Gerald has some health issues and was unable to do much while we were visiting. Probably not the best time to have company for them but like I said they were both such great host/hostess we are blessed!
The next day we got up early and headed out to Kona. It was a two-hour drive to the other side of the island. Hilo is considered the rainforest part of the island where it rains an average of 200 days a year. The foliage in Hilo is luscious, green and huge with black sand for beaches amazingly blue waters where on Kona you have brown sand and be a landscape with blue waters as well. The drive would take us through the middle of the island where we would see the many signs of the once erupting volcano from the black lava and ugly landscaping that is left in the aftermath. Once we got to Kona the scenery changed a lot.
Our next stop would be where we were going to the Luau…we wanted to check it out before Mel & Bill arrived to make sure this was a good choice. It is an amazing resort. We toured the resort and as you see from the pictures the resort was amazing. We could not wait to come back in a few weeks for the Luau…after that we went to drive by the condo where we would stay the night of the condo. It was not a good choice ( we ended up being able to cancel – thank god ) then we drive down by the water to have lunch. Even though our choice of restaurants was disappointing we still enjoyed our view and the few hours we spent in Kona was fun with some good shopping.
Time to head back to Hilo. This time we drove up the coast instead of driving back through the center of the Island. So much to see such little time to do it in…
The next day we decided to go check out the area beaches in Hilo…not realizing that all the beaches on the Hilo side actually had black sand. Our first stop would be Richardson Beach and it was a pretty cool spot. In one area of the beach, there was actually some pools of water that looked like a lagoon…we walked through the water ( a bit chilly ) but beautiful blue water. On the other side, we spotted some sea turtles and some gals doing a test on them to see how they are doing. I guess it was a study for one of there college classes. Pretty cool none the less. The ocean here is spring-fed by freshwater that also forms many ponds ( lagoons ) at the beach and nearby. The spring water is cold, with ocean water being warmer makes for a great day in the water as it is shallow and almost current -free. A good place to snorkel as well …
After our beach visit, we headed to a different part of Hilo to check out Rainbow Falls. This was a very cool place to visit. Waterfalls were definitely on our bucket list seeing a rainbow made it just that much cooler. The falls cascade over a lava cave which according to the legend is home to ancient goddess Hina, the goddess of the moon. The waterfall itself is a mere 80 ft high and the Hawaii name is Waianuenue…in the Hawaiian language, the falls are called “rainbow [seen in]water”
Next on our list would be Volcano National Park. We headed out early one morning to check it out and for me to get my stamp in my passbook for National Parks. We got lucky enough to catch a ranger going on a hike to the summit. The park encompasses two summits of the most active volcanos in the world- Kīlauea and Mauna Loa…in 2018 Kīlauea erupted. From May through August, large lava flows covered land and destroyed 700 homes in the nearby residential area..at the same time, the summit area of the park was dramatically changed by tens of thousands of earthquakes, towering ash plumes, and a massive collapse of Kīlauea caldera. Along the hike, we learned about the oldest lodge that they have in the Park, one of the huts that the Polynesian use to live in and a view of the summit where it collapsed. After our hike, the ranger played a nose flute…it was a common courting instrument also known as ’one hano ihu. Very interesting and unique experience watching someone using there nose to play the flute. Who knew 🤷♀️
Our next trip back to the park would be with Teacher Gerald & ( Annie ) as our guide so it was much more exciting hike. We drove through the military base first and parked the car to head to the summit.
After the hike, we took crater road all the way to the end to visit the sea arches. What an amazing drive that was all the way to the ocean. It the Holei Sea Arch they are about 90 ft high and have been around only in the last 100 years. This beautiful formation has a limited life span. The sea arch will eventually crumble and will no longer be a feature of the Park… However, another will replace it as the cliff slowly migrates inland.
In just a few days our friends Melissa and Bill will arrive and we will have another 8 days to explore the more of Hilo and Kona with them. This will be there first time visiting Hawaii as well ( mine too ) but not Johnnys. So I am going to leave you here, for now, the last part of the journey will be next….stay tuned ✌️
We had to cancel our plans for the rest of the year and head back to Florida to take care of some personal things. We lefT Williams, AZ and our first stop would be Albuquerque NM.
It was a little less than four hundred miles to Albuquerque NM so we decided to make that our first stop on our trip. It was also Fathers Day weekend so we decided to stop at a Casino that also had an RV park right next to it. We got tickets to see Ron White the comedian from the Redneck Tour to have our date night and celebrate Father’s Day….
Our drive from Arizona to Albuquerque was pretty cool. The mountains are really so beautiful and once again the pictures do not show it justices. We arrived at Route 66 RV Park & Casino. We spent two days there. We never won any money but did have fun on our date night and celebrating dads day. It was time to hit the road we had a lot of ground to cover.
After two days of driving from New Mexico to Mississippi ( we stopped each night but not in rv park ) we decided to stop at a state park. It was a really cool state park. So nice that once we got there and got set up Johnny wanted to stay two days instead of one so I changed our reservations right away. There was a lake and really just pure peace and quiet for us. We spent the two days walking the park with Lucy and just relaxing. Awe ” our life is good ”…..
It was time to continue our trek south our next stop would be. Tallahassee..on our way out of the State Park this is the bridge we had to cross to get out. As you can see the water flows from the lake across the bridge to another part of the lake into the overflow damn. It really kind of freaked me out when we came into the park and crossed through that water and I told John to stop course he didn’t listen and kept right on trucking, it looked worse than it was. So on the way out, I had to take pictures…if you are in the area this park will not disappoint!
We had another 375 plus miles to our next stop which would be Tallahassee and a Harvest Host stop which was a car museum. Harvest Host is a membership that you purchase then you can stay for one night all over the U.S. They have farms, museums, winery and a host of other things to spend the night at. It is definitely very cool and this was our first time spending the night in one of these locations. You have to be self-sufficient but you can use your generator and open up your slides so not a bad gig for one night. Beats the heck out spending the night in Walmarts or rest area.
As you can tell we had the whole place to ourselves…as I mentioned before it was the first time for us to use our membership but I can see we will be using it a lot more in our future travels. We spent the night and headed out the next day for Ocala and Santos Trailhead and Campground. We spent four days there so we can spend some time with our good friends Vern & Kathy at the famous Leslie Pub. We had a great few days and too many laughs.
We did manage to go to mass on Sunday and celebrate The Feast Of Corpus Christi which was an awesome church & mass.
After our few days of fun in Ocala and celebrating our return with Kathy & Vern it was time to head home to Punta Gorda….our three hour drive to Sun N Shade RV Park was made with no problems and we both were happy to be back to our familiar town with family and friends.
We will be in Punta Gorda till next March…if you are in the area please make sure to look us up. We are heading to Hawaii for a month in late September but otherwise, you can find us on the Peacebus hanging out. Until our next journey…peace out ✌🏻
We left the Grand Canyon and headed about 80 miles south to a town that was right off of the famous Route 66 and to what we was hoping to be a very cool RV Resort called Railside Ranch. The cool thing about this place is the Grand Canyon Railway ran right behind our RV Park..
We spent some time in Williams and it was definitely a step back in time and a great way to get a taste of the era back in the day when Route 66 was the only road to travel on in so many states.
The next few days we got settled into our new spot. We had to head back to Prescott for the day and gosh the scenery was so cool. We had already been to Prescott before but now we were coming from a different direction. We were near Watson Lake and Granite Mountain it is just absolutely amazing that no picture could ever show it justices. I took pictures anyhow 🤷🏼♀️
On the way home, it started to hail and then as we started getting closer to Williams ( elevation 6765’ ) we had snow on the ground. Yes, just a dusting but good grief it was almost Memorial Day!
I have to tell you we were not expecting this chilly of weather. They said it was not usually like this in Williams this time of year. John and I had to laugh as that was the same thing the people in Yuma said. Seasonal cold weather this year! I said yes, of course, it is because we decided to spend the winter in the Southwest. Anyhow back in Williams, the weatherman said we were probably going to get about an inch of snow and we ended up getting three inches and our area got the most. I know this is probably not uncommon to everyone that lives in the Southwest, with this high elevation and so close to the Grand Canyon but once again Memorial Day was fast approaching and I was like no way..SNOW??? Yet another first for us. Now I can share with you it was pretty cool. Especially since I’m writing this inside the Peacebus in Florida, and the outside temp here is record highs and so is the feel like temperature right now its 92 degrees feels like 115 🔥 1130 am crazy weather swing for us.
Finally Memorial weekend was upon us and the weather was nice enough for us to take a drive to Flagstaff. It too has part of rte 66 going through it. We had lunch in downtown Flagstaff @ a Irish Pub..lunch was amazing after that we walked the town a bit then headed off to do some food shopping at the local Fry’s…Flagstaff is very unique and we definitely will be heading back to hit the ski lift to take us to the top of the San Francisco Peaks Mountain a different day.
The next day we took a drive to Seligman this iconic little town is the birthplace of America’s main street, Route 66. Back in 1987, old Route 66 between Seligam and Kingman was declared Historical Route 66. They have plenty of unique shops, diners, and even mom/pop motels so you can hang around for a few days. Don’t forget get your kicks on route 66 ~ a must!
The next town we visited was Williams the town where we were staying in. We did some shopping and walked the streets to check out all the unique stores they had. Stopped at one of the local bars to have drink and lunch at a local restaurant another great unique town to spend a few hours in. It also has the Grand Canyon Railroad Train takes you to the Grand Canyon for the day or go and spend the night and come back on the train the next day. Several different prices of tickets you can buy depending on where you want to be on the train. Each car has its own western story that plays out while you are traveling to the grand canyon. The first Saturday of each month they actually use a steam engine train to take you to the Park. How cool is that?
One more trip to the Grand Canyon. Its really hard to see it all in just three days so we decided to go back one more time. This time we took Lucy and we just drove to each point to catch the views. We also went to where the watch tower was and that was really amazing. The views of the Canyon are just breath taking. Our first stop was The Flintstone Amusement Park & Campground that unfortunately just closed at the beginning of the year. We was able to take some pictures and walk around the outside but that was about it. Back in the heydays of this place it cost five dollars to go in and walk around the bedrock town. It on the road that takes you to the Grand Canyon so I’m sure in it day it saw a lot of people.
After our visit to Bedrock we head to the Grand Canyon. It was an amazing day and we got to see Elk and the views of the Canyon were amazing. One of our stops would be the Desert Watch Tower, though John and I never climbed up inside ( we couldn’t with Lucy ) it was very cool …the watch tower was built by Mary Colter, aptly named because of the views to the east of the Painted Desert, you can see the Colorado River make a big bend and continue to the west. Mary Colter who is often referred to as the architect of the Southwest. This particular tower was patterned after those found at Hovenweep and the Round Tower of Mesa Verde. Mary stated that it was not a copy of any she seen, but rather a model from several.
Hence Rapids has a lot of power it’s just hard to tell at the distances of about 3.8 miles away. This is one of the most hazardous rapids, as the Colorado River falls the height of a three-story building. The rapids were named after John Hance the South Rim’s first white settler.
Next stop was Lipan Point and the panoramic long view was A-Mazing! You can clearly see the diagonal rock layers on top of the Vishnu Schist, and you can also see the Unkar Delta with it’s interesting history.
On our drive out of the park we got a close up look at a an Elk that just didn’t know where he wanted to go. It was very cool!
Our next adventure would be heading to Flagstaff and visiting Arizona Snowbowl. The weather was very warm and sunny and a great day to take a ski lift up the side of San Francisco Peak.
We started out at 9500 feet elevation and very warm and sunny. Johnny had jeans on I had shorts. Go figure! As we climbed the side of the mountain it was an amazing view and got very chilly. When we got to the top of the mountain we was not able to see The Grand Canyon but had a great view of Flagstaff and surrounding area.
Arizona Snowball is up on top of the San Francisco Peaks and its been around since 1938. Originally the road was dirt and there are 777 acres to ski-260 inches a year of snow that falls there. The Hopi claimed this land back in 1150 to date they still have 13 different Native Tribes in the region. Native people have and still use these peaks for ceremonies and religious activities…how cool is that?
Our last road trip before we would head back to Florida was to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. I need to get another stamp in my passport book for National parks/ Monuments before we headed south. Sunset Crater is a cinder cone near Flagstaff. Sunset Crater is the youngest in a string of volcanos that are related to the nearby San Francisco Peaks. An interesting note back in 1928 a Hollywood film Co planned to detonare large quantities of explosives on the side of Sunset Crater in order to create an avalanche for the motion picture Avalanche. Public outcry over this plan led in part to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument by President Hoover in 1930
We took Lucy home then headed to lunch at a very unique brewery..we had a few drinks and lunch and completely enjoyed the restaurant…very cool interior and they brewed there own beer and my Bloody Mary was made from vodka they bottled as well. Very cool! www.grandcanyonbrewery.com
Our time came to an end and we were leaving The Southwest and heading back to Florida….as our journey continues…please stay time we have lots more to explore and share!
We left Cottonwood, AZ and headed to Trailer Village RV Park inside the Grand Canyon. This was going to be one of the best RV parks we stayed in this whole year. It the only one inside the park that would take a rig as big as ours. Most state parks and National parks just do not accommodate larger RV. That the reason so many people have a smaller RV. For us, it just was not an option since we are full-time RV- ERS and we wanted to have the storage and also the room to have a washer and dryer. Though small fifth wheelers and motorhomes do have washer and dryers then they lack storage or queen beds, etc.
This would be John and I second trip to the Grand Canyon. The first trip was back in 2013 and we took a tour from Vegas. That trip we walked on the glass walkway that reaches out over the Canyon on the westside with the Colorado River below. …it was amazing….as most of you may know John is ( sorta ) afraid of heights, but he did good on the walkway..
Trailer Village RV Park like I said was inside the Grand Canyon. How cool is that? You have to be on top of reservations to make that happen and of course, that is something else we like to do plan, plan, and plan. Not usually any issues with that way of traveling as they all have cancellation policies and most are very reasonable.
Our first day there we hopped on the bus. It is so cool. You walk up to the end of the road wait for the bus and it takes you anywhere you want to go within the park just like Disney 😏 and the bus is free. Actually, during certain months to some of the spots, they do not allow cars so the bus is the only transportation. The bus is free to everyone that comes into the Park. We were at the south entrance. Our first stop was the visitor center and there you can also walk the brim of the ridge. It was a bit chilly that day but we decided to check it out for a couple of hours. I will have to say my pictures do not show the beauty of this place. It is absolutely amazing and gorgeous and every one of you reading this if you have not been you should most definitely put it on your bucket list, in my opinion. Fun fact- The Grand Canyon is the second most visited National Park. Anyone out there know the first most visited National Park? Well if you said The Great Smoky Mountains you are correct. Which happens to be my favorite Park too. How cool is that?!!
The South Kaibab trail wound down into the canyon and it seemed to be very popular but it was late afternoon and we had really no time to explore it. We headed back to the visitor center to get information for our next day hike. John checked out the map and planned a trail for us and how to take the bus to the trailhead. You basically had to transfer from one bus to the other to get where you wanted to go but honestly, it was no big deal as the buses run about 8-10 minutes apart.
We headed out for a full afternoon of exploring the Canyon. We had decide on the Bright Angel trailhead. This particular trail goes all the way down to the Colorado River. It actually is the trail that you take if you do the mule tour with a guide. John and I actually considered doing that. It a two-day trip on a mule. It 7 hours down to the bottom of the Canyon you spend the night at a ranch and then 6 hours back up. Really be a trip and experience of a lifetime. There were two things not cool about this -one was the price 2k for both of us, and secondly, those trails you follow are narrow and high so taking the mule/tour was off the table quick. With our walking sticks and bottled water in hand off, we went to explore natures beauty at Bright Angels Trailhead. This trail was three miles round trip and it went into the inner part of the grand canyon. Two to four hour hike with bathrooms at the halfway point down in the canyon. Can’t ask for anything better than that! So off we go.
We made it to the first rest area with bathrooms. It took us about an hour and ten minutes. The hike down was just amazing and had lots people hiking down and back up. Some people that had started out early in the morning and went farther down in the canyon. We stopped to take a break and out on the rocks was this pesky little squirrel..someone on the other side of us thought it would be cool to feed them. Course there are signs all over not to do this 🙄
After our short break, we would head back up the trail….to say this was a challenge is really putting it mildly. It was all uphill. We started at 6860 elevation and climbed down to 5720 ft. So now back up to the rim. We climbed and we climbed. Around every turn, John would say this is the steepest one yet, until the next one! 😉
We had a great hike up but it did challenge John and I. This is one of the toughest hikes to date. As I said it was a constant climb up. It never leveled off at any point even though in our minds we knew it was going to at some point ( we hoped.) It took thirty minutes longer to get up then to get down but that wasn’t surprising and actually, we were pretty proud of our selves. We usually don’t do tough hikes. The total miles we hiked was just over five miles and I believe this is our longest hike so far and did I mention the toughest…🤔
The next day we decided to grab the bus that had 8 different stops on it. It’s kind of like the buses you can get in tourist cities ( hop-on-hop-off type) but this bus took you around the rim of the grand canyon and you could see all the amazing views. Did I mention that it FREE? How cool is that? Neither one of us was sore so we’re pretty excited to get this day going. ( Little did we realize the next day would be when the soreness would strike ) Anyhow off we headed to the bus stop it was our last day stay at the RV park.
One of our stops was where there once was a mine. It was one of the richest Uranium mine that dropped 1500 ft below the canyon. The mine actual goes back to 1891 when an orphan Dan Hogan discovered copper. He built a daring trail 1100 ft below ( where this picture is taken ) and in 1936 he gave up mining and built a lodge and trading post on the rim, which in 1947, became Grand Canyon Inn. The beginning of 1951 was when uranium ore would be discovered and it quickly changed the business world.
The next stop would be Hopi Point where we would get a good view of the Colorado River. Just a glimpse of it but a fantastic view of the Canyon as well
On to Mohave Point where the view is amazing and more viewings of the Colorado River below..we also would see elk along the way and then head back to the lodge would we heard food and drinks calling our name..
Our last stop of the day would be lunch & drinks back at The Vavapai Lodge & Tavern. This lodge was part of the Mission 66 project where they would improve and provide better facilities to increase tourism by 1966 which would be the parks 50th anniversary..it was a great lunch and a great way to end our stay at Grand Canyon.
We leave Trailer Village RV Park and head to Williams AZ where our journey will continue….
We arrived at Dead Horse and found that we had the most amazing spot in the Park…lucky us! I actually had made the reservation a year before so that the reason we got the best site. Even the ranger at the check-in station said wow you guys have the best site and for two weeks! The history of this state park was pretty interesting. It started out as a ranch in the late 1940s. The ranch got named Dead Horse by the kids of the parents that bought the ranch. They had spent several days in the area looking for a ranch to buy and after they had tour all the ranches the father ask the kids which ranch they liked. They told him the one that had the dead horse on it. So Dead Horse Ranch it was. After the family sold the ranch to the state of Arizona in 1973 the one condition of the sale was they kept the name of the Ranch. Giving it the name The Dead Horse Ranch State Park. How cool is that!
Once we got set up and settled in we headed out to do some exploring we had three months in Yuma and we was ready for some different scenery and a few hikes. Lucy was happy to be outside again too. Yuma got way to warm for us at the end of our stay there.
Our first town we visited was Prescott it was about one hour and half drive from Cotonwood…the drive would take us up over route 89A through a old mining town named Jerome and when I mean up and over a mountain – WOW – it was crazy but very cool drive. The first time through was enough for us we came back to Cottonwood a different way but we would definitely head back to Jerome at some point.
We spent Cinco De Mayo day in Jerome. This once historic copper mining town could be found tuck away near the top of Cleopatra Hill between Prescott & Flagstaff. It was once known as the wickedest town in the west. It has a bit of a hippie flair to the town with many shops complimenting that theme. We had a great lunch at Bobby D’s BBQ and a pretty good margrita to celebrate the day!
Our visit to a National Monument was to Tuzigoot Monument in Clarkdale AZ. Tuzigoot is an ancient village built by a culture known as the Sinagua. The Pueblo consist of 110 rooms including second and third story structures with the first building being built around A.D. 1000. This is one of two ruin sites we visited while in the area. Another stamp in my National PassBook. Very cool!
Our next town to visit was Sedona. Oh my gosh, amazing scenery, red rocks, and some awesome hikes and drives we took. The first thing we went to see was the Chapel of the Holy Cross Johnny surprised me with this pick. I had no idea what it was. Wow was all I could say when we first got there. The architect was a woman Marguerite Staude. Initially, she had envisioned the chapel as a modern-day skyscraper cathedral that would encircle one city block. Her early sketches impressed Lloyd Wright, the son of famous architect Frank Llyod Wright, but the archbishop in LA would not approve the sketches. Then a nunnery in Budapest was interested in the design and planned to build it above the Danube River. Unfortunately, WWII would stop those plans. After her parents past, she then decided to build the chapel in Sedona, a place she had become to love. Staude had changed her plan for the Chapel and Lloyd Wright was clinging to the original plans so therefore he would not work with her. So she hired a firm named Anshen & Allen from San Francisco. They jumped at the chance to build this unique Chapel. The Chapel was completed in 1957 at the cost of 300 thousand dollars and it quickly became recognized nationally. In the early years, the Catholic church held services in the chapel but it quickly became too small to meet the needs of the Sedona Catholic community so it became a shrine for people of all faiths. How cool is that!
Next stop in Sedona was a hike with Lucy. She had to stay in the car at the Chapel of the Holy Cros so now it was her turn to explore the Sedona back country. Right down the road was the Coconino National Forest and we took the Mystic Trail hike. Amazing scenery which included a small snake, beautiful flowering cactus, agave plant, unique Juniper tree and those gorgeous red rocks. It was a great hike!
Back at Dead Horse, we decided to go find the Verde River and explore some of the state park. The trail was right out our door and it wound around the backside of the park. We hiked about a mile to the river and then followed the path along the river bank around and came out on the other side of the park. It was a pretty cool hike all by ourselves. We never saw one person on the trail so you actually feel like you have the park to your self. Which is pretty darn awesome!
We headed back towards Sedona for a day of exploring. First stop would be the ruins at the V-Bar-V Heritage Site in the town of Rimrock. This site is the largest known Petroglyph site in the Verde Valley. If you have the National pass it free to get in otherwise it is five dollars and well worth a visit if you are in the area. From the visitor center it just a half mile walk to the ruins. The rock art consists of 1032 petroglyphs in 13 panels. The petroglyphs were created by Southern Sinagua residents between 1150 & 1400 AD. The site was known to early American settlers and became a part of the historic V-Bar-V ranch around 1907.
A solar calendar is also incorporated into the panel by taking advantage of the gap in the cliff to the right and several stones that have been placed in one of the crevices. A sun dagger lines up with certain symbols to mark the passing of both summer & winter solstices and the spring & fall equinoxes. These calendars are important for planting and also for timing of religious ceremonies for the blessing of moisture for crops and other necessities of life. After the ruins we would continue towards Sedona with a drive down lower & upper red rock canyon road. The red rocks are just amazing and no picture is going to show the true beauty of this area. John and I fell in love with the beauty of the red rocks.
We went to a trail head that had caves at the end of it. It was a bit of a climb up and over lots of rocks and down, down and over lots of rocks that made up the trail. We did make it all the way down to the first cave. I had to bail out I got a bit dizzy so Johnny went down and got some pictures. Nonetheless it was another amazing hike, views, and picturesque photo opt. Life is sure good for Johnny and I as we are on a journey of our life.
The drive to Sedona is just so cool. Along the way you will see some amazing statues or unique art work in one of the many round-a-bouts you drive through. Just a very cool cool place to visit. I would say it should be on everyones bucket list. Lunch was in uptown Sedona with amazing views.
We went to uptown Sedona and had lunch and this was our view at Open Range Grill & Tavern. There are lots of places to eat and lots of shopping you can do. Just a very cool town and it has several different areas that offers so much to do and see.
Our last day in Cottonwood we spent a few hours in old town..we had lunch outside and then hit the streets to do some “Antique shopping” nothing like spending a few hours walking through two acres of Antiques. Johnny now loves doing this with me and of course I am always looking for something for our forever home…whenever that may be 🤔