Click on picture to read Chaco's poems

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Bad Night- Great Day in Redding, CA.

    After spending the night in one of the worst motels we have ever had to endure we managed to have a fantastic day exploring Redding, California, the Sundial Bridge and Sacramento Trail System. The motel had loud drunks yelling, cuzzing and lighting off firecrackers all night. The room next door to us had 5 chihuahuas barking all night and our motel room phone did not even work so I could call the lobby to complain. The bathroom had no hot water and there was a wet dirty wash cloth hanging on the shower head when we moved into our room. I guess we have to count our blessings that this was our only bad night so far considering the low standards we have set for motel stays on this trip. Instead of counting the "star' ratings of motels, as all our's would all have NO stars, we now count the rooms by the number of hangers they have in the room. Our best room was a 10 hanger room, many had ZERO hangers! Tonight we are in a 5 hanger room called the Vagabond Inn just outside Yosemite National Park. We are hoping  to buy some tire chains somewhere in town tomorrow that would allow us to legally go into the the park. Tire chains are mandatory to be carried in all vehicles, even 4 wheel drives this time of year in California's mountain highways. If the roads are open and we score some chains we hope to make in into Yosemite tomorrow and check it out. Most of it is closed due to snow conditions but since we are so close we would like to get in and see what there is to see! Today we biked the Sundial Bridge and Turtle Bay area and had a great time. The bridge has a glass roadway so it will not cast a shadow on the migrating salmon below in the Sacramento River and it was neat to bike and walk over it. The bridge is also a giant sundail and casts a huge shadow on markers on the far side of the river and tells exact time on the soltice each year and fairly accurate time the rest of the year!  We rode the Sacramento Trail on our bikes upriver and saw lots of people fishing for trout and salmon in unique dory style boats. We had a great time!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Crescent City to Grants Pass, OR. to Redding, CA

Today we left Crescent City and decided to turn inland and head into Grants Pass, Oregon. The mountain pass roads have had some closings due to snow and we did'nt want to get caught up in the mountains with our tire chains. So we decided once we made it to Grants pass we would connect up with I-5 and head south back through California but between the Coast Ranges of mountains and the High Sierras. We made it over the highest pass on I-5, Siskiyou Pass, and the roads were in pefect condition and the sun was shining bright. Snow was everywhere in the mountains around us but the road was clear. There were lots of signs that said to put on tire chains when the sign was blinking and I would not want to drive an over loaded Focus staion wagon through in those conditions. Many of the trucks were struggling to make the summits and the roads going down were all 6 and 7 percent grades, very steep and winding. We soon had Mt. Shasta out in front of us and it was covered in very deep snow well down below its 14,162 foot peak! many cars were pulled over taking pictures and it was a fantastic site shining in the bright sunlight. We stopped early today inn Redding, California because we saw signs for the Sundial Bridge and decided to check it out. it turned out this is a world famous bridge with a glass roadway and a single tower that is actually a giant sundial. We will bike the bridge and check out the trails along the Sacramento River in the morning.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Fort Bragg to Cresent City

Today we woke to heavy rains, cool temps and ferocious winds. We continued north to Eureaka then on to Cresent city. Along the way we detoured to the Avenue of the Giants, a 31 miles stretch of old 101 that drives right through the giant redwoods with stops along the way to hike into the groves of these giant trees. It was raining so hard we only got a few good shots and mostly stayed in the car and watched it all go by. We did see plenty of Roosevelt Elk that come down from the mountains and right into peoples yards and the lower ranches alon the Eel River. We stopped for the night in Cresent City and now we are only about 20-30 miles from the Oregon border. Tomorrow the plan is........? Will have to sleep on that one and decide in the morning.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Petaluma to Fort Bragg

Another long drive today stopping to hike and beachwalk at the best spots we found along the way.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Monterey Bay to Muir Woods

Today we spent the day driving, beachwalking at spots along the coast and hiking in Muir Woods. Again, the scenery was jaw dropping and the redwood trees in Muir Woods are more inpressive than words can say. Not much to say, will just post a few pics from the day.

Oxnard to Big Sur and Monterey Bay

Yesterdqay we drove the most scenic road we have been on so far. The cliffs and rugged coast of Big Sur and Monterey Bay. We stopped at Morro Rock to see Perigrine Falcons and to watch the surfers then went on to the most rugged coastline I have seen since Maine and watched wild Sea Otters playing in the kelp beds and the Elephant Seals by the hundreds that haul themselves up onto the beaches to fight, mate and nurse their young. Many of the young pups lay dead on the bech from drowning in the storms or getting crushed by the big males or just lose their way and cannot find their mothers to nurse them. We also saw our first Brants, Surf Scoters, Brandts Commorants and Horned Grebes. The wildlife along the Pacific Coast is just amazing! Also the towering trees, the rugged cliffs and the green, green hills are truly something everyone should ttake the time to see. We finished our day driving about 70 miles of this mountainous terrain in the dark and the rain making for a very exciting ending to the day and we were gald to finaly see the lights of Monterey and most of all the very rare and endangered 25 dollar California motel room! The room even had a fireplace! Considering it cost 35-50 dollars to tent out in a California State Park this was a no brainer! I  saw on TV that California is so broke it is going after dog owners who do not get their pets licensed so that they can recoup all that lost money! We also paid a record $3.59 for gas in the wonder they call it the Golden State......better bring your Gold AMX card!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

San Diego to Oxnard

" Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink  in the wild air"        - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today we got on the road about 10AM and headed north on the PCH through San Diego, La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Oceanside, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Long Beach, Redondo Beach, Inglewood, Santa Monica, Maibu and ending at Oxnard near where I was born. We saw some beautiful beaches and also some terrible slums near LA. We saw seals having pups in La Jolla and lots of pelicans along the coast. It was a tiring drive going along the shore and not too much on the way of pay offs of scenery for the effort. We are hoping it will get better the further north we go. Tomorrow it looks like the PCH goes north through some more undeveloped areas and hopefully the views will be much better.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The London Bridge to Maricopa

There is science, logic, reason; there is thought verified by experience. And then there is California.” – Edward Abbey

Well we left Vegas and headed to Lake Havasu City. This is the small town in Arizonia where a Mr. Maculloch bought the old London Bridge in Englland, had it transported to Lake Havasu and reassembled in on the edge of the lake on dry land. He then dredged the area beneath the bridge and made a small canal to connect it to the lake forming a new island. He then built an Old English Village on the site and since then it has attracted tourists and retirees to the area. We spent the night there and then headed to Maricopa, Arizonia to see Sheila's sister and brother in law. They live way out of town on a dirt road with hills of cactus all around them. We hiked up to oneof the top of the nearby hills and got a good drenching from a rare rain shower. We did get to see a fantastic rainbow though, on the way back to the house! They put us up last night and this morning drove us into Maricopa to have breakfast. Thanks Billy and Penny! Then today we headed south to I-8 and then west toward San Diego going through some beautiful mountians in the rain and past the southern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail in Campo. Right now we are in El Cajon in a El Mucho Cheapo motel about 3o miles east of San Diego.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Leaving Las Vegas

In Vegas, I got into a long argument with the man at the roulette wheel over what I considered to be an odd number. ~Steven Wright

Today we left Las Vegas after spending yesterday and last night at the Stratosphere. We thru-hiked the strip and then went up to the tower's observation deck for a night veiw of Vegas. It was nice to see it all but I have no desire to go back there, too many people, too many fake man made "wonders" for me I guess! Tonight we are in Lake Havasu City after seeing the old London Bridge and tomorrow we head to Phoenix to visit Sheila's sister who lives outside Maricopa, Az.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Robbed on the Train to Grand Canyon

“You cannot see the Grand Canyon in one view, as if it were a changeless spectacle from which a curtain might be lifted, but to see it you have to toil from month to month through its labyrinths.”

           -John Wesley Powell

Today another exhausting day, but great fun! We caught the Grand Canyon Railroad 9:15 to see the Grand Canyon. We sure got our money's worth. First off they treat all the passengers to an Old West style shoot out that was actually really well done and funny, then they have western garb guitar playing singers entertain you on the 2 hour ride to the canyon. When we got to the canyon we were treated to perfect warm sunny weather but lots of snow was on the ground still. There were signs posted recommending crampons ( metal spikes on your boots) be used due to the icy trail conditons. We still saw lots of fantastic sights and on the way back to Williams on the train they even had cowboys on horseback chase after the train, board it and "rob" the tourists of any tips they could be coxed out of! When we arrived back in Willams we were greeted by Geoff, an AT "grandson" who drove up from Deming, Nm to spend some time with us. We all went to an great restaurant in an old converted gas station on old Route 66.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Petrified Forest National Park

We are all but fellow travellers, along life's weary way, if any man can play the pipes, in God's name let him play.

       -John Bennett

We are now in Williams, Arizonia after hiking all day in the Petrified Forest National Park. We hiked down out of the park and into the Painted Desert Wilderness Area. We also did most of the short trails in the park and toured the Inn and the Museum. Then we drove to Williams where we will board a train to take us to the Grand Canyon in the morning. It has been a long and tiring day but one of the best days on the road so far. I am too tired to write a long entry tonight so I will try and put up a few pics and leave it at that. We have to pack some gear for the trip to Grand Canyon in the morning.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hiking in the Desert, Crossing the Continental Divide and Sleeping with the Stars

"Travel is the frivolous part of serious lives, and the serious part of frivolous ones." -- Anne Sophie Swetchine

Today we hiked at Petroglyphs National Monument in Albuquerque, N.M. We saw hundreds of petroglyphs and also our first sighting of Mountain Bluebirds that differ from the Eastern Bluebirds by having an entirely blue body and not the russet colored breast of the Eastern species. The petroglypghs have been chipped into the black volcanic rock by ancient ancesters of the Indians still living in the area and also by Spanish settlers and early explorers to the area. Unforntunatley some also show signs of modern vandalism and even bullets holes. We had a great time hiking with snow covered mountains in the background and even climbed to the top of one of the old volcanic mountains that surround the canyon. The sun was very intense and after a couple of good hours exploring the area we headed west once more toward Arizonia on I-40. We stopped in Thoreau, N.M. just before the divide because I just had to see the town named after Henry David Thoreau! It was disappointing because there was nothing there, not even a single thing worth taking a picture of. We were hoping for a diner to have lunch in Thoreau. We next crossed the Continental Divide and headed into Gallup, N.M. We had been seeing billboards for 50 miles advertising "The Home of the Stars" El Rancho Hotel built in 1936. It was built by a brother of a Hollywood big shot and was soon a hangout of movie stars of the era filming westerns in the area. We decided to have lunch in the hotel restaurant but as soon as we saw the lobby we knew we had to inquire about spending the night! The lobby was an amazing medley of heavy wood beams, brick and stone with Indian and Spanish artwork and old Hollywood movie stars pictures all over the place. Trophy animal heads adorned the walls around the massive fireplace and an old player piano was going in the lobby. This is truly a unique old building and we just had to stay the night! We were afaid to ask for the rates but found with AAA discount and the off season it was just 80 here we are in the Jack Benny Room and feeling like big shots ourselves!