Jan and Fred's Newest Adventure...May 2009 travel blog

Travel day from Gallup to Glendale, Utah on Sunday – 365 miles, across northern AZ through both Navajo Nation and Hopi Reservation, over Glen Canyon Dam into Utah. We checked in for the next 8 nights at Bauer’s Canyon Ranch RV Park. No cell service here but do have antenna TV and Wifi. The owners are very nice and friendly and gave us lots of good advice about where to go in the area. The RV Park is in "town" in a tight little valley between two high cliffs and canyons, but the town is only right along the highway and the ranch is right there too. The owners run about 70 head of cattle - each cow needs 50 acres here, and the owner told us he uses his own land and has a lease on neighboring state owned land as well; they also have apple orchards, a great mountain steam that is stocked with trout by the state, plus they run the RV Park in front, just off the road. When Fred and I had cattle in MS, we could run one cow per acre, but we had a lot more precipitation than here in Utah. So far we’ve seen one large elk running across the road – that was this evening just at dark.

I have had several questions about earlier journals, so here are some answers. The ancestral Puebloan dwellings in the Four Corners area were built of sandstone blocks; the expertise at the homes varied according to the builders. Some were very neatly cut stones, while others were less sculptured. The Ancestral Puebloans shaped each sandstone block using harder stones collected from nearby river beds. The mortar between the blocks was a mixture of local soil, water and ash. Fitted in the mortar were tiny pieces of stone called "chinking". These chinking stones filled in the gaps within the mortar and added structural stability to the walls. Over the surface of many walls, the people placed a thin coating of paint, called plaster, which were the first things to erode with time. Many of the homes were built under the protection of cliff alcoves, so they have been protected from erosion more than mesa top homes, but it is amazing how many of the mesa top dwellings have also survived as well for over 700 years since the people left them.

Another question related to how we do all the traveling we do on a budget. The answer? Very carefully. Those who know me well know that I am a master at saving money when it comes to our passion of traveling. Fred is also a master at researching, which helps too. He uses parkreview.com to check out possible RV parks. We prefer the inexpensive ones with few amenities, since we are not there except to sleep anyway. Our Good Sam membership is well worth its annual fee to get discounts, and we also use books on state, national, and corps of engineer parks’ camping, as well as a Wal Mart book that shows all the Wal Marts in every state that permit free overnight camping. We use Internet sites that show where diesel and gas is least expensive, and we also have a book on truck stops and what they offer, such as free places to park overnight. Another way we save money is that we do not eat out often. We enjoy eating out, but prefer traveling more often to eating out. We often grill at suppertime and use the fresh vegetables available wherever we are, and we pack a picnic lunch almost every day. We have some wonderful memories of eating by rivers, at roadside parks, and along scenic roadways all over the countryside. We purchase an annual national park pass each year, and that saves us a lot too since going to the parks is a lot of how we spend our trip time. In fact, we can’t wait till Fred turns 62 in the fall, because then we will qualify for the $10 forever park pass – a great value for our tax dollars for sure!

Another question was how do we deal with living is such close quarters together. The new RV has three rooms, and is so much more spacious than the RV we had last year (spent 112 days together, using a drop down sofa for the bed every night) that this is not a problem at all. The slide outs make the living area plenty large, and there is a door between the living area and bedroom in case one of us wants to go to bed earlier than the other. We both enjoy talking to people we meet at the parks and have learned a lot from them about the areas we visit and about the RV life in general, and I have received a lot of excellent information from my mom, since she and dad “did the RV life” for nearly 25 years after we all left the nest, traveling cross country many, many times. An example of a guideline we use was one from Mom - when we get somewhere and there is something special we might want to do, even if it puts us above budget for the time being (such as the narrow gauge RR in Durango), she said do it anyway, since we might not get another chance. We think about that whenever we have to make a choice on whether to choose an activity on not. I love talking to mom about where to go, what to see, etc. She has such an excellent memory about many of their travels; for example, this week she emailed me about a legend concerning the Spider Woman that goes with the Spider Rock at Canyon de Chelle – the guide to the park we printed from the Internet focused on the geology and history of the area but not on the legends, so I did not know about the story at all. I went to http://www.canyondechelly.net/story_teller.html to learn more about the legend. Thanks, Mom. You continue to amaze me and teach me!

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