Follow by Email

April, 2015 - Flat Stanley Enjoys a Road Trip


I started my visit with Mr. and Mrs. Konopacki in Mesa, Arizona but they were busy finishing up their work schedule so we didn’t do much there. They have to be in Washington State by May 1st so I went on a road trip with them. We had one month to get there and once we hit the road on March 31st we were very busy visiting family and touring interesting sights. 

Cactus in Mesa
Playing Horseshoes
Time to Hit the Road!!!



Our first stop was in Page, Arizona which is in northern Arizona. When we left Mesa the temperatures were in the 90’s but when we traveled north to Page it was a much more comfortable 70 degrees. 

Arizona is the 6th largest state in the United States. On the south it borders Mexico. The Grand Canyon is in the northwestern part of the state. At the northeastern corner is an area called “The Four Corners”. It is the only spot in the United States where you can stand in 4 states at the same time! Can you guess which states? Here’s a picture, can you see the four corners? 

We drove 288 miles from Mesa to Page. We stayed in Page for three days and did lots of exploring. We saw where the Colorado River enters the Grand Canyon. We also visited the Glen Canyon Dam which forms Lake Powell. Mr. Konopacki was very happy because there were some very beautiful spots to take photos. 

These two pictures were taken at Horseshoe Bend - boy was it windy up there! 

This picture was taken at the Navajo Bridge over the Colorado River. The bridge on the right is a pedestrian bridge and the one on the left is for traffic. On one side is the Glen Canyon Dam and the other side is the start of the Grand Canyon. Mrs. Konopacki was very excited to wade in the Colorado River.


Once we left Page we drove north 155 miles to visit Zion National Park in southwestern Utah. It was amazing! There are all kinds of trails to hike and some people even climb the rocks which looked pretty scary to me. We hiked a trail which took us to the “Narrows” . If we were dressed properly we could have continued hiking right into the river which gets narrower and narrower with canyons above you - how cool is that?? You need to wear rubber boots and waterproof pants, maybe next time.
Most of the hiking in Zion is at the bottom of the canyon but there is another part of the park where you drive around the top and can look down. Good thing I’m not afraid of heights.
There are five National Parks in Utah - Arches, Bryce, Canyon Lands, Capitol Reef, and Zion. They are all in the southern part of Utah. Mr. and Mrs. Konopacki can’t wait to visit the others - maybe next year.

When we left Zion we continued driving north about 222 miles and spent a few days in the capital of Utah, Salt Lake City. Our campsite was right on the Great Salt Lake! Unfortunately it rained two of the three days we were there so we didn’t do much outside.
Here are some things I learned about the Great Salt Lake:
  •   It is 4 to 5 times saltier than the ocean.
  •   It is 75 miles long and is the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi River.
  •   It is a remnant of an ancient lake called Bonneville that once covered most of
  •   Western Utah.
  •   Brine shrimp in The Great Salt Lake cause a sulfur-like smell (I’m glad we weren’t
  •   there when it was hot out - STINKY!
The Great Salt Lake (on a sunny day)
Silly grown-ups
From Salt Lake City we drove straight west 180 miles to Wells, Nevada to visit Mr. Konopacki’s cousin. On the way there we saw the Bonneville Salt Flats, 40 miles of salt that you can drive on! Mr. and Mrs. Konopacki had so much fun playing that they forgot me in the car :(

In the summertime people come from all over to race their cars on the salt. The fastest anyone has gone is 622.407 miles per hour!!! The salt is so bright that it hurts your eyes.

Metropolis School (what's left of it)
Once we arrived in Wells, Nevada we spent an afternoon visiting the nearby ghost town of Metropolis. The town was founded in 1910 and had a population of 700. At first the town was fine because they had a few years of high rains but the town founders had not secured water rights and soon the population moved on. This is high dessert land and water is very important. By 1950 the town was totally abandoned and all that remains today is part of the school and the foundation of the hotel. 
Bruenau State Park Sand Dunes

From Wells, Nevada we drove northwest 184 miles to Boise, the capital of Idaho and the home of Mrs. Konopacki’s cousin. We spent a day with family and then an evening at Bruneau State Park. Mr. Konopacki took me to the top of a sand dune overlooking the Snake River. Hiking sand dunes is hard work

When we left Boise we drove straight west 250 miles into
Central Oregon where we spent three days. It was nice to be in Oregon, there are lots of trees and mountains and no more dessert.

We stayed in Bend, OR for two days and then headed west 194 miles to the Oregon Coast. We stayed at a state park and there was a very cool wooded path to the Pacific Ocean. Can you find Flat Stanley in the bottom picture?



Where's Flat Stanley?

The Oregon Coast has a lighthouse every 40 miles. We visited the Heceta Head lighthouse near Florence, Oregon. Each lighthouse has a different signal so that ships could tell how far down the coast they were. The Heceta Head Lighthouse light blinks a white light every 10 seconds. These lighthouses were important because the Pacific Coast gets lots of fog which makes it very difficult to see where you are.

Heceta Head Lighthouse
I’m ending my journey with the Konopacki’s at the same place the famous American explorers, Lewis and Clark ended theirs, Fort Clatsop by the bank of the Columbia River where it meets the Pacific Ocean. Mrs. Konopacki loves learning about Lewis and Clark and their Indian guide, Sacagawea and was so excited to be here. She is even sending some books back with me so I can share them with my friends at St. William. 

Fort Clatsop - Winter encampment of Lewis & Clark

Sacagawea, her baby “Pompy” and Flat Stanley
End of my journey

The Konopacki’s are working in Washington State starting May 1st and it’s time for me to head back to my friends at St. William School. I sure had fun with them on the road. We drove over 1400 miles from the dessert in Arizona to the Pacific Ocean in Oregon.

Goodbye Flat Stanley, come back anytime!

4/7 thru 4/20 - Traveling Northwest

We've traveled through four states the last three weeks, here's a quick post of some
photos and highlights from the first three (Oregon is getting its own post in a few days).

We also sent Flat Stanley home to Chicago, if you'd like to see what he has to say about our travels I've done a separate post, #70.


Our Parking Lot site at the Great Salt Lake
We stayed at the Great Salt Lake Marina State Park - sounds nice, doesn't it? It was actually 6 gravel campsites in the marina parking lot. Our campsite used to be right on the shore of the Great Salt Lake but it's dried up quite a bit so we had a short walk to the water.  Salt Lake City averages over 300 days of sunshine every year, unfortunately two of the four days we were there were rainy and WINDY.  The wind was so bad our first night that the port-a-potties by the Visitor Center were knocked over.

We ran some errands in Salt Lake City and spent two hours at the LDS Family History Library to do some family history research.  I love Libraries!!  The two hours went fast and we could easily have spent a few more.  I did discover that is a better resource for us, Marty and I were actually filling in our family histories from the Ancestry site onto the LDS database.

We left Salt Lake City and headed west on I-80 to the Bonneville Salt Flats, 40 miles of salt that you can drive on!  It looks like snow and is so bright that we had to go back to the car for hats and sunglasses.  In the summertime people come from all over to race their cars on the salt.  The fastest anyone has gone is 622.407 miles per hour!!!  It's an amazing area and it would be fun to be here in the summer when you can drive it.


We stopped in Wells, NV to visit Marty's cousin, Peg.  He hadn't seen her in 40 years!  Peg and her late husband, Gene, retired to Wells from San Francisco in 2001.  They bought an old hotel, the El Rancho with plans to live in it and restore it to it's former glory.  They moved in upstairs and went to work fixing it up.  After some ups and downs they were able to rent out the first floor for local events.  In 2008, Wells was hit by an earthquake which damaged most of the older buildings in town including the El Rancho.  Two months later Gene passed away from cancer.  Peg has an amazing support system in Wells, they've helped her move into a small house and they've helped clean out the hotel.  We walked through the hotel and it was easy to see what it once was (once you saw past the pigeons that flew in through the roof).  We had a wonderful visit with Peg and won't wait 40 years before our next visit.

Since we were in Nevada there were also slot machines in all the local eating establishments.  I love penny poker video - max bet of 5 cents and I won $1.00, it doesn't take much to keep me entertained.

What's left of the school in Metropolis
About 12 miles outside of Wells is the ghost town of Metropolis.  It was founded in 1910, had a school, thriving hotel, and other businesses.  Unfortunately, when the town was built the water rights weren't secured and it can be very dry in the high dessert.  They had a few years with unusually high precipitation and then they didn't and the town dried up.  By 1950 it was a ghost town.

We also took a tour of a very interesting business that is only legal in Nevada - Bella's Brothel!  Marty was outside taking pictures and the "Madame" came out and asked us if we'd like a tour - oh my!  She went to get one of her girls, a very, shall we say curvy woman who was very exuberant and was upfront with what she had to offer (if you know what I mean).  She showed us most of the rooms, it was interesting but I was very happy to get out of there.  Good thing I've read "50 Shades of Grey" or I might have had a few more questions. Donna's and Bella's are across a parking lot from each other and from what we understood from our perky tour guide the "girls" at Donna's are in their 50's and 60's.  It makes me cringe just writing it - yuk!


Dan and Kaden
From Nevada we continued our journey traveling northwest to Boise, ID.  My cousin, Dan and his 12 year old son, Kaden live there and since we've never met Kaden it was time for a visit. We spent all day Wednesday with them, Dan showed us the sights of Boise and we had an excellent pizza lunch at Grimaldi's - the best since we left Chicago. 

On Thursday evening we drove about an hour southeast of Boise to visit Bruneau State Park, home of the largest sand dunes in North America. 
Dune Grass at Bruneau State Park

Brueneau Sand Dunes and the Snake River in the foreground

Gotta get those steps in - I love my fitbit, it keeps me motivated

We are currently in Oregon and will be leaving here on Wednesday (4/29) to start our job in Forks, WA.  My post for Oregon should be up before we leave for Washington.

3-19 thru 4-7-2014 / 100 Days in Arizona

Arizona  to  Zion

We are back on the road after spending 100 days in Arizona.  It's hard to  believe we were there that long, it was the most time we've spent in any one place since we started our travels.  Most of that time was in Mesa work camping and the last five days were spent touring Page, Arizona.

Greg. Mark, and Marty (and their groupies)
We finished working on Satuday, 3/28 - YAY! and left Good Life RV Resort on Tuesday, 3/31.  We enjoyed our time in Mesa but once the temps hit the 90's we were happy to start heading north.  The best part of every job we've worked has been meeting new friends and this job was no exception.  We had a "last" get together on the 22nd and then the resort had a luncheon for us on the 30th and then we had one more get together that night.  It's hard to say good-by, hopefully our paths will cross again (and we've added more FB friends so it's easy to make that happen).  The resort has invited all the work campers back for next year, we aren't ready to commit yet, we may want to go in a different direction next winter (southeast?).  Mesa is a pretty darn nice place to spend the winter - we'll see.

Please!  Send me back to Chicago!
Flat Stanly is back for his second visit.  Last year we showed him around Mesa and Southern California.  This year he spent a little time in Mesa and is travelling north with us until we send him back in a couple weeks.  He may even make it as far as Washington!  I love taking him on our adventures and sharing those adventures  with my favorite fourth graders at St. William School!  They were in 2nd grade when we left Chicago, I'm glad they still remember me.

On the edge at Horseshoe Bend
Staying away from the edge

We arrived in Page, AZ on Tuesday, 3/31 and Marty immediately began taking photos.  This area is beautiful and well worth the trip up Rt. 89.  Once we got settled in at Page Lake Powell RV Park we headed over to Horseshoe Bend for some sunset pictures.  This is a very popular spot for photos  (with good reason) and a very scary spot for people who don't like heights.  I brought a folding chair and stayed well away from the edges (didn't want Flat Stanley to get scared).
You can see why they call it Horseshoe Bend, what a beautiful spot!

On Wednesday we drove over to the Glen Canyon Dam and Visitors Center.  Here's some information from their brochure:

 "Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, established in 1972, provides a dramatic example of one of nature's most inspiring settings combined with an ambitious human project.  Impounded behind the Bureau of Reclamation's Glen Canyon Dam, waters of the Colorado River and tributaries are backed up about 185 miles forming Lake Powell.

Lake Powell was named for Major John Wesley Powell.  He led the first organized expedition down the Colorado River in 1869.  He mapped and kept detailed journals of his 1,000 mile journey - imagine that trip, not knowing what to expect around the next turn.  And he only had one arm, he lost the other fighting in the Civil War!   There is an old Disney movie, "Ten Who Dared", about their trip - haven't seen it yet but it's on our to-do list. 

Glen Canyon Dam Bridge

Flat Stanley is not afraid of heighs

Marty signed up for a photographers tour of Antelope Canyon and Rattlesnake Canyon.  You are not allowed into the canyons without a Navajo guide; they do quite a good business.  Marty really enjoyed the way the guides knew exactly where to go for the best shots and at what time the sun would be at just the right angle.  They also separated the photographers by what kind of equipment they were using.  He took some spectacular photos as you can tell below.
Above Rattlesnake Canyon, a "slot" canyon

Flowing sands within Antelope Canyon

Inside Rattlesnake Canyon

Beams of light shining into the canyon from above
Navajo Bridge separating the Glen and Grand Canyons
We weren't sure what to do on Friday so we drove over to the Powell Museum to learn the history of the area.  However, the museum also houses the Visitor's Center and we stopped there first.  Bob at the Center suggested we take a drive over to Lee's Ferry to see the Colorado River as it flows into the Grand Canyon.  It was well worth the trip and was my favorite part of our week.   We stopped at the Navajo Bridge over the Colorado River.  On one side of the bridge is Glen Canyon and the other side is the Grand Canyon - how cool is that?  There are two bridges because the original bridge wasn't built for today's traffic, it's now a pedestrian bridge and, believe it or not, I walked across the whole thing.  I did stay in the middle but I'm still pretty proud that I made it across (and back!). 

After the bridge we continued on our way to Lee's Ferry.  Lee's Ferry is the only place visitors can drive to the Colorado River in over 700 miles of Canyon Country, right to the first "rapid" in the Grand Canyon. Lee's Ferry is where river rafters start there trip down the Grand Canyon.  There's a sandy beach area and it was too tempting to resist so off came my shoes and into the Colorado River I waded.

The Colorado River as it enters the Grand Canyon

I'm a Libra - we're "well-balanced"
We could only stay in Page until Sunday because they were all booked up after that - those darn people on Spring Break.  We had a heck of a time finding a place to stay in Utah near Zion and ended up in Cedar City at the Best Western RV Park (which is a gravel parking lot behind the Best Western)  After three months of no camping fees we are having a little bit of sticker shock paying more than we'd like but having no choice because there's just not much available.  We just keep reminding ourselves that we had three free months in Mesa and we'll have four free months in Washington so we can afford to pay a little more while we're traveling - even for gravel parking lots.

Zion National Park was about an hour southeast of us and we were there by 10:30 Monday morning.  Zion doesn't allow cars in the park, there are shuttle buses running often that stop at all the trails.  We hopped on and rode to the end and then did a two mile easy hike to the "Narrows".  The Narrows are called the Narrows because at the end of the two mile easy hike you don your waterproof pants and shoes and hike in the river as the canyon walls narrow over you.  Since we didn't bring any waterproof clothes we will save that adventure for our next trip.  There is an outfitting company just outside the park that can rent you what you need, we just didn't realize how much fun it would have been to hike into the river.

Hiking along the Virgin River before it heads into the Narrows

We left Zion around 3:00 (too short a visit but we will definitely be back).  There was another park on our way back to Cedar City so we decided to check it out.  Kolob Canyon is part of Zion but you can't reach it through Zion.  There was a 5 mile scenic drive and we drove that to the top and back.  At Zion you are in the bottom of the canyon and at Kolob Canyon you are on top looking down.  They are both impressive. 
"Selfie" at Kolob Canyon
That's it for this post.  We've made it to Salt Lake City and will start exploring tomorrow (Wednesday) as long as the weather stays nice.  There is rain in the forecast so it may be a reading/movie day.  We plan on leaving here Friday and will be taking a side trip to Wells, Nevada - stay tuned!