Island of Kauai, Birthday Celebration and Family Vacation

On our way to Kauai, to celebrate my 70th birthday with the whole family, Kevin, Ericka, Harper, Austin and Eric, who flew in from Columbus. We boarded the plane on Saturday, May 26th at the San Diego Airport, and had a good 6 hour flight direct to Lihue, Kauai. We arrived around lunch time, so we stopped at Duke’s Kauai to eat, and begin our Hawaiian experience in style. We enjoyed this stunning beach setting with views out to the crystal blue waters of Nawiliwili Bay and the Hoary Head Mountains beyond. The kids loved playing on the beach and stretching our legs after the long plane ride. Then off to Costco to stock up on food for the week before heading out to Princeville to David’s house, our home for the week. This house is right out of an Architectural Digest magazine, the pictures hardly capture the elegance and simplicity of this home. The views of Hanalei Bay are outstanding, especially when the rainbow lights up across the sky in the morning. We spent the first day in the pool and hot tub, couldn’t get much better. Continue reading

Flagstaff, Arizona

Arrived in Flagstaff, AZ and staying at the J and H RV Park just north of Flagstaff for a few days. Spent a fabulous day driving to the Grand Canyon East Entrance from Cameron along the Desert View Scenic Drive. The views along the way were beautiful and we stopped at several lookouts before arriving at the historic Watchtower. The Indian Watchtower at Desert View, is a 70-foot high stone building, and the four-story structure was completed in 1932. The tower was designed to resemble an Ancient  Pueblo Peoples watchtower. The main space is the Kiva Room in the base structure, and features a fireplace with a large picture window directly above where the chimney would ordinarily go. The tower is decorated by bold murals by Fred Kabotie. The small windows in the tower’s shaft let beams of light into the space as we climbed up the small staircase. The upper floors serve as an observation deck from which we can view the eastern portions of the Grand Canyon. The views were spectacular from this vantage point. Click on thumbnail to view image Continue reading

Chaco Canyon National Monument, Arizona

From Albuquerque we drove to Chaco Culture National Historical Park, created in 1907 as Chaco Canyon National Monument, in 1980 became the Culture Center, and in 1987, a World Heritage Site. The Chaco people made this high desert valley the center of their world 1,100 to 1,200 years ago. They began to build here on a grand scale in the mid-800s, and ruins of the great houses of Pueblo Bonito, Una Vida, and Penasco Blanco are still  intact today. We started are tour at the Visitor Center then drove the loop road exploring the magnificent houses of Pueblo Bonito and Chetro Keti. We were fortunate to get on a guided tour of the Pueblo del Arroyo, Spanish for “village by the wash”. We crawled through tunnels and into small dark rooms where they stored the food. After the tour we did the Pueblo Alto Loop Trail hike, 5.4 miles R/T, where we had spectacular overlook views of Pueblo Bonito and Chetro Keti. We explored the sites of Pueblo Alto and New Alto and passed by the Chacoan stairways, the Chacoan “road” system. The roads linked the great houses in the core of Chaco Canyon to far-off communities. Whenever the Chacoan road builders encountered a cliff, stairways  or ramps were constructed to continue to straight road alignments. The panoramic views of the San Juan Basin was breathtaking. Chaco Canyon is well worth the visit as it is one of the most amazing places in the country and one day is not enough time to explore the entire Canyon and Culture. We hope to return and camp for a few nights Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading

Ruidoso, New Mexico

We arrived in Ruidoso, NM on April 25 staying at the Ruidoso Motorcoach Ranch, the only Class A luxury RV resort in New Mexico.There is a lot to see and do here, besides the Ruidoso Downs Race Track, which has been the regions premier attraction since the 1940s. Labor Day attendance to the All American Futurity was nearly 25,000 fans. We weren’t here for the races though, but we did go to the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino located in the mountains just above Ruidoso, beside the pristine Lake Mescalero. A wonderful place to come and relax and enjoy a cocktail on the expansive deck looking out on Sierra Blanca Mountain range. We visited the Hubbard Museum of the American West, a Smithsonian Affiliate. The Museum’s 10,000 piece collection includes: wagons, carriages, saddles, firearms, and many Native American artifacts. The life-size horse sculptures outside the Museum is called “Free Spirits at Noisy Water” by Dave Mc Gary, and is a very impressive work of art. The small mountain village of Ruidoso, at 6,920 feet, also has a ski resort called Ski Apache, where we drove to see the vistas and check out the lodge. This was a great stop and we would definitely find our way back here again. Click on thumbnail to view image Continue reading

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Carlsbad New Mexico

We left Texas today and drove into New Mexico to Carlsbad and stayed at the KOA Campground just north of Carlsbad. Our first time visiting the Carlsbad Cavern National Park and we were very impressed. We were lucky because the elevator wasn’t working so there were not as many tourists going down into the cavern. It is an incomparable realm of gigantic subterranean chambers, fantastic cave formations, and extraordinary features. We did the Natural Entrance Route, a 1.25-mile, self-guided tour that follows the traditional explorer’s route. We entered the cavern through the large historic natural entrance and descended 750 feet into the Earth, following steep and narrow trails through a tall spacious trunk passage called the Main Corridor. As we descended this route we saw the Bat Cave, Devil’s Spring, Green Lake Overlook and the Boneyard, a complex maze of dissolved, Swiss cheese-like limestone rock. We continued on the Big Room Route and passed many large features like the Bottomless Pit, Giant Dome, and Painted Grotto. The 8.2 acre Big Room is a must-see. Then it was time to ascend back up through the Main Corridor and up the switchbacks to the large natural entrance. What an impressive work of nature’s underground beauty, that began around 15-20 million years ago. Click on thumbnail to view image Continue reading

Big Bend NP, Texas

On April 9th, we left Alpine and drove south toward Big Bend National Park. We stayed for a week at the 5 star, Maverick Ranch RV Park in Lajitas, Texas, tucked between Big Bend National Park and Big Bend State Park. Lajitas is a remote vacation  destination, with an onsite spa, zip line course and an 18-hole championship golf course, equestrian trail rides, plus restaurants. In 1977 the town was purchased by the Houston entrepreneur, Walter Mischer, who restored and developed the community to a western-themed  resort that it is today, and the mayor of this West Texas town is Clay Henry III, a beer-drinking goat. After we settled into our site we went to visit Big Bend National Park. Continue reading

Alpine, Marfa and Fort Davis, Texas

We arrived in Alpine, Texas, on April 6th, staying at the Lost Alaskan RV Park for 3 nights. We explored the town of Alpine, at 4,600 feet and perfectly situated between the Davis, Glass and Del Norte Mountains, its history goes back to the late 1800s. It was a town of tents for cattlemen, the town’s name was changed to Alpine from Murphyville on Feb. 3, 1888. It’s a quaint small town, with its tree-lined streets and university, Sul Ross State University established in 1920. While exploring the town we stopped in at The Holland Hotel for a beer, built during a mining boom and today, it helps to anchor a traditional downtown of early 20th century buildings. Alpine boasts a growing collection of colorful murals celebrating regional themes, decorating the walls of downtown businesses. We walked along historic Murphy Street, which has gone through a revitalization, visiting the shops along the way. The opening of Big Bend National Park in the 1940s further helped the town to grow, it is considered the gateway to Big Bend. Click on thumbnail to view image Continue reading

White Sands and Organ Mountains National Monuments

March 23rd, we left Oceanside, CA, to head to new Mexico and Texas for 6 weeks. Our first stop was Tucson, AZ, to get the RV serviced at Freedom for a few days. We decided to stay longer in Tucson at the Voyager RV Resort to play pickle ball and relax. Then on to Las Cruces, New Mexico, stayed at the Hacienda RV and Rally Resort, it is close to Old Town where we explored one day. Our first outing was to see the White Sands National Monument just north of Las Cruces in the northern Chihuahuan Desert. It’s known for its dramatic landscape of great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand that engulf 275 square miles of desert. We stopped to see the White Sands Visitor Center designed in Pueblo Revival style, built during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. We drove along Dunes Drive, a loop road to the Heart of the Sands to hike the Alkali Flat Trail, a 5 mile loop trail. What beautiful white sand, it is so fine you could slide down the dunes, and finer than beach sand. The whiteness of the sand in contrast to the brilliant blue sky looked surreal as we walked along the trail. Then we did the Dune Life Nature Trail, dotted with interpretive exhibits on plants and wildlife that live here. On the way back we stopped in at the White Sands Missile Range Museum and Trinity Site, the place where the first atomic bomb was tested in 1945, but we didn’t have ID to get inside the compound. When we returned to Las Cruces we stopped for a beer and a bite to eat at the Spotted Dog BreweryClick on thumbnail to view images Continue reading

Mammoth Mt Ski Trip

This year the Chagrin Valley Ski Club went to Mammoth Mountain in January from the 27th to Feb 3rd. Bob and I drove to Mammoth from San Diego, a six hour drive and we arrived at the Condo before the bus did. We were staying at the Juniper Springs Lodge with our roomies Karen and Bruce, within walking distance to the Eagle lift. Unfortunately, the bus with all the Chagrin Valley group hit a rock and broke the transmission, and had to get towed, the group got another bus but they were delayed by about 4 hours. We finally met everyone at the wine and cheese party that night and collected our passes for the week. The next day was a beautiful, warm, sunny day and we took Karen and Bruce all over the mountain.  The conditions, however, were not the best as the mountain was lacking snow and chair 9 was almost bare in spots. We had fun going to the summit and seeing the view of the mountains, then skiing down for lunch at the main lodge. Where we sat outside in the warm sunshine eating lunch and watching the snowboarders in the half-pipe. For dinner we went to a sushi restaurant in Mammoth Lakes. Continue reading

Cedar City, Utah

Our next stop was in Cedar City, Utah, staying at Cedar Breaks RV Park from October 19th to 24th. We tried to get into two other Parks closer to Zion National Park but both Parks were sold out. You have to book almost six months in advance to get into those Parks. We were happy to be in Cedar Cedar because we were closer to Bryce Canyon National Park where we were going to do a hike. Here in Bryce Canyon is the largest collection of hoodoos in the world and we wanted to spend more time seeing them up close and personal. We choose to do the Fairyland Loop Trail, 7.4 miles, beginning at Fairyland Point. We saw spectacular hoodoos and beautiful scenery along the rim and into the canyon. We took the side trail to Tower Bridge before heading back up to the rim. It was a steep downhill to Tower Bridge from Sunrise Point but well worth it. We had great views of the China Wall in the distance. Tower Bridge, you can’t get that close to, but you can see it through a break in the trees. We continued on the Fairyland Loop Trail from here and had better views of Tower Bridge as we ascended up the trail. As we hiked along the wide open trail the clouds disappeared and the white sandstone against the sapphire sky was incredible. This was a great hike, where you really get to see the beautiful hoodoos up close and to experience the wonders of Bryce Canyon. Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading