Friday, November 21, 2014

This Road Leads to Arizona

Greetings to all!  Our departure from Pueblo West, Colorado was delayed by about a week yet we did manage – by the hair of our chinny, chin, chin – to escape the cold temperatures and we are very thankful for that.  In fact, we can now say that we saw the white stuff earlier than if we were to have stayed at our home in Wisconsin.

It was time to think about moving on when a nasty cold front blew in which had some pretty significant wind gusts - 85 mph at the top of Pikes Peak – but down where we were it was in the 35-45 mph.  Still, pretty blustery for the slides to be out.  Jeff had to drive into town that day in search of a part and was amazed by the large amount of tumble weeds that were blowing across the highway.  From about 3-5 miles out we could see a massive amount of dust that was going to get to us at some point.  When it did, we were glad that we were inside the motorhome.  You could actually see a small amount of fine dust on the inside of the window sills that made its way in, and also heralded in some cooler temperatures with snow. 

On the day we left. . .yes. . .white stuff!!!   So, with our final good-byes to our friends Nancy and Matt at Haggard’s RV Campground we started “down the open road”.


We were fortunate that the storm tracked further to the north east from where we were so we had only minimal wet road conditions to worry about until we got on the Interstate.  The further south we drove we pretty much didn’t see any type of snow accumulation anywhere.  Especially at Raton Pass (as see in the distant in below photo) which takes you out of Colorado and over into New Mexico (at an elevation of over 7 ,834 feet), the wet roads pretty much were non-existent.  Non the less, both vehicles did get their share of slop & dirt over the course of our journey.  Nothing that a nice big auto wash can’t fix.  The scenery was beautiful with sun pretty much on the menu for the 2 days that we drove from Colorado through New Mexico with our destination in Lake Havasu, Arizona. 


After the miles, it definitely was time for the Jeep to get washed.  They even have a stall big enough for the motorhome when we’re ready for that!



Lake Havasu

In the north is Lake Havasu.  This area runs about 45 miles long with many coves and inlets.  It is considered a reservoir behind Parker Dam.  On the east side of the lake is the largest town in the area, Lake Havasu City with a population of 55,000+ .   We were able to include one of the famous lighthouses that the city boasts.   Each of the 24 lighthouses is an actual navigational beacon for boaters on Lake Havasu.  All but one lighthouse are 1/3 scale replicas of actual U.S. lighthouses.  A very unique area.



The Steps

The area that we chose to call home during our stay is about 11 miles south of Lake Havasu City.   It is referred to as “The Steps” because of the landscape formation that resembles just that, steps.  In trying to find some background information of this open land, the only information we could find is that it is owned by the State and is considered primitive camping with a limit of 14 days.   This area is off I95 which runs parallel with the Colorado River with California (Whipple Mountain Wilderness) on one side and Arizona (Bill Williams Mountains) on the other side.  Our phone says Pacific time and our clock is set to Mountain time.  Figure that one out!


Although we could not find any background on The Steps, as to why the grounds look as they do we think that this area could have been mined a long time ago because of the large amount of tailings that you see; therefore, heavy equipment moving rock to form what appears to be “steps”.?????  We just aren’t sure.  It is rather a unique area and one that we hiked for several hours on different occasions with the highest point that we reached on foot of about 500-600 feet.  The scenery is great!


Directly across 95 from where we are camped, we spotted one of the pumping stations for the Colorado River Aqueduct.  We think this process of moving water to California is so interesting that we’ve linked information here for you to view.   Colorado River Aqueduct


The Parker Dam (about 6-8 miles south from our site) and seen on the California side also plays an important part in this process for California’s water resource.  Click on this link  Parker Dam to learn more about this structure.  Sorry the picture below is not too clear but the day we actually drove to – and over the Dam yielded some pretty good photos so be sure to view the slide show below.




London Bridge

The original structure in London which was sinking and in need of repair, was determined to be sold to the highest bidder.  In 1968 the winning bid was awarded to Lake Havasu City founder, Robert McCulloch for $2.5 million.  It was quite the project.   Each block was carefully numbered before the bridge was disassembled and then shipped overseas to California and then trucked to Lake Havasu City for reconstruction.  It was rededicated on October 10, 1971.  Total price tag when done was $5.1 million.  For today, it was nice to stroll across the structure at a time when it isn’t being overrun by tourists and to then drive the Jeep across the Bridge to explore what fun sights we could see.  



The vintage lamps on the London Bridge are made from the melted down cannons of Napoleon Bonaparte’s army.


We had to snap a picture of this awesome Dragon which stands guard to the entrance of the Bridge.  Evidentially,  the boundary of the City of London, England, established in Roman Times, is marked by a heraldic dragon at each entry .  This dragon marks the boundary of the City of London land in Lake Havasu City.  Pretty amazing!   All that walking gave us a thirst to stop at the Javalina Cantina (we couldn’t find the Guinness) for a couple of tasty, cold Coronas.   On a warm day it hit the spot!  Salute!


We want to take the time to acknowledge some very special people in our lives.

New beginnings & congratulations to Kay’s son, Greg and his new wife Lyla.  They were married in Playa del Carmen, Mexico on November 8th.



Kay’s good friend, Cindy(r), her daughter Kenzie(l) and their “newly” adopted daughter/sister, Ellie (pretty in pink) in Southern California. 


In Memorial 

We were sad to hear of the passing of our dear friend Connie at the young age of 70 years, 11 months after a very long bout of ill health.  We met Connie and Richard in Texas in the Rio Grande area during our first year of retirement and spent many hours with them fishing at South Padre and Boca Chica.  We believe that Connie was happiest when she could be in her “beach chair” that Richard made for her from a motorized wheelchair – big tires and all!  She loved to spend hours looking for unique shells -especially Sand Dollars – and just having the sun in her face with her cute hats atop her head.  The shore lunches that Richard prepared for us were to die for and will be a lasting memory of our special times spent with both of them.   Connie loved flowers so we would always make sure that when we saw her we could surprise her with a bouquet of flowers. . .and watch the smile take over her face.  We will definitely cherish the memories.

CIMG3678 - Copy

And finally, we would like to wish everyone a very blessed Thanksgiving and safe travels for those visiting family and/or friends.   We look forward to sharing our adventure with everyone once we’re back on the open road.

Hugs Red rose

Kay & Jeff


“Gratitude is a powerful tool. Take a few minutes to make a list of everything, big or small, that you’re thankful for.”

Friday, November 7, 2014

Pikes Peak Region

How marvelous to see friends that you haven’t seen in years.  This was the case with a couple that we met on a catamaran boating adventure to the British Virgin Islands (BVI), about this same time in 2008.  At that time they were living in Hawaii but currently reside in Denver CO.  A 2-hour drive from their home to visit us in Pueblo West, where we are currently parked at Haggard’s RV Campground (wonderful place that we thoroughly recommend, was a treat for all of us.   We had a wonderful 2 days of spirited conversations, as well as a visit to a hot springs not too far from the campground and some suggested sights by Gary in and around the Pikes Peak Region.  Friends “re-found”.
The base of the mighty Pikes Peak begins in Colorado Springs at an elevation of 6,065 feet above sea level.  Just a little trivia on what is known as the most visited mountain in North America and the second most visited mountain in the world.  It sits at an elevation of 14,115 feet above sea level and is the 31st highest peak in Colorado – out of the 54 peaks in Colorado – that are categorized as “fourteeners,” or mountains with elevations above 14,000 feet.  We think that’s pretty impressive!  Back in 1859 this mountain was the symbol of the Gold Rush slogan, “Pikes Peak or Bust”.   On the day that we were there, there were quite a few low clouds at the peak so  we did not venture on the Cob Railway to the top – a 8.9 mile ride to the summit – to view what we’re sure was even more impressive as what we were seeing from a distance.  Two other sightseeing destination at the foot of Pikes Peak were the Manitou Cliff Dwellings and the Garden of the Gods, both located in Manitou Springs.
The Manitou Cliff Dwellings is definitely a rare treasure.  Preserved under a protective red sandstone overhang, authentic Anasazi cliff dwellings built more than 700 years ago.  What’s so unique about the dwellings is that there are no “Do Not Touch” signs anywhere.  They want you to touch and explore the architectural remnants of an American Indian culture that roamed the Four Corners area from 1200 BC to AD 1300 through a self-guided tour.
What a unique sitting bench (below) made from ski’s and snow boards.  The dwellings (or alcoves as they are referred to) provided shelter from wind, rain and snow, thus avoiding the effects of the harsh climate.

This room is called the KIVA.  It is where families kept warm and prepared meal around the fire pit, and therefore had access to light.  Small holes within the circle of the fire pit allowed ventilation and fresh air to flow.  Ledges (or shelves) up from the main floor were used for utility storage, along with special niches that held sacred objects of the Anasazi – also known as the Ancestral Puebloans.   Notice the window covering made from tree branches which hopefully protected animals from entering this particular area.   Notice the small entrances which we all had to crouch down to get though.  The Anasazi were small in statue which was why most of these alcoves housed more than one floor.  We would definitely feel claustrophobic. 

Some fun pictures:  Signage asking visitors to be good.  Kokopeli is a favorite of ours and an Old Hopi Proverb of words to live by.  Amen to that!

The area of unique sandstone formations (over 300 million years old), called the Garden of the Gods, was discovered in 1859 by two surveyors from Denver who were assigned the task of finding/planning for what is now Colorado City.  Upon discovering this natural treasure one of the surveyors said that it was, “a fit place for the Gods to assemble”, and thus the name.  This park remains free for the public to enjoy as of 1909 and in 1979 became a Registered National Natural Landmark.  Notice the spectacular red rock formations – lined with the smell of juniper trees throughout the park - and of course, the views of Pikes Peak.  The park offers 8 miles of trails, mountain biking, technical rock climbing (for which permits and appropriate climbing gear are required), horse back riding and areas for family picnics.  A little something for everyone encompassing 1,350 acres!  Two of the most well known formations – the Kissing Camels and Balanced Rock – have everyone snapping pictures for special memories that’s for sure.  Also, we immediately spotted the “window” between two formations leading down to the Springs.

Tall Spires behind some pretty massive Juniper trees were a beautiful sight against the blue sky.  Gary, Kay and Jeff saying “cheese”.  We couldn’t resist snapping this picture of two amateur rock climbers.   We didn’t see many gals taking to the rocks, but when we did we needed to acknowledge them with a . . .”Go Girl”!!!

Manitou Springs is hidden between Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak.  Its name came from a Native American word for “spirit”.  There are eleven (11) naturally carbonated mineral spring fountains located throughout this town which run free.  Our sampling of the spring water from just a few of the fountains is definitely something that you have to acquire.  For us, we’ll pass as it is quite similar – in our words – like baking soda and water.  And, if any one remembers this type of home remedy used for indigestion you’ll agree that we are not rushing to bottle this stuff up for further consumption.  We did walk the main street where visitors can visit all kinds of unique gift shops and many types of cuisine to greet your pallet should you so wish to partake.  And, we did with Mexican on the menu.
What an experience for us.  We are so glad that Gary and Penny suggested these places  for us while we were in the area.  It was such a treat to spend quality time with both of them.  Rest assured that we will not be waiting for another 6 years to hook up with them again.  This  is just the tip of what Colorado has to offer and we are definitely hooked on this state – but only when the weather is nice – no snow or COLD for us (burrrrr)!  We will continue our journey on to Lake Havasu, Arizona from here.  Just not sure when that will happen yet!   

Hugs Red rose
Kay & Jeff
“It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”