On The Road Again April 28th through May 20th 2017 Texas, New Mexico, Arizona

No luck finding a sticks-n-bricks home this year so our search will go back on hold. We still have places to go and people to see. LilyPad has been struggling to get back on the road, temporarily stalled at Conroe KOA in Montgomery TX, while we store unnecessary items, fix whatever needs fixin’ and pack up for travel.

Problems have been plaguing us weekly. No toilet for the past two days. Our “John” sits on the cement pad near our front door. The new toilet sits in what would normally be called the hall, if you can imagine a 350 square foot space having a hall. With everything that has fallen off, snapped off, cracked, split, leaked, torn, smashed, oozed or threw up its hands and said “I give up”, I am at a loss understanding exactly what insanity keeps us willing to roll along for this our fifth year. I’ve been told when something breaks, “Don’t act so surprised…it’s all going to break eventually” but it is still disheartening when motorhome parts fail and darn frustrating when it occurs in inopportune isolated places.  Our LilyPad is beginning to show its age.

We are readying ourselves for our first non workamping cross country trip via Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and returning to Texas for our son’s wedding in October.

Originally scheduled to leave the first of April, our departure was delayed by little inconveniences, the power step bolts falling off, the power step motor failing, the middle a/c screeching and growling, the toilet refusing to flush and the fresh water tank leaking at the water intake. Now at the end of April, our go-to repair shop in Texas, Action RV Repair, has given us the green light to leave their shop without promising a good shake in the road won’t break something else.

On doctor and physical therapist orders, long hours on the road are a travel deal breaker for me so John adjusted our roll time for every other day and less than 5 hours each travel day. I enjoy the “being there”, John enjoys the “getting there”. John is absolutely going to love our trip this year.

Our first stop was Texas Station RV Park in Gatesville, TX. Two overnights to wait out the storm pounding its way through Dallas with a possibility of passing close to us if we continued our pace. The weather reports cautioned strong winds, baseball size hail, tornados, all swirling around the area and landing northeast of where we parked for the night. Staying put will hopefully keep us out of trouble.

TX Station RV Park


Travels to our next every-other-day-pause landed us at Ms. G’s In Loraine, TX.

Passing miles of familiar sites, oil fields in the middle of rice fields, tractors churning up endless amounts of dust hanging in the air and seen for miles.  All flat land, considerable amounts of flat land.

Oil Fields  Oil Fields and rice fields

We spotted wind power and ghost towns with curious, seemingly unnecessary warning signs.

Wind power   Hmmm

John had selected our overnights by the driving hours, stopping as close to five hours of driving per day as possible. Tucked into the West Texas oil, rice and cotton              fields, the town of Loraine was a long ago memory of the high cotton and oil boom days, if this area had ever been booming.

Loraine, TX

Our host, a cotton farmer by trade but a self-proclaimed Jack-of-all-trades, built the RV Park by himself. Crushed cement roads, level pads and enough resident feathered friends to delight a mediocre bird watcher like myself, we settled in and watched out our windows for wildlife.

Our site at Ms. G's   Our wild things

We had no plans for our travel-free day but to relax and delight in the quiet. Shortly before sunset I heard a tap-tap-tap somewhere near the bedroom and thought, I hope this isn’t woodpecker country. Asking John to take a look for signs of what it may be, he and KatieBug inspected the grounds but found no signs anywhere near the back window. The possibility of critters invading LilyPad reminded John to order more Fresh Cab, an herbal mouse deterrent we keep in our basement, to be delivered to our next stop, a week-long stay in Santa Fe New Mexico.

Binge watching NetFlix and reveling in the evening silence, we all turned in to bed early. Next morning I heard the tap-tap-tapping even louder. Carefully nearing the window, I opened the night shade in time to see a flurry of wings. Waiting patiently, a little birdy flew at the window, grasping the ledge by its claws and began knocking on the window.

Little birdy in the tree

I opened the day shades and the little birdy jumped to a branch nearby but within a few seconds, he grasped the ledge again.

Little Birdy Tapping

Staring at me face to face, little birdy began tap-tap-tapping away, stopping only to rotate its head from one side to the other to inspect my face before continuing to tap.

Little birdy waiting

Odd little birdy. After about 20 minutes he gave up and joined his buddies in the nearby trees. I noticed the abnormal amount of bird feeders in the trees were all empty. Might have been this little birdy was asking “please mam, I want some more”.


Dawn broke and our slightly bumpy, but otherwise without incident, ride to Santa Fe was underway.  Texan flat lands have given way to Spanish styles and influences of New Mexico.

funny signs   We have arrived

The wild deer grazing in open ranges disappeared and rolling hills appeared.

Wild deer    On the way to Santa Fe

Pulling into the campground, we were directed to a site where someone else was parked so John slipped into the next site and set up camp. Not one to move once settled, John phoned and pointedly told them he was staying put.

Santa Fe Skies RV Park

We discovered the decision to stay put in a site with a short and narrow drive-out area would have negative consequences once we were ready to leave but of course, hind sight is always 20/20.


The atmosphere of the Santa Fe Skies RV Park was pure Santa Fe. The park was perched on high grounds, neatly trimmed native trees and brush near each site, red brick pavers keeping sandy dirt in place and all surrounded by a walking trail with artistically fashioned metal art pieces placed intermittently from one end of the park to the other.  Everyone had the pleasure of viewing the sculptures.

The cube title:  Twenty Seven China, the trash can:  Recycle Bin.

Walking path   Twenty Seven China   Recycle Bin

At the end of our row: Eat Your Veggies

Eat Your Veggies


First morning after arrival we drove into the city for the farmers market and to stop by areas we had visited in previous years. The downtown area market was filled with organic grown produce, raw milk yogurt from goats and cows, spices, beans, ground corn and baked goods.  I bought a glass jar of raw honey goat yogurt and some organic sprouts. Both were incredibly delicious.

Farmers Market  Farmers Market Mircogreens

An Art Festival ran concurrent with the Farmers Market.  A walk across the street brought music to our ears and the creativity of local artists for us to appreciate.  Overly warm, we walked through but didn’t linger.  Shade alluded every corner of the festival with one exception, a few concrete dividing walls near the musician.

The art area   Peaceful music

We met an interesting character during our second Farmers Market visit later in the week.  He travels the Southwest with his musical instruments, conversing more than  performing, eager to engage in political, musical or regional topics.  His transport bike is draped with an intentionally thought provoking flag in US design but corporation symbols instead of stars.

Mode of transportation   Farmers Market musician

Home for the heat of the day and lots of cool water to hydrate.  The heat keeps tagging along where ever we go and won’t understand it is completely uninvited.

My reason for traveling away from Texas has always been the weather, to leave before the heat and humidity rose.  This year we missed the mark by several months. It is hot and dry in Santa Fe and in the direction we were rolling, the heat will easily climb into three digits.  After a few days our sinuses were so dry and irritated we had to bring in humidity.   My gimmick for adding it was a hand towel soaked in water and hung by our Austin Air Filter in our bedroom.  It is tacky and looks trashy but worked perfectly.  Ah, necessity, the mother of invention.


Nightfall approaching brought us an amazing sunset.

Our first Santa Fe Sunset


Our third night brought treacherous storms.  We had gone to town for a routine shopping trip and were blindsided by hail seconds after stepping outside Walmart.  Outrunning the storm, we quickly returned to LilyPad and watched local TV for weather reports.  Watching out the front window, winds had begun twisting the skies into strange formations.

Here comes the hail   Storm clouds

The rains had not begun so we stepped outside for a peek.  The skies had become an intimidating undulation of dark ominous clouds.  With the TV on to drown out the winds, we settled inside for a night of TV binge watching, fingers crossed that the storm would pass us by.

Waves of the storm

Within an hour, news flashes interrupted the TV, warning everyone to take shelter inside a doorway or underground. Yea, right. Coming in waves, sheets of rain beat across LilyPad’s roof, lengthy electric thunder bolts sliced through the skies finalizing with a pounding that shook our windows. The quarter size hail and five twisters landed in an area west of us. With the ability to see for miles and miles, we watched until darkness fell.  By 11:00 pm it was over.  I breathed a sigh of relief that we had survived it all without damage to anything but KatieBug and my nerves.


Up early to finish shopping, we drank in the coolness left behind by the storm and completed the mundane chores necessary to keep two humans and a dog in existence.  Many joyless tasks must be performed to keep life moving forward, no matter where, or in what you live. Hours later, going in and out of grocery, hardware, pet stores and Walmart, we were dragging and ready for nourishment and down time. It is peaceful in the desert at night. Nothing but quiet surrounded by glowing sunsets and an occasional distant call of the wild.

Sunset May 8th


Today I rose early to accompany John and KatieBug on their morning walk, camera in hand, Kodak Moments in the making while dozens of art pieces throughout the campground vied for my cameras attention. Someone talented is having way to much fun decorating the desert.

Skyline   A Santa Fe Serpent

Later I learned that many of the pieces were designed by the RV park owner, John Brown. The first piece below is The Heart (2015) with a base made of cement salvage from the Santa Fe Opera House when the elevator was replaced. Much of this talented artists work is constructed from cast-offs.

The Heart   campfire   Cross art

Tucked in a corner of the property are vintage equipment pieces, one of particular interest to John as his brother was Chairman of the Board at Ingersoll Rand before retiring.  The Ingersoll Rand air compressor below was built in 1922. The machine on the right is a 1918 Fairbanks Morris, now used as the communities 4th of July beer can shooter.

Sullivan Co, Ingersol Rand compressor     Fairbanks Morris 1918 4th of july beer can shooter

Lunch at home and KatieBug settled in with the coolness of three air conditioners, a stroll around the town was next on our list.  Streets in town are lined with adobe buildings and bulging with artistic pieces by a variety of skilled artisans.  We ducked in and out of buildings to keep our internal temperature from boiling over.

Town area

A few side streets held a jumble of trinkets from Mexico clustered together on shelves along their walls.

Side street vendors

As night approached, we drove home watching the last rays of the sun disappear behind a cloud.



Suspended at home until the hottest part of the day was behind us, we were ready to explore mission Santuario De Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe.  Built in the last quarter of the 18th century, it is the oldest shrine to our lady of Guadalupe in the US. The mission, statues, grounds and paintings all glorify The Virgin Mary.

The Mission

Hispanic heritage has a strong devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe and was the rationale for building the giant 12 foot statue standing in front of the mission. It is the newest addition to the Santuario de Guadalupe.

The statue stands at the end of the famous Camino Real, the colonial royal road from Mexico City through Chihuahua to the new world, ending in this vicinity. The royal road brought Santa Fe’s Hispanic ancestors here and with them, the holy Catholic faith which includes the love and devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe

The walkway surrounding the statue has a rosary embedded in the cement and surrounds the Virgin Mary’s feet, the cross of the rosary is within a few feet of where she stands.

The Rosary

On the left side of the mission, an alcove and prayer to our Lady Lourdes.

Our Lady of Lourdes

Minimalistic and reverent the mission suffered severe architectural modifications in the 1880’s, 1920’s and then was vacant for 14 years.  Revived in 1976 through grants from the Guadeloupe Historic Foundation, the building and grounds were renovated as close to the original as possible.

Mission Alter      back of the mission

Inside the mission, a print of Juan Diego’s tilma (cloak), depicting the miracle of 1531.  Pope John Paul II declared Blessed Juan Diego the greatest evangelist of all times.

Print of the cloak

A wood carving of Our Lady of Guadeloupe and of Juan Diego.

Our Lady of Guadalupe wood carving   DSC_2836

While the mission remained in disrepair and unused, a new church was built on the rear grounds to serve the expanding needs of the parish.  The alter is simple and the surrounding paintings, done by local artists, are in commemoration of the apparitions of Mary to the Aztec peasant Juan Diego.  In the narthex, a beautiful carved indoor rose garden.

Church alter   Juan Diego     Indoor rose garden

The outside wall of the church has a tile rendition of Our Lady of Guadeloupe.

Our Lady of Guadalupe in Tile

After the mission we drove back into town and walked through the village. Rainbow Man Shop was touted on TripAdvisor as the premier stop for shopping in town so we browsed the wares, all excellent pieces of art, jewelry and fine souvenirs but passed up adding anything to LilyPad that would have to be saved for our stored collection back home.

Main Street ended at St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral. The church was filled with second graders in full church dress from their ceremony.  This morning, all had completed the third of seven sacraments received by Catholic young men and women, First Holy Communion. Inside was cool but crowded and we were told the doors would lock in five minutes. Two quick clicks of the camera to catch some of its splendor and we exited.

Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi 1961  rear stained glass 

With the dry heat and hills, walking along sidewalks was unappealing so I suggested John drive us through Canyon Road Art Road. Nothing brilliant turned our heads as we drove so we didn’t stop, instead wandering the area appreciating the Spanish architecture of the well kept vintage homes.

Back to LilyPad to relax and prepare for our next journey. We will pause overnight in Gallup New Mexico, amid Native American Indian country.  A final toast, with glasses of Cabernet, to Santa Fe’s  stunning sunsets and then bedtime.

Our last Santa Fe Sunset


As expected, our morning exit came and bite John in the tush for his determination to stay put in this site upon arrival.  Our length swung out further than possible to to make the turn and we hit the proverbial brick wall with the trailer tires.  Backing up, another pause while John took the car off, took the trailer off LilyPad, I pulled LilyPad out on the road and repeated a procedure that was happening, in my mind, too often.  Without Kodak Moment documentation, John conveniently forgets the repetition of these predicaments.  Retired yes, but expending unnecessary energy when a quick phone call would have put us in an appropriate site at the get-go is a better use of energy.

Unfortunate exit   stuck

Hooked up and rolling, we noticed snow white topped mountains in the distance.

Snow on the mountain

Mile after mile of dry, scrub brush covered landscape, not a single sighting of wildlife along the way.

to gallup (4)  to gallup (2)

Nearing Gallup, the terrain has remained parched with rolls of volcanic rock worming through the land like giant gopher tunnels.

giant gopher mounds   volcanic rock

We passed dozens of cluster homes, each having a Navajo traditional Hogan, a five sided structure often used as a spiritual meeting place.

Hogans    Lots of Hogans

Roads were intermittently disheveled so John slowed to 30 mph over several areas to keep from snapping or breaking off any necessary parts of the motorhome and car.

Arriving in Gallup New Mexico at USA RV Park, we set down LilyPad’s stabilizers and left to explore.

USA RV Park, Gallop NM

If you are old enough to have traveled across Route 66 as a youth and remember “Get Your Kicks on Route 66”, the town of Gallup New Mexico will quickly retrieve the memories of those road trips and the fun of reading catchy Burma Shave signs along the way.

Route 66

If you are too young to remember Burma Shave, it was an American brand of shaving cream, famous for its gimmicky advertising, posting rhyming sequential highway roadside signs along American roadways.

A quick scout around town, then back before the evening sunset.

Gallup Sunset

Learning of the Gallup Flea Market from TripAdvisor, next morning we set our course for the Market knowing there would be a few side steps before our arrival. Local sights that are of interest to either of us are rarely passed by.

John stopped on the side of the road for me to do my Kodak Moment thing at the “Bend in the Road”. Aptly named.

Bend in the Road

The flea market was a long wide particle of bare hard packed and dusty land running along side the rail road tracks, metal frames topped with white v-shaped tarps stretched over each stand. Seconds after we exited the car it was clear this was where the locals shopped.  If there were Gringo’s in the market, I didn’t spot any.

Flea Market

So much to see! Pony rides for the kids, stands with handmade jewelry, clothing, fruit and veggie stands, lunch food stands, tools, furniture and junk.  Lots and lots of junk.

Pony rides at the Market   Gallup Flea Market

We walked up and down the aisles, eyed a few jewelry pieces, purchased cherries and munched them all the way back to the car. Shutting the door just in time, a gust of wind whipped up several dirt devils and the market blurred in a cloud of dust.  One grocery stop for supplies and back to LilyPad for the night.


Sleeping in but up in time to dine out for our morning meal, our destination was a short drive down Route 66 to the famous El Rancho Hotel.

El Rancho on Route 66

Built in 1937 as interim housing for many Hollywood movie stars, the El Rancho Hotel still stands, a tribute to the days of wild west movies and bigger than life movie stars. Its location on Route 66 caused it to fall into decline with the opening of Interstate 40. Armand Ortega purchased and restored the property and today it remains an interesting wayside stop for visitors to the Gallup area.

Hotel El Rancho

We had breakfast at the café, poked around downstairs in the Lodge style lobby of Navajo décor before climbing upstairs to check out the glossies of famous movie stars from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.

Lower floor   Up stairs

There was an impressive list of stars who made the hotel their temporary home including Ronald Regan, Jane Wyman, Spencer Tracy, Kirk Douglas, Katharine Hepburn and John Wayne.

The current owner kept the rooms of the stars frozen in time and displayed a variety of vintage items spread throughout the hotel.

Cigarette machine

After our glimpse of times past, we drove home and readied the household for travel in the morning.


Grand Canyon Arizona is the next long break in our journey. May is the windiest time of the year for the Canyon area and its velocity is ferocious. John struggled to keep us on the road and 18 wheelers swerved and swayed across the two northbound lanes. Signs warned of high wind areas for the next 60 miles, then again for another 40, then again for another 80 and we slowed each time to keep our 8 wheels from drifting over the lines. We were passing a lot of nothingness with only a few changes in scenery.  Stressful driving, John took a break in a huge parking lot of a roadside store.  They offered a stunning selection of Native American Indian jewelry, all too rich for my blood.

Indian city Gift Shop

A pause in the scenery, Diablo Canyon, more a jagged crevice or deep ditch than a canyon but it did break up the sameness of the horizontal and dried up earth.

Canyon Diablo

The only positive thought for the extended pancake flat highway travel is our memory of the wondrous beauty displayed when gazing out over the canyon.  Anticipation grew until the Williams sign came into view.  We had arrived.

Entering Williams

The RV Park was included in the Grand Canyon Railway and Hotel and we arrived late afternoon.  Williams is a small comfortable town with an generous array of touristy shops and restaurants.  The major grocer is Safeway and it carries any necessities we might need.

Cafe 66  Downtown Williams

In the town of Williams, vintage is respected and refurbished instead of demolished and rebuilt.

Along Route 66   Grand Canyon Hotel

After settling, we checked the weather reports. During our stay there will be high’s in the mid 50’s, low’s in the 30’s, winds 25 mph with gusts up to 45 mph. We have been warned by the RV office to keep our awnings closed and after the 10:30 train rolled past, John pulled in one of our bedroom slides as a precaution to keep the topper from ripping off. We were very appreciative of their warning.

Grand Canyon Railway RV Park

We read TripAdvisor reviews to decide which Grand Canyon train car option to purchase and decided on Dome Class.

Rising early next morning, we dropped KatieBug off at the Railroad Kennel. Visiting the kennel the previous day, we found it to be the cleanest kennel with the friendliest staff we’ve ever seen, Disney World Pet Resort included. Staff was attentive, happy and knew each dog by name. The price included a roomy indoor/outdoor area for each guest and a comfy bed. Picky as I am about where our fur baby stays, I was completely at ease leaving KatieBug here for the day.

When we picked up our train tickets, I questioned the sales person about entering and exiting the train and the type of seats we purchased. Having difficulty with high steps, I was told the train had stools for entering and exiting.

Arriving a few minutes early at the train station, we waited with the crowds, skipping the pre-ride western gun fight show and entered our train car.   Up the short flight of stairs to the Dome Car, the platform rise to sit down was so high, John had to pull me up. After sitting in the uncomfortable bucket seat with marginal leg room, the hot sun beating down on our heads, the glare from the tint on the windows making it impossible to take pictures, I returned to the lower level.

Below was the lesser expensive First Class seats.  I found an unoccupied quad seat area to sit and later John joined me in the big wide comfortable seats.  When our Dome Seat entertainer began his set of music, I quickly took a picture and returned to the lower level.

Guitar entertainment

For a lower class, the clear views out the wide windows with ample leg room, the comfort of these seats was far superior. Having a friendly family as our neighbor was an added bonus. This was going to be an OK two and one half hour ride after all.

In conversation with our neighbors, the hubby had originally wanted the Dome Class so we told him he was more than welcome to go on up. He spent time with each of his youngsters in the Dome but admitted it was not as comfortable and the sun was hot. We spent the rest of the ride chatting and being entertained by their active happy six year old twin boys.

The train ride served lite breakfast snacks and we were serenaded by the Dome Class cowboy and his guitar for a portion of our ride.  Looking out our window, I caught a photo of our engine tugging all the cars down the track.

Our train

The round trip ride was five hours total and we were allowed three hours in-between to hike, lunch and view the canyon before returning to our train car for the ride back. Having contacted the depot about our inability to use the Dome car seats, we were assured another area would be available to us on the return trip.

Arriving at the canyon, we had planned to wander along the Rim Trail from the rail station to Bright Angel Trailhead, have lunch at the Arizona Room, drop into a few of the shops and head back down to the rail station. The weather was overcast and windy but walking kept us warm and the view was oh so magnificent.

Grand Canyon

Squirrels on nearby tree branches hung over the canyon and Chipmunks sitting on the canyon’s stone walls competed for attention and begged for food. Signs along the paths warned not to feed any of the animals but from their reactions to visitors, I would guess they get lots of treats.

Brave Squirrels   Chipmunk

We walked the Rim Trail to the Kolb Studio Art and History Exhibits. Stepping inside, passing up the gift shop items, we walked downstairs to explore the museum and learn about the history of the Kolb Brothers family.

The Kolb brothers 1905 Victorian home sits on the rim of the canyon. Operated by Emery Kolb until his death in 1976, the home is now operated as a book store and information center by the Grand Canyon Association, a non-profit organization.

Kolb Studio

Out the back door of the second level is an outlook with an amazing view of the canyon, still as much wilderness as when the Kolb’s lived here in the early 1900’s.  I noticed after arranging Grand Canyon photo’s, unless you hike down to the canyon floor or drive to another area, most of the views out the South Rim look identical.

The Grand Canyon

The Kolb brothers created a photographic legacy of their adventures and explorations.  In a small corner of the gift shop, a movie shows continual films of the early exploration days.

Downstairs the museum contains pictures, paintings and a collection of items from their early river expeditions.

Inside Kolb Studio

Their portable boat, 125 pounds and considered light for that era, is displayed along with several other items they used for water travel.

125 pound portable canoe

Blanch Kolb’s silver set was part of her household even though she lived in a frontier village. I understand her determination to keep some luxuries in her possession.  Sometimes you need pretty shiny things to keep your sanity.

Blanch Kolbs silver

Across the path was Buckey’s Cabin, the only remaining building from the early pioneer settlement of the Grand Canyon Village of 1895. Built by William Owen “Buckey” O’Neil with v-notch logs, rough mortar and a native stone chimney, he and his wife lived in this rustic home while they operated a small hotel on the South Rim.

Buckys Cabin

At the outbreak of the Spanish-American war, Buckey signed up and served as one of Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders.

A short walk along the rim brought us to our dining choice for lunch, the Arizona Room.  The grill was open to the dining room and we watched as they fixed our naked burgers and set them on top of our dinner salads.  A premium view of the canyon through giant picture windows provided our table with a peaceful spot for tranquil downtime and our tired feet had a chance to stretch before we began the hike back to the train depot.

Continuing along the rim, we stopped to admire what the Hopi House gift shop offered. Built in 1905, designed as living quarters for Hopi Artisans and as a place to sell Hopi crafts, it was modeled after the Hopi Village at Third Mesa. It contained a premium selection of Native American Indian arts, crafts, jewelry, stones and pottery.

Hopi House

Back out on the Rim Trail, we made our way to the station but were immediately reminded of the diesel train having kept its engine running the entire day. The smell became suffocating as we drew nearer. We fled up the stone steps and into the gigantic rustic vintage log lodge hotel and rested on the big overstuffed couches until it was time to board.

For our train ride home, we were given an upgrade to Luxury Class for the inconvenience of having to move to a lower price seat on our ride up. I thought the Luxury Class seating would be comfortable but found them old and stiff although quite spacious.  Far fewer people occupied the space so we had the whole section to ourselves. Our train host, Ms. Linda Lou, was so funny, charming and gracious, it more than made up for the less than Luxury seating.

Cindy Lou and our lunch buffett

The big advantage of our upgraded to Luxury VIP tickets was having access to the entire train. John walked with me to the back of the train to capture the tracks linear perspective on film as we slowly plodded down the tracks.  I don’t ever remember riding a train with less speed.

Flatlands to and from the Canyon

When we returned to our seats, our singin’ an a pickin’ banjo playing entertainer had arrived.  First request, Deliverance.  Excellent rendition.

Banjo Man

The gratis lunch buffet provided many healthy choices so we grazed on crunchy veggies and cheddar cheese. Afterwards, Ms. Linda Lou gave us champagne to toast to our “Grand” adventure. Nice touch.

Settled and watching out our window, I spotted bandits on horseback with guns raised, galloping along beside us.

Train Robbers

I smiled and waved.  Within a few minutes they had boarded the train.

The Cataract Boys

Marching in, pointing guns and shouting to everyone “hands up”, one sat down beside me and asked if I wanted to join “The Cataract Gang”, and be their “Maw”. The only stipulation, I had to be a good cook. John complimented my cooking ability but paid my ransom to stay put while the gang continued their robbing spree through each train car.  Shortly behind the gang, the sheriff came in hot pursuit.

Our Sheriff

We saw them again after the sheriff caught up with the gang and arrested all, parading the gang through the train cars headed for jail. Being true entertainers, one character posed for a Kodak moment.

Train robbers headed to jail

Sitting back to enjoy the ride, I gazed out the window and spotted a herd of Elk stampeding away from the train.

A herd of Elk

Returning to the depot we collected our fur baby from the nearby kennel and she happily greeted us with her pug bug conversation. After giving her a short potty stroll, we decided to visit the local pub down the street, Grand Canyon Brewery.

Grand Canyon Brewery

The brewery had an impressive choice of craft beers. We were offered free samples of any we wanted to taste. After four, we chose a mild chocolate-coffee draft to split. Beautiful vintage and rustic lodge décor, an indoor stream with a bridge crossing to enter the bar from the gift shop, everything was heavy with thick wooden beams and trunk stump chairs. An excellent nightly hangout had we been staying longer.  Back at LilyPad, we wound down with a Red Box movie before bed.


One final day to ready the rig before we pack up and leave. Today was our mandatory housework day for cleaning, grocery shopping and miscellaneous tasks. John spent time getting LilyPad secured and ready for travel.

After exiting our last shopping stop, we walked through the parking lot and I turned to John and said, “it smells like snow”. My nose usually knows but he wasn’t convinced and jokingly asked if I was going to twitch my nose to make it happen.

Turns out I didn’t need to twitch anything.  Long after nightfall, the skies dropped beautiful big fluffy snowflakes that covered the ground and blanketed LilyPad.  John was the first to notice snow out the front window.

Out our front window

I heard him yell, “come here! now!”. Rushing to the window I gasped, flew out the door in my PJ’s and flip flops, squealing as I stepped outside into the cold, soft flakes.  The feeling of snow falling on my face and into my open mouth was exhilarating.


Capturing the momentous event on film, I stayed outside until my bare toes began to tingle and turn blue from the cold but kept grinning like a Cheshire cat. I do so adore the snow.  Our little tree was white with Christmas frosting.

Our little tree



Next day the sun rose and the snow melted, nearly gone by 9 am. We were neatly packed away and rolling soon after. Our overnights would be in Page Arizona, a town younger than my senior self. Named in 1957, emerging from a housing community for the workers and their families during the construction of Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River.

The miles of road traveled to reach Page was of greater interest than the actual town.  Flatlands with snow capped mountains in the distance as we left Grand Canyon.

to Page

The terrain was forever changing from one hour to the next.  One area of the Native American Indian lands was so void of human presence, save for a few metal poles with single wire fencing, bare of any living thing, it gave the appearance of us driving on a moonscape.

To Page (3)

We passed through tiny villages with their Hogan’s located near-by.

To Page (4)    To Page (8)

In many areas, the only recognizable structure was their Hogan.

To Page (9)

The Grand Staircase can be seen from the far side of Bryce Canyon but the drive from the dam to Bryce shows more clearly, the distinct characteristics of the levels.

To Page (6)

Page Elks Lodge was near town, the typical friendly people and the usual parking lot style space for RV sites. Our spot was at the end near the busiest used car dealership I have ever experienced. While we set up, a constant flow of cars pulled in and out, every 10 minutes or so and it continued throughout the day.

By nightfall the town shut down and all was relatively quiet until the morning.

Our explorations of the dam began early the following morning. Built on the Colorado River, Glen Canyon Dam is one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the US. The visitors Center provided an ideal view of the dam and was a wealth of information.  Several hands-on activities kept me occupied while John read the history of the dam.

The dam at Glen Canyon    Colorado River

The official first blast for the construction of the dam went off on October 15, 1956. Prior to that date, construction crews drove 200 miles to cross from one side of Glen Canyon to the other.

Glen Canyon Dam

Completed in 1959, the dam was dedicated by Ladybird Johnson September 1966. It took 17 years for Lake Powell to completely fill for the first time.

Our last trip to California was in 2014. The extended drought caused the water in Lake Powell to recede to such a low level, docks had to be moved repeatedly towards the center to keep boats afloat.  It was comforting to see water levels returning to pre-drought levels.

After the dam, a quick grocery stop for necessities and back to LilyPad for a Red Box movie. Later we secured anything that might internally slide inside LilyPad and made ready for our morning roll out.

From our driver’s side window , another gorgeous sunset appeared. If you look carefully, you will see a miniature paraglider floating just under an ominous cloud surrounded by a spectacular glow of twilight. What a rush!  Another thing to my bucket list!

DSC_3137   Paraglider in the Arizona sunset