Friday, September 20, 2013

We are Home!

Sunday Sept 15th – After such a fun time at Petit Jean, we hitched up our ‘wagon’ and headed home with a mix of excitement and that inevitably sad feeling of a trip ending. The drive home was uneventful and we arrived about 7pm, with enough daylight to get in and look around.


note- the camper will stay out by the barn until we get a bit more of a concrete pad for it to rest on by the carport.

We had wondered what we would find after being gone almost 8 weeks.…….


I was glad that the bushes, both the azaleas in the front of the cabin and the ones in the back,  that we had set on an automatic watering system had lived……


My butterfly garden was dry, but some of the plants had survived. The perennials will just be cut back anyway……but it looks so untidy.


The vegetable garden is a mess, but unbelievably, still producing……We have a lot of work ahead, but time enough to do it when the weather cools down.

We unloaded the camper and the truck…..


With much of the stuff landing in the sunroom, or other rooms, to be put up.


But….the porch swing is calling……and right now, the chores can wait.

We are trying to remember to blend what it is that we like about travel, the freer schedule and the spirit of adventure, into our life at the cabin.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Mather Lodge and Hiking the Seven Hollows Trail

Sunday Sept 15th- I was afraid that we all might still be tired or too sore from yesterday’s hike to get out this morning. But, everyone seemed willing and able, so we decided to hike the Seven Hollows trail, another nice 5 mile hike.

First, I wanted to stop at Mather Lodge to see what changes had been made.


The last time that we had visited, the lodge, built by the CCC in the 1930’s, was closed and being renovated. The result was stunning……


The lobby was completely redone, as was the dining room. The new facilities were in keeping with the rustic nature of the lodge, but bright, airy and elegant. It felt good to see one of our favorite places so well cared for.


The Seven Hollows Trail is a beautiful trail that winds in and out of 4 different hollows (thank goodness, not all seven!) At the bottom of the ‘hollows’ are these amazing rocks….big boulders…


With cave-like ledges……


This particular rock formation, the Natural Bridge, arches between two big rock structures.


Brian and Rebekah climbed up on top for a view out over the valley……


While Fred took pictures and I waited with Jade. I was perfectly happy leaving those heights to the younger ones.  : )


When you climb out of the hollow, you cross over the ‘Turtle Rocks’, a neat rock formation that has eroded to look like turtle shells.


It was a great hike and great fun to share…….

We got back to our camper about 12:30pm, had lunch and packed up to head home!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Hiking to Cedar Falls….and Then Some

Saturday Sept 14th- After a good breakfast, we decided that the first thing we would do was hike down to Cedar Falls.

The trail starts at the lodge, and provides an amazing overlook as you step out to the edge of the rock.


From the rim, the trail sharply descends into the Cedar Creek Canyon, stepping down on rock ‘stairs’ for about .5 miles, then continues another .5 miles to the waterfall. This is a trail that we have hiked a number of times, but it was special to share it with Rebekah, who had not been to Petit Jean before.

When we got to the bottom, we noted that the creek was as low as we had ever seen it. It has been a very dry summer in this area of the country.


Cedar Creek Waterfall……


Beautiful….even when it is flowing at just a trickle.


We each took our pictures at the waterfall…..


Remembering how many times in the past years that we had done this.


Brian and Rebekah hiked around to the back of the falls……


Hanging on tight!

After hiking to the falls, we continued on the trail around to the ‘Blue Hole’, then back up by way of the BSA trail, and around to the lodge for a total hike of about 5 miles. With the effort of hiking the steep downhill, then the uphill, we were all pretty worn out.

We headed back to the campsite for lunch and a rest, enjoying both the campsite and the convenience of our camper. Later in the afternoon, we got out for a drive to the Petit Jean Gravesite Overlook, at the edge of the mountain.


The legend of Petit Jean involves a spunky French girl who disguises herself as a cabin boy to accompany her fiancĂ© on his voyage to the New World. As they explored the Arkansas River Valley, the group (including Petit Jean) have a wonderful summer on this mountain, joining the Indians as they were hunting and fishing. As they were about to leave to head back to France, Petit Jean became gravely ill and her true identity became known. Petit Jean requested that she spend her last days on this mountain and that she be buried there. Her request was granted, and years later, this mound of dirt and rocks (now protected by the fence) was found and thought to be Petit Jean’s grave.

I have always liked this story…. not just for the story of Petit Jean’s desire to accompany her lover, but because I have always pictured this young girl finding a freedom in the role of a cabin boy…..a freedom to roam the mountain and play in the woods, a freedom that she did not have in her traditional role in France. It is that carefree feeling manifest in the spirit of Petit Jean that has always drawn me back to Petit Jean Mountain.


Sitting on the rock face at the overlook -


The Arkansas River Valley below……


Gives one perspective……


This was a grand opportunity to be able to share this place, once more with Brian, and now with our daughter-in-law, Rebekah. It had a feeling of life continuing……..and did our heart good.

Coming back from the overlook, we stopped for ice cream at the Outpost store, then drove on to the Cedar Falls overlook where we were able to see the falls from above and spot just where we had been that morning. A full day, coming full circle……yet not over. There were still steaks to cook for dinner, and more visiting at the camper.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

An Old Familiar Place - Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas

Friday Sept 13th – We headed out this morning with an air of excitement. Our next stop was Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas, just 224 miles away. Petit Jean has always been a favorite spot for us. We have visited their many times both just Fred and I, and with our kids as they were growing up. This weekend, we invited Brian and Rebekah to drive up and join us.

We arrived about 2:30 pm, after having stopped in Russellville for a few groceries. We took our time setting up camp – pulling out lawn chairs and even cleaning the camper windows. Everything had to be just right…..

We were in site # 20, a full hook-up site right across the camp road from the lake. Very nice site, with a nice tent pad which was important because Brian and Bekah planned to bring their tent to sleep in.

About 7pm, The kids finally arrived! It was so good to see them (and Jade, too) after 7 weeks of being gone!


With enough daylight left to set up their tent……


They pulled out tent, fly and poles and set about figuring out how to set this new tent up.


With that chore done, we settled in for a nice supper and a chance to catch up on visiting….


Monday, September 16, 2013

Leaving Flaming Gorge–The Road Home

Tuesday Sept 10th, 2013 – This morning we woke up intending to hike a ‘must see’ hike at Flaming Gorge. The weather, however was not cooperating. it was raining, with nothing but dreary skies in the distance. This, coupled with  neither Fred, nor I, feeling quite up to a major hike, made our decision. We hitched up the camper and drove on down the road.

Driving along, I am writing these blogs and we are talking over the things that we have done and seen on this trip…..and the things that we are excited about and looking forward to at home. It is a blessing to have such a rich life, full of possibilities and projects.


We stopped for the night at Boyd lake State Park, north of Denver, Colorado. It had been raining off and on during the day, and was misty rain when we got ready to leave in the morning.

Wednesday, Sept 11th – We drove with cloudy skies or rain all day. The mood seemed to match the weather……


We stopped for the night around 6:00 pm ( we lost an hour to the time change) at Cedar Bluff State Park, Kansas – south of I 70, west of Salina. We have driven about 360 miles both yesterday and today.


Stormy skies, wide open landscape – Cedar Bluff State Park

Thursday Sept 12th - It rained all night long, and we hitched up the camper and left in a drizzle. I noticed on the news sites that there is flash flooding in Colorado. I think that we left before the worst of the rain……though it has been steady raining on us all morning……it is hard to get excited about travel in this weather.

Another check of the news and I realized that we were lucky to have left the Denver area when we did……or we would have been in the middle of the flash flooding and torrential rains.

It finally stopped raining just before we arrived at Keystone lake State park, just west of Tulsa, Oklahoma.


We had a nice campsite right close to the lake, and were the only camper in the entire loop.

We sat out to enjoy the evening and were treated to an amazing number of these birds chirping away in the tree tops.

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Very distinctive with a very long, split tail…….

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And a coral coloring under the wing.

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We looked in our bird book and decided that they were Scissor-tail Flycatchers. A fellow camper confirmed our guess and told us that it was the Oklahoma state bird.

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They really made a lovely addition to our campsite.


A beautiful sunset over the lake…….By the way, keystone Lake was made by damming up the Arkansas River at this point. The same river that ran through Salida,Colorado and that we will see up at Petit Jean, Arkansas.


Friday morning, Sept 13th  - Geese on the Lake  -  quiet….peaceful…..

We are up and on the road……. eager ……heading to Petit Jean, Arkansas for the weekend. A favorite spot of ours, made more special, this stop, because Brian and Rebekah will be joining us.   : )    

After that, we will be home, again…..

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Flaming Gorge–Red Canyon

Monday Sept 9th, 2013 – Last night Fred was miserable with a stomach bug, an unfortunate ‘first’ for us, as we have not actually gotten sick before on any of our travels. It passed, but left Fred weak and washed out feeling and me without sleep and worried if I might be next. We spent this morning dozing and recovering……

By afternoon, Fred was feeling well enough to want to get out and do a bit of a drive. We headed out to sightsee a couple of overlooks…….


Flaming Gorge was given its name by John Wesley Powell in 1869, as he set out to explore the Green and the Colorado Rivers. He wrote of the Green River,  “it enters the range by a flaring brilliant red gorge that may be seen from the north more than a score of miles away…….we name it Flaming Gorge.”

This area seems to have had a rather colorful past. It is situated on the legendary Outlaw Trail, a travel corridor from Canada to New Mexico that was heavily used by outlaws from the 1870’s to about 1910. It was, also, where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid hung out between crime sprees. It is where they lived, played and spent their ill gotten gains.


In 1963, Flaming Gorge Dam was built and operational, flooding the gorge and creating a reservoir that, when full, stretches 91 miles long. Now boating and fishing are big recreational pastimes.


We drove around to Red Canyon Overlook. Sadly, the visitor’s center was closed for the season, but the views were still there……..


There is a nice rim trail with a number of overlooks…….we walked around just a bit……


Marveling at the red rock wall of the canyon and the numerous crevices and fissures along the rim. We noted the signs “Guard your children!” You really wouldn’t want your child to fall through a fissure……


We sat overlooking the Green River at the bottom of this beautiful canyon.

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At another overlook…..a Mountain Blue Bird. You can’t see his front in this picture, but it is blue, also, not the rust-red that our Eastern Blue Birds have.


I liked this tree…..growing out of the rock at the canyon’s edge.Standing steadfast and determined……

On our way back to the campground, we drove along Sheep Creek Geologic Loop, a scenic byway noted for having a population of Big Horn Sheep.


We did not see any sheep, but loved the tall rock pillars and spires.


Massive rock…..the signs pointed out the age of the rock formations….some dating from the Jurassic period when dinosaurs roamed. This area had once been a tidal flood basin, under water, then later, a desert. I wish I knew more about Geology and the Earth’s history.

For today, however, we were tired and heading back to our camper.