Sunday, 23 February 2014

And then came....................

There was no sign of the Grand Canyon re-opening so we decided that we’d move on, but the weather forecast wasn’t good, high winds were forecast as was snow but for higher ground around Flagstaff, luckily not for Williams.   We don’t like travelling in high winds so we decided to stay a couple more days and let the bad weather pass through.
But, the following day this is what we saw when we woke up.

Quite a few people headed out as the morning wore on, but we were so glad we’d didn't have to and could stay warm and toasty.

After a while we drove into town for breakfast at the Grand Canyon Café, which, as always, was scrumptious.

As the day wore on the snow turned to sleet, then rain, by late afternoon it was almost all gone and there was a glorious sunset.

The next day was gorgeously sunny, but cold, so after breakfast we decided we’d see how much, if any, any snow was left on old Route 66, naturally this included a stop at our favourite deli.

While the road was clear there was still snow in the forest and the views of the San Francisco peaks were simply breathtaking.

We decided we'd had enough snow and cold so we left the next day, of course this just happened to be the day the state of Arizona re-opened the Grand Canyon.   We did think about staying, but the thought of hot sunshine down in the desert won. 

Have fun, we are!

Don't climb the trees!

Another interesting place in Williams is Bearizona, this was our second trip and as before we really enjoyed our visit. 

One of the things we’ve always been told when out hiking is don’t run from bears or cougars as they’ll naturally assume you’re prey and good to eat, so stand your ground, make yourself as large and threatening as possible and they’ll back off.   Well that’s what we’ve always been told, thankfully we’ve never been in a position where we’ve had to put this to the test, and I hope we never are! 

The other thing we’ve always been told is don’t climb trees to avoid bears, again thankfully, we’ve never been had to test this either, but bears are pretty big animals could they really shin up a tree that fast? 

The answer is Yes! Yes! Yes!

On this trip to Bearizona when we visited one of the bear areas, I think they were juveniles; everyone was looking up at the trees.   At first we couldn’t see anything,
when we looked again, we could see a couple of bears were high up in the pine trees, snuffling around the branches enjoying themselves.   Branches I might add that to us in no way shape or form looked anywhere near strong enough to support a bear.

One bear peeped out to admire either the view or possibly wondering what all the tourists were looking at.

Both bears admiring the view

We watched them for ages, at one point it almost seemed as if they were playing to the crowd, then they decided to come down, I thought this would take them a few minutes.   Wrong!  They were down in seconds,  

starting to come down

On roll

Made it

So it really is true, don't try, because you definitely can’t out climb a bear!

On our drive through, we saw this Alaskan Tundra wolf, he was so cute but we managed to resist the temptation to give him a cuddle. 

The white buffalo enjoying a spot of lunch
Enjoying a snooze in the afternoon sunshine

We really enjoyed our second trip to Bearizona and no doubt we’ll visit again on one of our trips.
Have fun, we are!

Saturday, 22 February 2014

The (Why are we here?!) Old Peavine Railroad

On yet another lovely morning, in our trusty Williams guide book we found a drive that looked interesting, along the Old Peavine Railroad.   Now we know our guide book is about 15 years old, and let’s face, it all guide books are out of date even before they’re published!   But the drive was marked as suitable for normal cars and with the exception of one hike where we just couldn’t see the trail as it entered the forest, all the other drives and hikes we’ve ever followed have been exactly as described.
The drive followed the old Peavine Railroad as it wound up the side of the mesa, along the top and then back down the other side where it eventually rejoined the paved road.
We found the road, followed it, part way along it turned to dirt, but according to our trusty guide book it was a good dirt road.   The road was okay, a little rougher than the guide book said but we were expecting that, although I wouldn’t want to drive it in a normal car.
After a while it became quite narrow as we were actually driving on the old railroad bed, the road was built up on each side and every so often we'd go through a cutting as it wound its way along slowly climbing the side of the mesa.  

Driving through a cutting

After about 9 miles, it got narrower and rougher we reached a cattle grid by Wolf Mountain Ranch (yes that is a wolf in the photograph, but a metal one)

leading into Prescott National Forest and onto Forest Road 573, now maybe this should’ve given us a clue as to cross the cattle grid we had to take down the barbed wire fence. 

Still the forest road, although looking rough didn't seem too bad I asked DB if he thought we should turn around.   We thought about it but decided that as we were about halfway through the drive we may as well carry on, so carry on we did.   What a mistake to make!

Once on FR 573 the road got much rougher, the first thing we had to negotiate was a hill, at the top of which we met a small Toyota truck coming the other way, luckily there was space to pass, the truck pulled in we said hello and the truck continued on its way down to the cattle grid.
As the truck had come from the way we were heading we thought, well it can't be that bad!   How wrong can you be!    It got worse, much worse, I suppose 15 years of monsoon rains, forest fires and snow had literally swept the road surface away and we were driving on bedrock.

The forest encroached and the road actually got narrower, I don’t know what would’ve happened if we’d met anyone else coming the other way.   It also got rougher, a lot rougher and despite 4WD and driving at less than walking pace, we were bouncing around like popcorn!   
It definitely wasn’t suitable for a car, never mind our truck, it really was a jeep or ATV road and we were literally climbing over boulders!   We reached another hill, stopped at the bottom, both looked at it and said, among other things, Oh! My! God!

Our Oh! My! God! moment

It doesn’t look too bad does it? But, this is what those boulders actually were like.

We probably could've made it but who knew what we were going to find when we got to the top?   Not only that, but if we had to turn round, could we?  Could we get down without ripping of the exhaust or the running boards?  Besides which what would we be driving into further along, would it be worse?   Who knew, certainly not us.    
I got out and walked up, the views were fabulous, green forest on each side of the road, red rocks, mountains in the distance, sunshine, blue skies absolutely gorgeous but!!!   Looking at the road, knowing we’d got at least another 9 miles of who knew what to negotiate I thought I really don't like this we're on our own out here, probably no cell service so no rescue if anything happens.   Come to that the road was so narrow how on earth anyone would rescue us was another matter, never mind how much it would cost and it was a very, very long walk back.   Not only that but while we drive on plenty of dirt roads, this road was way out of our comfort zone, time to turn around while we still could!  
Looking back down at BT.

Luckily for us, we’d stopped at a slightly wider section of the road, albeit a very rocky section, where thankfully there was just enough room for DB to do a 3 million point turn.   I did plenty of running round the truck giving directions every so often I’d move a particularly vicious looking rock, well if I could, luckily for me most of the nasty rocks were moveable, then off we’d go again.
This is where we did our 3 million point turn.

Eventually we got turned around and I hopped back in the truck.   We hadn't come as far as we’d thought a mile, mile and a half, maybe two at the most, but it had taken us ages. 
This was one of the views on the way back that is Bill Williams Mountain in the distance, isn’t it gorgeous?

We bounced our way back and we were soooo glad to see that cattle grid and get back onto the other road I tell you it felt like driving on the interstate after the forest road!

This is how driving through one of the old railroad cuttings looked on our return journey.   I have to admit I didn’t realise how narrow and steep it was until I saw it from this angle.

I checked on the internet afterwards and someone else driving the same make and model of truck as BT had tried to drive that road from the opposite end looking for boon docking sites.   They'd turned around for the same reasons we did, so we definitely made the right decision.   Had we not, who knows we might still be out there!
Someday I would like to see where that road goes, but only if we we’re with someone in a jeep who knows how to drive these types roads better than we do!
Have fun, we are!

Friday, 21 February 2014

Return to Dog Town Lake

When we’re staying in Williams, one of our favourite hikes is around Dog Town Lake, on this trip the campground was closed for the winter and despite it being another fabulous day we almost had the place to ourselves.
It’s a lovely hike and part way round you cross the creek, the very first time we did this walk, the lake was very full and the creek was so deep and wide there was absolutely no way we could cross without swimming, so we had to backtrack into the forest for about a half a mile to get round.  This time it was very low so we didn’t have to do that.

Despite the water being low an osprey was busy diving for fish,

I just managed to catch as it flew away after diving into the lake.

Bill Williams Mountain

It was a lovely afternoon and we enjoyed our hike around the lake. 

A few days later we headed back and walked part of the Ponderosa Trail on its way to Davenport Hill, it’s about a 5 mile round trip and is very pretty, I say part as we didn’t walk all the way, but that was down to me. 

Partway along the trail

gorgeous autumn colour

Even though I walk in forests quite happily all the time, I don’t actually much enjoy being surrounded by trees, and, every so often I throw a wobbler (even at home where there is absolutely no possibility of bears or mountain lions hiding behind every tree trunk!) maybe it was because it was soooooo quiet, I don’t know.   So we turned back, but I’m sure we’ll hike that trail on another trip

Have fun, we are!

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Wonderful Williams Part 2!

One of the views we have from the Grand Canyon Railway RV Park is Bill Williams Mountain, we’ve never been to the top so waking up to another gorgeous day we decided, courtesy of our Williams Guide, we’d follow the drive to the top. 

We took Highway 73 out of town and turned right onto FR111, it’s a 7½ mile road that dead ends at the fire lookout at the top.   Even though it’s a one lane fairly good dirt road, there is just about enough space for two trucks to pass very carefully. 

Our first stop was the Finger Rock trail it’s a short easy trail to the viewpoint, with tremendous views. 

As we drove higher we encountered some switchbacks, while we love BT it doesn’t have a great turning circle, so if the switchbacks are a bit sharp it takes a bit of maneuvering to get round.   Sometimes it can be a bit on the scary side, especially if it’s really a high, tight, turn.
We came across some gorgeous autumnal aspens, so of course I jumped out to take photographs, aren’t they beautiful?

After the last steeper, rougher section of road we found the parking area and then walked up to fire lookout tower.

This is one lookout tower you are allowed to climb, the views were amazing. 

Looking down on FR111

West across I40

Sanfrancisco Peaks and Dog Town Lake

negotiating the switchbacks on the way down.

back at the bottom

It’s a great drive with fabulous views and well worth it.

Have fun, we are!

Wonderful Williams!

We arrived at the Grand Canyon Railway RV Park in Williams, Arizona, on a day filled with wall to wall sunshine and clear blue skies.   Fabulous!   Well it should’ve been but it was also the day the US government shut down so all National Parks, including the Grand Canyon were closed.   (Yes, I’m still catching up).   But, not to worry, we thought, there is a public road right through the park.   Wrong!   Everyone else thought the same thing so the road was closed to anyone but residents.   Ah well!
After we got set up and settled in our first trip, one of our favourite drives, was along Old Route 66, at one point we stopped to watch this bird circling overhead, we think it could be a harrier, but………
Naturally we stopped at Parks Deli for coffee and spent a while watching the world go by, Parks is a quiet place, but you’d be surprised just how much world does go by!

Further along we enjoyed fabulous views of the Sanfrancisco Peaks,

before stopping to watch a colony of prairie dogs, they’re very cute to watch, but I don’t envy the people in the nearby houses.

Have fun, we are!

Monday, 10 February 2014

Gallup, New Mexico

We’ve driven past and through Gallup many times but never actually stopped, so we decided it was time to visit. 
Our first stop was on Route 66 to visit the world famous El Rancho Hotel
Built in 1937 the hotel is on the National Historical Register and was used as a base for film stars and film crews on location.   Photographs of the film stars who have stayed at the hotel, John Wayne, Errol Flynn, Kirk Douglas, Doris Day to mention but a few, cover the walls.

Two Presidents, President Regan and President Eisenhower have also stayed there.   Rooms are named after film stars and I am absolutely convinced I sat in a chair used by John Wayne, okay probably not, but he did stay there so who knows?

 After reading some of the posters on the walls

we enjoyed coffee in the restaurant, we asked the hostess if anyone famous had stayed there recently apparently Paul McCartney had visited not long ago.   No-one famous was staying the day we visited, but let’s face it the hotel wouldn’t tell us if there was would they?   Our next stop was the Cultural Centre where we had a very nice, although rather large, lunch before looking around.

Inside the Story Teller Museum at the Cultural Centre

Sand paintings,
Native American pottery,


After looking round the museum we found an RV park that has fairly good reviews and then drove back to Grants. 

There’s a lot more to see in Gallup, so I think next time we travel this way, we’ll stop and explore some more. 

Have fun, we are!