Thursday, July 27, 2017

   Earlier this month, as I sat in our coach in Bedrock City (in Valle, AZ) listening to raindrops tapping on the aluminum roof, it occurred to me that precipitation in the desert southwest is viewed very differently than on the coast where I am from. Even after years of drought in California the rains, when they finally came, were at best regarded as inconvenient and at worst, as a complete disaster. Granted, the central coast sustained devastating damage from the continual deluge this past winter, but it seemed like everyone looked right past the good points; our reservoirs were finally full and the central valley farmers could once again grow the crops that feed us all. 

But no, most of us grumped and grouched about the closed roads and longer drive times to work and shopping.
   Things are very different in the desert; the residents, both human and animal, view the rain in a very different light. They wait anxiously for the start of the summer monsoon season because they instinctively understand that rain is the harbinger of life in this arid region. Rain is the difference between a creek and a dry wash; the difference between a crop and dried-up stalks; the difference, quite literally, between life and death.

   The sound of thunder over the distant mountains and the sight of pillow-soft clouds rising up over the jagged peaks, forming into lavender colored thunderheads which slowly roll towards you across the valley; these are the sights and sounds that make a desert dweller's heart race just a little bit faster. People there watch the darkening skies in eager anticipation of the first few cool drops hitting the hot pavement with a hiss and sizzle; the sound of life returning to the dry earth.
   That smell of that first minute or two of cloudburst is something you will never forget. The air around you is charged with brimstone and the aroma of the rich red dust being kicked up by each individual raindrop as it hammers its way into the earth is the sweet damp smell of life itself. 
 Enjoy every day of it My Friends, for it is Life...rain or shine!

Monday, July 10, 2017

There was a time in America when a family road trip was a very different thing than it is today. There were no concerns about connectivity or cell phone coverage. Heck, you were lucky just to have a t.v. in your motel room and cable was almost unheard of. Drive time entertainment consisted of fighting with your siblings over comic books and actually looking out the windows at the landscape you were passing through, and having control of the window-winder handle made you a King or a Queen. That was also the golden era of the roadside attraction. People would drive miles out of their way to see the worlds tallest thermometer or biggest ball of string. Your job as a child, of course, was to convince your disbelieving parents that a two headed rattlesnake or a shrunken mummy head was actually an educational experience not to be missed.

Even more difficult was getting them to pony-up for a tour through Dinosaur Land or Christmas
Village. More often than not, you watched these wonders pass by with your face pressed to the window, vowing someday to return to Frontier Town to ride in the "Stage Coach Adventure of a Lifetime".

That was how it happened that Joe and I watched with dismay as we zipped past Bedrock City in Arizona so many, many years ago. It was just too much money to spend for something that would only disappoint us, our parents said. Besides, we still have the next museum to see yet today!

Many years later, on our honeymoon in 1999, Joe and I did return to the scene of the crime, only to discover that the attraction was all but closed. A gift shop remained, and a few somewhat sad remnants of the original park were all that was left. We bundled up our disappointment once again and continued on our way to the Grand Canyon. While we did enjoy the rest of our trip, that visit to the scene of Fred and Wilma's demise just seemed to stick with us all these years.

  This year we finally had the chance to renew our old acquaintance with the Bedrock City of our childhood dreams when the first monsoon of the summer season chased us out of our boondocking spot in the mountains near Williams, AZ. Dirt roads, a sudden deluge of rain, and a low-slung GMC motorhome do not play well together at all! We quickly flung things into drawers and closets and made a dash down the hill, only to have the cloudburst catch up to us while refuelling in Williams. What to do now? We decided to visit Fred and Wilma, and Barney and Betty, because they lived just off the highway on a well packed gravel road. So, we called and made a reservation to stay in the small RV park at Bedrock City for two days, which would allow us to hook up to shore power (electricity) to charge up our house batteries. The approaching storm clouds had prevented us from getting a full charge with our solar panels, despite having re-positioned the coach for the best sun.

This change of plans turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip thus far; we had a blast! The park, located in Valle, AZ, has been restored to its former glory, without taking away from the vintage feel of the original. The prices are very affordable, the store is well stocked, and the food at Fred's Diner is good and reasonably priced. Who could resist ordering the Bronto Burger? Certainly not us! The staff is friendly and even cheerfully helped us locate the correct adapter we needed to hook into their power, as we had neglected to bring one. They sent us to the gentleman at the local hardware store, who searched through his entire inventory to locate the correct one for us.
Fred and the Gang will truly make you smile!

On the second day, we took the plunge and decided to purchase the park tour. The entry fee (a reasonable $5.00 when we were there) includes a ride on the train through a "volcano", entry to the theater, and the dinosaur slide (yes, I did!). There are numerous cleverly furnished buildings and characters throughout the park. What a fun day; next time we pass this way, we'll re-live our childhood yet again!

Bedrock City is located on Highway 64 north of Williams, in Valle, AZ, right on the way to the Grand Canyon. They have a laundry, showers, a dump station and potable water available. Don't disappoint your kids or your inner child; just pony-up and go do it!

Five Dollars To Get Into The Park and it's worth every cent!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Many years ago, as a sixteen-year-old on a summer adventure in Utah's Escalante  Wilderness Area (now part of the Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument) I asked my Uncle Fran if we were lost. Without even a pause, he replied "How can you be lost if you don't care where you are?"

 As an adult, almost forty years later, I still remember that defining moment vividly. In fact, I find myself pondering that question a lot lately. At our age, Joe and I have quite a few friends just a year or two older than us who are looking seriously at retiring soon, and are asking themselves "What now?". 

They have realized, like so many of us, that their whole life has been spent in pursuit of something that doesn't make them happy. What seemed like an important goal when young, whether a career, a successful business, or a big house with a white picket fence and a pool, something seems still to be missing when the target is achieved. Family and friends are vitally important of course, but I'm not referring to that aspect of our lives here. Rather, I am talking about the material things we all seem to crave to mark our success.

So, whether you are still young and just starting the journey, or young-at-heart and further down the road, ask yourself this question; "If I am going to spend the rest of my life chasing something, shouldn't it be MY dream?"... and then listen, really listen, to the answer.

 Happy trails, my friends!                                               -Lynn

A Mule Strays And A Town Is Born

   The handful of residents remaining in the town of Tumco lie namelessly beneath stone cairns a few hundred yards from the remains of the...

Utah's Escalante