Monday, June 29, 2015


Leaving the Grand Canyon, we headed south to Flagstaff. Along the road we found a city of rocks - a roadside wonder that someone created using the precariously perched rocks.

Against the elements, Blanche Russell created her Rock House during the 1940s. She used local materials, built walls to complete buildings and carved niches inside for beds, chairs, etc. What an interesting little place located on Highway 89A between Jacob Lake and Bitter Springs. Currently, no one lives here.  Local merchants use the pull off as a place for roadside stands to sell native made jewelry and pottery.  It is a must see place and is close to the Vermilion Cliffs and Lees Ferry so many photo ops abound.

After driving through a sand storm, which is common place in this part of the desert, we turned onto Route 66 and entered Flagstaff.  This road brought the people from the east and west into the desert for vacations and spiritual healing.  The canyon to the north and the mountains to the southwest kept them coming back.  

We stayed in a quaint little RV park next to the dinner theater, Black Bart's Steakhouse, Saloon and Musical Revue. Of course we ate dinner there - partly because we were curious and partly because we didn't want to drive anymore that day.  It was fun having a decently priced dinner served by singing staff.  

The next day we ventured out into town, looking for an RV oil change shop.  Luckily we smart enough to ask the truck shop across the street from the RV park if they could do it. Turned out to be the best deal in town!  After telling them the make and model of our RV, they picked up the filter and oil and completed the job for half the price of any RV shop. 

We stumbled upon a bottle shop in town that Kathy fell in love with.  McGaugh's Smoke and Bottle Shop was a beer lover's utopia.  We only had room in our small RV fridge for Kathy to build one six pack but she could have easily built a case of various craft beers.  She hasn't looked back since and seeks out locally owned bottle shops wherever we land.  She enjoys trying new brews and only falls back to her mainstays (Left Hand Milk Stout, Guinness, Newcastle, etc) when this option isn't available.  

Although we considered visiting the Grand Canyon's south rim, we decided it was time to move on.  We did pass near it, though, and thoroughly enjoyed the views as we headed south and mostly down hill.

As we passed through Phoenix, I decided to see an old friend and find out what he'd been up to. He told us he was getting his life in order and would like to make amends for previous wrongs.  I appreciated the honest efforts.  As we sat drinking coffee, we received a phone call for our interview for Tamarac NWR in Minnesota, where we hoping to spend the summer.

The volunteer coordinator and I chatted for nearly twenty minutes while Kathy and my friend sat there watching me handle the interview.  In the end, we were offered another refuge volunteer position.  Since we had already spoken with Voyagers NP we would need to discuss our options and make solid plans for our next summer.  This was more difficult than we imagined as we were just heading to our second refuge, in New Mexico, for our first full time RV winter.

Back on the road late in the day, we located a fabulous state park. Pulling in to Picacho Peak State Park after dark was somewhat difficult because of the lack of lights but the amazing sunrise the next morning was gorgeous. We discovered there were only a few RVs in the park.  We enjoyed a morning walk as the sun warmed us quickly in the shadows of the Saguaro cactus.  Although the traffic in the Phoenix area reminded us of our previous busy life in Houston, the beauty of the desert helped prepare us for our next refuge in New Mexico.


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