Travelin Tiger Archive

October 27 Glen Canyon AZ to Grand Canyon NP

Today Jeap had to return to Thailand so the morning was spent sending her off to the airport in Page AZ and picking up some groceries at Safeway. After that we headed to Grand Canyon.

Though it is late in the season the park is still pretty packed. We were able to get the last spot in the full service park so tonight we have electricity and water. Tomorrow night Dang and Noi will experience their first night of dry camping, and the low is supposed to be around freezing so it should be an experience.


Spectacular as always

There is a controlled burn going on in the national forest so it looks like conditions for pictures are going to be less than optimal unless we get some wind overnight. Ron and Ton decided to take it easy, while Dang and Noi went out to take pictures.

October 26 Glen Canyon NRA

While Elephant did not move today, we all did. When planning the trip Ron was very skeptical about visiting Bryce Canyon this time of year. But, the weather the last 10 days has been spectacular, so we decided to take a 300 mile roundtrip to Bryce in a rental car.


Ron and Ton with Smokey the Bear

Bryce is Ron’s second favorite National Park. Because of the time crunch we limited ourselves to the Navajo trail, and sunrise and sunset point areas. We also stopped in the Red Canyon as we entered the park. As the weather was almost perfect it was another great day in Bryce Canyon.


Glen Canyon was also very beautiful even though we did not spend any appreciable time there. Ton said that we need to come back and spend some more time in the future.


Sunset at Glen Canyon

October 25 Moab UT to Glen Canyon NRA AZ


An example of the shapes from Antelope Valley

Today we visited Antelope Valley which is a poor mans The Wave. Antelope Valley is a wash where at two points water is funneled into very narrow canyons that are almost caves. These flash floods make for an incredible variety of shapes and the light from the very narrow opening at the top adds spectacular colors. It is mandatory to use a Navajo tour guide to enter the wash where the canyons are.

Ron rode up front with our guide, and he gave him the history of the valley. Up to 1997 it was virtually unknown and little visited. Two things happened around then that changed it to a heavily visited attraction under control of the Navajo. In a great bit of marketing the Navajo invited National Geographic to do a photo shoot around then and when it was featured in the magazine the interest spiked considerably. Then later in the year a guide entered the wash with 10 customers despite the gates being closed. It turns out that while it was not raining in Page at the time, it was storming up in the mountains, and while they were in the canyon a flash flood swept thru and the only one that survived was the guide.


A shot of the entrance to the canyon at Antelope Valley

Today they allow up to 70 people into the wash per hour, and it is run with military precision, as all of the tours are booked months in advance. While they keep you moving and it is a little bit of a cattle call, it is very much worth doing if you are in the area.

October 24 Moab UT to Monument Valley UT

We are making a quick pass thru Monument Valley. We managed an early start to the day to cover the 140 miles to Monument Valley in time for Dang, Jeap, and Noi to do a Jeep tour of the valley. Ron and Ton stayed behind as the women decided Ron’s ribs were not up to a rough road.

On the way in we swung thru Gooseneck State Park which is a famous place where the San Juan river makes several 90 degree turns in a short area.


The tour was a great success and lots of pictures were taken. The guide was a Navajo women named Hope which was interesting as almost every other guide is male. She brough a different experience to the tour.


After the tour we were sitting on a balcony in the visitors center waiting for sunset, when a couple of small birds landed in a bush in front of us. Dang said that they were sparrows, and Ron with great confidence told her it was not a sparrow. About the same time a Navajo sitting next to us said that it was not a sparrow. He had been there for a few minutes doing pencil drawings of the valley. After a couple of minutes of looking at the birds I saw him take out his phone and open a bird app. After a couple of minutes he smiled looked up and said it is a sparrow, a Barrel Sparrow to be exact. Chock one up to Dang and Thailand over an American and a native living in the valley!

Darrin told us he was a guide and asked if he could answer any questions. We spent an hour or so talking to him about the Navajo, Monument Valley, and the surrounding area. He was a fountain of knowledge and clearly incredibly pround of his tribe, and heritage. On top of that his sister is a graduate of Oregon State living in Eugene with her husband a graduate of University of Oregon, so as he said his nephews are platypuses.

October 23 Moab UT

The day started with Ron and Ton heading into town to try to pick up some prescriptions for Ron. But after waiting around awhile for Ron’s doctor from Oregon to contact the pharmacy in Moab we decided to head back to get Noi, Jeap, and Dang.

The women headed back to Arches for some follow up photos and another shopping spree at the visitors center. They had strict instructions to return by five as the pharmacy closed at six.


They completed everything and were back at Elephant in plenty of time to head into town to fill the prescription and take care of some laundry.

The day ended simply with some cheeseburgers and a salad. The cheeseburgers were a hit as everything tastes better when grilled outside.

October 22 Moab UT

The women went to Canyon Lands for the day. Ron took the day off to rest his ribs.

Canyon Lands was a big hit. The photo opportunities and the vastness of the place is impressive. Jeap, Dang, and Noi had a good time shopping at the visitors center, and did their bit to support the Park Service and Utah’s economy.


When they returned home we finished up the Thai food that we had brought along from Portland. We decided to spend another day at Moab to take care of some chores and to make a follow up visit to Arches NP.

October 21 Moab UT

We were up before the crack of dawn to head into Arches for sunrise. Ron had a very uncomfortable night sleeping from his fall the other day, and was begining to wonder if there was more damage than he thought initially.

We hit all of the highlites of Arches and sunrise was spectacular. Near the end of the day Jeap and Noi decided they wanted to hike about 4 miles to Delicate Arch for sunset photos. Ron’s discomfort was still pretty intense so while they did that Dang, Ton and Ron headed to the urgent care clinic in Moab.


After some poking and proding and X-rays it turns out that Ron has three broken ribs, which explains the discomfort he was feeling. Unfortunately there is nothing to do about broken ribs but rest so he will be soldiering on.

Jeap and Noi set personal records for steps during the day at 27,000, and got some great photos.

October 20 Ogden UT to Moab UT

Primarily a driving day again today. It was a little farther than thought it would be to Moab from Ogden, and we had to pass long ways thru Salt Lake City which did not sound like it would be fun in Elephant.


Our first stop in Moab was to pick up the rental car. After getting the car (with a nice upgrade from what we ordered from Enterprise) we headed into our packed KOA in Moab.

Ron was a little stiff and sore from his tumble yesterday, plus he and Noi were still fighting the effects of colds. After settling in we headed to bed early as we are planning to be in Arches NP for sunrise and sunset tomorrow.

October 19 West Yellowstone MT to Ogden UT

Today was another driving day. After a slow start to the day we headed down the road. The first and only stop for the day was at the Costco in Pocatello ID to stock up on supplies and to boost the economy of Idaho with some purchases for Thailand.

For the night we stayed at Willard Bay State Park. It was located right on the Great Salt Lake. It turned out to be a nice place to stay and convenient. We had a nice grill out and dinner despite having to fend off some mosquitos.


Sunset at Willard Bay SP

We decided to repeat our plan in Moab of renting a car and leaving Elephant stationary for the visit. Something made Ron decide to call ahead to get a reservation. Good thing as there was a mountain bike race, and a long school weekend going on in Utah. It took calling five places before we got the last spot in the KOA in Moab. The price is a little bit of a rip off but there was no choice.

One problem for the night was Ron fell going to the bathroom at night and landed pretty hard. There is a little step down from the bedroom in Elephant and Ron missed the step. There was some moaning and groaning but he was able to get up and get back to bed.

October 18 West Yellowstone MT

Today was geyser and hotspring day at Yellowstone. We visited all of the hotspring sites between the west entrance and Old Faithful. We then stayed for an Old Faithful eruption and had lunch. While the skies were still clear it was colder and windy so while it was good picture weather it was not good hanging around outside weather.


Mid-afternoon we decided to head over to Mammoth Hot Springs as Ton was not going to let her friends see Yellowstone without seeing where our son Dylan worked as a ranger. We did not have the best light for Mammoth but it is still pretty spectacular.


We returned to our campsite well after dark tonight and whipped up a quick meal.


Cannot leave Yellowstone without a shot of Old Faithful

October 17 West Yellowstone MT

Today was critter chasing day. The plan was to head over to Grand Teton NP and see what critters we could see. To facilitate that we rented a car for our stay in Yellowstone. Elephant costs .35$ per mile to drive, and we figured that the cost of the rental car would mostly be offset by the miles we saved not driving Elephant and we would gain the flexibility of being able to squeeze into smaller places. It turned out to be a good decision.

Noi is a profesional photographer and ran her own travel magazine in Thailand. She asked me what the big five were in Yellowstone. I did not initially understand her question until she explained to me that there were a big five animals you shoud get photos of in the Serengetti. Ton and I did not know if there was an official big five list for Yellowstone, but we made one up consisting of Bison, Elk, Wolves, Moose, and Bears.


Bison on a river crossing

We were not more than a few miles into the park when we crossed our first animal off the list as there was a large herd of Bison. After about an hour of photos were shot we headed on down the road towards Grand Teton. On the parkway between Yellowstone and Grand Teton we got to cross another big five off the list. There was a grizzly contentedly grazing right next to the road despite the considerable scrum of humans about fifty yards away shooting pictures. So far a good day.


Not sure who is watching who, the crowd did not phase this guy

The weather was fantastic today with clear blue skies and highs in the sixties. Grand Teton was spectacular and we enjoyed a really nice lunch in the park.


Grand Tetons from our lunch spot.

Finally on the way home in addition to some more Bison we were able to get some nice shots of an Elk herd crossing a river. As well as watching some stupid human behavior as a clearly agitated Elk was being ignored by one guy who was so concerned with his photo that he risked getting attacked.


The Bull in this photo was very agitated with some people who were too close

October 16 Arco ID to West Yellowstone MT

We started the day by heading to Craters of the Moon NM. Ton and I enjoy the starkeness of this place immensely and wanted our friends from Thailand to see it.

Unfortunately Ron and Noi are both fighting colds so that reduced some of the fun of Craters. Plus I think everyone was pretty pumped up to see Yellowstone. So after half a day we headed on over to Yellowstone.


Craters of the Moon

Because of the cold temperatures and some of the limitations of Elephant we need to stay in commercial campgrounds when it is cold. Elephant can only provide about two hours of heat before her battery is drained. Elephant is really making Ton and I appreciate the flexibility and nimbleness of Scout.

We chose the Rustic Wagon campground in Yellowstone. When we arrived you could tell it is near the end of the season as we were one of only three campers in the park, and all but one other campground was closed.

October 15 Cambridge ID to Arco ID

Today turned out to be primarily a travel day, though we did make a short stop for some shopping in Mountain Home.

Today we arrived in Arco Idaho which is the first town ever to be powered by nuclear energy. During WWII the government constructed the first nuclear power plant near Arco. There still is a large nuclear site just outside of town.


Things are starting to wind down on the tourist season and the campground we stayed at in Arco was closing down for the year on Friday, so there was no water available. Everyone is getting the hang of living in pretty tight quarters so the great experiment of having 5 people in Elephant (our Cruise America RV) is going pretty well.

October 14 Pendleton OR to Cambridge ID

The snow overnight had turned into ice when we woke up. But it was supposed to warm up quickly so we did not have any problems getting going in the morning. Our destination was one of Ton’s favorite campgrounds on the Snake River in Idaho. It is at the bottom of Hells Canyon, which is the deepest or second deepest canyon in the US. Last time we visited it was the same time of the year and the trees at the bottom of the canyon were in full fall colors. This time it looks like we got here about a week too late though they are still nice.


Hells Canyon

We had a nice relaxing afternoon while everyone ran around taking pictures of rivers, trees, and mountains. It was a crystal clear day so we decided to grill hamburgers and try our box wine out to close out the day.

October 13 Portland OR to Pendleton OR

Today we started our trip in our rental RV which has been named Elephant for the trip. It is a 30 ft Cruise America Rental RV. It is certainly a different driving experience than Scout, much wider and also slower to turn.

Joining us on the trip this time are three of Ton’s best friends from Thailand. They are three sisters Jeap, Noi, and Dang. This will be their first time traveling in an RV so it should be an interesting experience for them.

We left early expecting a slow start with Portland traffic, but got a lucky surprise and shot out of Portland pretty much without slowing down. As we left Portland we ran into the after effects of the major fire which had burned in the Columbia River Gorge for a significant part of August and September. It has left quite a mark, and roads and parks in the gorge are still closed due to the after effects.

For the day we made stops in Hood River at a nice orchard, and walked around downtown Pendleton. The girls enjoyed the cowboy town and the turn of the 20th century architecture in Pendleton. We also stopped at the Pendleton Woolen Mills which is one of the landmarks of Pendleton.


Double rainbow in the Columbia River Gorge

Tonight we are staying at Emigrant Ridge State Park where it apparently snowed seven inches last night. The camp host assured us that things were going to return to normal, even though it was flurrying when he told us this. We are going to give the Cruise America heater a good test tonight. travelin tiger 2013