Category Archives: Destinations

William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum

Chihuly Glass
I had the good fortune of arriving at the William J. Clinton Center during the time that Dale Chihuly was exhibiting some of his amazing and incredibly beautiful glasswork.

Yesterday I went over to the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock.  Like other Presidential Library/Museums, National Parks, etc. you might visit, there’s an introductory video of some 15-20 minutes. There’s also a free tour of about an hour given several times a day. Then there are the exhibits chronicling Clinton’s life and Presidency. I watched the video and took the tour and explored some of the exhibits.. My visit coincided with an exhibit of Dale Chihuly’s amazing glasswork. READ MORE…

The Cat’s Pajamas is The Cat’s Meow

The Cat's Pajamas
The Cat’s Pajama’s thrill the audience at the Music City Centre in Branson, MO. Brian Skinner, producer and the group’s bass and percussion vocalist is second from right.

After arriving in Branson I took a look at the roster of shows in town. I’m sure there must have been 100, maybe more. When I read on TripAdvisor that The Cat’s Pajamas, an a cappella group, was very highly regarded and well reviewed it was for me a slam-dunk choice in terms of shows to see while in town. I have always enjoyed a cappella. When I asked Brian Skinner, the group’s producer and bass vocalist if he would sit down with me to share a little bit about his story and that of The Cat’s Pajamas he graciously agreed. READ MORE…

 

Travel Report: Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Badlands
Beautiful. No? I mean like wow!

There’s an old joke that goes something like this: Q: How do you tell the difference between a dead snake and a dead lawyer in the road? Ans: By the skid marks leading up to the snake.

I was reminded of that joke yesterday when driving the 14 mile park road in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota. I came to a sudden stop to avoid hitting a motionless snake in the middle of the road. I climbed off PeeWee–my trusty little Yamaha XT250 motorcycle–to have a closer look. I could see it was a rattlesnake so I wanted to be very careful before assuming it was dead. As I circled the creature at a safe distance–they can’t strike without first coiling up and even then their striking distance is short, generally preceded by rattling–it looked pretty dead to me but as I moved around to its side from the back I saw the telltale flickity-flick of the snake’s tongue, a sure sign that it was anything but dead. READ MORE…


 

Ouray’s Queen of Beer

 

Yours truly with Ouray Brewery's BrewMaster Pacie
Yours truly with Ouray Brewery’s BrewMaster Pacie

In July of 2014 I passed through Ouray, Colorado on my see-the-USA-in-an-RV trip. I’d come to the mountains of Colorado to see and photograph the sensational scenery as well as to get away from the often oppressive heat of southern Utah which is common during the warmer months. My last significant destination in Utah had been Capitol Reef National Park, a lesser known but spectacular park. From there I entered Colorado stopping first at Mesa Verde National Park. Next, Durango where I camped at Junction Creek, the southern terminus of the Colorado Trail, and after that Little Molas Lake outside of Silverton where I spent two weeks. READ MORE…

A Leap Into The Past on an Old Time Railroad

Engine 482: built in the 1880s and still going strong
Engine 482: built in the 1880s and still going strong

Recently I rode the railroad. Not just any railroad, but the Durango & Silverton RR which is driven by a coal fired steam engine built in the 1880s. Wow, and I thought I was old!

The route follows the Animas river from Durango to Silverton in Colorado through the picturesque Rocky mountains and while almost always very scenic, at times the views are downright sensational: mountain peaks in the distance as the train curves around a bend above the tumbling white water of the Animas river and traversing the ledge of a cliff with just inches to spare above a precipitous drop. To be fair, the first part of the 3 1/2 hour ride, maybe 30-45 minutes is through the flatlands outside of Durango which, while of some interest, does not include the spectacular scenery encountered up canyon. Still the ride is, well, really cool. READ MORE…

Valley of Fire to Grand Canyon Boondocking

Today, the 14th of May, 2014, marks the beginning of the second week of my USA RVing road trip. So much has already happened along the way that I fear I’ll never be able to find the time and energy to blog adequately about the adventure. By way of doing some catching up, in brief, I left the San Francisco bay area on May 7 with the idea of seeing our country’s natural beauty and to take in, perhaps to a lesser degree, some of the cities and their cultural aspects. I’ve aways been a big fan of nature which I suppose is why I put that first. As a somewhat unimportant aspect of my travels I aim to set foot in the 34 states which I have not already set foot in so as to be able to say I’ve been to all 50. Well, we can cross one of those 34 off the list now as I’m writing this entry in Tusayan (pronounced… hell, how would I know?),  Arizona. It’s my first time in this state.

Tusayan, for those of you that don’t know, is a tiny town just south of the south rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. It’s the last stop before you fall off the cliff into the great gorge… if you’re heading north, that is. My exact location, for you RV boondocking types, or others who may wish to camp for free, is along NF-302, a dirt road in

Boondocking near the Grand Canyon
My boondocking site along NF-302. It’s a 7 minute walk to the main road in town.

the Kaibab National Forest, at GPS coordinates N 35,96821º, W 112.12428º. The elevation here is about 6100’. The weather today is sunny and clear, brisk, with last night’s lows in the high thirties and today’s highs predicted to be in the mid to 60s. This spot is close to the Grand Canyon airport so it’s abuzz with small planes and helicopters packed with sight seers zipping by overhead during the day. At night, at least last night, the first of several I expect to stay here, it was quiet.

Today’s weather is one reason that although I’m so close to the Grand Canyon—I rolled into this lovely little campsite late yesterday afternoon, by the way—I will not go up to see it until tomorrow when the weather is predicted to be warmer. I’m also in need of a little decompressing after a whirlwind week of driving and sightseeing. Plus, I figured if I didn’t make some effort to write a little about my trip thus far, that catching up later would become increasingly difficult as I fell further and further behind. So, I’ll hang around Tusayan and NF-302 for the day. A day at home…

After leaving the bay area, my first stop was Washoe Lake State Park just north of Carson City Nevada. I spent one night there before heading on to Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area operated by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management). The following day my intention was to boondock at the Pahranagat Wildlife Refuge but I missed the turn off and wound up spending the night at the Hitchin’ Post RV Park in North Las Vegas. From there it was on to Valley of Fire State Park (VOF) which I had been eager to visit and considered my first main destination. My intention is to add more to the blog about Washoe and Hickison at a later date.

_D7K8018_Atlatl_800
Atlatl RV Campground, Valley of Fire, Nevada

I spent three nights at VOF. It’s a glorious place full of visual treats for those inclined to feasts for the eyes. The first day was rather hot and later including gusty winds which rocked the RV all night long. The next days the weather was milder.

View along the White Domes hike, Valley of Fire, Nevada
View along the White Domes hike, Valley of Fire, Nevada

For anybody who visits VOF with the intention of doing anything more than a quick drive through I suggest purchasing the large map sold at the visitor’s center because the free handout maps omit much of what you may wish to see. I didn’t learn about the big map until it was too late. There is a hike of several miles length that passes arches and plants that I would like to have taken but had no idea it existed. The freebee map does mention the short White Domes hike which I highly recommend, and for you photo buffs, before too late in the day because the hills in the distance fall into shadow making photos of the vista less than they could be (see photo). At this time of year I’d say be there no later than 2 PM or so.

Contrasts in the Valley of Fire
Contrasts in the Valley of Fire

VOF has a $10 per day use fee. If you want a camp site, RV or otherwise add $10 more, and if you want an RV campsite with water and electric hookups add another $10. I think Nevada residents get a discount on these fees.

The Atlatl campground–named after and ancient spear-chucking device– has some sites with hookups, others without. The Arch Rock campground has no hookups. It also has a more private and intimate feel to it as the sites are nestled in among nooks and crannies of the sandstone whereas Atlatl is a larger, more open basin. Sites are gravel and most require some leveliing.

From here? It’s either going to be Utah or Page Arizona which is supposed to be a cool place to visit with some wonderful nature to see nearby.


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