2019 Summer Trek North

Once you have the travel bug and feel comfortable living on the road away from your house and the things that are in it, it doesn’t take long to want to hit the road again after you get “home”. Our neighbor saw me packing up the Roamer again for a trip and I told him “Pam said take me to Montana”. He laughed and said that he has been waiting for his wife to say that his whole life – lol.

We started this year’s trek, Summer Trek #6 for those counting, with a trip to Prescott, Arizona with our friends Clark and Jill. They had never been to the Palace Bar in Prescott where a few scenes from the movie “Junior Bonner” were shot so it was a good excuse for a trip launching spot.

We camped outside of town at Yavapai Campground, which used to be way outside of town, but Prescott has really grown over the last decade. Now the campground is just a short walk from homes and new development.

We hiked around Watson Lake Park on the north side of town. The rock formations around the lake make for an interesting hike.

The trail circles the lake and drops into a valley that was lush with vegetation and a creek full of floating color.

The area is a big recreational area where you can rent kayaks and paddle around the lake. We may have to add that to the list of things to do for another fun weekend.

We headed over to downtown Prescott and the Palace Bar that night for dinner and some drinks. The bar is located on the historic Whiskey Row in Prescott and has been open since 1877. It has a beautiful hand-carved bar, and when a fire broke out in downtown Prescott in the early 1900s the patrons ran in and saved the bar from damage.

Our next stop with Clark and Jill was just a little further north in Cottonwood, AZ, camping at Dead Horse Ranch State Park. The park got its name from the ranch that used to own the land the park now sits upon. The ranch got its name in the 1940s from the family that bought the land after looking at several plots of land for a ranch. They chose this land due to its surrounding beauty and location on the Verde River, but was remembered from their searching due to the fact it had a dead horse on it, and so the name stuck, Dead Horse Ranch.

We toured several of the local wineries in Page, AZ. We ended up at the Javelina Leap Winery at a shady picinic table where we played corn toss and drank some of the wine we purchased. By the time we left, the tasting room was closed, the staff had left and the sun had set. A good day.

Clark and Jill took off the next day back to the Phoenix valley while Pam and I took a stroll around the several ponds within the park. The last time we were at the park we saw river otters in the pods that were as big as beavers. The ranger said they made the short walk from the Verde River to the ponds and since the ponds are stocked they decided to stay. We didn’t see them this time, but they could have been sleeping off another good feast of stocked fish – lol.

The day we left home we were waiting on our tire pressure guage to be returned from a shop in town since one of our tires has had a leak in the rim seal and needs a daily top-off of air. It’s a pain to have to check and fill the one tire daily, but with the rig’s onboard air compressor it’s not impossible, just annoying. One of the reasons for this trip, besides going to Montana, was to get new set of tires and possibly a new rim for the one tire to eliminate this issue.

However, in our haste to make up time when the tire pressure guage arrived we left town and later realized that we had a forgetten several items needed for the trip. Most importantly we forgot the entire freezer full of meats that we had prepared for our dinners on the road. So after leaving Cottonwood we headed back down into the valley, picked up the missing items and headed on our way north.

Our first stop outside of Arizona was one of our favorite trip launching spots, El Morro National Monument in western New Mexico. We camped there for the night, amazed by the Milky Way which is very clear so far away from cities, and did the hike over and around the sandstone outcropping.

Since our last visit there in the spring, a lot of work has been done at the park. The trail was now a beautiful stone edged pathway and the ruins were in the process of further excavation. They estimate that roughly 600 ancient Puebloans lived here from 1275 to 1350 AD in the 300 room pueblo. A group of young Native Americans from the local area were doing the work. It looked really nice. In fact, we noticed that a lot of the national parks and monuments we have visited are doing more rebuilding and much needed maintenance work in the last year or so.

The hike at El Morro takes you across the top of the rock promontory of sandstone. It’s a beautiful hike with a great view of the local area. It’s also interesting to hike past the inscriptions in the rock where Spanish explorers in 1605 to the American settlers in the wagon trains heading west in 1858 have recored their names and phrases in the soft rock. The pool of water at the base of the rock was the only year-around water source in the area and the reason for the many early visitors.

It always has a beautiful sunset looking at the rock from the camping area.

The next day we had intended to head to Bandelier National Monument outside of Los Alamos, NM, but discovered that the campground was closed for the week due to road resurfacing within the park. Instead we headed to the Rancho de Chimayo restaurant for some great New Mexican food with prickly pear lemonade to figure out a new destination.

After a great meal, and a lot of the day left, we decided to find a place in the northern New Mexico forests or cross into Colorado and camp near the Great Sand Dunes in south-central Colorado. We jumped into the Roamer and continued north.

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