Monthly Archives: June 2016

The Overland Affliction!

We ventured along Comb Ridge, an area of around 100km in length that exhibits the obvious results of an ancient upheaval of the Earth’s crust. As with much of southern Utah, the forces that have been acting on our tiny planet over millennia are stark and so very obvious!

Aerial Photo of Comb Ridge courtesy of a San Juan Chamber of Commerce Publication

Aerial Photo of Comb Ridge courtesy of a San Juan Chamber of Commerce Publication

A constant display of Ancestral Puebloan dwellings are to be found lining almost every canyon wall with an undercut along this stunning geological formation. A couple of days easily vanished as we wandered valleys, explored caves and relaxed below brilliant night skies.

IMG_9413

Hidden in every alcove

Hidden in every alcove

More Ruins

More Ruins

IMG_9388

The grooves in the rock are where the original inhabitants used to grind corn into flour

The grooves in the rock are where the original inhabitants used to grind corn into flour

View from inside the ancient cave

View from inside the ancient cave

IMG_9451

Ancestral Puebloan Ruins

Ancestral Puebloan Ruins

A great little lizard enroute

A great little lizard enroute

The grey rippled piece is 800 yr old pottery

The grey rippled piece is 800 yr old pottery

“Monument Valley” had been visible in the distance when at elevation for some time now and we really had the feeling that we were entering an area of special beauty as we pushed west. “Valley of the Gods” sits around 45 minutes drive north-east of “Monument Valley” and we had high hopes that stunning scenery awaited our senses as we turned of the highway! I’ll let you be the judge based on the pictures below…

Monument Valley in the distance

Monument Valley in the distance

Driving in to Valley of the Gods

Driving in to Valley of the Gods

IMG_9482 IMG_9494

Camped at Valley of the Gods

Camped at Valley of the Gods

IMG_9517 IMG_9576

Awesome Formations

Awesome Formations

IMG_9557 IMG_9505

We immersed ourselves in stunning topography that really requires a personal visit in order to fully appreciate it! The ability to wild camp amongst and wander below these magnificent monuments to Mother Nature make this valley an absolute must see!!

At the western end of the “Valley of the Gods” drive, “Moki Dugway” is a stunning switchback road that elevates you from the valley floor containing the aforementioned monoliths up into cooler air and yet another sensory overload. You gaze out over an ancient sea floor with the knowledge that millennia of exposure to the forces of nature has created such a marvel and it’s still quite hard if not impossible to comprehend it.

Moki Dugway

Moki Dugway

IMG_9599

Back on the canyon floor and “Gooseneck State Park “awaits which contains a riverbend formation that follows the San Juan River for 6 miles or so whilst only moving 1 mile as the crow flies. Such is the meandering power of this river as it sculpts its path onward and downward throughout time and sandstone.

Gooseneck State Park

Gooseneck State Park

Aptly named Mexican Hat

Aptly named Mexican Hat

We moved into Arizona with “Monument Valley” absolutely dominating the view!

Approaching Monument Valley

Approaching Monument Valley

Thousands have visited this famous location and judging by the never-ending stream of tour buses, RV’s and selfie sticks, it would seem the allure of red sandstone spires is as strong as ever!

The queue for Monument Valley

The queue for Monument Valley

IMG_9633

I must admit that we found “Valley of the Gods” to be more to our liking. With its own notoriety and stream of keen visitors, it still affords you a personal visit whilst receiving the protection and management from the authorities that it deserves.

Monument Valley, however, is a little more touristic as it is located in Navajo Nation land and every effort is being made by them to capitalize on the natural wonder in their midst – an up close visit was not for us, especially as it’s majesty is visible from miles around.

Such observations are not meant to detract from the experience; I’m just really cynical!

There will always be a good argument and imperative requirement for intensive management at such heavily visited sites. It’s just the murmurings of my mind as I observe locations the world over that easily lend themselves to being locked off from public access to become an attractive and juicy business model!

The town of Page appeared and a Laundromat was first on the list followed very closely by the thirsty desire to restock the alcohol supplies. The Navajo Nation is a dry community and rather hot!!!

The smell of soap powder, wet underwear and grey balls of lint is an atmosphere that only a communal clothes-washing establishment can provide and is always a pleasure! Adding to the experience, I was asked to provide a little liquidity to a local whilst waiting for the dryer cycle, he was out of cash and also quite thirsty but alas I’d used all of my quarters on the wash cycle!

Page is an unusual but pleasant town. It was built in the 60’s for the purpose of supporting the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River which is a carbon copy in many ways of the Hoover Dam. Located in such an arid and inhospitable location, the dramatic changes to the landscape due to the damming of the river are quite astounding. Viewpoints provide striking colour combinations of pinks, reds and creams in every direction with the desolate rocky landscape protruding from the absolutely azure blue of the dammed water upstream of the concrete blockage. This area is now a boating playground known as Lake Powell. A truly man made oasis in the desert easily describes Page!

Lake Powell

Lake Powell

Glen Canyon Dam

Glen Canyon Dam

Colorado River as it winds its way toward the Grand Canyon

Colorado River as it winds its way toward the Grand Canyon

Our First Slot Canyon

Our First Slot Canyon

Very photogenic!

Very photogenic!

That crumpled bit of stuff at the bottom is actually a car!!!

That crumpled bit of stuff at the bottom is actually a car!!!

Who doesn’t love dinosaur footprints! The opportunity to tangibly see and in some cases touch imprints left by creatures of such ancient history has to be a draw for anyone fascinated with such creatures! Well, west of Tuba City on the run south from Page, there is an area a few acres or so in size that is littered with not only the clawed prints of huge creatures but also the remains of – would you believe – Dinosaur eggs! You can’t help but imagine how the Earth must have appeared all of those centuries ago!

Dinosaur Footprints

Dinosaur Footprints

Dinosaur Eggs!!

Dinosaur Eggs!!

Following the Colorado River, we turned west into the Kaibab National Forest and camped just shy of the Grand Canyon South Rim National Park entrance in another free dispersed/wild camping area! Have to give credit to these national agencies (Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and National Forest Service) for allowing such free and easy access to camping in the wilderness where solitude enhances the interaction with nature.

Kaibab National Forest Camp

Kaibab National Forest Camp

Moving slowly along the South Rim, we caught our first views of the magnificent Grand Canyon! No need for words other than to say that it is bloody huge!

First View

First View

West of the South Rim Visitor Centre there is a section of National Park, rarely visited by tourists, right on the Rim. We had booked one of only 3 campsites at Havasupai Point about a week earlier and needed to pick up our National Park “back country” camping permit before heading out there. A stop at the permit office resulted in a 45 minute information session to receive instructions on how to access the area via Native Indian land and a description of the rather harrowing, possibly impassable, terrain that lay ahead of us.

We were also advised not to use GPS mapping, as GPS units don’t work out there because of high levels of iron in the ground! Maybe the ranger uses a magnetic GPS – ours works off satellites but I thought I’d let that slide… Anyway we were finally permitted and underway with a list of instructions and a mud map drawn by the ranger, which turned out to be really handy as there were some confusing turns.

A mild section of track to Havasupai Point

A mild section of track to Havasupai Point

Our GPS mapping system concurred with the mud map and after a long afternoon of quite slow track work and the odd uncomfortable angle just to keep you on your game, we arrived at our campsite on the rim of the Grand Canyon! The track was a very skinny trail and I suspect quite nasty if it was wet! With a great deal of thickly trunked trees on either side sporting limbs stretching across the track above, it created a tunnel effect and likely restricted access to anything much larger than our vehicle in places (noted by the smashed wing mirrors on the ground here and there).

In an aside, we made the journey to Havasupai Point much longer than it needed to be, as Jen thought she had found a trail that would bypass the Indian lands and hence save us the US$25 to traverse the 5kms of Indian land before once again emerging back into the National Park. Needless to say that the trail shown on the maps no longer existed, petering out as we thought we were getting close, and proved to be a sheer waste of time as the car suffered way more overgrown track work than was necessary. When we finally did reach the Indian Lands Boundary, the gentleman that greeted us was so nice and amiable that paying the $25 seemed more than fair. Jen learnt her lesson!!!!

Driving right on the edge

Driving right on the edge

It still amazes me that we were able to camp in complete isolation without the interference of a light anywhere. We had the Grand Canyon completely and utterly to ourselves except for one lone KTM visitor.

Just enormous!!!

Just enormous!!!

Camped at Havasupai Point

Camped at Havasupai Point

A KTM Visitor - Ralph

A KTM Visitor – Ralph

Our lovely camp on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

Our lovely camp on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon from our Camp

Grand Canyon from our Camp

Flagstaff sits below snow-capped peaks and just north of Mormon Lake – the chosen location for Overland Expo. We’d been keen to attend this event for some time and had arrived on schedule with a day to kill before registration – primed and ready to enjoy the company of other liked minded travellers.

In need of a restock and a pressing desire to upload a post, as we’d been off the grid for some time, we sat in a shopping centre car park with good coverage and began the task of refreshing our blog! Glancing in my side mirror, I observed a ridiculously large Winnebago making a B-line for us! Must want a chat I thought? The clown driving swings along side with inches to spare between his mirror and my vehicle and immediately put me on the defensive. Ready to get out and attack the occupants, I looked over at the Muppet driving and was met with the laughing Dutch mugs of Erik and Mieke!

This guys going to hit us!!! Good one Erik and Mieke

This guys going to hit us!!! Good one Erik and Mieke

Stunned, speechless, akin to being in shock, is the only description that I think covers this event!

We’d been in touch regularly via “whatsapp” and these sneaky Dutch folk had been sending erroneous messages with the intent of making us think they were still hard at work in Holland, not to mention sending those messages on Dutch time whilst they were cruising the states in Minnie Winnie!!!

Apparently they had arrived in Flagstaff and were just about to order lunch when the “whatsapp” beep on their phone alerted them to the fact that we were only 1km away. Menus dropped and they made straight to our location! WOW!!

Lunch in Flagstaff - still in shock!!

Lunch in Flagstaff – still in shock!!

To add another level of treachery to their planned surprise, we had spent a week together in the UK over Christmas and, you guessed it, they had already planned and booked their journey with tickets to Overland Expo! How they kept that a secret is beyond me…

We managed to find an isolated campsite in a forested area that night that accommodated the Minnie Winnie mere metres from the bitumen and settled in for too much alcohol and a lovely campfire.

Minnie Winnie and us in our forest camp

Minnie Winnie and us in our forest camp

The next morning we convoyed the last few kms together and booked into Overland Expo.

Allotted a location amongst a few other vehicles on their own world travel adventures, we set up our camper and 30 seconds later had a frosty beverage, found Erik and Mieke, and began a preliminary wander of the event!

All set up - a2a expedition with their Land Rover 130 and roof top tent

All set up – a2a expedition with their Land Rover 130 and roof top tent

There was an interesting mix of equipment on display with a reasonable spread of RV’s such as Sportsmobile, All Terrain Warrior (from Queensland, Australia) XP campers and the list goes on! Of course modified jeeps were in abundance – rock crawlers to tourers – they were all there.

All Terrain Warrior

All Terrain Warrior

XP Camper on a Toyota Tundra

XP Camper on a Toyota Tundra

Sportsmobile

Sportsmobile

IMG_9884

Humvee Conversion

Humvee Conversion

Classics!!

Classics!!

Another XP Camper model

Another XP Camper model

Rover Lander Discovery

Rover Lander Discovery by Phoenix Pop-up Campers

Phoenix Pop-up Campers

Phoenix Pop-up Campers

Classic 60 Series Land Cruiser

Classic 60 Series Land Cruiser

We were provided with a bit of a show during the afternoon when a Ford F350 with a massive slide on became bogged whilst attempting to find a camp spot. An attempt to retrieve the poor souls was made with a backhoe by the organisers but unfortunately, it seemed as if the operator of the earthmoving machine had, well, frankly NO BLOODY IDEA how to operate it! Hence with the recovery attempt abandoned, the machinery operator informed the stricken owners that he might be back on Monday if the ground dried out a bit and have another go! (It was Friday!).

We were all becoming more and more miffed as time passed and we consumed a little more relaxation juice! Right alongside the bogged Ford was the Land Rover Test and Recovery Course!! Land Rovers smothered in Camel Trophy livery with drivers sporting all sorts of Land Rover branded outfits and Disco’s partying their way around the pre-tested obstacle course!

Alas, it would seem that only staged recoveries were to be undertaken during this display of Land Rover prowess – wouldn’t want to attempt an actual recovery …???

Anyway as the afternoon ran on, the Aussie in me couldn’t stand it any longer. I was becoming more and more mystified as I watched double locked, twin winch toting , maxx trax carrying, 40 inch mud tyre wielding, off road, ready to go anywhere Jeeps and the like cruising past with no intention of helping one of their kin! I guess that’s how they keep their recovery gear so clean and shiny, they never get it out…

In Australia, if you get stuck in the process of an attempted recovery it just becomes a bit more of a laugh! Anyway, I’m digressing… in the end, it was 2 Aussies, 2 Dutch folk and a German in an F250 that resolved the situation, with a large crowd of onlookers, I might add! Anyway, no Jeeps were harmed or got dirty during the production of this story so that’s a positive… Must also be said that 2 locals in an enormous ex-military truck were preparing to assist as the events were drawing to a close. These guys were camped next to Erik and Mieke and were an absolute laugh!! We nicknamed them Wanker 1 and Wanker 2 which they thought hilarious, whilst they camped separately in truck and tent to dispel rumours that they might be intimately involved !!! Which they are not. Hilarious guys!!!

Wanker 1 and Wanker 2

Wanker 1 and Wanker 2

Their enormous army truck!!

Their enormous army truck!!

Unfortunately, the next few days were to deliver gale force winds in a non-stop fashion! Tents and marquees slowly disintegrated into tattered shreds of Chinese manufacturing! Nonetheless, all of the visitors deserve full credit, as they arrived in their droves and admirably wandered the displays in the face of the sand grit bath that blasted them all day! It was also great to see the determination of the exhibitors as smiles remained and laughs were had!

Happy Retailers

Happy Retailers

An interested visitor to our little display sported a Clearview mirrors baseball cap and Mike turned out to be the owner of Clearview Mirrors Australia! Seeking American business opportunities, he and his business colleague Jay had been wandering the show and had spotted our Patrol with their mirrors fitted! That definitely called for a chat!

Mike and Jay from Clearview Mirrors

Mike and Jay from Clearview Mirrors

They couldn’t believe there was an Aussie Patrol parked in the middle of a 4×4 show in Arizona sporting Clearview Mirrors! Meeting these guys was fantastic. We spent some time relaying how impressed we were with their product as they’ve saved us numerous times by providing such an excellent field of vision (not to mention a great step up from the factory fitted Patrol Ute mirror) whilst being almost indestructible! I know that for a fact having had a Mongolian Bongo van bounce off one amongst other tests of their construction. Check them out at clearviewaccessories.com.au

The style of travel we have chosen is an amazingly rewarding experience if you’re into it! But it can be a little isolationist as well. Apart from a little contact here and there via the Internet, we really are very much on our own and generally for a very long time, often with a rather large language barrier.

Events such as this help you realise that you are not alone in your travel desires. Approaching the event, you see the odd other intrepid traveller, descending on the same location with a big grin ear to ear and an equal desire for a bit of traveller to traveller time!

The Earth Roamer in the middle belongs to Rob and Nina from whiteacorn.com

The Earth Roamer in the middle belongs to Rob and Nina from whiteacorn.com

Jan and Leone have been travelling the world in their Forward Control Land Rover Camper on and off for 18yrs!!!

Jan and Leone have been travelling the world in their Forward Control Land Rover Camper on and off for 18yrs visiting 69 countries and counting!!!

Mitsubishi Fuso Overland Truck

Mitsubishi Fuso Overland Truck

IMG_9881

The first thing that comes to mind when I meet others on their own world journeys, is the strong sense of character they all seem in possession of!

Amazing sessions of story swapping were a highlight of this event! Collective understanding nods when tales of travel woes, experiences and highlights float amongst the group. It does happen to all of us after all!!

The opportunity to also meet an eclectic range of prospective travellers was not to be forgotten with many people stopping for a chat and a look over the map. A high percentage were in the process of planning their own departure from normality and were attending the event in research mode!

Discussions with travellers old and new

Discussions with travellers old and new

A final night was enjoyed with Erik and Mieke! I’ll say no more about their amazing visit, they know! San Francisco was their destination before they returned to the Netherlands.

Farewell to great friends

Farewell to great friends

Group Hug

Group Hug

The whole experience provided us with a fresh intensity around our travels and we really hope to meet some of our newfound family elsewhere on Earth… Our neighbours at the event were a family of 4 South Africans who have been travelling Southern Africa, South America and the USA for 4yrs. Australians and South Africans are such kindred spirits and I know we will see these guys again!!! Check them out at a2aexpedition.com

Graeme, Luisa, son Keelan and daughter Jessica from a2aexpedition.com

Graeme, Luisa, son Keelan and daughter Jessica from a2aexpedition.com

Last night drinks with travellers

Last night drinks with travellers

Flagstaff and a few days out of the camper in the next instalment!

Justin.

The Truth is Out There Scully!!!

Firstly, I always re-read my previous post before beginning the next in an effort to ensure some form of flow and continuity! Having done this, I felt it came across with an air of negativity toward our time in the US to date – polar opposite from the reality of it… In an attempt to dissect why that may have been, I can only surmise that with such strong similarities between our two nations (Australia & USA), I’ve found the most fodder in those experiences that differ, hence providing an edge to pick at and muse about, not forgetting my love of sarcasm!

So for my American friends out there, of which the number is growing exponentially, I hope you can laugh along with the observations from a convict descendant that calls an island a long way away his home as we indulge ourselves in the fabulous land you call home.

Nick the "Coon Ass" Louisianan

Nick the “Coon Ass” Louisianan

Now for the close encounters!

On the aforementioned island home of ours, we’re no strangers to out of this world contact. Unfortunately, these remarkable happenings generally seem to occur to people whom don’t like to visit a dentist and for some reason are always on a lonely stretch of highway where along with their toothless kin and unfortunate lack of skill with a camera they become first point of contact for these interstellar visitors. Travelling distances that we are unable to comprehend, I imagine there must be a rather large collective sigh and shake of the head and/or appendages within the cockpit as a gloomy acceptance dawns –“what a waste of time and wear and tear on the warp drive that journey was!”

So now in East Texas, we found ourselves camped on a fishing lake with a boat ramp and enjoyed watching the local comings and goings.

Lake Limestone Camp

Lake Limestone Camp

They launched their craft and opened the throttles as wide as they would go, heading off to their secret fishing spots. The noise of the outboards and Airboats on their rev limiters, the local landholder about a hundred metres in the other direction with stereo blaring and unloading every firearm he had in rapid succession, really made for a lovely relaxing atmosphere!  It was pretty relaxing actually!!

Full Throttle!!!

Full Throttle!!!

Could be forgiven for thinking we were in the South Pacific except for the gunfire!!

Could be forgiven for thinking we were in the South Pacific!!

With a few lines baited and taught in the lake, a couple fishing just near us made comment that it’s illegal to shoot out onto the lake as they had also noticed the D-day re-enactment close by! That comment provided the catalyst for them to engage us in conversation! The first question was:

Where are you from?

“Australia”

Question number 2 – “Y’all Christians?”

I did think about responding that well… “We’re people of Science, really” (as taken from the movie “Paul”) but hey, we were in East Texas with D-day playing out in the background so…

“Yes! Absolutely” was the appropriate answer!

Anyway we chatted for quite a while and at the conclusion of the discussion, I made for the Mac and quickly typed the general content of the conversation so as not to forget anything! It’s a bit wordy and excuse the lack of flow, but here it is roughly verbatim! Whilst I found it fascinating you may not! So if you’d rather move on, then scroll down to the dot point to skip!

Lake Limestone Experience!

Met a couple fishing, he is 63 (2016)

When he was 15, he got up early to go hunting between the house and the barn. (Liked it more than his brothers and they wouldn’t get up early) He heard the chickens going nuts and looked around – a bright light appeared like a beam of white along the ground but you could look right at this really bright light and it didn’t hurt your eyes. It was 3 UFO’s; as they flew above him absolutely silently he could see the upside down triangular shaped windows and lights that appeared from a control panel inside. Couldn’t make out the occupants however and after a brief period of time, the light disappeared and they flew away absolutely silently.

*****

Down along the river one night they were fishing. Upstream a little, there was some chanting coming from a group of people around a massive fire – Satan worshippers most likely – (apparently there are huge trees in the area and they were burning one or more) and they were speaking some sort of foreign or other language.  After a while the massive fire was extinguished absolutely instantaneously – I mean instantaneously! Then suddenly a huge UFO around 100 yards long rose from the site and hovered in a spot in the sky absolutely silently for some time before he noticed another UFO coming from the opposite direction and they both met and joined in mid air before instantaneously, silently departing together.

*****

The Giants mentioned in the Bible have been breeding! Each time they breed, their offspring are smaller and smaller until they are able to mimic humans, then they breed with us and slowly they have been able to dilute our pure blood – this is Satan’s army of sorts, for God needs pure human blood to defeat Satan. Any contaminant in our bloodline renders us unable to fight Satan’s army.

Aliens are fallen angels! They are also the offspring of the Giants and that’s why the ones found at Roswell are so small – it’s taken generations of giants breeding to create such small alien looking offspring. The only reason they are able to die is because they are part human due to their interbreeding with humans and dilution of their blood with human blood. Otherwise we would not be able to destroy them. He has seen thousands of UFO’s flying in Vic formation across the skies!

*****

Satan’s goal is to suck the power out of the United States.

Barack Obama is a Muslim and sits on some sort of iron throne along with some sort of chalice – (he was losing me by now…)

*****

God flooded the earth to kill the fallen angel half-breeds (Noah’s ark)

Apparently the word Giant hasn’t been translated correctly from (we think she said Hebrew Bible) but it actually means fallen ones – ie – Angels.

Webbed feet and suction cups on the hybrid Angels by the way (i.e. aliens in the spacecraft).

The UFO’s are demonic activity (hence piloted by fallen angels).

His wife wasn’t afraid of Satan’s army because her belief in God protects her from Demonic activity and that the Masons believe that Lucifer is the true Son of God!

*****

The aliens have been abducting thousands of Americans and impregnating them with their demon babies before re-abducting them to remove the foetus so that they are able to dilute the pure human blood line and reduce the amount of warriors against the small giant fallen angel demon army.

*****

US Air Force Colonel Willingham, on an escort mission in 1955 in Langtree (“the second Roswell”), was alerted to an incoming aircraft travelling at 2000 miles an hour and was tasked with observing it – he saw it crash and was told to break away from the bomber escort and investigate. He saw a half buried disk that had crashed and went on to report that. His life was threatened in order to maintain the secrecy. However he and another pilot took a private aircraft and landed at the site but there were Mexican military all around the crashed craft with guns. He managed to talk his way out of being shot and even managed to souvenir a small piece of the alien craft along with a quick glimpse of the small large-headed, thin-armed dead creatures in the craft! He later tried to destroy this small piece he ‘d souvenired by burning and angle grinding with no success (I’m not sure how he managed to obtain the piece! If it was that strong how did it separate from the main craft???) Anyway later on in 1969, he was in Japan with the Air Force and decided to make everything public and subsequently had his military records expunged as if he’d never existed along with him losing his entitlements and pension. (It’s worth a Google!…)

*****

Those con trails you see appearing behind jet aircraft – well, they are actually trails of chemicals being sprayed all over the population in order to control and manage them. Along with fluoride, it is another contaminant designed by the government to poison us! Even with a filter you soak it up when showering!

*****

Well that’s a quick assessment of our chat! They were really nice folk and invited us back to their ranch to stay with them, a lovely offer! Unfortunately we weren’t going in that direction – I don’t know which direction their ranch was, but it wasn’t where we were going!!

  • Phew!! That was intense!!!!…You can Rejoin Now!!!

Departing Lake Limestone it was easy to forget where we were, with flattening dry terrain and long stretches of empty tarmac you could easily have been forgiven for confusing our location with outback Western Australia or Central Queensland!

Looks an awful lot like the Nullabor!

Looks an awful lot like the Nullabor!

The great little town of Albany, Texas

The great little town of Albany, Texas

The Proud Texas Bullhorns...

The Proud Texas Bullhorns…

and Star...

and Star…

IMG_8486 IMG_8488

Black Gold, Texas Tea!! Oil

Black Gold, Texas Tea!! Oil

The scenery is getting better...

The scenery is getting better…

I’d been noticing for a while now that our solar charge was down quite substantially and with full sunshine there was obviously an issue somewhere! That’s the problem when you build things yourself – you can’t blame anyone!!

After spending some time diagnosing the problem, we found the fault. With diagnosis complete, it took about 2 minutes to sort it out and electricity from the sun flowed freely again! A mandatory requirement if you like cold beer and prefer to camp quietly…

Diagnostics

Diagnostics

Palo Duro Canyon State Park for a night was our next stop before heading into Amarillo.

Woodpecker in Palo Duro

Woodpecker in Palo Duro

Wild Turkey (not the drink!)

Wild Turkey (not the drink!)

Palo Duro

Palo Duro

Amarillo is famous for wind and we weren’t let down. I was expecting to see children flying vertically towards the ionosphere given the strength of the gusts, but after enquiring with a local, he replied that it wasn’t really windy, just normal and pointed out that if it’s not windy in Amarillo, you should be worried!!

Drive thru ATM!!!

Drive thru ATM!!!

Must have run out of targets!!

Must have run out of targets!!

An unusual city – it has the feeling of having been plonked in the middle of a very big and extremely flat paddock – guess that’s part of the reason for the windy lifestyle.

Checking out “Trip Advisor” and looking at the top 10 things to do as we enter a new area, generally reveals “visit the Museum” as number 1 followed by “the Aquarium” then the “Old Town Centre” and generally goes down hill from there! Well we chose to visit the “Jack Sisemore’s RV Museum” in Amarillo and whilst it might not be to everyone’s taste, it proved to be quite an outstanding collection!

IMG_8584

Check out the comfort!!

Check out the comfort!!

IMG_8590 IMG_8598Leaving Amarillo we went west on Old Route 66 and completed the mandatory graffiti session visit at “Cadillac Ranch!“

Check out the layers of paint!!!

Check out the layers of paint!!!

IMG_8662 IMG_8663 IMG_8672 IMG_8676

IMG_8678

Wow!

Wow!

The skies looked extremely ominous and a check of the forecast revealed active tornado warnings further east and that was the only catalyst required to get us moving west!

Oasis State Park New Mexico

Oasis State Park New Mexico

A visit to Fort Sumner and the Grave of Billy the Kid! An odd thing to do possibly, as I was under the impression he was a rather ruthless murderer, but sometimes you have to be tourists!

"Billy the Kid" Grave

“Billy the Kid” Grave

We detoured a considerable distance south to visit Roswell and while you’re probably over alien stories by now, I’ll throw in some pics and stop typing for a minute.

IMG_8722 IMG_8724

Look! They caught one in a Dyson Vacuum Cleaner!!!!

Look! They caught one in a Dyson Vacuum Cleaner!!!!

Paul????

Paul????

Roswell is certainly a city living vicariously through its past but it was a hoot!! Reminds me of Silverton in NSW where Mad Max was filmed – draining it for every last dollar!!

IMG_8739 IMG_8754 IMG_8756 IMG_8757

We had a couple of really interesting campsites around the area however and one night in particular ,we were enthralled by the howling of Coyote’s, quite spooky in the darkness!

Bottomless Lake State Park

Bottomless Lake State Park

A genuine Roadrunner!!! Beep Beep!!

A genuine Roadrunner!!! Beep Beep!!

We continued on to the touted “most original wild west town in the US”of Lincoln, New Mexico and we were still on the trail of “The Kid!” Lincoln is the town where the young outlaw began to achieve his notoriety.

As you wander the town, information boards provide great insight into the goings on during those days. It would seem that “Billy the Kid” was rather harshly dealt with by an extremely corrupt system back in those days and may well have been justified in some of his actions – in my quick assessment anyway! Certainly a much deeper background to his story than I was previously aware.

"Billy the Kid" Story

“Billy the Kid” Story

Lincoln Courthouse and Jail from which "Billy The Kid" escaped

Lincoln Courthouse and Jail from which “Billy The Kid” escaped

IMG_8762

Bullet hole from Shootout!!

Bullet hole from Shootout!!

The only known photo of "Billy the Kid"

The only known photo of “Billy the Kid”

Leaving Lincoln, we made west then north through New Mexico and while sticking to dusty trails, you could almost feel the gunslingers presence as the odd ruin appeared on the landscape. Colourful streetscapes, ancient ruins and even a lava field were to feature in our travels.

Old Schoolhouse

Old Schoolhouse

IMG_8797

Volcanic evidence outside Carozizzo

Lava Field outside Carozizzo

Gran Quivera Ruins

Gran Quivera Ruins

Here we came head to head with an old 45 Series Land Cruiser from Queensland, imported to the US by it’s current owner, Carter, whom was just as surprised to see our Aussie registered Patrol as we were to see the US tag on his old girl!

Carter and his expat Cruiser

Carter and his expat Cruiser

IMG_8815

We found some great campsites as we ventured northward, but it was quite early in the day and with a harsh wind laden with dust, we decided to move on!

What may be obvious to those of you whom live in the shadow of snow and the weather that creates it, was not overly obvious to us sun bathed Sand Gropers!! Gaining in altitude and noticing quite unusual cloud formations cutting our path, we carried on none the wiser and even decided to head up into a mountain range to camp! In fairness we were looking for a little cooler mountain weather as who doesn’t prefer the “snuggled up under the doona” feeling to the musky odour of sweaty pheromones all night!

Weird looking weather?

Weird looking weather?

Anyway no sooner had we arrived at a suitable campsite and the small hail began! Very blue sky and shorts an hour earlier, we were now looking for thermals whilst the dusty wind of the lower lands a few hours earlier, now seemed a little more alluring.

Not much chance of a fire today!!!

Not much chance of a fire today!!!

By far, however, the most interesting part of the evening was at the point we were about to retire. With the heater running, we’d been engrossed in our little habitat and remained completely ignorant to the state of affairs outside our little house and upon opening the curtains and flicking on the outside lights, were staggered to see what was nearing a blizzard of snow swirling around in the light! With a couple of inches of snow now on the bonnet and the land taking on the appearance of an Alpine Mountain in mid winter, closing the curtains and worrying about it in the morning seemed the best option!

Ahhh - the Sun!!!

Ahhh – the Sun!!!

IMG_8833We stopped by Albuquerque for a wander of the old town! Turning right at an intersection here and having right of way (I checked the rules again afterward to make sure I was in the right) a rough looking pedestrian walked straight out in front of us and proceeded to pull a hammer from his slightly stained gym shorts and began brandishing it toward us! I guess he felt empowered to cross at will regardless of the lights and I was more than happy to let him have his way! Maybe he thought better of it when he saw the crash camera recording his actions!!! It’s quite amusing to watch back!

The old part of Albuquerque was rather attractive with strong Mexican influence in the architecture and in many of the food options on offer. Flat roofed earthy buildings with exposed beams protruding from the render. I suppose why it’s called “New Mexico”

Albuquerque Old Town

Albuquerque Old Town

IMG_8847 IMG_8849

New Mexican Architecture in trademark dusty pink render

New Mexican Architecture in trademark dusty pink render

A visit to the acclaimed petroglyph site near town proved utterly disappointing but was soon made up for after we departed Albuquerque.

After quite a few U-turns and some creative map reading, we managed to locate an old section of Route 66 – a lesser known set of switchbacks dating to 1928 that ascended the ….. plateau. It was an extremely eroded track that had the Patrol doing what it does best! A real bonus to visiting this area was the discovery of vast numbers of awesome Petroglyphs just off the side of the trail!

Abandoned Route 66

Abandoned Route 66. The pics won’t do the terrain justice here!

IMG_8941 IMG_8916

Santa Fe saw us negotiating more airborne snow and further north, the beginning of the Colorado Plateau! Departing the red and brown hues of the landscape, the ascent north into Colorado quickly captivated the eye with a hint of snow once again sitting upon the mountains and the beautiful green that only dense forest can provide.

The beginnings of the Colorado Plateau

The beginnings of the Colorado Plateau

Echo Amphitheatre

Echo Amphitheatre

Lovely Durango, Colorado

Lovely Durango, Colorado

Mesa Verde National Park in Southern Colorado was truly outstanding! Ancestral Puebloan Indian houses and cliff dwellings litter the landscape all through the Four Corners region of Colorado, Utah, Arizona and undoubtedly elsewhere! Generally thought to be around 800 years old, these sites were not discovered until the mid to late 1800’s and were built under naturally eroded cliff overhangs. Due to their sheltered locations and frequent orientation away from the prevailing weather, many of the structures have been protected from the harmful erosive effects of the elements and are in absolutely remarkable condition.

Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park left by Ancestral Puebloan Indians

Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park left by Ancestral Puebloan Indians

IMG_9105

Climb to Balcony House

Climb to Balcony House

Inside Balcony House

Inside Balcony House

The climb out!

The climb out!

BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and National Forest lands encompass an exhilarating range of terrains and in most cases allow what is called dispersed camping (camping in nature, on your own, with no facilities!). Finally we can once again free and wild camp in the manner that we love most, connect with the environment, spot the wildlife and soak it up! It is also a pleasant break from having to listen to other people’s generators (which I have a passionate disdain for), music and morning rituals in an RV park!

Fantastic BLM Camps

Fantastic BLM Camps

IMG_9251

View of Monument Valley from our campsite

View of Monument Valley from our campsite

Praise where it’s due, almost every campsite we’ve used in areas belonging to the BLM or National Forest (the Australian equivalent would be State Forest or Crown Land) has been absolutely pristine, which gives way to an understanding that the American traveller is very respectful of his environment, which is really wonderful and heartwarming to see.

With such a strong ethos of pack it in and pack it out and leave nothing but footprints, I found it a little odd, however, that when you purchase groceries at an outlet such as Wal-Mart, the checkout operator will pack your bags for you and, should you not intervene, you’re likely to depart with close to a plastic bag per item! I’ve no doubt that, eventually, the US will fall in line with the no bag policies of Europe, as we’re doing in Australia!

Overland Expo was sneaking up on us and required our attendance in Arizona in the coming weeks. With no desire to rush our travels, we began to curve southwest so as not to be left with a last minute dash to meet the deadline, but not before we got our first taste of Utah!!! WOW!!!

Four Corners Monument

Four Corners Monument

Hovenweep National Monument

Hovenweep National Monument

More Ancestral Puebloan Structures in Hovenweep

More Ancestral Puebloan Structures in Hovenweep

Owl Spotting can be dangerous!!!

Owl Spotting can be dangerous!!!

Next – Landscapes that defy description as we make for Overland Expo and an unexpected rendezvous!

IMG_9317

For now Justin…