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Last leg of 2018 journey – On the way to Arizona for the winter!

Bakersfield, Las Vegas, Zion National Park, Grand Canyon North Rim and the Verde Valley

So here we are in September and we are now on our last leg of our 2018 journey around the country.

Heading east from the Carmel area of California, we stopped in Bakersfield for a couple days.  This area is a major hub for agriculture and oil production.  Kern County is the most productive oil-producing county and the fourth most productive agricultural county in the United States.

And it’s HOT!!!  So i looked up the average temps here…

Summers are very hot and there are extended stretches of hot weather with 108 days per year above 90 °!  In addition, 33 days are above 100 ° and a handful of days each summer can be expected to top 110 °.

 

Hitting the highway again, we pass through Barstow and then the Mojave Desert on the way to Las Vegas.  We passed the town of Zzyzx, (formerly Soda Springs).  LOL, we didn’t stop.

Right at the Nevada border, in Ivanpah Dry Lake, California, we came down out of some mountains into a huge valley and saw this!

This is the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (SEGS) – a solar tower technology to produce clean, reliable solar electricity to more than 140,000 homes. When it’s completed it will be the largest solar thermal power tower system in the world. This solar farm is built on 3,500 acres of public desert land.  When you see it, the size and magnitude of it is breathtaking!  There are three towers and thousands of arrays of solar panels – it’s just an amazing sight.

Not too far away we cruised into famous Las Vegas!  We spent a week at a nice RV park and enjoyed the sights of Vegas.  We went to see the Blue Man show and ate a Thai restaurant called the Lotus of Siam.  This restaurant was recommended by Andrew Zimmern from the Travel Channel .  Guess what?  He didn’t steer us wrong or anybody else that eats there.  The food was just amazing.  Usually it takes weeks to get a reservation, but we got lucky, we just had to take an 8:30 reservation, and it was worth it.  Carol had the Crispy Duck curry and I had garlic prawns – the deep fried shells of the prawns were like eating potato chips!

So after enjoying a week in Vegas, (and replacing our satellite dish on the RV-HOT HOT HOT), we set out for the southeast corner of Utah and Zion National Park.    Last summer, we spent a month or so in Utah with the intention of visiting all 5 national parks.   We made it to Arches, Capital Reef, Canyonlands, and Bryce Canyon.   We were making our way south and west and the temperatures got higher and higher the further we went.

When it came time to go to National park #5, Zion National Park, the temperatures were expected to hit between 105°-111°.

Needless to say we did a detour north to Provo where the temps were only in the 90’s!

So here we are, a year later.  Enjoy the pictures!  We stayed at a beautiful little park out near Virgin, Utah.  This is a magnificent place…

 

After leaving Zion National Park, we headed into the state we’re staying for the winter, Arizona.   Years ago, on a vacation trip, we had traveled to Arizona, and saw the Grand Canyon where most people see it, at the South Rim.   Some of our RVing friends told us we had to see it from a different perspective, the North Rim.  Most people never travel here, because it’s remote, and more difficult to get to.  Since we were traveling  into the state from the north, we decided to take in this wonder.

The north rim of the Canyon is sometimes referred to as the “other” Grand Canyon. It’s a different world up here on the north side. The scenery is different, the climate is different, the plants and animals are different and even the people are different. This is the part of the Grand Canyon that the wild west never left. It’s still very wild up here,  and the reason for that is probably because the place is so isolated. From the south rim, as the crow flies, the north rim is only about 12 miles away, but by automobile it’s a long drive of 215 miles, and 5 hours to the other side. This discourages a lot of visitation and keeps the north rim secluded and peaceful. The normal hustle and bustle that the peak tourist season sees on the south side never really happens on the north side. To visit the north rim is to understand the meaning of the term ‘laid back’. Who knows, maybe it was invented here?  A good way to think of the seclusion here, think of this one fact – the north rim was not visited by Europeans until 236 years after the South Rim.

The plant life on the north rim is adapted to a much wetter climate. It rains much more frequently on the north rim than the south and the winters on the north rim are way more intense with snowfalls of up to 25 feet not being uncommon. Because of this damp climate the large conifers such as the Douglas Fir and Ponderosa Pine are the dominant trees. Deciduous trees, such as Birch and Aspen are also found in scattered groves. There are also many large fields of grass located on the north rim which makes it an ideal location for grazing.   I’ve never seen so many deer in my life, with maybe the Black Hills of South Dakota competing with the North rim.

 

After a great week at the North rim, we continued south and had our last stop in Camp Verde before arriving at our winter destination in Gold Canyon.  Camp Verde is in the centrally located Verde Valley.  This is the area where Jerome, Sedona, Cottonwood and Cornville are located.  Cornville is where John McCain called home.   While there we visited the ‎⁨Montezuma Castle National Monument⁩.  Montezuma Castle National Monument protects a set of well-preserved dwellings which were built and used by the Sinagua people, a pre-Columbian culture closely related to the Hohokam and other indigenous peoples of the southwestern United States, between approximately 1100 and 1425 AD.

A few miles down the road is Montezuma’s Well,  a natural limestone sinkhole near the town of Rimrock, through which some 1,500,000 gallons of water emerge each day from an underground spring.

Whiles we were in Camp Verde, we had a storm blow through right before dusk one night.  We had quite the sunset!

 

After a nice relaxing time in Camp Verde, we made our last leg of our journey to our home for the next 6 months in Gold Canyon, Arizona.  Gold Canyon sits at the base of the Superstition Mountains, about 30 miles east of Phoenix.  Great location as it is very rural, but only about 30-35 minutes to Scottsdale and the metro Phoenix area.

We had quite a year in 2018 traveling across this great country of ours.  We had a great time spending the summer months in Washington, Oregon and California.  We had friends from home visit with us in our travels, and met a lot of new friends, and we lost our best traveling buddy, our doberman Stella.  We had mechanical breakdowns in our RV, that stopped us cold for the first time.   But the good outweighed the bad, and we continue on with our nomadic life style as we head towards our 4th year living in our RV.

Stay tuned for what’s ahead of us in 2019!

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