Saturday, January 24, 2015



After walking the dog with Lou and complaining about my freezing night, I go back to my coach. Within a few minutes, there is a knock on the door and it is Davey with his ever present tool kit. He disconnected my CO2 alarm. I will buy a portable one next time I get to a big town. Until then, I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to a non-alarm evening – a warm, full night sleep.

Todays plan is to hike the Grapevine Hills Trail. It is listed as an Easy 2.2 mile trail. The description is: Follows a sandy wash through a boulder field. A short but steep climb near the end takes you to a large balanced rock. No shade.

In National Parks, dogs are not allowed on trails. They are only allowed in places that cars can drive which means Miko has to stay home.

We drive to the Panther Junction Visitor Center to get sort of an overview of the park and also to check out the gift shop. I really like park gift shops – I don't usually buy anything, but I like seeing all the site-specific things that they sell. T-shirts, post cards, books on birds or books on identifying animal scat. I just get a kick out of them.

To get to Grapevine Hills Trail, you have to drive down a gravel road for six miles. I think it would have been a lot more comfortable if we had been in a 4X4 type vehicle. I was really surprised that I had cell service out there. I mean, there was nothing out there but brush. I got a quick call to Tony which was so nice. I've been gone for two weeks now, which is the longest we have been apart ever. It was just so wonderful to hear his voice.

Grapevine Hills Trail was so much fun. You are walking along a sand trail between these huge piles of boulders and hills. The hills were created when molten lava expanded and just sort of pushed the ground up. Lots of cacti and strange forbidden looking plants along the way.
That is Lou – that tiny little piece of pink backpack up there in them darn hills:

Very Cool Rock:
Then we got to the “steep” part of the climb. They weren't kidding about that. It was scrambling over huge boulders. I was so impressed that the three of us made it to the top. It seemed like something that should be done when you are twenty years younger. I felt very righteous about being up on top. It was so worth it making it up there. The view back over the way we had come was like something out of a postcard. We got to the top and there was a huge balanced rock that we all stood under. We were on top of the world.
Notice my cool forest ranger hat:
And then we had to come down. Going down is much more scary than going up. I spent part of the time on my butt, trying to crab walk back down. Thinking to myself, where are the guard rails? If I go off the edge here, it is a long, long way down. Guard rails would really ruin the whole experience, but at certain times, I did miss them.
We made it all down safely and got back to the car. We had met a few people on the trail but most of the way we had it all to ourselves. It was a glorious day and a perfect hike.
Coming back home, we all scurried over to the little store where we could get internet access. It is shameful how much we rely on our electronics. That said, I certainly don't want to give up mine. I downloaded a star gazing app to help me identify the stars. The stars here are so brilliant.

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