Grand Canyon National Park
Updated: May 20, 2020
(Sorry if you got an email this morning about a new post. I was loading pictures and hit the wrong button. oops!)
Wow, it has been 75 days since we left home! It doesn't seem like 75 days would feel that long since when I was at home and working days, months, and years passed just like that. But once you take that daily routine out of your life, 75 days seems like a really long time (in a good way of course😉). Disclaimer: Apparently, this is only my opinion. Jen doesn't agree.😂
On our travel day from Mancos, CO, we stopped in Cortez, CO to pick up our mail from the post office. As I have mentioned in a past post, we use a mail forwarding service that will bundle our mail and deliver it to a post office along our route. Also, I stopped in for a haircut at the Cortez Barbershop. Best haircut I've had so far on the trip, and he trimmed up my "attempt at growing a beard" beard. So far, Jen is not very fond of it, but Lila wants to see if it will get softer as it gets longer. So "No Shave November" here I come.
Afterward, we stopped at the Four Corners monument where Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico meet and got a few pictures in ($5/person to get in).
Before getting to the Grand Canyon, we stopped at the Navajo National Monument near Kayenta, AZ to stay for a couple nights and explore, plus camping was FREE! No hookups though. The other reason we stopped here is so we could get these pictures in. (Mitch, this was just for you!)
You may know this view from the movie, Forest Gump.
When we got home, Lila went to play outside, I started to write more of this blog, and Jen says, “Hey, there is some water on the floor” 😖 As I looked over, I saw that the wood (fake wood) trim below the fridge was bulging out like it was waterlogged. It was indeed waterlogged, and we think it was from our outdoor kitchen unit. We have a kitchen at the back right side of our trailer that we don’t really use for cooking. It is where the espresso machine and blender are stored and used. It has a small faucet with a sink, and I found some water behind that, and 3 of the 4 connections were loose. We had noticed that the water pump would cycle once every 8 or so hours for a brief moment, but we thought we narrowed it down to the toilet valve. I guess we were wrong. Anyways, we tightened everything up and haven’t seen any more water leak issues three days later. 🙏 Crisis averted!
The following day Jen signed us up for an 8 am, guided, 3-mile hike down to the cliff dwellings at the monument we were staying at. It started out a little chilly at 30°F, and the whole hike down to the bottom of the canyon was in the shade.
Fortunately, we were all bundled up pretty well. We were 3 of the 4 people on the hike along with a Ranger. Our Ranger was well informed of all the history regarding the canyon and the cliff dwellings. The Ancient Puebloans that lived here came from the Chaco area as well as Mesa Verde.
Archeologists believe that some of the Ancestral Puebloans here came from the Chaco and Mesa Verde area because of the presence of T-Shaped windows and the improvement in the craftsmanship of the dwellings. This was the closest we have gotten to a cliff dwelling so far on our trip.
Once he showed us the petroglyphs, the tour was over and he said we could take our time climbing back up.
Thank goodness because the hike included over 800 steps up to get back to the top of the canyon. Whew!
Afterward, Jr. Ranger badges were earned, trailer packed up, cats in their spots, and we got on the road to the Grand Canyon. One hour in, and you guessed it, Bob pooped and peed in the carrier. We are starting to think he enjoys the baths 😂. Glad, I don’t have to take care of the cats!
We made it to the Grand Canyon and while we were filling the freshwater and dumping the tanks, we had some visitors. Actually, there was a whole herd there trying to get fresh water from the fill station, and they had the area surrounded.
After going back and forth with the trailer many times, we finally got it into our spot for the next 6 nights. I don’t think the campground was made for RV’s at all. I think max length is 28'. We are 24' but with the hitch and spare tire we are at 28'.
Here was our weather forecast for the next 5 days in the Grand Canyon. We will be testing the “Cold Weather” package for sure. The Cold Weather package supposedly includes an insulated underbelly where all the water lines and tanks are. Running through the underbelly is the furnace ducting, which is supposed to keep that area warm and thawed.
The Grand Canyon has a lot of bike trails, so that gave the truck a break for a while. We rode to the visitor center for our ranger books, watched the movie, then rode to the village to check out the old hotels and had lunch at the El Tovar Hotel. We enjoyed the Solo Stove that night and wondered if the cloud cover meant we might be getting snow. It definitely is cold enough.
The next day...
I almost had a "what is this going to cost me" moment when I noticed a couple of weeks ago that the batteries didn’t seem to be holding a charge for as long. I think I need to make myself a checklist of all the maintenance items I need to keep up on. I hadn’t checked the water level in the batteries at all. So after some research, I got some goggles on and dug in. The batteries were definitely low on water (plates exposed), but I am hoping I didn't do too much damage.
When we are boondocking, we are relying on the batteries to power the lights, circuit board on the fridge/freezer (propane is what cools it though), water pump, water heater circuit board (propane heats it), bathroom fan (cats litter box in there💩),
and furnace blower (with propane for heat). So when the furnace runs all night, the batteries get drawn down quite a bit, so we have to constantly be charging them back up. It was kind of hard because the Grand Canyon campground is pretty restrictive (rightfully so) with generator times only available from 7-9 am (seems a little early though) and 6-8 pm.
I will say that we will probably need to get new batteries at some point, but we will make these last as long as possible. Another reminder that it is way cheaper to do small, inexpensive maintenance tasks like this than it is to replace something altogether.
The next day we decided to go on a longer bike ride around the Canyon area.
Lila (us too) did an amazing job today on her bike ride, especially since the winds were 19mph average. We rode from the campground out to the South Kaibab trail then across to the other end up to Hermit's Rest and back. Total distance: 26.25 miles (marathon distance). I think the wind added a few miles on to that. Jen pointed out that it seemed the winds were against us all the way out to Hermit’s Rest (7 miles), then on the way back, they shifted and were still against us again. Ugh!
If the ride wasn't enough for you (Mitch), the following day we took the South Kaibab trail down into the Canyon. The temperature at the start of the hike was 23°, and the winds were a calm 11mph.😁 We started riding our bikes there but only made it to the visitor's center. We all had frozen hands even with gloves on. Lila even had water drip out of her Camelbak, and it froze on her pant leg. Yikes! We decided at that point we should get a ride on the shuttle bus the rest of the way. Thank goodness because the bus was well heated!
We decided to hike to Skeleton Point. According to my AllTrails app, it was 6.1 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 2,057ft.
For the record, I don't think we ever warmed up on the hike. I took my jacket off briefly, but it was back on soon enough. We are definitely going to test the trailer out tonight since the temperature never got above 32°F today, and it's going to hit 7°F tonight.
Fortunately, the temps only reached 19°F that night. The trailer held up well, and we didn’t have any issues except for the heater turning on about every 15 minutes. I think we will be filling both propane tanks when we get to our next stop. We pretty much just hung out at the trailer relaxing today, at least for me, my legs were a bit sore.
Even though it wasn’t the same as at home, we took Lila to a pretty cool Trunk or Treat at the town nearest the Grand Canyon called Tusayan. The Chamber of Commerce put it on, and they did a great job! Ever since Lila was born, we have had friends and family over to our house for Halloween. Our neighborhood has a huge following from local Vancouverites since our old neighbor Mike and his family used to put on a big show. It helped that he worked for a candy company at the time. He did that for many years, and lots of the people we see in our neighborhood on Halloween, say they remember his house so now they bring THEIR kids. We usually hand out around 500+ pieces of candy every year, and that is handing out only one piece per kid. (Update - One of our neighbors had a clicker counter this year and counted 637 kids in our neighborhood 😲).
Next stop, our first Thousand Trails campground near Sedona, AZ. Warm weather here we come.
Good luck, Bob!