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Jun
21
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We headed off before breakfast because we had decided to return to the coffee spot in Carson City but you guessed it, they are closed on Sunday.  Not to worry, we had a delicious breakfast at Mom & Pops Cafe just up the street then headed for Virginia City and what a treat that was. Of all the old gold mining towns we have visited it was the most complete even though only a shadow of it's former glory and all kinds of quirky, we could easily have spent all day there, if not longer. From there we continued on the old 395 Highwy to Reno and and it turned out to be an awesome winding climb up and down ride as it had been into and out from the lake. Having decided yesterday that Reno was easily missable we took the freeway straight through and proceeded to have a beautiful ride through vast open plains, pine dense hills and sandy rocky outcrops along with many dry lakes and and then ultimately productive farming and agricultural pursuits amongst volcanic remains. We are going to find increased traffic and people numbers hard to cope with when we get to the coast after all the peace we have enjoyed in the interior and the mountains. Ah well.

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Breakfast in Carson City in Mama & Pappa Cafe opposite the State Capitol Buildings and memorial Park we checked out yesterday.

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A shot of the State Capitol Building which sat in a lush garden of trees and lawn. It felt moist and cool under the leaf canopy and the birds sounded wonderful so they obviously appreciated it as well.

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And a shot through the door into the building. Yummy.

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And then there was Virginia City. Wow. This is on the approach.

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And I just kept snapping.

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Gold was the first draw and the miners were aggravated by the grey mud they had to deal with so discarded it into the main street ... until they realised it contained silver so then they dug up the main street. Gotta love it. Check out the timber veranda walkway, it literally followed the contour of the land... up and down. Bizarre.

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And another. Could have spent a long time in here!

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And the last one.

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Cold Springs Valley, think it should be Dry Springs Valley at the moment.

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Heading to Reno and I just love the big infrastructure of America and this was the highway we headed into Reno on yesterday. Loved these bridges. There was another one to the right of this shot but couldn't get it from this vantage point.

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Heading north.

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and still heading north.

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Lunch at Kopper Kettle Cafe in Susanville which was delicious. This is what we found when we retuurned to the bikes.

As we were leaving an elderly gent saw Norm's Folsom Prison Blues singlet top under his jacket and the conversation went as below:

EG: Folsom Prison!

N: Yep.

EG: I was a warder there.

N: Don't remember seeing you.

Me: He wasn't in there, just a Johnny Cash Fan.

EG: I was there when he performed, I didn't see him but I was there then.

N: Awesome.

EG: It was a terrible place to be, I didn't like it, it was all the worst of the worst ....

N: Maximum security?

EG: Yeah. We had to carry rifles all the time. I had to pull a gun on a guy once, and if I'd shot it would have been a terrible mistake. I didn't like it and I left soon after that.

Mmm, been humming or singing the song all day since Norm said  ... shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die ....

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Nap time after fueling up at Adin.

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The scariest toilet key we have ever seen at Juniper Junction (Adin) thankfully only needed it to unlock the restroom.

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19 miles to the National Heritge sight for the lava flow but evident even here and the plateau (crater) here is incredibly fertile with irrigated crops everywhere.

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And a last fuel stop at Merrill. Nearly into Klamath Falls now and I asked if there are 'Falls' at Klamath Falls only to be told not since the dam went in. Very familiar story. Probably just as well, too pooped to check them out tonight anyway.

Bits and Bobs:

Truckee Quote from one of the shops (sorry it was too blurry to post the photo): 'Opportunity is missed by many people because it is often dressed up in overalls and looks like work'.

Last two  Night's Accommodation:

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Marriott Vacation Club Timber Lodge, 4100 Lake Tahoe Boulevard, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Huge complex but comfortable room and good personalised service. Parking not on site for bikes so don't like that but knew before booking in, mind you it took Sharen and Ken longer than the 10 minutes they were told to retrieve their car yesterday and 45 minutes today. All sorts of choices re activities and ideally suited to the many families here. Awesomely comfortable temperatures so not surprising it is so busy. Have their own chair lift to the ski slopes / high country. Bed beautifully comfortable and good eating choices. A great resort to relax in.


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Jun
20
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We headed off on a round trip through Carson City, Reno and Truckee then back to Lake Tahoe and saw a variety of sights. Carson City was named after the Carson River which was named after Kit Carson who was a revered explorer and western identity who we have even heard of. Reno was a city full of casinos and also some sort of parade today so after a frustrating time trying to get into the main street for a look we abandoned that and headed for Truckee which was a treat. A former mining town (not sure about today) but was chock full of tourists enjoying all the quirkiness of the place then we headed back to the lake and glimpsing so many beautiful sights of people having fun in the lake and just the beauty of it on our way. The lake is 1,670feet deep so must be awfully cold.

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A very quirky hotel in Carson City, Firkin & Fox.

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Supreme Court of Nevada in Carson City

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A Law Enforcement Officer Memorial in the park in front of the court and state buildings. Liked it.

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Silhouettes of deer on the entry back to the highway from Carson City. Looked good.

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Stopped trying to figure out where to go in Reno and some of the parade revellers pass by. Check it out.

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The Reno Bus Centre, quirky sign.

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The Truckee Diner. Cute.

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Truckee Hotel.

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Ken and Norm in our lunch spot in Truckee The Wagon Train Cafe. All kinds of quirky and delicious lunch.

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And Nola and Sharen.

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Lake Tahoe Brewery in an old servo in Truckee.

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Heading back to Lake Tahoe and this is a beach spot along the edge of the lake.

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People enjoying the water anywhere they can get down to it which made for some interesting parking on the road above. Apparently 'No Parking' and  'Tow Away' must mean something different here!

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And into the distance across the lake and yes snow covered peaks.

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Love the beautiful tall straight pines all around here. These are right beside where our bikes are parked. Covered tonight to keep the pollen off them.

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A tribute to the Pony Express in front of the Harrahs Casino.

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The Chair Lift beside our Hotel. $40.00 per adult and up to the top of the sand line you see behind the building. We didn't take a ride.

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And a shot of part of the resort. There is an array of incredible real estate in the area right around the lake, all year round spot for holidaying so a great run away for the rich and famous. Along the perimeter of the lake the buildings are incredible and some of the entries alone would cost as much as a really good sized house at home.

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And a final farewell shot at our last dinner together for this trip. Tomorrow Norm and I head for Klamath Falls, Oregon and Sharen and Ken head for Sonoma, California. We've had a great time since we caught up in Nashville and have made lots of great memories on our magnificent adventure together. We will have to start planning the next one!


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Jun
19
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Left Death Valley at 7.30am to beat the heat but it was still close to 100F and the day just continued to be spectacular from start to finish. We started in God's abandoned quarry with what looked like heaps of different piles of stone, earth and sand product sorted in their colours and some a bit mixed with a bit of a jumble in between but by Lone Pine there was more vegetation albeit desert type but then by Bishop it changed and reminded me of around Cooma (NSW) with yellow hills coming down to lush green flats except the yellow hills were predominantly sand not dry grass and the green was promoted by irrigation as we found in a number of places. The ride to Bishop was getting uncomfortably hot but from there the altitude averaged between 4,000 feet to 7,750 feet and was more comfortable and the vegetation changed to ponderosa pines and even snow draped peaks in the distance, couldn't believe the contrast. Then into Lake Tahoe tonight and we climbed forever then dropped down onto the lake and the sights were incredible. Would have loved some shots on the way up but the day was already long so if I get a chance tomorrow I'll get some, if not, I missed them.

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The sign at the front of the ranch as we left this morning showing the highest recorded temperature. Apparently swallows were falling out of the sky, not surprised at that.

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The Devils Cornfield.

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Mesquite Sand Dunes.

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More dipping roads, fun on the bikes.

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Crossing Panamint Ranges moving out of Death Valley.

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Climbing up over the range and looking back to where we had come from.

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The County Court House in Lone Pine.

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Here come the troops over Norm's shoulder, Me then Sharen and Ken bringing up the rear.

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And we climb up into the pines and cooler air,  very welcome.

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We had lunch in Mammoth Lakes and discovered there is not 'A' Mammoth Lake, rather a collection of lakes and hence the title Mammoth Lakes, this is Mary Meade Lake complete with a waterfall at the end. We are standing on a very substantial bridge about a third of the way up the lake. Very impressive.

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The Mono Basin not far from when we headed for Lake Tahoe.

Last Night's Accommodation:

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Furnace Creek Resort, Highway 190, Death Valley, California 02328

Check in wasn't until 4pm and we arrived early at 11.30am but were booked straight in so were very grateful. Room comfortable with another comfortable bed, air conditioning effective, lots of eating options, pool, golf course and a whole lot of other stuff if you want to poke your nose outside the door into the blast furnace. Staff managed things well and were friendly and helpful.


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Jun
18
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We had left our bikes at Yamaha Las Vegas to be serviced on the way into town (on the west side for a trouble free get away) and once we heard the severe heat warning on the news last night for today regretted it a bit. In any case we were on their doorstep before they officially opened and we pulled away from there right on opening so really grateful both for them fitting our bikes in but also for helping us get away in good time this morning.  Impressive service and helpful staff

www.yamahaoflasvegas.com

Our ride to Death Valley was only a couple of hours to get here so we were glad we got here before the real heat of the day. Definitely not as hot at the time of riding as it was to go to Hoover Dam. We had made the decision that any exploring we did we would do with Sharen and Ken in the car and we did. The Park Ranger told us the temperature today would reach 51c by 4pm and stay there until around midnight before it slowly dropped and tomorrow will be 54c. We will be leaving at 7.30 in the morning so we can be out of the park heat within a couple of hours.

The mountains surrounding us here and the desert landscape is both severe and beautiful but I wouldn't want to be stuck in it. The hotel here is 191 feet below sea level so quite a contrast to a lot of the National Parks we have been in. Again, the pictures tell the story.

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It's official, we are heading for Death Valley.

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The road stretches out in front of us.

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And heat shimmers combined with spectacular moonscape views.

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Heading to Furnace Creek.

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Almost there.

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A look out over the Badwater area and I resorted to Chris Ikin's T shirt as it was roomy and light coloured so a hit in the heat and amused many, especially a German tourist. Happy to help.

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Thought we would go see natural Bridge but there was a 1.5mile road, then a 1 mile walk and a crappy road as well. Gave it a miss.

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A one way drive along the Artists Drive,

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A second shot on the drive.

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Furnace Inn where we first wanted to register but at this time of year it is closed. looked good.

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View at Zabriskie Point.

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And another.

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A view from Dante View to the Amarosa River not that we could see any water, more a salt pan. The smoke which has been increasing all day is from a grass fire in San Bernadino on the other side of the mountains.

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And coming down from the Dante View. The temperature up there was 13c lower there than in the valley and as you can see the area also supports more vegetation.

Last two Night's Accommodation:

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Vdara Hotel Las Vegas, 2600 W Harmon Avenue, Las Vegas, NV 89158

What a treat from start to finish. We had booked a nice suite in this new hotel what we ordered wasn't available when we got here and we must have looked on the point of collapse because they put us in an upgrade complete with full kitchen washing machine and dryer on the 32nd floor so got all the washing done and had a great view as well. The bed, oh my God the bed. I stripped it down to get the name of the  (Sealy Posturepedic with Vdara Plush Pillowtop made expressly for Vdara Condo Hotel). Have to remember that, it was deliciously comfortable on all my sore achy bits which was quite something as I was so asleep when I went to bed the first night I got my tablets out and forgot to have them and still slept in until 10am! Hotel in a great position, great amenities and all staff terrifically helpful and friendly. Great experience.


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Jun
17
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We melted into the mattress last night after dinner and a short stroll on the strip and finally convinced ourselves to get out of bed around 10am. Got all our washing sorted, had brunch then headed off for a look along the strip and I have to tell you I felt better about how difficult I found the heat yesterday because we could retreat into air conditioned buildings for a bit of relief. In theory the heat won't be quite as high as we ride to death Valley ... hope that's right ... damn! The weather channel just said it's going to be 121F in Death Valley tomorrow. Just as well we are planning to head off early and only a couple of hundred kms before we get there. But, to Las Vegas, a collection of shots below.

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The view from our window.

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And with the Bellagio Fountain at work in the day ..

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.. and at night.

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The Harley Davidson Cafe today...

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...and last night

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A chocolate shop with no shortage of customers in the Bellagio building.

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Last night, a bit of Paris ...

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..and today.

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More of Las Vegas.

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A sign which may appeal to some / many.

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And for Forest Gump fans, here is a branch of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.


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Jun
16
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Yet another awesome day from start to finish!

Superlatives are meaningless and the brief  dipping in and out of National Parks we have done doesn't do any of them justice but we are gob smacked at how different they all are. ALL of them realistically should take days to explore, some more than others but that sort of time we don't have. The photos below tell the story.

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Our neighbours last night, a group of German Harley riders with back up support.

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And on a fruitless search this morning for an espresso coffee.

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Approaching Zion National Park.

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And just into the park, this is the Chequerboard Mesa, the rest I didn't take names for as we were riding through. We had hoped to take a side road to waterfalls and such but this required a shuttle ride and extra time we didn't have. I'll add a number below. Don't know the names as we were riding.

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The start of a very long windy tunnel, quite narrow but adequate for cars to pass each other but we were being stopped and sent through one lane at a time today, we assume to cater for Recreational Vehicles. Glad we were waiting in the shade as the heat was starting to get up there even though it was early in the day.

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And a final one in the park.

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A shot not long after leaving the park. The sights kept unfolding in front of us.

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And on to Las Vegas and we marvelled at the massive engineering feat to construct roads to get in and out. Above and below.

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Ken and Sharen headed to Las Vegas after lunch and we went on to the Hoover Dam since we didn't get to see it in 1998 when we visited Las Vegas. It was awesome but oh my God it was at least 40c and we struggled to keep up the water and the will to continue for that matter. it was like riding in a blast furnace coupled with incredibly strong gusty wind so a trial all round really. Definitely hotter than anything we have ever ridden in for such extended periods since the heat had been rising rapidly since early morning. This is a shot of one of the many freeway bridges on our way into the wall since the wall is no longer the main highway.

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And some of the dam wall.

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And the spillway, as you can see it's a long time since any water ran over this.

Last Night's Accommodation:

Sorry I haven't located the photo so will add it at a later stage. 

Best Western Plus Ruby's Inn, 26 South Main Street, Bryce Canyon, UT 84764

Comfortable though a bit dated. Hot water in the shower and a brief walk to the main building for substantial dinner and breakfast and a huge store of souvenirs and practical stuff. Quite incredible. Been trading since 1916 and in the same family.


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Jun
15
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Well yet another great day of spectacular sights from start to finish. Since we couldn't access the Vermillion Cliffs other than looking at them which was awesome (Google Vermillion Cliffs Arizona for awesome photos) we decided to double back and head for Page so we could see the Horseshoe Corner and what a treat. The ascent up to the plateau was incredible in terms of engineering of the road and rock face views as well as towards the plains and the Vermillion Cliffs as well and then all sorts of changing views and treats as we travelled through the edge of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and back onto 89A at Kanab and we just kept seeing terrific sights from there up to the park and they continued. Can't believe there can be so many changes!

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The Vermillion Cliffs in the morning light.

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And an awesome cutting as we climbed to the plateau from the plains.

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Glen Canyon Dam Wall on Lake Powell.

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Horseshoe Bend. What I would give for a camera with a larger viewfinder.

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North of Kanab.

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Dixie National Forest - Red Canyon. Gob smacking.

 

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The second of two short cute little tunnels.

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And to Bryce Canyon. Wow. We could have a handful of photos for each point but will spare you that. This is the Natural Bridge.

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And Fairview Point, 8,819foot elevation.

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Bryce Point.

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Inspiration Point, 8,100foot elevation.

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Sunset Point, 8,000foot elevation.

Bits and Bobs:

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It has certainly been underlined for us here at the National Parks that Australia is somewhat a nanny state given all the things we have been able to see and explore here in the USA. perhaps it has something to do with their right of self determination and a quote we hear recently that 'All Americans have the right to die in their National Parks'. In any case people are expected to be responsible for themselves rather than being protected from their own stupidity. A couple of signs as an example today from the Glen Canyon Dam Wall overlook above and at all the Bryce Canyon Overlooks this afternoon below.

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Last Night's Accommodation:

Marble Canyon Lodge, Highway 89A, Marble Canyon, AZ 86036

Adequate spot to drop for the night. Basic but clean and restaurant available with air conditioning which was appreciated after the hottest day so far of 101F. After dodgy Wi-Fi the last two nights we had none at all here. Ah well.

Sorry, forgot to take a photo.


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Jun
14
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We had an awesome day's riding with ever changing geography from red rocks then winding along a cool leafy valley from Sedona up to the rim of the canyon and then through a lot of ponderosa pine grassland and onto the Sunset Crater Volcano complete with lava flows and then Indian Pueblos and great open plains around the rim of the Grand Canyon and ever changing colours of the cliff faces and mountains around us. All sorts of wow!

 

Bridge north of Sedona.

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Sunset Crater Volcano believed to have erupted in 1100.

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And in the opposite direction where we came from.

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And a look at a small part of the lava flow which remains and nature is slowly reclaiming the space.

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Wukahi Pueblo

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Citadel Pueblo looking towards the surrounding grassland.

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Cameron Trading Post a surprising oasis just past the turn off to the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

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And the bridge which was on the old highway at the Trading Post.

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Some tough clay wearing away over centuries making a great show of colour in contrast to the red cliffs in the distance.

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The view stretching into the distance.

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Changing again as we head for Marble Canyon.

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And more changes.

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And we descend towards the Navajo Bridge over the Colorado River.

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And the Navajo Bridge old (left) and new (right)

Last Night's Accommodation:

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Best Western Plus Arroyo Roble, 400 N State Route 89A, Sedona, AZ 86336

A lovely comfortable spot to drop and explore. Large comfortable room and bathroom. Included parking breakfast and Wi-Fi. Just a short work to countless dining and shopping options. Very nice.


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Jun
13
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Slept in, had a leisurely breakfast then headed off on a Pink Jeep tour of Sedona and surrounds. Really enjoyed the birdseye view before it got too hot and Mike Lamb our guide was knowledgeable and fun.  Sedona he started off as an agricutural area and is like an island in the middle of National forest, the area being about 75% developed at this point. After the tour we had lunch and I've been fighting most of the afternoon with tech bloody nology. Think the laptop has had an upgrade which inteferes with internet connection and the notebook has real potential to become a frisbee at this point.

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Chapel on the mountainside.

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Clouds building.

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Pillars.

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The troops over Sedona, all squinting in the sun you will note.

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One of many galleries.

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Lizard head.

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Spectacular nature.

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Great view.

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Awesome sculpture of an indian mother and babe above and below. Need three shots to take it all in. My favourite of all we have seen and there have been many. Damn shame we haven't had a tattslotto win I could have happily bought some.

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And late in the day the storm gathers behind the valley.


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Jun
12
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A reasonably kick back day but we managed to stretch it out and loved the whole day, even the solid rain and hail where there wasn't supposed to be any. Gotta love being on the road.

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A taste of the neon signs in Holbrook after dinner last night. This was part of Route 66 and there are lots of examples of 'Main Street America' to be seen.

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The Historic train Station on Bucket of Blood Street ... I kid you not!

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Standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona and such a lovely sight to see ...

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Dan's diner Winslow for a chocolate milkshake. Beautiful old building and great ambience. Place was full of tourists, most of them on motorbikes.

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A windmill in a memorial park which caught my eye.

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We visited the meteor crater west of Winslow. 1 mile long and 3/4 mile wide and was 750m deep but gradually silting up over time with wind erosion. We saw this from the air in 1998 when we flew from LA to New Orleans and never dreamt we would see it first hand.

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Looking west from the Meteor Crater to the thunderstorm we were about to ride through which wasn't supposed to be happening. ha ha.

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Welcome to Red Rock Country as we approached Oak Valley.

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And we headed into Sedona.

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Wow, where to look, the views keep jumping into our view and is it any wonder heaps of movies have been made in this environment.

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The view from our hotel room. Glad we will have time to explore tomorrow.

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And a bit of fun with a sculpture in the garden.

 

Bits and Bobs:

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The opening hours 'ish at the Petrified Wood Company in Holbrook, way too much stuff for me to even tolerate there.

 

Last Night's Accommodation:

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Lexington Inn Holbrook, 1308 Navajo Boulevard, Holbrook, AZ 86025

We rocked up and there was literally no other vehicles in the car park so we were wondering if this was the Holbrook version of Hotel California where you can check out anytime you like  but you can never leave. Imagine our relief to get back from dinner to find the car park full. Phew. Anyway, large comfortable rooms and not a bad included breakfast.  The hotel also wins the award for the best located toilet roll holder being in the most obvious / practical / reachable spot in the bathroom so you can reach it without dislocating any joints, go figure .... given all the other places we have stayed.

 


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