All posts filed under: Travel

Blanche Russell Rock Houses

A few years ago, after a visit to the Grand Canyon, we drove east on Hgw 64, then north on Hgws 89 and 89A. We crossed the Colorado River on the Navajo Bridge, and were on final approach to the Vermillion Cliffs when we were surprised to see some mushroom shaped rocks that looked like a group of Smurfs had built houses under them. We stopped to investigate  and quickly realized they really were ‘Tiny Houses’. A worn and badly damaged sign nearby told the story of  Blanche Russell  and her husband William (Bill), whose car broke down in the area in about 1927 (or maybe 1920)… The pair took shelter under the mushroom rocks over night. Blanche liked the area so much that she bought the property and built permanent structures. She lived there for about 10 years and operated a business. When I looked online for more information about the Blanche Russel Rock Houses, I found a number of  ‘folklore’ stories on several sites: “Around 1927, Blanch Russell’s car broke down as she traveled …

A Peek at Bourton-on-the Water

Bourton-on-the-Water is a village in the Cotswolds Area of Gloucestershire, England. The houses and shops in the village are constructed of the yellow Oolitic limestone that is found in the surrounding hills. Cotswold stone is easily split into blocks and is quite weather-resistant. The Cotswold hills cover an area that is about 40 miles across and 120 miles long. It is an extremely popular tourist destination. A peek over just about any hedge or stone wall will give you a glimpse of why at least 117 buildings within Bourton-on-the-Water have been listed as Grade II or higher. This designation means the building has ‘special architectural or historic interest’. The building’s owners have to apply for consent to do most types of work that affect their home. A peek inside this wobbly hedge! I sure wouldn’t want to be the one who keeps it trimmed. In old age, and having been sprained by the weight of snow over the decades, the hedges now wobble along, imperfect, but full of vegetable dignity… – Description of Walmer Castle …

Arizona, BC, Germany – Looking at Bridges

Bamberg is an beautiful example of an early medieval town in central Europe. It has a large number of surviving ecclesiastical and secular buildings. It is crisscrossed by many rivers, winding canals, and bridges. Some of the bridges are old and famous and some, like this one, are more modern, but don’t detract from the architecture of the surrounding buildings. Deception Pass Bridge is the common name for two, two-lane bridges that connect Whidbey Island to Fidalgo Island in the U.S. state of Washington. Pass Island lies between the two bridges.   Navajo Bridge – The original Navajo Bridge was completed and opened to traffic in January 1929. Prior to the building of the bridge, the only way to cross the Colorado River and its formidable gorge was at Lee’s Ferry a short distance upstream. Construction on a new, wider bridge began in May of 1993. The old bridge became a walking bridge.

RCMP – Law, Order and the Musical Ride

In 1867, Canada became a nation. This year (2017) is Canada’s 150th Birthday! Six years after the Dominion of Canada was formed, the Parliament of Canada established a central police force and gave it the task of maintaining Law and Order in the newly acquired western territories of Canada. The force acquired the name “North-West Mounted Police” (NWMP). By 1886, the NWMP’s first riding school was established in Regina and in 1887, the horses and riders performed mounted precision cavalry drills on several occasions. It wasn’t until 1901,  though, that the drills, choreographed to music, began to be performed for the public. In 1920, the name of the force was changed to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Today, the Musical Ride consists of 32 riders (plus one leader) in scarlet jackets on beautiful black horses. The RCMP has bred and raised its own horses since 1939. The Ride tours throughout Canada and internationally between May and October. More Canadiana – Best Canadian Puns, Jokes and Observations. This week’s WordPress.com Photo Challenge is Order.

The Greenery of Arizona

You might not think of the word ‘green’ when you think of Arizona – but the State is more than just desert with a few cactus! The Phoenix Desert Botanical Gardens is a showcase of arid-land plants from deserts around the world. This Dale Chihuly Glass Sculpture– Desert Towers welcomes visitors. It was installed as the entry-point to Chihuly’s first Desert Botanical exhibition in 2008. The installation was purchased by the Garden as a legacy to the exhibition. East of Phoenix are the Superstition Mountains. In the spring, they sport a coat of green, sprinkled with bursts of color when the desert plants bloom. The mountains rise steeply to an elevation of 5,024 feet, and are characterized by sheer-sided, jagged, volcanic peaks and ridges. North and east of Phoenix is the Water Users Recreation Site on the Salt River in Tonto National Forest. The Tonto National Forest, encompassing 2,873,200 acres, is the largest of the six national forests in Arizona and is the fifth largest national forest in the United States. North of Phoenix is …

Cabo San Lucas – Donkey and Pancho – Boats and Sea Lions

We were in Mexico last week – specifically Los Cabos, which is a municipality on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, in the state of Baja California Sur. Though we spent most of our time in San Jose del Cabo, the Cabo San Lucas Marina was the scene of the most excitement – if you like all the things that ‘bob’ on top of or ‘swim’ in water. This Marina has 380 Slips and 33 Megayacht Berths and just about every craft had a name!     The Sea Lion might have a name too. If you Google ‘Sea Lion Cabo San Lucas Marina’, you will find several items about ‘Pancho’ the bandit sea lion. The sleek dark beast demanded fish from every boat that came in to dock, and it would aggressively attempt to ‘take’ any fish it spied. A flock of brown Pelicans followed the sea lion, supplying diversionary tactics that kept the fisherman busy scooting the birds off the motor and the back of the boat. It was all quite …

Look Up – Waaay Up… The Picket Post Mansion, Arizona

Picket Post Mansion, Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Arizona, USA – Picket Post Mansion, also known as the ‘Castle on the Rocks,’ was built by Colonel William B. Thompson – Construction began in 1923, it took 14 months to complete and the estimated cost was $20,000 – The Colonel founded the Boyce Thompson Arboretum and donated his house and the surrounding property to the Arboretum in 1928. The Colonel passed away in 1930. – When it became a financial burden to the Arboretum, the Mansion was sold in 1946 to Walter and Ida Franklin of Globe for $40,000. They operated it as a bed and breakfast. – The Building changed hands again and was eventually acquired by Rick and Tina Rose who gave tours. – On July 15, 2008, Arizona State Parks purchased the property to make the Arboretum whole again.

Your car knows

Idaho and Utah – Driving By the Numbers

Our trip home from Arizona to Alberta took 5 days (April 29 to May 3, 2016) to cover a distance of 2600 km (1650 miles). This year we drove Sadie, a 2002 SL500 convertible that gets 10 L/100 km (28 mpg) and loves to gallop along at 129 km/h (80 mph) on the I-15. One of our fuel stops was in Monticello, Utah – elevation 2,155 m (7070 ft) where Sadie dined on 91 octane. I bought 1 bar of dark chocolate fuel for myself – our glove compartment had 0 gloves and 0 candy bars.   804 km (500 miles) later, we were in Idaho Falls, Idaho. We stopped at the Army Surplus Warehouse (after Sadie got some more gas, and I refilled the glove compartment with chocolate.) There are many interesting things for sale there, including an M129 leaflet dispenser that is 2.28 metres (7.5 ft long) and 40 cm (16 inches) in diameter. Its empty weight is about 52 kilograms (115 pounds) and when loaded with leaflets it weighs about 100 kilograms (225 …

Utah – Calf Creek Overlook – Highway 12

Calf Creek Overlook on  Scenic Byway 12, south of Boulder, Utah. Unique panorama photos of this area are at Don Bain’s Panoramas. In 2002, State Route 12 was designated an “All-American Road.” Spanning 122 miles, and connecting Capitol Reef National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park, it took almost 40 years (from the ’40s to the ’80s) to complete construction. The scenic byway crosses some of the most magnificent scenery on the Colorado Plateau: red-rock desert, mesas, buttes, cliffs, and even lush mountain forests. – Matador Network – Utah has the largest open-pit mine in the world. Visible from outer space, the Kennecott Copper Mine is nearly a mile deep and 2.5 miles wide. The mind is still in production and it takes trucks more than two hours to drive from the bottom to the top. – National Geographic – In the Fishlake National Forest in Utah, a giant has lived quietly for the past 80,000 years. The Trembling Giant, or Pando, is a enormous grove of quaking aspens that takes the “forest as a …