The Last of the West

After six months and more than eight thousand miles I’ve come full circle back to Texas in time for my daughter’s spring break. It’s been about two months since I met her in San Diego during her winter break, and I’m enjoying every moment I can with her before continuing my journey eastward. Yesterday she helped me hang a map I picked up for the outside of my RV. While I stood there pondering how much of this country I’ve already seen, she was clearly more transfixed on the one state I missed out west… Nevada. Interestingly, I was not too far from Nevada while in Yosemite in December, but the best route for getting there was closed for the winter, and I was heading south to San Diego as opposed to east. In addition, I’m more interested in really SEEING these states than just being able to claim I’d been there on my journey. I’m planning on circling back for more of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana after my summer shoot in Colorado, so maybe then.

After my amazing two day journey through eastern Utah, and two days in Sedona which were completely focused on settling back into my RV and getting caught up on some work projects, I headed north with the intention of spending two nights in Page AZ and two nights between Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. Unfortunately I had my first breakdown 20 miles south of Page. Engine coolant drained from the reservoir and sprayed  all the way down the side of my RV and car as well. While waiting for the tow vehicle (which I was told would be at least an hour) I unhooked the car and drove to town for more coolant. Fortunately I managed to limp to the RV park I had reserved, because there were no mechanics available to help me until Monday. I wasn’t really wanting to see “The Beast” hooked up to a tow truck either, not to mention the fact that I would have had to get a motel room for the weekend. It was a worrisome weekend because it looked like the fluid was actually leaking from the engine. Monday afternoon my worries were put to rest when it was discovered there was simply a break in the hose. Better a $250 fix than having to have the engine pulled. Sadly, that extra day in Page put me too far behind schedule to get over to Bryce and Zion. I pacified myself with the thought that I’d seen enough “rocks” for awhile and would probably appreciate the two places far more on a return trip and during a different season.

Several friends suggested taking a boat tour on Lake Powell while in Page, and I was terribly disappointed to find that they were all shut down for the season. No boats available to rent either. Considering it was spring break for many students this was somewhat surprising, and I found myself wishing I had the new kayak I’d just ordered, but alas… that was being shipped ahead of me to Dallas. The one thing I did get to do in Page was something I’ve been hoping to do for a very long time, a tour of Antelope Canyon. This stunning canyon can only be accessed by guided tour now, and there were too many people for my taste, but well worth seeing. Fascinating place!!

While in Page I also took Jazzy and Sadie on a hike to the overlook at Horseshoe Bend. The view, especially if you get near the edge, will take your breath away. Needless to say I had a tight hold on their leashes and in fact, asked someone else to hold them while I slid close to the edge to get this first shot! As you can see, it’s a long straight drop to the water below.

We also climbed to the top of the hill behind our campground, just to see what was on the other side. Well, that and the exercise.

From Page we had just over a thousand miles to drive to get back to Dallas. That’s three fairly long days for someone traveling solo in a big RV. I made my first stop in Aztec NM and took time to visit Aztec Ruins National Monument, a group of well preserved Pueblo structures which date back to the 11th to 13th centuries. Interestingly, they are not Aztec as once thought, but ancestral Puebloans, the Anasazi. The structure is a series of over 500 rooms all built around the reconstructed Great Kiva. Very impressive place and amazingly well preserved. I’m always fascinated by ancient architecture… built to withstand time without today’s tools and technology.

And a few more rocks before I reached the flat land of west Texas. 🙂 

I’ll be sitting tight here in the Dallas area for another week or more working on some projects and spending time with friends and hoping for a bit more time with my girl. When I hit the road again I’ll be heading east toward Florida via the gulf coast with my new Hobie kayak added to the works!

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  • Diane Boudreau

    Wow. Amazing pics. Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow night! 🙂

  • fran

    Thanks Diane. Yes, I’m looking forward to seeing you gals as well!

  • Hi Fran,

    Great pics (as usual)!

    A new kayak and plans to head to Florida to us it? OK, I am officially envious! My wife and I are pondering a move to the Gulf coast of Florida and our first boat will be a kayak so that we can follow in your footsteps.

    Thanks again for the great interview and I am enjoying reading about your travels!

    • fran

      Thanks Marshall. I’m looking forward to dropping the kayak into many bays along the coastline. Check with me later and I’ll share my favorites with you!

  • Awesome. I didn’t know that you made it to Antelope Canyon or Horseshoe Bend. How did you like the ruins at Aztec?

    Now you need to ease on up to Mesa Verde west of Durango. The cliff dwellings there are amazing and the trip to them is a kick

  • fran

    I’m well beyond the area now Michael, but Mesa Verde is on my radar while back in Colorado to work on my book in June. LOVED Aztec Ruins!

  • So glad to have you here visiting in Dallas. Really enjoying tagging along in your journey via the blog. Looking forward to our week of catching up!

    • fran

      Ditto girlfriend! And you know you are welcome to tag along in person. I’d be dragging your tutu to New Orleans with me if you weren’t heading to Paris!

  • John T S

    Thanks for sharing the view in Antelope Canyon. Spectacular.
    I’d love to see that and the ruins at Aztec. Now I know, if I’m out that way, that both would be worth the visit.
    I think the kayak is going to add a lot of spice as the journey continues.

  • fran

    Thanks John. Yes, both are well worth seeing. I’m really looking forward to putting the kayak to use! It’ll give me a completely different perspective. While test driving it I was able to glide right up to Pelicans that would have flown away if I’d been on foot. I’m going to be looking for Manatee while in Florida!!

  • Nancy Murphy (Mom)

    Fran, Mike and I scuba dived with the manatee at Crystal River, on the west coast opposite Orlando. We flew our plane down there and while waiting to depart we listened to planes on our radio who were departing ahead of us. One pilot who had just taken off ask for a weather report for his destination in South Dakota and on receiving the reply from Center he requested a 180 degee turn. The manatee are gentle creatures and their young are very playful. Also, if you get to the west coast of Florida you will also find some great shell gathering. You are having a great time on your travels. Give Jazzy and Sadie a hug for me, Anna and Honey. And you do remember Jetta, the black house cat that slept in my shoe. He now weighs 12 pounds and rules the roost.