When January rolled around, Roberta decided that she was not ready to leave the winter wonderland of Utah quite yet. She really wanted to do some snowshoeing and cross country skiing before we headed to Arizona to see the grandkids and Dave, being the nice guy he is, obliged her wishes. In December Roberta had been unexpectedly contacted by her cousin, John, (isn’t Facebook wonderful) who happens to be the manager of the ski shops in at Alta Ski Resort. He was happy to get us on the slopes for a great day of cross-country skiing.
The day reminded us what amateurs we are on X-country skis – but we had so much fun and got some great exercise anyway! Roberta always seemed to be ahead of Dave on the course – but usually because she found it easier to slide down the hills sitting on her skis!
Later that week we headed up to Sundance to do some snowshoeing. Again, the weather was AWESOME.
We wrapped up the first week of January in Utah at an REI snow day held on a local golf course. We took classes in snowshoeing and cross-country skiing for free, compliments of the local REI. We really learned a lot and improved our cross country skiing immensely! We were following our instructors so intently we forgot to take any pictures. Oh well!
On Monday, January 10 we finally headed south. We spent the first night in St. George, Utah and the next day found ourselves in the “Arizona strip” – the northern part of AZ that is completely cut off from the rest of the state by the Grand Canyon. It was still pretty cold – but the snow was behind us (for now).
Traveling into the Arizona strip we entered the town of Fredonia and happened upon a little known national monument called “Pipe Spring”. Here’s some history: A reliable water source is a rare feature in this generally dry and rather barren country, but early Mormon settlers found such a supply in the mid nineteenth century, about 15 km from the Utah/Arizona border on land which now forms part of the Kaibab-Paiute Indian Reservation. Over the next few decades the spring became the focal point for various buildings and eventually a small fort (named Winsor Castle after its constructor, one A.P. Winsor), intended to protect the spring and neighbouring cattle grazing lands against Navajo Indian raids from the south, although this threat never materialized. Now, the fort, outbuildings, and various agricultural relics are preserved and serve as an interesting illustration of pioneer life.
We continued on toward the Grand Canyon and were delighted to find yet another treasure along the way – a tiny roadside town called Hatch. The area was discovered in the 193o’s when a woman whose car broke down took refuge from the hot desert sun in the rocks there until help came. Over the years many people have stopped there and added to some of the natural rock formations to make shelters & “other things.”
Continuing on our way we came to Lee’s Ferry, the area considered to be the official beginning of the Grand Canyon, and the area from which most rafting expeditions begin. In 1871 John D. Lee was directed by the Mormon Church to establish a ferry across the Colorado River so the pioneers could cross the river without having to go all the way around the Grand Canyon. Until the early 20th century it was the only crossing from Moab, UT to Needles, CA. The ferry quit service in 1928 when the Navajo Bridge was completed.
(The Charles H. Spencer was a steamboat that was briefly used c. 1910 on the Colorado River to transport coal for gold refining operations at Lee’s Ferry.)
Navajo Bridge in Marble Canyon was our next stop. The original bridge was constructed in 1927; the new bridge was built about 1994. The original bridge is now where you walk across. It is the only land crossing the Colorado River for nearly 600 miles.
We had hoped to visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, but it was closed because of the snow, so we continued on to the South Rim. We still encountered snow in many places along the way, and it made for winter views of the Grand Canyon that ranged from beautiful to spectacular. We ended up spending about three days there! We stopped at almost every lookout point each day and on our last day walked about 5 miles along the rim to the lodge and back. It got VERY cold late in the day, but it was sooo worth it! We even had a little surprise as we were just about back to the parking lot – a small herd of elk were out grazing!
The Indian Watchtower is at the eastern end of the south rim of the Grand Canyon. From a distance the building’s silhouette looks like the Anasazi watchtower it was meant to mimic. Opened in May, 1933, it provides the widest possible view of the Grand Canyon yet harmonizes with its setting: this was architect Mary Colter’s goal when the Fred Harvey Company hired her in 1930 to design a gift shop and rest area at Desert View. Colter’s answer was the Watchtower.
We would have loved to have hiked down to this path below, but because of slippery ice the trail was closed. Guess we’ll just have to come back when the weather is warmer. Where does that path lead anyway??
We often saw the Colorado River winding through the Canyon below us.
And suddenly, there they were – about 15 elk out for their evening meal…
After leaving the Grand Canyon. we spent a week in Quartzsite, AZ with some California friends. We had a GREAT time seeing our friends – the only thing we really miss from California is all the great people we left behind. We didn’t, however, get the attraction to the rocks. When we arrived it was the middle of the annual Rock Week – they all looked the same to us! The following week was RV week though – more up our alley…
We arrived in Mesa about the third week of January. Roberta had not seen Emma (now 2 1/2) since she was a month old, but Emma took to her right away. In fact, she preferred Roberta to Dave for about the first week – must be a girl thing(?) Tyler (now 3 1/2) loved ALL the attention from both grandparents. And, of course, both grandparents loved giving the attention!
More on the grandkids to come in February…..