Three New Photo Galleries

20090621-grandcanyon-_DSC1410 The following gallery is from our flight over and float trip down in the Grand Canyon.

New Gallery: Grand Canyon from Above and Below, AZ

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Dead Horse Point is a local State Park just north of Canyonlands National Park, UT. The light was poor and the sky was hazy, but the canyons below were stunning.

New Gallery: Dead Horse Point, UT

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The Tower Arch Trail is a 3.4 mile round trip hike to a lovely arch we hiked to yesterday and enjoyed a picnic lunch beside the arch.

New Gallery: Tower Arch Trail, UT

Canyon de Chelly, AZ

June 29, 2009 - July 3, 2009 Just outside of Chinle, AZ, where the livestock roam free (and not everyone's happy about that because "tourists don't know and they hit them all the time"), ...

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... a magnificent labrynth slashes the land.

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The South Rim of Canyon de Chelly, a 37 mile round trip, offers several outlooks at elevations of 5,500 to 7,000 feet above the canyon floor. The North Rim, with fewer lookoffs, runs 34 miles round trip.

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About 50 Navajo people live in the canyon. They farm corn, alfalfa and peach crops around their traditional log hogan homes or sell art and crafts like painted replicas of pictographs, carved replicas of petroglyphs, and jewelry to visitors who venture down into the canyon by hiking trails or guided Navajo Jeep tours.

We hiked 500 feet down into the canyon (2.5 mile round trip) on a steep, zigzag trail following three horseback riders then crossed Chinley Wash...

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... to the White House ruins. Ancestral Puebloen people built and occupied the dwelling about a 1,000 years ago. Petroglyphs are easy to spot all around. White House is the only self-directed hike permitted.

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A little (non-venimous) corn snake came out to inspect us.

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One of the most impressive sights in the canyon, perhaps, is Spider Rock, an 800 foot sandstone spire where Canyon de Chelly and Monument Canyon meet.

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We stayed at privately owned Spider Rock Campground, which turned out to be as tranquil as it was rustic. We dry camped for five days, woke to the lilt navajo flute music every morning, lolled under the awning every sight-see free moment, inhaled the soft sage and juniper scented breeze, watched Howard (the owner) and a friend build a hogan, and also borrowed Howard's dog, Boy, whenever we could, and for a 3.5 mile hike along Cherry Canyon that begins and ends at the campground. Boy was such a sweetheart we didn't even mind that he slowed to half-time in every single shady spot as we braked behind him in the searing sun.

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We highly recommend a stay at Spider Rock Campground if you want space and quiet, or maybe a night in a cool, dark hogan.

Tip: You can find sweets, refreshing iced drinks, and a seat under an umbrella at Changing Woman Cafe near the Visitor Centre.

Peace

-P

Grand Canyon River Adventure

Our Grand Canyon flight, jeep, hike, raft adventure was outstanding. Below are the gps tracks from our flight over the canyon and raft down the Colorado River from Glen Canyon Dam to Lee's Ferry. Flight over Grand Canyon

Raft trip from Glen Canyon Dam to Lee's Ferry

We were both glad to step back onto the ground in Page, AZ since the small plane bumped around a lot with all the turbulence from the canyon walls. We then had breakfast and hit the jeeps for a short ride to Upper Antelope Canyon, one of the two beautiful slot canyons (photos coming). Then to the river, through the Homeland Security checkpoint to our raft for an extraordinary ride through the vast canyon and winding river. Photos coming. -L

Grand Canyon River Adventure 2

June 21, 2009 Hi all!

We were without Internet for a while, obviously. That bittersweet state has come to an end so it's time for updates. Lloyd will upload a photo gallery, but here's a sample set:

We met at a hotel for a 5 a.m. pickup to find we weren't expected there for another hour. :/ Eventually a tour bus picked us up and dropped us at the Grand Canyon airport where we boarded a 17 person passenger plane for the first leg of our tour, a flight to, across and over the great canyon.

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The moment we encountered the canyon rim the turbulence picked up - a profusion of punches. We were 'this close' to giving up our breakfast like the poor fellow up front. :P Fortunately (?), barf bags were available by the dozen behind each seat.

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Of course, the views were amazing - most amazing from Lloyd's position as he had the best seat. I hope you'll check out his upcoming gallery.

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After about 35 minutes of grand vistas and churned tummies we staggered off at Lake Powell, which is as picturesque from land as from above.

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Within minutes our Navajo guides corralled and loaded us into "Jeeps" then herded us into a Native American gift shop/gas station featuring local handcrafted goods and touristy stuff. That's not our thing, however, we did enjoy the follow up offering of a traditional song and dance.

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Alright. These "Jeeps" are pickup trucks with pew-like seats in the back, trucks that ricochet so hard across the washboard wash that all the welding joints have fractured and beat against one another as you try to hold yourself together. Fortunately, that part of the ride lasts for just three miles to Upper Antelope Canyon.

My pics of the slot canyon are hardly representative or worthy of the spectacle so look forward to Lloyd's. However, I'm sticking in a glimpse of the 18" entrance to Upper Antelope Canyon which we toured on our own, a couple days the River Adventure:

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So. Another 3 miles of organ shaking back to the soothing ride of the tour bus and we headed to the Glen Canyon Dam to board our river raft with smart, kind, funny guide Pat. No white water - this is a 16-mile float trip. :)

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3 1/3 hours on water to Lee's Ferry with sun, smooth gliding and geologic wonders.

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A rare vertical stratification in the sandstone cliffs:

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We stopped twice at beaches, once for a short hike to petroglyphs ...

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... and once for lunch.

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At Lee's Ferry, 12 hours after the beginning of our adventure, we plopped into our tour bus seats for the return to Grand Canyon.

-P

Grand Canyon - Day 3

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A peek at the river:

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A closer look at the river:

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The smoke worsened as the day waned.

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We drove the 25-mile Desert View Road.

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Here's the view from the first platform of the Desert View Watchtower (L's in the straw hat with the black bag):

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But it was too smoky to see the desert. Of course, there was more to see.

Petroglyphs in the watchtower wall:

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The smoke-filled canyon:

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The tower with four flights of stairs to the windowed top:

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-P

Grand Canyon - Day 1 Cont'd

Note: All Grand Canyon posts are for the South Rim. North Rim is a 4.5 hour drive from South Rim. Still a bit hazy, but grand views nonetheless. Unfortunately, you do not see the true, vibrant colour in photos we post; file size and blogsite limitations produce paler, softer photos. It's a shame. Imagine bolder colours and you'll get the picture. Maybe the resident Tech Geek can figure this out ... . Honey?

If you look closely you can see two people standing on the white point below:

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Two of the not-of-sound-mind variety no doubt. Wonder if they heard that 7 people died in the park so far this year and well over 600 in the park's history, albeit, mostly from weather related incidents - chiefly dehydration, but falls happen. Even innocent, hard-working mules have died as a result of hiker/mule encounters. :( The most common cause of injury? Squirrel bites. Seriously.

The only view the squirrel below admires is gullible humans.

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A small section of Bright Angel Trail tunnels through rock (middle left):

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Bright Angel Trail is a steep 12.2-mile (return trip) trail or 4.6 miles to Indian Garden and then a heart-pounding climb back up to Bright Angel Lodge.

You can see the trail to Plateau Point, 6.1 miles out, which rewards hikers with a view of Colorado River.

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Day 2 coming soon ... .

-P

Painted Desert - Blue Mesa

June 7-14, 2009 Though Blue Mesa trail is only a 1 mile loop, we fought gale force winds to see the sights.

See the hat in the pic below? It's rolling around the badlands somewhere ... . I wore a hat with a neck strap, but it was hardly worth choking for.

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The view, however, was more than worth the windburn.

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Sculpted grey, blue, purple and green bandings in mudstone and sandstone layers:

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This land was dominated and shaped by a massive river system in the Triassic Period.

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More scenic wonders to come ... .

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Remember, to receive automatic e-mail updates for new blog posts, you can click the orange RSS icon to the right.

Cheers!

-P

Petrified Forest Features

June 7-14, 2009 Okay, okay. This is not Petrified Forest. It's Wigwam Motel in the weary little town of Holbrook, AZ. We stayed at a KOA Kampground, about 18 miles from Petrified Forest National Park.

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The view from Route 66:

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Back to the park, and some beautiful cactus blooms.

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And a pronghorn! Cute!

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Petroglyphs are easy to see at Puerco Pueblo.

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The bird with a man in its beak is our favourite:

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-P

Petrified Forest - No Logging Allowed

June 7-14, 2009 Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

About 200,000,000 years ago a forest was washed into a river system then quickly buried under massive amounts of sediments. Cut off from oxygen, decay slowed to centuries. The wood absorbed minerals, including silica from volcanic ash, that crystallized into purple amethyst, yellow citrine, and clear and smoky quartz over thousands of years.

The petrified logs tend to break into disks or flat ended logs.

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Bejeweled insides:

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Temptation proves too much for some. About a tonne of petrified wood walks off in the pockets of visitors every month.

Clay mortar secured the petrified walls of the Agate House, an eight room pueblo.

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Erosion exposes more logs.

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Much of the petrified bark has chipped from the "wood" below:

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Red, purple, yellow, black and white are the most prominent colours, though thick veins of sparkling crystals can also be found.

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The only trees are dead trees, 225,000,000 years dead trees.

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The solid quartz gains colour from the impurities like carbon, iron and manganese - remarkable gems sprinkled on a sallow landscape.

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-P

Coronado National Memorial, AZ

Francisco Vasquez de Coronado's expedition, inspired by rumours of gold and riches, was an utter failure. "Early in the 16th century, Spain established a rich colonial empire in the New World. From Mexico to Peru, gold poured into her treasury and new lands were opened for settlement. The northern frontier lay only a few hundred miles north of Mexico City; and beyond that was a land unknown."

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After other failed expeditions, Coronado began his expedition in 1540 in search of the "Seven Cities of Cibola". Instead of golden cities they found rock-masonry pueblos (settlements) and Hopi Indians.

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Coronado et al met "The Turk", a Plains Indian who told them of rich land to the east, but they had to wait out winter in the area and the Indians's friendliness wore thin as the Spanish explorers offended and violated rules of hospitality. When the Spaniards didn't get their way they killed or forced inhabitants to abandon their pueblos. Regardless, The Turk led Coronado and his team. After many days of travel through barren land, the expedition arrived at the supposed "rich land" and came upon grass huts and nothing more.

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The Turk confessed the story of Quivira was just a plot conceived by the Pueblo Indians to lure the Spaniards out onto the plains in hopes they would become lost and die of starvation. The gullible soldiers executed The Turk.

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"Coronado, his dreams of fame and fortune shattered, finally reached Mexico City in the spring of 1542. Although publicly scorned and discredited, he again resumed his position of governor of New Galicia. He and his captains were subsequently called in to account for their actions during the quest, and it was four more years before Coronado succeeded in clearing his family's name. Ten years after his return, at the age of 42, he died in relative obscurity."

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The park preserves 4,750 acres of natural land by the Huachuca Mountains in southeast Arizona, about 26 miles from Bisbee.

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A narrow, winding drive ascends to Montezuma Pass Overlook at 6,575 ft elevation.

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A short, but steep hike climbs almost 300 more feet to Coronado Peak for a 360 degree view of the U.S.-Mexican border, San Pedro River Valley and San Rafael Valley.

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The whipping winds are worth it!

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-P

Keep Bisbee Weird

Bisbee, Arizona February 25 - March 1, 2009

You can buy shirts with the motto "Keep Bisbee Weird". I didn't see it, at first.

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Bisbee climbs the hillsides of southern Arizona's Mule Mountains and has grown into an artist colony "known for its relaxed quality of life".

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Old West history, Victorian structures and old, refurbished mining shacks stand alongside the Queen Mines copper mine.

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We had a sweeping view of all from our campground, Queen Mines RV Park.

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The town steeps in the waft of roasting coffee beans. The best brew can be found at Bisbee Coffee Co. You can watch the roasting process via a monitor in the cafe. The cranberry orange scones are scrumptious!

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Mata Ortiz pottery - intricate and stunning.

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One of several colourful streets.

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Panama hats, which are actually from Ecuador. Hat makers strip the straw from palmetto fronds. A fine straw hat takes about two months to make and costs about $2,500.

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A sidewalk painter in front of one of many galleries. We explored them all.

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Bottle cap art

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Art off the beaten path:

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I can't forget to mention Atalanta's Music & Books. Not only is it the place for books in Bisbee, but they also sell hemp products at the most reasonable prices -- I left with three bags, two belts, no books.

In the evening we sampled live music at Stock Exchange Saloon in The Brewery building, which houses a New York Stock Exchange board, "... the only board ever used and affiliated by the NYSE in Arizona." More than 80 years later the names of the listed companies from the 1960s remain. We tried the Electric Beer, brewed locally, and like the lager the best.

Stock Exchange Saloon is a mecca for characters with character. The bartender, Dawn, hasn't cut her hair since the Vietnam War. And the dancers? That night's troupe: a few-toothed rowdy woman in an Indian leather jacket; a grooving Gramma with floral vest, turtleneck and earplugs; a jumpy, braided, long-skirted, moccasin clad hippy; an obese chihuahua (seriously); a Spanish woman swishing hips and soaring arms in showtune style, and that's not all.

Shannon, a self-professed "She-male" (usually a derogatory term) who can no longer hide evidence of a year of hormone therapy, plans to "change the plumbing in Colorado." He says Bisbee is, "half gay," and also, "This is the Key West in the West." In male-mode he impersonates Sinatra. "And after your transformation?" I asked. "Streisand." Naturally. Meanwhile, I became an unwitting audience to  "TTT", Shannon's alter ego, "Tanya the Transsexual".

Keep Bisbee weird. We can't imagine it any other way.

-P

Tubac, AZ

February 8, 2009 We made a beeline for Tubac from Casa Grande on the last day of the Tubac Festival of the Arts.

"The Art Colony of Tubac was established in 1752 as a Spanish presidio (fort)." Tiny Tubac (pop. ~1,200) claims Arizona's longest running art festival. This year's 50th anniversary event hosted about 170 artists, crafts persons and musicians.

Lloyd charging his internal GPS:

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White kiosks shelter artists and their works from the rain and wind. They line the village streets, mingling with about a hundred resident galleries, restaurants and shops.

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We played around in the sculpture garden.

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But we didn't party down like this guy:

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Lloyd takes notes from the master? Yes, that's Monet.

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Lloyd looking for inspiration, something to incorporate into his own paintings perhaps.

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It was cold enough for gloves. That's the skeleton of a saguaro cactus to our right, by the way. Locals find all sorts or things to do with the remains: fences, furniture, landscaping features, art, etc.

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Silversmithing artisans:

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Here's an idea for those old boots you hate to throw out - make them into birdhouses.

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And for your scrap metal? Make art: flowers, frog mariachi bands, ...

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-P

Naked Bookseller in Quartzsite

naked-bookseller We love bookstores and found a great one in Quartzsite. It even included a naked bookseller. We were lucky to pick up several books and Pamela got a hug and a photograph. -L

That's Paul, co-owner of Reader's Oasis on Main Street. Super nice guy. Also very ... nut-brown, evenly ... toasted. No tanlines. Uh hum. He performed a one man show years ago and thought he could simply drive from Montreal to Halifax in a day, in the winter. Now he knows. :)

-P

Quartzsite, AZ

January 14-18, 2009 We left Tonopah for a Quartzsite excursion.

If you're an RVer, you can't help but to hear about Quartzsite, Arizona, a mecca for desert dry camping RVers hankering for Swap-Meet(market)-like deals and doodads and all the eats and entertainment that come along with the multi-day "exhibition" that is the Quartzsite Sport, Vacation and RV Show. We wanted to experience Quartzsite if only to witness the town we drove through in March '08 bloom from a population of about 3,400 to multiples of that number as RVers zoned in on the hot spots and checkered the arid Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land.

We had the added incentive of a meet up with POG People and friends. We arrived to find that Ken and Van scored a primo heat sync with an excellent mountain view.

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We parked in a circle which made for a cozy set up and fast-made friends for those who met for the first time.

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A view of our assembly from one of many sprawling trails through the wilds:

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Now, how cute is THIS! :D

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Complete with cabana shower... What more do you need?

Pamela et al, probably waiting for Mary, the firemaster, to do her pyro-magic.  :)

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The gang's all here.

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The fire pit, generously supplied by our fellow campers, served as home base.

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We had big, bodacious skies every day.

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On our last morning Gail and Larry treated the gang to Cafe du Monde, beads and beignets straight from New Orleans!

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Now, showtime! When in the desert ... you could buy an inflatable kayak and all manner of useful and less useful things. Of course, most vendors are somehow connected to RV supplies and recreational endeavours.

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Since we were in little need of RV supplies we spent more time perusing the art kiosks, along with the carnivalesque cuisine stalls. Also, aside from the 26th Annual Sports, Vacation and RV Show, vendors from the Rock & Gem Show displayed their mounds upon mounds of merchandise.

We were particularly impressed with one gentleman's iron art and the intricate detail that can be cultivated in such a hard, rigid material, with a lot of creativity and patience:

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If you know us well, it probably won't surprise you to know that our prize find and purchase was a tortilla sock thingy to keep tortillas warm for burritos and fajitas. :)

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Adiós amigos!

-P