Sunday, February 2, 2020

Cayman Brac 2019

For the third December in a row Anna and I returned to Cayman Brac for eight days of scuba diving and rock climbing. The air and water temperature were both 82 degrees F. The staff at the resort had not changed so it seemed as though we were visiting family.

No sooner did we arrive we were greeted by a rainbow:

After we were there a few days, Anna made her 100th dive:

We went climbing on two days; two scuba dives in the morning then climbing the Brac in the afternoon. On the second climbing day, our guide, Angel ("Iguana On The Rocks"), had us rappel into a cave on the side of the bluff and then top rope out. Here is very short video of Anna climbing out of the cave and "topping out".

Anna took some short but sweet underwater videos:

To see some underwater photos: 

Following tradition, we left a stone with our names at the foot of the seahorse:

This is a magical place.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Taking Our T@b Camper out West

Anna and I started our journey on Tuesday June 11th.  We planned to drive approximately 300 miles a day and then stay overnight in a campground. The T@b has air conditioning, a heater, a refrigerator, two-burner stove, sink, shower, and toilet. Anna made window covers, a spare tire cover and outside decals. We also have an awning for shade.

Day one brought us to east Tennessee and Day two to west Tennessee. Both campgrounds had swimming pools. We had lunch in our camper at I-40 rest stops.

Day three ended in western Arkansas; on day four we crossed Oklahoma.  The only thing we saw in Arkansas and Oklahoma were solar farms and wind turbines. These are supplemented by oil. Despite support of President Trump, the folks here don't use coal.

Next stop was Amarillo, Texas. We stayed at a fun RV campground and they had a limo to drive us to dinner.

We ate in the Big Texas Steakhouse and had troubadours serenade us.

And Anna tried to get the ring on the hook:

See her trying (all links you see are extremely short video clips):

The next day we made Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The first National Park we visited was the Petrified Forest in Arizona. Millions of years was needed to convert trees to works of stone art.

And finally, the Grand Canyon: four nights on the South Rim and three nights on the North Rim.

Anna viewing the South Rim awesomeness:

Bright Angel Trail down the South Rim:

Anna being daring on the South Kaibab Trail:

The dramatic North Rim seen from the Lodge restaurant balcony:

And we took the mule ride 2,000 feet down the North Rim of the Canyon:

And the view from Cape Royal - the mighty Colorado River:

The remainder of our stops went back and forth between Utah and Arizona.
We continued to Zion National Park where we went rock climbing.  Climbing on slab sandstone required a completely different technique from climbing granite and limestone; fortunately we had hired a guide to teach us how to negotiate this rock.

Our teardrop camper dwarfed by Zion environment:


Hiking in Zion:

Emerald Pools formed by three waterfalls:

On the way to Antelope Canyon we stopped at the Horseshoe Bend of the Colorado River:

Antelope Canyon is surreal. Our Navajo guide led us through the twists and turns to see kaleidoscopic views of the rock.

On our way to Monument Valley we took a boat tour on Lake Powell:

Monument Valley:

Our guide in Monument Valley was a Navajo man who was born and reared right in the Valley. He took us to a hogan where an older Navajo woman demonstrated traditional weaving.  She also tied a Navajo double bun (Mother Earth and Father Sky) in a woman's hair.

Anna between "The Mittens":

"Big Hogan"


Anna on yet another ledge (à la John Wayne):

And then on to Mesa Verde (altitude 8,500 feet):

Our camper dwarfed:

The most incredible construction I've ever seen in the U.S. were the Pueblo communities built into rock at high altitudes.  Anna and I took a tour of Balcony House. We had to navigate many steep steps, ladders and a very narrow tunnel.

We also did a twilight tour of Cliff Palace:

A ceremonial kiva:

We next headed to Dead Horse State Park on our way to Goblin and Canyonlands:

"According to one legend, around the turn of the century, the point was used as a corral for wild mustangs roaming the mesa top. Cowboys rounded up these horses, herded them across the narrow neck of land and onto the point. The neck, which is only 30-yards-wide, was then fenced off with branches and brush. This created a natural corral surrounded by precipitous cliffs straight down on all sides, affording no escape. Cowboys then chose the horses they wanted and let the culls or broomtails go free. One time, for some unknown reason, horses were left corralled on the waterless point where they died of thirst within view of the Colorado River, 2,000 feet below."

So, of course, we hiked the trail to Dead Horse Point:

On to Goblin Valley State Park:

The landscape which is covered with sandstone goblins and formations is often compared to Mars.

We went to Canyonlands next. We hiked to Mesa Bridge first:

And then hiked to Grand View:

Our last stop before landing in Salt Lake City was Capitol Reef:

We hiked to see the petroglyphs left by native Americans long ago:

Then we hiked to get a good view of the rock that gives the park its name (people thought it looked like the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.):

Anna and I wanted to hike the Capitol Gorge trail. We had to drive two miles on an unpaved, narrow twisty road and the walk another two miles between the high canyon walls.

Settlers in the 1800's sometimes inscribed their names on the walls of the gorge:

Anna scrambled up the difficult trail to "The Tanks" (pools of water at the top of the gorge):

Before we left Capitol Reef Anna just had to stand on the edge of the rock overlooking the road out of the park:

We arrived in Salt Lake City the day after the birth of Evie Rose Story:

We spent a wonderful two weeks with Liza, Paul, Evie and Winston (the family labradoodle).  Paul has crafted a beautiful modern home from the bones of the original structure: the amount of energy and talent required to gut it and recreate it was awesome.

Now we had to move on toward Chris in Denver.

First we stopped at Dinosaur National Monument:

The Morrison Formation provided a backdrop for many dinosaur bones.  A logjam of bones created by ancient rivers flooding was the highlight of the visit.  A wall of bones was left intact and a museum was built around it.

We hiked around the Formation and saw many petroglyphs:

We moved on to Steamboat Springs.  We walked the town and Anna bought a sheepskin rug for her side of the bed in Durham.  We ate and drank well!  We made sure to visit Fish Creek Falls:

Our campsite was directly on the river and, as usual, we had by far the smallest camper in the RV park (a T@b 320s named T@bulous):

And so we finally reached Denver:

The first day Chris took us to climb at the huge REI in downtown Denver (first Anna then me):

Chris took us to Lookout Point up many hairpin turns.  And "Buffalo Bill Cody" is buried there!

And Chris showed us his bike:

The next day we visited the very large Botanical Gardens (lots of plants we had never seen) and the Art Museum:

And that evening Anna and Chris cooked dinner:

We then said good-bye to Chris and traveled quickly through Kansas until we reached our RV park in the middle of downtown St. Louis.

We had a great meal and specialty margaritas:

The National Park built under the arch was extremely well done.  The engineering required to build the arch was shown in videos - pretty impressive work. We also went up the tram within the Arch and took some photos:

We next stopped in Louisville Kentucky (beautiful blue grass country and lots of bourbon distilleries) and the on to West Virginia's New River Gorge.

The New River is a National River and one of the oldest rivers in the world.  The bridge over it is the longest steel span in the western hemisphere.  The Gorge is world-famous for its whitewater rafting and rock climbing.  Of course Anna and I did both!

We did a 9 mile river ride with rapids rated 3-5.  There we 14 rapids: two 5's, three 4's and the rest 3's.

In the photos, Anna and I are starboard in front of our guide:

Of course Anna had to jump off the cliff with all the young rafters (sorry for the dark video made by our guide with his iPhone):

The very next day we went climbing at Lower Meadow.  The sandstone here is very hard and the climbing routes are very steeply vertical.  Anna managed an unnamed 5.9 and our guide, who had bolted the route, said she could name it.  Anna is relatively short and the route was very "reachy".  She named it Short Story!


Anna climbing:

Anna rappelling:

Anna and our guide Jim Taylor:

So our trip took eight weeks and 7,000 miles. Lots of adventures and miles of hiking.  Lots of wonderful people in all the RV parks.

We'll plan our next T@bulous adventure anon.