Things are still fine in Lone Pine, CA!

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It’s turkey day, but this lucky one got away!

Steve and I are thankful that all of you have continued to jam on down the road with us, and we wish you all the best and a very Happy Thanksgiving!



If you’re fans of old western movies as we are, a visit to Lone Pine, CA should be on your must-do list.

Why?

Well, one of Hollywood’s favorite western movie locations, the Alabama Hills, are right here.  It’s where hundreds of cowboy and war movies have been filmed since 1920.  The Museum of Western Film History should be the first stop to not only get your bearings, but also to learn about specific locations of the area’s appearances in Hollywood feature films.  After that, grabbing a self-guided tour book that describes famous movie locations will be the start of a unique day of exploration in the area.

We always get excited when we watch an old movie and recognize the places we’ve seen here, yelling, “been there!” together 🙂 Continue reading

Sculpted by time and tide – Hopewell Cape, NB

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Flower Pots Rocks
Steve and the ducks

Steve chatting with the quack-quacks

We finally began our journey back toward the U.S. from Cape Breton Island, via New Brunswick.  We thought we’d left the rain behind us, but our brief stop at Linwood, NS was a washout, too.  I know it sounds like we’re complaining, but cabin fever was setting in and we became antsy.  The sun finally made a grand appearance, and our drive to Moncton, New Brunswick was a happy one.  Steve made friends with the ducks at our campsite and discussed the weather with them.  They seemed perfectly happy about all of the rain that had come through!

Since we had been through here on our way to Prince Edward Island a few weeks ago, this was a “catch our breath” stop and we ran a few errands – like a much-needed trip to Costco.  But we did have time for an interesting excursion that fits right in with my past blogs about the Bay of Fundy, and the effects of the  highest tides in the world.  Folks coming to this area don’t want to miss a trip out to the Hopewell Rocks.

Hopewell Rocks

Low tide at Hopewell Rocks

This drive took us to an interesting geologic feature known as the Hopewell Rocks formation, where the famous “Flower Pot Rocks” are located.  Even though we have been to quite a few formations – Chiricahua Mountains (Arizona)Alabama Hills (California), Stone Mountain (Georgia) etc – the Flower Pot Rocks are quite different.  While rain and ice continue to erode these formations today, they get the additional daily tidal action that wears away at the bases of the cliffs and rocks.  This is slowly disintegrating them as the Bay of Fundy tides continue to change these unusual sculptures.

Flower Pots Rocks, Hopewell Rocks

The average change in water level from high to low tide is 35 ft.  Steve won’t be standing here in a few hours!

The only time these formations can be seen is at low tide.  So, along with busloads of tourists we explored the ocean floor for a fee.  The Bay of Fundy is a huge attraction here in New Brunswick.

Warning Signs, Hopewell Rocks

Keep the time in mind, or else!

Hopewell Rocks

This platform is where the dummies who don’t pay attention have to go, if they don’t get off the beach in time. Then they get to sit there until the tide goes back out hours later. How embarrassing!

Flower Pots, Hopewell Rocks

Low tide at the “Flower Pots”

The formations consist of dark sedimentary conglomerate and sandstone rock.  The huge volume of water flowing into and out of the Bay of Fundy constantly modifies the landscape surrounding it.  Following the retreat of the glaciers in the region during the last ice age, surface water filtering through cracks in the cliff eroded and separated the formations from the rest of the cliff face.  At the same time, advancing and retreating tides eroded the base of the rocks at a faster rate than the tops, resulting in their unusual shapes.

Flower Pots, Hopewell Rocks

Rock Formations at Hopewell Rocks

Little person in a big hole.

Rock Weeds, Hopewell Rocks

Rock weeds cover the base of the rocks.

At Hopewell we could also see the mud flats that stretch as wide as 2.5 miles.  It boggles the mind to contemplate the amount of water that moves in and out of here every day.

Hopewell's Mud Flats

Hopewell’s mud flats and coastline, and the Bay of Fundy in the distance.

After walking on the ocean floor and checking out the rocks, we continued to follow the Fundy Coastline Scenic Drive.  It took us to the town of Alma, a small fishing town where we had (oh no, not again!) lobster for lunch.

Alma Tide, NB

Can you see people walking on the ocean floor?

Low Tide at Alma, NB

Low tide at Alma

Lobsters

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe!

After a sumptuous lobster lunch, we continued on to Cape Enrage, where we had spectacular views of its towering cliffs and a lighthouse.  Interestingly, in 1993 a small group of high school students from Moncton began a restoration project at the site, which was in disrepair and constantly vandalized. They renovated all of the buildings and slowly turned the site into a tourist destination.  A not-for-profit student-run organization maintains the property and now offers climbing, rappelling, and kayaking in the summer months.

Cape Enrage Lighthouse

Cape Enrage lighthouse is one of the oldest on New Brunswick’s Fundy coastline.

We noticed some adventurous women rappelling down the cliffs, and watched them until they reach the ground.  Hmm, I don’t think I will do it even if they did make it look easy!

Cape Enrage

These women made it looked easy.

Cape Enrage

Instead of rappelling we just played “washer pitching”, a game similar to horseshoes.

Cape Enrage’s name came from an early French descriptive, ‘cape of rage’, as exhibited by the turbulent waters often seen in the area.

Cape Enrage

A very windy trip to Cape Enrage – check out Steve’s “bad hair” day!

Cape Enrage

Tidal notices like this abound in beach areas.

Cape Enrage

Tide coming in at Cape Enrage

On the way home we stopped by again at the Hopewell Rocks, just to see how the tourists were doing at the ocean floor now.

Mid Tide at Hopewell Rocks

The tide’s coming in at the Rocks now, but a few tourist are lingering.  Not for long!

There was no shortage of fantastic scenery as we drove home, following the Fundy Coastal Drive.  The open space, green pastures and cloud formations made for a beautiful end to the day!

Fundy Coastal Drive

Fundy Coastal Drive

This time, “home” was at the Stonehurst Golf Course and Trailer Park in Moncton.  We liked it better than the Camper City and RV Resort, where we stayed the last time in Moncton.  Click here to see Steve’s review, if interested.

It was quite an amazing experience to witness the high and low tides of the Bay of Fundy.  The Reversing, Falls at St. John, the sculpted rocks at Hopewell Cape, the immense low tide at Alma and the Fundy Trail Parkway all made this part of our adventure memorable!

Next up:  Our final stop at St. Andrews-by-the-Sea and goodbye to Canada!

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Rock Concert! – Chiricahua National Monument

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We saw a video describing Chiricahua National Monument at the Kartchner Caverns visitor’s center, and it piqued our interest.  We had not previously heard about “The Land of Standing up Rocks” as referred to by the local Chiricahua Apaches, and the “Wonderland of Rocks” by later pioneers.  After seeing it, we simply call it the “Gorgeous giant rock concert.”  We opted to stay in Arizona a couple extra days to check it out and moved Betsy over to Willcox, a little closer and still on our way.

Chiricahua (pronounced CHEER-IH-COW-AH) National Monument, established in 1924, is described as a sky island – an isolated mountain range rising above a surrounding grassland sea.  The unusual rock formations here were caused by a massive volcanic eruption some 27 million years ago by the nearby Turkey Creek caldera, which covered the land with white-hot ash.  As the ash cooled, it fused into dark volcanic rock known today as rhyolite.  The continual natural erosion via water and wind has sculpted these rocks and split them into tall columns, pinnacles  and unlikely balancing rocks.  We have seen many rock formations in our travels (like the ones at Alabama Hills in Lone Pine, California), but here in the Chiricahua Mountains the outcroppings are something to behold!

The eight mile scenic trip along Bonita Canyon Drive made a fairly steep ascent through oak, cypress and pine forest until we arrived at Massai Point, where the road terminates and several hiking trails begin.  Along the way there are pull outs where we could stop to view and photograph some amazing formations, such as the Organ Pipe Formation, Sea Captain and China Boy.

Organ Pipe Formation

Organ Pipe Formation

Hiking is the best option for getting up close and personal with the extensive outcrops of the eroded volcanic pinnacles.  We thought about taking the Heart of Rocks Loop, where a group of impressive and  unusual rock formations can be viewed.  But due to recent snow and the trail being classified as strenuous, the park ranger did not recommend it at this time.  Instead, we settled on the Echo Canyon Trail, and tackled the  3.3 circuit which begins at Massai Point at 6780′ elevation.

Echo Canyon Loop Trailhead

~Echo Canyon Loop Trailhead at Massai Point

The Echo Canyon Trail is the second most popular path in Chiricahua National Monument.  It follows a rocky ridge past many huge eroded boulders, balanced rocks and at this time held a lot of snow and ice!  The trail was slick and slippery, and it took us about 3 hours to complete the loop.  But it was well worth it!  We walked amongst the grottoes and balanced rocks, which is actually a bit unsettling, as you realize these massive boulders over your head could come down and smash you like a bug if there was even a small earthquake.

At one point we passed through a narrow, sheer-walled passage called Wall Street.

Wall Street

Wall Street

Then the path descended to the forested floor of a sheltered valley called Echo Park, which was at this time covered with snow and very beautiful.

Echo Park

Continuing on the trail we rounded a corner to a grand viewpoint high above two deep ravines, and on to a junction with the Hailstone and Upper Rhyolite Canyon trails.  On this north-facing side of the trail the snow had melted so we picked up our pace, walking along the base of the pinnacles lining the Rhyolite Canyon.

Upper Rhyolite

Along this trail we stopped and admired the many eroded boulders that are seemingly ready to fall.  The lichen-covered columns and pinnacles were colored green and/or orange.

There are 17 miles of hiking trails that intersect in the park, but the best option for an all day hike is known as the Big Loop, a 9.5 mile trip to all areas of the various formations.  The Chiricahua mountains was worth our change of plans, what a fantastic place!

Chiricahua National Monument

One final look at the Rocks in Concert!

We discovered while in Willcox that there are a few vineyards that grow and bottle yummy wines, and they are seriously good!  Two have tasting rooms in town – Keeling Schaefer and Coronado Vineyards.  We missed the wineries at Patagonia, so went tasting here and were surprised by the quality of these southwestern wines.  It was a fitting end to our Arizona wanderings.

Farewell, Arizona, until next time!

Traveling highest to lowest in one day!

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Manzanar National Historic Site

Manzanar historic marker

One of the things we did while at Lone Pine was visit the 814- acre Manzanar National Historic Site.  This was one of the 10 camps where over 100,000 Japanese Americans were relocated during World War II without due process of law.  The historic site preserves the many stories of the people who were relocated there in 1942 and enclosed by barbed wire fences.  There is a self-guided driving tour (free) and a pretty good museum – worth a stop if you’re in the area. Continue reading

The other Alabama…

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Alabama Hills

Alabama Hills in the shadow of Mt Whitney

In the shadow of Mt Whitney stands a group of rocky outcroppings with a southern-sounding name known as Alabama Hills.  It is located just west of Lone Pine off of scenic Highway 395.  The Alabama Hills got their name from Confederate sympathizers who prospected and mined the area during the Civil war.  They were honoring the CSS Alabama, a propeller-driven sloop-of-war that burned or captured 65 Union ships before being sunk by the USS Kearsarge in 1864. Continue reading

Discovering majestic Mt. Whitney – She’s a beauty!

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Lone Pine

Location of Lone Pine in Owens Valley

After having a wondeful time at Bishop, we packed up and drove into Lone Pine  – 60 miles south on scenic 395.  We spent a couple of nights at the Boulder Creek RV Park so we could catch up on a few things, ie. laundry  😦   We also wanted to prepare for what we hoped would be our longest stretch of boondocking (dry camping) yet.  Once we located the perfect patch of desert for Betsy, we moved her there and got set up with fantastic views of the nearby Alabama Hills and Mt. Whitney. Continue reading