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Arizona landscapes

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One amazing canyon in a day is not quite enough, so we headed from Antelope Canyon in Page, AZ, onwards to Grand Canyon. We arrived in the late afternoon, just in time to get nice evening views of the Canyon from the watchtower at Desert View.

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That the campgrounds in the National Park were full, did not really shock us. We also declined to go with the plan B the ranger had to offer, but went with our own plan to search for a dispersed camping site in Kaibab National Forest around mile 270. The plan worked excellently and we found a nice site, just a couple of miles from the park entrance.
The evening was used to get Max’ bike fixed again which had two flat tires due to the spiky thorns that were all along Lake Powell. While Sam fixed the bike, I cooked dinner and Max eventually turned to playing Lego after helping his dad for a while. A nice and calm evening.

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The next day we took in a couple of nice viewpoints along the Eastern part of the park. At Grandview lookout we also took a small hike down in the direction of the canyon. But we did not plan on going really further down, even though Max was all set to go down all the way. The nice thing was that as soon as we climbed down a bit, we were suddenly all alone without any other people around.

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Shortly after that we parked our car and took a walk along the rim – Sam and I walking and Max on his bike. And given that all parking spots were full at the visitor center anyhow, this was the perfect choice: nice views, fresh air, some exercise and very few people. At the visitor center I got the obligational stamps for our National Parks Passport and we then went on to Mather Point to take in the view while enjoying a cup of tea with some cake. Eventually we returned the same way we came, got back to our car and went off to find the next campground.

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The campground and RV park in Tuyasan was not really what we had in mind: we were not planning to stand lined up in a row with other RV which would most likely have their air-cons and compressors on all night just for the pleasure of having an electrical hook-up. So once more we went into the Kaibab National Forest and had a spot for ourselves.
The next morning, we started to head down towards Flagstaff. While initially we were only passing through a rather flat countryside, eventually the scenery became a lot nicer when passing through the San Francisco mountains. Flagstaff surprised us as a quaint small town and as it was time for a break anyhow, we used Janis’ map in order to find a park. The one we found was absolutely crowded with kids on their recess from the adjacent school, but it featured a nice skatepark which Max soon later tried out with his little BMX bike.

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Given that it is Memorial Weekend coming up, we wanted to secure our campground well ahead of time for the weekend. So we eventually left Flagstaff towards Sedona. Having had the choice between a couple of places, it seemed like Flagstaff / Sedona was a nice area to spend a couple of days for the long weekend. And we were lucky to get one of the last remaining spots in the Pine Flats campground half way between Flagstaff and Sedona.
We spent the next day running some errands, specifically trying to get a new spare part for our shower system. Admittedly it was a bit of a miss not having taken care about that already in Page, as we knew that our shower system is actually a deck shower for marine use. And consequently the RV stores we went to were not able to get it for us. At least Buddy’s RV Service in Flagstaff was so kind to allow us to order the part to their address. After all, we had found it online at Walmart and for a change this time we knew that we’d stay in a location for a bit longer than usual.

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The next couple of days we explored the region a bit. Sedona was top of the list, not so much for the spiritual energy and the vortexes that are supposed to be there, but much more for the nice small town with the amazing red rock country surrounding it. Based on a recommendation from Jakob’s guide book we attempted the Airport Loop. But eventually we realized that it was not a good idea to attempt that with Max’ bike. So we had to move to plan B: Sam continued onwards with Max and I went back to get the car. We then wanted to meet at a park which we had seen on a map. And as it happens so often plan B was by far better than the original plan. The park did not only feature an enormous playground, but also a water splash park – what a reward for Max after having attempted such an exhausting bike trail!

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A bit of shopping, a bit of rock sightseeing and back we went to the campground for a relaxing evening and a full next day without going anywhere. We used the lazy day to tidy up the van and to do a couple of maintenance efforts such as preventivly sealing the roof with a silicone Sam had bought specifically for that.

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In the evening we took a hike up to the canyon rim – 800 strenuous feet upwards (that’s at least what the hiking guide said). For us it was nice exercise after a rather lazy day and even Max enjoyed the hike up and even more so the way down. In the evening we met another German family who were already in their seventh and last month of travelling before heading home. And once more, we took lots of recommendations specifically for the Mexican part of the trip, as they just travelled Baja California up as we’ll be doing in a couple of weeks as well. In case you’re interested to get to know them: check out kidsontheroad.de.
Memorial Sunday was reserved for another trip to Sedona, this time to a nice creek with a view at Crescent Moon Ranch. At half past ten the (large!) parking lot was already full, so we packed our stuff and Sam parked a bit further down along the road while Max and I tested already the waters. What a nice refreshment on a hot sunny day like that!

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Our first spot was already great. Based on the recommendation of local family, we went on a bit further to an even larger pool with a small waterfall. There the water was even deeper and the view to Cathedral Rock even nicer.
One last fifth night at our home base Pine Flats, we then left the next morning with the clear goal in mind to reserve a spot in a KOA campground. After all, it had now been 17 without electrical hook-ups and with the exception of Page also without Wi-Fi or network connection. And even though the sign in front of the Flagstaff KOA still featured a large ‘Sorry, we’re full’ sign, we tried and easily got ourselves a site reserved for the night. With electrical hook-up, free Wi-Fi, dump station, a laundry, hot showers and mobile phone connection – everything and even more than what we need. And with freshly washed laundry, a fully updated blog and fully charged batteries in the camper van, we’ll be all set for our upcoming adventures… And we’ll be conveniently located to pick up our spare part tomorrow just a mile up the road!
After that was all settled, we used the opportunity of having reception before noon to call home. And then we set off for a day trip to the nearby Barringer Meteor Crater. The crater is with its 50,000 years rather young and given the dry climate (just 7.5’’ of rain / snow per year) really well preserved. Hard to imagine the impact that meteor had – not to speak even about the larger ones that there are worldwide.

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Posted by dreiumdiewelt 21:39 Archived in USA Tagged rocks creek sedona meteor flagstaff Comments (0)

Kids, kangaroos and corals

Ningaloo Reef – Exmouth, Cape Range NP

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In Exmouth, we met quite a couple of interesting people and nice families traveling around Australia.
One morning, we were joined by eight-year old Cooper for our trip to the skate park before heading to the pool. He is traveling with his parents for a year doing the tour of Australia. To keep up with school, he is spending about 30 min per day studying and learning, mainly to keep up his maths. While this sounds like not too much, Freya (5) and Pearl’s (9) mom told me that they are not doing any home schooling at all, as the girls learn so much while traveling. She’s sure that both of them will have no trouble at all catching up with their friends once they’ll be back after their year of traveling. And after all, they had done long trips like that already in the past…
Coming from Germany with its strict enforcement of all kids going to school, this is very, very different. In Germany parents are not only risking fines, but eventually jail if their kids don’t go to school. Whereas in Australia the government might cut subsidies / pensions for parents not sending their kids to school – but anyone who is not receiving any money from the government, there is no risk. And I fully agree, that kids do learn a lot when traveling and that at least in the first years of school probably an hour of home schooling a day is largely sufficient to keep up to date in line with the curriculum.
After another relaxed day and evening of editing pictures, eventually we decided to leave Exmouth to explore the Ningaloo Reef and the Cape Range National Park. We were shocked to realize that the local supermarket was closed – as it was Sunday, but headed off anyhow hoping that our remaining supplies would be enough such that we could stay for at least two nights.
As we headed from Exmouth to Cape Range National Park, we stopped at the first landmark along the way, the Vlaming Head lighthouse. From there we already got the first impression of the peninsula with its fringing reef close to the shoreline.

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After a quick stop in the dunes, we explored the displays in the information center. That’s also where we finally saw our first kangaroos. Specifically, Max was excited about them and kept watching out along the road to see more of them.

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But despite the excitement about the kangaroos, our key reason for coming to the Western Cape was the Ningaloo Reef. We headed to Turquoise Bay for snorkeling. Despite the fairly low visibility due to the heavy wind and subsequent sand in the water, we saw really nice corals and lots of fish. But not only the snorkeling was nice – it’s for a good reason that Turquoise Bay usually features as one of the tow three beaches in Australia.

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Eventually we had to head off in search of a place to stay for the night. Given the excellent reviews on our WikiCamps app, we chose Osprey Bay. What a great choice: we ended up coincidentally next to Max’ friend Cooper and his family and as such Max was happy and busy without Sam or me having to get inventive - excellent.
But we also had other friends visiting our camp: a legless lizard wound its way to our spot. He was very welcome - much more than a King Brown or other venomous snake would have been.

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The next morning, we could not resist to go snorkeling in Turquoise Bay once more. This time we went to the drift area. It was a pretty cool snorkel getting into the water and letting us drift along the beach for a couple of hundred meters. The corals were simply spectacular.

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After so much activity in the relatively cool water, we went for a hike at Yardie Creek. Fortunately, the flies there were just sitting on our cloths vs. bothering us. Otherwise the hike would not have been as much fun.

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After the heat of Yardie Creek, we were happy to be back at home at Osprey Bay to take a refreshing bath in the sea. And we realized that not only we were hot - the kangaroos were also seeking shelter in the shade of the toilet building.

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But best of all was our afternoon snorkel in Osprey Bay. We started from the beach just below our campsite. From there we discovered a sleeping turtle underneath a small ledge, watched a white moray eel wind itself along the edge of the reef and saw more diverse and colorful fish than in most snorkeling trips we had done so far.

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Obviously, we wanted to repeat this excellent snorkeling trip once more before leaving Osprey Bay the next day. But our morning snorkel was more than disappointing. In fact, with the big waves and wind, it was quite exhausting. In return we at least got to see a turtle swimming in the water, but that was about it. At least, this helped to feel less regrets about having to leave. After all, we had run down our supplies so far that we simply had to go shopping to stock up.
After another stop in the windswept dunes, we headed directly into Exmouth. Lunch, shopping and off we went to relax at our already well known caravan park with its nice pool and the emus.

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 23:11 Archived in Australia Tagged fish national creek dune kangaroo reef snorkel coral turtle moray Comments (0)

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