Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Day 5- Palo Duro/Amarillo/Arizona

I awoke to the rather loud Oriental family next door up around 6:30-7:00. Need, more, sleep! I tossed and turned and slept a little longer before I got the turkey wake up call, that is not slang for anything cool. There are actually a lot of turkeys here in the canyon and they were calling to each other right outside my tent. I heard clicking noises all around my tent to find one of our lovely neighbors over at our site taking photos, really?! Ugh, I laid my head back down and fought with my desire to sleep longer, and the fact that I probably can't. I decided to get up, go to the bathroom, and get my camp stove and oatmeal ready for when I am caught up on the blog. I also got my camera in case I wanted to take photos of anything else. A woodpecker landed on a tree nearby and I had never seen one so close, he then moved to the metal picnic table and began to drill his beak into it, I'm sure that was a nice surprise to him. I laid back down in my tent while Rosie remained asleep and finished yesterday's blogging, though I will have to wait until later when I have service to publish. It is around 9:15 by now and I am ready to get up and cook some breakfast so we can go explore some trails for most of the day. We still will stop in Amarillo to see Cadillac Ranch, and then head out. I got up, packed up some things, and made a Mountain House granola blueberry breakfast with my JetBoil stove. By this time Rosie was moving around and waking up as well. After we packed everything up, I put some ramen in a ziplock with water to pre soak by lunchtime (something I used to do on the trail.) We got ourselves ready for a little hike and left the car at the campsite. We walked up the paved road and found our first trail, this took us up to the red rocks which were beautiful, from there we saw a nice trail along the river that looked like a scene out of a safari. We decided to go down there to check that one out. The trail was flat and alongside the river, it was around 75-80 degrees out and it couldn't have been a nicer day for a hike. We came to a slanted tree over the river which I wondered how far out I could make it, I shimmied my way out there for a photo and realized getting back was the hard part. I held myself up and tried to scootch back when I abruptly landed pretty hard back on the truck, "good thing I'm not a guy" I said and before I could get out "guy" I regreted my statement, it hurt just as much! I got myself down and we continued on the trail for awhile. We ended up turning around and walking on the road for awhile to cut across to our campsite, we wanted to drive higher up so the trails would have a view. We saw our campsite across the stream and I figured we could find a crossing spot, however after only seeing a few sketchy skinny branches I didn't want to chance it with my camera in hand. We walked back up to the street and took the longer way (which would have been shorter if we just did that in the first place.) We got in the car and started our drive up out of the canyon, we came to a stopped line of cars and wondered why the road was being blocked off. Then towards the top we saw an 18 wheeler towing a piece of construction equipment, makes sense why they didn't want anyone driving up. Once the street was cleared we proceeded up, we chose a trail at the top of the canyon to explore and take photos on. After a few hours of hiking we decided to head on out to Amarillo, what a coincidence that along the way, Amarillo Sky played! We were on a mission to find a place that didn't have an exact address, we were looking for the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, no not line dancing again. Cadillac Ranch standing along Route 66 west of Amarillo, Texas, was invented and built by a group of art-hippies imported from San Francisco. Since it is just on the side of Route 66 we had to figure out how to get there, online it says it is located off of exit 60 off I40. I set my navigation to Amarillo I40 and no knowing which direction to go, I went West toward Albuquerque where we would be heading next. Aimlessly driving, a bunch of cars pulled off the side of the road caught my attention, and then there I spotted the 10 Cadillacs! We got off the exit, drove down Rte 66 and parked. The Cadillacs were everything I wanted them to be; colorful, abnormal, photo-ops. We took photos of and with the cars and then we were on our way. Back in the car we tried to figure out what we wanted to do for the night, Amarillo didn't hold much interest and it seemed Albuquerque didn't either. We decided to push further a few hours to Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. I looked on the website and it said it was free to camp in the park, we just had to be there by 7:00. It was around 1:00 and about 7 hours away. Somehow the GPS said we would get there at 6:58. Rosie took the wheel so I could begin to upload camera photos and add them to the blog. We drove down historic Route 66 and missed the left entry to Interstate 40, not a good thing when we are on a time crunch. But, like everything else; it happened for a reason. One we got to travel on a 4 mile section of the old American highway, and two, I got my very cliche Rte 66 photo opportunity! In no time we were back on the interstate. The drive was pretty flat and boring, but we are sure thankful for the 75mph speed limit out here! We had to stop a few times for gas but we were making great time, probably had to do with the fact that we went through two time changes setting the clock back. Driving through the mountains of New Mexico was a breath of fresh air, it really magnifies my love for the mountains. "The mountains are calling, and I must GO!" It started to rain a little and I was actually thankful for it this time in hopes to get the bug infestation off off of the windshield. The poor Chevy looked like a teenager with acne, not to mention it was hard to see through. It didn't rain enough to clean the windshield however, the temperatures ranged from 58-72 degrees depending on where we were which was a large range I thought. Arizona welcomed us with more flat, otherworldly like terrain. I did spot around 4 trains during the duration of our drive which was pretty awesome. We stopped one last time to top off the tank, and so I could go to the bathroom. At this point we switched so I could take over driving the last two hours or so. We arrived at the National Park a little after 6:00pm making great time. We stepped out of the Chevy and almost carried away by the chilling wind. Inside, we filed for a backcountry permit. However the ranger told us that we were supposed to be at our campsite an hour before closing, but he would let it slide (it doesn't say that on the website only says you have to obtain a permit before they close at 7:00.) He then proceeded to tell us that we needed to be quick with setting things up because the Rangers who checked could void our permit if we weren't at our site by 7:00. Down South everyone talks slow and gives you information sometimes you need, and other times you don't. Let's just say he was the latter and was contradicting himself telling us how much we had to hurry to get down there and set up. "Scuse me sir, the faster you get us registered, the faster we are done." He then called us in to the Rangers and the other line said something along the lines of we can't since it is past 7:00. At this point I was Googling campgrounds nearby and stumbled upon a KOA 19 miles away. Concurrent with my phone call to make our reservation, the ranger was on the phone and taking to Rosie. I caught some of the conversation while still on the phone reserving our campsite. Seems they were now accepting our permit. To backcountry camp at the park we would have to park our vehicle in a lot, walk .3 miles down, and then a mile off of that. In that moment I knew we would be staying at the KOA. All of our belongings for the next month are in the car, I am not going to just leave it in the middle of nowhere while I carry camping gear a mile away. When I stated we would be staying at the KOA, the ranger then proceeds to tell us we could drive to the South side where we could park our car and camp right next to it out of boundaries of the park, oh and that would be a 45 minute drive. So your telling me, we don't have enough time to park in the North enterence, but we could drive 45 minutes to the South side to camp? Why wouldn't you just tell us that to begin with?! We thanked him, but drove the 20 minutes to the KOA. Off of the exit was a Chevron, which I stopped to wash off the bugs on the windshield. At the campground, we got T13 as a site number and thought of my mom since her favorite number is 13. We were much more in the open than the last KOA and it was so cold and windy. We quickly set up our blowing away tents and actually staked them down. I made a Chili Mac with beef Mountain House meal, and we took a drive to the bath house to use the restroom and brush our teeth. Back at the site we decided to chill in the car for what we had to do before bed. I had to eat dinner, blog, and look at our maps/itinerary. While Rosie needed to journal, do her nails, and write out postcards. It is supposed to get down in the thirties tonight so needless to say my rainfly will be on to hold in some heat, and I'll be all bundled up!

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