Cooking and Canyons

Cate was surfing the web looking for interesting stops as we made our way from Lake Isabella and descended into Las Vegas. She stumbled across an art installation on the Vegas outskirts called Seven Magic Mountains by the artist Swiss artist, Ugo Rondonone. The installation was on the side of I-15 and reminded me of a cross between Cadillac Ranch And Stonehenge. It consisted of 7 “day-glo totems”, or in lay-speak, 7 towers made from huge boulders stacked on top of each other, and painted in fluorescent colors. The place was surprisingly busy. It was late in the day and the stacks cast long shadows over the desert scrub. It was superb.
We had agreed to meet Bart Cop aka The Camper Chef at Red Rock Canyon campground the following day for mutual interviews, so that was our destination for the night. We hit a bit of late rush hour traffic on our way through town, and finally made it to the campground with a few minutes of light left to spare. We circled the campground a few times, met with the hosts, and unhooked before making the short trip back into town to grab some groceries.
The next day we picked up a bit around the camper, grabbed some ingredients from a list sent by Bart, and he finally dropped by for introductions. He offered us a much needed shower at his place which was 7 minutes from the campground, we gratefully took him up on his offer before we returned and met his assistant Tatiana, and his photographer. Wasting no time, he put the meal prep in full swing. Pasta was made on the picnic table, and hung to dry in the dry desert air on our broomstick, charcoal was fired up, chicken and mushrooms cut and grilled. The meal came together beautifully while “Camper Chef” energetically dashed around directing the entire affair.

In short order we were seated at the picnic table in the afternoon desert sun eating a Chicken Mushroom Cream Pasta he dubbed Argosy Chicken Pasta. All in all it was a fun afternoon, and later in the evening Bart returned with is Avion camper and two of his boys. I kept the kids entertained while Cate did her interview, and later we sat chatted under the moon. Camper Chef was great, as were his children.
Before leaving out Friday morning we took a quick swing around the Red Rock Canyon Scenic Drive. It was beautiful, so many different colors of rock glowing in the morning sun. The trip to the North Rim would be one of the longer legs of our journey. We trundled through the heart of Las Vegas, headed north towards Salt Lake before peeling off at Hurricane, Utah to follow the windy 2 lane towards Fredonia, Jacob Lake and the North Rim in Arizona. The scenery, as usual in this part of the country was spectacular. Cate, being the navigator extraordinaire had found a small forest service road (FS611) that skirted the rim of the canyon. A dozen dispersed camp sites were situated within yards, and sometimes feet, of the rim of the canyon. Most of the spots were taken by the time we arrived, so we found one at the very end of the road. It was unlevel and on the non-canyon side of the road, so we resigned to seek out a new one first thing in the morning. A hurricane was due to arrive in Mexico and travel towards us over the weekend, arriving Monday. We hoped that might deter some folks from staying long, and our hopes were confirmed in the morning. After catching the sunset we scouted the road and found the best site had been vacated. We claimed our spot, leaving some chairs, while we went to retrieve traytray. The yellowjackets (or ‘meat bees’ if you are from Southern Oregon) were thick, and were very interested in our brightly colored camper, luckily they were not as aggressive as they can typically be in the fall. By the time we set up camp, it was only about 9 AM, and we had the whole day ahead of us.
*On a side note, and speaking of time, Arizona confuses even phones in relation to DST. Arizona doesn’t recognize Daylight Savings Time, however the Navajo Nation does. The boundaries are a bit fuzzy in regards to cell phones, and as a consequence, when one is trying to find and establish a campsite before dark it can be a bit confusing. Three mobile devices all showing different times.*
With the day still young we took the long bumpy road back to the North Rim and into the park. Again, our National Park Pass paid for itself. If you only visit three parks on a trip, you will have paid more for entry fees than if you bought an $80 annual pass.
We drove the * scenic drive stopping along all the way to snap pictures and let the animals soak in the view.


We made it back in time for a nice sunset, shooting some photos and trying out our new Wine Hooks!

Before we left Oregon, we were kindly sent two Wine Hooks to try out on the road. These clever creations are perfectly shaped clips that you can attach to almost any chair, from a rigid Adirondack chair to a canvas camp chair. We found them to be helpful even on a small outdoor table where a hook is more secure that even the tabletop. We broke into some of the Schmidt Family Vinyards wine that I had brought along! We fell asleep watching the moon come up over the canyon rim through the curved bedside window inside the Argosy.
Suddenly, I woke up and I was 46. That sure happened fast, seemed like yesterday that I was much younger….Cate made a wonderful birthday breakfast, and we planned for the day. She was going to stay with the critters and write, while I ventured out to the pet unfriendly park to hike and get some pics! By the time I returned it was clear that we had run out of options both in what to do, and also in regards to the weather. The rain had just started as I returned so we hooked it up and headed on down the plateau towards Page and Lake Powell. The drive took us by the Vermillion Cliffs, Marble Canyon, and Lee’s Ferry. We wound our way past Page and to the Lone Rock Recreation area, where we parked on the beach overlooking the lake. We were treated to a fiery sunset as we settled in for the night.

Horseshoe Bend has been on the must-visit list for some time. I was not exactly expecting it to be quite as touristy as it was. We had arrived fairly early to find the parking lot half full, people already streaming down the path to get their selfies, and feast their eyes on this wonder of nature. Frankie strained at the leash as hard as she could to get as close to the edge as possible. She is fearless when it comes to heights…. must be a goat thing!

Franks drinks from a gold pan

Having taken our pics, we escaped the throngs, many of who took more pictures of the Franks than the scenery, drove to a tiny weird little UPS location to pick up Cate’s replacement phone, and then drove to Lee’s Ferry. Lee’s Ferry is where all Grand Canyon river trips originate. On the boat ramp the excitement of the rafters prepping their supplies for trips that could last as long as 18 days was palatable.

Another day was almost spent and we made our way back to the beach. The rain was due in any time, and we figured we should make haste and head towards Monument Valley first thing in the morning.
We awoke to grey skies and light rain, packed it all in and made our exit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *