North Rim Grand Canyon: July 29th -August 2nd, 2017


The view from Bright Angel Point.


We knew the North Rim was going to be fantastic, because the South Rim was, and come on, it’s the Grand Canyon!  But the big surprise was the drive from Jacob Lake to the campground entrance.  Once you get a few miles in, there are multiple huge meadows on both sides of the road.  Green grass, flower fields, and a mixed conifer forest with Blue Spruce, White Fir, Ponderosa, Doug Fir, and Quaking Aspen.

Visiting one of the popular National Parks is kind of like a United Nations field trip.  You hear all kinds of languages.  It’s really quite interesting.  We heard German, Dutch, French, Japanese, and Spanish being spoken.  And those are just the ones we were able to ID.  Of course Amelia busted out her Spanish and chatted up a group.

Unfortunately there were some ugly Americans in the campground.  Three rich families traveling together in their Cruise America RV rentals.  Two on one side of the road, one on the other.  Constantly yelling back and forth to each other; the kids were little shits, and the parents worse.  Just really annoying oblivious people.  They left Monday morning and the campground turned into a serene paradise.

The Grand Canyon is ginormous.  What a lot of people don’t realize is part of it isn’t in the National Park, but instead the National Forest, and on the North Rim there are places you can camp right on the rim.  That’s where we rode the Rainbow Rim Trail on our first day.  It was an hour drive to get there from the campground, mostly on dirt roads, but totally worth it.  The next day we did a strenuous 9.4 mile round trip, 3,000 plus feet drop in elevation hike down into the Grand Canyon to Roaring Springs.  It’s always a whole different perspective being in it and looking up as opposed to just viewing it from the top down.  On our last day we put on our tourists hats and drove the Cape Royal Road to all the view points.

My only negative comment, and I’m sure “they” have their reasons, but National Parks aren’t exactly pet friendly.  Not that Sara is a hiking dog, but it still puts a limit on what we can do with her.



One of the meadows on the drive in.


Beautiful campground, but between the afternoon clouds and pine trees our solar panel really struggled.  It struggled so much that we even pondered if we should invest in a generator.


Pineywoods Geranium


This viewpoint was less than a 5 minute walk from our campsite.


Rainbow Rim Trail


Parissawampitts Point on the Rainbow Rim Trail.  Our neighbor thought it looked like a fake movie backdrop.  This is the real deal.  Standing at a Grand Canyon viewpoint is amazing.  Ripping around a corner on a mountain bike and having the view in your peripheral vision is mind blowing.



Another pic of the Rainbow Rim Trail.


In 1984 a thunder downburst caused a timber blowdown in the Kaibab National Forest.  200 acres were completely destroyed.  This is some of the replant and why it seems unnaturally in rows.  This is off of the FS22 road on the way out to Rainbow Rim.


Bigelow’s Tansyaster


Slendertube Skyrocket


Nodding Dwarf Sunflower


Oxeye Daisy


This is the Beagle in Sara.  She’s trying to dig a hole to China.


I know it’s blurry, but I just had to include it.  Sometimes I just love campgrounds.  This is post downpour and I got a kick out of this couple in their matching clothes, including Hawaiian Juice jackets.  Amelia said something like, “I don’t see why you think it’s so funny.  Look at us we, look like bobbsey twins.  Same black Columbia jackets, khaki shorts, and sandals.”  She had a point!


On our way down to Roaring Springs we had to pass two mule trains.  Thankfully the mules only go two miles down to the Supai Tunnel.  There was fresh mule shit and puddles of urine everywhere.  Amelia was disgusted.


Supai Tunnel



You can see Redwall Bridge in this pic and the trail beyond it.



Redwall Bridge, the 2.6 mile mark.



Dwarfed by the canyon walls.


A Grand Canyon Rattlesnake!  This subspecies is found nowhere in the world but the Grand Canyon.  Some Grateful Dead looking hippie kid from Olympia, Washington pointed it out to us.  He was going uphill, we were going down.  He was watching it slither for 30 minutes.  He said it was the first rattlesnake he’d ever seen.  I told him they were a dime a dozen where we live.


Roaring Springs, 4.7 miles down.


Angels Window.  Can you see the Colorado River in the window?


On top of Angels Window.  That’s the Colorado River to the right of Amelia.


A Grand Canyon Sunset.


Monsoon Season in Flag: July 25-29, 2017

Just so you know, no one refers to Flagstaff as Flagstaff.  It’s Flag.  And the WTF stickers on cars in the area mean Welcome To Flag.


Airstream living.


Well, maybe it’s because I’ve learned to lower the bar in my old age, so not to be so easily disappointed, but Flag exceeded my expectations.  We had a great boondocking spot on Shultz Creek Road, great biking trails just outside our door, we met a great guy, Matt, and biked with him for three days.  All that and my buddy, Acomb, came to Flag with his youngest son to visit us and his oldest son, that lives in Flag, recently graduated from NAU, and works at Mother Road Brewing.

We were able to ride every morning, albeit one day we got soaked at the end of the ride. The novelty of the monsoon season has worn off.  Rain, rain, go away.  Between Prescott and Flag we had rain for 11 straight days.  Amelia thinks one day it didn’t rain, but I think she’s nuts.

So who is Matt?  Here’s how we met him…

Once we got to the dispersed camping area, Amelia pulled the Airstream off to the side of the road and I got on my bike to scout for a proper boondock spot for our 25 foot Airstream.  That’s our routine when boondocking.  The last thing you want to do is get yourself into trouble trying to get to a spot.  It could be a rough road, not have enough sun for solar, or not enough room to turn around.

The first spot had a couple of tents and was difficult to access.  The next spot was perfect: wide open and like a cul de sac.  And that’s where Matt and his Vanagon were.  So I struck up a conversation with him and asked if he’d mind us horning in on his spot.  He said, “Not at all.”  I biked the half mile back down the road, told Amelia we have a choice spot, and to follow me.  We got in no problem and unhitched.  While Amelia was fiddling around in the Airstream, I went over to chat with Matt.  I instantly knew he was a good egg.  And totally out of character, I invited him to bike with us the next morning at 8 am, without even conferring with Amelia!  It’s always the other way around; in our group of biking friends Amelia is famous for inviting strangers on rides.  He seemed happy to have the invite.  The next morning it became quickly apparent that he was like Amelia’s cousin Forest, about one skill level above us, but still we rode together and shared meals and beers.

Matt is in his late 20’s, and has lived outside of Seattle his entire life.  He decided to roll the dice and move out to Tennessee to live with relatives and try something different.  He left the Seattle area in mid June and hopes to be in Tennessee by the end of August. Meanwhile he is mountain biking all the hot spots in the west and visiting friends along the way.  I have a hundred bucks that says he won’t make it to Tennessee by the end of August; he’s having too much fun!



Here’s the spot!  Elevation 7,461 ft.  It’s an optical illusion, the Airstream looks slanted but we are actually level.


Matt and I at the junction of Dogfood and the Arizona trail.


Amelia on the Arizona Trail.


Cutleaf Coneflower


Matt getting air.


Flat tire for the blogger.  That’s what happens when big guys try to get air on a hardtail!


Tachinid Fly on Amelia’s handlebar grip.


Day two, end of the ride it just poured on us.  Amelia was soaked, cold, and not happy.


I was feeling like a little boy splashing through puddles, getting muddy, and completely drenched.


Matt and Amelia, day three, we did a shuttle ride from the top of Elden Mountain, down Sunset to Little Bear to Schultz Creek to Arizona Trail, and down Dogfood to our campsite.


This part of the trail was faint, around the next corner we saw a herd of elk above us.




A rare pic of the Harris’ riding together.  Thanks Matt!


New Mexican Vervain


It was amazing riding through lush green flower filled meadows.


Yellow Salsify


Acomb’s oldest, Brent, and chubby Sara.  She always puts on a few ounces while vacationing, but then again who doesn’t?  We hosted dinner for six on Thursday night in the rain.  Somehow this was the only pic?


Acomb and I with his two boys, Tanner and Brent.


Downtown Flag


Saturday morning, saying good bye and good luck to Matt.


Sweet curtains in his Vanagon!