As Tim and I drove west, the long days and damp weather in Austin took it’s toll.  Lisa and Carli both had a very nasty bug from Jackson earlier in the trip and by the time we’d driven over the TX / New Mexico border, it was obvious that Tim had gotten it too.

We hunkered down at City of Rocks State Park outside of Faywood, NM for some warm, dry weather and time to recover.   Here we were surrounded by Stonehedge style monoliths in the middle of a flat grassy plan.   There are only 5 similar rock formations in the world.

At night the show continues.  With no nearby towns, the night skies light up with stars.  The moon set early that week so we were treated with the full extent of the Milky Way.  I went to a “Star Party”, where City of Rock’s resident astronomer showed us Jupiter, star clusters and nebulae millions of light years away through some impressively high-powered scopes.

 

The Sentinels
The Sentinels

 

City of Rocks
Sun sets on City of Rocks

 

The Kissing Rock
The Kissing Rock

 

When Tim’s birthday arrived, he was still under the weather, but that didn’t stop us from both enjoying a homemade no-bake, chocolate genache pie.

 

Chocolate (No-Bake) Ganache for the Birthday
Chocolate (No-Bake) Ganache for the Birthday. Life in the wilderness was never so sweet.

 

By week’s end, Tim was starting to feel better and we continued west towards Tucson.  We called (brother) Brett and Peg to see what their plans were.  They were headed out camping, but Tim and I dropped in on kids Brittany and Timmy for movie night at the Hunger Games.  On Sunday when Brett and Peg got home, the four of us went to the Banff Film Festival.

The films are always awesome but Kadoma was the unanimous favorite.   This story about 3 kayakers who attempt to be the first to run the Lakuga River in the Republic of Congo shocks you with life’s capriciousness.   Another film which had played the night before is another of our favorites.  Here’s a short clip to give you some flavor (watch it in fullscreen if you can):

 

 

After seeing more movies in 48 hours than Tim and I have watched in 4 months, we headed out of town and up to Old Pueblo for some work and biking.  We spent the next week listening to the final games of the NCAA tourney, soaking up the 80 degree weather and shedding some of our extra Austin barbecue pounds.

By the weekend, we were driving north again and decided to stop for a bike ride on the Arizona Trail north of Oracle.   It was a warm 85 degree day, but we felt prepared for the 30 mile ride.

I rode all of 4 miles before I knew that my butt was completely kicked.  This remote stretch of the Arizona Trail is full of steep rocky switchbacks and sandy washes that sap speed and strength.  Humbled, I climbed back up to Frank and gladly gulped down some ice cold water.

Tim made it a mile further than I did before a flat tire and the hot rocky hillsides got to him too.    We were glad for showers that night.

 

The Arizona Trail
Gateway to No Man's Land

 

Ride Ready
Preparing to Ride

 

The Arizona Trail
The Arizona Trail

 

Poppys are In!
As Beautiful as it is Challenging

 

The next day we decided it was time to rest.  On our way to see Ann and Scott, we pulled over to Casa Grande National Monument for some sightseeing.  We stayed for a fascinating tour of the ruins and Tim took these amazing images.  It wasn’t until we posted them here that we noticed the many faces in the rocks…

 

Casa Grande Ruins
Casa Grande - protected from the elements by a 60 foot tall canopy

 

Casa Grande Ruins
Casa Grande Ruins

 

Casa Grande Ruins
Today, no one knows the purpose of the "Great House"

 

Casa Grande Ruins
The small window on the right aligns with the setting sun on the Summer Solstice

 

That night we caught up with Ann and Scott and went to a delicious dinner at the Carefree Station off of Ho Hum Road (Arizona road names crack me up.  Centered between Ho Hum Road, Lazy Lane, Rambling Road and Carefree Highway is Bloody Basin.   What went on there?!?)

The next day we were off to town for Frank shock repairs and making our way further north.   The Weiser Family was coming to Arizona for a Desert Vacation and we weren’t going to miss it.  We drove up to Sedona for the NCAA Final Game and met up with the Weisers,  BJ & Lisa and Sam & Mareike for burgers and beers.

Next day we were northward bound again on the way to Lake Powell.

 

Horseshoe Bend
Horseshoe Bend outside of Page Arizona

 

Horseshoe Bend
I'm NOT getting to close to that edge

 

While I worked the next day in Page, Tim, Mark, Casey, Brian and Brooke explored for the slot canyons in Wire Pass and watched California condors flying high above the Colorado River.  That night we gathered back at Lone Rock Beach on Lake Powell for hot dogs, s’mores, chocolate covered strawberries and illuminated bocci ball with Sam and Mareike.

 

Lone Rock Beach
Lone Rock Beach

 

Lone Rock Beach
Lone Rock Beach

 

Lone Rock Beach
In the summer, the beach is packed but in April we were all alone.

 

Lone Rock Beach
Lone Rock

 

After 2 nights on Lone Rock Beach, we drove back down to Flagstaff where the Weisers joined their friends, Brian and Patty.  After a final dinner at Oregano’s Pizza Bistro, Tim and I traveled south for warm weather and more biking.  April has arrived and with a 50 mile bike race at the end of the month, it’s time to get serious!

 

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Time to Bike