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Published: March 22nd 2019
Before I get into our trip up to the Colorado River at Lees Ferry, I'd like to post an update/review of some of our camping and traveling systems.
First, our new Dometic fridge. After that "over voltage" problem caused by our old charger/converter, it has been perfect. The ice cream is always frozen, and the beer is always cold, what more could you ask? It is totally hands off too, you don't have to think about it. When we are connected to "shore power" the gas flame turns off, and the electric element takes over. Unplug, and it automatically lights the pilot and it cools on LP. And speaking of LP -- it amazes me how little we have used, even with the fridge going all the time, and the fact that we have seldom been on shore power. Fridge, heater (we've used it a lot), stove, and even our grill -- and we are still on the same tank we started with. Admittedly, the two tanks we have are 30 lb size, so half again bigger than a typical barbecue one, but I'm still amazed by how long it's lasted. I'm starting to wonder if we will ever have
to switch to that second tank?
The one other thing I wanted to mention is our new roof rack for our Grumman Sportboat. It has worked great, so much better than that awful "straps and pads" system we used last year. Loading and unloading is still a bit of a chore, but once it's up there and clamped down, we don't have to give it a second thought -- what a relief!
OK, so back to the trip. We left Tortilla pretty early and made one more pass through that crazy road without incident. We didn't want to take the Interstate north, as we had done that last year, so we headed up towards Payson on AZ 87. That's a beautiful drive up through the Mazatzal Mountains, but it was a bit slow. It had some of the steepest and longest grades we have encountered. One particularly noteworthy climb put us into 3rd gear at about 40mph for several miles. I was watching my gauges, and while EGT and boost were fine, coolant temps started to climb. Suddenly an unusual noise came from the engine room and I realized that for the first time since I had owned
old Moby the electric cooling fan had turned on. It worked too, the needle soon headed right back into the happy zone, and all was well.
We went a bit out on our way and headed all the way up to Winslow AZ on I40. We had a nice lunch at an authentic Mexican place. I had fajitas, and was surprised to see that they gave me only one wheat tortilla -- but it must have been 20" in diameter! It was made right there of course, and it was delicious. After that I took Cathy's picture with the bronze Jackson Brown statue they have there. "standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona" indeed.
Then it was over to Flagstaff, and then the long, straight drive up to the canyons of the Colorado River. Just a little east of the Grand Canyon, our objective of Lees Ferry is about the only place for many miles that it is possible to drive right down to the river. We got a nice drive-through site in the National Park Campground there, another bargain for $10/n with our pass.
Until we had visited here last year, I had no idea that
there was a place this close to the Grand Canyon where it is possible to use your own boat on the Colorado. I had thought that permits were needed, and that they were very hard to get. That is true for anything downstream from Lees Ferry, but upstream to the Glen Canyon Dam is wide open for use. Cathy and I had marveled at the view from atop Horseshoe Bend last year, now this year we would get to see the same scene from the bottom up.
We drove down to the ramp the next morning at about 9:00. There was a beach launching spot too in addition to the concrete ramp. That's good, because the ramp is very busy with all the fishing guides launching their boats for the day. We were on the water by 10, and for me it was a dream come true. As a boy I had read about the expeditions of John Wesley Powell, and now here we were on a bit of water that is almost unchanged from the time that those brave men first ran this river.
With only 6hp to push us up against the stream, I was a bit worried about how well we would make progress against the current. In fact though, we had no problem at all. We did the 9 miles from the launch to Horseshoe Bend in a little under 90 minutes. It was amazing, twisting and turning through those sheer walls of red Navajo Sandstone. When we finally reached the famous bend we could see the people up there looking down at us, they looked like specs along the ridge line, and I wondered what they could see of us.
We landed at a small, low island just upstream of the turn. I fished while Cathy selected special river stones for some secret craft project she's working on. I fished for the big rainbows that this section of water is famous for, but (surprise!) without success. We did enjoy a great shore lunch there though, this would be a hard location to top for that. Later, as the shadows started to get long and the canyon darkened, we made our way back. Now running with the flow, the scenery seemed to fly by as we putted along, not really wanting it to end.
Then back to Fred for dinner and an early bed. The next day we plan to explore a bit in the truck, up into the Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, north of the Grand Canyon.
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