The planes behaved, the pilots behaved, and the weather behaved--a recipe for success.
Truly, it was a great tour and, in the opinion of some, the best EVER. Admittedly, Parkwest hit a home run with the last flight and destination of Bluff, Utah. So much beauty to see and explore in that country. Hoping the Comb Ridge Bistro will welcome us back after taking over on the night of our Farewell Dinner, but it's questionable!
Thanks for a great trip, everyone!
After a super smooth and gorgeous flight over the Grand Canyon, we've arrived at our final destination: beautiful Bluff, Utah! For anyone who flew the American Outback with us, you will remember this picturesque hamlet along the banks of the San Juan River. For this visit, we've rented out a fleet of Jeeps to do some touring around this beautiful red rock country. Today's adventure will include a drive across the Valley of the Gods, up the Moki Dugway, over to Natural Bridges National Monument, and back to our lovely abode at Desert Rose Inn. Yesterday's Jeep primer was a lot of fun and all drivers, passengers, and vehicles returned intact.
Things are on-track, but I've gotten behind in posting pictures--stay tuned! We left Tucson and the White Stallion Ranch in the dust, had our feel-like-a-kid-again visit to Joshua Tree National Park, and traversed Old Route 66 to Laughlin via crazy Oatman. This trip promised travel via planes, trains, automobiles, rafts, tour buses and horseback. We've got two modes left: jet boats (today), and Jeeps on Thursday.
Cat Herder lost one cat, when our German friend needed to return home. That never feels like success, but we'll carry onward! And then there were 20....
Or, better said, foiled by my failure to think about the timing! We'd planned to be in Joshua Tree NP for the full moon rise, so we could watch it come up over the desert as the sun set behind us. The problem is that the full moon was almost the day prior, becoming "full" just after midnight, thereby delaying moonrise by some 45 minutes.
So yeah, 45 minutes isn't a big deal NORMALLY, but after a hot day traveling thru the southwest desert, it was time to pack up and return to the manor. Luckily, waiting for us was a delicious catered dinner and informative talk given by the local historian/innkeeper.
Everyone had a great time staying in haunted Jerome, riding the Verde Canyon Railroad, and enjoying cowboy vittles and entertainment at the Blazin' M Ranch. The Colt-45 shooting got us all in the mood for the White Stallion dude ranch near Tucson, where we are now enjoying a 3-night stay. Here we can ride and relax to our heart's content, and Cat Herder gets to turn over the schedule to the Ranch hands for awhile. Nice!
"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds"
Or in the case of the Parkwest "Desert Safari crew: Neither headwinds nor overeating nor turbulence nor airport construction stays these intrepid pilots from the swift completion of their appointed flight!
Such was our day yesterday departing Albuquerque for our two-leg day to Cottonwood, Arizona. But we made it, including Dirk who saw ground speeds down in the high 60's at one point! Once landed, we made our way up the hill to funky Jerome for a great walk and talk with Jay Kinsella, long-time resident, former mayor and town historian. Today we're off to an afternoon ride aboard the Verde Canyon Railroad followed by dinner and gunslinging at the Blazin' M Ranch.
Tomorrow we head for points south and a 3-night stay at the renowned White Stallion dude ranch. Look out Arizona--Parkwest has arrived!
Thanks to Los Rios River Runners, New Mexico's oldest raft company, Parkwest enjoyed a beautiful autumn day in the New Mexico countryside. We floated the Rio Grande with Native guides who broadened our knowledge about local Puebloan culture and customs. Afterwards we had an outdoor feast of traditional food (stewed bison, posole, delicious bread cooked in an horno), and a visit to the Coronado State Historic Site, where centuries old mural paintings have been painstakingly recovered and preserved.
And alongside this day of cultural history, we experienced a modern-day amenity: calling on Uber to come to the river, in order to take someone back to the hotel early for a previous commitment!
The gang is all here and the weather cooperated to give us a GREAT showing on the final day of Balloon Fiesta 2016. I could post a hundred pictures of this morning's event, but will leave it to just a few. There is nothing better to put a smile on your face that standing amidst 100 or so hot air balloons taking off in the wee hours of an October morning.
Chester thinks he broke a new record in terms of number of photos taken in a 2-hour time span. He always gets such great shots, so we'll look forward to seeing some of them.
Off to a great start!
Cat Herder (aka Marisa) has been guiding pilot tours in the American West for over twenty years. Keep tabs on your Parkwest pilot friends, National Park news and other tidbits here!