Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Our Dam Hangout

It was another very gusty day as we trekked across more of America's desert lands.  We passed by the Mojave National Desert Preserve.  I scratched my head...what a name...Desert this place needs any help being preserved?!  Then again, I may not be a smart man and I'm slow!
Well, we made it in one piece with no incidents on the road...praise God...and we settled in at Lake Mead National Park. Enjoy the pictures from our stay here!

The view as we cross the Mike O'Callahan - Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge.  This bridge spans the Black Canyon portion of the Colorado River, which is a  900 feet below! The Arizona-Nevada State line cuts the bridge in half. 

Here is a look at the bridge from below at the Hoover Dam visitors center.

Heidi at the Lake Mead overlook. Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States and is formed by the Hoover Dam by holding back the mighty Colorado River. The lake extends some 112 miles behind the dam and can reach a depth of 500 feet deep.
Heidi decides that Stacey and I should be in the requisite "state line picture" this time.  

Hailey points out to you where in the world Team Breitmann is located!

Lake view site #30 on in Lake Mead National Park, RV Village.  

This is the view out of our front window of our motor home, while we stayed at Lake Mead.  To quote one of our kid's favorite characters, King Julian, from the movie "Madagascar"..."Look at that!  That's not a bad view!"

A road runner bird right outside our door.  These characters sure do live up to their fast reputation and they are fearless!  I guess you gotta be if one of your diet staples is rattlesnakes!  Our dog, Molly, was tormented by this guy.

Our second campfire, since departing a little over two months ago!  It was nice to have a campfire to roast marshmallows for s'mores!  What a beautiful night sky in the desert.  We could see Mars, Saturn, and Venus among others!  

Hailey breaks out the sidewalk chalk in the cool of the desert evening!  Nothing like coloring with sidewalk chalk by the glow of a Coleman lantern!

The girls overlooking the mighty Hoover Dam.  It is one of four dams along the Colorado River.  It is one impressive piece of concrete! It's construction commenced in 1931 and was dedicated by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1935. The purpose of the dam is to provide flood control, irrigation and hydro-electric power.  It has successfully done all three and has generated enough money from the sale of hydro-electric power to more than pay back the cost of the entire project.  Now, that's something, considering it is a government project!   

Dude!! What's up?!  Awesome lake, eh?!  

Hailey on the cat walk over looking the massive hydro-electric generators.  We took the tour down into the power generation room on the Nevada side.  Very impressive.

This is a view I had not seen of the dam.  I have been to the Hoover Dam many times before but, had never seen the "back side" of the dam, which holds back the lake.  We rented a boat from the Lake Mead Marina for an entire day and played on the lake.  That's how I got this shot. It seemed like the thing to do because the temperatures were well above 100 degrees.  I saw that my thermometer outside my motor home door read: 108!  Holy hades, Batman this is only April!  

The girls take a dip in the lake, while we anchored in one of the many side canyon inlets.  While it was "Africa hot", the lake was a bit chilly and certainly got your attention if you just jumped right in!

Hailey hams it up!  Look, Dad!  I'm walking on water!

Seems that Stacey has friends everywhere!  It turns out that her friend, Tiffany and her husband Tony live here in Vegas.  So, we invited them and their two boys; Evan and Eli to join us on the boat for the day.  Hailey got her first taste of trying to corral pre-school boys!  Seriously, these two were really good kids and well behaved.  We enjoyed our time with Tiffany and Tony! We had a blast with them!

The girls coax me into the water.  It wasn't too hard to do, considering how hot is was!  I just did a cannonball into the water...yikes!  It was a cold one!  Not too bad once you got in.

Can you see the long horn sheep in this picture?  He was really close to us, while we were at anchor in the side canyon we picked to swim.  Unbelievable how camouflaged he is and how sure footed.  Molly, our dog, was whining and wanting to jump out!  The sheep just looked confidently at us and minded his own business.

There he goes!  It looked like he was just walking along a sidewalk, although this was a near sheer cliff!  Impressive footing these guys have!  No wonder he looked at us so confidently!  There was no way a dog or anything else was gonna get to him!

Some wore out puppies!

Hailey's favorite thing to draw...hearts.  This heart was carved out of stone in a tribute to all those who built the Hoover Dam.  This photo was taken in the nearby town of Boulder City.  Boulder City is the "town that built the dam"...literally.  Before the Hoover Dam construction project, the town of Boulder City did not exist.  The town was literally built to house all the workers that either worked on the dam or supported those who worked on the dam.  It is a nice little town and we enjoyed grabbing some ice cream and browsing around.  Nice place to visit but, we wouldn't want to live here.  The desert is just not our thing.
Well, our next stop takes us all the way to the Pacific Ocean!  California, here we come!  Our next stop will probably be extended to do some needed oil changes and repairs.  Oh, I forgot to mention that one of my two a/c units on the motor home died in the midst of the 100 plus degree heat.  The rear a/c was working as hard as it could but, without the second one in the front, it just could not cut the mustard.  Boy, did it get warm inside...yet another reason to play in the lake!  It may be awhile before our next blog update.  Looking forward to Southern California weather!  Stay tuned!  God bless and God Bless America!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Flagstaff Revisited

When we were in Flagstaff before we went to the Grand Canyon, we did not get to see much of the town and do the main thing we wanted to do, which was go to the historic Lowell Observatory. So, off we went back down to Flagstaff via the South Entrance of the Canyon rather than back out the East gate.  Boy, are we glad we went the other route!  It was a beautiful drive back down to Flagstaff.  Enjoy this short blog update!
This is just one of the awesome views South bound, along Hwy 180 into Flagstaff from the Grand Canyon.  We exited the South Entrance of the canyon onto Hwy 64 then onto 180 and were greeted with an awesome drive.  More reminders of the wonders of God's creations.

Our "home" in Flagstaff.  We camped at a different campground this time around.  We chose this one because of it's proximity to the Lowell Observatory. This campground was very quiet and we practically had the entire place to ourselves.  We took advantage of this and did some serious "road schooling" to catch up from a week of Grand Canyon field tripping!  We had some nice "down time" here.  We chose to give the girls a "break" from each other so, Stacey took Heidi to a movie and Hailey and I hung out at the campground, went hiking and had dinner at the campground Rte 66 four-table diner!  Later in the week,  in the evening, we went into Flagstaff for dinner, met a nice couple from Maine doing what we were doing with their family, and then went to the historic Lowell Observatory.  What a great field trip!  A real treat was we got to go into the old observatory and view both Mars and Saturn through the original 1896; 32 foot high telescope!  Awesome!  We saw the rings of Saturn and four of it's moons.  Before we embarked on our "world-tour" trip, I bought a nice telescope.  However, I could not get it sighted in properly.  So, I brought it along to the Lowell Observatory in the hopes that some one on the staff could help me get it sighted in.  Sure enough! Ian, a student at Northern Arizona University, graciously and patiently helped me sight in my telescope.  On the grounds of the Observatory, I viewed Saturn thru my own telescope.  Just like in the 1896 telescope, I could clearly see the rings of Saturn, only the view finder was significantly smaller! Thanks, Ian and best of luck in your studies and future! Along with getting to see through the 1896 telescope, we got the pleasure of attending a planetarium lecture and going to the observatory inter-active exhibits.  The scale of the solar system, galaxy and the universe are mind-boggling and impossible to grasp.  We found it interesting that among all the hypothesis, theories and "guesses" tossed out in the lectures...not one mentioned the possibility of an intelligent designer.  I was very proud of Heidi for engaging the speaker in the planetarium and offering a Christian perspective and I found it interesting that our 12 year old debated the graduate student into admitting the possibility of a divine creator.  Way to go, Heidi!  I was particularly proud of her because she was highly respectful and honored our speaker, while speaking what we believe to be an incontrovertible immense, unknowable universe must have been created by an even more immense, unknowable God!  You can read more about the Lowell Observatory at this link: The Lowell Observatory
Flagstaff was a great place and we had a great time!  Our next stop is the Hoover Dam!  So, we shoved off down the road headed towards Lake Mead and Hoover Dam near Boulder City, Nevada.

It was back out into the desert for Team Breitmann!  Of course, we had to take the "road less traveled" and took historic Rte. 66 from Seligman, AZ to Kingman, AZ.  I thought about my Dad, who in the early 1960's drove the original Rte 66 all the way from California to Ohio in his 1956 Porsche Speedster.  What a trip that must had been!  He always tells me that he kicks himself for not hanging on to that car, as it is worth a small mint nowadays.  However, back then he sold it for a mere pittance.  Ah, such is life. Anyway, we could not resist stopping in Seligman for lunch when we saw this roadside cafe with the dubious name; "The Road Kill Cafe"!  It was a hoot!  Although, Hailey did not appreciate the decor was adorned with many stuffed "dead animals"!

Here is a page from the menu!  Did I mention that there is a lot of desert in the United States?!  Well, until the next update...see ya in Boulder City, Nevada!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Anyone know the definition of the word: holy?  Well, it means to be set apart.  My girls, upon seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time said; "Set apart cow!" With the their jaws hanging open.  I totally agree!  Holy Cow!  This place is just too awesome to describe in either words or pictures.  That's about all I can say about that.  It's like what I would imagine it might be to be have just a glimpse of God's greatness.  It really is too much to take in!
We drove up to the canyon from the east side of Flagstaff stopping at Wuptaki National Park to visit Native American pueblo ruins.  That day was extremely windy and the terrain outside the east gate of Grand Canyon National Park is vast, open, high desert,  running through a Navajo Indian reservation. Needless to say, I was in doubt that we would make it because of the wind gusts.  One particular gust caused me to say to Stacey; "One more like that and I'm pulling over and we can stay out in the desert!"  God covered us and we made it into the east gate to be greeted by of all things....snow flurries!  Luckily, it was just a brief snow shower and we made it to our campsite just fine.  After set up, I collapsed for a nap. Never knew how stressful it was gonna be driving thru gusty desert winds, followed by chugging up mountain passes followed by snow flurries (no, I do not have a diesel motorhome).  I felt almost like an Egyptian bucking up against Moses on this trip! Locusts anyone?!  Enjoy the pictures!
Our campsite in Flagstaff before we set out for the Grand Canyon.  We were in sore need of some repairs.  I had a back up camera that need to be reconnected and I had no clue where the cable ran because I did not have a wiring diagram.  The local RV service center had an electrician on staff and he did a great job reconnecting it and showing me how to access it if it came undone again.  The only other thing I needed to get done but, could not was having my hub cap and valve stem extenders reattached.  It was like I was asking for something from the dark side of the moon!  I'd been trying to get that fixed since we had the flat tire in Roswell, New Mexico.  Well, for now the tires appear good and I will re-attack this issue on the way back from the Grand Canyon.  I'm getting pretty frustrated with this one.

Molly loves the campsite here in Flagstaff due to the fact there are trails all over the place right behind us and are maintained by the US Forest Service.  Took this picture on a morning walk.

Yours truly on a "man hike!"  What's that you say?  Well,  ya know that I'm the only male on this Team, right?!  Well, sometimes I just gotta hike with me and the dog and this was one of those days.  I hiked up the mountain behind our campsite for over an hour and approached snow territory before I knew I had to come back due to night fall.  I got a lot of my frustrations out with respect to not being able to get my repair issues taken care of and me and God had some conversation.   Yeah, okay, I have let my hair grow and I have a goatee. Hey, this trip is all new... how bout a new look, too?! 

Came across this dude on my "man hike" in Flagstaff.  I think it's a spiny-tailed desert lizard but, I'm no biologist.  Either way,  I did not mess with him.  Molly, my dog, was very interested!  "Hey, dude, you look like I feel right now!"

On our way up to the Grand Canyon, we stopped here.  Another money saver for our National Park Pass! You can read a bit more about this place at the following link: Wupatki Ruins

The girls of Team Breitmann near the pueblo ruins.

Hailey explores a mystery at Wuptaki.  This hole in the ground is evidence of an underground cave.  As you can see by her hair blowing straight up there is wind coming up from the ground, which is clear evidence of an underground cavern.  When the air pressure outside is lower then it blows air upwards and it is cold!  Today, there was a low pressure moving in and you can see the results!

Our campsite in Grand Canyon Village.

South Rim of the Grand Canyon looking towards the North Rim.  Awesome!

Look closely at the person in the red sweatshirt with arms up in a "V".  That's Stacey, my rule breaker.  This ledge is NOT on the official trail and certainly not the recommended six feet rule of thumb from the edge of the canyon rim, which is published in the visitor guide.

Okay, Stacey come on back!  One big gust of wind and you are going for a 5,000 foot fall!

View along the Hermit's Rest trail.  At this vista you can get a glimpse of the Colorado River.

Like Mother, like daughter!  Notice the hand on the railing....

Alright, alright....we'll take a look over the edge here...gulp!

Heidi, my big idea gal, suggests that we hike down the Bright Angel Trail, which is only one of two trails down to the Canyon floor and the Colorado River.  The National Park Service does not recommend attempting to hike down and back in one day.  It is a 7 mile hike down from 7,000 feet elevation to near sea level,  and it will feel like a 14 mile hike back up.  Heidi says, "Let's just hike down to the first rest/water stop, which is about a little over an hour down!"  That would put us at well over a three hour hike because you can bet on twice the time on the return trip.  Needless to say, I say, no way are we in shape, as a team for that one!  After a little over a half hour down we hike it back up....Heidi:  "Hey, can we slow down the pace a bit!"  Me: smiling, "sure!"

Here for a reason!

No, kidding!

You can see the Bright Angel Trail running right to left.

A closer look at the trail from above.

Hailey and I pause on our way back up the Bright Angel Trail.  She was a real trooper!

Yep, snow forecast was accurate!

Molly, our Florida dog, sees snow for the first time!  I took this picture on our morning hike.  We are out in front of the Pioneer Cemetery near the Shrine of Ages.  It is the only active cemetery on a National Park.  The Shrine of Ages is a building right behind us, where we attended an Assembly of God Church service on Sunday.  A great message on the topic of God being bigger than anything we can do or not do.  You can read a bit more about the Shrine of Ages and the Pioneer Cemetery at the following link: Shrine of Ages

Heidi enjoys a snowball fight in the campground!

Ditto for Hailey!

Little Sister looking up to her big sister!  I think they actually like each other!

Along the Hermit's Rest Road. The girls have to keep picking up snow for making snowmen!  You can see the route we took along Hermit's Rest Road at this link: Hermit's Rest Road

Hailey constructed this snowman whom the girls dubbed; "Mr. Glen Canyon".  Hailey perched him so as to have the Canyon in perspective.  It was hilarious because nearly every person coming by this wall took a photo of Mr. Canyon highlighted against the Grand Canyon.  Hailey sure has an eye for art!  Too bad we couldn't charge a fee for the photo op with Mr. Canyon!

Another snowman, left behind on Hermit's Rest Road trail!

Hailey atop the monument commemorating the first expedition down the Colorado River thru the Grand Canyon in 1896, led by Major John Powell.  Incredibly, this was the very first of it's kind and all the men survived.  The Grand Canyon was one of the last places to be explored in North America and put on a map, with Alaska being the last.  You can read about the expedition at this link: 1869 Expedition

The girls in front of Kolb Studio right on the rim of the Canyon.  Sixteen years before the creation of the Grand Canyon National Park, the adventure seeking Kolb brothers founded this photographic studio at the Bright Angel trailhead.  You can read more about this brothers at this link:  The Kolb Brothers 
sixteen years before the creation of Grand Canyon National Park, they founded a photographic studio at the Bright Angel trailhead
Hailey is sworn in by a Grand Canyon Park Ranger as an official Grand Canyon Junior Ranger, complete with certificate and badge.  Kids up to 14 yrs of age can earn Jr. Ranger badges at participating National Parks by completing a Jr. Ranger booklet (each age group has age appropriate tasks to complete).  Once complete, the kids take the booklet to a Ranger Station, where a Park Ranger goes over the book with them, asks questions and once satisfied that they have accurately completed it are "sworn in" as Jr. Park Rangers.  Pretty cool addition to our homeschooling curriculum.  You can read about the Jr. Ranger Program at this link: US Park Service Junior Rangers

We saw elk like this one all over the place!  

Team Breitmann gets to know another "road schooling" family!  The Millers.  Notice that Team Breitmann only has 4 representatives in this photo; Stacey, Heidi, Hailey and our dog Molly.  All the rest in the photo are members of the Millers!  Count 'em! They all live and travel in a pretty massive motor coach that they parked right next to ours.  We felt dwarfed not only by the size of their motor home, family but, also their tremendous faith in God.  I don't mean that in a bad way.  They are simply the nicest, faith-filled, awesome folks you could ever meet!  A faith like theirs is an inspiration and testament to the Holy Spirit.  You can read about the Millers at this link:The Millers
Well, I know I said Sedona was the most spectacular place we've visited so far, but now I have to amend that...the Grand Canyon rules!  So, now we bid the Millers and the Grand Canyon a good-bye and we are back down to Flagstaff for a few days of school catch up and re-charging!  Blessings to you.  Until our next update!