EMMA LONG METROPLIAN PARK, Lake Austin, AUSTIN, TX

July 2018

Some people may call us crazy to go camping in 100 plus degree weather, but here at Emma Long Park we are camped at the water’s edge with large shade trees surrounding us.  So, even though it is definitely hot the breeze off the lake and the shade of trees makes it most pleasurable for most of the day.  Lonnie and Vegas have enjoyed tubing in the lake and we have all found this time most relaxing.  The evenings are spent sitting lake side sipping on a refreshing gin and fresca watching the boats cruise by.

Each morning we have taken Vegas to Turkey Creek for a 3 mile hike.  The trails are located about one mile from the park.  Turkey Creek is a dog friendly off-leash area which Vegas has thoroughly enjoyed running free and splashing in and out of the creek.  Her enthusiastic joy is something to behold – one has to be a boxer owner to know what this looks like.

Since it’s so hot we want to keep the outside cooking to minimum amount of time so I brought along my Sous Vide.  Sous Vide is a cooking tool that heats water to a specified temperature then holds it at that temperature to cook food that is sealed in a food saver bag.  The food will fully cook with little to no effort to the exact desired doneness.  Once cooked then I quickly sear the meat, about one to two minutes per side and then dinner is done with the least amount of heat or mess.  Great, you should try one.

Dinner is ready, time to go.

Petrified Forest National Park and Dead Horse Ranch State Park

We drove highway 40 West from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Sedona, Arizona stopping at the Petrified Forest National Park that is located just off HWY 40 about a 2 hours from Flagstaff, Arizona.  We drove the 28 mile road that runs through the entire park.  The main sights are the painted desert, the blue mesa, the jasper forest and the giant logs.  The painted desert is characterized by colorful bands of sedimentary rock called the Chinle Formation.  This formation was deposited between 227 and 205 million years ago by northwest flowing river system.  The petrified wood are colorful specimens of massive tree trunks strewn across the landscape.  The trees were knocked down by wind or water and carried downstream being buried by layers of sediment over 218 million years ago.  The logs soaked up groundwater and silica from volcanic ash and over time crystallized into quartz.   Truly breathtaking sights of beauty and wonder.

We settled in the Sedona area for a couple of days in a state park called Dead Horse, don’t like the name but the park is large with numerous hiking trails, horseback riding, three lakes and surrounded by mountains.  The park received its name because the original owners of the ranch asked their children which ranch they liked best when they were searching for property and they replied the one with the dead horse and so it was

named.  When the owners gifted the land to the state for a park they requested the name remain  — so there you have it — dead horse ranch state park.  Yesterday we hiked in Sedona at Red Rock Crossing along a clear river gently flowing along the trial to view the impressive red Cathedral Rock.

MOUNT RUSHMORE

Next it was onto Mount Rushmore which was just a few miles down the highway.  Impressive, spectacular, and amazing does not begin to describe the feelings we had gazing upon that mount. The wonderment of how they were able to carve such a massive sculpture with such fine detail visible from such a far distance is mind boggling.  The gallery describing how this endeavor was accomplished was just as impressive as viewing the 4 presidents.  A true wonder and well worth the time and distance to get here.   A valued testament and tribute to our great leaders.

Durango

Tuesday, July 20th we arrived in Durango

 

and headed for the public land office for visitor information on all the camping sites in the San Juan National Forest.  We decided on Junction Creek only a few miles from historic downtown Durango.  The campground is very massive with beautiful tall pine trees and large open areas for hiking.  The campground host, Tim, was most helpful in helping find the perfect stop to spend the night and enjoy a drink under the trees.

Wednesday we are off exploring, we first went to the Sky Ute Casino on the Ute Reservation and had lunch, then off to Vallecito Reservoir.  We drove the loop around the lake, checked out the camping sites and decided to head off to Mancos state park to spend the night.

THE SAN JUAN SKYWAY

The San Juan Skyway is one of the most scenic drives in America, spanning elevations from 6,200 feet outside of Durango to 11,075 feet at Red Mountain Pass.  We began this beautiful drive from Durango to Mancos State Park.  The park has a beautiful lake where dogs can swim but not people, don’t know why, but Vegas had a grand time.

Thursday, we continued our journey on the San Juan Skyway to Ridgeway State Park, the half way mark to completing the skyway loop back to Durango.  The scenery consisted of rolling meadows, raging rivers running alongside the highway, red cliff mountains, and valleys with breathtaking views.  Tomorrow we will continue the loop on the part that is called The Million Dollar Highway, from Ouray to Silverton.  I can’t wait.  So excited.