Yellowstone and Grand Tetons, 2016.

I just returned from an awesome 12 day adventure to Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons in Wyoming with my niece and nephew.  The last time I was there was 40 years ago, when I was 12, and on vacation with my family in a 1976 VW camper van named “Big Red.”  My niece Sarah recently graduated from Michigan State University and as a kind-of “graduation celebration,” we decided to visit Yellowstone.  My nephew Jack, a junior at MSU, decided to join us on our adventure.  The trip was truly amazing, far exceeding all of our expectations!  The landscape was gorgeous and the weather cooperated nicely.  At higher elevations it was cool, with numerous parks still under a few feet of snow.  Since High Schools across America have not yet started Summer break, the parks and campgrounds were not too busy.  We camped in “Bertha” the Bigfoot Truck Camper, staying at National Park campgrounds or RV parks.

Along the way we…..

Drove 3,500 miles…

Covered 9 States…

Visited 7 National Parks…

Ate 7 Buffalo Burgers…

Went on 5 long hikes…

Saw lots of wildlife…

Consumed lots of coffee…

and Laughed a lot!

Good times with family are truly priceless!

If you don’t know America’s National Parks, I urge you to load-up your backpack and hit the road for a few weeks… you will be amazed at the beauty of America!

 

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A bit of history about the Antler Arches.

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On a Slow Horse to Bagdad.

One of the best things about Prescott, Arizona and the surrounding area is that there are literally thousands of miles of trails for ATV and adventure-motorcycle enthusiast!  Anyone who has a dual-sport motorcycle will probably agree, the real fun begins beyond the pavement!  Just a few miles from downtown Prescott, the ponderosa pine-lined trails cut through the mountains in all directions, leading to places like Skull Valley and Bagdad!  Who can possibly pass-up a dusty trail ride to places with names like Skull Valley or Bagdad on a motorcycle?  A few days ago, my buddy Emilio and I hit the trails.  We were anxious to take advantage of the unseasonably awesome weather we have been having in central Arizona.  While much of the USA (hello Boston) is in the deep freeze… fortunately for me, Prescott has been beautiful the last few weeks!  It’s been sunny and in the high 60s during the day and at night the temps drop only into the mid-30s.  Pretty nice weather for this time of year!  Our ride destination was the mining town of Bagdad, Arizona.  Not because there is anything particularly noteworthy to do in Baghdad, but the route there goes through some really nice terrain!

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On the trail to Camp Wood.

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The horses of Camp Wood.

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My horse meets the horses of Camp Wood!

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The mountains surrounding the town of Bagdad, Arizona.

Our trip was a big-loop from Prescott, to Williamson Valley, through Camp Wood and on to Bagdad.  On the way back from Bagdad we passed through Kirkland and then briefly stopped in Skull Valley and over the mountains back to Prescott.  Our total milage was about 140 miles of which about 100 miles were on trails!  Just past the hunting lodge at Camp Wood, we encountered half a dozen, 100 yard stretches of trail with deep tire-ruts and thick muddy patches!  No problem, that’s what dual sport motorcycles were made for!  We only passed 2 trucks and one ATV during the entire 100 miles on trail and after about 4 hours in the saddle we returned safely to Prescott!

It was a great day of exploration indeed!

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Moab, Arches and Canyonlands 2014.

I departed Monument Valley late in the afternoon and headed north-east in the direction of my next destination, Moab, Utah.  At about 7:00 PM I arrived in the quaint little high-desert town of Bluff, Utah.  A town put on the map by a rugged group of Mormon Missionaries in the 1880s.

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Clouds forming, a great little town to spend the nigh, Bluff, Utah.

It was still about 90 miles to Moab, the sun was setting and clouds were forming overhead and so I decided to stay the night in Bluff.  I found a little 1940s Motel, the kind with 7 rooms all lined up next to one another behind the office with a cool neon sign.  I was lucky and got the last room!  I unloaded a few things from my truck and then walked a few blocks to the Cottonwood Steakhouse for dinner.  The place was full of European Tourists heading to Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon in the other direction!  I enjoyed a great steak, got a nice night’s rest and headed north toward Moab the next morning.

At about 10:00 AM I arrived in Moab, got some ice for the cooler, a few items from the grocery store and headed into Arches National Park for the day.

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Delicate Arch, Arches National Park.

Arches National Park is only a few miles north of town and definitely worth a visit if you are in Moab.  The Park was pretty full, lots of visitors with kids enjoying the great outdoors during the last few weeks of Summer Vacation!  I parked in the lot near Delicate Arch and hiked the 2.0 miles uphill to see it.  It’s a popular hike, upon arriving at the Arch, there were at least 75 other visitors already there with cameras flashing!  I waited patiently to try to capture a few picture of the Arch, sans people, which was more difficult than you may think!  I didn’t even try to get a picture alone under the Arch as the line was 20 deep!

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Delicate Arch.

On my way back to the parking lot, I stopped to see some petroglyphs on a rock-face, trying my best to figure out if they were really ancient writings or modern graffiti?  Since there was no spray-paint involved, I’m pretty sure they are at least a few hundred years old!

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Petroglyphs near Delicate Arch.

I then headed to a few more arches and hiked another 4 to 5 miles.  Arches National Park is unique in that it has the largest concentration of natural rock arches in the world, over 2000.  Many collapse every year by the forces of nature, as the wind and water work to slowly form new ones!

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Landscape Arch.

It was getting late in the day so I looked for a spot to camp.  I found an available site along the Colorado River and enjoyed watching all the rafting and kayaking activity pass just feet from my campsite until sunset!

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Camping along the Colorado River, north of Moab.

Up early the next morning, I headed back south through Moab, after about a 90 mile drive, I arrived at the Needles District of the Canyonlands National Park.  I stopped at the visitors center, watched a short movie on the history of the Park,  briefly spoke with a Ranger and then headed to the Colorado River Overlook, a 9 mile 4×4 drive followed by a 1.5 mile hike on foot to see the Colorado River from the cliffs above.

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A little 4×4-ing in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park.

The drive was exciting for a novice 4×4 driver like myself.  There was no one there to spot me as I tried to negotiate some of the more difficult sections of the trail.  I guess that’s good, it allowed me to see the capabilities of “Bessie” the Tacoma and helped me get over some of my fears of solo 4×4-ing!  The 9 miles took about an hour to drive.  I parked next to a large rock formation and hiked the last 1.5 miles to the Overlook on foot!  The view of the Colorado River was spectacular and well worth the effort!

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A view of the Colorado River from the cliffs above.

I spent about 30 minutes at the Overlook and quickly hiked back to my truck.  The Ranger at the Visitor Center warned me earlier that a storm was approaching and she was correct, thick dark clouds were heading my way!  I needed to cross a few dry riverbeds on my way back to pavement and wanted to exit the sandy trails before the rains.  Thor was once again good to me and I made it to pavement just as the rains hit…

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Made it back to pavement, just as the rains began to fall!

A great day in Canyonlands for sure!

 

 

 

 

 

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Welcome to the New Blog!

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The Blogger at the Spreckels Organ Pavillion, June of 2014.

I’m currently in the process of moving my blog from Blogger to WordPress. If you are reading this post, that’s great, it means you’ve found the new address, www.pocketfullofwanderlust.com Please Bookmark the new blog address for your next visit.  After I move all content to the WordPress Blog, I will no longer update the old Blogger Blog! All future content will be on the WordPress site. Why did I make the move to WordPress? The short answer….WordPress is more user-friendly and offers more flexibility and ease of use!  In the future, I plan to add all types of media, to include videos, photographs and maps. My Blog recently passed the “100,000 page view” mark and I sincerely appreciate my readers taking the time to visit the site! -Thanks, Andrew

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Overland Expo 2014 and Navajo Nachos.

Last weekend I attended the Overland Expo 2014 at Mormon Lake, Arizona, just 30 minutes south-east of Flagstaff.  It was my second time attending the Overland Expo in the last 3 years.  For anyone not familiar with Overland Expo, it’s basically where people of all walks of life and from all parts of the globe gather for 3 days to celebrate all forms of overland-vehicular travel.  Participants arrive in just about every vehicle imaginable, from 500 thousand dollar MadMax looking live-in vehicles to jeeps, trucks, motorcycles and everything in between.  The Expo hosts classes on all aspects of vehicular travel from how to fix a flat tire, to cooking on the road or how to negotiate challenging obstacles properly in your vehicle.  Vendors also have the opportunity to show-off and sell their latest equipment and vehicles.  So in a nutshell, if it has anything to do with overland-vehicles, travel and people who like to venture off the beaten-path, then it was probably at the Overland Expo last weekend!  I tent-cot camped in the pasture with about 900 of my closest friends and their vehicles.  The Expo opens a large cattle pasture for attendees to overnight.  I have no idea how many vehicles camped there but it was probably close to 1000!  The weather was dry and windy, translating into lots of dust in your face, your food and in your vehicles!  Despite the daily sandblasting, it was still an awesome weekend!
I met some of my friends there and made new ones over the 3 day event!  It was kind-of-like a “Woodstock” for overland-vehicle lovers, minus the drugs and nudity…. darn!  I participated in some great classes, with particular interest in the motorcycle ones in order to prepare for a possible trip through the Americas starting in the next 12 months!  The only down-side to the entire weekend was when I ate the dreaded “Navajo Nachos” for the first time!  What are “Navajo Nachos” you ask…. well they are a large piece of “Fry Bread,” covered with refried beans, ground beef, cheese, lettuce and tomato of course.  They tasted great but after about an hour, I felt like I had swallowed a helium-ballon!  I could have squeezed about a cup of oil out of the “Fry Bread,” which may have contributed to the “bloated” feeling.  As you can imagine, the best way to pass the “bloated” feeling is to…. well…. let the methane escape…. and boy did I….. I was afraid my tent-cot was going to float away like the Goodyear Blimp!  Lucky for me, I had strapped the cot down to my vehicle running board because of the high winds and I was safety-strapped to the ground and suffered no unintentional flights!
All joking aside, the best part of the Overland Expo was meeting so many great people, eager to offer their expertise in overland vehicular travel, regardless of your level of experience….
It was just the motivation a guy needs when contemplating a 6000 mile motorcycle ride south of the border!
My Tacoma with Tent-Cot and Kelty Carport.
Breakfast of Overlanders must include BACON!
The cot – awning set-up.
An Earth-Roamer.
A few GXVs ready to road trip!
An Earth Roamer negotiating the obstacle course.
A nice innovative truck cap.
Lots of motorcycles attended!
A new GXV ready for a new owner,
A Sportsmobile.
An XP Camper.
An Earth Cruiser.

 

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Rode My Horse to a Tavern.

For the last few weeks the Big-Old-Mare (aka my Honda XR650L motorcycle) has been chomping at the bit to go for a ride.  She has been cooped-up in the barn since mid-November, when I rode her for the last time.  Even though we are almost in April, and Spring officially arrived last week, it seems “Old Man Winter” is not quite ready to release his grip on central Kentucky just yet. Yesterday morning it was 17 degrees when I went outside at about 7 am, too cold for my “first” Spring-ride of the year.  Today looked a-whole-lot better at 36 degrees at about 8 am, so I dressed for a ride, wool shirt, neck-gator, helmet, gloves and a riding jacket.  I filled the horse up with a few gallons of fresh fuel and hit the road.  By 8:30 am, the mercury had edged up a degree to 37.  From Lawrenceburg, I headed west on Hwy 62 in the direction of Bardstown, home of the world famous “Makers Mark” bourbon distillery.  After riding about 5 miles at 55 mph in 37 degree weather, my hands were sufficiently frozen that I couldn’t feel them or my twig and berries who were well on their way to the land of frozen appendages…so I decided it was time to let discretion rule!  I turned-back and headed home for a few hours to wait for the day to warm up some.  At a little after 11:00 am, it was in the mid-40s so the B.O.M and I again headed west to Bardstown!  Much better, what a difference a few degrees made, it had warmed up enough so I could actually feel my hands for the entire 50 mile ride to Bardstown.  Our destination was the 18th century Old Talbott Tavern.  Built in 1779, Old Talbott Tavern is the oldest stagecoach stop still in operation.  Even though the stagecoach no longer stops there, the Tavern still functions today as a restaurant and hotel.  Notable guests at the Tavern have included Daniel Boone, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Jesse James and even George Patton, to name just a few!  It’s reported that the Tavern, situated right next door to the old county jail, is even haunted.  Fortunately, during my lunch I did’t encounter any ghosts, just a friendly waitress and a great sandwich!
The Old Talbott Tavern in Bardstown, Kentucky
The Old Talbott Tavern in Bardstown, Kentucky
The old bar at the Old Talbott Tavern
The old jail in Bardstown, Kentucky…now a Bed and Breakfast.
The iron gate of the old jail
The original manufacturer’s emblem on the jail’s gate
Log School House in downtown Bardstown, Kentucky
Downtown Bardstown, Kentucky
The downtown Bardstown, Kentucky historical marker.

 
Today’s ride was a great “first” ride of the year!  It gave me and the “Big Old Mare” a chance to stretch our muscles and see some new sights close to our own backyard.  I know I’ve said it before and I will probably say it again, short duration, local get-aways can be just as much fun as cross-country or overseas trips for sure!  I’m glad I got a ride in today because as I type this post it’s raining pretty hard and the weather forecast for the next few days looks pretty grim… heavy rain and possibly some snow on Saturday… wow… the weather this season has been really crazy!  I hope it warms up soon, I have many more adventures in mind!   

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Urban Exploration on a Horse.

Today the weather was near perfect in Central Kentucky.  The hot-humid temperatures that have been the norm for the last few weeks disappeared over-night after a cold-front from Canada decided to pay a visit.  Thank you Canada!  It was in the mid-70s and breezy with patches of clouds.  Perfect weather for a horseback ride.  My horse doesn’t have 4 legs but rather 2 wheels.
The Big-Old-Mare (aka the B-O-M) is a 2003 Honda XR650L Dual-Sport Motorcycle.  She’s not sexy but she’s perhaps the best vehicle there is for ‘Urban-Exploration.’  Since Louisville is only about 55 miles away from home, and I don’t know the city all that well… I decide to explore it for the afternoon!  At noon I depart Lawrenceburg, heading north on Hwy 127. Traffic is light as most churches are still having services.  After a 20 min ride, I take Hwy 60 west, all the way to Louisville.  The total trip only took about an hour.  I first make my way to the “Weird, Independent and Proud neighborhood of the Highlands…. (see the picture below).
That’s right…. weird is a fair statement!  But it’s a really good kinda weird!  Bardstown Road, running east-west through the Highlands, is perhaps the best place to see the eclectic, weird, nature of the neighborhood… Literally hundreds of restaurants, bars and retail shops of all kinds line both sides the road.  The great weather has brought lots of people outdoors, the street is really busy.  I stop at Heine Bros Coffee Shop for a quick caffein fix by way of a strong cup of Columbian dark roast!  Back on the Old-Mare I head off for a quick loop through Cherokee Park, a roughly 400 acre green space just a few mins from Bardstown Road.  The Park too is full of joggers, walkers and bikers.  The Hogan Fountain Pavilion area has a group of musicians playing Boz Scaggs hits right next to a full-court, pick-up game of basketball.  A passer-by stops to ask me a few questions about the BOM…. he evidently had the same motorcycle years ago…. and really loved it….   I listen to the music for a half hour and then saddle-up again and head for downtown Louisville.  I love to just ride down interesting looking streets and see where they take me… it’s what I call ‘Urban Exploration.’  Today I visit the Louisville waterfront area, the YUM Center, Slugger Field, and even a home that Thomas Edison lived in, in the 1860s…  Market Street is another cool neighborhood, lots of galleries and restaurants / bars await a future visit!  At 6 PM, after an afternoon of great riding and exploring, it’s time to head towards home!
What a WONDERFUL day………….

Above, The Weird, Independent and Proud Neighborhood of the Highlands.

Below, Louisville Slugger Field.

Above the KFC Yum Center in Downtown Louisville.
Below, a few pictures of a small home Thomas Edison lived in while experimenting with light bulbs.

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New Adventure Vehicle for 2013…..

I recently purchased a 2013 Toyota Tacoma TX pickup truck.  This week I added an ARE top to it and will make a few more modifications to the vehicle over the coming months in order to make her a No-Frills Adventure Vehicle.  I still have “Bertha” the Ford F350 – Bigfoot Camper Truck and have no plan to send her out to pasture…. but the addition of the Tacoma will allow me to go to more remote locations for future adventures, possibly overseas to Europe and Africa in 2014.  I plan to stay as “spartan” as possible with the Tacoma.  I really just want a vehicle that can go off-road, provide protection from the wind, rain and the occasional bear while allowing me to add a kayak or two to the roof!  As you know I like to give all vehicles a name…. I have not completely decided on a name yet but maybe the “WwAVe” will work for the Tacoma?  The “WaAVE” stands for
World Wide Adventure Vehicle…..
I’d love to hear from readers concerning recommended Mods!
Thanks!

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Overland Expo, 2012, Mormon Lake, Arizona

I recently attended the Overland Journal’s “Overland Expo, 2012” at Mormon Lake, Arizona.  
All I can say is wow, what an incredible event!  For anyone interested in Overland Vehicular Travel, the Overland Expo is a great place to gather information, meet overland travel experts and see some awesome vehicles and equipment!  I attended the Expo on my motorcycle (the B.O.M.).  I was concerned that parking for the truck camper (Bertha) would be difficult at the lake so the Truck Camper got a break for a few days.  There were way too many cool vehicles and products to report on them all, so I posted a few pictures of my favorite vehicles below!
  

Above and Below, the Global Expedition Vehicle (GXV) at the 2012 Overland Expo.

Above, the XP Camper at the 2012 Overland Expo.  I really like the innovative design of the XP Camper.

Above, the Tiger Motorhome at the 2012 Overland Expo.

Below, the Earth-Roamer at the 2012 Overland Expo.

Above, the Earth-Cruiser at the 2012 Overland Expo.

Above, the (B.O.M.) at the 2012 Overland Expo…. perhaps my favorite overland vehicle… at least the most fun to ride!

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Motorcycle Hammock Camping in the Coconino Forest

This past weekend I attended the 2012 Overland Expo at Mormon Lake near Flagstaff, Arizona.  My buddy, his wife and another couple decided to camp about 9 miles from Mormon Lake in the Coconino National Forest.  We took the motorcycles by trailer from Prescott Valley to our camping site and then used the bikes to explore the trails around Mormon Lake and attend the Expo.  Hammock camping is a great way to get a comfortable night’s rest without carrying a lot of extra gear.  I have a Hennessy Hammock that I purchased before working in Africa in 2010-2011.  The Hammock worked great the first night but when temps dipped to 27 degrees the second night, my jungle sleeping bag with liner was not enough to stay warm.  As the old saying goes, “travel light …. freeze at night.”  I survived and really enjoyed the weekend.  Below are a few pictures of the campsite and the surrounding mountains!  I will post pictures of the Overland Expo in the next post!   

Above and below, Motorcycle camping in the Coconino National Forest near Mormon Lake, Arizona.

Above, my Hennessy Hammock with rain fly in the Coconino National Forest near Mormon Lake, Arizona.  Hammocks are great for camping because they are light-weight, keep you off the ground and above crawling creatures, provide a good night’s rest and are relatively inexpensive!

Above and below, the mountains surrounding our campsite!

Below, the motorcycles at the first day of the Overland Expo at Mormon Lake, Arizona, 2012.

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