Cape Solitude Epic Adventure

"The desert takes our dreams away from us, and they don't always return.... Those who don't return become a part of the clouds, a part of the animals that hide in the ravines and of the water that comes from the earth. They become part of everything … They become the Soul of the World.”

This epic trip started Thursday afternoon. We drove to Cameron and stayed at the Cameron Trading Post. The seasoned canyoneers stay here. The rooms are fabulous, and reasonably priced and the Navajo Tacos in the elegant restaurant are the best!!!

We were up earlier than necessary the next morning for breakfast and to get a Navajo permit because our phones did not register the correct time zone. Navajo time.

To the Canyon……..

UNFREQUENTED CAPE SOLITUDE GRAND CANYON…3000+ feet below is the confluence with the Little Colorado River and Colorado River.
Twenty six miles (one way) of white knuckled, bone jarring, nasty Navajo backroads and 7 miles (one way) of desert backpacking on this route to get this view. You could avoid the backroad travel and start at Desert View and walk 15 miles,(30 Round Trip) but there is no water on this route so we chose to get a Navajo permit and take our chances with the rocky, muddy backroads and cut the hiking distance in half.
If you break down on these remote Navajo back roads you are pretty much screwed as most Navajos have abandoned their ranching. It is essential that you carry extra food and water in your vehicle,  as well as assuring  that it has good tires and spare and is in excellent operating condition.
Dingo’s Tahoe was our vehicle of choice.
During the 1990s you could expect to see a few Navajos involved in herding cattle, sheep and horses. Now, perhaps you might see just a few head of cattle. 
The younger generation Navajos are not interested in this demanding life and instead have taken jobs in Flagstaff, Tuba City or perhaps Kayenta. 
I miss seeing them and talking with them.

Finally! Perfect cool weather. This trip has been on my radar for 15 years! I have been below the rim at the confluence, having hiked down the Tanner and Beemer Trails and there on a couple river trips but I always wanted to see it from above.

Dingo, Larry the Mountain Man and I attempted to mountain bike to Cape Solitude several years ago but the sandy washes and heat slowed us down (no shade at all) and we ran out of daylight and had to turn back with 5 miles to go. Other trip plans have been cancelled by snow and logistics.
This trip was particularly fun as our eyes feasted on magnificent wildlife views on the road and trail.  First, we spotted a nice healthy herd of wild horses and a very large zone-tailed hawk.
Hiking to Solitude we saw a large herd of elk and several big eared jack rabbits. Crow woman was circling above us.  At night, the coyotes yipped and 1000 stars covered the sky. Bats nose dived our camp. On the way out, we came across a herd of pronghorn antelopes. We were entertained by a tarantula came out from under a rock during our break.
The drive out was arduous. Dingo did a stellar job of negotiating the back road. We celebrated with a cajun dinner at Satchmos in Flagstaff-Excellent!
Our return was delayed about an hour due to an accident on 17 but we still arrived at my house around 9 P.M…..early enough to clean and put away gear.

This was a fabulous little adventure. Thanks to Dingo for driving and Dingo and Mark for the time we shared.

The incurably popular …..Men Behaving Badly

Dingo….for his right wing nut obsession with Hillary. We could actually feel his sexual fantasy with her!!!
All…….  for the dialogue always reverting back to bikinis, Playboy and SI Swim suit models.
Dingo…. for more ranting about Hillary during our camp cocktail time. At least he brought the whiskey and made manhattans!!
Dingo…. for bringing girly man craft beer.  ELG brought Bud light!!
Dingo…. for thinking that he forgot the topo map and then finding it in his pack after the trip was over!!
Dingo…. for forgetting his camera!! Hey the whole idea was to get some photos of the confluence!!
Lobo……for one particularly nasty SBD in the car…Hey!! Whatcha expect after a Navajo Taco filled with red beans???
Dingo…. for probing into the sex life of EL Lobo

Train to Chicago and Cleveland

“It is wonderful to be here in the great state of Chicago” 

The ELG and Gerry all come to look for America Tour.

This was a stateside vacation that is the stuff that dreams are made of.  We took a train from Flagstaff to Chicago in a first class sleeper car. 
The countryside was gorgeous and we really enjoyed the dining car. The trip took 36 hours and made several stops in New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas and Ohio.

We both had been to Chicago many times on business but really never had the opportunity to get “a taste of Chicago.”  We made the most out of our five days, staying in a lovely Boutique Hotel -The Willows in Wrigleyville. 

We had incredible seats for a game at the legendary 100 year old Wrigley Field and could practically reach out and touch the Cardinals manager, Mike Matheny in the dugout. 

The Art Institute of Chicago is the second largest museum in the country and and houses a treasure trove from around the world. The collection of impressionist and post impressionist paintings is second only to those in France. The Public art downtown is extraordinary, particularly in Millennium Park. 

There are over 200 theaters in Chicago and we caught a great comedy, a Broadway hit….Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at the Goodman Theatre. The play was hilarious!

We took an Architecture Cruise on the river and felt Chicago’s steely power while looking up, while cloud-poking towers glided by. Excellent!! We had drinks at the top of the 100 story Hancock Building-too cool!

At the White Sox game we got ripped off by a scalper that used a bait and switch scam and stupid us ended up with $7 dollar tickets that we paid $60 for. The seats were at the very top of the stadium, Gerry’s nose started to bleed,  however ELG saved the day and we ended up sitting in some really good seats and enjoyed the game. 

The eats were global and out of this world. Of course we had to have Chicago Pizza and enjoyed an evening with Chicago friends Susan and Jim.

Souvenirs at Hard Rock, and then on to Cleveland.

Cleveland was a really pleasant surprise. The city is under stated. The last time I was there was in the early 70s and the Cuyahoga River was on fire. Cleveland has been totally cleaned up and is really a great destination. The people were so warm and friendly and so very proud of their city. The Indians, Browns and Cavaliers regularly sell out.

We stayed at a historic B & B called the Brownstone Inn. It was beautiful and nicely located. The Innkeeper Robin, provided us with an ongoing interesting overview of Cleveland’s history. 

I have been waiting since the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened in 1986 to go. The experience was beyond description. It is so well done. We stayed for almost six hours and I had tears in my eyes for half the time.
This is a treasure, not to be missed in your lifetime.

We caught an Indians game that had one dollar hot dogs and two dollar beers. Awesome!!

Other activities included a really interesting river cruise on the Cuyahoga River, dining in outside cafes, hitting the Hard Rock, and spending more quality time at the exquisite Cleveland Museum of Art.