Exploring the Grand Canyon’s South Rim with Zeb and Soapy Smith

Leaving Williams, Arizona.

Williams, Arizona

Driving north on Route 64, through beautiful tall pine forests, we reach Grand Canyon National Park.   We are entering the park through the South Rim entrance.   This is the most developed area of the park, and provides the most amenities for visitors.

Grand Canyon National Park

First stop is always the Visitor’s Center, then a short walk to Mather Point.

Mather Point, Grand Canyon

This canyon is huge!

Panorama can’t begin to cover it all

It is rather crowded here, so we begin following the Rim Trail.   A very short distance, and we found a new friend.

Our new friend, the elk

This park is full of elk.   It is spring, and the male elk are just sprouting new antlers.   Hard to know if we are seeing male or female elk, but they don’t seem to have any fear of humans, or ducks.   Of course, they are protected in the National Park.   Continuing along the Rim Trail, we must stop for many photos.

Like the red here

Soapy’s mom is holding us.

Every view is breathtaking.

If we fall, we are gone forever.

If we fall, we are gone

This canyon averages 10 miles wide (up to 18 miles across, or wide, at places) and 277 miles long.  And it averages one mile deep, but deeper in places.   We reach Yavapal Point and Geology Museum.   Geologists decided this was the best location for the museum.   This is a great view from the Geology Museum.

Beautiful canyon

They appreciated the view, showing several layers of rock.   Private cars are not allowed on these roads during main tourist season, so we ride the free and frequent park shuttles.   Cars are only allowed to lodges and camp grounds.  We leave our shuttle at The Abyss and hike more of the Rim Trail.   There are very few humans on our trail.   Although there are over 5 million visitors each year, the park contains 1,217,403 acres.   Avoiding the crowds is really not that difficult.  The Grand Canyon was carved by the Colorado River over several million years.   As you notice, the erosion process in still happening.

Watch for falling rocks

When will these huge rocks fall?   And these pretty wildflowers can grow in this rocky desert climate.

Cheerful wildflowers

Aren’t they beautiful?   This is Hermit’s Rest.

Hermit’s Rest

The shuttle buses end here and Hermit Trailhead will guide climbers to the bottom of the canyon.   We hiked a short distance on this steep trail.

Rather steep trail

This trail is recommended for experienced desert hikers only.  We didn’t go very far.   Only about 15 minutes down the trail.   The inside of the lodge is beautiful and huge.

At Hermit’s Rest

This photo should give you an idea.  Hermit’s Rest is a National Historic Landmark.   The gift shop was nice.   We purchased ice cream from an outside window.   So good!  On the way back to Mather Point and our car, we stopped at Yavapal Lodge for dinner and these delicious pies.

We loved these pies

Hiking and admiring the Grand Canyon makes humans and ducks hungry.   We will show you more of our Grand Canyon experience next time.

Bearizona with Zeb and Soapy Smith Duck

Williams, Arizona, often referred to as “the gateway to the Grand Canyon”, also houses wild bears and other wild animals.   We visited Bearizona, a drive-thru wildlife park in Williams, Arizona.

Bearizona at Williams, AZ

The brochure promises Spin It, which is the drive-thru portion.   You drive your own vehicle and view North American animals in their natural forested environment.   Also, Stroll It, the walk through area for a close up look at many animals.   This resembles a zoo.   And, Soar It, where visitors witness the High Country Raptors show. Our moms wanted to see bears walking and playing in the woods, so we started the drive-thru portion.  Our first animals, Rocky Mountain Goats, were eating.

Rocky Mountain Goats. Fine dining.

We liked them.   They are losing heavy winter coats, preparing for summer.   The mule deer wanted to meet us.

Mule deer wants to say hi. Or looking for a free snack?

We were told not to feed the animals.   So we didn’t.  These crows, or ravens, appear to be grooming each other.

Crows grooming

Next, we saw burros.


Of different colors.

Burros are different colors

Tundra wolves are next.

Tundra wolves

Definitely keep windows up around the wolves.   The white bison were new to us.

White bison

Brown bison are also losing winter coats.

Brown bison also losing winter coat

These baby Big Horn Sheep were so cute.

Young big horn sheep. One practicing climbing and other practicing walking

Seemed like it was just learning to walk.

Very new Big Horn Sheep

This is what our moms love.   They are fascinated by bears.

I am watching you humans and ducks

Is he watching us?   Yes, we live in Colorado and bears live in Colorado also, but they still love those furry, adorable bears.    This is a younger bear.

Looking for fun. Or trouble?

He is still playful  and unpredictable.   He must be hungry.

Snack time

Time to pick his own tree branches.   The preserve is about to close and this handsome guy is ready for a nap.

Time for a nap

Parking the car, we head to the Stroll It section.

Entering Stroll It section

Look at this beautiful pure white peacock.

White peacock

This beauty had no fear of us.   We had to walk around him.   Moms just thought this bird was fabulous.   Hey moms, remember we are birds, also.   After a quick walk through the gift shop, and a few purchases, we left Bearizona.   The wildlife park was closed and the employees were ready to go home.   When you are near Williams, Arizona, stop at Bearizona.   There is so much more than we saw and showed you.   You will find something to love.   For more information visit http://www.bearizona.com     Tell the animals we still remember them.

Happy National Tapioca Pudding Day

We ducks and humans love tapioca.   But sometimes we forget to buy it at the grocery store.   But we will be enjoying some tapioca today!   Today, July 15, is National Tapioca Pudding Day.  According to http://www.NationalDayCalendar.com tapioca is a starch made from the cassava root.   Wow!   Last summer when we were in Malawi the people ate cassava almost every day.    But to make tapioca, the edible root is ground into a powder or a pearly extract.   The resulting pearls are called tapioca.

National Tapioca Pudding Day

We hope you also enjoy some tapioca pudding today.

Northern Arizona’s Meteor Crater with Zeb and Soapy Smith Duck

Fifty thousand years ago, a meteor ripped through the skies over the land we now call Arizona. Traveling at roughly 40,000 miles an hour (64,000 kilometers an hour)–11 miles per second (18 kilometers per second), it smashed into the surface of the high plateau.  Within a few seconds, the resulting massive explosion threw millions of tons of rock over the surrounding area, opening a crater three quarters of a mile across and 700 feet (210 meters) deep.  A shock wave of hurricane force winds flashed out in every direction, causing destruction for miles.  So reads the sign, The Birth of Meteor Crater, at Meteor Crater Visitor’s Center in northern Arizona.

Let’s go inside and learn about the meteor

We visited this site in March 2016, but it is definitely worth another look.   After watching the short movie, we spotted this, the Holsinger meteorite, weighing in at 1,406 pounds, and the largest known piece of the 150 foot (45 meter) meteorite that caused this crater.

Largest piece of meteorite found

The meteor, before impact, was estimated to weigh 300,000 tons.   Let’s go outside to see the crater.   It is really windy here, so again the walking tours on the crater’s rim have been cancelled.   This is a big crater.

Meteor Crater

The impact resulted in a crater 750 feet deep.   Due to erosion of the surrounding land, and sediment at the bottom from a former lake, the crater is now 558 feet (170 meters) deep. This crater could hold 200 football fields with 2 million fans watching the games.   Wow!   There are 3 levels of viewing platforms at the crater and some free telescopes, pointed at various places in the crater.   We saw drilling sites, astronaut training sites and fault lines.  This is a simulation of what the bottom of the crater is like.

Simulation of bottom of crater

We could not go to the bottom, but this is what it is like.   You will like this place.  But be prepared for high winds.    For years it was believed that this crater was formed by a volcano.   Even though there was no lava found here.   Scientists did not know how to prove a meteorite landing then.   In the early 1900’s Dr. Daniel Barringer, a geologist, believed this crater was formed by a meteorite.   From 1903-1905 he actively mined inside the crater.   He believed he would find a large part of the meteorite below the surface of the crater and he wanted to mine, find and sell the iron.   He continued to believe he would find the meteorite, but he never did.   He died in 1929, nearly bankrupt.   Later Dr. Eugene Shoemaker, another geologist, visited the crater.

Meteor Crater  Panorama

He had been studying the craters after underground atomic bomb tests in Nevada.   Dr. Shoemaker recognized the signs of high temperatures and pressure.  He discovered the expected material, including shocked quartz (coesite), a form of quartz that has a microscopically unique structure caused by intense pressure and high temperature.   Dr. Shoemaker proved Dr. Barringer’s theory of a meteorite impact.    These are the same tests still used around the world to identify meteorite craters.   And meteorites are shattered and do not survive the impact.  The surface of the crater seemed to be very similar to the craters on the moon, so US astronauts trained here, at Arizona’s Meteor Crater before the first lunar landing. The astronauts scheduled for the Apollo missions to the moon, trained here, under the guidance of Dr. Eugene Shoemaker.   Among those training here were Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the first humans to walk on the surface of the moon.  Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, in Apollo 11,  landed and walked on the moon July 20, 1969.   This is the type of capsule the astronauts lived in during their time in space.

Space capsule

A little small for several days, but they did it.  We ducks wrote about our first visit to Meteor Crater in March 2016 if you care to read that post also.   Just click on March 2016 in the right side of your screen.   When driving to Meteor Crater, drive slowly as this is a private working cattle ranch and this is free range country.

Free range cattle next to road

We don’t want any person or animal to be injured.    Our Meteor Crater is not the largest and not the oldest, but it is considered the best preserved and the first to prove a meteor impact.   And some scientific trivia.  An object traveling through outer space is an asteroid.   When it enters the earth’s atmosphere it becomes a meteor.   Upon impact with earth, it is a meteorite. We were confused and this is what we were told at Meteor Crater.   For more information visit http://www.MeteorCrater.com   When you are near Winslow, Arizona stop to visit Meteor Crater.   We enjoyed it.   We even enjoyed it twice.

Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park 2017

Today Northern Arizona has a desert climate.   But it wasn’t always that way.  During the Triassic Period, 225 million years ago, this was a tropical landscape with abundant vegetation. Also home to early dinosaurs and reptiles while the rivers supported fish, clams, snails and crayfish and giant conifer trees reached 180 feet to the sky.   Trees fell in the rivers.   Soon they became covered with silt, volcanic ash and minerals, which prevented decay.   The wood became saturated with minerals.   Silica crystals replaced the wood.   Now we have petrified logs here, in northern Arizona at the Petrified Forest National Park.

Petrified Forest National Park

The is reputed to be one of the best areas for petrified wood in the world.  We visited here in March 2016, but like so many places, it is worth another visit.   The weather is warmer now, but it is still windy and many clouds in the sky.   This year we visited the Painted Desert section of the park first.   The colors of the desert are spectacular.

Painted desert

We stopped at most of the lookout points along the way.   We enter the historic Paint Desert Inn.

Painted Desert Inn

This inn is on the National Historic Landmark List.   The kitchen is still used.


Passing through the kitchen we admire the desert views from a lounging area.   Aren’t these hand painted ceiling tiles beautiful?

These ceiling tiles are beautiful with the old wooden beams.

And the old wooden beams are gorgeous.   This petroglyph look familiar.


We stopped at the Painted Desert gift shop and information center.   A copy of this petroglyph is proudly displayed in the plaza between the buildings.  The summer tourist season is here, so the ice cream shop is open.

Ice cream. Always good

We love ice cream.   And, yes, those are gummy worms on the ice cream.   We probably won’t do that again.   Cold gummy worms were interesting, but once might be enough.   This is the view from the ice cream shop.

Painted desert from Painted Desert Inn

America’s historic Route 66 separates the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest.   Route 66 connected Chicago and Los Angeles.   Americans were buying cars, gasoline was inexpensive, and people wanted to drive across the United States.   Route 66 was the most famous road of the time.   This 1932 Studebaker is a reminder and tribute to all who traveled this road.

1932 Studebaker on Route 66

As the landscape changes from desert to desert with petrified wood, we want to show you what we saw.

Those are not rocks. They are petrified logs

The hills is the distance appear to have large boulders; they are petrified logs.   The colors in the logs are produced by minerals.   Red and pink show a presence of hematite.   Yellow, brown and orange have a presence of goethite, derived by weathering from iron bearing minerals.   Green is from pure reduced iron.   White is pure silica.   Black results from either organic carbon or pyrite.   Purple and blue are produced by manganese dioxide.    This information was provided by the gift shop at the park.

This really is wood.

Agate Bridge is a fossilized tree, 110 feet long.   This tree grew in the tropical forest 217 million years ago while dinosaurs roamed the area.

Agate Bridge

This bridge was once used by humans, but now humans and traveling ducks are not allowed to be on the bridge.   In 1917 (a hundred years ago), the concrete supports were built.   Even though we know this is petrified wood, we are still amazed how much it looks like rock.

Love the colors of the wood

This log is great also and we see so many more in the background.

Petrified log with many more in the background

We are in a National Park so it is not allowed to take anything, including petrified wood from the park.  We are happy about that.   We hiked on some of the trails and enjoyed the wood laying around.   We were here last year also and would love to return again.   We ducks, and humans, love our National Parks.   You will enjoy a visit also.


Zeb and Soapy Smith Duck Take a Road Trip to an Ice Cave and Volcano

Road trip!   We love road trips.   I, Zeb the Duck and Soapy Smith Duck are in the car, waiting for our moms.   Like many road trips, there is no rigid schedule.   We are not sure where we are going or when we will return.   Heading in the general direction of the Grand Canyon, but wanting to see things much different also, from Denver we head south on I-25.   Along the way we see several pronghorn, or American antelope.

Pronghorn or American antelope

We often just call these animals antelope.   They are the second fastest animal in the world, behind the cheetah.   Of course, they are the fastest animal in North America.   These animals appear so delicate and graceful.   We love them.   In Albuquerque we leave I-25, heading west on I-40.   This is still rather high in elevation and somewhat mountainous, so the heat is not a problem.   We are near Grants, New Mexico.   Let’s go to the ice cave.   We were here in March 2016, but we want to see it again.  The ice cave is located on the Continental Divide.

Inside we pay our fee, get our map and look at the museum stuff.

There are several dormant volcanos in this area of New Mexico, and the ice cave is inside a partially collapsed  lava tube.   As we walk to the cave, we admire this old, twisted tree.

Ducks sitting on twisted tree with old lava behind and to the right.

And we rest for a moment here.   Ducks have short legs you know.   Last year we showed you some of the things along the way, so we won’t repeat it.   Now, down 70 stairs to the ice cave.

Down the stairs to the ice cave.  And still more stairs!

Photos are difficult here for mom, but this ice is deep and old.

This is really old ice

The temperature dropped as we reached the bottom of the stairs.   There are two levels to see the ice, probably less than 10 feet apart, but the lower level is much colder.   This ice is about 20 feet deep.   The blue-green tint is from the natural Arctic algae.  The oldest ice is on the bottom, and is from 1100 A.D.  That is old!  New ice is added each year from rain and melting snow.   We love icicles.

Permanent icicles

Especially in the summer.   I don’t remember this sign from last year, but it explains a little about the ice never melting.   The temperature here on the ice never gets above freezing.

Inside a lava tube this ice does not melt

The lava tube is partially collapsed, so we can see outside.   We like this place.   If we are in the area again, we will probably stop again.   March 2016 was colder and windy when we were here, so we did not hike to the top of Bandera Volcano.   But today is nicer, so up the hill we go. We pass this lava formation.

Lava Arch

Continue climbing on the path, we reach the top of Bandera Volcano.

At the top looking into Banderas Volcano

The elevation here is 8,122 feet.   This volcano erupted about 10,000 years ago.   The crater is well preserved.

Looking into Banderas Volcano

It is about 1,400 feet wide and 800 feet deep.   This is considered a fragile environment as rocks and other items slide into the crater.   On mom’s phone it indicates we climbed 18 flights of stairs to reach the top of the volcano.   The path was gentle so we enjoyed the climb.   Back down near the tourist store, I liked this cactus growing by the old shed.

Cactus near old shed

And look at this gas pump.

Old gas pump. They sure look different now.

Today’s gas stations and gas pumps certainly look different.   This is great place to hike and see different things.   For more information visit http://www.IceCaves.com  We think you would enjoy stopping here when you are in the area.  We continue driving west on I-40.   Stay with us to see where we stop next.




Today is National Chocolate with Almonds Day

Chocolate with almonds!   This is a great day.   We enjoy Hershey Kisses with almonds slivers, we enjoy whole almonds covered with chocolate, but this is our favorite.

Celebrate National Chocolate with Almonds Day–July 8

We will share this Hershey chocolate bar with almonds with our newest duck family members.   Just so you know, this chocolate bar will not last long.   Neither will the other one mom doesn’t think we know about.   Enjoy this tasty day.   Celebrate July 8, National Chocolate with Almonds Day.   Again, our holiday information comes from http://www.NationalDayCalendar.com