Monday, March 6, 2017

Quick Trip To Florida

We cut our Florida trip short. We only stayed two weeks. Florida is still Florida, it is just not that exciting to us anymore. The weather was great.

We went down to get our windows defogged.  They are now clear. But it was a miserable experience at Suncoast Designers.

We enjoyed staying with friends for a few days on their ranch. It’s in a hilly section of the state. The morning sun coming through the new leaves and Spanish Moss was enchanting.

We found two PBS stations that actually played music. No news, no opinions. Just music.

We paddled the Chassahowitzka river on the Gulf side of the state. Lots of birds and one river otter.

We were going to paddle Juniper Springs also, but when we found out it was a five-hour trip, we wimped out. It would have been the day after doing the Chassahowitzka and Dorothy was still worn out from that.

On the way home, we wanted to take a new route. But Glenda did not approve. It took several tries before she gave up on taking us through Tallahassee and Dothan. We got back on US 82 and drove on five Martin Luther King Blvd’s in the process.

 One of the holes where the Chassahowitzka forms

 This otter had no fear of us. Just foraged and munched away.

 I like this exposure

Koko on Mike's lift. I tightened the coach bolts
He has the most fantastic workshop

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Alabama Hills

I found this picture taken in the Alabama Hills to be quite interesting. I think it shows what can be done in a digital darkroom by someone with technique and lots of time. I don't think you can get the rocks in the foreground correctly exposed without washing out the mountains. At least that is my experience.

If you look at his other pictures, Photoshop can be seen at work. Still some impressive work.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Replacement Mode

We have been in replacement mode since we retired. I foolishly thought that since we had everything we needed and it was in good repair, we would not have many major purchases after we retired. Not so, we have replaced everything in the last 10 years.

Our bodies are also in need of replacement. Dorothy continues downhill with her legs. It will end where she will not be able to walk. Her doctor told her that well over 10 years back. I started using a CPAP in April and it was a miracle. My energy level was reset back a decade. I no longer was falling asleep at 5PM. I could exercise, hike, etc. After four months the miracle went away. While my sleep apea is under control, I am back to struggling to stay awake after 7PM. I have had all sorts of tests. Three doctors have no clue what the problem could be.

After over two years, I have changed the masthead picture. Still like the old one, but this one taken in the Bighorns Mountains interests me also.

Some 2016 campsites in review. Ones where we had the place to ourselves. Nothing but horizon.

 Big Horn Mountains, Wyoming

 Our own babbling river on the eastern approach to Yellowstone
 Warm River, Idaho

 Rouge River, Oregon

 Mad River, California

The Maze, Utah 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Moab to Alabama

Monday - October 10
Still on Dalton Springs Road.  There was an RV we could see, but they packed up their sand toys and left.  Drove with Ed and Carol to Gemini Bridges and then to Four Arches Canyon.

Tuesday - October 11
Groceries and library in the AM. Upgraded the OS on both the iPhone and the Macbook. Took forever to download and install.

We met this guy in Moab. You see all types of vehicles and folks that are a little off the road. He was a hoot. Very bright and was working on a combo of power sources for his trike.

There was some sun, so we tried to get to Klondike Bluffs on Willow Springs Road, but did not allow enough time. Stopped and shot some rocks along the way. Heavy clouds on the horizon blocked the golden hour.

Wednesday - October 12
Ed got antsy and wanted to leave. So we took their paid up spot at Goose Island. Dorothy is happy. She likes it here, even with the road traffic noise. I am OK, with only one bar and much less sun for charging.

It was a great day. I had three goals for the Moab area. The Maze, get to Klondike Bluffs and a clear day to drive the Poison Spyder trail. We notched The Maze last week. We have been close, but not to, the Klondike Bluffs three times. Once we had to abort because we got a call saying my computer was ready. Today, we drove one of the best Jeep trails in the area. And it was in Arches all along. Turn left at Balanced Rock on a dirt road that starts out a little rough but has a sandy road bed for much of the ten miles. A few of the turns were banked near 45 degrees which gave us pause about tipping over. But other than that it was an enjoyable drive through some great scenery including a canyon. It brought us up close and personal to Klondike Bluffs and we spent an hour or so taking pictures just before the golden light. I would have stayed, but had no desire to exit in the dark. We elected to take the extremely rough Tower Arch road back to pavement in Arches. We could have gone back the way we came or out to 191 on Willow Springs.

Thursday - October 13
It being a clear day we decided to drive the Poison Spyder trail. We have done it twice before and wanted to include the northern loop this time. When we got to the second “waterfall” I looked long and hard at it and wimped out. I know we have been over it before, but it was very intimating today. I am guessing that trail use has pockmarked the rock creating holes where there was smooth rock before. Disappointed? Yes. But I think I made the right choice for us. Going up was going to be difficult and I did not want to think about coming down when I was sore and tired.

It was good to catch up with our Moab friends. Kinda like coming home. Next year, I suspect we will have more time.

Friday - October 14
Errand day. Got the bumper hitch “beefed up”. Visited three rafting outfits to see what they offered for going down the Colorado. Found one that also does the Green and Yampa rivers.

Saturday - October 15
Started home. Parked outside the fairgrounds in Farmington, NM

Sunday - October 16
Drove the Besti Highway south to scout out picture locations. We will be back here for more exploration. It's a wilderness area. BLM controls it. But there are Indian roads all through it. The Indians are not real keen on white folks looking at their sacred rocks.

We parked at Enchanted Trails RV park near Albuquerque.

 Strangely eroded rock formations at Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah 

Can you find Dorothy in this picture? Me neither. Going to have to learn how to photograph mono-chromatic scenes.

Monday - October 17
We continued east on I40 to the city park at San Jon, NM. If we did not tire out after driving 3/4 hours, we could cross the country a lot faster. San Jon consists of a highway maintenance facility and two truck stops, both have restaurants. One has Indian fare. Yes, in the middle of nowhere we had a decent meal. 

Tuesday - October 18
From NM, thru the Texas panhandle, to OK. Amarillo is the first city that looks different from our track through Nevada, Utah and New Mexico - they have brick homes. Before we reached OK, we crossed the 100th parallel and like throwing a light switch green appeared. 

We parked in the Elk City, OK city park. Great place on a small lake. W and E for free. [B and T, take note] 

My energy level went up starting with the first night I used the CPAP back in April. No more more struggling to keep my eyes open in the afternoon. The joy ride seems to be over starting the first of this month. I struggle to stay awake until 9. Last night it was 8pm. This means I am awake at 4!
Need to break this cycle.

Wednesday - October 19
Day 5 homeward bound. At least another 4 days to go.
Awoke to dew! Not seen in months.
Along with water, you get bugs - on the windshield.
Finally, 87 octane at “regular” prices. It was $1.75 in OKC. 20 cents higher on both sides of the city.

Parked in a most delightful COE park on Lake Eufaula. Needed the ac. The idea of returning home on the northern route in cool weather and enjoying fall colors went out the window. There is a heat wave in the mid section of the country and it looks like OK will not have fall colors this year.

Woe is us. We have had about zero equipment problems on our trips until this year.

Engine ran rough one day. Had diagnostics done. No trouble found. 
Back shade cord broke, after a half-ass repair, it broke again
Five windows are fogged. Too many dirt roads we suppose.
Commode seat broke
TV antenna cable broke
Hot water heater control board went toes-up
Don’s hard drive died
Don’s computer charging cable died
Koko had to have new battery
Rubi had to have new tires

About $2,000 all total

Thursday - October 20
Overnighted at a COE park south of Little Rock on the Arkansas River called Tar Camp. We saw no tar.

Friday - October 21 
Walmart in Clinton, MS

Home Saturday.

This concludes hiking, biking and Jeeping for the year.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Red Rock Country

Dear Blog, 

My hard drive went toes-up. So I lost what I had blogged, but not published after 9/23. Some pictures were also lost. Thankfully, I had a back up only two weeks old. The next few entries will capture where we were in brief, so we can read them when we are drooling in a nursing home.

Saturday - September 24

We parked at Temple Mountain to scout out where we could leave the yaks while we were in The Maze next week. 

Sunday/Thursday - September 25/29

Parked on Klondike Road 20 miles north of Moab. Great view. Spent most of the time prepping to go to The Maze. Ed and Carol joined us Monday and we got the chance to catch us with them and see their third LD and their new red Jeep. Had prime rib at Susie’s. Left the yaks in Moab.

The Klondike Bluffs - My close ups were lost

Friday - September 30
Deja Vu Back to Temple Mountain where we will leave KoKo and take the Jeep in the morning. My computer died.

Our neighbors showed us a video of a flash flood that came down the wash next to the parking area earlier in the day. It did not rain at the campground. The water came from somewhere toward I70. Only a trickle of water remained, but it was roaring in the video. The picture below shows the boulders left by the flash flood.

The rest of the pictures from Temple Mountain were lost

Saturday/Sunday - October 1/2 - The Maze

Canyonlands NP is in three districts. The more well known districts are Island In The Sky and south of there is The Needles District. The Maze is across the rivers, the Green and the Colorado. There are no paved roads into it. That alone keeps the traffic down. To enter the more desirable areas you must acquire a permit well in advance.  The Maze has some of most unusual rock formations in Utah.

This place has been on my bucket list for over 20 years. After we got the Rubicon, it moved way up the list. The Maze requires a high clearance vehicle and over night camping in a tent. We spent a few hours each day the week before buying equipment and packing the Jeep. Water, food, gas, tent, storage bins, toilet, ice chest and so forth. Most of the items we tossed after we returned having no room for them once we put the yaks back on the roof of the Jeep.

We planned to stay two days and could have extended, but we elected not to. We would have needed another few days to explore the north section of the park. Maybe another day.

What we really needed were hiking legs. There are miles and miles of trails.

It was great to get to a place without Chinese tour buses and Cruise America RV's. It's not a designated wilderness, but you are over 80 miles from a paved road, separated from civilization by two rivers.  You see few people. Of the 95 miles coming in, we only saw three Jeeps traveling together and two bikers.  On the way out, we saw one Jeep and two back country rangers doing a pack rafting trip. [That means hiking down from the ranger station, about 30 miles, to the Colorado River, carrying a pack raft, paddles, sat phone and what ever else required on your back. Floating down the river to check on visitors also pack rafting, then hiking back to the ranger station. They do this wearing their gray over green uniforms, which are not the most comfortable for back country hiking. What a life]

We got up at 5 and were on our way to Hans Flat Ranger Station by 7. That was the first 44 miles on a mostly decent dirt road.  The terrain turned from brown desert to green P and J's (Pinyon Pine and Juniper) just before the ranger station. After checking in, we headed down the Flint Trail. I was a little apprehensive about this section, but it was a breeze. The Rubicon is quite impressive. It was the only time I used 4WD Low and that was to use the engine to brake going down the steep sections. When we got to "The Ledge" at the end of the Flint Trail, the P and J’s were gone, replaced by budding cacti. 

Starting at the Teapot campground, the road gets rough, not so much technical, just plain rough. We were told the road is pretty much the same as it was in the 1920's when ranchers stared running cattle there. There are a dozen or so steps that require care not to drag on, but nothing that a stock Rubicon can not handle with good spotting. After 8 hours of driving we arrived at our first overnight location. It's called The Wall. None of the campgrounds have any amenities. You would not know it's a campground, but for the signage. The Wall is just a flat rocky place with a 40 mile view.  We made camp in an hour, watched the stars for awhile and were fast asleep before long. Each campground is all yours. You see and hear no one else. On a busy day, there are less than 20 people below the cliffs. 

The next morning, it took us an hour to have breakfast and pack everything back into the Jeep. Our next stop, The Dollhouse, only 13 miles downhill toward the river took us 90 minutes. A much shorter day. We made camp by noon and spent the afternoon under a Juniper tree taking in the view. In less than 24 hours, we turned animalistic. We saw creatures in almost every rock. Ducks, bears eating fish, dinosaur heads, etc. And we did not take a single peyote button. It's no wonder the Indians saw animals in rock formations. When you see nothing manmade you soon starting seeing "things".

I would have liked to hike down to the river, but it was three mile round turn and a 800 foot elevation loss and gain.

About 4, the wind picked up and we noted the tent fluttering. The wind continued all night and from time-to-time the wind overpowered the side flaps and we got dusted with red dirt. It was not a restful night by any measure. We did learn first-hand a tad of what the settlers went through. 

Through we were over 80 miles from a paved road in any direction, we got two bars of Verizon in some places. The ranger had told us to call him if we wanted to extend our stay.

It was an enjoyable experience, but I doubt we will do it again. We are just not tent people.

Our first overlook

The start of the Flint Trail decent. These people are in trucks, not good. Have biker friends to build up the road for them. They never made all the way.

Another overlook
Over the ledge, now the road gets rough 

Our first campsite

 View from our first campsite

Our second campsite - sand, not rock, for tent stakes
What we came for - The Dollhouses

Just before sunset at our campsite

Monday - October 3

Back to Temple Mountain again and dead tired after our 7 hour return drive. Frolicked like seals in the shower getting the red dirt off.

Tuesday - October 4

We spent almost four hours putting things back to normal in the vehicles and did not leave Temple Mountain until after 2. I wanted to stay in the Henry Mountains, but I did not want to drive KoKo 20 miles on a dirt road, so we passed the mountains by and continued south on US95 to near Hite. There is an overlook there of the Colorado River that is one of the best overlooks in the country - from a paved road that is. We decided to park there for the night. The State of Utah thoughtfully provided garbage disposal so we could unload five days of trash.
 Where Lake Powell was 20 years ago. That's the boat ramp on the right

The Colorado and the bridge that was built in 1974 - No road until then

I had forgotten what a scenic road US95 is south of Hanksville to the river. First you wind through a long canyon and then you reach the river. There is scarce traffic on the road. I wanted to take the road to Bullfrog and cross the river on the ferry. But, the ferry was closed for repairs, saving us $55 in toll fees. They could have placed the Ferry Closed sign on US95, before you make the turn on a road with no pull off's. 

Wednesday - October 5

We went to Cedar Mesa to see if there were any ruins we had not already seen, that we could get to. Moon House was on my list, but after looking at a picture of a way too high for us drop off, we crossed the thought from our minds.

Thursday/Friday - October 6/7

Stopped by the Post Office at Blanding and picked up our care package. We parked at Ken’s Lakes south of Moab. Did shopping and washing. Found the start of the Steel Bender Jeep trail. One look convinced us that it could indeed bend steel. We had prime rib once again at Susie’s Branding Iron.

Saturday - October 8

We both felt like we were in prison in the campground after being free for so long, so we drove just north of Moab and parked on Willow Springs road. I had no idea this was a MAJOR thruway for fat tire bikers. The traffic was non stop carrying bikes in and out.

Sunday - October 9

We moved two miles north to Dalton Springs Road. Almost no traffic. That means there is no dust from dirt bikes, ATV’s, cars or RV’s.  It’s not the view we had on Klondike, but it’s fine with us. We are the only motor home here, as there is some kinda deep sand on the road in. I checked it with the Jeep and was comfortable that KoKo could handle it. A combination of no fear, stupidy, and knowing how to drive in sand worked.

Heavy clouds are making us think of heading home. It's about time to do so anyway. Not looking forward to it.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Northern Utah

Back to Bonnieville

We drove out on the speedway Saturday afternoon. It turned out, the event was over, so we could just go past the un-manned barricade. We parked next to the one of tents housing one of the cars. They were all EV’s, electric vehicles. 

The Honda team had set a world record with a speed of over 400mph. At least that’s what we understood. 

There were very few spectators left and everyone talked in whispers.

In the spring the lake bed is covered with a few inches of water. When it dries up the BLM smoothes out the lake bed to make the 11 mile long speedway. 

This is what a lot of the lake bed looks like when it’s not prepared.

Sunday - Tuesday - September 18-20

Shopping and eating in SLC. This city has some great restaurants. One of our fav’s is in a not so great part of downtown - across the tracks.  It’s named The Red Iguana and is very popular. The food is Mexican, but what makes it great are the mole sauces. In any fare, a sauce make the difference between good and superb. We did a taste test of all of their mole’s and both decided the mango based mole was our fav.

We got take out dinner of shredded chicken with the same mole and bought a pint of the mole to put in the freezer.

Dorothy has a rant 

Sunday, September 18 - We arrived at Anderson Cove CG, a National Forest Service CG administered by American Land and Leisure.  It is a park-like setting with lots of green grass and several varieties of leafy trees the reservoir.  The sites are paved and level and only $12 per night with the Golden Age Passport.

Once the Forest Service started turning over the operation of their campgrounds to concessionaires things took a turn and not always for the better. They raised the prices and have tried to get Congress to eliminate the discount passport for the "old people".  It was not approved the first time, but they will continue to try, I am sure.  

Now this is a rant - America Land and Leisure employees are the most unpleasant people that we have encountered and Anderson Cove is definitely not the exception. This is our third time here and it has not changed. American Land and Leisure must be extremely horrible employers because the employee's have hissy fits at the slightest perceived rule violation. They obviously have no leeway whatsoever in the daily operation. The campground is 95% empty, so we moved the Jeep to a vacant site across from our site so we could go dump.  We did not dump when we came in because the dump has backed up and we would have blocked the road. Immediately, the host hopped on his golf cart and chased us down to tell us we could not park in the empty site.  Good grief, we were only going to be gone 10 minutes and there was no one coming in.

The reason we stay here is because it is convenient (sort of) to Salt Lake City and the RV parks there are expensive and crappy.  We have to do some shopping in SLC and there are restaurants where we want to eat.

So here we are in a beautiful campground and will enjoy our stay here.  We will do our best not the infringe on their rules in any way and cause the employees to have heart attacks!

You have Reached A Safe Space

Our previous visits to SLC have been during the summer and the Skyline Road that runs along the spine of mountains east of the city was closed due to un-melted snow. This time we drove a portion of it. It’s an easy road, 2WD throughout the main part. So we got the view of the Great Salt Lake from on high and saw a bit of Fall color. Guessing that it has not rained in the last month as most of the trees were in distress and dropping brown leaves. 

Wednesday - September 21

My birthday. We drove south to a state park on a familiar reservoir to be in position for a drive to an alpine lake and paddle the yaks tomorrow.

Oops, we have been watching the weather for Moab and have not paid any attention to local weather. When we parked the wind was up and the clouds looked ominous. We checked the weather and learned that rain and much cooler temps are on the way.  Had we known, we would have driven south to avoid the front.

Thursday - September 22
It rained in the morning and remained overcast the entire day. We chanced driving to Mirror Lake after lunch hoping we would not be rained out. It worked. While the wind was too high and the temp too cool to put the boats in, we enjoyed the drive through the fall foliage. 

Falls On The The Provo River

Mirror Lake

Fire In The Aspens

Friday - September 23
We debated all morning, stay another day and avoid the rain or take a chance and get to Price. The radar map showed no clouds south of Provo, so we went for it. Didn’t work. It was not heavy rain, but enough to mess up Rubi. We parked at Walmart in Price.

I am reading Sanburgs’ Storm Over The Land. I am always amused and envious of the style of writing in the last century. Here’s what I mean Diary. Lincoln had appointed John Fremont as head of the Western Army. Fremont on his own published a emancipation order. This was contrary to a law just passed by Congress. Lincoln suggested he modify his order. Fremont replied that he would only do so if directly ordered. Lincoln wrote “Your answer, just received, expresses the preference on your part that I should make an open order for the modification, which I cheerly do”. 

This is good place to end. We will be in our beloved Red Rock country tomorrow for a new adventure.