Thursday, July 18, 2019

Homeward Bound

Dorothy has not written a word for the blog all year. Minutes after I posted this she emailed me this. 

Here is a synopsis of our trip from Dorothy’s point of view:  We left home mid-March in order to met up with friends.  Our first real stop was in Llano, TX so that we could eat at Cooper’s BBQ.  And eat we did - it was yummy! Then Terry & Betty joined us, showed us their new rig, and we all went to Cooper’s to load up on food to take with us.  We spent the night at a Texas rest area and ate bbq.  

Next we met up with Keith & Sandy and Ed & Carol in southern Utah and then moved to Moab.  We certainly enjoyed spend time with them as always.  After Ed & Carol left, we met up with Paul (Corndog) & Laurie.  We did a lot of Jeeping with them and had a great time riding over the rocks of Moab.  Keith taught us the card game, “Golf” and it has been fun, but I think Keith taught Don how to cheat - ha ha.  The weather in Moab was perfect.

Since the Jeep has been lifted the trails seemed easier.  But, I have had a difficult time getting in it, especially on the driver’s side.  We found a place in Logan, UT that would add electric steps.  This has made a big difference for me and it can still climb rocks without the steps being a hindrance.  But for Don it is too tall.  He has learned to duck his head.  Then we found the rain and a lot of it.  We had to stay in places with electric hookups because the solar panels might not get charged.  One of the places we stayed was Spanish Fork, UT at the city park.  Just looking,  the campground was just a parking lot.  Once you were in your site, there was grass and shade trees behind you.  It was just like a park.  We met some friendly people, Spencer & Lorraine and Dan & Carol, and we certainly enjoyed several Happy Hours with them.

We had many days boondocking.  It certainly lowered our camping fees.  We were gone for 122 days and spent a total of $853.50 for an average of $6.99 per night.  Amazing that I get so excited by having a low average.


Monday, July 8 - We continued south passing through Wind River Canyon which is even more spectacular than we recall from 2007. It gets our vote for the best canyon that you can drive through.

The canyon has an optical illusion. South bound you think you are descending at something like a 4% grade while you are actually going up. The river appears to flow north seemingly uphill. The RR  appears level.

                                 Wind River Canyon

We stayed in an RV park in Casper for AC. We resisted going to Safeway for a bag of fried chicken.

Tuesday, July 9 - Southbound to the hamlet of Encampment, where we parked in a city park with full hooks. I washed off some of the grime on KoKo. No need for AC, there was strong wind blowing.

Wednesday, July 10 - Our intent was to continue south to Buena Vista and do a little wheeling for 2 or 3 days, then head directly home. I checked the weather and found the highs were going to be in the high 80's - way too warm for our comfort. We choose to get on I80 and head east. The direct route to I80 from our location was WY130 through the Snowy Mountains. I knew it was scenic, but I had forgotten how high the summit is - 10,830 feet. That was easily the highest we have been on this trip. The top is granite with lots of lakes and reminds me of the the Rubicon Trail section of the Sierra Nevada.

We parked at Vedauwoo east of Laramie. We had not been here in a decade. It will be the last "rocks" we will see as we descend on the plains. Surprise, while it is mid-70's there is a light breeze and we had to put on long pants and sleeves to sit out. I expect this will be the last coolness we experience until October.

Thursday, July 11 - After six days of feeling pretty good, I woke up back in the ditch. I improved during the day, but my energy dropped at 7:30.

Vedauwoo is at 8,200. when we parked we were at 4,200. Slow downhill all day.

Our west bound friends met us at the city park in Brush, CO. What a busy place. Consolation that had a swimming pool so we cooled off there. A band decided to rehearse their act at the park. Damn good. They played mostly Beatles. Three old guys and a talented young vocalist.

Friday, July 12 - Our friends suggested we take US36 rather than I80 all the way to Illinois. We prefer such roads as they provide more interest than interstates. Sure you have to slow down for every town, but I feel that keeps the mind engaged. So far the road surface has been quite smooth.

We planned to overnight at a city park in Phillispburg, Kansas but the voltage was too low run the ac. There was not another RV park of any kind within 50 miles eastbound. I saw there was a COE CG to the north near Alma, Nebraska. So 24 miles off course we went. The CG was flooded. We perched in a CG in Alma. $28 is cheap to pay for electricity when it's 95.

Long day for us, 4 hours to intended destination, then another half-hour to an alternate.

Saturday, July 13 - Three hours brought us to the Washington, Kansas city park. Shade and electricity and a pool.

Curious to us, five birds, three today, rose from the roadside and flew directly into the windshield. It must be raccoon breeding season, we have seen dozens of road kills.

Sunday, July 14 - Four hours and my ass was hurting. We got to the city park in Brooksfield, MO. Electricity and a pool.

Monday, July 15 -  Another four hours brought us to a delightful city park in the corn fields. The Sherwood Forest CG near Hillsboro, IL.  Almost every space is taken for the season by locals who use the lake. Only $1,100 for the season which includes W&E. We paid $10 also a deal.



A little cooler here and much more humid.

Tuesday, July 16 - How long did we drive today? Four hours of course. It would be nice to drive longer, but we just can't. Let's see we were in Missouri, we went east into Illinois, then south into Missouri. Gas is 50 cents more in bankrupt Illinois.

We intended to park in a city park in Thebes, IL, but the bridge over the Mississippi was closed, so we are at The Little Old Opry CG for the low price of $15. $10 a night if you stay three nights.

Wednesday, July 17 - 3.5 hours south on I55, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee and finally Mississippi. We parked at a COE CG under shade trees. It's only 88. The ac is set to 77 but it has not turned off in the three hours we have been here.

The guys are probably dead, but the idiots who thought running interstates through downtown would be a good idea should be flogged.

Thursday, July 18 - Three hours brought us to a COE CG near Westpoint, MS. We should be home be lunch tomorrow. Crossing from Montana to home in 13 days.




Adios
 

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Final Days In Montana

Tuesday, June 25 - We drove MT 200 through some Big Sky country to the town of Lincoln. Another long one-hour driving day. I would have loved to stop and take some pictures of the green wheat fields with mountains in the background, but pull outs are rare in Montana.

Wednesday, June 26 - Today's goal was to get to Fort Benton. We stopped in Great Falls for groceries. While getting gas I asked the women next to me if there were really any great falls in Great Falls. But of course there are. She told me to go to the interpretive center. So we did. We spent 2.5 hours at the center and among other things learned that Lewis and Clark were rather distressed to find not just the single falls the Indians had mentioned but five falls. They had to portage 18 miles, pulling two thousand pound pirouettes over some pretty rough terrain. So a one day delay turned into two weeks.

Anywho the center was an unexpected treat. By the time we were ready to leave it was mid-afternoon, so we opted to stay at Wally World and continue to Fort Benton tomorrow.


We had a fine lighting show around dark-thirty.

Thursday, June 27 - Since we were at Wally World, we had the oil changed. Also found a leaking valve stem on the Jeep. Even though it was overcast, we took a detour to Ryan Dam which is Great Falls. Its's a nine-mile pot-holed road through wheat fields with no turn around for the rig.

We finally got to Fort Benton at noon turning a 30 minute drive into three hours. The BLM Ranger at the Interp center was most knowledgeable about the Missouri Breaks. He mapped out a route that will keep us mainly on paved roads and to two campgrounds - campgrounds that had not shown up on any of our resources. Always good to talk with someone who has been in the field.

The famous White Cliffs area is accessible by water only, but we will see what we see.

We had planed to stay one night at the Interp Center, but the Ranger said this was the big weekend of the year for Fort Benton. They have their Summer Celebration the week before the Fourth and go to Great Falls for the Fourth. We decided to stay and since the skies remain overcast we opted to stay at the Fairgrounds with electricity.

So here we are in a little town on the way to nowhere and there are over two dozen RV's here for the weekend. We learned that Fort Benton was the terminus of paddle-wheelers on the Missouri and was a really big deal trading center.

From Wikipedia:
Established in 1846 the original Fort was the last fur trading post on the Upper Missouri River,the fort became an important economic center. For 30 years, the port attracted steamboats carrying goods, merchants, gold miners and settlers, coming from New Orleans, Memphis, St. Louis, Hannibal, Bismarck, Kansas City, etc. As the terminus for the 642-mile-long Mullan Road, completed by the US Army in 1860, and at the head of navigation of the Missouri River, Fort Benton was part of the overland link between trade on the Missouri and the Columbia River, at Fort Walla Walla, Washington. Twenty thousand migrants used the road in the first year to travel to the Northwest. It became an important route for miners from both directions going into the interior of Idaho, and north to Canada. Steamboat travel to Fort Benton from St. Louis, Missouri helped broadly fuel the development of the American West between 1860 and 1890, when it was supplanted by railroad transport. The river was an important route for miners to the newly discovered gold fields of southern Montana at what became Bannack and Virginia City beginning in 1862, and Helena, beginning in 1865.

Friday, June 28 - We went into town and enjoyed the free pulled pork lunch served by one bank and ice cream by the other bank. Walked around town soaking in history and chatting with the locals.


Small Town Fourth Celebration




 The Dog!
 Tke Kids Had Squirt Guns and Everyone Got A Little Wet

 Can She Sit A Horse


Back at the fairgrounds they had two road patrols getting as much of the mud out of the arena as they can for a rodeo this evening. It was the third day of sheeting rain and we will be lucky if it does not rain again today. This affects us as one of the roads we want to drive through in the Breaks Monument are dirt and gravel. Fine for the Jeep, may not fine for KoKo.

We watched a bit of the rodeo from behind a fence. The $15 entry fee seemed steep for the limited time we would watch it. Dorothy's foot is pretty much toast after an hour of not being elevated and my back hurts after a long period of no back support.

There must have been over a 100 stock trailers, most everyone with accommodations for humans in the front.

We are only 60 miles from Saskatchewan. I guess that's why they fly the Maple Leaf flag here and we see more than few Saskatchewan license plates.

Saturday, June 29 - NO RAIN forecast for today and tomorrow. Yippee!


We toured one of the five museums! in Fort Benton, ate too much for lunch and finished the day watching a suburb fireworks display.

Sunday, June 30 - Into the Breaks. Our camp is on the Missouri. A small pristine campground. The drive was through rolling farm country. One car passed us, on the way out with his kayak. There were several tenters who were floating the river.

Monday, July 1 - We took an hour drive on the road we will use to our next campground. It's was along a ridge about 1,000 feet above the valley of the Missouri through rolling hills with wide vista's and far horizons. The hard packed gravel was smoother than most of the asphalt roads in Montana. The paved roads tend to be wavy and we feel each wave when the Jeep comes out of the depression.

On the first day of July, it's seems summer has arrived in Montana. Temps are in the upper-80's in the late afternoon. Too hot. Some people can not be happy.


What We Did NOT See
The White Cliffs in the Breaks - Access By Water Only


Same Formations Found on Lake Powell

Things We Did See


                                         The Breaks

                   It's a Noxious Weed, Not a Crop

Tuesday, July 2 - We continued on county 236 to the town of Winifred. We did not expect much. Surprise, it's almost booming. New construction of apartments as the kids are staying in Winifred and not moving off.

We stopped at the grocery to inquire about road conditions and good thing we did. They considered continuing on 236 foolish and advised us to take the longer paved road. They described the last few miles of the road as overgrown with trees and the road was like "gumbo" if wet. I saw the road after we got to the campground and "gumbo" was an apt description.

The threat of rain cooled it off, back into the mid-70's.

Our last campground in the "Breaks" was great. This one not so much. I doubt the grass has ever been cut, all natural. The water had not been cut on so, we could not stay for that reason. That and no scenery or cell here will push us south hoping to find a place to hole up for the holiday. This section of the state is not RV friendly, no private campgrounds and only two public ones.

Wednesday, July 3 - We plopped down in a Kiwanis park in Lewistown. Other than a KOA, there is really nothing between here and Billings. It's level, fairly quiet and has water.



I had NO energy and spent 12 hours in bed. Mostly asleep

Thursday, The Fourth of July - To celebrate we did laundry. The laundry was housed in a former car dealership built in 1952.  We parked inside in the former service bays. The town had a parade, but it was not much. Everyone stood when the colors passed. Oh, the sun made an unexpected appearance from 9 to 2.


Friday, July 5 - We drove to Billings. I was ready to have a doctor examine me. My usual loss of energy has been even lower in the last 2/3 weeks. I picked the Billings Clinic. Good choice. Walk-in's can schedule a time to be seen. Then next available time was 5:20. I took it. They were ready to see me at 5:20. The usual history with an LPN and then the doctor was in right away. We went over my complaint and she was all for doing a CAT scan right then. I put it and all other tests off until the next morning, as I was toast and Dorothy's foot was really swollen. I could tell she was concerned.




Saturday, July 6 - I had the CAT scan and more blood work done the next morning. Less than an hour after the scan the doctor was explaining the results and her concern was even more evident. Bottom line, stay and get a definitive diagnosis or head home now and get it done. I hope I made the right choice going home and will get as good as care I was getting in Billings.

I am thinking the reason for my chronic fatigue the last five years is finally known. The exact diagnosis is not known, but I know ballpark. I will not go into it until I know more.

Sunday, July 7 - We drove south from Billings to Worland, WY. The temp is 92, so we found a RV park with shade and electicity.


The landscape changes dramatically when you get to Wyoming on 310. Not just the terrain changes, but the roadsides are junky, abandoned drilling equipment, etc. Then you come to the town of Crowley that has sidewalks, a center turn lane and all the businesses are fluffed and buffed. Then we see the LDS church which explains it all. They always has a positive effect on the culture. 
Towns named Fort so-and-so are everywhere in Montana. Did you know most forts were privately built?

Winco is a great supermarket. Love the bulk foods. That allows us to sample things like coffee beans. Found a great one Chocolate Cherry.


Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Still Roaming Around Montana

There is a road, no simple highway
Between the dawn and the dark of night
And if you go no one may follow
That path is for your steps alone

  - Robert Hunter
 


 The "Ghost Town" of Elkhorn

 State Capital

Cathedral of St Helena



Tuesday, June 11 - We drove a little farther north today - a whole hour and 20 minutes. Some great scenery, but there were no pull outs and we had two trailers behind us, so no pictures. I finally just stopped in the road and let them pass, but we were out of the really good stuff. And so it goes. The speed limit is 80 on the interstates and 70 on highways. I recall when it was reasonable and prudent. Never got back to that after Nixon’s double-nickel.

Our mission here is to find the ghost town of Elkhorn. If there was any signage on the way north, we missed it. We will retrace our steps later this afternoon.

We finally located the dump station in the city park. Dumps and trash even fresh water are scarce in these parts. We then parked in a great BLM campground only 70 yards from I15. You would think it would be noisy, but there is very little traffic and the Boulder River is gurgling white noise between us and the roadway.

Wednesday, June 12 - We went to the “ghost town” of Elkhorn. It was not much. Seen the same in Colorado.

Thursday, June 13 - Neighbors told us about a scenic trail, so we took off for the hills. It was nothing more than a drive through the trees. Don’t trust ATV drivers. There were few view points and all you could see were other tree covered hills. Some hillsides were green, others were brown completely destroyed by pine Beatles. We crossed the Continental Divide, but it was only six thousand or so.

It had been 2.5 weeks since we have seen a Walmart and Dorothy was hot to shop. We after lunch we drove into Helena. We loaded the Jeep up atWalmart and then went to Safeway for more items which included 8 pieces of fried chicken for $6.

Friday, June 14 - Back to Helena to get haircuts, tour the Capital, and shop at Costco.

Helena is unique among the many mining towns. The money stayed in Helena. Downtown has dozen of multi-story brick buildings built around the turn of the century. Contrasted with the mining towns of Colorado where the money went to Denver. In California much flowed to Sacramento and Los Angeles.

The capital was fine. I thought it bore a strong resemblance to Iowa’s. And since they used architect’s from Des Moines it’s easy to see how some thing look the same. Only two western capital’s we have not toured, California and Arizona. I really doubt we will ever enter California again.

Saturday, June 15 - I finally quite procrastinating and drew a colored line on the map for our route in Montana. In stone? Probably not.

Of the five days we spent at the campground, we had cell two days. It was “on” this morning and we surfed for two hours before breakie.

After lunch we decided to leave the delightful campground and park in town where there are full hookups and 4 bars for free for one night. We will be ready to make the next jump in the morning.

We have had great weather all week!

Sunday, June 15 - We took a shot and went to the Gates of the Mountains which is east of Helena. Lewis and Clark had difficulties here as the hillsides are too steep for towing and the river is too deep for poling. We did the scenic road tour, but we were not impressed. We will head west tomorrow.

Our BLM campground is right on the Missouri, but it is busy being so close to Helena.

The Big Sky country we saw in the southern part of the state peters out just south of Helena. I recall it being open and lush green along US2 in the north, we hope to get back to Big Sky.

About every other day, someone comments on Rubi. I don’t think we had a single comment before we got her lifted. I am thinking being a two-door with large tires gives her a “cute toy” look. Don’t know, but she sure gets attention.

Monday, June 16 - We are probably moving as fast as L&C did. We went west and then south to Deer Lodge. Crossing the Continental Divide on the way. The Little Blackfoot River was our companion on the west side. The scenery improved remarkably.

Deer Lodge was another shot that was on our way west. We struck gold stopping here. The old Montana Territorial Prison is the main tourist attraction, but the map showed a NHS - the Grant-Kohrs Ranch.  We turned in to see what it was. What we could see from the parking area did not look interesting, but I was tired after our 90 minute drive so we went in the VC. We learned what was a five minute walk away was a ranch built at the turn of century by a man who started with nothing and became a “cattle baron” shipping 10,000 cows to Kansas every year.  If my math is correct that is about 2.5 million dollars a year.

The furnishing in the house are as they family left them in 1945. Expensive, ostentacious and definitely not our style. Everything there was used on the ranch, nothing was acquired. They also bred thoroughbred and draft horses. I was most impressed with the large collection of wagons and sleighs that were used on the ranch. One for every purpose. Each had a sign informing us of its purpose.

There were interp rangers in the Blacksmith shop and one making cowboy coffee. We passed on the latter. Well done parks service.

The walking tour drained our strength and pushed me past my feeding time. We got back to the RV, wolfed down some food and took a long nap.

Railroad Stuff which most will want to skip over.
The Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad is often referred to as the Milwaukee Road operated in the Midwest and Northwest of the United States from 1847 until 1980. They came to acquire 12 electric locomotives, called the Little Joe [think Joe Stalin] that were built by General Electric for export to the Soviet Union in 1946.  GE built 20 locomotives of this type, but the company was prohibited from delivering them as relations between the United States and Soviet Union deteriorated into what became known as the Cold War. 

 See Above


 The Old Territorial Prison in Deer Lodge

Draft Horses at the Grant-Kohrs Ranch
 
Tuesday, June 18 - Another hours drive brought us to Georgetown Lake and a delightful and pristine Forest Service campground in a forest of Lodgepole Pines. The downside of being in a forest is that you never get your batteries fully charged.

Our purpose here is take the 35 mile drive to Skalkaho Falls. It’s not a road that KoKo would be happy on. I have never learned to take pictures of fast moving water in high contrast situtations. I tried to stop it at 3,200, but that was not enough. Anywho, it was decent drive and the falls were not bad.




Wednesday, June 19 - A 40 minute drive brought us to a city park where we are the only occupants. For $10, we have water, trash and are open to the sun.

We went to the ghost town of Garnet, reputed as the best preserved in Montana. Well, they have  lot of buildings, but none of them furnished. The floors are gone in most of them. For us, hands down, the best ghost town in Montana is Banack. It’s my all time fav. Brodie remains. Dorothy’s fav.


Ghost Town of Garnet

Two good things about Montana, no sales tax and regular gas is 87 octane, which means I don’t have to pay for mid-grade to 87/88 octane.

Thursday, June 20 - Laundry day. The day started with full gray skies. We had two lights showers on the way to Missoula. We managed to turn a 1:45 drive into 4:30 with lunch and laundry. The place we planned to overnight close by the Bison Reserve is now day-use only. We found a large turnout and made that home.

We were surprised at the number of visitors to the reserve. There were over two dozen vehicles in the parking lot and no doubt more on the roads through the reserve. Having seen Bison at The Tetons, Yellowstone and Custer they are not on my list. But, it seems they are extremely popular with others. I came hoping to see some Big Horn Sheep in the “wild”. I have seen several by and on the roads. The ranger was not optimistic about my chances.

Friday, June 21 - The longest day of the year broke ugly gray. No photo’s today. We decided to head back toward to Missoula to find a cell signal to use to find a place to hang until the rain passes through. We found a casino about half-way between Missoula and the Bison Reserve that offers a free electric site, so we took it. We are the only ones here.

Casino’s are everywhere and every casino is also a liquor store. “Quick Marts” have refrigerated cases 30 feet long with beer. Folks must like a buzz on here. We had a pizza at a casino and it was full of tradesman having a liquid lunch. Maybe just on Friday’s?

We have voted Montana folks the worst dressed. And they are not very handsome either.

We downloaded the movie Deadwood. Dorothy really wanted to see it. Gee, how the actors have aged! The story line took their advanced age in considered and their roles were made tame. Dan never drew his knife or even threatened anyone.

Saturday, June 22 - Dorothy wanted to go to Dilliards to get some makeup. Then she got sick. Then we came home. We remain in time out waiting out the rains.

Sunday, June 23 - It was supposed to be partly sunny today. At 9 it looked like it might happen. We drove back to the Bison Reserve and took the drive. We saw a few bison, some elk at a distance, antelope by the roadside and an occasional deer. According to a ranger most of the 350 bison were “on the other side of the hill”, where there are no roads and hiking is not allowed. I took an obligatory picture of one the beasts. Looks tasty.






Monday, June 24 - We reached our west most place and are headed east. Our last 10 movements have been about an hour and 15 minutes. Today was no different. We left Missoula and drove along side the Flathead River to Seeley Lake.


Monday, June 10, 2019

Into Montana

Dear Diary, 

Monday, June 3 - I have not blogged for over a week. I will not recap the lost days except to say they were mostly dark and cloudy with some rain. We have done nothing worth blogging about, even to ourselves. A period best left blank.

Dorothy has been telling me for years we have almost spent 2,000 nights in KoKo. Last night was finally the night.

We returned to a fav CG for a short stay. We have enjoyed almost 72 hours of glorious weather. The chap next to us told me the source of the river we are on comes out of the side of a hill. I had to see that. It was not difficult to find, I just looked at the map to see where the river started and followed the Forest Service roads there. I don’t do photograph waterfalls very well and the sun would not be illuminating the entire waterfall for another hour or so. But I got some snapshots to remind me of the place.

In the afternoon, we decided to go to an area shown on the map as having many lakes. I thought I might get some interesting reflection shots. We got to within a mile of the place and ice was blocking the road. I used 4WD to go a little farther but bailed when the ice became solid across the road. We had seen no one the whole drive, no cell service, so we would have to self-rescue. No thanks. It’s not the first time ice has stopped us, but this was at only 6,600 feet.

In most of the country as soon as you are a few hundred yards away from something, it’s gone. What I like about the west is that you see mountains 70-100 miles away. They may disappear for a time, but when you crest a hill, there they are again. This is farming country. The terrain is much like the rolling hills of eastern Washington. Here the Tetons pop up above the fields from time-to-time.

I did not get a single shot of the Tetons this trip, they have been cloud covered for a week. Did you know that seen from the west side there are two sets of Tetons. 




The West Fork Of The Henry River

Tuesday, June 4 - We drove north an hour and parked at a county park on a lake that is one of the sources of the Henry Fork of the Snake. Tomorrow we will trip out to see another source of the Henry Fork.

We are trying to decide where to go next. The forecast for Friday and Saturday is poor, maybe a wintry mix? When is summer again?

Were have had strange weather the last few years. On our first trip in 2006, we had perfect weather for eight months except for a hail storm in Colorado. 

Wednesday, June 5 - There was an unscheduled shower overnight, but the skies were blue by 8am. We went to see a first magnitude spring that is the major source of the Henry Fork of the Snake. It looks just like the springs in central Florida - water gushes out of the ground. A house was built on the site by Johnny Sack. No, not the Johnny Sackrimoni of the Soprano’s, but a 4’ 11’ chap who built it himself. Alas, it’s was too early in the season for the house to be open, but we have seen wood log cabins.

I wanted to go back to Harriman Park. You know the E.H. Harriman in Butch and Sundance. Turn of the century big money built ostentatious mansions in Newport, the Hudson River, Lake Tahoe, etc. This is different. The setting is magnificently picturesque, while the cabins are comfortable, but rustic. 
It was named the Railroad Ranch as the owners were railroad men, but the Guggenheims were also owners.

You may have heard more about one of his E.H.s’ sons, Averill, who was a power player and ran for president twice. https://adst.org/oral-history/fascinating-figures/averell-harriman-the-old-crocodile-of-diplomacy/

We sat on the lawn and enjoyed the view for an hour or so.

Thursday, June 6 - Birds! There are all sorts of birds here. I guess the riparian setting is appealing to them. Several species of ducks, geese and even swans. We are fond of yellow birds. There are three types of yellow ones here. One with a yellow belly we could not identify, a yellow rump warbler and third I will get to. The former put on a show for us. He did a dance on a favored table, a partner appeared and they fluttered face to face like hummingbirds for a few seconds and then zoomed off in different directions. Wonder is it was a hookup?

After a mid-afternoon rain shower, the birds came alive in the Aspens out our rear windows. There was a pair of our favs, the Western Tatanger. They will not perch for more than a second before hopping to another branch, so photography through windows covered with raindrops is a challenge. Dorothy got some that were in focus, but she forgot to zoom, so it was not much of a shot.  

The South could Use A Few Colorful Birds

Friday, June 7 - We made the 30-minute drive to West Yellowstone to pick up some essential groceries. The rain started on our way back and continued off and on the rest of the day.

Saturday, June 8 - We awoke to the promised wintry mix, about an inch of slushy snow. The temp was 32. This did not stop the fishermen from putting their boats in by 6am. The sun broke through for a few minutes around 8:30. It took us a minute to figure out why the solar panels were passing only a fraction of an amp to the batteries. They were covered in snow and there is no way I will go up on a wet slippery roof to clear them. Thankfully, the snow melted before noon and we were fully charged by 2pm. The mountains around us got a good layer of the white stuff and they are sparkling in the sun this afternoon.

Sunday, June 9 - Sunshine! Yippee!  We drove few miles north crossing into Montana. We have never understood why, but just crossing the border puts you in Bay Sky country. What changes so quickly? We are so damned pleased to have a few days of sun. We dropped 1,200 feet and drove along the Madison River to a BLM campground on the river. Us, one other RV and the camp host. Dorothy declares it the best she has seen anywhere. We are in a valley with the sparkling snow-covered mountains just to the east. It’s about 65 degrees.

 Along The Madison River In Montana

 Check Out The Last Bullet Point

 Unusual Rock Outcrop In Montana


I had thought we would tour Virginia City this afternoon but after discussing it, we both recalled we had driven through it sometime in the past and thought it looked like Gatlinburg. A tourist trap. We will just stay in the campground and look at the views.

Monday, June 10 - We drove 22 miles north to another BLM CG. This one overlooks a lake. It would be a fantastic home site. Only two sites. Free. Good cell signal after being in a hole yesterday.


Friday, May 24, 2019

Waiting Out The Storm Fronts


Impressive Plant For sale at Walmart, $20

Spanish Forks, UT

Sunday, May 12 - Our third and final half-day of removing the red dirt of Moab from the vehicles. Enjoyed cocktails on our green grass and conversations with our neighbors.

We tried to get reservations at two RV parks close to SLC so we would not have to drive an hour to eat at our fav restaurants. Both were full during the week.

We noted the Europeans in the rental next to us locked both door locks while they sat in their chairs 15-feet away. The next morning as they were pulling out, the guy next to them asked them where they were headed. They got out to talk to him and locked the cab doors while they stood in front of the rig. Guess they think they are in a high crime area. We are totally relaxed. I’ll bet the crime rate is about zero.

Monday, May 13 - Retackled the leak in the toilet. Found a plastic fitting that was cracked. I applied an epoxy fix.

Drove into downtown SLC to the Red Iguana. Dorothy had fish tacos, I had pork with a delightful mole.

20-miles from SLC you could see and taste the haze from the stone crushing plants and the refinery.

Downtown is never busy, but it was almost deserted today. Good for us.

Tuesday, May 14 - I spent all of the morning trying to figure out a new leak in the toilet. A friend solved my problem, but so far I have not found the part. No big deal. I can live with it until I can locate the part.

Before daylight, katabatic winds tumble off the mountains and whistle in the trees. The show is over by 8:30.

Wednesday, May 15 - Back to SLC to eat at Mazza. We really liked it the last two times. Today, it was not much.

Logan, UT

Thursday, May 16 - We made the two-hour drive to Logan. I made reservations, yes, I know we don’t do reservations, but multiple storm fronts are moving in from the Pacific, I see no sense in driving in the rain.  I did not want to boondock for an extended period since we would might not be able to fully charge the batteries without running the generator. We are staying at a pricey, to us, Utah State Park on a small lake with nice facilities.

We are here waiting not just for the multiple fronts to pass, but to have electric steps installed on the Jeep. The manufacturer is here and demand exceeds supply, so there is a wait time. He is pulling a set for us ahead of schedule to accommodate our schedule.

Friday, May 17 - Huge laundry day. We had Carne Asada for lunch. It was marvelous and too much to eat.

I am not taking many pictures this year. Just not inspired.

Saturday, May 18 - Oil change, had ice cream at Utah State University’s Creamery.

Sunday, May 19 - Lazy day, watched TV and read.

Monday, May 20 - It was a clear sunny day! We did some errands and had lunch out.

Tuesday, May 21 - The long-awaited electric step install day. Dorothy likes them. 

The sky was slate gray to dark black the whole day. The temps for the last week have been 20 below average.

Green

After spending two months in the desert we are pleased to be with green grass and trees. Most trees are fully leafed, but still have the vibrant green color of Spring.

There are several canyons carved by rushing waters through the mountains east of the several dozen cities that start in the south around Spanish Forks and continue north past Logan into Idaho. Every canyon is scenic. I can not think of another area in the US that has a longer continuous mountain range contiguous to an urban area. The mountains provide the water required.

I don’t think Utah has much in the way of zoning restrictions. Anything can be adjacent to anything. That is well illustrated in places like Logan. New homes are next to land that has been in a family for a few generations. It’s common to see livestock and tilled fields interspersed with new homes. Light industry and warehouses likewise can be seen next to new homes. That said the area is booming. The lack of regulations allows business to prosper. Tax revenue must be fantastic looking at the many new public facilities.

The Cache Valley is spectacular. The mountains, on both sides, retain snow until late July. Mountain roads may not open until August.

Our first stop in the green area was in Spanish Forks, I never bothered to take a picture, but we had a green area under trees in the back that was the site of cocktails every day for the week we were there. We met some interesting people.

Here at Hyrum State Park, it’s green with a water view. There is no space here over the holiday weekend, so we checked at every park in town, all were full except for one that had narrow sites for $40. We followed the GPS to one more park, but there was no park there. Perhaps there was at one time. Now it’s a HUGE city park. We saw a sign that pointed to the fairgrounds. Fairgrounds! I followed the sign and saw one RV parked on the grass. There were electric posts and water spigots all around. We happened on the manager of the new facility and he said they would sometimes allow short term stays. We signed up five days for $26 - dirt cheap for the area.


Hyrum State Park

City of Logan Fairgrounds

Wednesday, May 22 - Grocery shopping and lunch out at a Chinese place. Dorothy has been hankering for Chinese. This one was above average and quite inexpensive. The man cooks and the woman handles serving and the cash register. We had soup, rice, noodles and two chicken entrees for $6. Too much food and it stayed with us.

Thursday, May 23 - At 10am it was 45 and the wind was gusting to over 30 under gray skies. Next week it’s supposed to clear up and get warmer  - a little.

We picked up some RV parts we ordered and moved to fairgrounds. For some reason, I checked to see if they had wi-fi. Bingo! 9Mbps up and 3.5Mbps down.

Friday, May 24 - There was light rain all night. Dawn brought the now common gray skies. After lunch, the sun appeared.

I installed a new burner tube on the hot water heater. Seems every time I fixed something, another problem develops. This time thermostat on the hot water heater is being ignored and the temp goes to 160.

You can just make out a small section of wind-deposited loess soil









The Temple In Logan. 





Saturday, May 11, 2019

Out Of Moab

After two months in the desert, we headed north where there are green trees and water. We will be in the general area of SLC for about two weeks.

We spent a lot of $ lifting the Jeep. It is now capable of crawling over most rocks in one county in the US, Grand County. Was it worth it? We think so.

Monday, April 22 - It’s been a week since we have blogged. What have we done? Well, we drove some trails, went to the Jeep Expo, ate several meals out, had a campfire every night, etc. I think it was last Tuesday that we had a 50-mile view day - no haze at all. I had not seen such a day in years, I had been wanting such a day to drive the Poison Spyder trail. When we got to the trailhead there were dozens of Jeeps headed up. It would have taken hours to get up, mostly sitting and waiting. And so it goes.

One day I needed to get gas before we went on a trail, so it was suggested that we meet up at the dead cow. Yep, someone took out a cow on 191 next to a parking area.

On another trail, we took time out to make the short walk into a canyon to see the world famous JalapeƱo obstacle. (the trail also has the Pickle and Pickle Slicer) They were eight V8 powered rock crawlers lined ready to run it. No one got rock damage and about half of them went up with barely a tire chirp.

Yesterday, we took the trail to Tower Arch. It was supposed to be the destination of Safari trail Paul and Laurie took on a guided tour Saturday. Based on their description they got nowhere close to it and the guide got lost twice. We all enjoyed the trail. A nice blend of wheeling with some great scenery.

Paul and Laurie left at 6 Sunday morning. They may drive all the way back to Washington today! Makes us tired to think about it. We enjoyed their company and wish them well until we met again.

We moved out 313 toward Dead Horse and Canyonlands. I wanted to a new view. We are up a 1,000 feet here, so it will be a little cooler. It’s five miles farther from Moab, but closer to a few trails. We went into town for groceries and dump. We got held up at the dump by two bozo’s. We expect trailer folks to be SLOW and they were no exception. It was the guy in the pickup truck that got our attention. He had a metal can full of shit, no water, that he was shaking into the sewer. This went on for 20 minutes. Then his hose came off and so he had a mess to clean up. 


Dee and Bill arrived. They are new to boondocking and want to do more.

Wednesday, April 24 - Three of us drove the Wipeout Hill Loop. It’s an OK drive. Great views of the Monitor and Merrimack but not much else. The trail ends at Wipeout Hill which is a formidable obstacle. I saw it from above last year and did not try it. I wondered if I had gained the nerve to try it this year. It looks even more formidable from below. I again passed.

Monitor and Merrimack

Thursday, April 25 - Keith wanted to go to the Green River. I wanted to try a bit of the White Rim Trail. So we just continued south when we got to the river. The views and pictures I have seen of the trail were at the south end of the trail and they did not inspire me. This end of the trail starts off along the river and yes the river is green. After a few miles, the trail climbs a thousand feet and then you round a curve and it’s like a John Ford movie scene. Expansive. Panavision. Cleopatra’s chair seems close across the river. I did not even try for a picture as it would have to cover about 120 degrees and I don’t have a Hasselblad. The image is etched into my mind.

 The Green River along White Rim Trail


Friday, April 26 - We had a stiff wind storm after lunch, followed by a little rain. Our parking area has fine views in all directions, but it’s hugely popular. Too busy. In the afternoon, rigs are cruising for a place. There are three Cruise America’s here tonight. We are going to move tomorrow probably back to where we last were. 

Keith and Sandy are homeward bound. Bill and Dee are in town for a coupla nights. We will go in tomorrow, dump and fill, do marketing and the car show.

Saturday, April 27 - We left our scenic, but all too busy, parking area and went back to Dalton Wells. I picked a spot close the bluff hoping for minimum traffic, wind protection from two directions and no drainage from the rain in the forecast.

We left at 9 and did not get back to camp until 2:30. We did laundry, marketing, and dump and fill. We wanted to go to the car show, but traffic was insane and Dorothy got separated from me. She saw enough of the show for her and came out to the campground.

Friday there was no chance of rain in the 10-day forecast. Saturday, there was rain forecast for four of the next ten days. On Sunday, only days four and five have a rain chance. Inspires confidence.

Sunday, April 28 -  Lazy Day. 

Monday, April 29 - Rain and wind. We went to the library. Bill and Dee arrived after lunch.

Tuesday, April 30 - Still raining,  back to the library

Wednesday, May 1 - A clear day, we did the Poison Spyder Trail for the fourth time. We passed two large groups on the way up and we keep going to put some distance between us. Happily, we did not encounter them again. We had the trail to ourselves.

A short section of the waterfall obstacle that always made me think we were going to tip the rig over if I did not keep the driver's wheel on a very precise line was gone. It was easy peasy. I could not tell if the rock was worn down or it had been chiseled away. 

 This Green for Moab

Barney's Overlook, yep goes pretty much straight down

For the first time, we did the loop of the trail. I imagined it would be an easy roll out to the viewpoints. Not so. The loop is the more challenging part of the trail. We did it counterclockwise and encountered only three dirt bikes. Blissfully quiet. We found lots of ledges and parts of the Skyline Drive that is all on slick rock and all off camber. Great views. It was a long, but good day

Thursday, May 2 - Bill and Dee were leaving and Bill was chatting up the man parked next to us that had a new JL Rubicon. So I also chatted him up and we agreed to run Metal Masher together. He had wanted to do Steel Bender, but I advanced that I had heard that it was more difficult. [He ran Steel Bender the next day and said it was easier than Metal Masher] Anyway, MM was an easy trail until it wasn’t, then it was ledge after ledge. I met defeat in a narrow canyon with a steep ledge. I could not get my front tires up on the top of the ledge while the rears were still pushing. In his 4door, the longer wheelbase allowed him to get up with no problem, as did a truck that had joined our merry caravan. I tried a half dozen times, but all I could do was to burn rubber. I finally accepted a winch cable and came right up.

 The ledge that defeated me

Bill, in a 4door, was able to get his front tires up while the rears were still pushing. Sometimes short wheelbase works better. This was a case of not.

Friday, May 3 - Groceries, wash Jeep and chill. Bill donated some Alaska caught salmon for dinner.

Saturday, May 4 - Went to Dixie Jeep to see about getting Dorothy’s seat belt replaced. The woman has had a life long struggle with seatbelts that annoy her. We are scheduled for next Wednesday. Will also get the tailpipe sawed off. It was bashed almost closed on MM. My bad for coming down a ledge too fast.

Sunday, May 5 - R&R - We watched Clint Eastwood in The Mule

Monday, May 6 - We went with Bill to Bartlett Overlook, about a five-hour slog. I did not think we had been on that side of the canyon before. I knew I was wrong when we pulled to the overlook. We had a long lunch while looking at the canyon.

 Always reminds me of swirls of ice cream



We made the decision to get electric side steps to aid Dorothy’s ingress and egress from the Jeep. We will get them installed on in Logan in about two weeks.

Tuesday, May 7 - Lazy day, Dorothy was not perky at all, so we read and watched The Green Book, which we thought was a really good movie.

Wednesday, May 8 - We got the passenger seat belt replaced. The part alone was almost $400. It has an explosive charge that is activated when the airbags explode that locks the belt. Did you know that? Moab finally has a quality Jeep service facility, Dixie Offroad. They know more about Jeeps than dealers.

On the way back to camp we decided we would abandon Moab. We originally said we would leave when it got hot and hot is not in the forecast. However, we are ready for a scenery change, but leaving is a mixed bag. 

Thursday, May 9 - We drove about 3 hours north on 6. We were going to park at a Days End destination, but a few miles before we got there, I realized the parking area would be close to the road as we were in a narrow canyon. I saw a BLM sign for Price Canyon Recreation Area and figured what the heck. So we drove the three-mile narrow twisty road up a mountain to a quiet campground at 7,900 feet. We are the only ones there at dark. About midnight, I heard what I thought was a ATV. The next morning, there were five other campers, including the guy who needed to unload his ATV at midnight. No ATV trails around. I imagined we would get a cell signal being up high, but there was no service.

Friday, May 10 - At first light, we came down the mountain 3,000 feet and parked at a rest area for breakfast. We were low on gas and found the next gas station in Spanish Forks. The gauge was below my comfort level. We stumbled on a city park with all amenities for the low price of $20. It’s green all around us, grass at our backdoor. Even a golf course. These things stand out after being the desert for two months.

We shopped at Costco and on the way back saw a sign Free Homemade Sourdough Bread. I hung a right and we got our free loaf. I suspect we will be back as it is damn good.

I got the Jeep washed and cleaned up. Tomorrow I will tackle KoKo.

Saturday, May 11 - Cleaning and more cleaning to get the red dirt out. To be continued tomorrow.