Wednesday, October 8, 2008

June Lakes and Alabama Hills

Friday, October 3
Another driving tour day. We had been through the town of Mammoth Lakes to Devil’s Postpile before, but we had not been to the lakes area. At the end of the road, I enticed Dorothy to go up the trail to McCloud Lake for 10 minutes just to get some exercise. It worked, she was huffing and puffing in short order at 9,000 feet, but we made it the half-mile to the lake in 30 minutes.

I noted a geologic feature on our Delorme map called Hot Creek. It was just down the road, so we had to see it. So did a few other people, including a geology class from a college in San Luis Obispo. It was a mini Yellowstone.

Our final stop for the day was Convict Lake, scenic, but covered up with people in a fishing tournament.

Pam caught several more trout so we had a divine dinner.

Saturday, October 4
Big winds last night. We woke up to snow above 10,000 feet. It was the first snow of the season. More is expected tonight down to 8,000 feet.

Driving south, we came down from 8,000 to below 5,000 feet. We stopped Bishop for gas and to do laundry and changed into shorts. Darn warm. A big climate difference in 60 miles.

We arrived at our destination, the Alabama Hills, after 3. We found a good location to set up camp - off the main road, but in the open so we have a 360 view. While we were having cocktails, a young couple from Germany drove up and asked if they could stay with us - Hans and Beata. It turned out that he had been to the US about 25 times and to the Alabama Hills seven times before. He is an accomplished photographer, we saw a few dozen of his prints. We chatted with them until bedtime and set our clocks for 5:45 to capture the Sierra Nevada before the sun comes over the Inyo Mountains behind us.

This is our third visit to the Alabama Hills. It’s a very special place for us. The Inyo mountains to the east are the second of four ranges blocking moisture from Death Valley and they look like what you see in Death Valley, unremarkable. The Sierra Nevada to the immediate west is to our way of thinking the best mountain range in the lower US. Ragged, jagged, snaggle-toothed mountains that rise suddenly from the valley floor.

Sunday, October 5
When the sun is still behind the eastern mountains, the tops of the Sierra Nevada glow hot pink. This lasts less than five minutes and then a white band descends down the mountains replacing the hot pink.

We said goodbye to Hans and Beata who were heading north to the White Mountains.

We spent an hour or so jeeping around in the hills stopping frequently to read the signs erected this week for the film festival, showing which movies were filmed at which set of rocks.

After lunch we drove into town and visited the Lone Pine Film Museum.

Monday, October 6
We got up at 6:30 and drove a short distance to capture a few more photographs at first light. I think we got better ones today.

After a breakfast of biscuits, we drove north to Independence and took Onion Valley Road 9,200 feet up into the mountains. This drive is as good as the several we have done in the Owens Valley. The roads go directly up, as you ascend from 4,000 feet to 9,000 or even 10,000 in 15 miles or so.

We did a short hike as Dorothy was not having a good day, altitude wise. The trail I choose was washed out after only ½ mile. We tried another one with the same results. And so it goes.

Tuesday, October 7
Oh Boy, we went and did it today. We had hiked the Mt. Whitney trail before, but only two miles RT or so and that was more than enough for Dorothy on that day. Today, we went three times that distance, 5.6 miles, with a 1,590 feet elevation gain. We started out at 9am at 8,360 and went to Lone Pine Lake at 9,950. We huffed and puffed all the way up and spent a lot time resting. It took us 3:45 to get to the lake and 2:40 to come down. That means we spent about an hour resting on the way up.

Dorothy has several blisters and is out of action for the rest of the day, but she is in good spirits after a Coke and a martini. We are setting four miles as our hard limit from now own.

Wednesday, October 8
We get up early, have a quick coffee and cereal and reluctantly break camp. We are about out of water and would need to dump in one more day. Besides, we really need to head home.

We stopped to see the arch, which we just heard about the other day (from a BLM chap who stopped by to say hello and warn of fire danger). Of course, we have probably seen more of the hills than most who visit here. Some of the roads are for high clearance vehicles only. We plan to come back one year. Perhaps the first two weeks of October at June Lake followed by two weeks at the hills.

We drove 3.5 hours to just east of Barstow to a non-descript CG in the Mojave. After months of great scenery, the trip home is going to be boring on I40. The choice of CG’s on I40 is really sad.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Friday, September 19
A bright sunny day. I could not get up for yakking, so we took the easy way and drove into the Siskiyou Mountains. The high point is only 4,550, but after being at sea level for weeks, it was a change. We had been on the Grants Pass/Galice side of these mountains two years ago and found them to be unusual. The mountains go up at about 70 degrees with the one and one half lane road blasted from the side. The terrain is twisted and tortured. These mountains were ripped from the northern Sierra Nevada some 200 million years back and transported by unknown mechanism northwest some 60 miles.

At the summit, we took a gravel road, which looking at Deloreme “goes forever” along the ridges.

Saturday, September 20
It was cloudy at dawn and was still cloudy at 10:30. We needed sunlight, for us and the batteries. So we drove KoKo into town to let the alternator do it’s thing. We parked by a large rock on the coast, connected to the internet, had lunch, noted 10-12amps were coming from the solar panels, pronounced it a good day and took a nap.

We later walked on the beach and picked up a few more rocks. We left our Mobil travel guide at home and we want to review one for restaurants in San Francisco. There is a two story book store in Gold Beach, so we dropped in to see if they had one. No Mobil, but one of the best used book stores we have seen. Plus they have a store of rare books. We managed to escape with buying anything. I did read a short book of John Wayne quotes.

We love Oregon and it is difficult for us to leave.

The CG has numerous Murtlewood trees. When you crush the leaves, there is a pleasant aroma.

Sunday, September 21
We drove 37 miles south, almost to the OR/CA border, to Brookings. We had stayed here in 1996 and traveled through it in 2006. Harris Beach SP had one site with cable open. We took it so we can watch 60 Minutes tonight. We don’t want to leave Oregon. We only got here a month ago.

Brookings is the best town on the coast north of San Francisco. It’s prosperous. It has several places to eat and a Fred Meyer. What more could one want?

Monday through Wednesday
Just watching the surf splash on the rocks. We met two other LD couples in the CG. Four great days.


Thursday, September 25

It was difficult to leave Oregon, but we pulled up stakes, had a fine pancake breakfast at Mattie’s and a few minutes later we were in Del Norte county California. Once we past the intersection of 101 and 299 we were in new territory for us.

We stopped by Ferndale to gaze on the Victorian homes and got to the Avenue of the Giants around 3 – a long day for us. We got a site at the Burlington CG at the south end of the park.

The redwoods are as awe-inspiring as we recalled them.

Friday, September 26
We took two short hikes in the redwoods. It was a little disconcerting when we wheeled into the trailhead for the first hike and a logging truck went down the road. Yes, California allows cutting in their forests.

We got away from the campground just after 11 and turned off 101 onto 1. Right away the road narrowed and begin going up. When we saw the sign that the next 22 miles would be twisty-turny, it did not prepare us for meeting oncoming loaded log trucks on the narrow road. Woohoo! We went up to around 1,900, then down to 500, then back up again before descending to the coast. The coast road was not any better, it was still narrow with sharp curves.

Sections of the coast were just good as Oregon. In one place the surf was high and the waves exploded straight up when they hit rocks just under the surface.

Filled up in Fort Bragg at $4.15 and that was 15 cents less than some places.

We got to our planned destination Russian Gulch SP. It was full. We went south four miles to Van Damme SP, they had one site open for one night. We took a look and rejected the whole park. It was really a sad looking place. We decided to end our misery and went to a private park. It’s probably one of the worst we have been in and it’s $34 and nearly full. We decided to do the A Class thing, plug in the cable and pull down the blinds.

We will terminate our adventure down highway 1 and head east.

Saturday, September 27
We said goodbye to the Pacific after a short walk to the beach. Lots of kayaks here. I suppose you paddle around the semi-protected lagoons and watch the wildlife. Too many people in one small place for us.

We took CA20 back over the coast mountains to 101. Any hopes that it might be better than 1 were quickly dashed. It is 26 miles of twisty-turney, vs. 22. After a few miles on 101, we picked up 20 again, east bound to Clear Lake, which is not all that clear and comes with dead fish. We continued on through some more small mountains and finally dropped down into the Sacramento Valley. We are back to civilization. We are overnighting in an unremarkable private CG. But it is the ONLY one in the area. It’s 97 and the a/c is required. Elevation tomorrow night.

Sunday, September 28
After watching CBS Sunday Morning, a treat for us, we drove through Sacramento and then east on US50. This was an easy crossing of the Sierra Nevada, except for the non-stop oncoming traffic from Tahoe. We saw a quick vista of Lake Tahoe from the highway.

We got to Indian Creek CG, a BLM facility, just after 1. The CG is small and very quiet. Lester is the camp host and has lots of rules. LOL Dorothy’s foot is bothering her from driving, so no activities this afternoon.

Nestled in the foothills, we were surprised to have one bar on the cell phone, but nothing on the Verizon card. We do have a full lineup of network TV channels, so we can watch 60 Minutes tonight. Woohoo!

We had our first campfire fire of the trip, not counting he ones Doug built. We are in grove of sugar pines and the cones are saturated with resin. You can light them with a match.

The evening weather report is not promising, rain clouds will be increasing over the night. They are hopeful it will end 70 days without rainfall.

Monday, September 29
Dawn came with clouds, we decided to drive over the pass on CA88 and paddle Silver Lake. The pass was not at all remarkable and an easier drive than we had on US50. Silver Lake was like all the lakes we have seen in the area, LOW. While this lake is in the forest, it is surrounded by resorts. The only access we saw was for a $10 launch fee.

We stopped at another small lake that has a FS CG, the fee was $22! That is the highest we have ever seen. And no amenities. The lake has several private homes on the shore. To reach them, you packed all your stuff in a boat and row to your property.

The sun was out, so we decided to try CA4, a narrow road over the Sierra Nevada. As you turn on the road, a sign warns of 28% grades. Woohoo! It is narrow, one and one-half lanes, but the grades are not bad, at least in the Jeep. If we were on a 28% grade we did not know it. By the time we neared the summit, there was a drizzle of rain. I was hoping for a Tioga Pass kind of road. While CA4 has a few elements of that road, it is a distant cousin. And so it goes.

Tuesday, September 30
We left Indian Creek CG and drove 90 or so miles so to June Lake, which is a picture post card lake. There are over a dozen FS CG’s in the area, we choose Oh Ridge for the view that five and only five campsites have of June Lake. See the picture of the lake out our back window.

The weather is great today, with only a light haze in the valley.

We had cocktails and dinner with Steve and Pam of Santa Carlita. Pam does a mean salsa.

Wednesday, October 1
In the morning, we paddled Gull Lake and in the afternoon, we drove up a FS road to Oh Ridge which overlooks OH Ridge CG, June Lake and the Sierra Nevada.

Tonight, cocktails and dinner with Steve and Pam.

Thursday, October 2
We extended for two more days, even with 90% overcast skies and dropping temperatures. Strong wind today, so no chance to paddle. Dorothy really wanted to see the tufa at Mono Lake and so we did.

After Mono, we drove Tioga Pass, one of our fav roads and went up to Saddleback Lake at 10,000 feet. It was real windy there and the air temperature was 45. Of course, there were several fishermen there.

Tonight dinner in June Lake so we can watch the debate with Steve and Pam.

Dorothy is way depressed with the market being down and McCain’s chances of being elected now are about zil.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Oregon III, Back to the coast

Saturday, September 6
We had a pancakes, eggs, and bacon breakfast with the group then went to Seaside for the Wheels and Wave event, which is old cars and kites on the beach. We have different taste in old cars. Don likes the hotrods and Dorothy likes the restored ones. Back at campground, more socializing, dinner and socializing.

Sunday, September 7
We had another breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and sausage. The LD people really know how to eat. We hung around almost all morning talking. After lunch and nap, we paddled the yaks on the lake. The evening was spent socializing, eating and socializing.

Monday, September 8
We said goodbye to everyone and headed to Portland. Carolyn suggested Clackamette City Park and we found it entirely suitable for our purposes, close to the airport and shopping.

Tuesday, September 9
We did our shopping and got KoKo’s oil changed. We spotted an IKEA from I205 and spent an hour discovering how to reach it. We had never been in one and wanted to see what it was all about. It has budget priced, you assemble furniture. Our purchases were five cardboard magazine holders for $3 which now manage the several camping books we carry. Plus four new salad bowls for 39 cents each. Big spenders.

Wednesday, September 10
Doug and Roxannne’s flight was delayed two hours, so we decided to drive down to Milo McIver and get two campsites and so we did. It turned out to be a good move as when we got back to the CG around 5, it was near full.

Thursday, September 11
We drove down the western side of the Cascades along the Clackamas River to Paradise, the same FS CG we had stayed in when we crossed Oregon a few weeks back. The campsites were right on the McKenzie River, where we had cocktails. Doug built a fire.

Friday, September 12
We got up early to drive to the coast. I feared that the CG we wanted to use near Florence would fill up early on the weekend. No worries. It was almost empty and stayed that way for the weekend.

In the afternoon, we took the Jeep on the dunes and in short order I learned that dry weather combined with high winds produces soft sand. I found a soft spot and we were stuck. It took several other “sand people” an hour to extract the Jeep. As soon as we would dig the sand out, the wind would fill in the hole.

Saturday, September 13
We put the yaks in a paddled to the beach. Doug and Roxanne took the trail to the beach where we met up. That afternoon, Doug & Roxanne paddled and we napped. Later we headed to South Jetty to show them Show Off Hill (now called Competition Hill). It’s fun to watch the quads and bikes go up and down. We wanted to show them Old Town Florence and once again, we found an old car show. Some of the best cars we have seen.

Sunday, September 14
We headed south on US101 to Bullard Beach CG at Bandon. We arrived at 11 and there was already a line of rigs coming in. We were able to get adjoining sites. Went to Old Town Bandon for the Cranberry Festival. We saw some beautiful woodwork and pottery. We bought wine and marinated mixed garden veggies that are very good.

We got a tip that the restaurants at Bandon Dunes Golf Course were good, so we drove out to see. Nice grounds, but we could have been anywhere the place was so sanitized. So we decided to try the Boatworks, which was decent, if a bit pricey for the fare.

Monday, September 15
There was fog on the coast, so we went inland to see what we could see. Five miles inland the sun was out and it was warm. From Bandon, we took 42 east and then south finally ending up on FS33, which winds along the South Fork of the Coquille River, crosses the coast range and then heads west along the Rouge River. We noted two fine CG’s one on each side of the pass. The one along the Coquille required a round trip from Bandon, as the gravel road that goes over the pass is a tad rough for KoKo. However, Quosatana CG on the Rouge is a four star CG and is reachable from Gold Beach. When we got back to the coast at Gold Beach, the fog was still there so all we could do was finish the loop by heading north to Bandon. We tried to assure Doug and Roxanne that there were in fact rocks off the shore.

Tuesday, September 16
The fog remained. About noon, it lifted for a while so Doug and Roxanne could at least see the rocks under the overcast sky.

Doug built another fine fire and we had early cocktails around it. Then to top off our last night together, we watched a Johnny Carson DVD, which we all enjoyed so much, laughing out loud.

Wednesday, September 17
Doug and Roxanne got off to Portland around 10 and we headed south on US101 to Quosatana CG. We decided we would not wait another 39 years to vacation together. It was overcast on the coast, but little fog. 10 miles up the Rouge we were in bright sun. We got a site on the river surrounded by Myrtlewood trees. We may have to stay here longer than two days.

Everyone here is friendly, which is always the case in scenic CG’s where everyone is happy to be here.

Thursday, September 18
The morning sky was overcast at the CG, so we decided to come to town and wash clothes, buy groceries and fill up the Jeep so we can explore the mountain roads. When we got to town the sun was out and no fog! We are wondering if the CG will be sunny when we get back.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Oregon, II, On the coast

Wednesday, August 27
It only took an hour to put the extra panel on, so we were on the road at 10 and found our campsite at Waxmurtle south of Florence by 12. Almost no one is here today.

Thursday, August 28
I went to sleep at 8 and slept until almost 8. By 11, we had the Jeep ready for the dunes and we drove around on the sand for an hour or so.

We went back to the campsite for lunch and had a nap! We did a few chores before cocktails.

The new solar panel adds 30% more charging ability, which should prove useful on cloudy days. We watched TV last night and used almost 60amp-hours, about 25% of our capacity. We were back to 100% before 3pm.

Friday, August 29
We did chores today, washing, marketing, repairing a seat on one yak, and patching a bobo on the other yak.

Saturday, August 30
We took another drive in the sand. I wanted to go up the backside of Show Off Hill, but I lost my nerve. I spent the afternoon doing more chores.

Sunday, August 31
We hiked to the shore through the loose and deep sand. The distance was only a one mile, in the loose sand it took the energy to do three miles.

Monday, September 1 – Labor Day
We drove 37 miles up the coast to Tillicum Beach. We managed to snag a beach front campsite and started Happy Hour at 3 with two other couples from the Seattle area.

There are dozens of Gray? whales feeding just beyond the breakers. In one minute I counted 17 blows. Gray’s are not supposed to be here this time of year.

Tuesday, September 2
We explored some places just north of Tillicum that we had not been to since 1996. Got Dorothy a MUCH needed haircut and we picked up some groceries at Safeway.

We enjoyed one of the best sunsets we have seen in some time. There was a quarter moon inserted in the glow of the sunset.

Wednesday, September 3
We drove a little more north and wound up at Cape Lookout SP. Before dinner we drove to Cape Mears and enjoyed watching the surf splash on the basalt rock formations just off the coast.

Thursday, September 4
An hour and half drive took us from 9:30 to 2, after we stopped to wash a few clothes, buy cheese and look at more haystacks. Oregon is the best.

We are Ft. Stevens SP, the extreme NW point of Oregon. This is as far north as we will go. Our purpose here is to enjoy the company of fellow Lazy Daze owners. We had cocktails with Norm and Jerry, one of the god parents of KoKo.

Friday, September 5
The sky was completely overcast when we woke up and stayed that way all day. This was the first overcast day we have had in Oregon.

After breakfast, we explored the historic part of Ft. Stevens. It was built during the Civil War to discourage the Brits from grabbing any land. The fort was rearmed with modern artillery in WWI and again during WWII. It was closed in 1944.

We spent the afternoon visiting with other LD owners. They are 31 rigs here. We met Tessa, Jazy, Charlie and Lia Hill from Texas.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Oregon, I, east to west

Thursday, August 21
It was supposed to rain overnight and maybe put out the fire. Dawn came with mostly white clouds and not a drop of rain. So we headed for Oregon. Our gas tank was near empty as we had not filled up since the 13th. We put in $100 - half a tank. Later in the day, we put in another $150. We stopped in Mountain Home to shop at Wal-Mart, our first visit this month. We then got on I84, our first interstate this month and drove just across the Idaho/Oregon border to a private CG near Huntington. It’s on the Snake River. It was late in the day, for us, when we arrived at 5PM. Dorothy cooked country fried steak and mashed potatoes. After dinner, she washed two loads of clothes while I watched the only TV station, PBS in HD. One of the shows was Idaho Outdoors. One of the featured locations was the Lolo Trail and specifically the trail to Sinque Hole, which we hiked. Another location was the Sawtooths, so we got to see them in aerial views in clear sky. Spectacular. I will have to come back in my next life and hike them before I get too old.

Friday, August 22
We went to a familiar place Baker City to see the fabulous rock and mineral collection again. We camped at a FS CG 20 miles from town. Paved pad with W&E for $13. Not bad.

The weather is perfect. Oregon is perfect. Life is good.

Saturday, August 23
We got a bonus in Baker City. The town park had over 100 collectable cars. Our favorite was a 1950 Jeep Overland. The rocks were as good as we recalled. It is the premier collection in the US housed in a back room of a museum in a town no one goes to.

Sunday, August 24
West bound on US26. Dorothy was not feeling well, so after only one and half hours we stopped at the Clyde Holiday SP near John Day. The park is garden like as they use intensive irrigation. We had cocktails with Dale and Terri from Walla-Walla.

Monday, August 25
We had a long day, 9 to almost 6. We wanted to get close to Eugene to be able to drive in early and get a third solar panel. We stopped at John Day and found we had an interest in fossils and the terrain is better than Artist Point in Death Valley. We spent a few hours, took a short hike and promised to come back and spend a week in the area.

At Sisters, I decided our GPS was routing us the long way, so we turned around and took 242, instead on continuing on 126. Big mistake, it’s one of the narrowest roads in the US with lave rocks extending into the road. The distance was shorter, but it took longer as 20 mph is a good speed for a MH on the road.

Anywho, we made it down the road and found Paradise CG, a FS facility on the McKenzie River. We were able to snare a campsite on the river and had cocktails on the riverbank and then listened to river babble all night.

Tuesday, August 26
Oregon is fantastic! We love everything about it.

We continued west on 126 to Springfield to AM Solar. Not having made an appointment we found they had two time consuming jobs ahead of us. So they let us stay in the “backyard” and will take us first thing Wednesday. We were able to do a lot of shopping and still get a nap.

Will try to watch HRC tonight. It should be hoot.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Idaho, Part I

Saturday, August 9
We have a rule never move on Friday or Saturday as most public CG’s are full. We broke the rule and escaped from the low and warm elevation back to 5,100 feet only an hour down the road. We are the Ponderosa SP in McCall, ID. Full hookups and even a fuzzy over the air TV signal. The town is on Payette Lake. The town and homes look a lot like Lake Tahoe on a smaller scale.

Sunday, August 10
A lazy day. We watched CBS Sunday Morning and then checked out a CG north of here that we will move to in the morning to be close to a place to put the yaks in the water.

Monday, August 11
We moved to the north unit of the Ponderosa SP at the upper end of Payette Lake. No hookups, TV or cell signals, but a quieter and more scenic CG. The Payette River is a joy to paddle. We paddled upstream to where the current becomes moderate and coasted home.

Tuesday, August 12
We were going to drive up in the mountains and see the Salmon River from the southern shore, but the roads became severe washboard and we turned back.

After lunch, we paddled downstream toward the lake until we were tired and turned around.

Wednesday, August 13
We headed south on ID55 along the North Fork of the Payette River and turned east on the South Fork of the Payette River. For every canyon and valley, there is a stream or river. We stopped at the ranger station and inquired about campgrounds. He suggested Bonneville and we took his suggestion. So we are in yet another campsite on stream, this one is called Warm Springs Creek. And yes, there is a hot springs you can soak in a few hundred yards up the river from the CG. We tried it and it was too hot for our taste. There are several hot springs in the area and we may sample them.

There are over 50 named Forest Service CG’s, plus numerous unnamed and free ones in the area.

Thursday, August 14
Our purpose for being in Idaho is to see jagged fin mountains and so far they have eluded us. Today we drove further east to Stanley to see if we could spot some mountains. We were rewarded, but they did not meet my expectations. We inspected Stanley Lake and Redfish Lake CG’s. The first one was not at all scenic, diseased trees had been cut and left in the CG. Redfish Lake is one fine body of water with several CG’s around the shore. All the CG’s are filled with teaming masses and the lodge is overflowing. We found Sunny Gulch CG to be more to our liking. It’s close to Redfish Lake, so we can enjoy the water without being confined with the masses.

We enjoyed a pizza at Sawtooth Luce’s cafĂ© and spotted a red Lazy Daze parked outside someone’s yard.

Friday, August 15
We really need to quit sleeping until 8am. The temperature is already warm by the time we are ready for the day.

At 10, we got off for the closest destination to us, Grandjean. We hoped for a better view of the mountains, but were again only tantalized with glimpses. We hiked an hour and twenty minutes uphill on Trail Lakes Trail, but wound up in a canyon and it appeared it would be another two hours until we could break free from the canyon and that was well beyond our limits.

When we got down, a young fellow approached me about taking him and his brother out to the highway. They had hiked that morning nearly 30 miles from Pettit-Toxaway Lake across the Sawtooths on the Idaho State Centennial Trail. His brother had injured his leg, so they were not going to be able to make the return hike. We drove them to the highway and they immediately flagged another car headed toward Stanley.

Saturday, August 16
We drove the Dagger Falls Road to see the falls and the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Had we known, we could have saved our gasoline. Much of the area looks like toothpicks on hillsides, the result of a fire some years back. The river water level is so low, they stopped rafting there August 6th. Oh and the falls do not fall very far. Time to move on. We are a month late being in Idaho, water levels are down and it is too warm. Maybe we should have gone to Canada this year even with the poor exchange rate? They do have the best mountains in North America, except for Alaska.

Sunday, August 17
We drove 37 miles east to Stanley and are in the Sunny Gulch CG. It’s sunny! We are at 6,500 feet, but the high was 89. We do have internet and one TV station.

Monday, August 18
We have the only partially shaded site in Sunny Gulch and that’s the problem, not enough sun to charge the batteries. We can move a mile down the road and get an open site for free or take a more sunny site here for $7.50. We moved, but only got to 90% charge. Watching two hours of TV takes a lot of power.

We have had enough of Idaho. I was expecting a lot. I am disappointed. People here really like the scenery. We give it a B-. Wyoming is several notches above Idaho. We rate Wyoming A-. I don’t see us ever returning to Idaho.

The predicted high for today would have set a record, but for whatever reason, it was a little cooler. The hottest part of the day here is around 5pm. It starts to cool off by 9pm and is slightly chilly at 7am.

We are going a little south tomorrow - toward Sun Valley. We will spend a few more nights in the Sawtooth’s if we can find a campsite – it’s crowded here. Then we will escape to Oregon. 55 and rainy sounds good to us.

Tuesday, August 19
We finally found the scenic part of the Sawtooth’s. It’s all south of Stanley.
At the Galena Overlook, the smoke was thick from a local fire, so we will come back another day.

We found an ideal campsite next to a babbling stream, Prairie Creek. And it’s free. The closest camper is a quarter mile away. We had a great sunset toast to Ann Rosenburger’s birthday.

Wednesday, August 20
We hiked a mile to see Mountain Goats. They were there – on a hill about a mile away and about a half a mile up. If we had not had high power optics, we would have seen nothing. With the optics, we saw six white dots.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Leaving Wyoming, entering Idaho

Tuesday, July 29
We could not resist driving the Beartooth Highway again. We went all the way to Red Lodge. We had to, as we needed gas. It was cold and windy on the Wyoming side and warm on the Montana side. It was 51 on top and 83 back in the CG.

Wednesday, July 30
We drove back to west entrance of Yellowstone and made home in the first FS CG north on US287. Big rigs, electricity and weak internet. Tomorrow, we jump off the grid again.

Thursday, July 31
We headed north and west to Big Hole country. I had read that this was some of the most scenic in the Montana. It was OK. We spent a few hours at the Big Hole Battleground where the Calvary massacred some of the Nez Perce. Orders were to fire three rounds low into the tipi’s at daybreak and then charge. They killed a lot of Indians, women and children, but the warriors routed the Calvary. We spent the night in a FS CG a little further down MT 43.

Friday, August 1, 2008
We dropped down 2,500 feet real fast on a wide two-lane road and another thousand feet by the time we got to Missoula, which is at 3,100 feet. This is lower than we have been since we left Nebraska.

We spent the day in Missoula shopping in the big box stores, mostly buying things we did not really need. We took the tour of the Smoke Jumpers School. Interesting. It was almost six when we were through shopping, so we decided to spend our first night ever at Wal-Mart. The parking lot already had several rigs, so we parked behind the store. There were only four rigs there. As we left the next morning, Dorothy counted 16 rigs in the parking lot.

Saturday, August 2
We drove from Missoula to an unmarked CG named Colgate on the Lochsa River. We have the rear of the rig backed up to the babbling river. There are only seven sites here and it’s free. Mark and Dan are brothers and our neighbors. Mark worked for Jack Schaeffer for a time, he now lives just north of Portland. Dan lives in Orlando, but owns hunting property near Andalusia. They have fished most of the western rivers. They caught about 50 yesterday. They said it was some of the best fishing they had enjoyed in a long time. All catch and release here. We talked and drank until after midnight.

Sunday, August 3
We explored the road west of here, but found nothing exciting or especially scenic. We came back had a late lunch and a two hour nap. It will be quiet without Mark and Dan tonight.

Monday, August 4
I came to Idaho to see jagged fin mountains. So far I have seen one that was half-decent. We drove nine miles up a FS road to intersect the Lolo Motorway, which roughly follows the Nez Perce trail and the same route Lewis and Clark took. I wanted to “get on top” and see what the mountains looked like. At 5,000 feet we could see plenty of mountains, both north and south, but all were tree covered, no jagged peaks. And so it goes. We need to get south where the elevation is higher and there is promise of jagged peaks.

We took a one-mile hike through the forest to Sinque Hole. According to the sign this was the exact path of the Nez Perce and Lewis and Clark. The hike was good, the sink hole was not much. A 4x4 Sportsmobile passed us on the way down.

We came back down the mountain and looked for shade in the afternoon heat of 83.

We had a campfire with Myron and Irene, farmers from Alberta.

Tuesday, August 5
The sun does not get into the campsite until after 8 am, so we are sleeping late. We got away at 9:30 and continued west on US12 to Wilderness CG, where we took on fresh water, dumped, parked and showered using all the water we wanted to. We then returned and filled the water tank again and dumped the shower water.

We stopped for the day at O’Hara CG on the Selway River. This is a very popular place for reasons lost on me. The river is fine, but not exceptional. Since we are even lower now, the heat is worse. It may make 100 this afternoon.

Wednesday, August 6 – Dorothy’s birthday. We went south down yet another river valley to Riggins, ID. We had seen an ad for prime rib and Banana’s Foster at the Seven Devils Saloon’s. It sounded just right for Dorothy’s birthday dinner. It was closed. We settled on third best, a family restaurant.

Thursday, August 7
We did not see Hell’s Canyon in 2006 due to smoke from forest fires. We succeeded today. We took a 17 mile drive on a good rock road to Seven Devil’s Recreation Area and it was worth the trip. Don got to see some jagged peaks. We hiked a ½ mile uphill to Heaven’s Gate overlook and spent about 2 hours just looking at the Seven Devils and enjoying the cool temperatures. It was almost clear. We could see the Walla Mountains 50 miles across the gourge. Brad and Mary Ann who have been working on the lookout for a month said it was one of the clearest days they have seen.

Friday, August 8
We drove nearly five long hours on rock roads to get to and get back from the Ghost town of Florence. There was not much left of the 1860 town. The drive above the Salmon River did provide a few good views of the river canyon. Not one of our great touring days.

We had cocktails with two Texans who still like W, Carl and Peggy.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Wyoming, part III

Sunday, July 20, 2008
We drove to Yellowstone and put the rig in site 32 at Indian Creek CG. In the late afternoon we went up to Mammoth and viewed the Travertine Terraces and watched the elk lounge on the grass in the middle of the village.

We have made it to the land of the hordes and teaming masses. Do we look as bad as these people? Plenty of Europeans and Asians. Gawd, do we hate that the Fed let the dollar sink so low.

Monday, July 21, 2008
Up at 6 and off at 7:15 to Old Faithful. About 7:45 I recalled that I had forgotten to bring the information on where to meet for the ranger led hike. Too late to turn around and it did not matter anyway, since we did not get to Old Faithful until 8:26 and found the place we needed to be at 8:30 was a 15 minute walk and we did not even know which direction to walk. And so it goes. We are way too far away from Old Faithful to make the early morning ranger walks.

So we amused ourselves with walking around Old Faithful and seeing the dozen other geysers in the area. One even popped off for us. We waited a few minutes and Old Faithful was faithful, tho it is not a very good display.

We drove north and toured Biscuit and Midway Geyser Basins, the Firehole Lake Drive, where Great Fountain went off just as we were pulling up. On north to Firehole Canyon Drive. By this time, we were exhausted and found a pull off, had lunch by the river, then put our chairs in the river and soaked our feet.

We had to wait through two elk jams on the way back. Yahoo’s who stop on the road and pursue elk into the meadows. We hoped the elk would charge, that would have been exciting.

Tuesday, July 22, – Saturday, July 26, 2008
We have been rambling around Yellowstone seeing the sights that we missed in 2006. We went on three ranger walks, one on the Travertine Terraces, one at the Paint Pots and the last was a rim walk along the Yellowstone River. Interpretive rangers are in short supply this year.

Yellowstone is enormous! You will burn up lots of gasoline and time seeing it all. We like it best in the early morning from 6 to 8. I would not know how to photograph the delicate tones at that time. I think it could only be faithfully rendered in paint.

The waterfalls are spectacular this year because of the heavy winter snowfall. For us, the Yellowstone River and it’s falls are the single most impressive feature in the park. The drive through the Lamar Valley was our favorite landscape.

This trip we broke down and went to the well-liked Old Faithful. It was not very impressive - more steam than water. There are thermals galore in this area; geysers, hot springs, bubbling pools of mud etc. We happened on one cone geyser that went off just as we drove up. [see pictures] Like most geysers, it does not erupt on any sort of schedule.

We had planned to stay in Yellowstone for 4 or 5 days. As it worked out we spent a week, as we do not like to move on weekends. We have a good campsite, a corner one. I did not notice it was a corner site when we pulled in, but it has worked out excellent, as we are “protected” from the continual traffic looking for a camp site. Most people only stay one or two nights. They come after 5 and leave by 8.

Sunday, July 27, 2008
We drove through the Lamar Valley to the northeast entrance with the intention of maybe staying at Pebble CG, but it was full. We continued on through the tacky hamlets of Silver City and Cooke City intending to stay at one of the FS CG’s east of Yellowstone. Four of four were closed. When US212 went south back into Wyoming we changed national forests and entered Shoshone NF. We went into the first CG we saw, liked it and made camp. We wanted to dump, but we got a fine site next to a babbling river with electricity for $10. This breaks our 27 day stretch wo hookups.

We took an afternoon drive east on the Beartooth Highway. Charles Kuralt called it the best drive in the US. I cannot disagree with him, it is incomparable. We located more CG’s higher up that are open and numerous mountain lakes to dip the yaks in. We now want to stay a few days, so we may drive into Cody tomorrow to re-provision and dump. The afternoon temperature “on top” at nearly 11,000 feet was 66. Down in the CG, at 7,000 it was 83.

The only down side is that the weather system is bringing smoke up the Snake River corridor from California. Also there is a fire north of here.

We had cocktails by the river with Dennis and Carolyn of Florida. Super people.

Monday, July 28, 2008
We drove into Cody, only 57 miles, but it takes almost two hours, as you go DOWN, UP and DOWN on the Chief Joseph Highway. It’s almost as good as the Beartooth Highway. We bought groceries at Wal-Mart, dumped, gassed up for only $4.17, we have seen $4.70 and updated the blog. Back up the Beartooth Highway tomorrow and then we will reverse course to the west side of Yellowstone. We expect to enter Idaho in a week or so.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Wyoming, part II

Saturday, July 12, 2008
This was history of the mountain men day for us. We started out with the parade. Parades are a big deal in small towns and we like them. After lunch, we attended Michael Bad Hand Terry’s freewheeling discussion of the Plains Indians culture from 1740 to 1860 - from their first encounter with whites to the reservation period. Or in other words, the period of fur trade. Or how the carriage trade’s infatuation with beaver hats led to the destruction of a culture that had lasted for over 10,000 years. Michael dispelled several myths. One being that Indians were purposely infected with smallpox from trade blankets. Smallpox cannot be spread that way. It requires one-to-one contact. Moreover, the traders needed the Indians to help with the trapping and to have someone to sell their goods to. The period of the fur trade was relatively free from warfare, at least until the last 20 years, which was also after the period where money could be made from furs.

Michael was so fascinating to us, so much so that we went back to his last “performance” of the day. So we got over 3 ½ hours of him. He consults on Indian culture for Hollywood movies. They ask for his opinion. he tells them and they do it their way. Remember Graham Greene’s haircut in Dances With Wolves? Well, the tribe was Shoshone and the men and women all braid their hair below the ears. Graham’s hair was in the Crow style. Which Michael said would have gotten him killed on the first dark night, as hairstyle was a primary recognition feature. Michael has killed several bison from horseback, with spear and bow and arrow. He is totally immersed in Plains Indian culture. He was a real treat for us. Google him.

Sunday, July 13, 2008
Today, we attended the Green River Rendezvous, a pageant telling the story of the Rocky Mountain rendezvous. Half the town puts on the pageant and the other half sits in the stadium with a few tourists. They made the story come alive. It was great fun, even if the sun was hot.

The population of Sublette county is 6,000, Pinedale is 2,300.

Monday, July 14, 2008
We moved camp 30 minutes north to Warren Bridge, a BLM CG. An open campground, with water and dump, $5.

After lunch and nap, we set out to find Green Lakes CG. It proved to be difficult for us and Glenda, our GPS, was useless. After an hour of touring ranches, we finally got on the right road after going through some wonderful Wyoming ranch land. After 30 miles, we got to the alleged terrible dirt road to Green Lakes. It was washboard in places, but we could do 45 in some places. Anyone who thinks it is a bad, has never ridden with us.

Green Lake CG is not so much. Green Lake is a feast for the eyes. However, the mosquitoes were the worst we have encountered, clouds of them. Maybe we could have paddled the lake, maybe they do not venture much offshore, but it takes 10 minutes to get the yaks in the water and another 15 to recover them. We took pictures and got back in the Jeep. How the campers were able to sit out, we don’t know. We thought camping along the Green would be better than at the CG, especially not in prime bug season.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008
We are dispersed camped near Alpine, WY, almost in Idaho. Last night, I decided I wanted to see the Grand Canyon of the Snake, so we drove an hour north and a half-hour west. The first hour driving US 189/191 was through some of the best landscape in the country. Mountains, lush green hillsides, wild flowers and the cascading Hoback River. It reminded me of the terrain around Jasper, Alberta.

US191 continues north to Jackson and US189 turns west and follows the Snake River. There are a few FS CG’s along the road, we checked out two and found them near full and lacking in scenic beauty. Plus they are close to the road, as you are in a canyon, plus, plus they are doing road work. So we passed on them. Why would I think that CG’s, even in a remote area, would be RV friendly when they are along a major river with commercial float the river operations abounding?

They are two FS CG’s on the Idaho shore of Palisades Res. But they contain full-time residents. i.e. people living in squalor in their RV’s on FS land. I suppose the FS in not into enforcement in this area.

Finally, we drove a short distance up the road besides Grey’s River, which dumps into the Snake and found private spot on a bluff overlooking the river. We backed KoKo up to the edge and have fine view of the swift river below. Cost? Zero!

It’s warmer here, we dropped 2,000 feet to 5,700. Mosquitoes are here, so we will view from the rear lounge.

Wednesday, July 16, 2000
We drove north along the shoreline of the Snake, dammed up and called Palisades Res. to the western side of the Grand Tetons. I thought this side would have less people than the Jackson side. It does, but the towns of Victor and Driggs are looking more like Jackson. The million dollar second homes are there – and many are for sale.

We decided to stay at Tenton Canyon CG, which is down five miles of dusty road. The CG was an instant hit with us so we signed up for four days. The neighbors are friendly, as is often the case when the surroundings are pleasing.

Just before darkness, mother moose and twin calves appeared and were not nervous about us or the cars that pulled into the CG.

Thursday, July 17, 2008
We tried the 3.7 mile hike to Devil’s Staircase. It’s not strenuous, only modestly uphill, but after two miles we turned around. The elevation is only 7,000 feet and we had only gained 300 feet in two miles, but we were huffing and puffing.

Friday, July 18, 2008
We drove north to view Mesa Falls, which is a decent waterfalls, at least as good as those in upper Michigan. Most of the land we drove through was devoted to BIG farms – horizon to horizon.

Saturday, July 19, 2008
We planned to hike to Table Rock, but did not wake up until 8:45, so we came to town to do laundry to be ready for the jump to Yellowstone in the morning.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Wyoming, Part I

Tuesday, July 1, 2008
We got up early, had a cup of coffee and hiked the Turtle Rock Trail. We saw lots of interesting rocks, but did not one that looked like a Turtle to us. An hour into the hike I (Dorothy) decided that I had probably reached my limit. It is an easy hike with a little up and down, but the altitude got to me. Don went a little further, didn’t see the rock, and turned around and we headed back to campground – we were getting hungry. We were gone 2 hours so it was good exercise and it didn’t kill us.

After breakfast, after Dorothy yelled at Caremark about her prescription, we drove to Cheyenne and then west on Wyoming 130 into the Snowy Range, where there is still plenty of snow and closed campgrounds in the upper elevations. I had picked Brooklyn Lake solely because it is located at 10,200. Maybe another time.

The population of Cheyenne is only 27,000. For a city whose name I have long been familiar with, it seemed it should be larger.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Dorothy is still suffering from altitude sickness. So the morning activity was driving Forest Service road 700 looking at rocks, taking pictures and scouting for places to stay. We took one spur road and Don finally found his “Jeep Road”. We were rewarded with the most gorgeous vistas.

Vedauwoo is sorta like Jumbo Rocks, Alabama Hills or Chiriacahua, except with green trees and grass. However, we have been told that normally by this time of the year, this area is Wyoming is getting brown.

That afternoon we went to the camp host, Jim & Linda, to have cocktails. They insisted that we stay for dinner. We had a delicious grilled chicken dinner and more cocktails. Life is Good!

Thursday, July 03, 2008
Dorothy wanted to see the territorial prison in Laramie, so we did.

There is a sign near the CG directing traffic to the Ames Monument. We had no idea what the monument was about, but we were curious enough to drive two miles down the dirt road to find out. It’s a really swell rock pyramid commemorating the brothers Ames who the Union Pacific thought did so much to get tracks laid that they built the monument. Well, that’s what the plaque on the monument says. I found that odd and Googled it. Recall Credit Mobilier? Here’s the story:

Friday, July 04, 2008
We wanted to camp in the “outback” of the area. We had seen several places that looked real good on our 4WD trips during the week. So we drove out to find the perfect one. All taken by the hordes. We decided we would be real happy in the CG. And we were. We had Jim and Linda over to dinner.

Saturday, July 05, 2008
We did some projects in the morning, lazed in the afternoon, had cocktails with Jim and Linda and were in bed by 9.

New record for us, we made it 4 and ½ days on a tank of water, five days on the gray tank and six days on the dark tank.

Sunday, July 06, 2008
Into Laramie for groceries, gas, propane and to dump. We then drove out WY130 to Centennial for lunch at the Beartooth Tavern. Dorothy wanted another Breakfast Burrito, which is a HUGE meal. Then we drove up the mountain to North Fork CG, We got a pleasant site by the Little Laramie River, a fine babbling brook. We had cocktails by the brook. It’s a little cooler today, 68 at 5 pm.

The white noise from the brook will make for excellent sleeping. And so it did.

Monday, July 07, 2008
We drove west across Wyoming to Firehole in Flaming Gorge. It’s a nice CG on the Green River. It’s lower, 6,200 feet and so it’s warmer, 88 in mid-afternoon. If the wind will lay down, we plan to paddle the yaks. They have not been off the Jeep’s top since we left home.

The view of Western Wyoming from I80 is not much different from west Texas.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008
After we ate a breakfast of pancakes, we put the yaks in the river and had an hour or so paddle on flat water. There are more birds here than in an aviary. We saw huge catfish and large mouth bass also. Pronghorns live between the CG and the river. We saw the whole herd when we put the yaks in. Later, we saw several just behind our site browsing in the mid-day sun.

After we got back to the beach, we drove the Jeep in the river and washed it off. It was coated in dust from being towed one mile the other day.

We are laying low in the afternoon heat, with three fans on. By 5, it cools off and sleeping is good. It’s actually cool in the morning.

Our location on the Green River is due north of Canyonlands in Utah, where the Green and the Colorado merge. So it’s not surprising that the terrain resembles that which you see in Utah. When the Tetons were higher, the Green was much wider judging by the shelves on the canyon walls.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008
We drove north from Green River to Pinedale, through some most unremarkable landscape. We are in the Lake Fremont CG, a FS facility. Most sites are at some distance from another. But, only a few on the lake. We are on the lake, but have to climb up 10 feet to see it. We have partial shade, so by moving the LD in the morning into the sun, we can keep the batteries charged and still be cool in the afternoon.

Thursday, July 10, 2008
After breakfast, we put the yaks in the water for a delightful paddle on mirror like surface. There are plenty of trout in this lake, we saw them.

After lunch, we went to the Mountain Man Museum (MMM) and were surprised at how informative it was. This happens to be Mountain Man Rendezvous weekend and we happened to be here for it. There are activities Thursday through Saturday.

Friday, July 11, 2008
We went to a 9:00 presentation by Dr. Fred Gowans, a history professor, on the rendezvous of 1833, ‘34,’35, ‘37, ‘39 and ’40 at the location of the rendezvous, the confluence of the Horse Thief and Green rivers. The rendezvous were where the Mountain Men and Indians met with their beaver pelts and a caravan would arrive with supplies for the coming year. There was fun and games and lots of drinking.

We had cocktails with some characters across the way that attend rendezvous all over the country. They are long time chums. The youngest, a former Marine, works security for high-level folks for the DOD. The security clearance for these details must be as high as the officials they are escorting as they cannot leave their clients at the door. Remember at the start of this Gulf War there were reports of zoo animals being killed? Pictures were run in Time. They did not have much to eat and there was no more food for the animals, so this guy killed a few gazelles at Saddam’s zoo. Dressed them out and ate them.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Arriving in Wyoming

Monday, June 30, 2008
We are between Cheyenne and Laramie in a FS CG called Vedauwoo. It is only a mile off I80 so it’s not a secret, but it’s a great place. It’s popular with technical rock climbers. Just look at the pictures to see why. There are 28 sites and we are in #10. All the sites have asphalt pads. The elevation is 8,290. The afternoon temperature is mid-80’s You can see the Rockies to the south in Colorado. But, you do not feel like you are in the mountains here, as the climb from Sidney is very gradual - no steep grades or sharp turns. No wonder the wagons came this way. We have decent cell, internet and TV signals.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Outward Bound

Birmingham to Idaho

We left Wednesday June 18th. We drove 60 miles on I59 to Tuscaloosa, exited on US82. We do not expect to see an interstate until we get to Nebraska. Our plan was to cross Mississippi and camp at the Great River Road SP. It was closed when we got there. Reason unknown. We crossed the river and found a Forest Service CG in Arkansas and had the place to ourselves. Two bucks.

The next day we drove rural roads through BIG farm country on Crowley’s Ridge Scenic Route and stopped at Lake Frieson SP in Arkansas. It’s an OK small CG on a lake. Discount on weekdays.

Our plan was get to Onondaga Cave SP in Missouri for the weekend. We discovered it fills up by Thursday afternoon. So we headed west on US160, away from the hordes to Greer Springs CG in the Mark Twain NF. This is a 20 site primitive CG on the Eleven Point River. We took the only site in the sun to be able to use the solar panels. It was darn warm in the mid-afternoon, but cool enough in the evening with three fans blowing. We spent many hours passing time with the camp hosts, Walt and Linda who hail from Johnson City, TN.

Sunday morning we headed north on MO 19. We stopped at Round Spring in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways to take the two hour cave tour. We thought it was a great cave experience. After lunch we continued north to Onondaga Cave SP. This is a first-rate CG, well-manicured grounds, concrete pads, W&E for $14. It is crowded on weekends, but Sunday evening the place was nearly empty. The weather is excellent. The CG is also on one of the popular float rivers, Meremac, in the area.

We have not seen that much of Missouri, but we now know that it worth further exploring and doing some yakking in the off season.

Monday evening - we are near Macon, MO at the Long Branch SP. It's on a decent size lake, so we will paddle the yaks tomorrow for exercise.

The paddling did not work out. It started raining about dawn and continued most of the day. A respite from 4 to 8 pm and then the deluge came, along with some really loud thunder. It is clearing out Wednesday morning so we will delay leaving until the weather map shows all clear. No sense in getting the rig dirty just to leave. We have plenty of time to get to the next place.

The Riverview CG on the Missouri is closed until the water goes down, so we decided to push an hour farther to Pawnee near Lincoln and we are glad we did. A magnificent CG. Paved pads, electric, on a lake and lots of shrubbery and trees.

We spent most of the drive in rain, some heavy, but the sun was out with a nice breeze when we arrived.

Friday, June 27 – We are in Kearny, NB in the Ft Kearny SP. The plan was to wash clothes and enjoy browsing Cabela’s. The CG is barely OK. Typical state park on a weekend, jammed up. This Cabela’s is small and old. The experience took only 30 minutes. Oh well, we will wash clothes and read tomorrow. Sunday we will be “out west” beyond the 100th parallel. The weather is good and our onramp to the web is decent.

Saturday was a glorious day with a fine breeze that keep the mosquitoes at bay.

We have concluded that most rednecks live outside of the south. Iowa and Nebraska seem to have high populations of them.

Sunday, we drove US30, with sand hills on our right and the Union Pacific on our left, past feed lots, grain elevators, trains. We stopped in Sidney to shop at Cabela’s. We escaped with only $40 lighter as we only wanted real bargains.

We are at 4,000 feet and officially out west. The sunset was glorious. For me, the trip starts tomorrow in Wyoming.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Adventures in SoCal

Still in San Diego

Saturday, March 22
We do laundry and a few other chores that have to be done. After lunch, we drove to Balboa Park.

Sunday, March 23
We had a leisurely morning because the drive is only 2½ hours to get to the KOA in Pomona. Jock and Susan came buy to chat for a while. We really enjoyed getting to meet them and hopefully we will run into them again sometime. The KOA is pretty nice, there’s grass and trees and we haven’t seen that in a long time. We took a nap, and as we were leaving to go buy milk, we meet Gary & Lenore just across the way that have a gray LD and are heading to Mothership Monday morning also. We came back for happy hour with them and really enjoyed chatting with them, but had to cut it short because we had to pack stuff to take to hotel and also clean out the refrigerator and put it in thermal cooler. There’s nothing better than checking into a motel and the clothes are in WalMart bags and you bring in a large cooler, small cooler and assorted foods. We probably looked like refuges or rednecks LOL!!

Monday, March 24
We arrived at Lazy Daze at 7:30 and Vince was waiting for us. There were going to start work immediately. We killed some time there looking at the new models and then drove up to Mt. Baldy for the scenery and it was a beautiful drive. Finally checked into the motel and they didn’t even have to see how we pack because we are on the ground floor. They have a pool, but it is too cool to use it. We had a big Mexican lunch, so we picked up salad stuff at WalMart and had salad in our room.

Tuesday, March 25
Don is still not feeling well so we will hang around here. Around 11:30 we went to a bookstore and each bought 2 books. From there we went to Royal Thai Restaurant. This is probably the best Thai we have ever had and of course, we ordered too much food. I made small sandwiches in the room for dinner.

Wednesday, March 26
We drove into LA to Palos Verdes and then to the Getty. Traffic west was not good. It took us 2.5 hours to get back to Chino.

Thursday, March 27
Did taxes and napped.

Friday, March 28
Picked up KoKo at 11:30 and headed to Joshua Tree NP. As suspected, the campgrounds were already full, so we found a BLM site and watched the “dirt people” from a distance.

Saturday, March 29
We checked out park CG’s for a move Sunday, napped and guessed what our Alabama income taxes will be and wrote a check.

Dorothy has been puttering in the kitchen all afternoon making German Potato Salad.

Sunday, March 30
We drove 20 miles to the Jumbo Rocks CG in Joshua Tree NP. We located a decent campsite, parked the LD and drove the toad on another loop of the CG to see if there was a better site. When we got back, we saw another LD parked in front of us. It was Ted and Liz (NE12) whom we had met in Florida on the first leg of our trip. At the time, they had not planned to go west. We had lunch and a nap and hiked the Desert Queen Mine Trail. When we got back Tom and Yaiko of the NW group whom we had spent a month with in Baja were parked behind us.

Monday, March 31
We hiked in the morning with Tom and Liz and the six of us spent the afternoon solving all the world problems. So enjoyable.

Tuesday, April 1
We drove east about 3 hours to the Colorado River. We are in an Arizona SP, River Island. Which is fine, but pricey. We will look for better scenery and a lower price after filling up the water tank.

Wednesday, April 2
In the morning, we paddled the Bill Williams River. We did 4 miles RT on flat water. No wind the first hour, then a light wind came up.

After lunch and a nap, we toured the California side of the Parker Dam Strip. Yes, there are several BLM CG’s there. Only one is BLM managed and it was full. The rest are corporate managed and the daily prices are $30 to $40. BLM has been working on redoing one since Spring, 2006. The work stopped. We are going to try the county CG on the Arizona side, it looks good and may reduce our daily rate.

If we stay, that will be five days here. Then we will need to head to the other side of the side of the state to meet the Wood’s and maybe the Lindstroms.

Thursday, April 3
We stayed. We are at La Paz County Park, north of Parker, AZ. On the water, with a ramada, water only for $16 a day. Plus we have one bar each of Verizon and AT&T. Life is good!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Los Barriles to San Diego

Wednesday, March 12
Los Barriles to Laz Paz A short driving day. We are all wondering why we are spending two days in a city when we could be on a beach. Dorothy will try for a haircut, we will buy a few groceries and rest until we leave. Quite warm here, we turned on the ac for the first time. Also the first time we have had 30amp service. It was 92 at 6pm

Thursday, March 13
We spent the day doing laundry, shopping for groceries and chatting. We had a pool party and potluck dinner. We did not realize it but we needed a lay day.

Friday, March 14
La Paz to Cuidad Constitucion – A one night stop in an almost American style CG. Pull-thru’s, pool, and allegedly wi-fi. It also has roosters that crow!

How does Dorothy do it? At home or on the road, she fills a trash can every day. We don’t eat trash can full of food in a week, so how can there be so much trash?

What I have learned in Mexico. The people are one heck of a lot more friendly than American’s. They support and respect their families, communities, schools and their country. They are especially proud of and protective of their children. The children are very well mannered. There are no kids throwing tantrums here.

The roads are narrow in Baja, not so on the mainland I am told. You deal with a lot of dust, which comes from being in a desert and not having everything paved.

Saturday, March 15
Cuidad Constitucion to El Requeson Back on the beach - this time a sand spit between the coast and an island. The Sea of Cortez is stunning. The waters turn azure blue when the sun is high.

We drove on our own today, taking it easy. We left two hours before the group and arrived an hour before they did. This leg may be the most scenic of Mexico 1. Much of it is through a wide valley.

Sunday, March 16
After lazing around awhile, we put the yaks in and paddled around. When we got back ashore, five LD’s from a south bound caravan stopped by to see us. Then Norm and Jerri joined us for a few hours of catching up. We made loose plans to hook up with them at a rodeo in Idaho later in the year.

Tonight we are co-hosting a hot dog dinner, turkey dogs as that is all they sell in Mexico. We have not seen a turkey, so they may or may not contain turkey. The south central group is hosting margarita’s, on our last night on the beach.

It’s hard to believe we will be in San Diego in four days.

Monday, March 17
El Requeson to Guerrero Negro We left with the group. At the Pemex only one pump was open and it turned into a cluster f**k. We motored on solo to the next Pemex about two hours up the road. We drove slow and easy all day and got to the CG only 10 minutes ahead of the crowd. It was not a good day in the caravan judging that two rigs lost their steps on rocks.

There were lots of tents that mushroomed in El Requeson overnight and we saw muchas! southbound natives headed to the beaches for Easter. Easter is a big deal holiday here, a two week vacation. The southbound four wheels were traveling way over the speed limit and this section of Mex 1 seems more narrow than some other sections.

Tuesday, March 18
Guerrero Negro to Catavina Only a four drive and we did it solo. We like this CG more than most we have been in. Perhaps it’s only because it is a change of scenery? It’s in the low mountains and the landscape is covered with large boulders. At 2,100, it is higher enough to condense the Pacific moisture, so things are green. The RV’s are circled around the large trees and appetizers, drinks and dinner are in the middle of the circle.

Wednesday, March 19
Catavina to Ensenada The caravan was broken into two groups for the long ride today to save time at gas stops. The CG was nice to look at, tended flowers, on the water, nice building exteriors, etc. But the electric voltage was as usual, high. Good thing we have not needed electricity.

Thursday, March 20
Ensenada to Chula Vista We waited until 11:30 to leave as the wagon master experience was that mid-afternoon was the best time to cross. Perhaps it is, still we waited an hour and 20 minutes to cross the border. Four hours to drive 58 miles.

I put the step out for customs to step aboard. When he stepped out, I stayed inside and leaving the step extended, so Dorothy could rip it off as we exited the border.

For the first time since Cabo we have water pressure and just the right voltage. We both enjoyed taking soft water showers lathering up several times. The simple pleasures. The trip was good and it is equally good to be back in the US.

Friday, March 21
On our daughters birthday, we drove the Silver Strand and took the Coronado bridge across the bay to San Diego. This is one swell bridge - very high. In the last few years I have developed a phobia about high bridges and over-passes. The speed limit on the bridge is 55. No one observes it. Neither did I. I drove 40 white knuckling the steering wheel and not looking over the side of the bridge.

Tomorrow, we will do laundry and perhaps drive to Mission Bay for a lookie-lookie. Sunday, we move to near Los Angles so we can have the LD to the factory bright and early Monday morning. We will spend the week in motels and “do” some museums in LA. We expect to be there the whole week. I will update the blog when we get back on the adventure trail.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

To Cabo and now headed north

Tuesday, March 4
We drove the Jeep to San Javier, 30 km up a decent dirt road. The attraction was a good drive in the low mountains and to see the oldest mission in Baja. On the way back I drove the Jeep into a stream and gave it bath. When we got back to town, the car wash open, but the ice cream place was closed.

Wednesday, March 5
Loreto to La Paz This was a long day. Too long a drive for one day. We left early, 7:15 and arrived at 3:45. By getting there early, we were able to get a great campsite on the beach with some space from the main group. We had 3 other around us, but the sand dunes are so tall, you can’t see anything but the beach. The group left at 9 and arrived at 5. But they sped, 55-60, while we did not get over 48. We stopped at a real grocery store in Ciudad Constitution and bought $50 of food. We are on a beach called Playa Telcoyte - another great beach on the Sea of Cortez. As we drove through La Paz, it looked like any tourist town. I suppose Cabo will be worse.

Thursday, March 6
I was asleep by 8 last night. I drifted off to tunes on the MP3 player. I was dead tired and slept until 7 this morning.

The water is flat so we will put the yaks in later. Some of the group are taking a boat trip to a marine sanctuary, sea lions, sea caves, etc. Seen all that so, we are going to be lazy and enjoy the stunning beach and likely take a nap.

The wind came up, in a flash, at 8:30. That cancelled boating for the day. We took the Jeep over a 4WD drive road to a point for some pictures. Then I drove it on the beach and about got it stuck and the tide was coming in. Lunch and nap followed by slothfulness. Muchas! Delightful

It’s a treat to watch the brown pelicans dive for fish. Dorothy noticed dozens of them high overhead enjoying the breeze.

At 4PM, the air temperature is 76.

It’s difficult to tell if structures here are going up or falling down. Construction seems to take forever and buildings are abandoned in place. I don’t think we have seen a building that did not have rebar sticking out. Someone said it had something to do with taxes. Don’t know.

Friday, March 7

La Paz to Cabo A remarkable drive until we reached the cape. The final section was through the driest desert we have ever seen. Miles of plants with no leaves. We are in an almost American style RV park overlooking the water. Full hookups, except the voltage is 133v, so we are happy running on solar.

Saturday, March 8
We took the glass bottom boat tour. The fish were not much, but the scenery of the capes was magnificent. Not wanting to eat in touristy San Luca, we drove over to San Jose with Tom and Sherry and found a delightful restaurant. The road to San Jose has the Hilton, Westin, etc. and a Mercedes dealership. It is the westernized city of Baja.

Sunday, March 9
We got away early and put the yaks in water and paddled out to the same place we went in power-boats yesterday. We wanted to see the arches on our terms. After paddling around for awhile, we beached the boats. Well maybe beached is not the correct word. I paddled as fast as I could on a wave and was 30 feet short of the beach when the wave dove and I rolled over. The only loss was a pair of nail trimmers. Dorothy made it a lot further and was caught by a side wave. Two young men “saved us” and got us and our gear up on the beach. We spent an hour watching the waves and the people before heading back - mainly due to our forgetting to put on sun screen. The young men, who called Dorothy “Mama”, helped both of us by getting us beyond the crashing surf. Banditos my ass. Everyone we have met here has been most gracious. We really can’t say enough about the Mexican people. We will be back and won’t need a caravan as we feel extremely comfortable.

Just for fun, we went to three big box retailers, Wal-Mart, Costco and Home Depot. There is a Sam’s, but we don’t have a membership. At each store there were lots of shoppers with full baskets. Cabo is the only city in Baja we have seen with American big box stores.

The standard of living is lower in Mexico, no question about it. But, we see happy faces everywhere. As we contemplate traveling in an RV with $4-a-gallon gas looming, a global recession perhaps on the horizon, massive collective debt, and a psychological mood of retrenchment, perhaps half the country will need to scale back a notch or two — but from a level of existing privilege and affluence that is simply staggering. Happiness does not come from material things. Perhaps Americans could be happier with less?

Headed back north now

Monday, March 10
Cabo to Los Barriles A short driving day. We are halfway between Cabo and La Paz on the gulf side. There are boo-coo norte americano’s homes here. Mostly are hidden from the road and can be seen only from the water, unless you take a Jeep down a rutted road to a punta and look back. Access is by long dirt roads only.

The CG is one of the best we have been to in Baja. It is still be developed, by a Spaniard and his son. They have as much heavy equipment s most road construction crews, The electricity is only 130v, so we can use it. It just cuts off and on a lot, even in the middle of night.

Tuesday, March 11
Most of the group took ATV’s up an arroyo and swam in hot spring pools. Not a bad idea. We decided to drive the east cape road. Which was not so good an idea. While most of it was paved, too much of it was washboard. There are plenty of americano’s homes are off the road. No way we would consider such a place. There were precious few vistas to the beach and no beach access until we got to end. The attraction we were seeking was a national park, which turned out to a marine reserve, i.e. the water, but not the shore. The drive was saved by eating a delicious lunch “at the end of the road”.

Back at the CG, we had a pleasurable shower, Talipa with mango sauce for dinner, while the group goes into town to eat.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

San Diego to Loreto, Baja Sur

Sunday, February 17, 2008
San Diego! We have been headed this way for weeks, today we made the final jump from the mountains to the shore. We had very little traffic in the city, Sunday we guess.

We plan to go to the zoo and the USS Midway and drive up to La Jolla if we have time.

We leave for Baja Friday morning. No phone for a month. Internet from time-to-time. We will think of you.

Monday, February 18, 2008
Today we drove to LaJolla, doing the tourist thing. I even got a haircut, but it isn’t the best one that I have had.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008
At long last (more than 40 years) we visited the San Diego Zoo. Dorothy was there when her father was a in the Navy and she was a little girl and Don was there when he was a young man in the Navy. As you can image, it has changed. We spent four hours walking around and looking at animals we did not know existed and probably saw about half of the zoo. There are some beautiful birds that we both enjoyed. Also we got to see two snow leopards that were having lunch, which was pretty exciting. The current main feature of the zoo is the baby panda that is just a couple of months old. There is a two year old panda that was very active. The baby sleeps 20 hours a day and mama sleeps 12 hours a day and eats bamboo the other 12. It was her naptime.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008
We discovered that we did not understand the Baja schedule. We have orientation Friday and leave Saturday. We are somewhat disappointed because we are so ready to get to Baja. Tomorrow is another free day and hopefully we will do more sightseeing. When you travel as we do, then mundane chores are a must. Today was that day. We went to Wal-Mart, Costco and Albertson, came home and had lunch and then had four loads of laundry to do. Doesn’t that sound like fun! Don replaced some of the keys that were lost or mislaid in Florida.

Thursday, February 21, 2008
We parked the car for our Midway visit at a memorial to Bob Hope entertaining the troops. Also there was an extremely large statue of a WW II sailor kissing a nurse, called Total Surrender. It made me think of my parents. We spent the day touring the USS Midway. It was a real treat for us. The carrier is a generation older than the one I was on. I don’t recall ducking so much on the Connie, but after 43 years my memory is dim. I wanted Dorothy to experience how big a carrier really is. She finally “got” how difficult landing a plane really is when a naval aviator explained it to her on the flight deck.

Another carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan #76, was in port. I was especially excited about that. I don’t know if it was because I remember the Reagan years so well, because we had seen a special on the Reagan on TV or because a fellow Windmill sailor, Will Bransom, served on her or all three. As Don is taking pictures, a former America’s Cup boat sailed in front of the Regan. Totally great day!

Friday, February 22, 2008
This was orientation day. We endured a 2.5 hour talk about what to expect in Baja. We all went out to dinner together at a Chinese buffet, where the food was surprisingly good. Don went back four times and never touched the Chinese food.

Saturday, February 23, 2008
We got away at 9:30 and arrived in Ensenada at 12:15. At several places the view of the surf is as good as it gets. There are precious few turnouts and none big enough to accommodate 15 rigs. So we missed getting any good pictures. The price of traveling in a group.

After lunch and waiting around, we went to immigration office to get our papers and found that the office closed at 2. The guide says he has plan B.

We all went into town and all wound up in Hussan’s Bar. We did not like the margaritas, so we went next door to get some fish tacos. We then walked a few blocks and got back to the CG by 5, finding that most of the others were already back. The band at the Cantina across the street played until 4:30 am.

Sunday, February 24, 2008
Ensenda to San Quintin We have left the popular area and entered Baja. We camped on the beach. The beach is like Port St. Joe, FL, but a whole lot better. There is nothing but beach for miles. The dogs had a ball. We drove the Jeep five miles down the beach enjoying the square waves breaking. We picked up a few rocks. Back at the CG, we had a margarita party. It’s still a cool at night, but hopefully that will improve further south.

Monday, February 25, 2008
San Quintin to Catavina is an enjoyable drive from the coast through low mountains in a high desert environment. Peak elevation was 2,200. Catavina is about 1,800’ in area of big granite boulders. We have never seen so many types of cactus in one place. Puts Big Bend to third class. Tremendous saguaro, forests of boojum, four types of cholla.

Our CG is a former government camping facility. No hookups, but well laid out. After settling in, we went for a ride with fellow LDer’s, Ron & Mary Tribbett from CA, into the desert at places we had seen coming in. It was fantastic, cactus of all types, rocks, pools of water. Baja has had lots of rain this year so the cacti are gorgeous.

A word about our traveling companions – the group is about our age, only one couple not retired, a few older, educated, and a few travel as much as we do. They are quite enjoyable to be around. I guess because it’s a Lazy Daze group and all have dry camped before, we don’t have generators running all the time.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Catavina to Bahia de los Angeles
The wagon masters say it will keep getting better and so far they are right. We crossed the low central mountains, 2,500 feet, to the Sea Of Cortez. Most of the drive was through unremarkable landscape like Arizona. We got to a valley filled with flowers, whites, yellows and purples. The wagon masters have been coming for six years and they have never seen the desert so green.

When we got near Bahia de los Angeles the view of he harbor had us slack jawed. Azul water. What a place to sail. And there is not a single yacht, power or sail, in the harbor.

We had some fine scallops and too much food for lunch, which is the main meal here. Then we had steak and too much food for dinner. Neither of us slept well from too much food.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008
The water was flat when we woke up at 6,so we had coffee, put the yaks in the water and paddled about two miles across the bahia to the lighthouse. Don walked the beach. Dorothy was chicken to get of the boat after nearly falling in the first time.

Remember the keys that we had to replace for the Jeep, for $182? Well, as I was getting dressed to go ‘yaking’ I felt something in my pocket – yep, it was the keys. Don’t know how they got there, but I didn’t do it and Don does wear my slacks!

We toured the “town” with Ron and Mary, took a nap, had a big lunch, went to the museum and watched a Nat Geo Imax movie, in DVD format, that was shot here. We then took another siesta.
Tomorrow we find out if we will be fined, jailed or what for not immigrating last Sunday.

I bought a small bottle “Vivo Villa” which is some kind of licor at 48 proof. Tastes pretty good from the bottle.

Thursday, February 28, 2008
Bahia de los Angeles to Guerreo Negro. An uneventful drive through unremarkable terrain, a la southern Arizona. Our purpose here is take a whale watch in the morning and then head south. As much as we have seen of the city, it did not inspire us to tour it. It looks much like a border town, trashy. Our RV park is a has been, over-priced, but full hookups. Almost no water pressure. Back on Mountain Time.

On the way down, we stopped at the village of Jesus Maria and dropped off some school and medical supplies.

We have been illegal since Tuesday, but we got legal today without any problems. How was it done? I don’t know. The wagon masters took our passports, went to the Migration station and then returned our passports. Interesting, here you can cross into Mexico without any questions and later declare you are a tourist. If you stay less than 72 hours, you don’t need to do anything.

We have been waved through three military checkpoints where all they might check for are guns and drugs. Importing drugs to Mexico from the north? Oh well. It’s hoot to see a manned and armed sand-bagged position before you get to each checkpoint. I guess it gives the young men something to do while in service.

There is a border crossing from north Baja to south Baja. They are inspecting and confiscating fruit and then for $2 (mandatory), they spray the underside of your vehicle for fruit bugs.

Friday, February 29, 2008
Guerreo Negro to St Ignacio This is an oasis the desert. The Jesuits planted date palms and built a swell mission for 1.5 million pesos that’s still being used after 300 years. We bought some delicious date bread. One of the couples, George and Betty, celebrated their 11th anniversary and 44 years of marriage by hosting a margarita party.

The town was celebrating the 14th anniversary of their elementary school. Maybe that does not sound like a big deal to you, but it was to them. All the kids were dressed in school uniforms, all the officials were on a long podium and the town folk and a few tourista’s were watching from the shade of the oak trees.

The presentation of the flag and singing of the national anthem was poignant. All saluted and all sang. I have seen nothing like it in the US for too long. Respect for country, community and school. BTW, the kids were not figiditing and no one looked bored.

St Ignacio is the home of the internationally acclaimed Rice and Beans Restaurant. The food is better back home. The CG, by the same owner, was not much either. The voltage was too high, 147 volts and the water pressure was about nil. In short, a rip-off. The Lakeside RV park looked good. No hookups, but a scenic CG.

Saturday, March 1, 2008
St Ignacio to Santispac back to the Sea Cortez. The color of the water is as good as any I have ever seen, in person or in pictures. We are on the beach, no hookups and no complaints. There are some Canadians next to us that came for one-day, and that was two months back. I am wondering why we don’t just stop here. La Paz is supposed to be good, but Cabo is supposed to suck, lots of tourists and maybe even cruise ships which keep prices high.

The water temperature is as warm as Frank’s pool gets in August. I took the yak out for a short paddle in the lagoon. The land breeze was a bit much, but it laid down before sunset. In case we haven’t mentioned it before, life is good!

Sunday, March 2, 2008
We paddled the yaks before breakfast and before the land breeze came in. In our lagoon, Bahia Conception, are several communities of ex-pats. We drove a few clicks south to El Coyote and found Jerry Pawson, an LDer we met in Oregon two years back. This is their fourth year here. Dorothy wants to come back. El Coyote is $150 a month with palapya, no hookups and a view to die for.

We had a cookout on the beach featuring the biggest prawns we have ever seen.

Monday, March 3, 2008
Santispac to Loreto. This is one of the oldest towns in Baja. It’s on the gulf side. It comes complete with a charming mission. Loreto also has some paved streets!

We had a good lunch of tacos, beans and guacamole at the CG restaurant. I think the first restaurant we have been to on Baja that was air-conditioned. Most of the wait staff and locals eating there were of Spanish decent, not Indian.

Keeping the vehicles half clean is a daily chore. Start with a desert, no pavement when you pull off the highway for gas or any other service, add strong winds and dust finds it’s way into the vehicles. This is not America. There is a saying here, bad roads bring good people, good roads bring bad people.

The prices for groceries are about the same, sometimes higher than the US. Liquor is higher. Gas is much lower and so is propane. The latter two are more efficient than the US products.

Tonight, most of the group went to a swell restaurant for Sonoran beef. We already had a cooked steak and elected to stay in camp, do laundry, shower and avoid mob dining.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Next, Cross the country, Atlantic to Pacific, II

Sunday, February 10, 2008
We found it. A scenic CG. Aguirre Springs. It is on the east side of the San Andres mountains, northeast of La Cruces, NM. Across the valley, 40 miles distant, is Oliver Lee CG where we stayed about a year ago. This is BLM property, so it is dry camping, but the price is right, $1.50 a night and a fine view. Craggy peaks on one side and the valley floor on the other. Elevation, 5,780. And we have spotty phone coverage.

We arrived at 2PM and found lots of day use people, and one tent camper. The gate is locked at 6PM, so no worries about security.

We had enough TV signal to watch 60 minutes and Nature before going to sleep.

Monday, February 11, 2008
We are on Mountain Time now. We woke up at five local time. At six, we could see the distant southeast horizon getting a slight glow. The sun did not make it over the mountain until 8. After breakfast and coffee, we took a hike up part way up the mountain. The loop is 4.5 miles. We went about one mile up and turned around. We might have gone further, but we took a wrong branch on the trail and wound up at a dead end. Too many people making new trails.

When we got back, the solar panels were pumping over 9 amps into the batteries. We discharged almost 20% yesterday and it looks like we will be back to 100% before the sun drops over the mountain just after 3.

There are only five sites here that could handle an RV here and only ours is close to level. But, we are enjoying nothing but horizon.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Moving Day, again. It’s a long way to the left coast. We drove four hours to Wilcox, AZ and stayed at an OK CG that is easy on the pocketbook.

We found gasoline at $2.67. That’s the good news. I damaged the bumper and rear quarter panel pulling away from the gas pump. We are rather sick about it. It means a trip to the Mothership when we get back from Baja. I learned that when you turn the wheel in one direction, the rear end “swings out” in the opposite direction. I did not know that or if I did I had forgotten it.

I cannot figure out why I can no longer upload pictures to Picasa, so I will revert to using Flickr.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Another Moving Day, once again. Thursday we will settle down for 3 days before going into Chula Vista. I am having trouble sleeping, so I when I woke up at 5:00, I tried to be quiet, but finally gave up after 45 minutes and have been up for over an hour. It’s now 6:30 and I’m bored. Also it’s too cold in the mornings for me to go outside to have my morning camping experience, which is drinking coffee and reading, but I know that soon it will be warm. Also being on mountain time, it is dark until after 7:00. When Don gets up, I think I will fix pancakes.

Thursday, February 14, 2008
Today, we drove from Gila Bend, AZ to Borrego Springs, CA. Most of the drive was on an excellent four-lane rural road through the Imperial Valley and then two-lane through the desert.

While still on I8, we went through part of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreational Area. We saw lots of sand people with their toys. Remember this, as we will come back to it.

We also saw lots of Border Patrol watching for whatever. There is no fence on this section of the border, just some recently placed PVC barricades. We did see that construction of THE WALL is underway. And is it ever hideous. Makes the Berlin Wall look like art by comparison. This will do more to sour the image of the US than any single thing we have done in recent times.

For the last 80 miles of the drive, we saw what looked like rain at our destination. Just as we got close to Borrego Springs, we got into a light rain and the air was darn chilly. When the clouds cleared, we could see that the upper section of the Vallecito Mountains to the west had snowfall.

We stopped at the VC to inquire about camping options. The kindly grandmotherly volunteer at the desk suggested parking off Peg Leg Road east of town. And so we did. We had a fine view of the mountains.

Anza-Borrego is over 600,000 acres, maybe 1/6 the size of Death Valley, but still HUGE. There are two CG’s operated by the state that have full hook-ups, but charge almost $30 a night. You can park most anywhere else in the park for free. Let’s see, pay to park next to other rigs or park where you cannot see anyone else?

Friday, February 15, 2008
We woke up and it was quite cool. After breakfast, it had warmed up, so we drove to Font’s Point. The sign said 4-wheel drive, but we stayed in 2-wheel the whole four miles and had no problems. From the point, you look down on the Borrego Badlands. I liked it almost as much as the Badlands National Park. We left our campsite and headed to VC to have lunch and watch a slide show of park. We left Koko in parking lot and took a twisty-turny road west into the mountains. We found a scenic campground, but so many ruts that we turned Pelli around and headed back to Koko. Besides, at 4,000 feet higher it was a chilly 45.

We wanted to explore more of the park, so we again took the kindly grandmotherly volunteer’s advise and went south to Blair Valley. Dorothy was driving KoKo and I was doing a miserable navigation job in Pelli. I took a wrong turn and after 10 miles I realized that I was making a loop back to our origin. Hmmmm roads named S2, S22, 78, 79 and S3 that go in all directions, with damn little signage.

Part of the drive was extremely interesting and/or scary in parts. Hundreds of toy haulers (not exaggerating here) blew past us in the opposite direction on this narrow windy road. Only a couple of times was I scared, but I made it and celebrated once we got to the campground with a couple of big glasses of wine.

Remember I mentioned all the sand people at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreational Area near Yuma? Well, it turns out that the mountain roads through Anza-Borrego are a direct route from Los Angeles to Yuma. And on Friday afternoon, all the sand people are making time on these roads. All are pulling toy hauler fives or towing a trailer, overloaded with sand toys. It’s kind of scary when you see them coming around a bend, their left front corner hunkered down hugging the yellow line and water splashing from their tanks.

We finally found Blair Valley and got a good pull-through site. Blind luck. All of the other campers are on the other side of the valley. Some seeking to get to the other side come down our road and turn around. We are going to drive over there in Pelli and see what is so great about the other side. Besides, there are some trails over there.

Saturday, February 16, 2008
At 6:30 this morning is was 32. It was 50 an hour later and 66 at 9. We drove five miles further into Blair Valley and hiked three miles RT to some petroglyphs and a fantastic overlook at a dry waterfall. Dorothy did very well on the trail. It was easy walking; gaining 300 feet on the way in, then losing it; so you had the same 300 to gain on the way out. Elevation 3,100.

We spent the afternoon, showering, napping and reading in the warm sun.

Sunday, February 17, 2008
San Diego! We have been headed this way for weeks, today we made the final jump from the mountains to the shore. We had very little traffic in the city, Sunday we guess.

We are in one of the "swell" RV parks, on the water, jam up and jelly tight with the big rigs. God help us. They do have a hot tub.

We plan to go to the zoo and the USS Midway and drive up to La Jolla if we have time.

We leave for Baja Friday morning. No phone for a month. Internet from time-to-time. We will think of you.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Next, Cross the country, Atlantic to Pacific

Friday, February 1, 2008
We drove two hours east, along the coast, to one of our fav places, Apalachicola, to St. Joseph SP on Cape San Blas. The surf was up and so was the wind, so cocktails on the beach were out of the question. But, we did walk on the beach for awhile. We entertained ourselves by watching the Johnny Cash Show on CD. He sure had a lot skinny long-haired folks in polyester clothes on his show.

Saturday, February 02, 2008
After a lazy morning, we drove into Apalachicola to window shop and have lunch at Tamara’s. The seafood bisque is still heavenly. We were disappointed that the lunch menu is now all sandwiches.

Sunday, February 3, 2008
A long day for us. We got away at 9:15 and did not get to Blakely SP near Spanish Fort until 2. We took a badly needed nap and watched TV, like A-classers the rest of the day. We even watched part of the Super Bowl.

Monday, February 4, 2008
We met Don’s cousin, Anne Harris and her son Andy, at Starbucks for a short visit. It was good to see them again. Our destination is Ocean Springs, MS to overnight with Dorothy’s college roommate. But, first we stopped at a Jeep dealer to get a replacement for the key I lost or mislaid last week. After two hours and $182 we got to Ocean Springs. It was wonderful visiting with Judy and her husband, Dave. They are perfect hosts. Nancy, a former coworker and bridesmaid in our wedding, and Ken, her husband, arrived in time with dinner. The girls stayed up until midnight chatting.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Another long day to Sam Houston Jones SP near Lake Charles. The CG is OK, but everyone was so friendly. Maybe since it is Fat Tuesday? We talked with several couples.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Another five hours brought us to Carmine, Texas. We had posted to the LD forum about seeking a worm hole to speed us through Texas and a kind woman posted back about Texas 105 and US290, which is a straight route from Beaumont to Junction. This allowed us to bypass Houston and San Antonio. We were more relaxed not having to deal with traffic.

We had the CG to ourselves and did some much needed laundry.

Thursday, February 7, 2008
A three and half hour jump got us to Fredericksburg. I wanted to get to Junction today, but we were tired and Dorothy wanted to stop here anyway to get some German sausage and sour kraut. We are at Oakmont CG, nice, but pricey, as everything is in these parts. They have a great grocery store here, H E B, which we really did enjoy.

Friday, February 8, 2008
Food day: Up at 6 to get to Dietz bakery in time to get some great German bread. Back at the CG at 6:30. The bakery does not open until 8. So much for our memory. We had breakfast and drove back the bakery and got two loaves and two turnovers.

Next to Opa’s sausage factory to get some of their fine product and some red cabbage.

We did our grocery shopping at H-E-B’s one of the best groceries in the country. Bought some tilapia and some tasty sauce to go on it. Yum! Gourmet!

We had the very best BBQ ribs ever today. Cooper's in Llano, Texas. Like most BBQ places in Texas, the decor is 1940's or whenever it was built. Dorothy noted that they had a web site on a falling down sign outside. Where you note there is NOT a picture of the place.

Saturday, February 9, 2008
We left Fredericksburg and got on the best section interstate in the country. I10 west of San Antonio west to New Mexico has little traffic and a smooth road surface. The speed limit is 80 and I even went up to 65 for awhile until dropping to our usual 58-60.

I nominate I10 east of San Antonio as the worst in the country and I10 west of San Antonio as the best.

West of Fredericksburg, the west of the movies starts. The terrain changes into long vistas and you are in low humidity country. It’s 5PM right now and the sun is 20 degrees above the horizon. In Ocala, it was dusk at the same time.

Road signs want you to watch for so many things. Ice, Water, Live Stock, Falling Rocks, Elk, Stopped Vehicles, Mud, Flash Floods, etc. I think it should be Fallen Rocks, as there is not much you can do to avoid rocks that are falling.

You might think that we stay in those roadside RV parks that you can see from the Interstate. They are called Easy-off, Easy-On. We avoid them like the plague.

Tonight we are in the asshole of west Texas, Ft. Stockton. We just did not want to push further today, as we have another long day tomorrow to get passed El Paso. We planned, before we left home, to go to Balmorhea SP, an hour west of here. But, we also planned to get there early Friday. Going into a state park on a Saturday is asking to be told there is no vacancy.

We could have gone into the Davis Mountains, but I think it would be too cool right now. It will be warmer when we come back this way. It’s a fine 77 degrees here in the dusty CG.

Sunday, we will be a scenic CG in the low mountains of New Mexico or some not so nice private CG. Not a lot of choices in this area. Unless you are willing to drive longer distances in a day than we are.