Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Route to Utah

Prelude to Departure
This section is about things we did to KoKo. Probably of no interest to non-Rvers.

We did more things to KoKo during this interlude at home than ever before. We put the first holes in the walls. Not just in one place either – a magazine rack in the rear lounge, a spice rack behind the sink, a hat rack in the cab over and a wire shelf above the toilet.

But, that’s not all we did.

I replaced the converter with one that is supposed to charge the batteries more rapidly and be kinder to the batteries when we are hooked to shore power. I can not tell a difference.

I replaced the “surge protector”, twice. The first replacement was defective out of the box. The device is under the sink and almost impossible to reach It took me over two hours to remove and replace it each time.

I finished installing an inverter under the dinette table.

I added a 120v outlet under the dinette table for the computer and another outlet behind the TV for the DVD.

I put on a third vent cover. Now all the vents are protected. However, it cuts down on air circulation.

And we probably did some more stuff that is no longer in my memory banks. I am weary of improvements.

The Route to Utah
This section covers our week on the road to Utah.

The last few weeks have seemed to me to be an interminable wait until we could leave. We should have left no later than April 20, so we could get to Moab before the heat. I got confused about the date last Fall and never recovered from my bewilderment.

We decided to take US82, which we can access not far from home, and ride it all the way to Lubbock, Texas. A lot of it is four-lane with a smooth road surface and best of all, less traffic and few trucks. There are places where the speed limit is 70, but mostly it’s 55-60. That’s fine with us, as we drive 57-60 even on the interstate. It beats I40 in our never humble opinion.

We made it Wyoming last year with less than 100 miles of interstate driving, we will beat that record getting to Utah.

The odometer reads 24,960 after 19 months.

Sunday, May 10, 2009
It has rained the past eight days. The sun has been out every day for the past eight days. Saturday before we leave a new front appears, stretching from New Mexico to Alabama. This means we will get to drive in the rain. And so it goes.

The fields are muddy and the rivers are swollen. Farm implement dealers abound. Turtles are migrating across the highway - most will not make it.

The rain came to us at lunch and continued until dinner. We stopped at 3PM at the Greenville, Mississippi Wal*Mart. It is off the road and there is not much traffic, so sleeping should be no problem.

I originally planned to stay at the Mississippi Welcome Center, but I mislaid my itinerary and Wal*Mart was the best guess of my careful plans.

Doe’s Eat Place is closed on Sunday, so we will have to try their tamales another time.

It was raining when we got up and it rained all morning, sometimes intensely. It stopped raining after lunch, but remained cloudy. The forecast for Tuesday is clearing.

When we went to sleep gas was $2.04. It was $2.15 when we woke up. It was $1.79 only a week back.

We went from Wal*Mart to the Welcome Center just a few miles down the road to see what it was all about and have breakfast with a different view. The WC would be fine for over-nighting. There was no one there at 7AM, tho we did see a state truck leaving as we came in. Security?

We were supposed to stay in one of the city parks, that are prevalent in small northern Texas towns. We looked for it, but could not find it. I went back to the Internet source to verify it. If Dorothy had not noted Illinois on the page, I might have never figured it out. Paris City Park must be in Paris, IL, but is mis-filed under Paris, Texas.

We wound up at another Wal*Mart in Bonham, Texas. This one is very quiet. At 6, the parking lot is almost empty. We are the only RV.

We woke up at 5 and got away a little before 7. US82 improved as we got farther west, mostly four-lane. Near Whitesboro, Texas there are several quarter and show horse farms.

Tonight we are in Littlefield, Texas at the Waylon Jennings CG. Not
bad, being that it is free and has W&E plus a dump. We are officially "out west" having past the 100th parallel and seen tumbling weed this afternoon.

The temperature was over 90. Glad we had a/c.

We got to Bernalillo, NM for lunch with Bernie and Martha of Santa Fe, who are taking delivery of Blue-Con in June. We hope to rendezvous with them later on in the year in Utah.

After saying goodbyes, we found a half-ass car wash and removed most of the road grim from two days of driving in the rain. KoKo had never been so grimy.

We went up US550 and made a right on NM4 to Vista Linda CG. We got the same spot we had in 2007 when KoKo was a week old.

Of course, we had cocktails beside the babbling Jemez River overlooked by the red cliffs. We were sound asleep by 9 – dead tired after four long driving days.

See photo

Another four hour push up US550 to Navaho Dam SP. I tried to find the BLM property Simon Canyon, but I could not find any signage for it. We did find BLM land, but it was covered by natural gas production equipment. The hills are filled with equipment, a well on each quarter section, and the roads are busy with work trucks, many with BP and Conoco logos.

We opted for the Cottonwood unit of Navaho Dam SP. It’s on the San Juan River. It is much quieter and more scenic than the larger unit on the lake.

We are a short day from SE Utah. That will make six days to get there. Every day has been over 5 hours, which is in our red zone. It’s time to SLOW down.

We were excited about paddling the San Juan River. We could put in three miles upstream and coast to the CG - an easy shuttle. We scouted the river to see if there were any places we would have trouble with. It turned out that most of the riffles were shallow, just right to get us grounded and sideways resulting in either our getting out or being rolled over. So we passed on paddling the attractive, but 46 degree river.

This was hummingbird day. We put out the feeder and within an hour we had customers. By mid-afternoon, we counted five at one time. Just before dark there were seven feeding. We have the feeder hanging a foot from the back window. They are great entertainment.

They are Black Chin hummingbirds - light brown with mottled green backs. The males have a black ring around the neck and iridescent purple feathers under the chin that flash when they raise their heads. I was close to the feeder and one came right up to my face and went in a U from ear-to-ear – twice. Checked me out good.

Not as good as Kate's, but I am not patient.

We are calling the lizard Dorothy discovered in the parking lot our Nat Geo lizard. You have seen the pictures they have of exotic colored lizards, well this one is ours, even if he is in a parking lot.

We “found” Simon Canyon yesterday. It was a mile down the road from the CG. There was a sign at the trailhead ‘Simon Ruins - .8 mile’. Sounded interesting for some exercise. We hiked up the streambed this morning. Just as we got to head of the canyon, two men appeared, father and son. We chatted. In a moment, a woman, the wife and mother, came up the trailhead. We continued to chat. They told us the ruins were up on a ledge. So we all scrambled up the side of the canyon, no trail, then walked down the ledge. Finally we came to the ruins and the trail.

The Navajo built this sometime in the 1700’s, perhaps as a watchtower to spot the raiding Ute’s. Who knows? Had we not met the folks on the trail, we would have never known where the heck the ruins were. The hike back above the canyon was remarkable, easy walking and scenic.

We exchanged cards with our new friends and hope to see them again.

We are in Cortez, CO at a private CG. We will wash clothes and grocery shop before making the last short jump to Utah. I have yet to decide where we will land. Perhaps a FS CG south of Canyonlands?

Gas is $2.44


  1. Hi Don and Dorothy,

    We just discovered your blog and enjoyed reading about your trip to Utah... including our lunch with you on Wednesday in Bernalillo. It's fun to know how things went for you these past few days. Glad you're finally out of the rain!

    Martha and Bernie

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