Thursday, July 28, 2016

Grand Tetons and (not) Yellowstone

I left Sunrise Campground early on Friday morning heading toward Jackson, Wyoming and a meet up with Robin, Ken and the kids. I got gas and groceries on the way as well as stopping at a free dump (found with my AllStays app) at the National Oregon and California Trail Center in Montpelier, WY.

Robin texted me that they would get into Wilson (where they had booked an AirBnB condo) about 5:00. I was well ahead of them, and found a parking lot for the Teton Village Shuttle to hang out and walk Hanna. An earlier email exchange with the condo owners had sought and received permission for me to park my Minnie at their place. When we arrived, we found it would be pushing the HOA rules for me to "camp" there. For the next three days, I tried to be very discrete about my activities and the fact that I was sleeping overnight in Minnie. Sure enough, on the fourth (and final) day, there was a notice on my windshield "reminding" me of the rules of no RV long term parking or camping. So, I moved it back to the Teton Village daytime parking lot for the last day, then "stealth camped" that night in another condo parking lot. I pulled in about 11:00 p.m. and out at 5:30 a.m. and I don't think anyone knew I was there.

On Saturday, we drove into Jackson Hole for a day at the Visitors Center and shopping. Late that afternoon, we drove up into Grand Teton National Park to scout out photo locations for Ken and Megan to capture some spectacular shots early the next morning. (See below) When I say early, I mean sunrise photos. Our plan was to take photos for an hour or two, then have breakfast at Teton Lodge, and drive on to Yellowstone. Unfortunately, Steven got sick in the car, and without extra clothes or proper cleaning supplies, plus a smelly car and a sick kid on hand, we decided to head back to the condo around 7:00.  He perked up in the afternoon, and the family all went to Teton Village to ride the gondola and tram up and down the mountain. With my acrophobia, I decided to skip that activity and Hanna and I explored the local area and did some shopping instead.

We went to bed with plans to try again for Yellowstone in the morning. Alas, Steven started vomiting again in the night, so we decided not to make the journey. A great disappointment not to make it up there, but it just means I'll have a good excuse to come back another time to visit the park.

We spent some time at the National Wildlife Art Museum that afternoon. That was a surprisingly enjoyable visit for someone who is not much of an art enthusiast. I really loved it. That evening, we went to the Playhouse Theater in Jackson Hole to see the live production of "The Ballad of Cat Ballou". A great evening to wrap up our four days in the Jackson and Teton area.

Here are some of the stunning photos Ken took. (Posted with his permission.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Four Nights at Sunrise

On Monday, I drove from Logan, UT toward Bear Lake on Rd 89, passing a few forest campgrounds on the way. As I neared Sunrise Campground, I suddenly had full bars of LTE cell service. I decided a drive through the campground couldn't hurt anything. There were a few open spaces, but I drove a half mile on up the road to the scenic overview before making a decision.

After catching up on text messages and blog posts, I went back to the campground and found a shady space. Depending on how my phone was positioned, I had 2-3 bars. Good enough! I paid for 2 nights and settled in.

It took me about 45 minutes to get Minnie [sort of] level.  The space sloped downhill and also had a pothole where the rear tire wanted to sit. Additionally, I had to watch for trees in the way of my slide, and a curb where my steps need to sit.

On Tuesday, I made up my mind to stay here until Friday morning. I have everything I need; food, water, propane, 1/4 tank of gas, cell signal, and a quiet campground! It's only 150 miles to Jackson where I'm meeting K&R that afternoon. I spent another 30 minutes trying to get Minnie more level that morning. She was still a bit off kilter when I gave up.

This morning after paying for my two final days, I gave it one more college try, and hallelujah! success!

Hanna and I have worked hard, getting our 10,000 steps a day on by walking the camp loops three times a day. I cleaned the inside of Minnie front to back. The dusty roads had collected on every surface, and I dumped gray wash water when I was done. Now, if only I had R's pressure washer, I could go at the outside. But that will have to wait for Boise, as well as a Rug Doctor for my small patch of carpet. It used to be green, but now is gray.

I'm not sure I will ever get Hanna clean and white again. Walking the asphalt campground roads make her feet black. At our space, she likes to snoop through the woods and lie in the dirt. She's one grimy little dog. I will try to bathe her in a small plastic tub tomorrow night, before our meet-up with the family. But it may be a futile effort.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Utah Campgrounds

Dale and I said our goodbyes on Friday morning and I got on the road "Solo" about 8:00. My intention was to get to a Forest campground just south of Provo early enough in the day to beat the weekend campers. I had no reservations, and knew I was taking a chance on ending up in a Wal-Mart parking lot for two nights.

But luck was with me and I tucked into one of only a handful of open spots in Diamond Campground, off Rt 6.

It was a beautiful space, but ended up being the noisiest one in the entire campground. I was right next to the campground host, who for some unknown reason felt he had to run two 6500W generators from 8:00 in the morning until the clock struck 10:00pm.

After a while it just became white noise, and I was able to read and watch a couple of DVDs. Hanna and I walked several times along a lovely stream. I had a sporadic cell signal, but it was enough to touch base with all my family members and read email, news, and Facebook.

I left this morning (Sunday) around 9:00, with any open campground between Logan and Bear Lake as my destination. I made stops at Wal-Mart, Petsmart and Home Depot, and with road construction a good part of the way,

it was 4:00 when I finally pulled into Guinavah-Malibu Campground about 10 miles out of Logan. I have another nice shady space, and was lucky to get it, as there were only two open RV spots in the whole campground.

I have no cell signal, but lots of road noise, so I will only stay one night and try to find a better spot farther north east tomorrow. I still have plenty of time and not many miles to go to meet up with Robin and Ken in Jackson Hole on Friday.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Bryce Canyon National Park

Dale and I said goodbye to our friends and headed our  Minnies toward Kanab, and adventures farther north.

We filled up with gas, propane and a few groceries and drove on toward the Dixie National Forest in Utah, where Dale had researched a forest road just a few miles outside of Bryce National Park. We turned south on FR 87 off of 12 and drove about 3 miles to "Dave's Hollow". I waited while Dale drove up in a ways to see if there was anything suitable. He found a large parking area and the promise of some more private sites farther in. But first, I needed to dump, and there was a campground down the road at Tropic Reservoir. Dale left his RV and rode with me down a ver-r-r-r-y bumpy 7 miles, where we did indeed find a $5 dump and water station. However, we both agreed the washboard road was not worth the budget price and I should have pulled into the RV lodge we passed earlier and paid any price to save the nuts and bolts on my RV.

Early the next morning, we rode the motorcycle into Bryce and after a walk through the Visitor's Center, we rode the park shuttle up to Sunset Point for our first view of the canyon. It's spectacular!

Dale wanted to hike the Navajo Trail a ways down into the canyon. I elected to stay closer to the top, as I was having trouble breathing in the high altitude.

When he got back, we took the shuttle to Sunrise Point and studied the view again. After an ice cream break, we rode back to camp to find Hanna cool in the RV and happy to have us home.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Grand Canyon, North Rim

We pulled out of our camp spot in the Coconino Forest on Sunday at 9:00 a.m., and after a stop in Flagstaff for gas and supplies, we hit the road toward Jacob Lake and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

We fought the most horrendous wind all the way north, so much so we wished we had not left our Flagstaff camp. We stopped at Marble Canyon to see the view, but it was about 100° out with a hot wind, so we just got back in our rigs and drove on.

We found a nice big campsite on FR 22 (5 miles from the entrance to GCNP) and saved a spot for our friends we had met the day before near Flag.

On Monday, we rode the motorcycle down to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We passed a herd of buffalo just inside the park entrance. We found out buffalo hunting season starts Friday, but a lot of buffalo seem to have become habituated and stay inside the park boundary taunting the hunters who cannot shoot them there.

It's impossible to capture the grandeur and beauty of the canyon in pictures. You really must go and experience it in person. But here's proof we were there.

We were enjoying our campsite and new friends so much, we decided to stay one more day before pushing north to Bryce. We stayed close to camp, and saw several deer that day.

On Tuesday morning, we'll drive to Bryce Canyon National Park and try to find a boondock in the forest outside the park boundary. Fingers crossed we have cell signal!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Lowell Observatory

 Dale and I rode his motorcycle into Flagstaff and up Mars Hill to the Lowell Observatory yesterday morning. We sat through a really interesting film in the Visitor's Center about the Discovery Channel Telescope (DCT), which at 4.3 meters is one of the largest telescopes in the US. It is installed near Happy Jack, AZ.
We also took a walking tour of the observatory grounds and learned the history of Percival Lowell and his family.

Today, we met a couple of fellow campers on our walk up the forest roads, and they stopped by our campsite later in the day. We had a very nice visit.

Tomorrow, we are headed north to Jacob Lake, where we will camp as near the entrance to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon as we can. We may have no cell signal up there, so could be out of touch for a couple of days.

Friday, July 8, 2016


I have been planning my big summer trip for quite a long time, and I was a bit nervous I would forget to prepare or pack something important, but at some point, you just have to say "Go For It", and ... well, go for it! So as soon as my landscaping project and security system were completed at the house, Hanna and I decided to get on the road.

It sure  is easier getting out of my yard with my newly excavated driveway
We left home at 10:00 Thursday morning and drove up I-17 to Flagstaff. We pulled into the rear of a Target center and parked for lunch and a potty break. I needed to find a post office to drop off a bill, and Google maps told me there was one just a short distance away close to the university. I drove over and found it was closed, demolished actually, and a new building was under construction. I found another P.O. on the map, and threaded my way through the teeny tiny university area streets until I found the mailbox I was looking for. I decided if I could maneuver my Minnie through that tight maze, I could drive her anywhere!

I drove on out to where Dale was camped about 5 miles west of town, and backed into a little cove of trees. We just fit! A short hike, weinie roast and relaxing evening rounded out our first day on the road.