Archives for posts with tag: cross-country camping

WOW! I left Green River, Utah at 9:30 AM today headed West on I-70 to drive 237 miles which, under normal driving, would have taken just a little over three (3) hours with the speed limits generally ranging from 75-80 MPH past the major inclines.

I did decide as I took off from Green River that I’d take the time to turn off on “Scenic Views” if and when I saw something interesting. The name “Black Dragon Canyon” pulled me right in. I didn’t have the time or inclination to hike the trail to see the drawing but if you Google the name, you’ll see an interesting pictograph painted on the walls of the canyon by ancient ones of what looks to be a flying dragon, which, by the way, isn’t black! The view, however, was marvelous!

2017-10-20 UT1

Now, go back in time a couple of days to recall that horrific 40-60 MPH wind gusts I faced going through Denver toward Boulder? Well, I guess somebody upstairs wanted to prepare me for today because it took me 6 hours to drive that 3 hour distance because of that same situation except include 8000′-foot elevation mountains (up and down), dust flying from undeveloped prairies and NO gas stations for a hundred miles on a tank that’s only gave me 7-8 MPG today! The good news is that the only cows I saw were in holding pins and not in front of me in cattle trailers!

After driving almost a hundred miles without the whiff of a gas station, I broke my normal rule of easy on/off gas stations at the exits and decided to exit at Emery, Utah  as the next town was 35 miles away. It was one of those gut instinct moments because only after exiting the expressway was there a sign that read “Next Gas 35 Miles.” Needless to say, I gladly drove the 24 miles roundtrip to get to the sleepy little one-gas-pump (literally) town to fill up.  I would have been so screwed if I hadn’t!  All these years of driving the back roads (and especially this summer’s adventures in Canada) reinforced my instincts to fill up at every chance.

The few times the winds weren’t beating me up, I was able to catch a few shots that were so magnificent that I just had to try and capture some of the wonderment of this region. It feels like “home” to me except for all the winds!

2017-10-20 UT2

2017-10-20 Ut3

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2017-10-20 Ut5

I finally made it to my next stop for the night glad I booked in advance because all these RV parks fill up quickly! I need the rest from those blowin’ winds. I got this baby anchored down for the night which is something I don’t normally do on hit-and-run stays. I don’t normally mind being rocked to sleep but I’ve had enough of that bucking bronco rodeo for today! I need a trophy that reads, “Buckin’ Bronco Road Warrior Rodeo Champion!”

So, Happy Trails…until we meet again!

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Boulder is a thriving, active city with more bicycles per square inch than most other American cities. How do I know, you may ask? Montana thinks they’re ALL something to bark about! She’s bicycle challenged and they torment her everywhere here even when it’s pouring down rain!

Boulder’s air is fresh and the atmosphere healthy. The mountains are remarkable backdrops for any drive as they’re in every picture you take. And, speaking of pictures, something happened with my camera and I can’t download any pictures from my last memory card. Don’t know what’s up with that but I’ve loaded a new one and hope all is well again soon as I leave for Canada tomorrow.

Anyway, I do want to give you all a heads up on a great little place to eat in Lyons, CO not to far from Boulder called Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ & Taphouse and their original location in Estes Park. Their menu is in the two inside pages of a clever newspaper called “The Smoke Ring” which gives a little history of the place and of BBQ in general.

As I enjoy trying several different things, I decided to order the “Dave’s Triple” from the Smokin’ Platters. What I didn’t know is that there would be enough food on the plate for ALL of us! I had beef ribs (which I did not share), brisket and pulled pork. We brought home virtually all of the brisket and pork and ate off it for dinner two days!

Look them up if your ever out this way! Their number is 303-823-RIBS. Bon appetit!

Entering His sanctuary

As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, I’ll let this beautifully preserved part of the Jedediah Smith do all the talking for me. It truly is where God lives.

Burl is caused by a fungus which causes abnormal growths to form. They’re amazing as you will see.

Gaining some perspective…

it’s all about perspective, isn’t it?

And your little dog, too!

Perspective

and more…

Precious – posing…see! she is trained! LOL

I have a picture of my niece, Mandy, standing on this exact same stump from 15 years ago!

Faces in the redwood burl. What do you see?

Faces. Lions, tigers and bears? Oh no! Turtle? Oh yes!

or trolls?

or octopi?

or ME & Montana! Surprise! Nice guy from Tennesse took this!

Burl heaven!

See Ava? She’s up a tree!

Ava – close up

Same path we all took 15 years ago!

more perspective w/ Montana as we walk down the path

more faces in the burl…look closely toward the left

and the grand finale

Right after taking this picture, Montana and I continued down the path as I remembered there being a beautiful meadow just a little further down. But, as we walked on, Montana started getting jittery and wasn’t showing a whole lot of interest in going further. I heard some stomping or heavy walking which gave my heart a start. You’re in complete silence so every noise is magnified. I stopped and waited to hear more. Montana turned to go back toward the truck but quickly looked over her shoulder in a nervous, quick jerk. “Hmmmm, I said. We’re in Sasquatch country…don’t wanna be his woman! What say we get outta’ here post-haste?”

Back safely in the truck, I remembered seeing where an elk had pawed the ground so it probably was notifying me I was getting a little too close to the meadow. If you were raised in the city, don’t go to the forest without someone who knows what to look for and listen to in order to be safe.

Now that my camera is all charged up again, I’ll go check out more of the area as recommended by Rod this morning here at the KOA. So much redwood history…so little time!

I want to give a shout out to the KOA owner Joan Fallon fo Crescent City Redwoods KOA. She booked my stay here the other day and took care of me putting me right next to the restrooms in a pull through site. I was pleasantly surprised to find this KOA site to be very small and homey and not crammed packed with pavement and people. I was also impressed by the video they had playing this morning during breakfast which told about the redwood forest history and eco system. By the way, there is NO pavement in this KOA but there IS a redwood grove where the tent section is! The personnel here are so friendly and helpful plus they make a mean pancake breakfast (all you can eat for $3.50 which includes coffee) which charged me right up for the day! They’re at 4241 Hwy. 101 North, Crescent City, CA.

Now off to see the Crescent City Lighthouse!

Like I say, “It’s Motel 6 or KOA for me!”

Happy Trails!

We’ve had the best time in this sleepy little mountain town visiting friends and getting to know the quaint town of about 150,000 they call home. Roanoke Virginia is a mixture of mountains, valleys, old buildings and houses with some new blood.

Yesterday, we had breakfast at Thelma’s Chicken & Waffles (www.thelmaschickenandwaffles.biz 540-343-8888) in downtown Roanoke. Not only was the food amazing but the lady who served us made the whole experience that much more wonderful. The sparkle in her eyes and the smile on her face framed her fabulous energy. The cost was reasonable. Because it was Sunday morning, the place was packed and we ended up being there longer than planned but it was all good.

Issac’s Mediterranean Restaurant (theisaacsrestaurant.com) is one of the best of its kind. I haven’t had better Gyro… ever. The meat was fresh,tender, tasty and juicy. The sautéed kale was the best as was the Vegi Plate. Big recommendation.

Next, we stopped at Local Roots (localrootscafe.com) to try their Cherry-Tini martini-type drink made with fresh squeezed cherry juice, vodka and other good stuff.

The last stop was to see “Midnight in Paris”. The theater reminded me of a mini-Fox Theater in Atlanta. Nice atmosphere and a not-t00-complicated movie with great company.

We headed home via the Blue Ridge Mountains down I-81. The lush vegetation was a pleasant relief to all the vast arid areas I’d just been in for the last month. My daughter and I felt like our skin was sucking up all the moisture in the air like a fish gasping for oxygen when it’s outta’ water.

Blue Ridge Mountains I-81

GREEN!

Then you get into North Carolina and the Blue Ridge Mountains come alive!

North Carolina Blue Ridge View

North Carolina

As my home is nestled in northeast Georgia between North and South Carolina, I’m a little partial to the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountain views. Just sayin’!

Happy Trails!

First, let me say that my Federal Taxes paid over the last 46 years has finally  paid off in the form of the $10.00 price tag for a Senior Lifetime National Park  Pass. Although there aren’t that many of them in the east, I’ve used it like crazy  out here. It’s good for everyone in the car. So, when Ava and I were at Zion and  she needed the Shuttle and I didn’t, I asked for a special pass for her for the days  we anticipated staying. As it’s $25.00 every time you go through the National  Parks I’ve been in, I calculated that I’ve already saved a couple hundred bucks  and we ain’t through yet!

The other good news in Mesa Verde is the  campground where we’re staying  three nights. Check out A&A Mesa Verde RV Park-Campground (AAA  approved http://www.mesaverdecamping.com 800-972-6620) which is  strategically located to the Mesa Verde National Park entrance. They have a  pool, putt-putt, washers, dryers, peaceful pastoral atmosphere and no time limit  on showers!

At the Visitors Center, Ava chose to explore anasazi ruins at Wetherill Mesa today. This is the  view from the Parks Kiosk there. Not bad even with the trees destroyed by the  2000 fire. Interesting detail is that the indigenous trees are Pinyon Pine and  Juniper. The Juniper wood just doesn’t biodegrade like one would expect after  such a devastating fire. Interesting.

Snow capped mountains at Wetherill Mesa

This morning we awoke as refreshed as any two people sleeping in a pop-up  camper who didn’t go to sleep until after 1:00 AM could possibly be and drove to  Mesa Verde National Park. We drove up to the Visiter Center and Ava signed up  for the Ranger guided hike up into “Long House” cliff dwelling while Montana  hung out in the car and I took the tram to see several protected dwellings and  overlooks. It was serendipitous when Ava happened to catch the same tram I  was on when she was through with her journey.

So many geologic changes in one view going up to Visitor Center.

These trams make it so easy to see everything you want to without getting worn  out and dehydrated. The wind will dry you out just as fast as the heat.

Tram

What I didn’t know until today is that shuttles and trams are FREE to all paying  visitors to the National Parks. We didn’t stay at Zion long enough for me to find  our but it seems like it shoulda’ woulda’ coulda’ been made more clear. So, here it is folks!

I hiked the easier non-cliff dwelling sites at Wetherill Mesa called Badger  House Community (includes Basket, Pueblo and Row Houses with Kivas) and  rode the tram to see the Cliff Dwelling Overlooks for Long House and Kodak  House. All of these have a Kiva which is a circular in-ground structure used for  ceremonial purposes. There is a larger Kiva at the Ocmulgee Indian Mounds in Macon,  Georgia at the  mounds there right off I-75 which as been reconstructed. You  can actually go inside the Georgia one. It gives you a real sense of the moment-in-time.

Kiva - an in-ground ceremonial structure

The Badger House Community structures were non-cliff dwelling and all very  similar except for the Pueblo Village Row of Rooms.

Pueblo Village - row of rooms

These are rooms - very small rooms approximately 5'x5'!

How the Kiva looks when in use. One in Macon has been reconstructed.

The Kodak Overlook was of Cliff Dwelling inhabitants.

Kodak House Cliff Dwelling - can you tell my vertigo was getting to me?

The other Cliff Dwelling overlook was Long House.

Long House Cliff Dwelling

Tomorrow, we’re exploring Chapin Mesa. Ava will hike Cliff Palace and Balcony House while I take the tram.

Happy Trails!

After getting well rested and fed at the Jacob Lake Inn, Ava and I were ready to  hit the road toward the Four Corners area to hike Mesa Verde and check out  Canyon of the Ancients.

#6 Cabin at Jacob Lake Inn

Oh, if you love hearing the wind blowing through the Georgia pines, you’re going to go  CRAZY when you hear the wind blowing through the Ponderosa Pines. It sounds like the  ocean. They’re so majestic.

Ponderosa Pines at Jacob Lake Inn

It will always be the back roads for me as much as possible. We took Hwy. 89 from Jacob Lake toward the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We were only into  the trip about an hour when we came around a bend to see a dramatic  topographic change. Ponderosa Pines and WHAM wide open spaces.

Ava capturing the moment - left to right of next shots gives panoramic scope

next shot

 

3 of 4

 

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It was such an absolutely breath-taking event going from dense forest to wide  open spaces. This is right before you get to the Colorado River so this is a part of  the pre-Grand Canyon!

The color of the rock formations changes as you travel toward Hwy. 160 past  Cliff Dwellers (the town).

Cliff Dwellers, Arizona (the town) on Hwy. 89 before Hwy. 160

We climbed up Hwy. 160 east toward the Four Corners area crossing flat, sand  blowing highway through the Reservation. We passed pastures of Mustangs    and not much else the whole time we were on Hwy. 160 except for the  occasional awesome rock formations left over from millions of years of erosion.

Off in the distance -- rock formations

 

Big rock

We decided this should be called "Castle Rock"

Finally - the turn-off sign

After driving 6 hours, we finally saw the turn-off sign for the Four Corners  meaning we were only 10 miles or so from our campground near Mesa Verde.  Yay! We made it!

Tomorrow, Mesa Verde adventure. Ava will hike the Cliff Dwellers in Mesa Verde.

Happy Trails!

 

 

 

 

 

So, my daughter, Ava, is with me camping and decided that she would hike down from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, stay at Phantom Ranch tonight and hike back up to the South Rim tomorrow.

Ava pondering walk & hiking sticks

 

Ava at North Rim Kaibab Trailhead sign ready to go!

 

A quick look back for luck as she goes on her own great adventure.

Montana and I walked with great pride at our girl’s fortitude and spirit of adventure as we sauntered back over to the North Rim overlook to take some morning pictures.

Along the path to North Rim overlook

 

at overlook

I was enjoying talking to Tom from Indiana not paying attention at all to Montana’s interest in a chipmunk (so Tom said) when she bolted toward the cliff! As you all will recall, I have serious vertigo and was doing really well to be standing 12 feet from the edge so, when Montana bolted, I was a hair away from turning loose of the leash and saying my last “goodbye” to my crazy lil’ white dawg.

Where Montana jolted at overlook!

Now, I’ve got to finish packing up and heading out to the South Rim for the  night. Will post later to let you all know about my adventures.

Happy Trails!

 

We stayed up so late last night trying to get ready to leave town that we couldn’t  get up. What do you do? You embrace it. I figured we’d get to a campground early  enough anyway to see some of Zion and I was right (Thanks God). You just  have to get in before 4:00 and we barely made it with time change and driving  but we did and that’s all that counts.

Zion at dusk

Unfortunately, Zion isn’t all that pet friendly. There’s only one trail where dogs are allowed so I hiked that with Montana while  my daughter took the shuttle up to the stop for hiking Emerald Pool. She says it’s gorgeous. I hope to find out tomorrow while she dog sits Montana. Right now, all I want to do tomorrow is take the Shuttle all the way to the top and back just for kicks and giggles.

More Zion

Our facilities are expensive at Zion Canyon Campground RV Resort at  $35.00/night seeing as how it’s we’re renting is the dirt and a little power. They  charge the pop-up campers the same as the huge RV’s. That ain’t right. I don’t  even have water hook-up here. The internet connection is lousy. To top it all off,  the overhead lights in the pop-up decided not to work tonight. The good news is  the Virgin River is roaring outside and will lull us to sleep.

Now this is what I call a room with a view!

The other good news is that there is an amazing view outside our pop-up. Wow.  I can’t wait to drive over the mountain to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon  tomorrow.

Zion at dusk

So, more installments tomorrow from the North Rim. I’m so excited. I’ve never  been there before and it’s all back scenic roads getting there. Oh boy!

Happy trails!

It’s been so much fun staying off the Interstates (when possible) and keeping to  the  back roads to get in touch with the towns like I remember doing when I’d  travel  Georgia with my father as a child in the 1950’s. He was the Public  Relations Photographer for the numerous Governors for the State of Georgia over 25 years. When  the current Governor told Dad to cover a specific  event, Dad went and, when possible, I went with him. I sat on the laps of  Governors and knew many important State Legislators; that’s how it was  being his daughter. But, the most   impressionable part of it all to me was traveling those  country roads. I’d sit quietly in his car, imagining what the life was like in the  house we’d just passed where the people were sitting on the porch next to the  old wringer washing machine; the lights inside  barely glowed and looked more like candlelight than like Edison’s invention.

It was  all mystical and alluring but unsettling all at the same time to this little  girl  who was as young as 5  on her first great adventure with her dad. Who were   these people? Where did they work so far away from civilization? Did they play  Checkers? What did those children do during those long, hot, South Georgia  summers? Did they have a swimming hole like we did or a lake?  A million and  one questions raced through my young mind formulating stories, lives yet all the while trying to keep a very low profile so my dad wouldn’t quiz me with words to spell  in rapid fire fashion. Not only was I supposed to know how to spell words at 5  like “kudzu” but also remember the history of it in our state, etc. Needless to say,  I wandered off into their world to avoid answering his questions wrong!

Yep, it was then that I fell in love with country roads and their stories. And, I  guess, it was the hope that the ambiance of the small town still existed almost  60 years later that sent me on the first Great Adventure in 2009. I’m happy to tell you all that it does exist. The rapid rate of technological advancement has NOT deleted this wonderful attribute of our country. Thank you, God!

It’s the back roads I take, the Mom and Pop places where I sleep at night, fill up my truck and buy my food that keep me feeling alive. No big chain stores for me… except for the Truck Stops  (aka Welcome Centers) when the Interstate can get me where I  really want to be mo’ faster so I can spend more time off ’em!

As the weather has been unpredictable with high winds, rain and snow, I really haven’t even been able to pop-up the pop-up as yet. You just can’t fold up a wet pop-up without ruining your bedding and probably the particle board underneath. So, it’s been motel-ville for me. Not what I wanted, but as a friend of mine reminded me, “It’s what’s NOT planned that’s the most fun!” Thanks Big Ed-2 (not to be confused with Big Ed-1, my bro).

So, it was the Mom and Pop in Chugwater, WY and the Mom and Pop near Bryce  Canyon that tell the stories of how families stick together for the greater good of  all. Nice stuff.

At Buffalo Lodge and Grill in Chugwater known to serve the famous “Chugwater  Chili” (307-422-3463), the owner of the facility had become too sick to run the  place so the family stepped up to the plate… not just immediate blood-type  family but in-laws and out-laws alike doing the cooking, cleaning, managing  and baby sitting for those working. There was the cutest little 4-year-old girl  chirping around the small lodge. She ran back and forth between her grandma  in the restaurant to her mom/or aunt behind the desk. I really liked seeing that  part of Americana that appears to be lost in the big cities like Atlanta.

At Harold’s Place (435-676-2350) near Bryce Canyon (at the junction of Hwy.   89 and 12), I met Christy (sp?/Kristi/Christie), the daughter of the Mom and Pop   establishment. She rattled off her duties in rapid fire succession… manager,   landscaper, gardener, security, cook, waitress, bottle washer and overall get ‘er   done lady. When a Brit came into the restaurant and asked her what they   served, she replied, “Food” in the driest of British humor that totally went over   the Brit’s head! It was all I could do to keep from throwing out one of my   spontaneous, turrets like guffaws at her wonderful, Utahns British dry humor.   Thanks, Christy/Kristi/Christie! And, also, a special shout out to  Marty/Mardi (again sp?)  who had recently been hired to help with the hotel part of Harold’s. She’s   following along with me on this Great Adventure. Christy/Kristi/Christie   doesn’t touch computers and doesn’t even want to because they lock up, freeze  up or just go crazy when she touches them. She leaves all that to her dad   (harold@color-country.net).

And, as in the past few days, I woke up to more snow! So, off I went from   Harold’s to explore Bryce Canyon. Boy, was I glad I’d gotten my Senior Lifetime   National Park Pass in Georgia for a whopping $10.o0! It saved me the $25.00   fee to see the small but impressive park.

It snowed all the way through yet another aptly named “Red Canyon” (this one  in Dixie National Forest) to get to an overcast, snowy Bryce. Here’s what it  looked like going through Red Canyon on the way to Bryce.

going through Red Canyon to Bryce

more Red Canyon

Now, finally, at the famous Bryce Canyon:

Bryce

Natural (?) Bridge

At Bryce Peak

coming back out of Bryce

coming out of Bryce 2

Now it was onto Zion National Park going west on Hwy. 9. I had no way of  knowing the magnificent views and white-knuckle driving waiting me around  the bend.

Entering Zion

no stopping for pix... this is on-the-go photo ops

right before the white knuckle driving started & battery in camera ran dry

Ava and I will be driving through Zion (going east this time) to camp there (if  space is available) on our way to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Four  Corners and other points east on our way back to Atlanta. Even with bad weather, I saw lots of tents and bicyclers in Zion. They must all be young!

As for now, I’m settled in at Ava’s home for the next couple of weeks in Vegas- Baby. I will keep you posted on our adventures here and photos when they can be  published! Just kidding. We’re not all that rowdy any more! Really. Why don’t  you believe me?

See you all soon and thanks, again, for joining me on this Great Adventure. I am  so truly blessed to have this opportunity of combining the three things I love  most in life: my daughter, writing and travel.

Happy trails!

Having fallen in love with Utah in 2009 during my first Great Adventure, I wasn’t   sure that I could fall any deeper in love with the state. I was wrong. Today has  proven that. When I woke up to 4-5 inches of snow after sleeping in a log cabin  (at Red Canyon Lodge – http://www.redcanyonlodge.com) in my favorite spot in Utah (Red Canyon in the Ashley National  Forest within the Flaming Gorge Recreational Area), I knew today would be  magical. Just how magical it could get was what made my trip all worth while.

what a view US 40 South toward Vernal

It was STILL snowing! How cool! ME driving in the snow in UTAH! Wow! I  get all silly remembering the feeling I had when I took this picture.

Ashley Forest Hwy 191 building to crescendo

It was a bitter sweet departure… not wanting to leave but couldn’t wait to see what was in store for me, too.

leaving log cabin was so hard

What I’d forgotten about leaving Red Canyon via Vernal was the fabulous  panoramic view of Lucerne Valley before you arrive in Vernal. Right before.  Nothing prepares you for it as cameras only take a picture of what will remind  you (hopefully) of the magnificence you actually experienced. It fails in  comparison.

Lucerne Valley - it only got better

Lucerne Valley

more Lucerne Valley

and more Lucerne

almost done

Wasn't that worth it?

But, as my dear friend from high school, Bunnie, used to say, “God don’t make   no junk”. She was so right. She even made a needlepoint saying that and hung   it on the wall. Gosh, I miss her. God didn’t make no junk and I  was to see  more of His glory as the day went on with an amazing reminder at the end of  my day’s journey.

It was during this next stretch of Highway 191 that meandered through Ashley  National Forest again that caused me to, literally, hold my breath for most of  the drive in total awe and disbelief. I was transported into the most amazing  winter wonderland of pristine forest, snow, rock outcroppings and mountains  majesty. It was almost too much but just shy of it. Here. See if you can “feel” “it”.

Ashley Forest Hwy 191

Ashley Forest Hwy 191 building to crescendo

Trees heavy with snow -Hwy 191

magnificent views Hwy 191

I know these pictures can’t really show you but it does my heart good to have something of that stretch of back road that touched my heart and showed me yet another place where God lives. I saw a little ranch for sale nestled at the base of these mountains with a nice stream running through it. Drool. The only problem is that you’d have a very long drive to the store!

What could possibly top this? I’d NEVER seen that much snow. EVER.

Well, Hwy. 10 wasn’t too far off the mark.

Hwy 10 South

Ashley Forest Hwy 191 building to crescendo

Trees heavy with snow -Hwy 191

magnificent views Hwy 191

And, it was toward the end of this section of highway where the treat God had been  promising me all day long belonged.

Thank you, God, for a wonderful day.

And, when I was getting into my 7th hour of driving through fabulous  countryside on my way to Bryce Canyon for some hiking tomorrow, lo and  behold, I’m transported back into 1950. I gotta’ go back into this town on my  way to Vegas-Baby. Look a’ here.

the whole town looks like it never left the 1950's

Thanks for listening… and looking… and sharing this wonderful trip with me.   And, I promise I’ll get back to Wyoming when their weather is better! I guess  it was more important for me to be in Utah this trip.

Time to rest. Montana and I have a big day tomorrow in Bryce Canyon. Sleep well and happy trails.