Thursday, September 29, 2016

From Mead Lake to a Kansas Fishing Lake

Kingman State Fishing Lake and Wildlife Area, Kansas

Since leaving Mead Lake near Boulder City on Monday the 26th we have driven over 1,200 miles, stayed in two RV parks, one Cracker Barrel parking lot, and tonight are in a WONDERFUL, secluded, FREE, Kansas Fishing Lake along joint highways US 54/400 just east of Pratt, Kansas.  Last night we stayed in Cactus RV Park in Tucumcari, New Mexico.  A Passport America Park, we had to pay full price ($24.50) because it is the week of the balloon festival in New Mexico, and they anticipate more $$$ from those traveling to this special event.  The Cracker Barrel was in Gallup New Mexico, and we grabbed the last spot available when we pulled in.  Before that (Monday) we stayed in Surprise Arizona at the Sunflower RV Resort, which was Passport America, for $30 per night.  Tuesday we met our friends Joyce and her daughter Laurie at the Cracker Barrel in North Phoenix for a too quick of a visit, but we anticipate being back in Phoenix next March on our way back out to California.  So here is a re-cap of the past few days…

Lake Mead

Our stay at Lake Mead was very nice…$10 for the night, the park was quiet and not full, only complaint was a neighbor whose fire put smoke right at our windows on a night when windows needed to be open.  That was about an hour of inconvenience, so not too bad. 

Crossing over Colorado River   Driving by Colorado River south of Lake Mead

Marcia tried very hard to get a picture of the Colorado River from the bridge which one travels over now instead of traveling over Hoover Dam.  She finally got a small glimpse of it in the picture to the right, middle just this side of the mountains.  The bridge sure cuts off time, but also cuts off camera opportunities too (although you can stop and walk and take some shots…but time was not on our side for that.)

Driving by Colorado River south of Lake Mead

Here is a second, a more panoramic shot, which also shows the Colorado River.

South of Lake Mead

A view out my side of the motorhome…

Heading South East from Lake Mead

And this one out the front window (hence, the tinted color of the sky).  We need to stay here for a few days and really explore the area more, and visit the dam.  But one must plan this when the weather is not too hot, which means others will be flocking to the area too!

Saguaro Cactus along US 93

As we got closer to Phoenix, Marcia knew that the saguaro cactus would be showing up soon.  Here was one of the first batches of them…soon they were all over the place.

More desert along US 93

She knows the names off all the various cactus and desert plants…but alas…

Marcia a bit tired as we depart Phoenix

…even the desert gets tiring to look at.  This is actually a shot after our breakfast at Cracker Barrel with Joyce and Laurie. Dreaming about being another year older tomorrow I'll bet...

I-17 headed toward Flagstaff

After a short nap, she was back at it with the camera.

Just off I-17 headed toward Flagstaff     Just off I-17 headed toward Flagstaff

As we got closer to Flagstaff, it was time for a quick stop…where Marcia got these two fall colors shots.

San Francisco Mountains near Flagstaff

If you have driven up to Flagstaff from Phoenix, then you are familiar with this view…the San Francisco Peaks.

Storm near Winslow
Storm near Winslow    Storm near Winslow

As we got close to Winslow, the clouds darkened, the skies darkened, and lightening and thunder abound…
Skruffy during Storm near Winslow

Which brings the little girl up on Marcia’s lap, scared as can be.  When she was rescued nearly 8 years ago now in Arkansas, she had gone through some intense storms that October as she lived and hid among the large dump trucks and after one of these huge storms blew through, she jumped into one of the workers vehicles and that is how they captured her…

 Storm near Winslow

Well, we missed the sand storm in Phoenix, but this little outburst got us…but after 5 or 10 miles it was behind us too.  Our stay in the Cracker Barrel was good, and we enjoyed our breakfast there before hitting road at 8 am.

Outside Gallup New Mexico      5b

On Wednesday morning we drive on through New Mexico after our Birthday Breakfast at Cracker Barrel…yes, Marcia turned another year older…  Saw a burned out old house which I failed to get a picture of…so just use your imagination for a moment.  Told her, “I bought this house for you, but when I lit your Birthday Cake, it burned the old home down!”   Well, my shoulder will heal from the bruising I got one of these days…

Between Gallup and Albuquerque     Between Gallup and Albuquerque
Between Gallup and Albuquerque     Between Gallup and Albuquerque

The trip between Gallup and Albuquerque is a real enjoyable one.  After climbing out of the mountains an on to Santa Rosa and then Tucumcari, I was just beat by 2 pm…so we pulled into the Cactus RV Park on Old Route 66.  That evening we walked (she rode the GoGo) to Del's Restaurant just a couple buildings down.  It has been in operation since the mid-50’s, and was clean, very friendly, and we enjoyed our dinner.  The waiter even sang “Happy Birthday” to Marcia when he found out it was her birthday. 

Kingman State Fishing Lake and Wildlife Area, Kansas 

Which brings us to our travels today…through the final 50 miles of New Mexico, 100 miles of Texas,  60 miles through Oklahoma…and 160 miles through Kansas.  Tomorrow we have about 240 miles to get to the RV park near Kansas City where we will have some time with my son Ryan before moving on down to Arkansas.   Why no pictures of today's drive?  As Marcia said to me…all I need to do is snap one photo and it will cover nearly all the trip today since it was all basically farm/ranch land.

Kingman State Fishing Lake and Wildlife Area, Kansas

Well, not all of it looks like farm land…as the view out of our front door shows tonight.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Utah to Lake Mead, Boulder City

Eastern side of Wasatch Mountains near Deer Creek Reservoir

Bright and early start Sunday morning reveals blue skies, white mountain tops, and fog over Deer  Creek Reservoir.  Had a nice visit with my daughter, and helped her move into a new living arraignment with her good fried Jenny who just purchased a condo and moved into it herself last week.  Stephanie will spend weekdays down in Provo close to school, and weekends up in Salt Lake City area with Jenny.  She is still feeling the ill effects of last year’s surfboard incident, something which she might have to deal with the rest of her life.  She can only handle a couple of classes at a time, and cannot work.  Like these NFL quarterbacks who got knocked in the head one time too many, she has really gone through the ringer, so to speak.

Deer Creek Reservoir      Deer Creek Reservoir 

Thank goodness the fog over the lake was not hovering close to the ground, so we had a very enjoyable drive down Provo Canyon and on to I-15 where we headed toward Las Vegas.

Bridal Veil Falls, Provo Canyon

Got a good shot of Bridal Veil Falls as we came down the canyon.

Provo Canyon Fall Colors

While Marcia, who took most of the pictures, got a good shot of the fall colors.  Yes, start of fall in Utah’s Salt Lake City/Provo area, a wonderful time of the year.  Wake up to 32 degree weather one day, and 55 degree weather the next.  Highs can be in low 40’s and up to the 80’s…and as fall moves closer to winter, well…use your imagination.  But the colors you see are just fabulous!

Wasatch Mountains, Utah County, I-15       Mt. Timpanogos in rear view mirror, Provo

The Wasatch had a dusting of snow while we were here…thank goodness the rain let up just long enough to move Stephanie on Saturday.  Soon the Wasatch Mountains are in our mirror…

I-15 Utah south of Provo, North of Beaver

And the deserts of Utah lay ahead. 

Near Utah Arizona border, I-15

Virgin River Gorge, I-15 Arizona     Virgin River Gorge, I-15 Arizona

As we leave Utah just south of St. George, you enter Arizona for just a few miles, passing through another wonderful canyon.  Few people live in this area of Arizona, and if you do, you are isolated from the rest of the state with access only through either Nevada or Utah.

Lake Mead

We make it through the Nevada desert, through the hustle and bustle of the never sleepy city of Las Vegas, and on down to Lake Mead.  We are just passing through on our way to Phoenix for a very short visit with friends on Tuesday morning before heading to Kansas City. 

Boulder Beach Campground, Lake MeadLake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States.  The National Park Service oversees the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, and there are various camp grounds in the area.  We stayed at the Boulder Beach Campground.  With the Senior Pass to get into the area for free, the pass also gave us a discount on camping to only $10 per night. Not sure where we are staying tonight, but it will be within an easy drive of Cracker Barrel in Phoenix where we will meet our friends before heading on to Kansas City.

Friday, September 23, 2016

On to Utah – Change of Scenery, not a change of heart

Lake Jordanelle State Park

Made it to Lake Jordanelle State Park today, which is where we like to stay when we visit my daughter who lives in the Salt Lake City area.  This is a huge change of scenery since our month long stay in the Sacramento area…but as the dogs say…

Skruffy and Bubba, Monday Morning back in Sacramento        Skruffy and Bubba, Monday Morning back in Sacramento
Skruffy and Bubba, Monday Morning back in Sacramento

These two above are having “heart-ache” over being gone…especially Bubba who simply adores his Uncle Arny.  This scene, which was Monday Morning of this past week, took place many times…except they typically did not have to wait for Arny to open the drapes which are typically open when I let them out around 7 am.  But on Sunday Arny and Sandy were at the Reno Air Races, in fact, sister Patti and I talked them into going for the entire weekend as we took over the watch and care of Arny’s mom…so on Monday morning they slept in just a bit, and it was 7:15 when the drapes open, Skruffy noses her way through the door leading her and Bubba to the back door, and Arny starts their morning off with a dog treat for Bubba, and pork which I have cooked up for Skruffy.  Then Skruffy comes back into the motorhome, after doing her business, to eat her diabetic breakfast, while Bubba takes his breakfast outside before spending the rest of the day with Arny (and Sandy on this day since she took a day off to recoup from the Air Races.)

Gold Run Rest Area, I-80, California Sierras      Gold Run Rest Area, I-80, California Sierras

A bit about our trip to Utah…  We left Tuesday evening around 5:30 pm.  WHY so late?  Our destination was not too far away…just 47 miles (53 the route we took since I wanted to fill up at Sams Club first), to a rest area above the 3,000 foot elevation.  Gold Run Rest Area, on the West Bound side, is just the ideal place for this.  Cooler weather, and there is separate RV parking away from the big trucks.  As you can see by the sign above, you have 8 hours of parking time…we were there for more like 10 hours, and the ONLY RV around.  90% of the truck noise and highway noise is muffled out by the isolated location.  This is the first, but probably not the last, stay at this rest area.  When we left, you don’t even get on the west bound I-80, the access road leads to an overpass, and you hop onto the eastbound lanes and off you go, no traffic, no headaches.

 I-80, California Sierras

I told Marcia as we were driving near Emigrant Gap that the Sierra’s were my first “Nature” love, and that all of our travels have never taken that spark out of my eyes…that is, until the trip to Alaska.  Yes, I still love the Sierra’s…home to Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, the “Big Trees” (Calaveras, Kings Canyon, Sequoia), Mount Whitney and many other areas.  Colorado nearly took the spark out…but Alaska certainly did. 

 I-80, California Sierras      I-80, California Sierras

But I sure like this ride up and over Donner Summit, that’s for sure!

Old GMC Truck     Old MG Hatchback

Saw a couple of interesting older vehicles on our way through California and Nevada.  I am sure Arny would love this old GM Truck, and the MG hatchback reminds me of the 1965 Austin Healy sports car, my first car, that I had way back when.

Nevada along I-80     Nevada along I-80
Nevada along I-80

Traveling through Nevada was not as boring as I usually find it with interesting clouds, a few fall colors, and the rainbow which Marcia caught while I was fighting wind and the start of rain.

Pastor Brett over Internet     Skruffy not watching Brett

Nevada along I-80

In Elko we stopped to catch our Wednesday night church from back in Florida over the Internet.  Our Pastor, Brett Robinson, is interesting in person and over the Internet…except to Skruffy who was sitting on my lap looking out the window the entire time.  At least she did not bark at anyone, which for her is amazing.  As we left, the rain storm we had already driven through was catching up to us…but the wind, as shown by the flag, had died down a bit…it would be nightfall before we found our stop in Wendover for the night in a large parking lot near Pilot Truck Stop and the Peppermill Casino.  We stayed here in May as we traveled to Utah before turning north to Alaska…and this time I found a much quieter area of this huge lot, but not as quiet as the previous night at the rest area in California.

Utah morning along I-80

We got an early start again after getting gas at Pilot along with some coffee, and this, of course, after we fed the critters.  Skruffy eats twice per day, 12 hours apart.  She is a very good eater, and she is very good about allowing me to prick her with a needle twice a day and give her the insulin.  She currently is getting 2.5 units in the morning, and 2 units at night, and her blood sugar level is between 150 and 200 mid-day, which has been a good level during her extremely active lifestyle in Sandy and Arny’s backyard.  Now that we are gone, I am cutting back her food a bit, and keeping her insulin the same.  She was at 165 today, so all is going well.  Winking smile  

Utah morning along I-80

Speaking of “going well”, the drive along the Salt Flats was more like a drive along the water reflections…between the clouds, and the reflections…wow….what else could we ask for?

Utah morning along I-80

Well, how about that!  Reminds me of Genesis:
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light....God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.

Lake Jordanelle

We finally made it to Lake Jordanelle State Park.  $30 per night, but we got the last sewer connection, so we have full service except for no TV…back to the Amazon movies.  Big OPPs on that one…I forgot to load up with new movies…so we just watch a few movies again, no big deal.  First thing, line up a moving van so I can help move my daughter into a new place Saturday.  Second thing…find a Cracker Barrel which we have not had for some six or seven months now.  So off to West Valley we go…

First Day of Fall Storm through Salt Lake/Ogden

We come out of Cracker Barrel, and I see DARK DARK skies to the west.  We QUICKLY head east and back up and over the mountain.  Got this image above off of one of the weather sites showing where the storm was when we left the restaurant. 

Tornado near Ogden

Got this from a video posted by KSL news, of the tornado that went through southern Ogden…just 30 miles north of where we were.  We literally got through Salt Lake and up the mountain just in the nick of time.  Just five minutes later and we would have had to sit on the freeway which got instantly clogged due to the storm.  Even as we headed up the canyon, the winds were blowing debris across the roadway.  Thank goodness things were much quieter up by the lake when we got back to the motorhome.

Fall in the Wasatch 

Nice exciting first day of fall in Utah…