Rancho Seco

img_2175You mean, like the nuclear power plant? Yep, the same Rancho Seco. Apparently there is a lake there, with a campground, that is quite the happening place to be on a hot weekend. It is no longer a working power plant, and one has to wonder just a little bit about that lake. Apparently, when it was operating, it was known for frequent accidents and shut downs and boasts the dubious honor of having experienced the third most serious safety-related occurrence in the United States. But hey, it was a nice place with an interesting backdrop view and the whole point of this reservation was to fend off post vacation depression.

img_2159In years past, I have allowed myself plenty of “down time” before the beginning of the school year, theoretically so that I would not feel rushed in the get ready process. Twice I’ve ended up in the emergency room feeling funny and was actually probably experiencing mild to moderate panic attacks. So this year I decided to try something different by not allowing any down time. Worked like a charm. Except this weekend I felt like I’d been hit by a train.

I love my job. I seriously do. But wow, it is a significant mental shift to move from making sure I’m rotating ice cube trays to scheduling a year’s worth of IEP meetings. It’ll all be ok. I think we’re back in our home based groove now. But I should apologize to neighbors for some of the colorful words we used getting Dory down the driveway on Friday. Two months of not doing that and we just about took out the mailbox.

img_2178Richard went out for a very hot bike ride on Saturday and I kind of just laid there, having been recently hit by a train. He saw lots of coyotes, I putzed with the visor and rejected screen shelters while doing online searches. I could have launched my kayak, but it was over 100 degrees and my motivation was low. At dusk, we walked through the campground and saw that there were tons of people there, partying it up with tiki torches and movies projected onto tents (that got Richard’s attention).

img_2180We walked all the way out to a little beach, attempting not to step on the millions of frogs jumping out of the grass. There were so many, it made me wonder if their numbers were somehow increased due to multiple radioactive gas leaks. That’s not such a bad outcome if that’s the case. Now there is a massive array of solar panels at the foot of the cooling towers, but I doubt they could be responsible for a surge in frog population.

img_2182We enjoyed a nice drive home along the Delta via Highway 160. We’ve got sites lined up for the next couple of months and we’re already talking about next summer. It’s good to be home, but it was really good to be out there.

Total miles: 92.4, 17.2 mpg, 2 hours 47 min. Site RV4. Electric and water at our site. Bathroom nearest to use was flush, but single room, so there were lines to use it. Fairly crowded in the day use and tent camping area, but our site had lots of space around it. No view of the lake due to trees and bushes. Dump, LTE cell service for both.

Post Long Trip Thoughts

xPD+fMkwR%2HkQ8b9VtSzwHaving just completed our longest Dory trip to date, I wanted to sum up some of our initial impressions over what worked particularly well, what we’re still pondering, and what fell into the “not so much” category. These are in no particular order, but came up as highlights as we reflected on the trip as a whole. And overall, I must say I think we were extremely well provisioned for an extended time out.

E55CP%fxR7mh+LeJxkgqjwFor us, “Long Trip” means: 2 months (6/13-8/12), 9,274 miles, 37 campgrounds, 19 states, 2 provinces, 2 countries, 2 languages. We broke personal records in: length of time on the road, length of time in one campsite (7 nights), number of one night stands in a row (9), and certainly number of Bison spotted (same is true for motorcycles). Here’s a wrap up of our post summer opinions.

 

Thumbs Up

Loosey Goosey Planning

img_2161This comes in as number 1 on our list of things that exceeded expectation. Really, we only reserved campsites ahead of time for rallies, where we needed to be sure we had a site for a specific time and for a longer stay. I think doing it this way accomplishes a couple of things. First off, it makes the pre-trip planning much easier. But more than that, it builds in flexibility to adjust your route based on information you get along the way. For example, had I mapped the whole thing out ahead of time, I might not have chosen a return path through Ontario, and that turned out to be one of my favorite areas.

img_2162The caveat that comes with this is to be very prepared to stay in weird places if need be. There’s always somewhere to stay for the night, but it might not be the most scenic. We almost always lucked out with really nice sites in state or provincial parks. There weren’t always hookups though, so hot weather narrowed the choices to mostly independent places or KOAs. We got in the habit of always filling the fresh water tank, just in case.

Allstays is a must have app for this kind of traveling, and it really helps to have the non-driver doing the research and phone calling on the road. If I were a single traveler, this would all have been much, much harder. Allstays works without cell service pretty well too.

Nemo Stargaze Chairs

img_2163We probably gave as many “tours” of these chairs as we did Dory. They are super comfortable and easy to set up and take down. They store down into nice, small, light packages that don’t take up much room in the car. We have officially ditched all other chairs. They’re expensive, but worth it. There was a safety recall on some of them, but we checked and ours are fine. The enjoyment factor we get out of these has actually changed our behavior in terms of how much time we spend outside. The only downside is that now we need to think more about insect repelling.

Chilewich Rugs

img_2164There’s been a lot said in the Altoistes group about these rugs, but I’m going to go ahead and say more. I really love these. The color adds to the overall attractiveness of the inside and I can’t say enough about how great they are at hiding dirt. For two solid months we did very little in the way of cleaning the floor. We shook out the piece that is by the door maybe once a week, and I think we shook out all of the pieces like twice. I never felt sand or dirt on my feet because all of it falls through the little loops. We dropped stuff on it and weren’t terribly careful about tracking stuff in. Once we got home, I took the pieces out and gave them a good hose down. The water coming off the stuff was brown and filthy. After that, they were good as new. Again, pricey but well worth it.

O-Polar Fan

img_2165This is more an endorsement for having some kind of little 12v fan in the bedroom area, rather than a specific brand recommendation. I do like this little fan because it’s super quiet and uses very little battery power. In fact, we’re not quite sure how it works. I have it plugged in to our USB all the time and it only seems to draw power to recharge its battery when it’s not running. The power draw is less than .3 amps, so it’s pretty efficient. Anyway, having any kind of fan there can really make a difference when it’s hot and you don’t have hookups for AC. I think I might have actually died in Arches without this little guy, so I’m giving it a thumbs up.

Pur Water Pitcher & Rotating Water Bottles

img_2166This is something that has been under appreciated and taken for granted because we’ve had it from the very beginning. It’s really nice though to have filtered water all the time. We got into a system of filling and rotating water bottles on the upper shelf of the fridge. That shelf stays very cold, even on the lowest setting, so the water was always nice and refreshingly cool.

img_2167We got a water bag that we use to fill the pitcher and just lash it to the top with a Velcro strap. An important modification was the addition of one of those really big rubber bands all around the top opening, so that it forms a gasket when the top is on. That, plus the lashing with the Velcro strap, prevents water that hasn’t yet filtered down into the bottom from sloshing all over the place. It only took us three years of sloshing and wiping to figure that out.

Skillet Dinners

img_2168This is proably our most mundane recommendation, but man, these frozen skillet dinners make cooking so easy. We can fit three in the freezer and that was about the right time span for shopping trips anyway. Walmart, yes I’m gonna say it because I am not pretentious, has the best selection. There are nice Bertoli pasta dishes and some good ones from P.F. Chang’s. Lots of them have frozen veggies thrown into the mix and we found them to be quite tasty with minimal prep and cleanup. The P.F. Chang’s dinners worked nicely with (we’re in full disclosure mode here) Minute Rice. Does it help at all that it was brown Minute Rice? No? Whatever. It worked for us. We have a little Thermos that we use for the Minute Rice because boiling water in a kettle and pouring it in works slightly faster and uses less propane than cooking rice on the stovetop. Which is nice when it’s already hot. And, as always, the Magma frying pan worked like a champ.

Baking Soda and Bleach Crystals

img_2169I do a sponge cloth “swooshy” of the water in the back of the shower basin before each time we pack up and move, so the bathroom normally stays pretty clean. Using a spritzer bottle with some kind of citrus based cleaner, I spray everywhere, and this mostly keeps things nice and fresh. However, for extended traveling, I found that when a little more is needed for either the floor or the toilet, Baking Soda works great. The bleach crystals were a new experiment to see if it would work on the grey tank when it started getting smelly. It did. And I like the idea of carrying dried crystals rather than liquid bleach for multiple reasons. Every once in a while, or if we notice smelly grey water dumps, I’ll pour what looks like about a Tablespoon down the shower drain and/or sink drain. I just run a little water to wash it down and that seems to do the trick. Bonus if I can time it so there’s already some grey water in there and we have to travel a little to the next dump, so it can slosh around.

Solar Charger

img_2170This is also something we take for granted, but since Richard replaced the factory solar controller with a Sun Saver Duo, we really haven’t had to worry about charging the coffee machine battery. I realize most of you do not have a 12v standalone battery powered Italian espresso machine, but my point is, if you did have something you wanted to power with a standalone battery, this system works well to keep things charged. We do have a backup charger on hand that we can use when we have hookups, but we really only did this once or twice the whole trip. Nice.

Sure Call/Signal Booster

img_2171While I’m not necessarily endorsing the specific brand name here, I will say that having something like this (or a weBoost) has been very helpful in multiple situations. Since Richard had to work during this trip, the expenditure was justifiable, as was the time and effort put into figuring out how to mount the antenna on a pole. So far, using two pieces of aluminum conduit, joined together by a standard connector, has given us enough height to be able to grab a signal even when the phones say “no service.” Of course, there are places where “no service” means just that, and no booster will help. But for most situations, we were able to boost to 3-4 bars of something, even from nothing to LTE. That’s enough for mail, or a phone call, or web access. It’s also not that time consuming to put up and take down. I’ve got strategically placed Command Hooks to route the cable, which runs through the back window. The cable fits even when the window is closed and in the “ventilation” lock position, which is good, both for security and in the event of rain.

Port Side Keder Rail

5yQr%SJcSC+XRZ9oEAYlOQThis was a good upgrade. Already, we’ve tried out hanging a piece of Aluminet or using the Pahaque Visor, and we can tell there is a difference in interior temperature getting that sunny side shaded. In fact, I like the Visor even though I don’t have the correct pole set up yet. I may have to end up getting another to go for the full Dumbo look when all we’re after is shade. Anyway, having that rail there really helps.

Fixing the Fridge Noise

This is Richard’s favorite thing right now. For three years, he has been complaining that the fridge was noisy. For three years I have blown him off saying it’s “normal.” It wasn’t. When we told Frederic Pratte about the rattle, he immediately knew there was something missing, or broken, behind the fridge to hold the compressor coils in place. It is totally silent now. Sorry, Sweetie.

Thumbs Down

Offline Blogging

This was, hands down, the most frustrating part of the whole trip. I have to admit, keeping up with the blog on the road was hard. At home, it is super easy and part of my Sunday routine after we get back. But this summer, I spent lots of time re-examining why I do this because there was a strong pull to give up. I’ll say this though: I always appreciate having done it, later. Yes, it’s my own public travel journal, and it’s how I look back and remember our trips. But it is also a resource and we find ourselves looking things up and like having it all there. And of course, I enjoy sharing it out, especially because I personally got so much out of reading other blogs, like RouteAlto80.blogspot.ca. It helps me feel connected to friends when we’re far away and I’d like to think it offers helpful information from time to time.  Truly, those people who told me they appreciated the blog kept me going more than any other factor.

So I knew I wanted to keep it up. And I knew that if I didn’t write it down in pretty close to real time, it would be overwhelming and forgotten later. What I tried to do was just keep current on the writing part first and foremost. This was something that was supposed to be possible in the WordPress iPad app when there is no service and you are working offline. I even verified with tech support before we left. They were wrong, it is not. So sometimes I had enough service to connect and do the writing, sometimes I wrote in a note and pasted later, and sometimes I thought I had enough service, but it hadn’t saved, then it crashed, and I ended up losing stuff. Arf.

The photos are a whole other thing. You really need WiFi and/or an unlimited service plan to upload those. And no matter what, it’s going to be time consuming. I sort of settled on using iPhone hot spots to upload just enough pictures to tell the story. I then organized all the rest into albums on my iPhone so I would be able to find them after we got home. That part worked ok, but does not work unless there is enough service to get the pictures to WordPress. And that only happened sometimes.

What I want Richard to invent and make a million dollars from, is a truly offline version of WordPress, where I could create drafts on an iPad or laptop, don’t care what, that have a couple of pictures placed and formatted and ready to upload when I have WiFi. Then I could more easily do the formatted posts in real time, save, and upload sporadically along the way. That was what I thought I’d be able to do and it was absolutely not the case. If someone knows something I’m not understanding, please post a comment! By the way, all the photos are now uploaded. Home WiFi rocks.

Wax Candles

lzyPdtP+RbWH5NGUJ7OtgQJust nope. They are so pretty and have little fake flickering flames that reflect off the ceiling. But they do not get along with 100+ degrees. So sad.

I am reasonably happy with the Romance Package 2.0 LED string lights, and even added a set of blue string lights in the bathroom that can be set to blink or pulsate. Like a Disco. A bathroom disco.

General Delivery from Amazon

IMG_0613Richard gets all excited about the idea of general delivery, so we had several things sent after we left home. Anything mailed from a USPS post office works great (thanks Caz & Steve for mailing checks and re-issued credit cards after ours got compromised and cancelled). Things sent from Amazon usually go through UPS or FedEx and neither of those will deliver to a post office. Luckily, the box of 100 Kustom Koozies we had made got redirected to a FedEx warehouse in a location not far from the Colorado Altogather. Just good to know in the future that this doesn’t work as well as we thought it would.

BAL Leveler

img_2185We are pretty sure we’re giving up on the BAL, even with its nice pizza box storage solution. Thing is, we only ever use it in situations the Anderson Leveler can’t handle, so like really unlevel sites where you have to crank up the BAL to its highest position. This is really hard to do and Richard hates it. It is also apparently not how you are supposed to use the BAL because ours ultimately started to bend at the part of the frame that holds the giant screw thingy in place. After talking to them on the phone, they were sort of willing to replace it, but cautioned us against using it this way. So, if that’s the case, we really would not ever want to use it. Plus it’s big and heavy and awkward. And, I mean, so am I, but since the BAL is an optional member of the camping party, we’re thinking it’s out for good. If it comes down to being that tippy, we’ll just aim the downhill side so the shower water drains properly and not worry so much about whether round things roll off the table.

 

Still Thinking

Awnings/Screen Rooms

IMG_1481Maybe it’s good to have some kind of unattainable goal. Like it keeps you motivated and prevents boredom. Of all the many options out there for shade/rain/privacy/bug protection, no combination has yet spoken to me as the perfect solution. We have a Pahaque “front arc style” awning, which is great. I really do like it a lot. Its best use is privacy screening and shade. It does both of those things really well. For us, it has worked pretty well for rain too, especially with the addition of the center pole. The downsides are that it’s not super easy to put up or take down and it really blocks the view out the side windows. Also, I was in the middle of trying to make it bug proof. I think if I ordered or made a skirt to block off the underside of the trailer, it would be close to bug proof. At least, as close as is reasonable to expect. But there’s still the set up/take down/block view. And wind. Nothing is going to do well in the wind. We put up our awning a total of two times this trip, each time was at a rally with a stay of at least three nights. One of those times I had to take it down because of wind. And did I use the bug netting either of those times? No. Instead, I got bitten.

4Q9IcUiETM2oGDChsVW3CgSo that leads me to thinking I should get a standalone thing, like a Clam or easy up canopy thing, that is detached so it doesn’t block views and is quick to put up/take down as soon as there’s wind. But honestly, that leads me to “Meh” because I don’t really have the urge to go over and sit inside a screen house. I guess I’ll just stick with the Pahaque awning, and now the Visor, for shade or privacy. So far, I like the Visor because it does not block views and is pretty quick. Granted, I don’t yet have the correct pole setup, so I’ll report back after we’ve used it properly for a while. I could order an “old style” SC awning, but, beyond punching another hole in some Awning Frequent Purchasers Club card, it doesn’t really get me anything I don’t already have. Maybe if that could be ordered with bug netting, I’d get excited. Or maybe I need to keep working on the Permathrin clothes instead.

 

And that’s a wrap for now on things that stood out for one reason or another this summer. There are things we value more highly (Techimpex, rear projection system), but I’ve talked about those a lot already. I hope to never stop tweaking things though, because that is all part of the fun!

Donner Lake SP (2) & Home

JKzMMhltTy25Qci5JMuCHQOur last hurrah before returning to the real world! Going with our theme of spontaneity, we just decided to pull up to the park and see what they had. I’d secured a reservation for Saturday night at Sugar Pine Point, but we had booked it through Nevada with enough time to get to Donner and out of the smoke and heat by Friday. That all worked perfectly. And not only did they have a site, they had one for two nights. We cancelled Sugar Pine and basked in Donner as though it was just another weekend out.

b4Id0umcQ0mq10jo1b%DQAOn our way, we passed by, but did not stop at, Thunder Mountain in Imlay NV. I wrote about this place three years ago and had intended to stop so Richard could see it. However, the smoke in the air was so bad, he was having a hard time even breathing. So we waved and drove by, on our way through Reno and to higher ground.

Saturday, I wanted to do some reconnaissance while Richard did a ride up Barker Pass. I really have never just gone around Lake Tahoe, so my plan was to check out the roads and scope out other potential campgrounds. Wow, was my thinking waaaaaay off there! QAtKjKJHTYafHZKp2gTr3gFirst off, about half of the 39 million residents of California had decided to go to Lake Tahoe this weekend. So I hit some crazy traffic jams with tons of people trying to make their way along single lane highways while events were blocking off streets and taking up every conceivable parking space along the lake. Next, wow, ok, I’ve never driven the part of Highway 89 that goes along Emerald Bay. I will officially say, that is not my favorite thing to do. There are definitely steep deathy drop offs along there, and with so many people in cars, or walking next to parked cars, it was dodgy at best getting through. I was super glad not to have accidentally had Dory with me for that drive. I made it, partly on the power of the promise to myself that I would not have to drive it again since my plan was to go back up on the eastern side of the lake.

TwdUjaexSj2N2wjFJq076APlan thwarted. Once I got to South Lake Tahoe, I discovered all the rest of the 39 million Californians, on the road, completely stopped, in South Lake Tahoe where 50 meets 89. I sat in a parking lot of cars for a loooonnnggg time. Eventually, I started getting hungry and realized this lake loop plan was going to take at least triple the time I had allotted. So, I reluctantly turned back, deciding to cut my losses even if it meant driving the deathy road again. I wasn’t happy about it, but having immersed ourselves in Donner Party history the past couple of days, it just seemed like a more rational thing to do. I mean, I didn’t have food in the car, it looked impossible to pull over and park to get food anywhere along the way, and I didn’t want to have to end up eating someone. “No see, Your Honor, I’d only had a protein shake for sustenance and it was super hard to park, so I had no choice but to eat that guy.”

TqSuaR%y8wbVqPxZrpwI was able to get enough service to text Richard, who procured a nice sandwich and some water. I picked him up in Tahoma and managed to snag a parking spot long enough to eat lunch. Then we got the hell out of the chaos and went back to Donner. I do like that park. I got to sneak in one last paddle and we had dinner outside in our swinging chairs. That is just much more relaxing. I know lots of people who love Tahoe, and I’m willing to learn how to do it, but so far I must say I do not have a good impression of the place. Too crowded, too hard to get around.

QHOZ9TwSRumfBmSrxj6TIwSunday we trudged home. Richard was not a happy camper about the whole idea. I had intentionally made reservations for the next several weekends, specifically as a way to fend off post vacation depression. That helps. And I must say, all things considered, the twentysomethings did a pretty good job not trashing the house. The bathroom sink seems to not be draining, but everything else is. Also, the cat was full of burrs. So many burrs. But she endured brushing and only batted at me every three or so strokes. So I think she knew it was bad.

And you gotta hand it to home on a couple of fronts: the wifi is fast, the laundry is free, and the grey water tank is simply amazing.

Total miles: 205.4, 15.1, 4 hours 21 min. Total miles to home: 176.4, 17.1, 4 hours 38 min. Site 67. No hookups and no dump, but you can dump in the nearby Chevron station. Slight solar, but it’s fairly shaded. Water spigots and nice bathrooms and showers. Good LTE for both, but around Lake Tahoe, service drops out sometimes.

Winnemucca KOA

E68BD7A0-63E7-416B-8E8B-4F9E9E2ADFC4Nevada, in Spanish, means, “don’t go there.” Got it. Today we mentally connected with the Gold Rush pioneers, noting that we have a car, and air conditioning, and roads, and…. It was still a slog.

Remember that Laramide Erogeny I keep mentioning? Nevada is what happens when huge areas of land rise up and form mountain ranges. In between the ranges, the land gets stretched out to form ripples of repeating basins and ranges. So, stretch marks, really.C4248DAF-42BF-4D53-A462-83E15C740A6C The great basin of Nevada does not get water draining into it, so it’s a vast desert, punctuated with salt flats and a wall of death, called the Sierra Nevada. You can probably tell we stopped at a pioneer museum today, and you’re right.

To break up the long drive, we pulled off at the California Trail Interpretive Center and I would give that a 5.0. They take you through the pioneer story by focusing on members of the Donner/Reed party. 84D2D75A-FAC2-4F58-94A5-B7420385F8EDThey have excerpts from journals, illustrated with displays showing what the land was like at the time. For example, going through the Bonneville Salt Flats, tedious in a car driving 65, took them weeks. The carts and horses broke through the top layer of salt, only to sink into salty mud. They had to abandon supplies, carts, and livestock all along the trail just to make forward progress. By the time they got to the Sierras, much later than they planned, they were exhausted, emaciated, and not getting along terribly well with each other. It’s the ultimate camping trip from hell, but with much more death. E0864219-2289-464B-ACB8-9B119BB9FE2FThere was a multimedia display that sort of brought to life the final months up in the snow and I literally felt my stomach tense up because I could imagine the scene. This historic site is really well done, and I highly recommend it as a stop along 80. Also, it’s air conditioned and has great bathrooms.

Backtracking a bit, we began the day with the discovery of another Alto in the SLC KOA! And it was not only a member of Altoistes, but also someone I’d conversed with previously because they live in California. Turns out, they are returning from their pickup and we will probably see each other on the road all the way back. I love when that happens. 🙂

31469A57-215F-4EB3-AA9F-262A6CC4FE29We wrapped up the day with another KOA. Listen, it’s 105 degrees here. No way were we going to camp at a state park with no electric hookups. And out here, the only choice is really how far you want to drive, in 50-100 mile increments, before you stop for the day. Today’s winner was: Winnemucca! It is every bit as exciting as its name sounds. And, who should we see in the site across from us, but our new Alto friends. Richard went and got take out from a nearby Mexican restaurant and I’m sipping margaritas with ice, so all is well. It’s a far cry from the end to a Pioneer’s day, where you mostly either die or eat deceased non-relatives. Those people were amazing.

Total miles: 351.7, 17.1 mpg, 6 hours 24 min. KOA with full hookups. LTE still strong all along most of 80. Pretty good wifi. All the expected amenities, plus fake plants in the bathroom for ambiance.

Salt Lake City KOA

YPx7K++ISHWqtzEa7W8CpQThis was our day of postponement. We are resisting the drive across the flats and heat, so instead, we made it a short travel day and threw in some shopping and city sight seeing. We also got a really lazy late start, pulling out around noon. Richard biked the road around the reservoir, a short but happy ride, and certainly preferable to trying to ride 80 (pretty sure you’re not allowed to anyway).

%msLNSbNR9mLE58ihHWgqgQuickly following that, we found an upscale shopping center in the heart of ski resort-ville just above SLC. There we faced a small crisis of identity, as we needed to choose between shopping at Whole Foods vs. Walmart. At home, we are Trader Joe’s people except for specialty items. Then it’s Whole Paycheck for whatever we can’t find at the independent health food store. Normally we spend about the same amount for those couple of items as we’ve spent for the rest of the week’s groceries. While traveling, I openly admit that we are people of Walmart. Thing is, we can find exactly what we need, in almost exactly the same store layout, whether we’re in Utah, New York, or Ontario. It’s really really easy to walk in and buy milk, frozen skillet dinners, and maybe some lithium grease and a pair of pants. And anyway, we tried to park in the WF lot, but they didn’t have nearly enough double parking spaces for RVs, so we took our low brow business over to Walmart, where there was lots of parking and at least four huge RVs camped out on the periphery. What better way to follow shopping at Walmart? Pulling into a KOA of course. The Salt Lake City KOA is HUGE. But still exactly like a KOA. Ah, we’re in our element.

qxk3w7r%S%OSMdNhHOzDbwFor the rest of the afternoon, we did an impressively good job entertaining ourselves by checking out the Utah Natural History Museum. Wowie, this place is very fun! The design and architecture of the building is just beautiful, and the exhibits are high tech and interactive. One of the themes of this trip has been learning about the Laramide Erogeny, the millions of years ago crash between two tectonic plates. cMVWWQ2oSXGsFFqmn01ehAThe museum had lots of nicely laid out displays showing the dynamics at work and how this event created the landscapes of the western U.S. For example, because a huge part of the middle of North America was an ocean during the Cretaceous period, there are not many land based dinosaur fossils found there. It’s in the Utah and Colorado regions where the conditions were not only right for them to have lived there, but also for the fossils to be exposed due to the erosion of the pushed-up layers of rock. Jy2ATTVST0a6xg11+iAoLAAnyway, the museum in SLC had lots of huge and complete skeletons on display and that was pretty cool. There were other fun exhibits to explore, plus we saw the solar array at the top of the building. Now that would power a 12v fridge for sure. Might be hard to mount on Dory’s roof though.

For dinner we went out. There is a great Indian restaurant called Star of India, which just so happened to be a very short distance from the KOA. Had we known, we might actually have walked. Their tandoori is amazing and we also got a coconut curry shrimp dish that was to die for. The atmosphere is a little funny because it’s the restaurant for a hotel, but the service was great on what appeared to be a slow Wednesday night.

We’re noting this place as an overall good stopping point on any long trips going this way. We’d stay there again and probably eat at the same restaurant again.

Total miles: 49.0, 18.0 mpg, 1 hour 53 minutes. Typical KOA with full hookups. LTE strong and wifi pretty good. Huge place with at least 200 sites.

Rockport SP

shVhH32LRfO+vUy4teQ8TQWe exited Wyoming today with no great fanfare and entered Utah. I suppose you could count Little America as some fanfare, though a stretch to call it great. We did have the soft serve ice cream for 75 cents, so that’s something. The only other notable event of the drive was the observation that Utah rest stops seem far less desolate than the ones in Wyoming.

js7trfd6TPKVx3b9HgylbAWe again were able to find a pretty nice place not too far off the highway in the form of Rockport State Park. This is on the stretch of 80 just before it winds down through the mountains into Salt Lake City. Rockport Reservoir is visible from the road, but the state park entrance is all the way at the bottom.

0FKffdPdQCiVZ999JR462gWe’d called in the morning and were told there were still lots of sites free, including a couple with partial hookups. So we set that as our target and traveled an easy 278 miles to arrive in the afternoon. The water level is noticeably low, like something out of the California drought playbook. We heard the level was at 61% and that made getting to the water a bit trickier than I wanted to manage with the kayak. Still, we had a nice view, and AC, so all was fine and dandy.

We had to face the fact that the end of our journey is approaching and we plotted out the remaining few days. We know it will be a slog across Nevada and it is supposed to get pretty darn hot. There do appear to be hookup RV places along the way, but it’s not going to be pretty. However, we can delay by a day the travel across the salt flats without getting into mileage trouble. For now, Utah is nice and service is strong.

Total miles: 278.3, 17.3 mpg, 5 hours 14 min. Juniper campground site 24. Electric and water. Good dump. Nice clean bathrooms with showers. Sites spaced out pretty well with picnic tables and shade shelters. Strong LTE for both.

Dugway BLM

kM7kTCUCQq2N9Xdp20QULQThe things you find when dumping! Or when going off the road a bit. We made tracks along 80 today, but managed to spice it up with a meander, a historic site, and a BLM running Beaver TV.

mR1I+66fQiO2uHezl7ApgwRichard rode his bike out of Curt Gowdy and followed highway 210 through the Medicine Bow National Forest until it got back to Interstate 80. He certainly got his fill of climbing on this lovely route, and actually ended up at the highest point on the highway. How many times I’ve stopped at the Lincoln Memorial on 80, I have no idea. I know I’ve never approached it from the back though, so that was new. We met up at the rest stop and Richard got changed into “civvies” for the continued journey in the car.

HEx5hzJrSVqT0BfRsHDqBQWe knew we’d need to dump tanks somewhere and the person at the Curt Gowdy Visitor Center recommended we dump at “the prison.” Well of course we were going to have to do that, weren’t we? It was a quick drive to Laramie, WY, where we followed directions to the Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Park. Wow! This is a really interesting place to stop, especially if you take the self guided tour and run into a park service volunteer who really knows her stuff! Turns out this was the only prison to ever successfully incarcerate Butch Cassidy. They have a very detailed and well presented display on him in one of the cell block areas. 6TLfTeJ2Se+3tvflGAnauQThey also have a cool scavenger hunt thing where they give you a card with a prisoner’s information and you search to find the poster that outlines their story. We got Alison Cunningham, a man who appears to have taken the fall for an abused wife in the murder of her husband. He served 13 years. There is also an exhibit for the women’s cell block. Plus, throw in some well preserved period buildings and a display on period ranch life and you’ve got yourself one fascinating dump stop.

Following that, we continued west until we got to the town of Sinclair, which appears to be an entirely gasoline based community. Really, the only things that exist are a Sinclair gas station and a huge processing plant. However, if you follow the little road north out of there for six miles, you can find the Dugway BLM. It is free, but no hookups and only five sites. We had backup plans in case it didn’t work, but the last minute luck of the underplanned held out and a guy was leaving his site just as we arrived.

HUs7Wb7ATa2GTOnVlo8vrAIt was a peaceful, remote feeling place. Pronghorns grazed in the arid prairies along the approach, and the sheltered little valley by the river offered one of the few patches of blue sky within the widespread smoky haze of the interstate. The only downside to the place was the abundance of mosquitoes. I donned my Permathrin treated clothing and braved it. rHRsm6aUROK4TCHk4wC7ZAI was rewarded with a beaver sighting across the river. In fact, as I watched the wildlife show, another one appeared from the branchy lodge and made its way up onto the bank. This was extremely entertaining and I watched them for a long time as they swam, emerged onto banks, grabbed branches off the bushes, and brought them back to chew on in the water.

07oW9rUmQlGh%XSKwERSrwThe sun set and flocks of Pelicans whizzed by in formation, disappearing into the next valley down river. What a very nice place.

Total miles: 128.7, 16.3 mpg, 3 hours 27 min. Site 2? The sites are not marked and there are no reservations. Vault toilets, but they’re nice and clean. There’s a water spigot, but you need to operate a hand crank to get the water out. No dump, no services. No cell reception for either one, but we got it back about a mile back toward 80 as we left.