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On the road again…

The beginning of our trip was a bit hectic, as most beginnings are. We set the alarm clock for 4 am, planning to be on the road by 4:30. I thought everything was in order: had packed everything but the dog the day before, had prepped the coffee pot so it just had to be turned on, and had our travel mugs ready to be filled. Those that know me know I don’t function without my morning coffee:)! All should flow smoothly, or so I thought.

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What actually happened was not what I had planned. The coffee part was perfect, but when we hooked up the Jeep to the Winnie, the lights did not work!!! After a bit, Charlie found some contact spray and the connections worked perfectly, lights blinking in sinc. So we began our journey, only to get to I 95 and realized that someone didn’t have their good reading glasses ( and it wasn’t the one of us addicted to reading) so back home again. Had to park in the street because the camper towing the Jeep cannot go up our driveway, nor turn around if it did. Finally, at 5:30 am we were on the road.

The next few days are a whirl of driving and camping at mostly 5 star rated commercial campgrounds. It costs a bit more, but the standard of quality accommodations is worth it at this time of our lives. We like KOA’s for the consistency of the services. We did stay at one 3 star, but quickly wished we had not. Even WB did not want to wander outside!

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Our first real stop was at Teddy Roosevelt National Park at the far end of North Dakota. This has long been a favorite of Charlie’s, but this time we had a rude awakening!!! Sometime in the last year or so they have started letting people reserve the campsites. We were operating under the old rules, first come, first served, and arrived at 9:00 a.m. Only to find that all the sites on the Little Missouri River and with a view of the mountains, were reserved ahead!!! The interior loop sites( read undesirable) were still up for grabs. So we found ourselves a nice site for the requisite $7 fee( senior pass is half price) and stayed in the 90 degree heat dry camping. Unfortunately, the majority of the pre-reserved sites remained unoccupied for the two days we were there. Now I will reserve my site ahead of time, but this time we were caught unaware after 35 years of first come, first served!!!

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We have better pictures, but they are on Charlie’s computer and inassessible at this time:) Will post wild horses later:).

Summer of 2016 Update

I am taking a break from packing the RV for our “Back to Alaska” trek, and I realized we never posted last summer’s adventures. Last summer was a low key trip, in August, to the Badlands, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, and Glacier.

Highlights included driving through the Big Horn Mountains, dry camping at Colter Bay in the Tetons, camping in Yellowstone at Fishing Bridge, and driving the Going-to-the Sun Road in Glacier National Park. We were only gone for three weeks, but saw plenty of animals and beautiful scenery!

Our Alaskan Road Trip: Valdez

We drove down into Valdez after leaving Tok. Valdez sits at sea level, so the mountains seem much taller than ones starting a thousand or so feet above sea level. Clouds covered some of the peaks, but our campsite had, as the real estate people would say, ” location, location, location”!!!

We pulled the nose of the RV up into the site, and had a great view of the small boat harbor from our window. Better yet, we put our camp chairs outside next to the bank and watched the fishing boats, kayakers, and sea otters as they traversed the harbor.

We took a trip back up the highway to Worthington Glacier and hiked the short walk to look at it up close. It is one of the easiest glaciers to access, and Charlie took lots of pictures of it, but we can’t access his photos due to poor internet connections. His photos of the glacier and other scenic Valdez images will follow, once we reach better wifi!

View from our camp site, Valdez small boat harbor

View from our camp site, Valdez small boat harbor

We enjoyed watching the Eagles, boats, and sea otters in the harbor but all good things come to an end, and when Charlie and I looked at the wild fire situation to try and decide where we should go next, there were not good choices! Fires had increased from 200 to 300, and we were reading reports of heavy smoke on the Kennai Penninsula, Denali Park Road, and Fairbanks. So, after much deliberation we decided to head back to the Alaskan Highway, which had managed to burn itself  both sides of the road between Tok and the Border Crossing in our short time visiting!

Map showing wild fires on day we decided to turn around!

Map showing wild fires on day we decided to turn around!

Oregon Coast, Washington and Life Interfering!

P1070113We drove along the Oregon Coast and camped for several days at Tillicum Beach Campground, a National Forest Service Camping facility.  It had to be one of the best campsites we have ever had! And the best was that we had the beach to ourselves for the first two days, then the weather warmed and the campers filled the place.

Tillicum Beach Campground

Tillicum Beach Campground

View from the camper

View from the camper

My sister Wendy had camped here last year, and had told us about it, Otherwise we would have ended up at one of the nearby state parks. We were at site 29, and it was wonderful for the first two days. Then a lonely neighbor moved to the site adjacent to us and decided to join us on the beach, at our campfire, and anywhere else we went! While I understand that he was lonely and looking for company, I selfishly wanted the beach and my two guys all to myself!

Sea Lion in Oregon

Sea Lion in Oregon

We drove to Portland for a Freightliner service appt and to purchase new sneakers for the bus. An entire day was devoted to these  ” going to Alaska” preparations. Oregon is dog friendly and, to my surprise, Woolly Bear was allowed in both the Freightliner and the Tire waiting rooms. I somehow do not think that would be allowed in Connecticut.

We drove up Route 5 to Washington State after our brakes were checked, oil changed, and sneakers installed. It was at a small county campground that disaster struck.

Woolly Bear snuck under my arms and out the camper door while I was bringing in his dog bed. He has been on a leash since the start, and has a wild dog spirit. He smiled and began to run his crazy eight, butt tuck zooms that he so loves to run. We were laughing at his delight when we saw him leap a gully, yelp in pain, and fall to the ground. He has hurt his left hind leg badly. A trip to the Ocean Shore Vet Hospital and an early May 2nd sedation and X-ray led the Vet to believe it is either a hurt ACL or an injured Meniscus. The Vet encouraged us to return to Ct and get him consistent medical care, probably surgery, to fix the problem. So, even though we were on the edge of our Alaskan Road Trip, we pointed the bus toward the East on Saturday morning. We will be home in Connecticut Wednesday, despite nasty crosswinds. Our goal is to have Woolly Bear healed, and then we will ramble on to Alaska as planned.P1070247

By the way, northern Idaho is beautiful! We didn’t have time to investigate as we need WB home as soon as possible, but we have put Idaho on our ” must return to” list.

Thanks is for reading our blog!

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Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

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We left Bryce Canyon early in the morning to drive to Capitol Reef NP. We wanted a campsite in the park, and only Fruita CG was open and sites were on a first arrival basis. We took Rt 89 to avoid some of. The steeper grades on Rt 12, after all, the Winnebago weighs some 10,000 lbs and we want to protect the brakes. The drive along 89 was magnificent, then we hopped onto I 70 for a quick 40 miles and arrived at the park in time to secure a lovely site, #10, for the night.

Apple trees in fore front.

Apple trees in fore front.

Our site was on the Fremont River and had other campers on one side only. Woolly Bear enjoyed wading in the river and walking the trail to the picnic area. The only wildlife spotted were some rather tame deer and, of course, bluebirds and ravens.

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The park consists of a fertile valley and river surrounded by a sandstone canyon layered in yellow, ivory, and lavender. The rocks were deposited by an ancient inland sea and have been worn by subsequent erosion. This is one of the least visited national parks in the nation, far off the beaten path. Yet I loved it! Perhaps it was the relative solitude, or the apple orchards in bloom reminding me of home, but I would have been content to stay for a much longer period of time than Charlie! The history of the place is everywhere: ancient Fremont Indians, Mormon pioneers, and other hardy souls. We visited the Fremont Indian Petroglyphs, spent time in the Fruita Historic District, and bought cinnamon buns at the Gifford Farmhouse and Museum. In a way it reminded me of Cady’s Cove in the Great Smokies NP, much history and evidence of hardship over come by the early settlers. One rather neat place was the old blacksmith shop with exhibits of old tools, farm machinery, and harnesses dating from the 1800’s, as well as Fruita’s first tractor. During the fall harvest campers are allowed to pick the apples, peaches, and pears in the orchards. There was plenty of hiking available, but the weather was quite warm and we did not want to leave WB in the camper.

While we only spent a day at Capitol Reef, I think I will return sometime with a comfortable chair and a stack of good books.

Drive from Zion to Bryce Canyon

One mile long tunnel through the rock

One mile long tunnel through the rock

 

We left Zion and travelled the length of Zion National Park on Route 89. Because our sprinter van/camper is 10’6″ tall we had to pay the park service a $15 fee for an escort through the tunnel, which is a mile long and 13’4″ but arched so that one needs to drive down the middle line. As it turned out, the park service had one way traffic only, so we were told to tag along with a group of cars exempt from the $15 fee. Oh well.

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The views of the east side of Zion were breath taking, and we were fortunate enough to see a big horn sheep along the way.

WB checks out the scenery

WB checks out the scenery

Red Rock Canyon

Red  Canyon

Son we turned on to Utah’s Scenic Route 12 and traveled through the Red Canyon. While Charlie’s pictures are quite nice, they hardly do justice to this magnificent area! It is simply beautiful.

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On the road again!

On the road again!

The Vermillion Cliffs and Zion

Zion National Park

Zion National Park

We left the Grand Canyon’s South Rim at 7:00 a.m. and headed out the east entrance to the park. We chose to drive the Vermillion Cliffs Scenic Highway (89A). The drive winds through the high red cliffs and has frequent places to pull over and soak in the scenery. It is not the most direct route from the Grand Canyon to Zion, but was well worth the extra time.

Vermillion Cliffs Scenic Drive

Vermillion Cliffs Scenic Drive

Upon arriving at Zion we found both the Watchman and the South campgrounds to be full! This surprised us, as it is still quite chilly and school is in session. But, adjacent to the park entrance, at a commercial campground called Zion Campground RV Resort, we were able to get a site facing the Virgin River for 3 nights, then had to move away from the river as some one had reserved it later on.

View from campsite

View from campsite

This campground was pricier than usual, at $42 per night, but it was the only game in town and provided clean showers, a large laundry facility, river front access, and had electric hook ups.  The Springdale Shuttle bus stopped at the campground and we found it a breeze to hop the shuttle each morning to go hiking.

These climbers are simply amazing!

These climbers are simply amazing!

Zion NP only allows dogs on the Pa’rus trail, a combined bike, dog, people trail that follows the river in the valley and provides great views of the canyon. Most mornings we took Wooly Bear on this walk, 1.6 miles, prior to leaving him to go hiking in the park. The cool temperatures allowed him to comfortably stay in the camper, highs were in the upper 50’s and we tend to hike in the morning and be back at the campsite to check on him by early afternoon. Had it been warmer, we would have taken advantage of the doggy daycare place in Springdale.

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We have hiked each day and have thoroughly enjoyed our time at Zion NP! Now we plan to move on to Bryce Canyon.

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From Georgia to Grayton Beach State a Park, Florida!

Charlie trying out Chuck's motor scooter in North Carolina

Charlie trying out Chuck’s motor scooter in North Carolina

The picture above is from North Carolina, Charlie was trying out Chuck’s motor scooter, better known in North Carolina as a liquor cycle! I think he may be purchasing a new toy upon our return, thanks, Chuckie:)

This morning we awoke to a beautiful Georgia day! FD Roosevelt State Park reminds me of Acadia NP in Maine, lots of stonework and character. The campsites are wooded and spacious, many sitting right on Lake Delanor. The park is unique with a pool, named Liberty Bell Pool, which was built by the CCC in the 1930’s. It is contained in a stone work enclosure. One can hike to the pool from the campground on a 1.8 mile nature trail.

We would have liked another day at this lovely park, but have reservations at Grayton Beach this afternoon. We will plan to return to FD Roosevelt State Park another day!

We drove through Alabama and are camped at Grayton Beach State Park on a lakeside campsite. Pictures tomorrow, as we are currently sitting out torrential rain and lingering thunderstorms!  We love the campsite, and will look forward to taking pictures of it when the rain stops. Until then, here is a picture of a grebe that swam near the campsites yesterday.

Campside Grebe  in Georgia.

Campside Grebe in Georgia.