Monthly Archives: June 2013

Day 32 and 33 South Lake Tahoe and Home!

We made the short (100 mile) drive from Fallon, NV to South Lake Tahoe in a little over two hours. We stayed at Fallen Leaf Lake campground near Emerald Bay. We were able to use Ralph’s national park pass for a 50% discount so it’s only $15 per night. I didn’t even know this lake was here, let alone a campground. We are nestled in the tall pines and its very quiet. The sites are not right on top of each other, however, they are narrow and the pull throughs are at a pretty sharp angle. Ralph tried to back us out with the trailer, but after a little repositioning he was able to pull us out with me and the guy in the next campsite spotting for him. What a guy! Here’s how close it was.

We could barely get the  door open!

We could barely get the door open!

We rode our bicycles over to the Lake and did we get a beautiful surprise! Just look at this beautiful lake.

Just chillin' literally!  It was around 65 degrees

Just chillin’ literally! It was around 65 degrees

I reserved a spot for camping in July when my nieces come out to visit. It’s only a couple of miles to South Lake Tahoe so we will be able to drive there for a little entertainment when the girls are here. The site I reserved is right across from the lake. If its hot in July we’ll be able to go swimming.

There are no hookups at this campground, which means no electricity, water or sewer, so I felt like we were really camping.

View from out campsite

View from our campsite

I wanted to try camp cooking so we made foil packets with potatoes, candied baby carrots, and cod. It took a long time to get everything cut up and prepared in those small foil packets. Ralph built a fire in the fire pit and we put dinner on the grate. Because aluminum is suspected to be a cause of Alzheimer’s, Martha Stewart says to line the foil packet with parchment paper…so I did. All I can say is, “Damn you Martha!”. The parchment paper burnt to a crisp along with our food. Two lessons learned here…no parchment paper and don’t cook it so close to the fire. In hindsight, we should have had the fire in the BBQ, not the fire pit. Anyhow…thank goodness we had hotdogs in the frig. Ralph cooked some dogs over that really hot fire pit called it dinner.

Burning our dinner

Burning our dinner

We left pretty early the next day for the 100 mile drive home. It seemed odd to be heading home. Almost like the whole trip was a dream. The rig did really well. Nothing went wrong the entire trip. We pushed it up and down those mountains many, many times. We drove 2800 miles in the rig and another 2000 on the motorcycle. We left May 16 and returned home June 21.

Thanks for coming along with us on our trip.

Southwest United States…check!

Where to next? Northwest United States

When? Not sure…but it will happen. I’m kinda liking this semi-retirement stage of my life.

Till the next trip…

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Day 30 and 31 Ely and Fallon, Nevada

Day 30 – We are headed west back to Sacramento during the next three days. We drove 350 miles to Ely and spent the night in an RV park. Northing much of interest to report. It was nearly an eight hour drive. Ralph did it all!

Day 31 – We had a 260 mile drive to Fallon, We will stay for a one night. We took Hwy 50 which turned out not to be the best decision. It’s a narrow, two lane road that climbs up and down several thousand feet, several times. We get terrible gas mileage on roads like this. Only 6.3 MPG. It took us about 4.5 hours. It’s a relatively cool day, which is a nice change. We are right in Fallon so we’re going to order a pizza for home delivery tonight. Looking forward to it! We only have 100 miles to drive tomorrow to Lake Tahoe. We’ll spend one night at Fallen Leaf Lake Campground (a federal campground) and it’s only $15.00 and in a beautiful setting.

It was an uneventful day… exactly the kind of day you want when on the road.

Laters…

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Day 29 Zion National Park, Utah

Zion NP was an easy 70 miles from our campsite and a nice drive through green ranchland and open spaces until we got into Zion. Unlike Bryce NP where you are on top of the canyon looking down, in Zion you are in the bottom of the canyon looking up at the magnificent sandstone rock walls that seem to go on for ever.

We drove into the park through the east entrance and as soon as we approached the park the road pavement was a red/rust color that coordinated with the pink and tan rock walls. It was very pleasing to my design eye. :-). This is the only park we’ve seen with red pavement. With all the red dirt and rock around here we were surprised we hadn’t seen more red pavement. It was very warm in the park, nearly 100. We were prepared with the neck and vest coolers and our bottles of frozen water. We were able to get ice cream and a smoothie at the Zion Lodge…that helped keep us cool too. Zion has shuttles that take you through the park stopping at the many points of interest and hikes. Private vehicles are prohibited. The park was much more crowded than we expected. But I guess it is summer vacation now.

Zion is an ever changing landscape shaped by water. It’s ironic, in this seemingly unending desert, that water creates most of what you see in Zion. North of Zion, rainfall on the 11,000 foot Colorado Plateau races downhill slicing Zion’s relatively soft layers and pushing debris off the Plateau’s southern edge. The edge is not abrupt: it steps down in a series of cliffs and slopes know as the Grand Staircase. Above Zion, is Bryce (topping the staircase) and below Zion, the Grand Canyon ( which forms the lowest step) into which 90% of the water runs.

Over time (millions of years) the immense pressure and heat of accumulating sediments turned lower layers to stone. Later, underground forces uplifted the Colorado Plateau, a 130,000 square mile mass of rock, over 10,000 feet above sea level. The rain worked it magic and formed the deep canyons we see today. And the process continues.

Mother Nature and her handiwork!

The  view from my seat on the back of the M/C

The view from my seat on the back of the M/C

A wall of rock

A wall of rock

Weeping Rock - water is always dripping down this rock.  Nice cool spot to hand out.

Weeping Rock – water is always dripping down this rock. Nice cool spot to hand out.

Taking a refreshing break at the Zion Lodge

Taking a refreshing break at the Zion Lodge

We returned to the campsite to find ourselves locked out of the rig. There are two locks on the door. One locks the handle and the other is a deadbolt. We always lock the deadbolt and almost never lock the handle. The RV dealer told us that the handle lock uses a generic key that all dealers have along with other RV owners. However, sometimes the button on the inside of the door gets pushed in (thereby locking the handle) accidentally and that’s what happened. We didn’t have that key with us and hadn’t taken the time to hide extra keys. As luck would have it (and luck has definitely been on our side on this trip) parked right next to us was another Allegro. The owner was outside and I asked him if we could try his key…and it worked! No more separating the keys and we will hide an extra set of keys on the rig when we get home.

We will set out in the morning for home. We are about 700 miles away, so it will take us a while to get there. Next stop Ely, NV. We will take Hwy 50 from Ely home. Hwy 50 through Nevada is called the Loneliest Road in America. Good thing I have my guy and my cat to keep me company!

Laters…

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Day 28 Bryce Canyon National Park

We are staying only 21 miles from Bryce Canyon, so it was a very short ride today. The weather was perfect…a sunny 73 degrees with a nice breeze. Bryce Canyon is a very unique place. At Bryce Canyon National Park erosion forms an array of fantastic shapes that are called hoodoos. Geologists say that 10 million years ago forces within the Earth created and then moved the massive clocks known as the Table cliff and Paunsaugunt plateaus. Rock layers on the Table Cliff now tower 2,000 feet above their corresponding layers on the Paunsaugunt. Ancient rivers carved the tops and exposed the edges of these blocks, removing some layers and sculpting formations in others. Over time tall, thin ridges called fins emerge. Fins erode into pinnacles and spires called hoodoos that, weakening and falling, add their colors to the hills below. The Paiutes, that inhibited the area accounted for the hoodoos as the “Legend People” that had been turned to stone. And indeed, a lot of the formations do look like people.

We’ve learned that during the Cretaceous Period (144 million to 65 million years ago) there was a seaway that cut North American into two islands. And it’s the sediments from that shallow seaway from which these formations began to develop.

Cretaceous Seaway

Cretaceous Seaway

We took a picnic lunch and ate it overlooking the magical valley. We did have a little company during lunch.

Lunch Visitor

Lunch Visitor

It was a nice, relaxing day at Bryce. Tomorrow we are off to Zion National Park. Then I think we’ll start the journey home.

Here’s a few photos from Bryce.

Laters…

The Bryce Amphitheater

The Bryce Amphitheater

Guess who!

Guess who!

Hiking down into the Canyon

Hiking down into the Canyon

View from Inspiration Point

View from Inspiration Point

The Stone People

The Stone People

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Days 26 and 27 Monticello to Panguitch, Utah

Day 26 – We hung around camp and relaxed, I did class stuff, and blogged. Friday was the last day of my online classes and the assignments were flooding in. I have this next quarter off. I did get good news…When we return I’ll be contracting with Grant Thornton again. It’s a part time gig doing some organizational change assessment on a DMV project that didn’t go well. Yeah…a little late, but that’s the State! :-). I’m looking forward to working with the folks at GT again.

Day 27 – We started out very early (6:45 am) the long ride to Panguitch, Utah, about 300 miles. We took the Bi-centennial Scenic Highway (95) and had the road to ourselves for an hour. Then we only had one car pass us. It’s a beautiful drive that passes Natural Bridges National Monument, Lake Powell, Glen Canyon, and over the Colorado River again! We took 95 to Hwy 24 that passes Capital Reef National Park and then another Scenic Highway 12, into Pangultch. It was the most scenic drive we’ve had thus far.

The view out the windshield

The view out the windshield

Outlook along the way

Outlook along the way

The driver takes a break

The driver takes a break

The scenery!

The scenery!

We’ve been making comments about all the cow signs by the side of the roads to warn about cows grazing on national lands. We had yet to see one cow, when low and behold on Hwy 12 between Torrey and Boulder (Utah) we came upon an entire herd of cows in the middle of the road. They had traffic stopped in both directions. We had a good laugh! That surely made up for all the signs we had seen along the way.

The cows

The cows

It was a long day, especially for Ralph who drove the entire 314 miles along two-lane, curvy, windy roads that rose to 10,000 feet in many places. We arrived in Panguitch at 3:00 pm: that’s eight hours of driving.

Tomorrow we are visiting Bryce Canyon, which is only about 20 miles from here. I got a little taste of it today as we skirted the side of the park on our drive to Panguitch.

Laters…

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Day 24 and 25 Arches and and Canyonland National Park

The 100 degree temperatures forced us to four wheels today. We rode the bike to Moab and rented a car for the day. EXCELLENT decision. We were able to tour both parks in comfort. It was extremely windy and hot all day. No need for an exfoliant after the sandblasting we received while walking the trails to the overlooks!

I had visited Arches when I was 19-20 and ended up in a hospital with food poisoning. This trip it was very hot and windy and uncomfortable. I think that’s the last trip to Arches for me. Arches lies atop an underground salt bed that is responsible for the arches, spires, balanced rocks, sandstone fins, and eroded monoliths. 100 million years of erosion has created one of the world’s greatest densities of arches. There are over 2,000 cataloged arches ranging from three feet to 306 feet base to base. Wind and rain can do amazing things.

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Balance Rock

Balance Rock

Arches NP

Arches NP

Arches NP

Arches NP

Arches NP

Arches NP

After Arches we drove over to the Island in the Sky area of the Canyonlands. This is one of three areas: the other two being The Needles and The Maze. Canyonlands preserves a wilderness of rock at the heart of the Colorado Plateau. Water and gravity, this land’s prime architects, cut flat layers of sedimentary rock into hundreds of canyons, mesas, buttes, arches, fins and spires. In the center are two canyons carved by the Green and Colorado Rivers. It is an outdoor persons paradise.

Its us with Canyons in the background

Its us with Canyons in the background

Canyonland NP

Canyonland NP

Canyonland NP

Canyonland NP

We ate dinner in Moab at the Sunset Grill high atop a mountain overlooking Moab with a great sunset view. I think it’s the first time in a month we’ve gone out for dinner. We returned the car and rode the bike back to camp.

We’ve decided to lay low tomorrow. The heat is taking its toll on us. We will head out to southern Utah and will stay in Pangultch, Utah. From there we will tour Bryce and Zion National Parks.

Oh yeah, one silver lining of being a senior is the lifetime National Park Pass for $10 that gets you into all national parks FREE! Ralph has one…I’m not old enough. 🙂

Laters…

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Day 23. Monticello Utah and Mesa Verde National Park

We continued our trek west on Hwy 70 then south on Hwy 191 on our way to Monticello, Utah (about 50 miles south of Moab. Saying goodbye to Colorful Colorado for now. Something tells me we will come back to this stunning area sometime in the future. The welcome to Utah sign says “life elevated”. What a great slogan!

We were able to get a spot at the RV campsite with an unobstructed view of the mountains. We arrived in the late afternoon so did no exploring. Tomorrow, however, it’s off to Mesa Verde National park. It’s about 70 miles from the campsite and the temperatures in this area are again in the mid 90’s, so we wanted to get an early start. The cool vests were charged up and bottled waters were frozen and off we went.

Mesa Verde National Park was created in 1906 to preserve the archeological heritage of the Ancestral Puebloans, both atop the mesas and in the cliff dwellings below. The park includes over 4500 archeological sites with 600 of those being cliff dwellings.

About 1400 years ago, long before Europeans explored North American, a group of people living in the Four Corners region ( where New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado meet) chose Mesa Verde ( Spanish for green table) for their home. For 700 years they lived and flourished in the area. They built elaborate stone communities in the sheltered alcoves of canyon walls. Local cowboys stumbled upon the cliff dwellings in the 1880s. We were able to walk down to one such structure and see it up close. It was a wonderful day exploring the park, on site museum and cliff dwellings. Here’s just a few of the photos we took.

Laters…

Beautiful metal sculpture at the Visitor's Center of Mesa Verde NP

Beautiful metal sculpture at the Visitor’s Center of Mesa Verde NP

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Cliff Dwelling

Cliff Dwelling

Cliff Dwelling

Cliff Dwelling

Cliff Palace

Cliff Palace

Closer Inspection

Closer Inspection

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Days 21 and 22 Fruita (Grand Junction), CO

Day 21 -We made the drive from Gypsum to Fruita (just west of Grand Junction) in about three hours. The distance is a little over 100 miles. We stayed at the James Robb State Park in Fruita because it was a good location from which to see the Colorado National Monument and the Grand Mesa. There are several other places to see in this area, but we only had one day here.

It was very hot when we arrived. The southwest is having a heat wave. Temperatures are about 15 degrees above normal. What should be a comfortable, dry 85 is an uncomfortable 100! I don’t care if its dry heat…it’s still freakin hot. So after we arrived in Fruita we turned on both air conditioners and did laundry in the nice facilities at the park. Colorado has this state park thing down! Very nice camping spots, not real close to others and great toilets, showers and laundry facilities at a reasonable price. Maybe I said this before: Colorado has the most award-winning state parks in the nation. When you think about what Colorado has to offer, especially western Colorado, it’s no wonder. Colorado is a beautiful state with some of the most amazing sites I’ve ever seen…and I’ve seen some beautiful sites around the world. We forget how diverse this country is because most of us are stuck in the cities. There are sites to see in the country that date back millions of years. I feel so blessed to be taking this trip.

Views from our campsite

Views from our campsite

Views from our campsite

Views from our campsite

Day 22- We were up very early for our M/C ride to Colorado National Monument (CNM) and the Grand Mesa. We wanted to get an early start while it was a bit cooler. Temperatures were forecasted to reach 100 ( and turns out the forecast was correct!). We charged up the neck and vest coolers (with water) overnight and the next morning packed them up with a lot of cold water and headed out by 8:30 am. CNM was only five miles from our campground.

CNM is part of the Colorado Plateau that encompasses geologic wonders like the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Arches National Park. CNM rises 2000 feet above the Grand Valley of the Colorado River. It was designated a national park in 1901 as a result of the efforts of John Otto. Thanks John and others who blasted through rock to make the paved (always important to us) 23 mile Rim Trail so that we could take this breathtaking ride. 🙂

The photos just don’t do it justice…you must see it for yourself!

CNM

CNM

CNM

CNM

CNM

CNM

CNM Coke Ovens

CNM Coke Ovens

You know who

You know who

CNM

CNM

From CNM we headed south to take the scenic drive through the Grand Mesa. This “playground in the sky” climbs from the rugged Plateau Canyon floor ( where it was 100 degrees) to the cool evergreen Mesa Forrest’s, 11,000 feet up (where it was 65 degrees). There were lots of lakes, wildflower meadows in bloom and Forrest’s of aspens and pines. We packed a lunch and ate by the side on one of those beautiful mountain lakes. The overlooks provided amazing views of the valley below. When we returned to the Valley floor we had to put on the cool vests for the ride home. It was a great day of contrasts.

Laters…

View from top of the Grand Mesa

View from top of the Grand Mesa

Lunch at the lake

Lunch at the lake – notice the snow on the edge of the lake

On the way down the Grand Mesa

On the way down the Grand Mesa

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Day 20 Steamboat Springs, CO

We got a late start for our ride up to Steamboat Springs so it was already warm when we left. We took Highway 6 instead of Hwy 70. Hwy 6 must have been the main route before Interstate 70 was built. It was a nicer ride along the river. We took CO 133 for the ride up to Steamboat Springs and again, it was beautiful scenery. No steep grades and very little traffic. Plenty of curves through ranches and hilly farmland. The temp did drop enough to put on a light jacket but was sunny and pleasant. We arrived in Steamboat Springs about 2:00 pm and stopped in Johnny B Goods Diner for lunch. This was a small place on Main Street that had a large selection to choose from. The food was good. Then a stroll down Main Street a little shopping. Rochelle picked up a nice hoodie sweatshirt. We took a different route back with more great scenery and over yet another pass at 9000 feet. This road had some nice long sweepers and curves, I (Ralph) liked that! The weather looked a little threatening at times, but turned out fine. Back at camp before 7:00 pm and packed up for the trip tomorrow to Frutia, just around 100 miles west.

Ralph

Scenes from our ride…

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Day 19 Leadville, Independence Pass, Aspen, CO

After breakfast today we rolled out the bike for some scenic riding down the Rocky Mountain Skyway Scenic Hwy. It was only in the high 60’s when we left Gypsum, but sunny. We found the road we wanted to ride and soon it started to climb. About 20 miles later we stopped so we could put on the heated gear along with our rain jackets as the temp had dropped and it started to sprinkle. The light rain didn’t dampen the enjoyment or keep us from seeing more of the great beauty this area has to offer. The sprinkles didnt last very long and soon we were in a town called Leadville, a silver mining town, but is now not much more than a halfway point to getting over Independance Pass on the way to Aspen. The scenery along the way was spectacular with forest and lakes in the foreground and the snow-caped peaks of the Rockies in the background. We began the ride up and over Independence pass on some easy grades that soon turned steeper. We arrived at the top (about 12000 feet) for a great view of the canyons. We had to walk on a snow covered path in order to get to the viewing area for taking pictures. The temp up here must have been right about 32 degrees because it began to lightly snow. The bike doesn’t do well in snow so we headed down the mountain.

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An hour later we were in Aspen. We found a place to park pretty easily because Aspen has a small area at most corners for free motorcycle parking. We asked a local person about a place to get some lunch and she suggested a place called Peaches Cafe. It was a good suggestion because their menu caused Rochelle to stress ( maybe not the right word) over what to eat because she liked everything. For me it was easy, all meat pizza was the ticket. We enjoyed the food and then took a stroll around the town. Aspen is a beautiful small town with a history of silver mining. We visited a landmark hotel, the Jerome Hotel that was built in the 1800’s. We got a drink and a history lesson from our bartender.

p://rocknrollinblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/img_2833.jpg”> The Jerome Hotel

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After a few hours we headed back to camp. The weather was now sunny with temps in the 70’s so no rain or heated gear was necessary. Before we left, I stopped in at the Sheriff’s office for info on a road I saw on the map that looked like a scenic shortcut and found out that it was another partly paved road, so we didn’t take it. A quick fill up and off we went. The ride back was nice with little traffic and great scenery through Glen Springs Canyon.

nrollinblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/img_2839.jpg”> Glen Canyon

When we go
[/caption]When we got back, we put Simon’s harness on him and took him outside for a little freedom. It took him awhile before he felt brave enough to leave the picnic table and explore the area, but he did it. Then it was left over pork tenderloin for dinner and a little relaxing for the rest of the evening.

Adventure cat and his boy Adventure cat and his boy

Ralph

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