On the road again

As I said, I was going to Quartzsite, AZ.  The Rubber Tramp Rendezvous would be the first stop on my 2013 trip. Riley and I left on Friday, January 4th, planning to get to Ft. Stockton, TX the first day, then make stops in Deming, NM and Casa Grande, AZ.  A big storm had just come across west Texas, and I-10 was closed from Ft. Stockton to El Paso.  No biggie, though, because I would stop in Ft. Stockton and by the next day be able to get to New Mexico.  Unfortunately, my engine had other plans.  I started feeling problems with how much gas it was burning and pulled over on the side of the highway.  Then I couldn’t get the engine restarted.  Luckily I have Coachnet service and they sent a tow truck.  He (David at Sheffield Towing, super nice guy) loaded the Lazy Daze onto the the truck and dropped me off at Fernandez Auto Service, about the only shop in Ft. Stockton that is open on Saturdays.

Overnight at Ft. Stockton

Overnight at Ft. Stockton

That was a long, cold night.  But the next morning, after clearing ice off the shop driveway, Mr. Fernandez got the RV pulled up to the shop and began to diagnose the problem.  For some reason the fuel injector was giving too much gas.  My dad was on the phone with Mike, my favorite mechanic back in Georgetown, and they had some ideas of things to check.  It took until about 4:30, but the problem was found to be a temperature sensor.  (Diagnosis delayed a few hours because the first temperature sensor replacement part was defective.) Happily, I was able to get to an RV park in Ft. Stockton for the night, and got back on the road on Sunday morning, only losing one day.

On Sunday I made it to Deming, stopping at Rockhound State Park, where I had a nice visit last year.  Unfortunately, every spot with electric hookups was full.  But they were using the group site as overflow, and I was able to squeeze into a space there.  It was going to be a cold night and I needed to run the electric heater.

Rockhound State Park was full.  But, I was lucky enough to get one of the group electric sites.  And got to enjoy the sunset over Deming.

Sunset over Rockhound State Park and my little spot.

I made it to Casa Grande on Monday.  After stopping at Walmart and picking up everything I would need for a couple of weeks in the desert outside Quartzsite, I found a site at the Escapees park RoVers Roost.  I did a bit of laundry, took care of the tanks and filled up on propane (at $1.85 per gallon, nice!).

Overnighted at the Escapees RoVers Roost Co-op park in Casa Grande, AZ

Overnighted at the Escapees RoVers Roost Co-op park in Casa Grande, AZ

By Tuesday I was quite excited to be so close to my destination.  I got to Quartzsite around noon and immediately went to the Pitstop to fill up my water tank.  Then I headed to the location of the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (the RTR).  I knew a few people who would be there (like Randy, CB, Tish and Laurie), but hoped to meet many more and learn about living mobile.

Day 1 - found a good site with room for my Randy, CB, Tish and Laurie when they arrive

Day 1 at the RTR – found a good site with room for my friends Randy, CB, Tish and Laurie when they arrive

Starting to fill in.  Randy's trailer (to the left of mine) and CB's Airstream (far right).

Starting to fill in. Randy’s trailer (to the left of mine) and CB’s Airstream (far right).

On our first full day here (Wed., 1/9) CB drove us around and Randy introduced us to the sights, including the Hi Jolly (Hadji Ali) grave.

Randy (left) introduced CB and me to the sites of Quartzsite, including the Hi Jolly (Hadji Ali) grave site.

Randy (left) introduced CB and me to the sites of Quartzsite, including the Hi Jolly (Hadji Ali) grave site.

The RTR has been going GREAT!  Bob Wells has organized it very well, with interesting seminars, morning and evening walks, campfires, group dinners (and a breakfast), and lots of people helping people.

On our 8:30 AM walk.  Riley's herding.

On our 8:30 AM walk. Riley’s herding.

We also have an evening walk every day at 5'ish

We also have an evening walk every day at 5’ish.  It’s a great opportunity to have a talk with someone new, and get some good exercise.  And for Riley to have a nice long walk.

Last Saturday we had a group breakfast.  Myrna arranged it and Bob bought the food.  We cooked pancakes, sausage, eggs (I was the egg cracker/mixer), and toast.  Also, CB cooked up some bacon.

We have had a major cold snap and the overnight temps have gotten down to around 19-20, with days only into the 40’s and quite windy.  It has started warming up again.  We are all having so much FUN and learning a lot.  I am so lucky to be here doing this!!

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Utah, Part 2

We left Bryce Canyon on Sunday morning and stayed at a commercial campground in Leeds.  They had cable and I was finally able to catch a NASCAR race on ESPN.  Yay!  Also, I got to watch some football.  On Monday, after passing through Hurricane for a Walmart run and a visit to the local laundromat, we found a dispersed campsite on North Creek up Kolob Canyon Road, just outside of Zion National Park. A big storm blew through and the soft red soil created a major dust storm.  Overnight it rained a lot and I was worried about being able to drive out without getting stuck.  It was a little hairy, but we got out.

Kolob Canyon Road

Kolob Canyon Road site

The next morning we got to Zion very early, hoping to get there early enough for a site at the Watchman campground, which has electric hookups.  No such luck. It was already full.  Turns out they fill up several days in advance from online reservations and don’t hold anything back for walk-ins.  So, I tried at the South campground, which has no hookups.  They had several sites available and we got a nice, large, shady site.  (If we couldn’t have electricity to run the A/C I would need to have some shade.)

Pa'rus trail

Walking Riley on the Pa’rus trail, the only trail that allows dogs

View of the Watchman and Virgin River behind campground

View of the Watchman and Virgin River behind campground

I got to do a little hiking, but was worried about the RV getting too hot for Riley without A/C, so didn’t stay away too long.  It wasn’t bad, though.  The shade kept it nice, and never got above 80 inside during the 2 days we were there.

On Thursday, 9/27, we headed to Kanab.  I wanted to stop and visit Best Friends Animal Sanctuary on the way to the Grand Canyon. We left through the Mt. Carmel highway which goes through a 1 mile long tunnel.  RV’s are too big for the tunnel, so they have to stop traffic and let the RV go in down the middle of the road.  The fee to drive the RV through the tunnel is $15.  They have windows cut out in the mountain that are supposed to be good views, but I couldn’t see them, too busy white-knuckle driving.

I had read about a BLM campground near Kanab called Ponderosa Grove.  Turned out it was pretty nice.  Small, no hookups, only $5, with nice big trees and level sites.  Good long-range views from the coral pink sand dunes across the street.

Ponderosa Grove Campground

Ponderosa Grove Campground

I called and got a reservation on the Best Friends tour Friday morning.  The first van of folks was leaving as I was signing in.  There was supposed to be 9 other people with me on the 2nd van, but the others didn’t show up, so I got a private tour.  The place is huge, 3,000 acres, and they lease some additional acreage from the Bureau of Land Management to provide a buffer around the sanctuary.  Completely forgot to take pictures until about halfway through, I was so focused on all that I was seeing.  But I got some shots of the cat building we visited, and the natural amphitheater Riley and I stopped at after the tour.  (Anyone who has seen the “Dogtown” show would recognize this location.)

One of the cat areas

One of the cat areas

Amphitheater

Amphitheater

I liked the Ponderosa Grove campground so much we ended up staying 3 days.  On Sunday we headed into the town of Kanab and got a site at an RV park to charge the electronics, take care of the tanks, and watch football.

On Monday morning we headed towards Arizona and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  But first we stopped at Little’s Diesel Service to make a repair to my 30 amp power cord.  [Note to RV’ers – Little’s on Hwy 89 in Kanab, UT is a good shop for service.]

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Montana and Idaho

From Yellowstone we headed out through the West Yellowstone, MT entrance and headed northwest towards Ennis.  We passed by Quake Lake, which Dwight and Scott had told me about.  An earthquake in August 1959 caused part of the mountain to slide into the Madison River, covering the campground that was there and damming the river into a new lake.

Quake Lake

We kept on towards Ennis, a cute little town with an expensive grocery store, then east from Norris to a BLM (Bureau of Land Management) campground on the Madison River.    There weren’t too many folks there, so we got a very nice site right on the river.  I was tired of all the recent driving, so decided to stay for 3 days (Sept. 7-9) and just relax a bit.  There were no hookups at the sites, but I had enough water and my new batteries were doing really well, so knew we would be good for at least 3 days.

Montana BLM Site on Madison River

Madison River Site

The river is pretty fast moving, and there were a lot of folks fishing and tubing.

Madison River

On the last night it was really windy.  I almost thought I would have to move on to Bozeman in the middle of the night.  The next morning there was a beautiful sunrise.

Montana Sunrise

Morning on the Madison

So we headed out for Bozeman.  I needed to do laundry, get a haircut, stop at Walmart and check out the town.  It seemed like a neat town.  It reminded me of Georgetown, TX, although about twice the size.  The plan was to head west, stop in Whitehall for the night, down Hwy. 41 to Dillon to pick up I-15, and then to Clark Canyon Reservoir.  The RV park in Whitehall was a dump, so headed to Butte. We stayed in a commercial campground (Monday, 9/10), then headed down I-15 the next morning.

Clark Canyon Reservoir is a Bureau of Reclamation campground, and is free for up to 14 days.  The lake is low due to drought, but still pretty.  There was a pelican hanging around, but I never could get a good picture of him.

Clark Canyon Reservoir (hazy due to smoke from forest fires)

We stayed 3 days, then headed down into Idaho.  Stoddard Creek Campground is in the Targhee National Forest, but I couldn’t tell from the website if it was still open.  When I got there it was near perfect.  A beautiful forest campground only a mile or so off the highway down a well paved road.  It was technically closed, but they hadn’t actually closed it down yet, so was free camping.

Stoddard Creek, ID

Riley on the Stoddard Creek hiking trail

We stayed one night, then on to Rigby.  I had read that you could see the Tetons from the area, and they had a county campground on a lake with hookups.  Unfortunately, smoke from fires to the north prevented any view more than a few miles, so could barely see a little bit of one of the Teton mountains.  It was a decent park with a nice lake.  OK for one night.

Jefferson County Lake Campground, Rigby, ID

The next day was Sunday, 9/16 and I wanted to stay at a commercial campground so I could watch the Nascar race, maybe watch some football and take care of the tanks.  Found one in Idaho Falls that offered cable and headed over.  After checking in I was unable to get cable.  Turns out you have to get it connected by the cable company.  More of a permanent resident feature.  Oh well, I did get to catch some football.  I decided I would try to do a commercial campground once a week on Sundays to have a “utility day”, then the rest of the week I would be good to stay wherever, off-grid.

On Monday the 17th I headed down I-15 to Utah.  There were several places to see there, especially Bryce Canyon and Zion.  More to come…