Borrego Springs, CA

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Had to pass the baton today

I knew when you visit Zion National Park you should get there early so you can get a parking space to allow you to get on the shuttle.  That was my plan, but we didn’t leave until 9:00.  Then there was the half hour stoppage to allow a very oversized vehicle make the passage down the two lane road.  The result?  No parking spaces available at the visitors center, and no parking spaces open at Springdale where you could get a shuttle into the park.  Rats!!  Even for the very end of September, this park was packed to the gills.

What a disappointment for Kurt, as this had been on his list of places to see.  As we turned around in Springdale and re-entered the park, I asked the ranger where I could find a ladies room.  His only suggestion was for Kurt to take over the driving and go around in circles while I tried to make my way to the VC bathrooms.  I mistakenly thought there would be more facilities available at a park that obviously gets copious amounts of visitors. 

By accident, we found the one picnic area.  I snuck from there on foot to use one of the campground bathrooms.  Not a very bright beginning to our visit.  Our only option at this point was to backtrack along the entrance road and go home.  Tonight’s photos are from that drive.


                                               Thankfully, the weather was stellar for our visit.


These stainings were high up on a cliff face and reminded me of a mountainous scene with a little town located below.


On the drive in, there were barely any spots available at the pull outs.  We were more fortunate on the drive out.


   Those of you that have been here know that there are two tunnels on this drive.  This is the short tunnel.


One of the highlights of the day came as we approached the long 1.1 mile tunnel through the mountain.  The ranger at the tunnel opening asked me to carry this baton and give it to the ranger at the other end since I was the last one in line.  You Betcha!  Kind of made me feel like I was in the Olympics in a race.


Best part of this assignment was I slowed way down for Kurt to get a shot out one of the windows in the tunnel.  Being last, I knew no one was behind me, and no one would be coming toward me.  That was neat_MG_1098Look at that perfect handoff!  No dropped baton here!  Open-mouthed smile  Did you ever notice how young people today have such perfectly straight white teeth?  Makes me a little envious.


                                   Our last pull off was at the checkerboard formations.  After that,


we bid a fond farewell to Zion NP to drive the 80 something miles back to the rig.  The original plan for this road trip was to take two to three weeks to make it to Casa Grande, AZ, and the time has gone by pretty quickly.  So, we won’t be making a second attempt to see Zion.  I hope Kurt has a chance to return some day to actually take the shuttle and see the rest of the park.

_MG_1119I made one short detour on our way back near Red Canyon.  I was pleased to get this shot of the moon rising over the stunning red formations.

Tomorrow, we’ll be going to see Kodachrome Basin State Park.  The name of that park has always intrigued me, and I’ve never been there.  Kurt caught me in a photo today in Zion, and I thought it only appropriate that I finally be pictured in…

Zion 030

                                                                             THE END!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Monday, September 29, 2014

Made it to Ruby’s Inn RV Park and Campground

Yesterday we continued down I-15 and made it out the other side of the Salt Lake City/Provo Urban area.  It sure did seem like that took a lot of time to finally get back to some open territory.  We spent the night at Wagons West Campground in Fillmore, Utah.  It’s Passport America with full hookups, good Wi-Fi, and 100’ long pull-throughs for $20.  Much better than a couple of places we have stayed on this trip.

This morning we only had 138 miles to go to get to Ruby’s Inn just outside of Bryce Canyon National Park.  Rates are pretty high here, but by making a reservation in advance, I got a good discount for this time of the year.  You pay full price for the first night, but subsequent nights are 30% off.  You have to call in and ask for the Fall Special to get that rate.  We will be here for four nights.  I stayed here in the spring of 2008, but wasn’t savvy enough at that time to check their website for specials.


Since we got here shortly after noon, we had time to make the main drive up to Rainbow Point.  We thought it would be nice and sunny, but as you can see, a huge storm cloud headed towards us and shrouded the drive.

IMG_8680We were able to spot a small group of pronghorns in a meadow on the way up.  They were out enjoying the sun before the clouds moved in.


The one male sat apart from the females.  The same cold front and rain that plagued us in Ogden, has dropped temps here as well.  The forecast for tonight is a chilly 33*.


With the clouds, a bit of rain, and even some sputtering of hail it wasn’t ideal for photos.  We will come back later in the week when it is supposed to be sunny.


                                In the meantime, I’ll include a few photos from this afternoon’s drive.


                                 We are using Ruby’s Inn as a base to visit other places in the vicinity.


Tomorrow, we will pack a lunch and head for Zion National Park.  It will be a long day.  All of the places we will visit this week most certainly deserve longer stays, but that just isn’t in the cards this trip.


Ravens are one of the smartest birds around, and it’s sure obvious in our National Parks.  In warm weather they pluck smacked bugs out of people’s radiators at the pull outs.  In cooler weather, they just fly up and beg for unhealthy snacks from tourists.  This raven was very successful getting lots of stuff from two guys from Germany.

I sure hope the weather guessers are correct for the next few days.  If they are, we will have a grand time of it.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Saturday, September 27, 2014

♫ ♪ Sometimes you feel like a nut… ♪ ♫

Well, we both felt like nuts today as we headed out in the pouring rain to try to find a lug nut for the back tire.  We had a list of several vehicle services places located in Ogden, Utah, that the RV park provided.  The first one couldn’t help us, so they suggested two other places.  We even went to a Winnebago dealer where that salesman was off today.  They took us to the parts department.  The lady there said she would need a VIN# from the rig before she could even think of helping us.  What?  She then said Winnebago in Iowa was closed on Saturday, and she thought they were crabby to work with anyway.  And by the way, they only worked on things inside the rigs.

She gave us two more local locations to try.  Can you see where this is going?  Nobody could help us.  The person that sounded the most like he knew what he was talking about said the only thing we could do was go to a hubcap place in Salt Lake City.  We surely weren’t going to find any big lug nut in town here.

Mind you, this not so scenic tour of many of the streets in Ogden was accomplished in the pouring rain, so every time we got out of the car, we got all wet.  We finally gave up.  Kurt had the idea that if we bought some strong lock-tight, and a big channel pliers, he could make the hubcap stay on with the one lug nut we had until I could order one sent to Arizona.  So we went to Lowes and bought the pliers.

Then we went back to Walgreens to pick up his prescriptions and go across the street to restock the rig with groceries.  I was not entirely comfortable with the lock-tight solution, but didn’t know of anything else we could do.

We returned to the rig, and that’s when Kurt decided to give it one last try.  He Googled truck repair places in Ogden.  A list appeared, and he called the one that appeared closest to our location.  They were closing in an hour, so I put the address into Jack-in-the-Box and off he went.  Can you believe that after driving around for forty miles today, the truck repair place was less than one mile from our location?

It turned out that they did have a lug nut that would work.  Yahoo!  But that’s not the best part.  Kurt told them the tale of how we had traveled to five different places looking for this nut today, to no avail.  You know what the lady said?  “It’s more work to write this sale up than it’s worth, so it’s yours for free!”  If you’re ever in Ogden, Utah, and need a truck part, I highly recommend Utah Truck Trailer.  That place made our day.  Now I’ll fell better about moving on down the road.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Friday, September 26, 2014

Miss Hap or Good Luck?

I’ve often wondered if Miss Hap is Mr. Murphy’s daughter.  I’ve been trying to avoid both of them whenever I travel, but I think I made Miss Hap’s acquaintance today.  Either she’s not as experienced as Murphy, or I sort of had some good luck.

Before I get into that, I want to cover what we did yesterday first.  We headed out on what turned out to be a 302 mile day trip to visit Grand Teton National Park.  The very few pictures I have tonight are from that sojourn.


First stop was at the visitors center in Jackson, WY.  Some of you may remember that I had almost worked at the Elk Refuge in the summer of 2013, but I turned them down when I found out that my only duties would be in this visitors center 32 hours a week.  That’s how I ended up at Tamarac NWR.  Anyway, this visit confirmed that I had made the right decision for me.  It’s a gorgeous refuge though.


Eventually, we made it to Grand Teton.  As it turned out, this was not the exciting day we thought it would be.  Yes, it’s beautiful, but we both agreed that after Yellowstone, it was a bit of a let down for us.  Maybe we were just worn out visitors after Theodore Roosevelt NP, the Beartooth Highway, and three days in Yellowstone.  There’s also the fact that neither of us are able to immerse ourselves in the many hikes available like Sherry and David and others can do.  At any rate, we headed back over the Teton pass for home, and to get ready for today’s travels to Ogden, Utah.


That’s when life got interesting in a not so wonderful way.  About forty miles down the road, we ran into four miles of very challenging construction going on in one of the mountain passes on US 20.  It was one of those drives filled with a lot of pucker power that didn’t quite work.  Neither of us noticed it when it happened, but apparently I got up close and personal with one of the construction cones.  I now have a nice pin stripe down the side of the rig.  Some of the passageways were very tight, white knuckle sections.  I at least avoided the most hazardous obstacles.  Kurt also says he can take care of that pin stripe when we get to AZ.

About that time, I also noticed two not normal sounds as we drove along.  One sounded like a stone in one of the hubcaps.  I had heard a bit of that sound when we drove from Columbus, MT, to Island Park, ID.  I had checked all the tires, but couldn’t find anything wrong.  It got worse today.  Once we got to our present campground (which is a whole other story), Kurt found the problem.  It seems one of the lug nuts that hold the fancy hubcap on was missing, and the other one was loose.  They were both fine when I last checked them.  That’s what accounted for that sound.  The hubcap was rattling back and forth until we got up to speed.

Had the second one flown off, it could have created a real problem as it probably would have ripped off the valve extenders that are attached to it resulting in a loss of air pressure.  Thankfully that second lug nut held.  There was no danger of the wheel coming off.  Those lug nuts are just fine.  So tomorrow, we will be searching the city of Ogden for a new lug nut.  Lots of rain is predicted for tomorrow, and I had made reservations for two nights because of the approaching storm.  We won’t leave until it’s taken care of, and the storm moves on.  So, I had a meeting with Miss Hap today, but I’m lucky it wasn’t worse.

It certainly has been nice having a second person traveling with me who knows how to take care of some of these minor defugalties.  I’m also feeling a little spoiled about not having to do all the chores of set up and take down myself.  I do the driving, but he takes care of the outside stuff while I level the rig, put out the slides, and take care of the inside stuff.  Sweet!  Hmm… I wonder if he would be interested in another road trip next spring when I leave Imperial NWR??  Eye rolling smile

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A last hurrah in Yellowstone

We headed out this morning to make the long drive to Mammoth Hot Springs.  Due to road closures, it’s a longer trip than normal from our location 14 miles outside of West Yellowstone.  Other than a few bison we really haven’t seen much wildlife at all.  I had my hopes up for one last trip into the park, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Tonight’s post will mainly be the story of two interesting, to me, encounters.  We did see quite a few bison along the way, but any pull off areas were crammed with cars.  When we entered the Mammoth Hot Springs location I thought sure elk would be everywhere, but not a one was to be seen.  So, after visiting the springs we had to reverse and retrace our almost 100 mile path to get here.


Finally, a couple of elk appeared in the village.  One female was quenching her thirst at a puddle provided by recent rains.  There were about four females doing the same thing.


I’d rather see these girls out in a more natural habitat, but beggars can’t be choosers.  I got a kick out of how she closed her eyes and shook off some of the water.


                 But then, a big male entered the scene, sniffing away.  It is rutting season you know.


           Next thing, he lets out a big bugle!  I was so hoping to hear a bugling elk, and I got my wish.


                                                          Hearing the call, the ladies took off.


                                                               All four gathered around him.


As his harem answered nature’s call, he let out one last great bugle.  Cool beans!  I didn’t care if it was in the village, I was thrilled to witness it.

As we headed back, we tried to find a place to have our picnic lunch but were thwarted at several pull offs by crowds.  We finally found one without a picnic table, but just had to tailgate it.  It was kind of funny to see how many cars pulled in just to see what we were looking at.  I was looking at egg salad on crackers while Kurt was having his salami and cheese.  Open-mouthed smile

As we neared Tower Falls, a ranger was stationed on the road to keep people from getting too close to a bunch of bighorn sheep.  We squeezed into the last spot with the car, but my pictures of them left a lot to be desired. 


We left the crowd, and drove just a bit further down the road.  Up to the right was a female bighorn with a young one.  We had these two almost to ourselves as they munched away on the vegetation.  We just stood next to the car in a parking area so as not to disturb them.


Mom was ever vigilant as we enjoyed just watching.  She came closer and closer.  It was a great few moments.


The young one stayed close at hand, and hopped over a fallen tree.  Another magical moment before the crowds descended.  Yes, we also saw some magnificent scenery today, but the wildlife encounters is what I will remember most.

Tomorrow we’re off to visit the Grand Tetons Nat’l Park.  It will be a long day trip, but I’m sure it will be magnificent.


                                                                              THE END!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Got to smell some dragon’s breath today.

There was no fog, and it wasn’t raining this morning, but the skies were heavily overcast.  We headed out for Yellowstone again anyway.  On the agenda today was to visit Hayden Valley in hopes of seeing some wildlife.  Any time I’ve been here in the past that valley is a good bet.  Not today.  Not one bison, elk, wolf or bear.  We did see a couple of trumpeter swans, but after the last two summers at Tamarac, I’ve had much better views there.

78 On the way to Imperial NWR

Along the way, we stopped at the Mud Volcano area.  That bubbling gray mud is really something to watch.  I’m thinking that the last time I was here in 2010 that I didn’t stop at this area.  I sure didn’t remember the Dragon’s Mouth Spring.  There is a platform you can stand on right over the opening where the steam and chemicals belch out from underground.  A man and I were standing there when a great belch of steam came out.  Oh my.  After breathing it, the man and I looked at each other and said, “yuck!”  If that’s what a dragon’s breath smells like, I hope I never run into another one.

A commenter yesterday asked how the crowds are in Yellowstone at this time of the year.  Well, it may be past Labor Day, but the crowds are still here.  Not as many kids, of course, but lots of foreign languages going on.  There are huge numbers of Asian visitors, and I hate to say that I’ve found many of them rather rude.  Makes me wonder if perhaps they didn’t learn in Kindergarten to take turns and not push people out of the way.  I’m not crazy about large crowds, and when those huge tourist buses arrive I kind of cringe.

Because of road closures, we turned around after the Gull Point Drive on Yellowstone Lake, and headed back toward home.  It was afternoon by this time, and the sun was finally struggling to make an appearance. 


A good time to take the rim drive to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.  I remember hiking to the overlook of the lower falls way back in 1970.  This time I took my walking stick, and Kurt was quick to point out to me that I was breaking the law by using a stick.  Winking smile


                                              This view is one of my favorites in the whole park. 


                                    I had to get a picture of Kurt with the falls in the background.


The rainbow-like colors of the rocks in this area are so beautiful, and at the bottom is the Yellowstone River rushing through it.  No wildlife pictures again today, but we’ve got one day left.  Tomorrow we’re off to see the Mammoth Hot Springs.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Can you believe no bison jam?

We woke up to pretty dense fog this morning, but decided to head to Yellowstone anyway. 


As we headed towards Madison Junction, we had a brief moment of blue skies as the sun worked to burn away the fog.


Kurt wanted to see Old Faithful, so that’s where we headed first.  The patches of blue that you see didn’t last very long, and the skies turned very cloudy.  I was really surprised at the lack of wildlife wherever we went today.  No elk anywhere around Madison.  No bison jams at all.  We did spot three individual bison, each in the distance.  A few ravens, and that was it.  I was rather disappointed. 

I couldn’t wait to show Kurt the Grand Prismatic Spring at the Midway Geyser Basin.  He was a little leery about doing the hike up to it, but I assured him it was well worth it.  Ha!  Not today.  Mother Nature provided the fog, and the winds had the steam in our faces, so none of the glorious colors showed through.  Between my bum back, and his bum hips and feet, that little hike did us in for any further hiking.  Almost made me feel like I was ready for a Hover-Round.  Crying face

By the time we made it to Old Faithful, it had started raining, so we viewed the eruption from inside the Visitors Center.  This day at one of my favorite places in the country was not going well at all.  Due to a road closure, we had to turn around and head back to Madison.

I had packed some crackers, cheese, salami, and raisins, so we stopped at a picnic area just before the Firehole Lake Drive.  As we were munching away, I spotted a gray jay in one of the pine trees.  I know I shouldn’t have, but I impulsively held up a half of a Ritz cracker.  That camp robber landed right in the palm of my hand, looked around, and snatched that cracker.  Then it came back to the picnic table to have a drink of water in one of the puddles left on top of the table by the rain.  That was probably the highlight of the day for me.


We did take the Firehole Lake Drive, and I did get a few shots, but conditions were just not ideal today.  There’s another road closure between Norris and Mammoth Hot Springs.  The rain continued as we made our way to Canyon Village, and the wildlife stayed in hiding.  We turned around there and headed back to camp.


The road closures have certainly changed my way of showing Kurt Yellowstone this year.  I think we’ll head over to Hayden Valley tomorrow in hopes of seeing more wildlife and on to Fishing Bridge.  The forecast for the next two days looks pretty good, if you can believe what you read.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Beartooth and Chief Joseph Scenic Highways

Yesterday morning we drove the car out of Columbus to take a drive down and up both of these scenic highways.


I had driven the Beartooth before, but never the Chief Joseph.  Considering where we started from, this was a long but enjoyable drive.  It took 261 miles to complete.


The higher and higher we drove, the more dramatic the views became.  This is a good time of the year to do this drive as the aspen trees are all turning golden.


Once you get to the top, you start the journey down the other side.  Getting out and walking around near 10,000’ was interesting.  Both of us struggled a bit with the thin air.  The road won’t stay open for very much longer due to fall snow storms.

We had planned to have lunch in Cooke City after descending the southern side.  It seemed like I drove and drove, and never did find Cooke City.  I finally turned around to head back to the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway.  The map I had indicated that the city was close by, but that wasn’t quite true.  Not having packed a lunch for this day, we were both hungry.


Luckily, not too many miles down this road we found a little place called the Fork and Spoon CafĂ© that hadn’t closed yet for the season.  Only three things on the menu, but they were very tasty.  Our server told us that Cooke City had been quite a bit further down the highway.  Oh well, it turned out for the best.


I really enjoyed this part of the drive.  If you are familiar with Chief Joseph and his struggle to make it to Canada before the federal troops caught up with him and what was left of his tribe, this was the last mountain that they climbed.  A wounded warrior was left here, and the US Calvary killed him.  To this day it is known as Dead Indian Pass.  I just can’t imagine the hardships of their journey with winter coming.


The long drive was well worth it for me yesterday.  What stunning scenery.  This morning we packed up and headed out to Island Park, Idaho.  We’re about 14 miles from the west entrance to Yellowstone Nat’l Park.

Kurt is happy as a clam since the Wi-Fi at Valley View RV Park is working wonderfully for him.  Internet has been a challenge for him along the trip.  My Verizon air card continues to work just fine.

We will be here for five nights, and tomorrow we will head to ‘Old Faithful’.  That has to be at the top of the list for someone’s first visit to Yellowstone.  I wonder what the chances are we’ll encounter a bison jam tomorrow??

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy