Posted in Campgrounds, Parks, RV Living, Travels, Weather, Wildlife

First Look: South Lake Tahoe, California

This entire trip from Missouri west has had 2 main purposes:  Pack Expo in Las Vegas and to visit our son, Drew, in South Lake Tahoe.  Today we realized the visit with Drew!!!!  We headed southwest on U.S. 50 from Fallon early in the morning; it is labelled one of the “Loneliest Highways in America” and we could see why.  There is very little traffic on this road and not much to see…….until we got closer to Carson City and headed south toward Gardnerville.  This long lush valley is full of huge cattle ranches with green grass and herds of cattle along the eastern foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.  It was refreshing to be in so much green-ness for a change!

Along this trip, Barry & I have worried and planned the route carefully, to the point that we bought a Garmin RV 660 at Cabela’s and down-loaded the www.lowclearances.com product.  (Here is the link if you want to get it: http://www.lowclearances.com/amember/go.php?r=4611&i=l0 )  We have been specifically worried about a tunnel at Cave Rock just before South Lake Tahoe that may be less than 13’9″ (our RV is 12’9″ but we want to give ourselves as much room as possible).    So, our Garmin with the uploaded clearance info routed us south on U.S. 395 to Hwy. 88 in Gardnerville toward Carson Pass, then east on Hwy. 89 over Luther Pass to Myers and north on U.S. 50 (again) to our campground in Tahoe!  Whew!!!  Altogether it was not bad driving, but Barry is Super Nervous about mountain passes, both up and down, and his anxiety is obvious as I drive.  The RV handles both up and down hills just fine!

We arrived safely in Tahoe at Tahoe Valley RV Resort & Campground and found our site #109; it was a 30 amp site about 15′ from each neighbor with storage campers behind us.  That would not do.  I went back to the office and complained that I had paid for a Premium Site and expected such and we were moved to site #431 which was Not a Premium site, but had 50 amp FHU’s with lots of space.  I’m not sure about the “Resort” label here; they do have a pool, but closed it after Labor Day, tennis and basketball courts, a playground, and big shelters for group meetings, but everything looks tired and worn out.  The roads throughout are terrible, rough and poorly marked; the edges of the road were not well defined and, with the heavy  pine needles everywhere, everyone drove off the roads frequently.  The staff were worthless.  Sadly, it is one of the few FHU campgrounds in South Lake…..sigh….

Everything was unpacked and we jumped out to explore!  This is Barry’s first visit to Lake Tahoe and the route in did not bring us by the Lake; we headed toward the famous views of Emerald Bay.

Barry’s first look at Lake Tahoe

We met Drew for dinner with lots of hugs and kisses all around and made plans for our 2 week stay!  Fishing, hiking, sight-seeing, just hanging out together!!!  It is So Very Good to see our middle son; it’s been at least 2 years since we were together!

Lake Tahoe view from Stateline Road, the smokey haze persists…

We dropped Drew off for work and headed back to the coach to get some work done before dinner……..3 hours later, this happened:

HAIL!!!!!

It slowed and stopped, then began again……

YIKES!!!

It started up 3 times, with progressively larger sizes of hail each time…..pea-sized, dime-sized, then quarter-sized!  Our A/C shrouds on the roof were original to the coach and very brittle; the hail beat them up very badly.  RV Parts:  2 new shrouds = $400……

Hail came in 3 different bursts, this was the largest.

Tomorrow we are going to drive around the Lake and sight-see all along the way!  Hopefully the weather won’t repeat the hail!

 

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Posted in Campgrounds, LIfestyle, Parks, RV Living, Travels

Wasatch Mountain, Utah

We left Flaming Gorge and headed west and south to Wasatch Mountain State Park Campground.

Welcome to Utah!

 

Wide open spaces and strong winds = Wind Farm

This park is just south of Park City, the site of the 2002 Winter Olympics.  The campground is in Midway, Utah and is not easy to find with online maps, we had to drive through a couple of neighborhoods to find it!  The town has a large Swedish community and lots of cute painted buildings!

A cute Hobbit house!
Swedish-style painted house

The campground is in a large state park that includes a golf course, and, nearby Wasatch Mountain.  The campsites are paved with full hookups and 50 amps of power, each nestled into the trees with a little stream behind.  They have very nice paved patios with fire rings set down into the ground and are easy to use. The sites are nice and clean; we would certainly stay here again!

The campground is in the trees in the foreground

We stayed here for just 2 nights to give Barry a chance to get some work done after the Labor Day weekend.  That gave me an entire day to explore the area so I headed up into the mountains!   The road in the park was newly paved and an easy upward drive; my first stop was a nice lake with hiking paths around it.

Nice lake in an open meadow.

Did you know that one aspen tree is actually only a small part of a larger organism?  A stand of aspen trees is considered a singular organism with the main life force underground in the extensive root system. Before a single aspen trunk appears above the surface, the root system may lie dormant for many years until the conditions are just right, including sufficient sunlight. In a single stand, each tree is a genetic replicate of the other, hence the name a “clone” of aspens used to describe a stand.  Ref:  https://www.nationalforests.org/blog/tree-profile-aspen-so-much-more-than-a-tree

 

Beautiful old Aspen Trees around the lake.

I continued up, turning left and right around switchbacks, driving past the park boundary and into the Park City limit where the nice road became a very rough road (due to the loads of snow and plowing in the winter).  At the very top was a nice parking lot with multiple trail heads for me to choose.  I picked the shortest one that lead to the summit and headed upward following a heavily trafficked gravel trail.

Looking south towards Midway
Looking West toward Brighton at Silver Lake
10,000 Feet!!!!

 

Yep! I am at the very peak!!!

 

Coming down from the peak to Jupiter Lift!
I Love Alpine Flowers!

 

The Ski Patrol cabin was unlocked and this walkway out the back offered great views!
View from the Walkway

We had such a nice relaxing time at Wasatch, catching up on work, exploring, hiking and relaxing.   We would certainly return here for a longer stay!  Next stop:  Tahoe!

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Posted in Campgrounds, Parks, RV Living, Travels, Wildlife

West to Flaming Gorge

We continued our westward travels, left Ft. Collins, CO, spent a couple of nights in Rawlins, WY, and then moved to McKinnon, WY for Labor Day weekend. We stayed at the Red Desert Rose Campground in Rawlins, this was our first experience at a “western” campground; dry, dusty, treeless!  They have a fenced dog park, but it had very little grass.  There is sagebrush all around town, I kept my eyes open for wildlife, but to no avail.  The staff here were ever so nice.  Although the sites were all gravel pull-through’s, we did have full hookups and took this time to catch up on laundry and and life!  From the middle of June, Barry has been working a ton, both here in the RV and traveling around each area making lots of calls; this is our first stop to just settle down and catch our breath.  Rawlins is an interesting old town, lots of cowboy references and old “Mom & Pop” type motels; it is the first exit off I-80 to Jackson, WY and further on to Yellowstone NP, it is also a shipping location for cattle and some historical sites are here also.

On I-80 near Laramie, WY – I see snow-capped mountains! And lots of cattle grazing!

I made reservations earlier this spring for a campsite on Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Wyoming for Labor Day, this was our next destination.  My parents were NP Rangers at Dinosaur NM just south of Flaming Gorge in the early 1990’s and we have not been back to this area since that time; I could not wait to relive some of those memories!  We pulled into Buckboard Campground on Friday and prepared for a weekend of sight-seeing.  This is a State Park Campground, again, dry and dusty with very few trees and little clam-shell covered picnic areas.  We had a 50 amp, electric only site that was not very level but had a little look at the reservoir from the front.  There was also a full hookup private RV park nearer the water for only a few dollars more; I would have rather parked there had I known in advance.  We also found the Lucerne Campground further south on Flaming Gorge that will be our first choice the next time we visit this area.

View from the picnic table, see the step turned around backwards due to the parking bumper? Still so far off the ground in front.
View from the campground of Flaming Gorge….see those things in the air? They are markers on the power lines over the road!

Saturday was the start of the College Football Season (notice that is all caps?!!)  and we spent the entire day watching all the games we could possibly see!  But, in the afternoon, I needed a project and took that time to work on the bathroom backsplash.  (Refer to my post RV Life, April ’17 –http://corgishopperblog.com/2017/04/27/rv-life-april-17/  )  I had found a product called Smart Tiles online, purchased them at Home Depot, and decided to apply them today.  All-in-all, it was an easy finish to this project; I used my math skills (whaaat?!!)  and lots of measuring before cutting, but ended up with great results, can’t wait to finish the rest of the coach with it!

Much better!

Sunday was going to be all about traveling around Flaming Gorge……..please enjoy these photos that brought back so many memories for me!

 

They named it Flaming Gorge due to the red stone colors all around it!
Only bridge over the reservoir!

Flaming Gorge Dam
Same bridge from up high, the dam is on the left out of the photo


So many more photos and memories from this area!!!  It was so good to be back!

Posted in Campgrounds, Parks, RV Living, Travels, Wildlife

Bears in the Mountains!

We left Broken Bow and headed to Sydney, Nebraska to stay the night at the only Cabela’s campground anywhere!  Sydney was the site of the beginning of Cabela’s business, and they have a monster property there with a campground, horse corrals, and a store with everything!

 

Even the Corgis liked this spot!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day we began the real drive across the prairie and headed toward Colorado!  If you have ever driven in snow country, then highway closures are nothing new to you; but to us, they serve as a reminder of the power of Mother Nature!  At most of the  exit ramps, were signs warning of the closure of the interstate ahead — Get Off The Highway Now kind of signs!

They even have gates to block the highway closed!

 

After miles and miles of prairie, we crossed into:


We continued on I-80 westward until we came to Cheyenne and headed south towards Fort Collins, Colorado to spend a few days near the Rocky Mountains!  Horsetooth Reservoir Campground is west of Fort Collins, nestled in the foothills of the Rockies and is a county park property.  We had 50 amp electrical service only at our dusty campsite, but had a lovely view of the reservoir and surrounding mountains outside the coach.  South Bay site #17 had big shady trees that helped keep the coach cooler in the hot summer heat, but none of the amenities — WiFi, cell service, water or sewer.  It did have frequent mule deer visitors though and delightful views of water, mountains and sky!


On the first day, while Barry worked, I took advantage of the proximity to the mountains and headed west toward Estes Park.  I had been this way once before, on a trip here with Barry & Tyler about 15 years ago and remembered the upward drive through Big Thompson Canyon and into Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP).  It is still a fantastic drive between narrow canyons and alongside the Big Thompson River, winding higher and higher into the mountains.  I was going to try out my back-packing skills for the first time, hiking at elevation with a loaded backpack; I left the highway and followed McGraw Ranch Road up and then down to Cow Creek Trailhead, just inside the boundary of RMNP.  I hoisted my pack on my back and headed off to test my skills on the North Boundary Trail.  After only hiking about 1/3 mile, I turned and retraced my steps back to my car, thoroughly disappointed with myself.  But I did learn!  I could do this, if I worked at acclimating to elevation without my backpack, I might be able to try again.

One side is the RMNP boundary, Comanche Peak Wilderness is on the other side!
The original McGraw Ranch house

I left this area and headed over to Estes Park to explore the little touristy town a bit.  It is the “end” of summer and lat-minute tourists and traffic crowded the town……..time to leave!


After leaving Estes Park to return down Big Thompson Canyon and back to Barry, I chanced to find a little pull-out park alongside the river, Sleepy Hollow Park, and stopped to see the water!   I love the sound and feel and smell of running mountain water and will take every possible chance to get close.  No other cars were parked in the small lot, the map marked trails nearby, a few picnic tables dotted the grassy area:  Perfect!!

​After I finished filming a video of the running water, I noticed some movement in the bushes at the turn of the river.  As I watched, a black bear and her two cubs popped out of the bushes and began working their way along the river toward me!!!  For the next 15 minutes, I watched the three of them move along the rocky areas above the river, looking for berries to eat along the way.  She kept an eye on me as I backed up to lean against a tree and stayed still as they scrambled along the rocks; I made sure the car was unlocked and I could make a speedy retreat, if necessary!

A small Black Bear sow
The smaller of the two cubs
This larger cub gave me a long stare before moving off behind the other two bears!

Too soon, they turned and made their way up the rocky incline and further away, I returned to my car and left, with a smile on my face from ear-to-ear!  I had seen bears in the wild!!!

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Posted in Campgrounds, LIfestyle, RV Living, Travels

Broken Bow, Nebraska

We left Pine Grove RV Park and headed west on I-80 to Grand Island, Nebraska.  There we followed NE highways 2 and 92 into Broken Bow.  This is a lovely county seat trying to update from a tired old town to a vibrant city.  We camped right downtown at Tomahawk Park for RVs and were pleasantly surprised.  Though they had less than 20 spaces, each was neat and clean with long pull-through sites for big rigs like ours.  The grass was manicured so very well and our site (#13) had a big shade tree nearby.  Although we only had 50 amp service, without water or sewer, for a few days it was just fine.  The WiFi, Verizon, and AT&T service was weak.  My map program (Waze) brought us in over a low-water bridge; we made sure not to leave that way!  Barry had a business call here that turned into a second call at the same company the next day in Holdrege (about an hour south of Broken Bow) and I drove while he emailed!

First, we discovered a wonderful breakfast spot just a few blocks from the park, Prairie Grounds.  Delicious cups of milky coffee and freshly baked blueberry muffins started my day off just fine!

After Barry’s morning appointment, we drove west of town to see one of the largest feedlots in the world.  It is the Adams Feedlot with a total capacity of between 85,000-100,000 head of cattle (depending on your source).  Barry & I are carnivores and love steak and hamburgers, but it is a little unnerving to see so many animals in such a place.  The smell wafts into town almost daily depending on the wind; but the wind blows steadily enough to keep it from being overpowering.

Adams Feedlot with ground corn feed under the large cover

The next day we drove south to Holdrege, Nebraska, south of I-80 for another appointment.  Job completed, we took our time returning to Red Bow and found these historical markers.

Pony Express marker
Platte River Valley marker

Back in Broken Bow, we detoured to the Straight Arrow Bison Ranch.  A family-owned business, they keep a herd of buffalo on their range year-round as a source of meat and other byproducts for retail sale.  Although they weren’t open that day, we did get a chance to see the herd from the road.  You can learn more here:  www.straightarrowbison.com  

Straight Arrow Bison

All-in-all, Broken Bow was a pleasant stop and nice town.  We would definitely stay here again when passing through on business.

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Posted in Campgrounds, LIfestyle, RV Living, Travels

Around Pine Grove RV Park

After we left Lee’s Summit, Missouri, we headed north, past St. Joseph and the Iowa border, then turned west and wound our way to Greenwood, Nebraska.  Pine Grove RV Campground is a decent park, with gravelly old paved roads, lots of steep speed bumps, and gravel parking sites but no patio space, just grass and an old picnic table.  The grass was a bit hairy and tracked inside every time we took the dogs out.  The WiFi was weak, but they had an AT&T tower nearby to boost that signal.  We had full hook ups, but low water pressure, and a great view across a huge soybean field facing west.  This park has a small pool, shuffleboard and tennis courts, playground for kids, and, more importantly, fenced dog parks!  The corgis had a great time running free, barking just to bark, and getting much need exercise.  After the eclipse, we were happy to enjoy the evening sunsets out the front of the coach.


Barry had appointments east in Omaha on Tuesday and west in York on Wednesday…..so we really were working here!

I did enjoy the old cemetery at Trinity Lutheran Church during the eclipse on Monday.  My grandma used to like to walk around the cemetery in our town, checking all the graves to see if anyone had died that she had missed, looking to make sure Grandpa’s grave had fresh flowers, etc.  and I, also, like to walk around cemeteries.  This one is an old German cemetery with graves dating in the mid-to-late-1800’s.

I am related to the Schmidt family on my father’s side; my great-grandparents immigrated to the USA before my grandparents were born.  I like to check old cemeteries for any of the names in any of my family trees, and I found these graves, just not people in my tree!


We ran into Omaha and across the Missouri River to Council Bluffs, Iowa on Tuesday evening to the Bass Pro Shop there.  It is in a big casino complex at the intersection of I-80 and I-29 and had some public outcry and controversy when they built the overpass into the complex.


These pieces of “art” grace both sides of the overpass (2 on the North and 2 on the South), weigh 70,000 pounds, shoot 60′ into the sky, and cost an estimated $3,000,000 dollars.  They are titled “Odyssey” and were designed by renowned metal sculpture artist, Albert Paley.  We are familiar with his work from a piece at the entrance to the St. Louis Zoo; titled “Animals Always”, it is perfect for that site!  https://www.stlzoo.org/about/blog/2015/09/02/public-art-contributes-our-zoos-charm   These pieces, however, tower over the overpass and the highway in a crazy, Edward Scissorhands-like presence that is almost overwhelming.

The next day, Barry & I drove west to York, Nebraska to make a business call and I had such a wonderful day!  We stopped after the call in Lincoln to see the University of Nebraska stadium.

Memorial Stadium
Husker Nation!

After that stop, I dropped Barry off at the coach for a little exploring time on my own.  Now I had time to visit the Holy Family Shrine overlooking the Platte River valley.  It was modeled after Fay Jones’ Cooper Chapel in Arkansas as a place of meditation, reflection and prayer just off I-80, and stands as a welcoming refuge from the hustle and bustle of travel.

Visitors Center Entryway planted with so many wildflowers
Water is one of the major elements here and flows from the Visitor’s Center along a pathway and into the Chapel
Leaving the Visitor’s Center toward the Chapel
The Shrine is cool, quiet and reverent inside; the only sound is the water that runs under the stone floor up to the altar. The Holy Family is etched in the glass here.

Leaving the Shrine I took a different road back to the coach and found this funny lighthouse on the bank of the Platte River.

Combination of Lincoln & Omaha?

All in all, this is an interesting place to visit; big cities nearby, yet a rural setting for the campground.  We would probably stay here again when working in eastern Nebraska!

 

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Posted in Campgrounds, Parks, RV Living, Travels

Lewis & Clark SP

Although we had originally only intended to stay at Lewis & Clark State Park for 5 days, things changed and we opted to stay for 2 whole weeks.  Here is why:  Barry had to drive up to Wisconsin during our stay and it made more sense for me to stay at this park then to move further south…..

Lovely Lewis & Clark SP

This stay was a test of my ability to be home alone without a car for multiple days.  I loaded up on groceries and settled in for the stay without a car.  Without sewer and water hookups, I couldn’t do laundry or clean too much, so I relaxed!!  I am a person who likes to “get things done” and this was a learning time for me.  I did some work on scanning photos and updating some genealogy, but walking the dogs was my main occupation.  I rode my bike and took lots of new photos.  I really relaxed.  For the first time in a long, long time, I don’t have that feeling of tension in my shoulders!

Great Blue Heron at sunset

Now about the park:  Pros:  Level sites with many trees and ample shade.  50 amp electric service only.  Quiet and dark at night, wide sites with lots of quiet during the day.  Lots of wildlife, bird-watching and great flora everywhere.  Historic and fun Weston just to the south. The home of the Pony Express, St. Joseph, just to the north with more history, a great Cajun restaurant, and Jesse James history also.  Atchison, Kansas just to the west with beautiful architecture and the birthplace of Amelia Earhart.  Some of the best campground hosts we have met during our travels!

Cons:  No water or sewer hookups.  Our original site flooded during a heavy, all day rain the first week.  Verizon – 2 bars, AT&T – 2 bars, weBoosted both to 4 bars.  Nothing more negative than that!!!

All the member’s name are inscribed around the marker.
Center of the compass

 

A big plus for me is the many Lewis & Clark Expedition historical markers.  We are both history fans and following the Lewis & Clark Trail was one of my reasons for getting an RV to travel.  The Mississippi River has changed course over the last couple of hundred years and, as a result, left several oxbow lakes in this areas.  These are shaped like an oxbow, curved like a big arch, but without the river supporting them until it floods.  The park is on one of those lakes and they have built a wonderful marker on the banks.  Supposedly, it is a spiritual vortex and if you stand in the middle of it and relax for several minutes, you can feel as if you are out of your body…….didn’t work for me!

Muskrat eating the water plants in the lake

If I sat quietly at the lake, the muskrats would continue their eating……they seem to eat constantly……and they make a loud sucking noise as they eat cattails, water lilies and sedges underwater.  Only a few of them were visible on the surface, the majority were underwater; I could tell by the movements of the plants.

I was excited to see this cicada in molting stage and hoped to get multiple photos of the process; but when I went out the next morning, he and the shell were both gone.
There were lots of large sycamore trees here and I found this wonderful Sycamore Tussock moth outside one morning!  He was very small on my fingertip!
Not sure, but this might be a tomatillo Plant?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The weather was beautiful during our stay, cooler than normal with lower humidity.  Beautiful sunsets every evening with so very many stars in the night sky.     We will gladly return to stay here again!

State Park walkway bordered with native grasses

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