We stopped at Gun Creek Campground on Rend Lake in central Illinois for a week. Our plans originally were for Barry to make calls in southern Illinois and south-eastern Missouri, however, other calls came up and he spent the week between here, St. Louis, Springfield, MO and Mattoon, IL…..lots of miles on the car! This gave me a great opportunity to work on some spreadsheets for the company, it’s called StL Packaging Systems, by the way!
Each day though, the Corgis and I managed to make time for long walks along the lake, in the woods or along the trails. The lake is a Corps of Engineers lake and is banked most of the way around by great big white chunky rocks that are hard to clamber on with 2 little dogs on leashes. There is a little sandy beach they have built near our campground but it has mostly washed down into the water leaving just a muddy-sandy beach in between those big rocks and plantings of some type of bamboo. The trails are paved but wander along until they just stop without warning. There is a large power line cut behind this campground and the Corgis and I hike along that and into the woods where possible. Briars grow wild here and most of our treks ended in thickets too dense to part.
The sun has been out some of the time, it rained heavily one day and knocked more leaves off the trees. They are still beautiful here with lots of bright oranges and yellows left on the maples and persimmons on several trees.
We really love stopping at this campground; full hookups, great views, quiet parking and dark at night! We stop here whenever we are working in southern Illinois, know the good places to eat, and use this campground to recharge our souls. (Notice I recharge in nature? That’s a good thing!). Our next stop will be in Nashville for a Thanksgiving celebration!
While in South Lake Tahoe, we both had different days to explore the area. One day, Barry and Drew left to go trout fishing. They went south of Carson Pass to fish in mountain streams still open — the rivers in Tahoe were already closed for the season. The cooler mountain air and cold water were great for Barry and he enjoyed the chance to have some Dad/son time and practice his fly casting.
While the guys were fishing, I took the Corgis to the Upper Truckee River nearby to hike a bit……these Corgis love the water and after that initial cold shock, I had a hard time keeping them Out of the water!
Another day we drove all around the lake to show Barry the sites along the way. Our first stop was in Tahoma to explore the Hellman-Ehrmann Mansion. I.W. Hellman bought about 2,000 acres on the lake for his vacation home and built the mansion in 1903, using mainly local materials. Isaiah W. Hellman founded the Farmers and Merchants Bank of California as well as the University of Southern California! He named the property Pine Lodge and boated most of the visitors to the property.
We drove all the way around the lake, visited Tahoe City for lunch, and returned back through Cave Rock (remember the tunnel that our Garmin routed us around?).
Later that night, as we returned to the coach, there was a visitor at the campground. Seems like the management here would go to greater lengths to prevent bears from dumpster diving; as the month passed and the campground cleared out, the easy access dumpsters were re-located away from all the parking sites.
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.
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!
We dropped Drew off for work and headed back to the coach to get some work done before dinner……..3 hours later, this happened:
It slowed and stopped, then began again……
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……
Tomorrow we are going to drive around the Lake and sight-see all along the way! Hopefully the weather won’t repeat the hail!
We left Flaming Gorge and headed west and south to Wasatch Mountain State Park Campground.
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!
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!
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
Sunday was going to be all about traveling around Flaming Gorge……..please enjoy these photos that brought back so many memories for me!
So many more photos and memories from this area!!! It was so good to be back!
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…..
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!
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!!!
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!
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.
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!
After leaving Des Moines, we moved for the weekend to south-western Iowa, just outside the town of Creston, to Green Valley State Park. First, after a few days with just electric hookups, we were happy to have all the services: 50 amp electric, water & sewer! All the sites here have some sort of lake view, there is a small beach, boat ramp, hiking & biking trail, and even some cabins to rent. But the best part about this park was the peace and quiet and darkness! Even as the park filled up for the weekend, it was still a nice quiet park. Birds calling all the time.
The lake here is a man-made lake with many campers bringing their fishing boats out in the morning to fish for large mouth bass.
Most of the fields are planted with corn or soybeans; but a few have been left to grow beautiful Black-eyed Susans……
A slough is a good place to raise a family……
Clouds in the west can’t stop a sunset on the water!
Once, a long time ago, we picked wild blackberries and I came home with chiggers and seed ticks every where (they like to go in all your creases, around your ankles, behind your knees, and further up, if you know what I mean!). So, no matter how delicious or thick they look, we don’t go in to pick them any more!
As we left town today for another campground, we had to go through this underpass:
I purchased lowclearances.com map download and got to use it today! Our coach is 12’9″ high up to the top of the old satellite dome on top……this train bridge was not a problem! But we still held our breath as we drove under it! One of the troubles I have run into is finding a good GPS program for us. I have researched and read all about Garmin and Rand McNally and everyone else without coming to a good decision. Every one of them has mixed reviews and in the year 2017 I feel that there should be a GPS that has more good than bad reviews! In the meantime, I map our route the night before we leave on Google with the low clearances layer added. After I determine the safest, easiest route, I use Waze while we drive; Waze is a live traffic/navigation app that gives great clear directions and live updates (police ahead, construction, hazards, etc.). Little things that make a big difference!