Monday, August 10, 2015

Pictures Slideshow

Just the pictures....for anyone who just wants to see pictures from the trip, click here!  Beware, there are over 600, but it shows almost everything.
Summer 2015

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Home

After 6 weeks, 44 nights, 21 states, and 7600 miles driven, I am now home in Northern Virginia! I drove from home to the Pacific Ocean and back!

I didn't write a blog post yesterday because all I did was drive. I did finish listening to The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat. I ended up really enjoying it! The narrators did a great job capturing the characters personalities!

Another way I entertained myself while driving was to play the liscene plate game. I have a notepad shaped like the 48 contiguous states and it has the states outlined on it. I tape a page of it to the steering wheel (over the horn) and then just marked each state off when I see it. I'm good at geography so I can check off a state and barely look away from the road. Prior to leaving Sisters I'd seen every state (including Alaska and Hawaii) except Delaware. I decided to start over for the trip home. Between Sister's and home I saw every state except North Dakota, Vermont, and Rhode Island (again, including AK & HI!). I saw my first/only Delaware plate near Steeles Tavern, VA on I-81! I was about 150 miles away from not seeing a single DE plate! There were three vehicles from Delaware right together!

Tomorrow I'm going to work on updating my "States Visited" page and putting in links for all the State & National Parks. I'll also post a slide show/photo album with all my pics, but for now I need to go change the laundry...again...so much laundry when you get home!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Shorter Drive

I had fewer miles planned today, a little break after a big driving day because the mileage didn't work out evenly! This allowed me to have a few hours to check out The Brown vs. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, KS!

The Brown vs Board of Education site was very interesting! It was all about the end of segregation and equality for all. It was interesting to see the same themes as I'd noticed back in South Dakota with the Native People and we white folks marginalized them and took their land. We did similar things to the African Americans too. Makes me wonder what exactly our founding fathers meant by "all men are created equal". I'm glad for the folks who fought for civil rights!

It was noon before I left Topeka so I was glad I only had about 200 more miles to drive! I'd planned to stop at Graham Caves State Park, about 80 miles west of St. Louis. There weren't many camping options until well after St. Louis and I didn't want to do a Wal-Mart in St. Louis. (Remember the Griswalds, they got their hubcabs lifted in St. Louis! LOL!)

I arrived at Graham Caves a little after 4 and went to the campground. The first thing I noticed was that the campground was really far from the rest of the park and despite it seeming like Missouri is flat from the highway, in the park there were huge steep hills (steeper than Vail Pass!) so biking would have been hard. The next thing I noticed was that the campground was empty. There was a camp host and one other site occupied. I didn't like the way that felt so decided to check out the rest of the park then head to the commercial campground that was on the road in.

The rest of the park was just as empty as the campground and there wasn't much to see. There was a trail that went to the cave, but I decided not to hike it. I think it was just a cave to look at, not to go in.

I drove out and got a site a the Kamp Kan-Do Kampground. The misuse of the K rather than the C almost made me look elsewhere, but I didn't. It's an odd little campground, more seasonal residents than folks passing through but it's safe and seems quiet so it will do just fine for one night!

I ate my "long underwear" baked potato tonight...it was very good! The long johns worked just as good as foil!

 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Contrast

Today started here:

 

Loveland Pass, almost 12,000 feet.

And ended here:

 

Salina, KS - this view is what most of Kansas looks like!

All I did today was drive! I chose to drive over Loveland Pass rather than take I70 through the Eisenhower Tunnel because I wanted to see more of Colorado before I hit Kansas! It was 6 miles up with 3000 feet of elevation gain, and 4 miles down, although once I got on 70 I was still going down for probably 15-20 more miles.

Once I got to Denver I was past the mountains and the flat farm county started. The eastern half of Colorado is exceptionally boring, but once you get into Kansas the scenery improves a bit. It's still flat and open with some rolling hills but it's more farms and there are even some trees!

I actually don't mind Kansas much, I think it's better than Nebraska, South Dakota and Montana! The first time I drove through Kansas I thought it was very remote and that there was nothing here, now after having been places where there is actually nothing Kansas seems very populated! There's fuel and resteraunts and stuff at almost every exit!

The big thing today was keeping myself entertained while I drove! I'm listening to another book, The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore. It's a good light read, I still don't really like listening vs reading, but it does help the miles go by. I can only listen to the book for a few hours at a time and today I finally let myself listen to Pandora. I have a "favorite bands" channel that I've created and I love it, but it uses data, I'm not sure how much, I hope it's not much because I really enjoyed listening to Pandora today!

I was going to stay at the Wal-Mart in Salina but I drove down there - it was 4 miles off route - and it didn't look good, looked noisy and at 6:00pm there weren't any other RVs there, so I drove back to 70 and went to the KOA. I have a nice site with electricity and cable! I've never hooked up to cable, I have a very short coax cord that usually doesn't reach, but here it does! I haven't watched TV since I left home so it was exciting to watch Modern Family over dinner and Big Bang Theory while I'm blogging! I also met some nice folks from Louisana parked next to me. And, I cooked my baked potato so it would be ready when I'm ready for dinner tomorrow. The directions yo cook a baked potato in my convection oven were to use the "compucook" feature and then wrap the potato in foil for 15 minutes. I don't have any foil, but I figured it needed to insulated and keep the heat in while it finishes cooking, so I wrapped it in my long underwear...here's hoping it works!

 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Vail Pass

Today I was taking the day off! No driving! Well, not much driving. Despite this area having fabulous bike trails I had some things to do that involved driving!

Before I ran errands I was going to attempt to ride up to Vail Pass. Yesterday I drove over Vail Pass, there's a bike path that goes right down the median of I-70 and you can ride your bike all the way up from Frisco! When we were here 2 years ago Mom brought Dad and I up and we rode down (this was before I had a bike of my own so I was riding her beach cruiser, I wouldn't have made it up if I'd tried!). Now I was here by myself and if I wanted to ride down, I had to ride up! It was about 15 miles(one way) from the campground with about 1500 feet of elevation gain (from 9,000 ft to 10,500 ft!). The path is well graded but it is still a lot of uphill no while we've been at 3,000-6,000 feet off and on for the last few weeks, it's different from being at 9000+ feet!

The ride up Tenmile Canyon between Frisco and Copper Mountain Ski Resort wasn't so bad! It was a steady easy grade and it even leveled out close to the ski area so I got a break! I remember this being my favorite part to ride down last time, the gentler grade is easier both up and down. The wind however was making things hard! It was a headwind and peddling into it, going up, was a challenge!

I took a break for a snack after I'd gone through the ski area, just before the trail went up to the pass. While I was stopped a two guys came up, both over 50 and one was wearing an Ironman jersey, and they were asking some folks who just came down about the wind, thinking it might not be worth it to ride up today because it was so windy. I guess I wasn't the only one fighting it! We all pressed on however! I assume the guys made it to the top, I didn't see them again!

As I got higher the views just got better and better! These mountains are huge! The area around the trail after Copper Mountain is an alpine meadow and the wildflowers were all in bloom! More flowers that I saw in all of Oregon! I enjoyed seeing the things we did this whole trip, but my ride up to Vail Pass this morning might just be my favorite thing I did! Colorado is amazing! And so much closer!

 

I made it until the last mile before it was just too much to continue! I think it was a combination of the wind, the elevation and the steepness. I knew I was close to the top though, so I walked! There were a few spots where even walking was tough with the wind!

At the top I had a snack and took in the view before heading down! It had taken me 2 hours and 45 minutes to get to the top, took me and hour and fifteen minutes to get back to the campground! (That time includes stop time, I didn't stop at all on the way down).

It was almost 1:00 when I got back to the campground. I got lunch and did a few things at the RV, then went into town to get fuel, buy some more underwear so I didn't have to do laundry, picked up a few things at the grocery, and went to the town dump station.

After my errands I took the bike out again. This time I rode the trails closer into town. I rode to the Frisco Marina and got the Lakeside trail out to the dam. This route took me past what I'd thought was the best campground in town, but I realized it it's not really! The campground I'm at, Pine Cove, is about 2 miles from Frisco, it's not really on the bike path, but it's close. Heaton Bay, which is on the bike path, is at least 4 miles from Frisco and 4 miles from Dillon! I'd wanted to ride at least 10 more miles to give myself another 40 mile day, but then I started thinking I might be able to go 20 more miles have a 50 mile day. The riding seemed easy and I was worried that this was because I had a tailwind and didn't know it, so ended up turning around about 2/3 of the way across the dame after almost 8 miles. Turns out the path was just easier, it was just as easy coming back! I did get in 15 miles, making it 45 for the day which is still a personal best!

When I got back I fired up the generator to fix dinner & charge the batteries got a shower and settled in to enjoy the evening. The weather today was perfect. Chilly overnight (I got out the sleeping bag!) but not frigid, warmed to the mid-70 but with the breeze it was cool!

 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Arches National Park

I'd wanted to get an early start on my morning in Arches so I wasn't too disappointed when I woke up at 4 and couldn't get back to sleep, then the fridge cut off around 4:30 and I was awake for good! One nice thing about sleeping in a parking lot is you can leave whenever you want without worrying about disturbing anyone! I didn't want to drive into Arches in the dark so I got all ready to go and waited until almost 6 to leave.

The sun was just coming up as I was entering the park! It was a nice time to be there! I made it to the Delicate Arch Parking Area and was hiking by 6:45! I was not the first person to the trailhead either! This is a very popular hike!

It was only three miles to the arch and the trail went through all the desert highlights! It went across sand, open rock, even rock ledges before we finally came out at the arch! It was amazing! It was so big! There were only a few people there and I was able to get several pictures without any random strangers!

 

It was 7:40 when I was at the arch and on the way back I was like a salmon swimming upstream! There was a constant parade of people coming up and I was the only one coming down! I was back in the parking lot at 8:15 ready to explore the rest of the park.

I went to see the Arch Overlook, where you can view delicate arch without hiking. It was a mile away but it looked so tiny! And you could see all the people on the rock looking at it! So many people had gotten there, just since I'd left!

Next I went out to the Devil's Garden area. That area looked really neat, but it was a 7 mile hike to see it all so I only walked about a mile to landscape arch then turned around.

 

After that I drove out to the windows area of the park. This is where the crowds caught up with me! I hadn't had any trouble with parking until I got to Windows, there was no place to park! I found an only slightly illegal place to pull off and walked back to a view.

Since the park was filling up and I still needed to drive 250 miles today I headed down the hill to the visitor center to get my passport stamped and head up the road.

I-70 through Colorado is the most scenic most amazing section of interstate and I was very excited to get there! But first I had about 70 miles of Utah desert. Between Moab and Fruita, CO there is nothing but sagebrush. You can see the big mesas in the distance and at one point I saw what looked like the Devil's Garden area of Arches, but I'm not sure.

Colorado was just as lovely as I'd hoped! There was construction through Glenwood Canyon and it rained a bit but Vail Pass was spectacular! I wonder if that ever gets old?

I got to Frisco at 4:30 and found a campsite - there weren't any sites in my first choice campground, Heaton Bay - it's got electric hook ups AND easy bike path acess, but I got a nice site by the water in the "parking lot" campground. After I parked I hopped on my bike and rode into Frisco for dinner! I'd been planning to get a pizza from The Hot Tomato in Fruita, but they aren't open on Mondays! I went to Peppino's in Frisco and it was very good!

I love this area because it's got great mountains, tons of National Forest Service campgrounds, and a large system of paved bike paths. It was here two years ago where I got re-introduced to biking!

 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Canyonlands National Park

I was up early to get on the road again! For a few weeks now I've been debating stopping in Moab, Utah on my way to Colorado. I'd almost decided to just do it, then Mom and Dad and I were talking and they were telling me how hot it is in Moab and after the heat in Sisters and the heat yesterday I wanted no part of another hot night, especially when I wasn't sure where I could camp and I knew if I moved quickly I could get to Frisco, Coloradao which is at 9,000 feet and nice and cool! I left the Wal-Mart in Burley with plans to go to Fruita, CO for the night then on to Frisco tomorrow.

The desert scenery didn't change much through the rest of Idaho, however, once I crossed into Utah the hills started, little at first and then bigger! By the time was was on I-15 south approaching the suburbs of Salt Lake City there were huge mountains on the eastern side of the road! I never saw The Great Salt Lake, but the mountains were cool! Very arid still, but high and jagged!

One of the Utah liscene plates has Delicate Arch, in Arches NP, on it. I kept seeing the liscene plate and thinking, "I really should stop at Arches." Even though I thought I'd decided what I was doing, I was still debating it with myself. I'd checked the weather forecast for Moab last night and it was calling for highs in the 90s, lows in the upper 60s...

I stopped for fuel in Provo, Utah (the name rings a bell but I can't figure out why or what's there that I know.). While I was stopped I checked the weather in Moab again. They had a flash flood watch and the temps were lower...hmmm... I also looked up Moab on overnightrvparking.com to see if there were any places that allowed overnight parking in case I couldn't find a campground. Sure enough, the City Market allows RVers to stay overnight!

Once I got off on US6 the scenery improved dramatically! We were now going over the big mountains to the east! As we climbed I noticed the clouds building and the temperature dropping! It barely hit 80! I'd pretty much decided that I was taking the side trip to Moab and the cooler temperatures helped seal the deal!

US6/US191 was a great drive! We went up and over the jagged mountains! There was lots to look at! It was definitely very "desert" with lots of sagebrush and scrubby stuff but it was pretty! It was about 150 miles to the turn off to Moab.

In my head I'd been going to Moab just to go to Arches NP, however, on the road today I saw a billboard for Moab that said "Two National Parks: Canyonlands and Arches. At a rest stop I googled Canyonlands. It wasn't quite as easy to get to as Arches, but if I was going down there I had to go to both!

I made a split second decision to go out to Canyonlands this afternoon, before I even came into Moab! It was 25 miles out the road, but I wanted to get there before the visitor center closed - if I was going there I was going to get my passport stamped!

The road was just amazing! You have to go up on the Mesa to see the canyons so the road went up up up! There are huge rock formations on all sides! Once at the top of the Mesa you still had several miles to drive before coming to the entrance station. Dead Horse State Park is also up there but I didn't stop - it cost $10 to go in & I didn't have enough time, this is the short tour!

I stopped at the visitor center and got my passport stamped, then walked out the the view of the canyon! WOW! It's amazing! So colorful and big! I walked along the rim of that canyon for a little ways, then decided to drive out to the campground to see if there were sites. The park is very big and you have to drive everywhere. I was hoping I could get a site at the campground the ride my bike. No such luck. Campground was full - they only have 12 sites.

 

I stopped at Green River Overlook and then went out to Grand View overlook. At Grand View there was a trail that went along the rim and I walked out that. It was a mile long and I didn't go to the end. The clouds were building and it looked like it was going to storm and I didn't want to get caught out in the rain.

 

By now it was after 5 and I decided I'd better head down and figure out where I was sleeping tonight. The town of Moab is very touristy - lots of shops and resteraunts, not nearly as nice as Sisters! I had to go all the way through town to get to the City Market, but they do in fact allow overnight parking!

I walked through town then went into the City Market for a few things before heading home! Almost all the tourists looked like they just stepped out of the L.L. Bean catalog! As soon as I got in the van it started raining! It's been raining all evening, and there's even been some thunder - loud booming thunder that echoes on all the rocks! It's very cool and comfortable too! I got incredibly lucky that my one day to come to Moab is the day that it's raining and cool.