The Last Legs Home


After we left Zion National Park, we drove north through Hurricane until we found the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) open area where boon-docking is permitted. It took a bit of time to figure where we were allowed, but we found some other Canadians who assured us it was fine to park across from them. We found the most level spot we could, where we wouldn’t be blocking pathways or encroaching on the privacy of others, then went for a walk to see what was around us before the sun set.

Sun Beginning to Set
Our Site/Our neighbours
Where does this road lead?
A locked gate

A bush beginning to bud
My favourite Shot

The sun went down and we could see millions of stars. We watched a campfire (metal ringed fire-pits were the only amenities) burning up on a hill. We read for a while, and then snuggled under the covers to enjoy the quietest and most peaceful night’s sleep we’d had in years. No noise; no lights.

Salt Lake City

Early the next morning we were on the road heading to Salt Lake City. We could see snow-covered mountains off in the distance, shadows from clouds overhead creating the effect of oil paintings.

These were the only interesting things on the drive.

At 4:00 pm we reached our destination – the KOA in Salt Lake City, after stopping at the local Ford Dealer to get an appointment to have the motorhome issue checked out. Hot showers and great internet connection were much appreciated, but we didn’t have the luxury of quiet darkness for sleeping. There is always a trade-off.

While the motorhome was being thoroughly examined for most of the next day, we toured the mall, had coffee and cinnamon buns, and later lunch, before finding a table in the sun of the courtyard, still waiting to hear from the Ford man.

We arrived at City Creek Centre before the stores opened
Looking down and across the creek from the second floor
The outside Courtyard, with the Mormon Chapel in the background
Mid-morning energy boast
Looking down to the street from the Upper Floor Causeway between the Mall Sections
Children were fascinated with this Infinity Pool
At certain intervals music began to play and the fountains danced

He finally checked in  with the news that they could find nothing wrong other than the flawed spark plug that we’d had replaced in Mesa. With Jim’s permission they would replace all ten spark plugs. We had another couple of hours to kill so we left the mall and walked downtown, ultimately ending up at the IMAX Theatre in the Planetarium, where we watched the 3D movie “Super Dogs.” That was amazing!

At 4:30 the call came: the motorhome was finished and running well. $760 later we were back at the KOA. I have to say that we were impressed with this dealership. They were very courteous; they had an Uber at the door to take us wherever we wanted to go while we waited, at their expense, and another to pick us up downtown to return us to the dealership. They showed us the cracked spark plug, and a few examples of how badly warn and rusted the others were. They explained all the other testing they’d done and how they’d found the problem.

The following day we journeyed to the suburb of Cottonwood to join many other ukulele players, in a small non-denominational church, for a ukulele workshop and concert lead by a master of ukulele, Stuart Fuchs. It was an uplifting and inspiring way to end our stay in Utah.

Stuart Fusch tuning his ukulele
Love is the theme of the Unitarian Universalist Society where the ukulele workshop took place

The next morning we left the KOA.

The Final 1,966 Miles

The last five days were spent just driving, trying to keep ahead of the predicted rain and snow along the way.

Tunnel Through the Mountain near Grand River, Utah

The first night we parked at Western Hills Campground, high on a hill outside Rawlins, Wyoming and were again rocked to sleep by high winds. We had a good breakfast at Cappy’s, a restaurant located part way down the hill.

Western Hills Campground, Rawlins, Wyoming

Back on I-80 the winds were still blowing and the elevation reached 8800 feet. Overhead signs warned that there could be wind gusts of 40 to 60 mph and high profile, light-weight vehicles should turn off. That was us, but where were we to go? We carried on, out of Wyoming and half-way through Nebraska to Lexington, where we found a Walmart that night.

Steep Climb to 8800 feet

At Sleepy Hallow Good Sam Campground, in Oxford Iowa the next night, more high winds, thunder and heavy rain disturbed out sleep. At 6:00 am the roaring winds had me up and dressed, ready to escape what sounded like a tornado, but it settled down enough for us to have breakfast before we left. Getting out of our spot was tricky though. The sites were built along the side of a hill and the narrow, up-hill roads between them were partially washed out in places, requiring a sharp left turn to get onto them. We got stuck in the wet grass beside us. After a couple of tries, Jim managed to get purchase on the gravel and gunned it up the hill. I was so glad to get out of there. It’s a very pretty spot, but the access roads and parking sites need a lot of work. That was our last campground stay.

This will be a pretty Campground in the spring and summer, but the roads need work

We got the rest of the way through Iowa, and all the way through Illinois, still on I-80, and to Elkhart, Indiana the next day. The Cracker Barrel was ours for dinner, the night, and breakfast. We would have gotten further if it hadn’t been for a tanker roll over in Illinois that caused a two-hour delay.

The following day we continued to fight the winds and we decided to turn north at Michigan instead of continuing on to Pennsylvania and New York state, where we usually cross the border at Niagara Falls. We were hoping the winds would be lighter. They weren’t.

Trucks lined up at Border
Flags blowing Straight out at the Enroute Travelers Centre

After we crossed into Canada at Detroit (where we got lost trying to find our way to the bridge) they got even worse! We were ready to stop for the night at Tilbury, west of Toronto, but snowy predictions for the next morning and the continued winds, pushed us on home. We arrived at 9:15 pm. Home was a beautiful sight, even though it was cold!

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Picturesque Zion National Park


The night before we left St. George for Zion National Park a very scary wind burst roared around our motorhome, sending it rocking. I was sure it was a tornado and wasn’t able to get to sleep until it had passed. Fortunately it lasted only ten or fifteen minutes.

We were aiming to reach Zion before the nine o’clock rush, but didn’t make it. We found a parking lot downtown and hopped onto the free shuttle bus that took us to the Visitors Centre on the mountain. After paying the entrance fee ($35 for the two of us) and looking at the map to see what hiking options were available, we chose to take the park shuttle bus to the end of the line and come back down jumping off at the trails that sounded the most interesting and most easily accessible for a couple of aging seniors.

Our first views as we made our way to the top

Of the three we chose, we managed to get through only two. Apparently I stop too many times to take pictures!

But there is no better way to describe the experience than with pictures, and even then my photography won’t convey all the senses that the sites stimulated. But I’m going to try.

The first trail we took was to the Lower Emerald Pool.

Interesting rock formations and colours along the trail

This trail normally continues to Upper Emerald Pool, but it was closed off due to a recent rock slide.

Centre left is where the rock slide blocked the trail to Upper Emerald Pool

By the time we were back from that hike we were tired and hungry. We took the shuttle to the Zion Lodge, for sustenance.

When we were walking toward our next trail choice, The Riverside Walk,  I saw a man coming our way who was dressed just like Jim – Tilley hat, blue shirt, dark sweater – and I commented about it. As he walked by we heard him say, “Jim?’

We couldn’t believe that it was someone we knew, a member of Jim’s former Bike Club from home, 2500 miles away! He and his wife and brother-in-law were there on a bus tour.

The Riverside Walk

These well-fed little guys were everywhere and completely unafraid

These mule deer were grazing beside the pathway

We had seen a sign telling us that “The Narrows was closed due to flooding, but when we got to the end of the path we were on, we figured we were there and it must have re-opened. But when Jim joined others on the beach area, he was able to take some pictures of what was really the flooded “Narrows.”

Before we knew it, it was 4:00 and we were done. We had planned to stay in St. George for the night again, and then drive to Bryce Canyon in the morning, but for a couple of reasons we opted to just find a place to dry-camp in the Utah desert and drive straight to Salt Lake City the next day, where we would get the motorhome checked out again (it was still missing) and attend a Ukulele Workshop and Concert on Saturday.

Winter is Over: Heading Home through Northern Arizona, Utah and Then …


Sedona Arizona

We had a busy winter; we had a sad winter. We got to know some new friends better; we lost a few old ones. I played a lot of pickle ball and a little ukulele; Jim played a lot of ukulele and a little pickleball. At the end of last week, that all came to an end, and we said our goodbyes.

Monday was our planned day to be back on the road, hoping to reach Page Arizona before nightfall, but our time was uncertain because we had an early morning appointment to have a spark plug replaced on the motor home and we had no idea how long it would take or how much it would cost. We dropped it off at 8:00 a.m, walked the short distance back to our park, stopping at the little restaurant to have some breakfast. By the time we’d gone to the park office to check out and pay any remaining fees, and chatted with a number of friends and neighbours that we ran into along the way, Jim got a call that the motorhome was done and the cost was only $96! We were off to a good start.

That soon changed when we found ourselves sitting on Highway 17 with many others, including several motorhomes, waiting for an accident way up the road to be cleared. An hour and a half later, we were moving again. We’d taken advantage of the stop to grab some food out of the fridge and cupboard for a light lunch.

It was smooth sailing from then until we were making our way into downtown Sedona where we were in awe of the different view of the red mountains from our previous trips through from another direction.

Suddenly traffic was stopped because of another traffic accident, but that interruption lasted only ten or fifteen minutes. We decided to walk around the upper part of town, joining the many other tourists. We’d never done that before.  It took a while to find a place to park the motor home, and we ended up taking a chance by parking in a fifteen minute parking zone.

We walked both sides of the street and took many pictures before finding a casual little place to have something more to eat before striking out again. It had some humorous signs on the walls.

Outlaw Grill

Curvy Roads

The idea of reaching Page was long gone. We settled in a KOA in Flagstaff instead. We were both tired.

Jim spent some time trying to find us a spot at a campsite near Zion National Park for Tuesday night, the first major stop on our bucket list. He went to bed disappointed. I was disappointed too, not only for that reason, but because the hinge on the kitchen drawer broke completely and now the silver-ware drawer rides on the floor under the table. 🙂

In the morning he had better luck. By 9:30 we were on the road once more, our destination St. George, Utah, just a short drive away from Zion.

We had a good trip and were amazed at the colours and formations of the rocky terrain we witness as we travelled up Hwy 89 and 89A through Arizona and into Utah.

We saw several signs telling of Cliff Dwellers, but this is all we saw:

We stopped for lunch at this quaint little place that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, in the desert, but it was popular and served us a delicious lunch of homemade soup and chicken wings.

This sign told the truth


And the further north we went, the more interesting the landscape became, right into Utah.

Bridges over Colorado River at Glenn Canyon site of historical Lees Ferry, now gone
People travelling along the river in inflatable boats

Then we were climbing up, up to 8,000 feet or more and began to see the leftover snow on the sides of the tree covered hills.

It was all very exhilarating.

We bypassed Page and went straight into St. George to find the RV Park. Driving through the city was the most tiring part of the day, probably because it had already been a long day. We were happy to find that it was a good spot, although we got the only remaining site and had to choose between being fairly level or being able to connect the sewer hose. We decided we could live without the sewer hose for one more night and chose to be level, unlike the night before when it was very difficult to walk without tipping backwards or sideways.

The next morning we were up early and on the road to Zion National Park.

A New View of Las Vegas – Part 2


On Saturday afternoon, we decided to join our friends at the Orleans Hotel and Casino where, surprisingly, the Continental Cup was being held. I never would have thought that a Hotel and Casino would have a curling rink, but that’s only one of the many sports venues they have. It was interesting to watch (for someone who has played the game many times). As the score board indicates, it was a match between teams from North America (Canada and US) and the rest of the World, and the skill demonstrated was very impressive. We heard a few Scottish and Irish accents drifting among the spectators.

Can they get it through?
Sweep, Sweep!

We stayed for only one draw (game) that lasted three hours, and then we drove down to The Strip again.

The Paris

This time we drove on through to the older part looking for Rick at the Silver and Gold Pawn Shop from the Las Vegas Pawn Stars TV show, a favourite of Jim’s. We found him! We’d hoped to have dinner at the BBQ next door, where Rick often tends bar, but it was closed.

Hmm, something seems a little odd

We did discover this interesting “community” though, where all of the stores and restaurants, and some living quarters are made from shipping containers.

We drove back up The Strip and stopped at Circus Circus, one place I hadn’t been before. After chowing down on burgers that were so big we could barely get our mouths around them, at Vince Neil’s Tatuado, we squeezed through the throngs of people, mostly kids who were in town for a big Soccer Tournament, to watch some of the entertainment. It is actually a huge circus midway, in the lower floors of the Hotel. We managed to get lost trying to find our way back to our parking garage and had to ask for directions!

By then my bones were beginning to ache and, since we’d spent a whole week at the Flamingo Hotel on the strip when we were there six years ago, I wasn’t too keen about walking the street again. Jim was disappointed, but reluctantly took us back to the condo.

On Sunday we looked in the papers and hotel literature to find something different to do. We chose a one-hour drive to Valley of Fire State Park, and I was so happy that we did! The colours were stunning and the one-hour hike around White Dome was good for body and soul. I took far more pictures than I can post, but here is a sampling.

White Dome
Blue Rocks

It was after dark when we got back to the city. We took our second coupon back to the Silverton Casino Hotel and nourished ourselves with selections from the buffet again. We dropped a little more money in some slots and went back to the condo to reminisce about our fantastic adventure, and organize our belongings for the trip home the next day.

A new View of Las Vegas – Part One


I started writing this post with the intention of finishing it all at once, but I realized that it would be too much to throw at you, so it’s going to be in two, or maybe three parts. Hope you enjoy the ride!

We were sitting in a restaurant in Chandler, waiting for the Ukulele Jam to begin, when I got a message from a new friend and co-Board Member, inviting us to join her and her husband in Las Vegas for the weekend. It turned out that they were there to watch a Curling Championship and the other couple who was to join them had to cancel. They had reserved two suites with their time-share. They offered us the second one for a really good price. We discussed it and decided that we could leave the next morning. Thus began our second adventure for the month of January!

We packed the car with a couple bags of food, since we would have a full kitchen, a small bag each of clothing, iPads and chargers, and Jim’s all important CPAP. I put my clothing bag, a bag of chargers, my camera, and one bag of groceries into the back seat, along with out iPads. Jim put the rest into the trunk. You might wonder why I’m bothering to share all these details, but you will understand later in the story.

We were on the road by ten. The day was sunny and warm, and we had the top down on the car all the way to Wickenburg before the clouds rolled in and it got cool. At Wickenburg we stopped at the Cowboy Cookin’ Restaurant for a really good lunch of Shrimp Scampi, and then were on our way again.

Cowboy Cookin’ Restaurant, Wickenburg


Nice Ride!

That is real cowboy country!

The Big Spur

We drove through some rain off and on until we reached Kingman, still in Arizona, and Jim decided it was time for gas. As we were approaching the exit into town, the car kicked out of gear for a minute and then kicked back in. That was odd. The battery light came on, but it had been doing that occasionally lately. We got into the gas station and filled up, but then the car wouldn’t start again, at all. Fortunately we now carry a small battery booster with us. It was pouring rain by then, but Jim had to get out and give it a try. It worked. He pulled into a parking spot and left it running, with me keeping my foot lightly on the gas pedal while he went inside. It seemed fine when we pulled away, but we only got back onto the highway and to the next exit when it shifted into limp mode. We took the exit back into Kingman. Fortunately, there was a service centre within sight. We expected we’d need a new battery, which is a big job in a Chrysler Seabring, because the battery is hidden behind the wheel-well. But it turned out it was not the battery, but the alternator. They were able to get to it in a short time and a couple of hours later we were on our way again. We had only another hundred miles to go, but the sun was already setting. We discovered that the radio no longer worked, but thought nothing of it. We could live without that for the rest of the trip and figure it out later.

Approaching Las Vegas at Night

It was seven o’clock when we finally found the Grandview Condo Complex, got signed in, and parked outside our building. Jim pushed the button to pop the trunk; nothing happened. He tried the button on the key fob; still nothing happened. He tried using the key; no luck. Oh, oh! Something had happened to our interior electronics and there was no way to open the trunk. We took what we had in the back seat up to the suite, and I started making some dinner using what was in the bags we had access to, while Jim went back to the car to find a way to get the rest out of the trunk. Being a convertible, the back seats don’t fold down. The only interior access to the trunk was in through the pocket where the top stores when it is down. Jim took all of the casing out of that pocket, and was left with a space about a foot wide that he could reach into and retrieve another bag, but the trunk is deep and most of our bags were close to the back. He took a break to eat dinner and then I went down to help him. We had to do some contortions just to get as much of our bodies through the opening and reach as far as we could. Between us we managed to retrieve most of our real necessities. His big tool box was left in the middle, too large to fit through the opening, and too heavy to lift up anyway. We were able to lock the doors using the inside buttons. We left it for the night.

Our friends arrived, and we told them our saga before we crashed for the night. The accommodations were amazing. I’m sure the suite was bigger than our condo at home, and certainly way bigger than the motorhome. In fact, the shower stall alone was bigger than the whole bathroom in the motorhome! The big lounger bath tub looked very inviting, but it was time to crawl into the king-size bed and get some sleep.

The King Bed is Waiting

The next morning I made breakfast in the very large kitchen and we caught up on the news on the TV, before going out in search of some kind of tool that might help us reach the emergency trunk latch. Jim had looked through the car manual to see how to reset the electronics, to no avail. He’d found where the bright red tag to indicate the emergency latch was, but even with the grabber we purchased, we couldn’t reach it. A family came along and Jim asked the father if he could “borrow” his slim son. We knew he should be able to climb into the trunk through the narrow opening, and we hoped, release the latch. They were happy to help, so with the iPhone flashlight, in he climbed, a couple of times, but the bright red tag couldn’t be found. We thanked them and let them be on their way. We worked ourselves a little longer, moving the tool box around, taking pictures in the hope that we would see the tag, but it wasn’t to be. It was time to give up and enjoy the sights, sounds and food of Las Vegas.

The first thing on Jim’s bucket list was to go to the Silverton Casino to see the big aquarium, just a ten minute drive our condo. When we arrived we registered as players and got our rewards cards which enabled us to claim a dinner for 50% off at any of the restaurants.

After spending some time watching the fish and the mermaids in the aquarium, we found the Buffet. It was agony trying to decide what to try. The buffet was so long it was impossible to sample everything, but what we chose was delicious. As it turned out, one coupon was good for two people, and it was buy-one-get-one-free, so the two of us ate for only $10! I saved my coupon for another day. Luck was back on our side, for a little while anyway! At the slots, I quite quickly lost $9.95 of the ten I allowed myself to spend. Jim just about broke even.

Acquarium
Mermaids

We gave up and drove down through the lights and traffic on the Strip and then made our way to the famous Fremont Street.

When we got out of the car we realized that we should have thrown jackets in, as the evening air had turned cool. Before walking very far we found some inexpensive souvenir jackets. Our friend had told us that the
World Spinners Championship was supposed to be taking place down there. We caught the first round. Who knew that this was a thing?


Wow, some talented spinners!
Looking Up

After some dinner, we walked through the covered street, watching the varying displays on the overhead screen, and people flashing by on the zip lines. We laughed at some of the “acts” on the street by “buskers” and were impressed with others.

By the time we’d walked the two blocks again, I was ready to call it quits so we returned to the condo and I enjoyed a good soak in that marvellous tub, before climbing into bed.

The next day would be another busy one.

Rounding out January with Some More Adventure


The problem with getting some blogging done these last two weeks hasn’t been lack of adventure, but finding the time to write about them. Our weekdays are always busy with ukulele, pickleball, bocce ball and just socializing with our neighbours and friends. We’ve had two adventures during the last two weekends, which produced lots of pictures.

The first adventure started with a last minute decision to take a drive up Superstition Mountain, a place I’ve written about many times before. Our plan was just to go as far as Tortilla Flat for some lunch and to listen to the band. But, after enjoying a huge hamburger at the outdoor grill and tapping our feet to the great music, we opted to continue driving to Roosevelt Dam, a distance of only about thirty miles. It was a fairly warm and sunny day, so of course the top was down on the convertible.

The last time that we’d travelled that part of the “highway” was the first year we were in Arizona and our neighbour had loaned us her car (we only had our bike here that year) so that we could take Jim’s daughter, Karen, sightseeing when she visited in March. We’d forgotten that after only a few miles past Tortilla Flat the paved road suddenly ended, tossing us into a mixture of hard ruts, gravel and sand. Or maybe we had hoped that the newly widened and paved section to Tortilla Flat had been extended beyond there. Anyway, there isn’t too much traffic on it at that point, but the vehicles we met were mostly 4x4s, and none were open convertibles. We got some amused looks.

We chose the paved highway to the left and made our way back to the city before darkness engulfed us.

Hope you enjoyed the ride! Watch for our next adventure, coming soon.

Something We’ve Never Done Before! A Tour of a Distillery.


Before we left Bardstown Kentucky on Friday morning, we decided to check out the Distillery that our Camp Ground Host told us about. The little map that he provided was a bit confusing so it took us a half hour or so to find the Barton 1792 Distillery, best known for its Bourbon.

I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy such a tour, but it was really fascinating. I wish I could remember all that our wonderful guide, Katie, told us. I can’t but I’ll share what I remember, with some of the many pictures we took.

We waited in the gift shop for the tour to begin.

A few facts Katie shared about the production of Bourbon:

  1. It is made from mostly corn, mixed with some barley and rye.
  2. It has to be 51% corn to be called Bourbon.
  3. It can be made and bottled as Bourbon only in the US because of trademark

We walked over to the productions buildings where Katie explained much along the way. She showed us samples of the ground corn, barley and rye that was used to make the mash (starting process) and we had a peek in to see the Masher, but it was too noisy to go inside.

She told us of the strict rules for acceptance of corn from the farmers, and how it is brought in and emptied from the bottom of the trucks into the bins below the ground.

Next stop was a Ricker, the building where the barrels of brew are stored to age. They have 27 of these buildings, and they hold between seventeen and twenty thousands barrels each! Here we were able to take a sniff of a few barrels to see if we could discern a different aroma. Because all barrels aren’t exactly alike inside, the aroma and flavour differs. The barrels are charred inside to allow the liquid to absorb the flavour of the wood better. The barrels are used only once for Bourbon, but can be used once more to make Brandy.

From there we went into the Distillery, where we had to climb two flights of steep stairs. At the top was a hydrometer that measures the specific gravity of liquid to determine the alcohol content. It must be at a 125 before it is put into the barrels to age. We were given a chance to sip a sample that was a higher content. At first I declined, but my scratchy throat made me give it a try. It helped! Going down the stairs might have been a little more challenging!

IMG_3153

After that we went back to the Gift Shop for some taste-testing of finished products, Bourbon on it’s own, Bourbon paired with dark chocolates, and Bourbon Egg Nog.

If you get a chance to do one of these tours, do it. You’ll find it very interesting, whether you drink the stuff or not.

By the time we were finished the tour and taste-testing, it was lunch time. We drove back to the highway to the Walmart to get a few groceries and picked up a couple of Wraps to eat on the road. We wanted to get to Nashville before dark.

While Jim drove, I booked a site at the Nashville North KOA, one we’d stayed in on our last visit to Nashville. I was disappointed to learn that the Shuttle Bus no longer transports people from there to the Grand Ole Opry, something Jim wanted to attend again. But we were assured that we could get an Uber or a Lyft ride. I called the Opry and secured us two tickets for the evening show, way up high again, but still good.

I thought we’d have to rush to get ready after we arrived at the KOA, but then realized we’d gone through a time-zone change, so we had an extra hour. That was good because our neighbour wanted to chat. And the Lyft driver was forty minutes early so I did have to rush to finish dressing once we got that warning! We arrived in plenty of time to pick up our tickets and get a bite to eat at the outdoor BBQ truck and sit on the patio to eat. We even had some time to wander through the Gift Shop. We had to climb three flights of stairs to get to our seats, but that exercise did me good.

IMG_4792

I have to admit, again, that I wasn’t familiar with many of the performers, but they were fun to listen to. Some gave us some chuckles too. I still think that Mario Carboni belongs on that stage!

When we got home at 10:00 we had great internet reception, so I just had to finish my first blog post and get it published! I wished I could stay up all night and get caught up on the lot, but as it was I stayed up too late and had trouble sleeping.

It was a very busy few days. Saturday and Sunday we spent on the road. The Mount Pleasant KOA was our first stop in Texas and I enjoyed having good internet to get caught up with my blogging.

Sadly, I didn’t have enough time to publish this one, and it’s been three days since we’ve had WiFi.