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!

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.

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.

Adventures in British Columbia, Part Two – Kaslo


My first morning in Kaslo began on a sour note, honestly! After petting the family cat, who had been out all night, I noticed a really foul smell in the room and soon discovered it was coming from her. We all came to the conclusion that she must have been lightly sprayed by a skunk. Kendrick (son-in-law) and Sarah took turns washing her with a mixture that Sarah had found recommended on the internet. Poor Tensen was very frightened by it all. It helped some and gave her coat a beautiful shine, but for me she was not so lovable the rest of the week because the odour returned whenever she was rubbed on the back of her head. She’s a lovely cat and I felt badly.

The smoke from the forest fires had lifted from this valley town, but the normally awesome view of the mountains was still obscured.

View from Beach 2008

View from Beach 2008

View from same beach, summer 2017

View from same beach, summer 2017

After a hardy breakfast of porridge and fruit, Sarah and the children, Callum and Skylet, and I headed for the River Trail, always a beautiful hike that begins in upper Kaslo and ends close to downtown in lower Kaslo.

One bridge across the river

River walk, Kaslo

River walk, Kaslo

Callum found a snake

Callum found a snake

Newest Bridge

By the time we got to the end, the temperature had risen and we were shedding our sweaters and heading to the beach where we ate a picnic lunch that Sarah had packed. Kendrick joined us later and they all went for a swim. The stony beach doesn’t appeal to me and my sensitive feet, but I was quite content to sit on a grassy ledge under a tree and observe.

Kaslo Beach

The next day was more laid-back. The smoke seemed a little heavier and the air hotter, making up-hill walking difficult. I met Kendrick’s mom for lunch and then she showed me her new home. We relaxed in the breeze on her porch until Sarah drove down to get me and we all went to the beach again. Air conditioning isn’t something that most people or businesses have in Kaslo, so the beach is very popular.

Sarah made a delicious dinner of pizzas on rice tacos before we crowded around the iMac monitor (they don’t have a TV) and ate popcorn while watching the animated movie, Despicable Me.

There was constant news of more forest fires not too far away, which kept everyone on alert. Kendrick is a volunteer fire fighter and was on call to help with a possible evacuation all day Sunday. But it rained most of the day and into the night, beating back some of the infernos. We all did a little dance of thanks.

Sarah and I spent Saturday and Sunday managing her pottery stall at St. Andrew’s Church hall during the Arts and Culture Tour.

Kaslo Arts and Culture Show

Kaslo Arts and Culture Show

Sarah's latest pottery

Sarah’s latest pottery

Potter at Work

Potter at Work

On Monday Sarah and I struck out with the kids to go fishing at two small lakes a half hour drive up Hwy 31from Kaslo. Callum is an avid fisher. Our first stop was – Fish Lake! However, there was no fishing there that day. Instead we participated in the “Three-year Study of Western Toads to Find Ways to Mitigate Highway Mortality” by scooping up many of the tiny toads and putting them into buckets to carry them across the highway safely. The previous day rains had brought them out in droves.

Unlike most amphibians Western Toads are mostly terrestrial, spending 95% of their life in terrestrial habitats, using aquatic environments only to breed.

A number of nature societies are working together to find a more permanent solution to prevent the thousands of toads from being crushed on the highway, such as installing barrier fencing to guide them through toad-friendly culverts.

Long rescue trough leading to culvert under highway

Tiny Toads on plastic barrier

Toad Rescue

Toad trough going under the Highway

Rescuing escaped toads to walk across Highway in a bucket.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We did eventually get further up the road to Bear Lake, but no fish were to be found. A cold wind chased us back to the car and home.

Most of Tuesday was spent in Nelson where Callum had a dentist appointment and Skylet had to pick up her new glasses in the morning. We had a great lunch and then Kendrick took the kids to the Community Centre indoor pool for a few hours. Sarah and I got to hang out, picking up some groceries and exploring some of the shops. Because the weather had turned much cooler, I bought a couple pairs of leggings at a second hand store, something that would pack easily into my already bulging carry-on. Of course the next day the heat was back and I never wore them once!

On Wednesday I helped Sarah do some cleaning up in her garden in the morning. In the afternoon we all went to the beach at Fletcher Falls to escape the heat. The breeze was cool and refreshing. Kendrick and Callum did some fishing; Skylet did some swimming; Sarah and I explored the beach for interesting stones.

Fletcher Falls

Fletcher Falls

Fletcher Falls

Fletcher Falls

Fletcher Falls

Fletcher Falls

Fishing on the beach at Fletcher Falls

Fishing on the beach at Fletcher Falls

Thursday, my last day, Sarah took me and the kids across the ferry at Belfour to visit some of the many Artisan Shops in Crawford Bay.

Riding the Ferry from Balfour

Riding the Ferry from Balfour

Broom Maker Shop

Broom Maker Shop

Finished Brooms

Finished Brooms

Broom Maker at Work

Broom Maker at Work

Trimming

A Harry Potter Broom

A Harry Potter Broom

Sculptures outside the Weaving Shop

Sculptures outside the Weaving Shop

A couple more bear sculptures inside the Weaving Shop

A couple more bear sculptures inside the Weaving Shop

The Kootenay Forge

The Kootenay Forge

Inside the Forge

Inside the Forge

Early Friday morning Sarah and Skylet saw me off in Nelson where I caught my bus for the five hour trip back to Kelowna, where Judy would meet me once again.

It was a fun week with lots of interesting things to see and do, but the best part was just having so much quality time to spend with Sarah, something we haven’t had in a long time.

 

From Las Cruces to Clovis, We’re Still in New Mexico!


 

This might just be our longest trip home yet!

As I mentioned in my last post, we stopped on Monday night at the Coachlight Inn and RV Park in Las Cruces. There were some “interesting” rvs in that park! Obviously no restrictions on what you had or how long you stayed applied.

The weather was good when we left and got warmer as we drove. In fact, at one point my upper legs inside my black jeans got a little bit burned from the sun streaming through the window. Then it was time to change into shorts and sandals.

The scenery gradually changed to more trees and less desert. It was quite beautiful. One snow-capped mountain peak caught my attention, behind lower mountain ranges, and we seemed to follow it for twenty miles or more. I think it might be Captain Mountain.

IMG_2333IMG_2335

We stopped for a late lunch in Roswell and ended up spending a couple of hours there, taking pictures and touring the UFO Museum. Roswell is the nearest town to the suspected site of the UFO crash in 1947. It was really interesting to read all of the articles and eye-witness accounts on display in the museum, some believable; some questionable. Is it true that, after admitting to the event, the government suddenly had a change of heart and covered it all up ?

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The theme of the whole city is aliens and UFOs, with souvenir shops selling every sort of thing that could be imagine from post cards to green soccer balls painted to look like alien heads.

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This creative interpretation was outside one shop.

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It was a fun few hours, but the delay meant we wouldn’t make it out of New Mexico that night. And today extremely high winds are keeping us put right where we ended up, at Travelers World Good Sam RV Park outside Clovis, New Mexico! The temperature has dropped and we’ve had a bit of rain. Because we don’t dare engage our leveling jacks for fear they won’t retract, the coach is really rocking.

Hoping tomorrow we might make it across Texas, but that’s not even certain. Good thing we allowed ourselves two weeks to get home.

Exploring and Camping in Canada’s National Parks Part II


Banff National Park

We were awake at dawn the next morning so thought we’d postpone breakfast and get back onto the Parkway before other traffic, hoping, again, to see some of the wildlife that a multitude of signs along the road warned us about. We saw none. Fifty-two kilometers later we finally came to the only service area on the Parkway so we stopped for breakfast. It was nearly 9:00, but neither the restaurant nor cafeteria were quite ready to open. We looked at the restaurant menu and decided that we’d just grab some coffee at the store and eat cereal in the motor home. The Continental Breakfast would cost us $14.95 each, and the full breakfast buffet of bacon, eggs, sausages and pancakes, would be $25.00 each! As it was, two coffee cost $7.50.

The higher we climbed over the mountain pass, the more snow we saw on the evergreen trees and in the ditches. Fortunately it wasn’t on the roads. That’s the kind of snow I like to see! It was beautiful. By 10:30 we had crossed into Banff National Park.

Glacier Parkway

Glacier Parkway between the Glacier Centre and Banff

Glacier Pkwy (176)

It was just before noon when we reached our next planned destination, Lake Louise, but because it was still early we agreed to continue on to Banff and stop at Lake Louise on the way back the next day. An hour later we were at the Information Centre in downtown Banff getting campground information and lunch locations suggestions. We walked to JK Bakery and Cafe to fill up on salad and homemade lasagna for much less than the breakfast offered along the way. I also picked up a big loaf of their fresh multi-grain bread for less than the price of it in a grocery store. Look for it if you are ever in Banff.

We found a lovely, full hook-up campsite at Tunnel Mountain Trailer Park, that included a bus stop to catch the bus back into town, which we did as soon as we were hooked up. After looking around the shops, we found a grocery store where we bought a few supplies, and then had dinner at Tony Roma’s. To our surprise, the same cheery young Australian woman who’d waited on us at JK Bakery was our hostess here. In fact, most of the servers in the restaurant spoke with Australian accents. They love Banff, and I can’t blame them.

Banff

Banff

Banff

Our Campground

Banff (7) Banff (11)While we waited for our return bus I chatted with Wendy from London, England, who was in Banff on a bus tour.

The next afternoon we were out of the National Parks and into British Columbia. We decided to bypass Lake Louise this trip.

Revisiting a Favourite Destination: BC 2013, Day 1


Mountains over Coldstream

Mountains over Coldstream

It’s been a few years since we’ve driven through the mountains of BC.  I’d forgotten how beautifully majestic they are.

We flew into Kelowna and spent the night with friends in nearby Coldstream, before picking up our rental car the next morning for our drive to Kaslo. By the time we had arranged insurance, coordinated the GPS and bought a map for safe measure, it was time for lunch. We finally got on our way around 12:30 pm.

The air was crisp, but the sun was bright and it followed us most of the way. As usual, my finger was continuously clicking the camera button,  as I tried to capture every “great shot” that I saw. We took Hwy 97 north, from Kelowna back to Coldstream, and then turned east onto Hwy 6.

Hwy 97

Hwy 97 winding around Kalamalka Lake

The road hugged the mountains and curved along the shore of Lake Kalamalka.

Hwy 3

Hwy 97, one of many great motorcycle roads in BC

Both of these highways provide many turns that made us wish we on our motorcycle.

Logging truck on Hwy 3

One of several logging trucks we met on Hwy 6

Cattle on HWY 3

Deer weren’t the only animals we had to watch out for!

At Needles we waited for the free cable ferry to take us across Lower Arrow Lake to Fauquier, a journey of only one kilometer. This ferry has been running since 1913. It runs every fifteen minutes, so our wait was short.

Needles Ferry coming  in

Needles Ferry coming in

Needles Ferry

Needles Ferry, approaching Fauquier

Hwy 6 turns north from Fauquier and follows Arrow Lake to Nakusp, where it becomes Hwy 23, but at Nakusp we took Hwy 47 south-east to the fascinating old town of New Denver, the town we had visited for the Garlic Festival while on our motor home trip in 2010, but we had not seen the downtown. The few businesses on the main street are all colourful clapboard, reminiscent of the mining days.

New Denver Restaurant

New Denver Restaurant

New Denver Bank

A simpler life

Home Hardware

Home Hardware

Dome B&B

Dome B&B worth taking a closer look at, perhaps on our way back.

By the time we had an ice-cream and were on our way again, taking Hwy 31A to Kaslo, the clouds were floating low over the mountain peaks like smoke billowing from a non-existing forest fire.

Low clouds

Low clouds

More twisty roads

More twisty roads on Hwy 31A

We arrived in Kaslo and into the arms of family just as the rain caught up with us.