Sign, Sign Every Where a Sign…our Visit to Las Vegas-Photo Tour

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We headed to Las Vegas, the City of Sin, Vegas, the 26th largest City in the US and largest in Nevada and also the Mojave Desert. I had a long list of photography goals for this City and it did not disappoint. The one thing we didn’t get to do was the Fremont Experience, not that we need an excuse to go back but this gives us just one.

This is going to be a different type of blog post. Enjoy some of the pics of our visit to Sin City.

THE HOTTEST, DRIEST, LOWEST PLACE ON EARTH-DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK!

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While we were staying in Pahrump, Nevada we headed to the hottest, driest, and lowest place on earth, Death Valley National Park. This park straddles the California-Nevada border, just be sure to get gas in Nevada before entering or there is a nice hefty price tag to getting it in California. We were sure what really to expect to see because the name alone doesn’t even sound inviting but we figured since we were this close we might as well to check it out. I did my research prior and knew where I wanted/needed to go to get the shots I wanted to get, but all and all we were thinking it would be a half day event at best and certainly just a driving event. Well we were blown away with its beauty and all there is to see and we got all our steps in for the day. Since we went after a dry winter there were very few desert flowers blooming. Despite the awful name of the park there is some much life that survives in this place, it is amazing. It is extremely diverse consisting of salt-flats, sand dunes, badlands, valleys, canyons and mountains. Death Valley was established on February 11, 1933 as a National Monument and became a National Park on October 31, 1994. For obvious reasons the best time to visit is in the fall and winter months.

Death Valley received its name from some European Americans being trapped in the valley in 1849 while looking for a shortcut to California. There were some short lived “boom” towns created in the late 19th and 20th century. They came to find gold and silver, even though the the long-term profitable ore was borax. The borax was transported out of the area by a 20 mule team. The 20 Mule Team was actually 18 mules and two horses pulling large wagons out of Death Valley from 1883 to 1889. In the 20’s there were resorts built around Stovepipe Wells and Furnace Creek.

As far as hot goes, it was hot while we were there (April 4, 2022) and at one point we saw 99 degrees but the highest recorded is 134 degrees. As far as the lowest the Badwater Basin is -282′ (that’s right, negative 282 feet) below sea level.

Since I had sort of a photography agenda we looked at the map and figured out what we “needed” to see and what we “wanted” to see and left home at 8:00 a.m., leaving Eris at home to guard our air conditioned castle. This place is no place for pets, we would not have been able to go on the hikes we did go on (while they were short they had some challenges if nothing else but the heat) and certainly could not have stayed in the truck even for a few minutes.

Coming in from the east the first stop was the 20 Mule Team Canyon scenic road. It is a dirt/gravel scenic drive that took us on narrow roads with plenty of bends and ups and downs gullies. Some scenes from Return of the Jedi were filmed here.

Next stop for us was Zabriske point. Even though we didn’t get there at sunrise when we did get there it was still amazingly beautiful. There is a paved walkway up to the top about 1/4 a mile each way with a little bit of elevation. So worth the walk, just for the views.

On our way to the visitors center there was the Inn of Death Valley which truly is an oasis in the desert, so lush and green. We stopped there to check it out and we would love to stay there sometime, this wasn’t the time however. So on we went.

Of course no national park visit wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the visitor center. We headed into Furnace Creek to get the information we wanted and needed to make the day the most productive. There is a video and displays as well and a great stop to get the national park pass stamped (and only place in the park). We showed our pass and received the newspaper and the Death Valley map and backcountry and off-road map. We always suggest stopping at the visitor’s center first thing to get the lay of the land and find out what is open and closed and road and trail conditions. It was nice to see that the park is fully open, with ranger programs and everything.

After receiving the map we were ready to head out for the rest of the day. Next stop was Harmony Borax Works. Borax was the most profitable resources mined in the park. At this spot there is an original 20 mule team wagon and some ruins of the mining operation. This also has a 1/4 mile loop, paved trail with information signs to read.

The next stop was down another dirt/gravel road to Keene Wonder Mill and Mine where gold was discovered by accident. While borax is what makes Death Valley famous, Jack Keane and Domingo Etcharren discovered real gold by in 1903. It was mined until 1942 with the peak years being 1907-1012. Keane Wondering Mine produced $625,000-$682,000 during the boom years. We hiked up the steep incline to what remains of an aerial tram where the gold was taken out in metal ore buckets loaded to the top with about 70 tones of order and transported each day, moved to the mill about a 1.6 miles from the top. There are still some of the original structures that can be explored, however the mines are closed with a fence for safety reasons. We sat in the truck and had our lunch before beginning our journey to the base of the aerial tram.

After we had our fix with the mining tour we headed to see some more natural places so off to Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes we headed. These sand dunes rise 100 fee from Mesquite Flat. We were able to just step out of the car and take some pictures. As it was near 100 degrees we really didn’t have the need to go walk through the sand. Not to mention we had other places to see.

We stopped at Stovepipe Village. Which consists of some lodging, general store (where we proceeded to get ice cream) also gas was much cheaper here if needed then at Furnace Creek. While there we did stop and get some ice cream but nothing else.

Next stop on our tour was to the lowest place in North America-Badwater Basin. It was pretty amazing to think we were 282 below sea level. There is a sign that shows where sea level is. We walked out a little bit but since it was 99 degrees we could feel ourselves baking from the bottom up. Took some great pics and moved onward as we wanted to get to Dantes View before sunset and had other places to go.

We made our way to Artist Drive which is a paved, 9-mile one-way scenic loop drive through multi-colored hills. This drive did not disappoint as the views were spectacular.

Our final destination for the day was Dantes View, which is viewpoint at 5475 feet. It’s a way to get to the view point and the last 1/4 mile was a 15% grade to the top. Down at the bottom we were near 90 degrees by the time we made it up to the top it was 68 degrees. The views here did not disappoint as well. We could see Badwater Basin down below and were able to see the sunset.

While the season for Death Valley is earlier than we were there our trip was still magnificent. We highly recommend this as a destination. If we make it back to the area we will go again and plan on doing some of the amazing hikes and to see some more of this park. Don’t let the name of this park deter you from going, it is not dead at all it is full of life. Here are some shots from our time we spent there. Until next time, keep on keeping on….

20 Mule Team Canyon
Zabriske Point
The Inn-truly an oasis in the desert
Harmony Borax Works
Keane Wonder Mill and Mine
Natural Bridge

Artist Drive
Dantes View

Oh My, Just Like That it’s 2022

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Time sure does fly and a ton has happened and so many sites have been seen since I last blogged from Seattle. I will just give a run down of what we did since Seattle and catch up to today, where we are sitting until next month in Florida. I will also talk about all the things we learned while on the road, so stay tuned.

After Seattle we headed to meet our friends in Olympia, where we stayed for nearly a month. We went to the San Juans, and Olympic National Park. We also participated in our first in post Covid road race in Olympia. One of the best things of being rootless is that we got to see our friends across the country where any other normal summer that would not have been an option. After Olympia we headed down to Cathlamet, Washington, a cute little town on the Columbia River, to see Mike’s cousins. We spent a few days there, hanging with family and seeing the sites. We went to Astoria, Oregon while there, where we climbed the tower and went through the Goonies’ Museum. After spending a few days we needed to head towards our next “rock-destination” which was the Xscapers Convergence in Driggs, Idaho.

First stop was a casino in Pendleton, Oregon. Well we weren’t going for the casino we were there for the campground. The campground was Wild Horse Casino and was clearly set up by a Rv’er as the all the sites were easy to get into and spaced perfectly. While in Pendleton we did the underground tour. Which was a great tour about the history of Pendleton. The campground had it’s own pool but we were able to use the pool and all the other facilities at the casino. There was an indoor pool, there was a gym, movie theater, bowling alley, and game room, not to mention the actual casino. Mike and I don’t gamble but decided to “blow” $10.00. We had no idea how to even play the slot machines. We left $166.00 richer. We stayed there for a few days and headed onward toward Driggs.

Next stop was in Idaho at a campground, Green Canyon Hotsprings, that had some natural hot springs. Which we did not use as they were really crowded. It was just a stopping point as we were getting ready to boondock for the next month. Our first stop after the hot springs was Driggs, Idaho where we were doing the Xcapers Convergence. We had such a great time there, even when the weather wasn’t great or when the smoke filled the sky. We met some new people who we will have as friends for lifetime. We volunteered to set up, park and knock down the event. Which I think volunteering makes it even more fun. We went kayaking as a group, ski lift and hiking as a group. All of it was fun and it was sad to leave but I am sure we will see these folks down the road.

After we left there we headed back to Yellowstone where we had reservations in the park for 3 nights, then it was on to the Tetons. Of course Yellowstone was amazing. I did a photography tour where I got some amazing shots. I will do this tour again when we go out in May. After Yellowstone we had a week in the Tetons, at Gros Ventre. After spending 8 glorious nights there and seeing alot of Moose we headed back up to Atherton Creek. We we spent another week up there and met our friends from the convergence. Then it was time for us to go our separate ways as we had a lot more we wanted to see and we had the next big boulder in Savannah that we had to get to, plus the weather was changing daily before our eyes. It was getting colder and the trees were literally changing colors daily. We haven’t seen fall before at least not like this so it was really cool.

Next stop was Colorado as we made our way east. First stop was in Rock Springs, Wyoming. I could live there. We stayed for a few days and did things like laundry, dog grooming and just basic normal household chores. We spent over a month boondocking so it was nice to have full hookups for a few days. After Rock Springs we headed down the road to Dinosaur National Monument via the Flaming Gorge passes, where we found a great campsite in the Monument to boondock. The sunsets were amazing. We did some touring. Half of the park in in Utah and half of it is in Colorado. I will go into more details about the park in another blog.

After a few days there we headed to Delta Colorado (Grand Junction), where we went to Colorado National Monument, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Colorado National is one of my favorite parks. It has a little bit of everything. After we spent sometime there we lucked out and got a campground in Ouray. Where we spent 4 days there. The campground was in town. Ouray was an amazing little town, with history, sites and views. To head to our next destination we had to drive the Million Dollar Highway. It was a scary pass but not the scariest I think I have ever driven. That being said, I don’t have any need to do it again. There is no shoulder and at times we were at something like 15,000 feet in elevation. To say I was happy to see the town of Silverton is an understatement. While staying in Ouray we did a day trip to Telluride. Another amazing ski town that has a free ski lift to take you up and down the mountains. Like a bus but a ski lift instead. We also watched people doing the Via Ferrata. Mike became hooked and couldn’t wait to try this himself. A Via Ferrata is basically rock/wall climbing, on ledges. That is a big NO for me.

While we did not stop in Silverton we may return some day, we had a destination and that destination was Durango. Where we stayed at a great campground right on the narrow rail train tracks. We took the shortened train ride. We both loved it. So beautiful, however it was cold and drizzly all day but that was ok we brought stuff to keep us warm and know what to bring next time. While there also went to Mesa Verde National Park. It was ok, that’s all I can say. After a few days there it was time leave and we really wanted to boondock for a few days.

As we were headed east we stopped at Great Sand Dunes National Park. Where there is some amazing boondocking opportunities right outside the door. We did a hike while there but there was no way I wanted to climb the sand dunes. The one thing we love about this lifestyle is you never know who you may come across again. While boondocking we ran into someone we met the month before in Gros Ventre.

Then we made it to Colorado Springs, where we did a Harvest Host one night and did a couple nights at a KOA. We went to Garden of the Gods, which was really cool and the dog got to hike with us as well, so the always makes us happy.

Onward we headed and made our way to Kansas. Two nights later we were in Kansas City. While we stayed on the Missouri side that didn’t stop us from enjoying the Kansas side. Totally surprised as to the beauty that was there. We wish we would have had more time to spend there.

Next stop was St. Louis. The Arch was on my bucket list. Friends told us about the casino to stay at, while it was no Wild Horse like we had in Pendleton it was good. The view was the arch and a short walk away over the Mississippi River via the Eads Bridge, which was the world’s first steel truss bridge. The campground was in Illinois and there was a state border sign on the bridge. Well we were officially east of the Mississippi, where things just got damper or so it seemed. We had to drive over on the day for our tour at the Gateway Arch National Park because of weather. After we toured the Arch, (again I will dedicate a full blog post to all the parks we went to) we met my sister-in-law for lunch. Again it is so cool, getting to meet family on the road.

As I said we are now east of the Mississippi. so it is a good time to say good bye and I will tell you all about the rest of our Season One in the next blog, which I promise will not be months away. Stay tuned for all the eastern states we stopped at and Mike’s first Via Ferrata.

Black bear in Olympic National Park
Colorado National Monument
Black Canyon of the Gunnison
Dinosaur National Park
Ouray
Durango
Garden of the Gods

Heading to West with a Stop in Wallace, Idaho

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This was an amazing stop, and totally unplanned. The heat was on so we wanted to be plugged in for a few days.  The campground was Wallace RV Park, which is on a creek and the big selling point to us was has a brewery attached.  After getting off the interstate we drove through this adorable western mining town and then into the campground.  The campground, while the sites were small the location was amazing.  It had a railtrial (Trail of the Coeur d”Alenes) right outside the door which was amazing for working on my training.  It was underneath the interstate for a couple miles which made it very pleasant to stay out of the hot sun.  The trail is something like 73 miles long. 

The town is full of history. It is located in Shoshone County, Idaho in the Silver Valley mining district of the Idaho panhandle.  It was founded in 1884 and sits on the Coeur d’ Alene River and Interstate 90.   They had more brothels there than in San Fransciso did at one point.  The last one closed in the 80’s, the 1980’s.  It then became a museum and the rooms were rented it out.  There is an old theater there as well, however the summer program had not started while we were there.  One day we went on the Mine Tour (Sierra Silver Mine Tour).  We started at the Silver Mining Store, which is part store and part museum and ice cream parlor.  We hopped on a trolley that took us to our tour, after a steep ride up the side of the mountain we were greeted by a Miner who had us place a hard hat on our heads and off we went into the mine.  Very dark and very damp place.  After our 45-60 minute tour down below we decided that spending 12 hours per day in the dark, damp place would not be our idea of fun.  It was interesting how the miner’s lived and we now know that they did not make a lot of money but they would spend some money at the many brothels.  After our mine tour our driver collected us to take us on a tour of the town of Wallace.  In which we learned about the history of Wallace and how it became and why it became the only town in the US that all the buildings, homes are on the National Historical Registry.  Apparently in the 80’s again the 1980’s the government wanted to build the Interstate right through the town, so the town put every house on the historical registry.  

One evening we went to the brewery  (City Limits Brewery) we sat at the bar and a gentleman asked to sit next to us.  We started to chat up Bruce, he is a native of the town of Wallace, however he lives in San Antonio and goes back for a few months in the summer, can’t blame him for that.  Anyway, he was telling us about growing up there and the making of the railtrail.  He said when he was in the military they told the people when on leave they did not want them to go to San Fransciso or Wallace because of the amounts of brothels.  He also told us how the building of the railtrail was a way to unpollute the area. The area was polluted when they were taking out the railroad so the government told the town you either have to spend a lot of money to get rid of the pollutants or “cap”, capping is what they did and the railtrail was born.  There is a train museum, which we did as well, worth our time for sure.

Speaking of Railtrails, there is one we did the Hiawatha Trail.  It is an unpaved railtrail that is awared the Rails-To-Trails Hall of Fame designation.  It is considered the “crown jewel” of rail trails and after riding the trail I can honestly say we agree.  The adventure begins at Lookout Pass on the Montana/Idaho state line.  We drove up there and rode our bikes down, very little pedaling needed.  The trail is a 2% downhill grade of 15 miles of amazing views on the abandoned Milwaukee Railroad.  The trail has 10 tunnels, (one is 2 miles long, long dark and damp) and the trail also has 7 trestles.  After we got to the bottom there were some nice folks to take our bikes and us back up to the top, well almost the top, we have to ride the tunnel back to the beginning. It cost us less than $30.00 each for the ride and the return shuttle.  They rent bicyles and helmets (must be worn) and headlights (a necessity as well, remember the 2 mile, dark, damp tunnel), however, we had our bikes, helmets and lights with us.  We were finally able to use our bikes since we left Florida and were grateful for having our own and my Ion headlight and tail light.  After we got back we were wishing there was more.  If this is something you want to do check out the schedule at  ridethehiawatha.com. 

While we were in Wallace our days were spent exploring and the afternoons were spent enjoying the little town, checking out the breweries and just enjoying hanging around the campground.  

During one of the afternoon walks with Eris the Court’s bailiff asked us to bring Eris to the courthouse he had a cookie. He told us to go ahead and bring her in and he meant all the way in up the marble stairs and up to the lobby area where he could give her a treat. He said they are very proud of not having a dog policy. The hospitality in the whole town was amazing, for a second I thought we were in the south.

Bottomline, if heading west and you are like us and don’t have concrete plans be sure to do a stopover in Wallace, Idaho.  If we had time we would be heading back there.  

Next week’s blog we are skipping ahead to the Seattle area as there wasn’t much to be said about where we were in eastern Washington, because we were fleeing the heat.  

So until next week keep exploring, discovering and dreaming, whether you are traveling or staying in place.  

Hope, Mike and Eris, the lowrider camping hound

PS if you would like to purchase any of my photo’s, email me and I will be happy to sell you some.  I will be reopening my Etsy store in the near future as well, selling cards and magnets of my prints. Look out for that coming soon.

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OFF TOO DRIGGS OR FLAMING GORGE, WHAT WILL THE MAGIC 8 BALL PICK, AND OUR FAVORITE CAMPER ADDITION

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Well we don’t have a Magic 8 Ball, but we do have a son, so we sent him the weather conditions for both Driggs and Flaming Gorge and said you be our Magic 8 Ball and tell us where to go.  This is the conversation we were having with our son as we were emptying out our black tanks at the Maverick down the road from the Flight Park.  He said definately Flaming Gorge.  So off we went, headed east, made it into Wyoming and then back into Utah.  Flaming Gorge is technically in both Wyoming and Utah  but our campground was in Utah.  After a series of serious, not kidding mountain passes we made it to our campground, Jug Hollow Dispersed. We decided to not scope it out and just go for it, because we could see there was a way to turn around at the end from Google Maps, so off we set out to what would become our home for the next week, actually 10 days, as we were not leaving on Memorial Day or before.  

The campground was amazing the road in was cow filled (cow jams were not out of a question) and the road in, while it was only 5 miles back took every bit of 20 minutes.  Our piece of paradise was at the very end on a penisula and while the ride back was a bitch it was worth every bit of it.  We were surrounded by beautiful water on three sides.  We had beautiful weather almost every day we were there, cool to cold in the morning and warm and pleasant during the day. The rain that looks so ominous never came to us.

While boating and fishing are favorite past times in the area we enjoyed just hanging out at our site and chilling.  The closest big town to the area is Rock Springs, Wyoming, while it was only about 50 miles, with getting out of our area and driving the scary mountian passes it is easily and 1.5 hours to get there.  But we did it a couple times, once for groceries, and laundry and another because I needed some running shoes.  

Since we were there a week before Memorial Day we felt like we would be protected from people camping too close to us and as there are no and I mean NO facilities at the campground we honestly didn’t figure on it becoming the place to drive down to for the weekend, but we were wrong and am glad we have plans to be at a friend’s mom’s house for 4th of July and established campground for Labor Day.  It started with 2 vans, with their dogs and kids, the were mostly quiet but let their dogs run loose.  We set up a tent near our camper thinking for sure this would deter anyone further from intruding or getting to close to our camper, no such luck, we went to bed at 11:30 one night and woke the next morning to 3 huge tents (almost on top of our tent) 4 or so kids and 4 or so off leash dogs, however, Eris now has a boyfriend.  Well he liked her but not sure how she felt about them.  Honestly, they were quiet though so except for letting their dogs run loose they were all fine.  But my question is where, oh where are they using the bathroom.  Anyway, by Monday afternoon all peace was restored, they all left.  We spoke to one of our other full time neighbors and they said she actually had to park her truck behind her rig because multiple people tried to set up behind her.  Anyway, our time in the campground was amazing and we will definately go back again.  

Now all about Flaming Gorge,  established in 1968 is a National Recreation Area.  There is over 300 miles of shoreline, boat ramps, marinas compgrounds and lodges.  As I mentioned it is a water paradise with the fishing, swimming and boating. As a Floridian I can tell you I was not getting in the water as it was 42 or so degrees.  There is dam and the Green River below it is world renowned for its trout fishing and rafting.  The area was named by John Wesley Powell in 1869 after he and his 9 men saw the sun reflecting off the red rocks.  In the 1870’s ranchers moved into the mountain valleys near Flaming Gorge.  There are remenents of Swett Ranch stil present today. Apparently, many outlasws and fugitives would hide out in the isolated valleys along the Green River, Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch were among them.  

There is a ton of hiking and as it is a National Recreation area, most of the trails are able to be used by dogs.  So Eris did get to go hiking with us.  We hiked the Rim Trail.  Not sketchy just beautiful.  When in the area we will return to here. It was amazingly breathtaking, if you don’t believe me go check it out.  

At our campground we had amazing cell service so I was able to work.  Which get’s me to my favorite addition to our camper this week and that is our WeBoost.  It gives us just that little bit extra when needed.  Also, I might want to add our two hotspots, one AT&T with 100 GB a month and our Verizon, doesn’t give us nearly as much but works good when needed.  Right now and most times, I use my phone as a hotspot we are able to do most with it but sometimes we just need that little bit of boost and we now have our WeBoost for that.  

So that’s all I got for this week, again put The Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area on your bucket list and if you liked this blog, give it a like and consider following us for a weekly dose of our travels as we head towards Grand Teton National Park.  

Until next week, and keep Exploring, Discovering and Dreaming,

Hope, Mike and Eris, the lowrider camping hound

Zion and the Area and Favorite Addition of the Week and How We Plan on Where We Are Going To Go Next

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After a few peaceful nights in Kanab it was time for us to move further west and check out Zion.  We found a campsite on Campendium, called the Hurricane Cliffs Recreation Area.  They have them grouped by site number.  Each site has a fire pit, which we did not use and enough space between neighbors that it made for a peaceful week. When we arrived at the trailhead we knew we needed to scout it out.  We dropped the trailer to scout out our site, man are we glad we did.  The road on the way back to the sites from the trailhead (it is a mountain bike mecca) was fine, gravel but fairly decent but the roads to the campsites were horrible, rutted and actually painful.  Not to mention that you can’t really see where the next site is, so it must be driven and also there is no good place to turn around.  We found our site after about an hour of driving on the horrible roads and went back and got the camper to bring it back there.  I would not have even considered it had we not been planning on staying for a while.  Also, they said if it rained it made the roads worse, so when the rain came we just stayed home. The first weekend we were there was a mountain bike race.  Sadly for us while we enjoyed our time there we did not take our bikes off the back of the camper.  Maybe next time, while the road in sucked it was a great place to stay.  We stayed 11 nights.  We got water from Maverick in La Verkin and emptied our tanks when we left.  Also, we got propane filled at Tractor Supply in Hurricane as we also did laundry and went grocery shopping.  Between Hurricane and St. George we were able to get everything we needed and La Verkin for water and dump.  The sunsets were amazing as were the stars at night, I also got to fly my new drone around the area for a birdseye view.  While there was wind almost everyday, there was one day of nothing but rain and cold, we just stayed home and got some work done and enjoyed the relaxation of doing nothing.  

Speaking of Hurricane, it is a quant western town.  When leaving the campground heading further west after going down this twisty, turny road you end in the town of Hurricane, after you turn right of that road it takes you to the road that leads to Zion in one direction and to St. George in the other.  Hurricane is located in Washington County, Utah.  It was first settled in 1896 and received its name after a wind storm blew the top of a buggy, the rider of the buggy said it felt like a Hurricane.  I can tell you while we were there the winds rarely stopped.  Fun fact that Hurricane is pronounced by the locals as “Her-ah”kun”.  The town was established by Brigham Young for agricultural purposes and it once had a large peach and apricot orchard.  The tound has parks and trails galore.  We hiked on part of the Hurricane Canal and Canal Trail .  The Hurricane Canal trail was built over 11 years, from 1893-1904 by pick and shovel.  The canal is empty but in 2000 speical interest groups came together to preserve it and reconstruct it to stand a  tribute to the early settlers.  Hurricane is the home to Sand Hollow and Quail Creek State Parks.  While we were there we did not go to either, but maybe on our return trip.  

While we were there we also went to St. George, which is a bigger cowboy town.  We were able to get our second vaccine in St. George but probably could have gotten it in Hurricane as well.  Anyway we are glad it is done. 

The first day after getting all set up we headed into Zion National Park to get acquainted and make our plans for the next few days. Of course dogs are only allowed on a few trails but they are allowed to ride in the car.  So after arriving in the park after 3 p.m. we decided to do the scenic drive. Zion has a north, a south and east entrance in the main part of the park. As we were coming from Hurricane we entered from the South, going through the towns of La Verkin, Virgin and then Springdale.  Springdale had a Gatlinburg vibe to it.  Very crowded and very touristy.  Getting there after 3 we were pretty much assured that going through the gate we would be able to get a parking spot.  We stopped at the Visitor’s Center, got our passport book stamped and grabbed any available maps and hit the road to do the scenic drive.  The road is twisty/turny and steep and goes through a really cool tunnel. The highlights include rock formation, towers, hilltops and the tunnel.  If you are too tall you must make arrangements to go through the tunnel and also pay an additional $15.00 so that the Rangers can stop traffic on either end.  The tunnel was open in 1930.  It has a series of windows in it, to let in light and views.   It was used as a place of dumping grounds for tunnel debris.  So with information in hand we were ready to “tackle” Zion and get the most out of it while in the area.  

Honestly, neither one of us expected to be blown away as we were by this park.  It was amazing to look up at the msssive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink and red and the bright blue sky. It was truly amazing and made realize how small we really are on the world. We knew we wanted to do at least a few hikes in the park and one that we were supposed to recreate the picture for a friend.  So this meant that we knew we would have to come back without the pup.  Since being on the road our get up and go early usually means leaving home at 10.00 a.m.  One morning we did that and headed to the north entrance (Kolob Canyon) of Zion to try and do a hike or two.  The main hike we picked out was Taylor Creek Trail.  Which would take us to an old homestead. Arriving in the late morning, the Park Ranger advised us that it was pretty crowded up there but enjoy the scenic drive anyway.  So we set out on the Kolob Canyon Road and went to the Kolob Canyons Viewpoint (where the Timber Crrek Overlook Trail is), as there was no parking at the Taylor Creek Trail .  We did the short 1 mile hike which was a nice little hike that as the name implies offered amazing views.   After we got back it was after lunch so we were able to score a parking spot on the trail, but being that it was late in the day we decided that we  would only go as far as the homestead, which was a couple miles in.  I loved this hike, we had 12 stream crossings (we counted on the way back), had amazing views, and honestly since we were in the desert for so long it was nice to be among the trees.  We wish we would have had the time to do the whole hike.  There was nothing scary for me on this trail, which is saying something. On the way home we were able to secure a shuttle ticket for the next day.  Part of the park the only way to get to some of the trails, the lodge is by shuttle.  It cost $2.00 and was reservable via Rec.gov.  Anyway after parking 2 miles away from the door, as parking was full,  and paying $15.00 for parking, we hopped on a bus/shuttle in Springdale.  The shuttle bus driver dropped us at a walkin gate at the park.  It was kind of cool to walk into the park.  We hopped on the shuttle and it took us to the Lodge.  The shuttle runs part of the year and the only way to the area is by shuttle as no personal vehicles are allowed, unless staying at the Lodge  After getting off the shuttle we went upstairs and had a sit down lunch that we both agree wKas one of the few really good meals we had since leaving St. Pete.  Afteward, again, it was late in the day, we decided that we would go and hike Lower Emerald Pool.  It’s about 1.2 miles round trip. While the views were great, the trail was nice and the views from the trail were amazing, it honestly was not my favorite.  The crowds were thick and no one knows what trail etiquette is, and the view at the “pool” left much to be desired.  I did get some great pics out of it.  

A few days later we headed back to “recreate” the picture, on the Canyon Overlook trail. It is listed as moderate. It is located on the other side of the tunnel.  It is only 1 mile.  We headed up the steep steps (that aren’t really steps, just more rocks” with a handrail.  We got up around the bend at the top of the steps and it is shear rock.  I was freaking out by this point.  We walked a little further and saw the next steep incline that had a railing on it, but there was no railing to hold on to to get to that point.  Mike continued up to try and recreate the tree picture, I stayed where I was. He came back down because he said there would be no way I would do it and it was really sketchy beyond this point, and when he says it’s sketchy, it’s sketchy.  When he got back to  me, he talked me into heading back down, I was having a full on panic attack and was crying by the time we got down.  After we got back through the tunnel we went back down to the Visitor’s Center and headed out on the Watchman Trail which is also rated as moderate.  This trail was not so bad, we did however turn around as we it was getting late and if we would have completed it we would have been hiking back in the dark.  It was a nice trail again the views were amazing.  

Our last time in the park occurred the day after our second Covid shot.  We didn’t want to do anything too strenuous or leave Eris at home again, so we did the scenic drive called Kolob Terrace Road.  Honestly, the word “scenic” is an understatement.  The road winds in and out of Zion three times. It has all kinds of trails off of it. The road itself ends at Kolob Reservoir  at the elevation of 8118 feet. There  was snow up there and we made snowmen, and like I said in my Instagram post, don’t judge we are from Florida after all.  We also did the West Rim Road which has an overlook at 7890 feet, has a great campground, which was still closed.  

So that is it of our time in the Zion area.  We had a great visit and someday we shall return. 

I hear that some people are freaked out about the camping season and reservations.  While we are in the west and BLM is plentiful and we might be more concerned if we were in the east about not having reseravations, I can tell you we like to travel by winging it.  We don’t know where we are going or how long we are staying.  Take Hurricane for instance we had no idea that we would be there for 11 nights, 12 days.  That’s crazy long for us.  We usually last a few days and then we are heading to a different locatation to check out something new.  So we call our style of traveling as free wheeling. Now that’s not to say we don’t ever make reservations because we do, we started off with reservations in Florida (duh, winter in Florida, made 1 year ahead of time needed), Mississippi, probably didn’t need to be made but did to be on the safe side, and then NOLA, which again we made 1 year ahead of time because we were there for Mardi Gras (which obviously didn’t happen). We are meeting friends in Washington state, no reservations needed. We have reservations in Yellowstone and Grand Tetons for the end of August and beginning of September and then our last reservations is in Savannah for a half marathon that we are signed up for.  After we left Hurricane we headed to Nevada because we saw something that looked cool and wanted to see, (next week’s blog), and we just made sure we get to a first come first serve campground before 1 p.m.   I prefer before lunch.  So far this plan has not failed us yet, sometimes we don’t really know where we will be heading until the day before.  For apps to help find our camping spot my number one is Campendium, then I will check the Dyrt but mostly Campendium. I hit directions on the location in the app and then I copy them and put them in RV Life/Trip Wizard right into the RV Safe GPS and we are ready to go.   Anyway, don’t let not having reservations stop you from getting out there, just do it, it is so worth it.  

Our favorite addition to our home on wheels is the security of knowing when we do leave Eris behind (rare but happens) our newly installed Waggle Pet Monitor works well.  Has an internal backup battery but runs of of the camper’s 12 volt system and alerts us if the temperature and/or humidity goes out of our preset safe range.  It gives us peace of mind that when on those rare occassions that Eris’ environment is being safely monitored.  It took us a while to get it dialed in as while we were on one of our scenic drive we kept getting low humidity warnings.  We both looked at each other and said so, low humidity is bad, anyway Mike fixed the settings so that the humidity can go down to zero.  

If you want anymore information on anything discussed just message me. If you liked this article, please like and consider following us as we continue to explore, discover and dream. 

Keep on exploring, discovering and dreaming, catch you next week,

Hope, Mike and Eris

Sedona/Cottonwood, Covid Vaccine and Fav Addition of the Week

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We left William on a very brisk 15 degree morning to head to Sedona.  We had some BLM picked out for the next few nights between Sedona and Cottonwood.  We use RV Trip Wizard for navigation, so we figured all good safe roads…well it was safe but OMG it was scary, beautiful but scary, it was twisty, turny and up and down, 89A which took us right in the middle of Sedona.  Which is a beautiful little town with red rocks everywhere.  It was super crowded but we figured ok we will check it out after we get set up in our boondocking spot.  What was recommended was The Main Drag 525 Dispersed Camping.  We were actually using the coordinates off of someones review from Campendium.  Unless this dude went off the side of the cliff there was nothing there, so now we are about 2 miles up the gravel, washboard road and have no where to turn and yet it was a drag strip, all these ORV and trucks hauling but passed us.  Mike had to back down the road for and he wiggle his way into a 50 or more point turn to get us turned around.  By the time we got back down to the bottom of this road we were spent. Recap of the drive, I40-not smooth, then up and down the twisty turny roads of 89A and then to the campground with way wrong coordinates.  We thought about setting up down in the middle of it all however, we had no cell service, so we decided to move on.  

We ended up at Coffee Creek Camping, where the site was uneven and some sketchyness was happening around there.  Nice views and we made it work.  However, the cell service wasn’t much better but we were able to get a signal for a little bit to get our Covid vaccines done, but it was farther away then even Cottonwood.  We headed to Dead Horse State Park in Cottonwood to do a little hike.  While we were there we decided that it would be nice to have some conveniences for when we go to get the vaccine, as with all of us, we didn’t know if we would have a reaction and we were out boondocking for 12 nights by this point.  We made reservations at Rain Spirit RV Park and it is just what we needed. We were able to get everything cleaned up, there was a pool, a hot tub and we got our vaccines and we were able to order some stuff from Amazon, we ordered a cell booster.  Which works ok.  We went to Jerome, what a cute little town.  It was a hilly little western town.  With some history.  

One day we went to Tuzigoot (which is Tonto Apache for “crooked waters”National Monument.  It preserves the 2-3 story pueblo ruin on the summit of a limestone and sandstone ridge.  Pretty cool place.  We could almost see our campground from this location. Another day we we went to Montezuma’s Castle National Monument.  This protects the dwellings which was built by the Sinagua people. While there aren’t any rangers giving ranger tours or anything it was nice that they had volunteers who were willing to speak of the history of the area.  We then went to Montezuma’s Well which is a natural limestone sinkhole. Very cool and again they have volunteers that are full of knowledge.  We decided that while we knew we couldn’t take Eris on any trails in the Red Rocks State Park maybe we can drive around.  Around we did, around the building, no pets allowed at all in the park.  Sort of a bummer so we left and started to find our own scenic drive.  We did see the Chapel of the Holy Cross and went to downtown Sedona.  It was so crowded and no one was wearing face masks, some of the stores, like in Jerome said sorry there is no mask requirement.  While we have had Covid and we had our first shot, we still don’t feel safe.  Maybe we just like our little bubble. Cottonwood is another adorable western town.  We didn’t do much there, but drive through it.  Cottonwood also has everything one might need, like a Home Depot or Walmart.  We stayed at Rain Spirit for a few nights and then headed north to Glen Canyon.  Which is amazing and that will be in next weeks blog post.  

My favorite accessory of the week is our cutting/extension table next to our sink.  Living minimaly we don’t really have a large galley nor counter space. Mike added this to our counter top almost immediately after us getting the camper.  It hinges up and down, so it can be a staging area for things that are coming in or out, or even for dishes that need to be washed.  

So bottomline, when in Sedona, be sure to check out the National Monuments, if you get a chance do some hikes, there are some amazing hikes in the area, and check out Cottonwood as well.  

That’s all for this week, catch ya’ll next week where we head to Glen Canyon.  

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Thanks, 

Until next week, safe travels and remember life is short so get out there and explore, discover and dream.

Hope & Mike

Joshua Tree to Williams and Grand Canyon and Favorite Item of the Week

We left Joshua Tree to make it towards Grand Canyon.  We made it after a very long drive to Williams where we found a decent campsite and then headed to the little town of Williams.  It is such a cute little town that really is the gateway to the Grand Canyon.  They Grand Canyon Railroad takes off from there and if we didn’t have a 4 legged kid with us we would have done it.  Anyway, we were only gonna stay at the campground that we stayed at for one night and then move closer to the Grand Canyon but there was things we needed to do in Williams so we stayed where we were and drove the hour to the park.  

The campground we stayed at was Garland Prairie Road Dispersed Camping.  It was free and was really a nice area. My only complaint was no real workable cell service.  We figured ok, next place will have it so we will just suffer it out until then.  

We headed into the Grand Canyon in the afternoon on the second day and it was a good time to go, crowds were lighter and our wait to get in was not so bad.  Well the I should say the crowds were lighter as far as waiting at the gate and parking.  However, the first thing the both of us thought was wow this is like Animal Kingdom (Disney for those of you who aren’t familiar), heavy crowds and sort of hot.  We got the papers from the Rangers and got the lay of the land.  Eris was able to do anything on top of the rim, which I was good with that, I didn’t have any intentions of hiking down at least not this time.  So we hiked the rim and oh my it did not disappoint. I am grateful for digital camera and I did not have to print the what would have been rolls and rolls of film in my previous days.  We headed into the park twice like this, in the afternoon and the second time in we did the scenic drive and again were not disappointed.  We did see some Elk, and deer on both days.  Eris really doesn’t know what to make of them.  Really since we weren’t really going to be doing any of the hikes other then on the rim two days or should I say 1 full day was really enough.  The beauty was amazing and every step we took was breathtaking.  But after a while we realized that everywhere we turned would not look much different then the other locations.  

One day while there we headed into Williams to go to the laundromat.  It was clean and reasonable.  Another evening we were so looking forward to going to the Grand Canyon Brewery.  Well when we got there we were sadly disappointed. It was filled to capacity and no one, I mean no one, except us was wearing a mask.  Felt so unsafe.  We had Covid once and we do not want to get it again. So we left. 

Another day we took a drive to Flagstaff, what a beautiful place.  We could move there if we didn’t already have our winter home in Florida.  We took Eris to the groomer, got her bathed and nails done, got an oil change in the truck, found an REI where we got Eris a pair of boots, she was not thrilled with them when we tried them on her but she may like them in the future.  Also, we decided that all the REI’s out here have amazing views.  The view was San Fransciso mountain range.  Mike asked the girl at REI and said if there is one thing we have to do in Flagstaff what would it be, she did not hesitate to say Snow Bowl. We were taking the scenic drive home so we passed right but the mountain pass that took us up to Snow Bowl.  Eris did not know what to make of that white stuff.  We didn’t try her in the boots, maybe we should have.  Snow Bowl itself was closed but there were trailheads there.  We weren’t really prepared for snow and ice so we headed back down.  We drove the rest of the beautiful drive back home and just chilled.  

After a few days we figured we have seen enough and were ready to move on and on the morning we decided we needed to head down to lower elevation we woke up to 15 degrees.  We were headed to Sedona for a few days to check out the red rocks.  

So be sure to check back next week to hear all about our stay in Sedona. 

This week I am most grateful for the addition of the handle on our screen door.  Where we are currently it is 25-30 mph winds with 50 mph gusts.  It’s crazy, to hear about this be sure to check back with us next week. 

If you want up to date status be sure to check out our Instagram page, I update that daily.  @what_r_we_waiting_4 

Until next week, if you enjoyed this be sure to like and consider following us and subscribing to the email list.  

Hope, Mike and Eris

YUMA TO QUARTZSITE TO JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK, WHERE TO GET GREAT PHOTOS, WHERE TO HIKE WITH FOUR LEGGED FRIENDS AND CHEVY TRUCK BUILT LIKE A ROCK…..

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We headed to Quartzsite where we were treated to a nice boondocking spot at the LTVA BLM (Long-Term Visitor Area-Bureau of Land Managment).  We could have stayed there for 2 weeks for the cost of $40.00, there is a dump, trash and potable water available. Also there are people who stay for the whole season, (7 months) for something like $180.00. Pretty reasonable place to be.  It is about 2 miles from  Quartzsite, which is where the Big Tent (RV Show) is held as well as the gem show.  Oh, the rocks, were everywhere.  Poor Eris feet.  I tried doing yoga outside and I used the rocks under under my mat as pressure point relievers.  We can only imagine what this place was like during the rv show.  Quartzsite truly is a nomad mecca.  We do plan on coming back for the Big Tent next year. Our campsite was nice and private in a big field.  But no one really was that close to us.  It was super windy when we were there so the dust and sand was everywhere.  But can’t expect much different since it is the desert afterall.   We spent 4 nights there, had 4 beautiful sunsets and then  it was time to head to Joshua Tree.  

We arrived to Joshua Tree, South BLM after a couple hour windy drive.  We couldn’t have been any closer to the Joshua Tree sign even if we were staying inside the park.  First thing after we got camp set up was to head into the park to the Visitor’s Center, where we got the maps and lay of the land.  Of course there was not much we could do with Eris so it was a mostly drive thru park.  We did stop and see alot however.  The park is layed out and is condusive to pulling off and seeing and climbing up and over rocks, which we did.  We were able to take Eris on two trails, one honestly really sucked it was supposed to be an Oasis and the other was Keys View which was a beautiful overlook, not really a hike.  This is a beautiful park.  Joshua Tree is famous for it’s namesake the Joshua Tree, which is only found here.  The park roadway winds it’s way from the Colorado Desert to the Mojave Desert where all the Joshua Trees are.  It is such different landscapes.  We drove through the campgrounds to see what it is all about.  While they would have been nice to stay in, we were quite content to be right outside the south entrance for free.  We had the same amenities they have except we had a lot more space.  Basically outside the park on the south entrance there really is nothing.  We did find some hikes the pup could do we picked one called the Painted Canyon.  The drive to the hike was as beautiful if not in some spots as driving through the park.  We realized that Eris while she is a 3 mile dog in normal conditions she is a 2 mile dog in the desert.  After the canyons we went down to check out the Salton Sea.  Very interesting, it is a body of water that was made by accident.  Sadly the accident was pollutants.  There is the highest concentration of salt in this body of water that only two forms of sea life exist.  However, it was nice to smell the salt water as we haven’t had that scent since Mississippi. Also, what I noticed while we were having our picnic was the sound of the sea birds.   Down there they offer camping, fairly reasonable with hookups. But there really is nothing to do there.   

One day Mike had me drive him up the mountain from the campground so he could ride his bike back down.  He smiled all the way down. 

If in the area and need someplace to stay I highly recommend Joshua Tree South BLM, great space and super great cell service, amazing sunsets and great stargazing.

Best place for photos in this area is in Joshua Tree National Park at all of the pull offs.  Supposidly the best place for a sunset photos is at Keys View.  We couldn’t get a parking during the sunset so we came back in the daytime.  The sky was sadly hazy. I got better photos elsewhere in the park and I got amazing sunsets at our campsite.  Also, I highly recommend doing the other trails in the area outside the south of the park.  I got some amazing photos of canyons.

Oh where can the four legged friends go, all over Quartzsite and the BLM land around it, only two trails in Joshua Tree and mile and miles of trails by the Painted Canyon. 

We have done a lot of upgrades to our home, I would like to take the time to mention one a week. However, this weeks is not our camper it is our truck.  All I can say people if you are planning on going off road, make sure you have the proper vehicle to get yourself unstuck. Mike had to pull two people out of the soft sand. One couple spent the whole night in the sand in the park, the other rescue was in our campground.  

The weather was warming up so it was our time to move on and up, so follow along to see where our next adventures will take us.  

Don’t forget to explore, discover and dream and ask yourself what are you waiting for, life is short.

If you like this consider subscribing and like it and follow.  

Safe travels,

Hope, Mike and Eris, the lowerrider camping hound.