Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Yosemite National Park, Day 1

Today's Photo - The View Across Mirror Lake

This morning we all ate breakfast in the trailer - it was 44°F. By moving stuff around we found a way to fit all of us without having to break down my bed (the full size bed at the back of the trailer I use is made from the 4 person dinette.)

After breakfast we made our first trip to Yosemite. We stopped at most of the main high points, including my favorite, Glacier Point.  More photos at 2011 Trip Day 44.

Yosemite has some of the most beautiful formations in the National Park system. Glacier National Park is still my favorite, but Yosemite is a very close second. If only it wasn't so crowded, at least at the times I've been there. I was hoping that after Memorial Day Weekend the crowds would be gone, and although not as crowded as in 2004, we still often had to wait to find a parking space at many locations.

We got back to Groveland around 6:30, decided we were all too tired to make anything for dinner, so we had Pizza at the PJ's Cafe. Expensive for a Pizza, but very good. Don & Anne are sitting around the campfire (burning his $1.00 per log firewood) and I'm putting the pages together. We will probably call it an early night tonight & hope for good weather for tomorrow. The current prediction is 40% chance of rain, and 28°F for tomorrow night. We may be trying to find a way to fit all of us in the trailer!

Till Tomorrow -

Monday, May 30, 2011

Yosemite Pines Campground, Groveland, CA

Today's Photo - Some Switchbacks on CA 49

It was a nice day for the drive to Yosemite, at least the RV park we will be staying at for the next 3 days. We are in site 14 at the Yosemite Pines RV Resort & Family Lodging. I guess adding "& Family Lodging" turns a resort into a place I like to stay at. Much nicer than last night with shade at the site, nearby bathrooms with nice showers, and plenty of room for both the tent & trailer. A total of $109.80 for 3 nights.

The drive was interesting. Most of the way was on CA 99, a freeway. We switched to CA 140, then to CA 49. CA 49 follows the path made by the 1849 gold miners, and has many turns & switchbacks. Carol & I drove this section on our 2004 trip, in fact I took the same photo then as I have above. Quite a road, although the section of CA 120 we took to get to Groveland (the location of out campground) also has its ups & downs. At least it was a bit wider.

We are settled into the campsite and about to get something for dinner, send some mail, and deal with paying bills.

Till Tomorrow...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Riverland RV Resort, Kingsburg, CA

Today's Photo - The Stream Next To Our Site (#74) at Tillie Creek Campground.

We didn't drive all that far today - we are at the Riverland RV Resort in Kingsburg, CA in site 54.  For those interested, today was 131.0 miles and, so far for the trip 7765.2,

The problem with "Resorts" are they are usually set up for permanent, or at least long time residents.  No picnic table, the bathrooms are about 1/4 mile from the site, utilities on the wrong side & end of the site, etc.  And, of course, they are going to be more expensive with the word "Resort" added to the name.  In this case, $60.00 for the three of us on one site. I admit we have both a trailer & a tent, but the last site cost $12.00.  Of course we do have electricity & water. All that said, it is a pretty site.  A river on one side & a lake in front.

Site 54, Riverland RV Resort, Kingsburg, CA
Till later...

Well, it's later. We decided that since we didn't have a table to eat at unless I wanted to tear the bed apart to turn it into a dinette, we'd eat out.  We went to a buffet at the China Garden, one of the  2007 "Top 100 Chinese Restaurant in the USA." It was OK, but of the thousands, or even millions of Chinese restaurants in the US, I don't think it hit the top 100.

Afte that Don & I watched the birds feed over the lake, talked & read, while Anne did a couple of loads of laundry.  By the time she got back we were freezing.  Can't seem to hit just the right temperature - Like Goldilocks, it is either too hot or too cold.  Tonight, 60°F just seems too cold, while a couple of days ago we would have loved it!  Just can't please any of us.

Till next time.

Sequoia National Park, CA

Today's Photo - Don Standing in Front of a Giant Sequoia Tree

Today it was off to see Kings Canyon National Park & Sequoia National Park. The GPS routed us on CA 155, which was a bit much for both my & Don's stomach. Almost continous curves & switchbacks. Plus we quickly got into fog so thick we could barely see the road let alone the view at the sides. It cleared as we drove out of the hills, but as we drove up into Sequoia National Park, the fog came back. We stopped at some tall trees and took some foggy photos, and I suppose I could try to tell you one of them was General Sherman, the tallest tree in the world, but I'd be lying. We did stop at the General Sherman parking lot, but the fog was so thick that a ranger was there to let us know that if we did the 1/2 mile walk to the tree we would be able to see the first 15' of it. So, we continued on. Since it was getting late & we had a long drive back to the campground, we didn't do the entire drive to Kings Canyon, but left the park at the CA 180 exit & took CA 63, CA 99, and CA 178 back to the campground, reaching Lake Isabella around 7:00. The drive along the Kern River between Bakersfield & Lake Isabella was beautiful.

Rather than making a meal in the dark we decided to eat out & had Barbecue in nearby Kernville, CA.

Until Tomorrow - 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Tillie Creek Campground, CA

Today's Photo Sand Dunes, Death Valley National Park

Well, we certainly had an interesting day today. It started ordinary enough with a drive on US 190 through Death Valley National Park. The RAV4 did OK pulling the trailer up the 9 mile 8% grade, while not overheating it did smell a bit hot near the top. After that we stopped so Don could take some photos of the sand dunes. Because there was less wind than the last time I was there I managed to get a clear photo myself.

Once outside the park I found a gas station with a good Verizon connection so I uploaded yesterday's pages.

Then it was on to Kernville. The plan was to stop at one of the campgrounds there. Minor problem - the area was on fire. We were wondering why it was so foggy until we were close enough to smell the smoke. The road was closed, but another way into Kernville was opening as we pulled up. I ended up turning the trailer around (twice) on a narrow two lane road.  "K" turns with a trailer are interesting!

Although we didn't see it, we were told the KOA in the area burned down & the one we were planning to stay in was full of the people who left the KOA. We checked out a place called Camp 9 on Lake Isabella, but the wind was strong enough to knock us around & we didn't want to go through another night like the last one at Valley of Fire! We pulled into Tillie Creek Campground, and even thought the sign at the gate said no sites available, the campground host started to give us directions to another national Forest Campground that still had some open sites. As she was doing this, someone came up & said site 75 was empty. Although a bit steep, it was big enough for both the tent & trailer, so in we went. We are here for at least two nights - it is Memorial Day Weekend & most of the area campgrounds are full. We will decide Sunday if we want to move on or stay another night.

Till Tomorrow...

Death Valley Revisited

Today's Photo - A Roadrunner at Death Valley National Park

It was a windy night. For the first time it didn't cool off after sunset. It was still 77°F at 10:00PM. Around 11:00 the wind started to pick up. It was a bit windy earlier & the ground under Don & Anne's tent was so hard that they couldn't drive tent stakes, so they tied the tent to the stabilizing legs of the trailer. On the far side of the tent we stuck the equalizer hitch in the tent stake loop. As the wind picked up, the entire trailer was shaking & I could hear the tent flapping. I thought about asking Don & Anne into the trailer, but their weight was the only thing holding the tent down. The wind was strong enough that it moved the hitch (about 60 lbs) more than a foot. None of us got much sleep. It never let up completely, but enough that we could pack up in the morning.

Originally we planed to stop at Kernville, CA for the night, but by the time we hit Death Valley we decided to call it quits. We are in site 113 for the night. A bit of shade, which is good, because the temperature today is going to hit 107°F and only go down to the high 70's tonight! Quite a bit different from May 9th, the last time I was here.

A little before dark a Roadrunner "ran" through the campsites. It was pretty funny with about 10 people with cameras chasing it trying to get a photo. Of course, one of them was me!

This won't get posted until we have a better connection. Nothing on Verizon & only voice on AT&T.

Till Tomorrow...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wednesday at Valley of Fire

Today's Photo - Elephant Rock, Valley of Fire State Park, NV

At 8:53AM I'm in the Overton laundromat doing, well, laundry!  I also added a Valley of Fire Page with more photos.  As soon as the laundry is done it is off to get a haircut (actually, most of them), then back to the campground to wait for Done & Anne. They are going to join me for the next couple of weeks while we tour California.

Till later - 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Another Day at Valley of Fire

Today's Photo - An Interesting Cloud Over the Campground at Sunset

My plan for today was to go to Overton & find a fast enough Verizon connection that would allow uploading my Lakeshore Images pages. Since they have quite a few images, the slow campground connection just won't work. That worked as long as I was parked outside the barber shop. Since I was also planning to get a haircut it was a great location. The only problem is they were booked for the day so I'm scheduled with Debbie at 10:00AM tomorrow. Should be interesting since no one has cut my hair except Peggy in Syracuse for the last 30 years!

I did take a photo of an interesting cloud that formed during the sunset last night. We even got a few drops of rain; not enough to wet the ground, but hey, we're in a desert. I also stopped at Elephant Rock and took a couple of photos from the back side that are posted at the Lakeshore Images trip page. Unfortunately, it won't be available until I get back to the barber shop to upload it!

Till then -

Monday, May 23, 2011

Las Vegas

Today's Photo - Sunset on the Rock Outside My Front Window, Valley of Fire State park, NV

I'm still in the Valley of Fire State Park.  I went to Las Vegas today to get my RAV4 serviced.  I'm switching from oil changes at 5K to 3K because of the towing.  I had them check the transmission fluid, but they liked the color of it and told me to wait until the regular scheduled service.  I was hoping to upload the multiple Lakeshore Images pages that are still sitting on the laptop, but although they had a WiFi internet connection that worked fine with my iPhone, the laptop wouldn't connect to the internet.  I connected fine to the WiFi network, but showed no internet connection.  I tried a bunch of things, but gave up.  Don't know when the large group of photos here at the park are going to become available.

I added a couple of fans to move air across the back of the refer.  Seems to help, although they are noisier than I had hoped. They are on a switch so I can turn them off at night.

Other than that, not much going on.

Till next time -

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Quiet Sunday

Today's Photo - The View From the Campground - Valley of Fire State Park, NV

Another day without much going on.

I went into Overton yesterday afternoon (the closest town to the park) to try to pick up a 12v fan to help cool the fridge, but although they did have a Radio Shack (stocked, for some reason, with more camping gear than electronics) they didn't have fans. I was going to get a haircut, but the entire town except the two hardware stores & Lin's Grocery was closed at 2:00.

Today I don't plan on going anywhere, except to drive around the park.

Till Tomorrow!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Not Much Happening

I didn't take any photos today and, besides, the connection is so slow I probably couldn't upload them anyway.  I'll try for more tomorrow.

I spent the day doing nothing.  It was a nice change from all the traveling.  Actually got to read an entire book, cooked a real meal, and relaxed.  About the only thing that I need to get used to is the heat.  95°F today, but, IT'S DRY HEAT!

Till next time -

Friday, May 20, 2011

Valley of Fire State Park, NV

Today's Photo - The Escape 17 at Bolder Dam.

I had to use this photo for the blog today so Don & Anne can see what they are heading for.  The new bridge is far more interesting from below or the side than when you drive over it. If everything goes as planned, they will join me at the Valley of Fire State Park next week.

I do have to put in a good word for the Blake Ranch RV Park & Horse Hotel.  Not only did it have the best bathroom/shower rooms of the trip (or any of my trips) but it is an all around great place to stay for a night or two.  I can't say as much for the restaurant nearby.  It is an Iron Skillet and makes about the worst pasta sauce I've ever had.

I got an early start, leaving the park around 7:00AM since I wasn't sure how crowded the Valley of Fire State Park campground would be & I wanted to get one of their few electric sites.  I did stop long enough to see Bolder Dam.  If you want to actually drive across it (or for that matter, any where near it) you have to have your trailer checked out.  The inspection crew loved the trailer!

On the way out of the dam a group of runners got ahead of us.  It is all uphill & driving behind a group of what looked to be inexperienced runners was pretty slow. To top it off, one of the tour busses decided to go around cars that were lined up behind the runners.  Every time there was a turn lane he would move into it, pass as many cars as possible, and cut back in when the lane ended.  I tried to fight him, but I suspect I cared more about my trailer than he did about his bus.  Plus, he is just a little bigger!  He did get his just rewards.  One of the police women saw what he was doing, pulled around him, got out & stood in front of his bus until all of us went by.  A great feeling!

After that it was a nice drive along Lake Mead to the park.  I didn't get there until a little after 10:00AM - there was a time change or a daylight savings time change or something.  There were about 3 electric sites still open.  None were near a non-electric; I was hoping to be able to get a site for Don & Anne.  I talked to the park rangers & they said there was no problem changing sites, so hopefully one of the ones near the tent sites will open up early next week.

It is fairly hot, at least compared to the Grand Canyon.  This morning I went to the showers at Kingman it was 47°F, it is now 79°F.  I didn't start the AC - I'm trying the fan to see how it works.  So far the inside of the trailer is 81F so that's not too bad.  I think I'm going to turn the trailer around later today or tomorrow. Right now the fridge is aimed into the setting sun, making it difficult to keep it's cool. Plus, the awning will make better afternoon shade if it is on the north side.

I'll shoot some photos of the park this evening. Lots of red rock around the campsite & throughout the park.

There won't be any Lakeshore Images postings, at least from the campground.  I have a good Verizon signal, but it is 1XRTT with a transmit rate averaging 5kb.

Till tomorrow!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Kingman, AZ

Today's Photo - The Grand Canyon, AZ

I just realized I've been on the road for over a month. How time flies. As to the grand Canyon, the snow cleared for a bit & I went over to the Desert View viewing area & shot a couple of late images. Very cool (not neat - cold) color. After that is was a rush back to the trailer to warm up. I'm not sure why it seems so cold - I've been camping in temperatures well below freezing & my thermometer says it's 32 °F. Maybe the altitude? What ever, I was cold taking the pictures, even with gloves & my heavy jacket. The furnace ran most of the night - sure glad I ran out of propane early enough to get more or it would have been a cold, cold night. I really feel for some of the people camping here. The worst off was a couple sleeping under a tarp stretched between two motorcycles.

Although it was still cloudy at 6:00AM and there was 3/4" of snow on the trailer & RAV4, I hooked up & headed towards the South Entrance & Kingman. I stopped along the way for a couple of shots. Much warmer color than last night!

I'm in site 2 at the Blake Ranch RV Park & Horse Motel. A great place with the best shower rooms I've seen so far. Each room has a huge shower, sink & toilet, with room to get dressed! Tomorrow I'm heading to Nevada & the Valley of Fire State park. I'll be there fairly early for meeting Anne & Don, but I can use the time to try to get an electric site, and make some runs to other locations, leaving the trailer at the campground.I got off I40 at Selgman to travel a 100 mile section of Historic Route 66. The last time I was on this section of Rt 66 I was a 5 year old on 1950 on a trip with my parents & brother & sister in a 1938 Plymouth & home built camping trailer. Actually, we slept in a tent; the trailer was there to carry everything. Some photos of the trip are at 1950 Trip.

I'm finally in a location that has fast enough internet that I can post the pages at Lakeshore Images.  If you want to see more photos of the last couple of days, check the Trip Index.

Till Tomorrow...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Desert View Campground, Grand Canyon, AZ

Today's Photo - Site 12, Desert View Campground, Grand Canyon, AZ  Yes, that's Snow!

I'm in the Desert View Campground at the Grand Canyon. I was planning to stay 2 days, but since it was 34°F at 2:00 & there was a inch of snow on the ground as I arrived, and the prediction is for more tomorrow, I only registered for one night. It's not like there is a space problem; there are only about 5 other nuts like me that are staying overnight! If things improve, I'll add another night

Another rather exciting happening - I hopped into the trailer, turned on the furnace & started warming things up.  The refrigerator wouldn't light, and the furnace wasn't putting out its usual blast of hot air.  I ran out of propane! And it is 34°F outside (46°F inside and dropping). And it is expected to go down to well below freezing tonight. The indicator that tells me that the 2 tank system switched to the second tank doesn't seem to work, at least as I expected - the green stripe that was suppose to turn red just showed a tiny bit of red.  Now I know that is as far as it is going to change!

 No problem - there is a gas station less than a 1/4 mile from the campground - I'll refill the tanks there. Problem - they don't have propane. The closest propane is in Tusayan going west or back to Cameron going east, the way I came in. I drove to Tusayan & filled both tanks - 9.2 gallons @ $4.75 per gallon (the same price as regular unleaded gas at the station here by the campground). So, at 3:19 (I think - I'm not on a reservation, but in Arizona; no daylight savings time & I'm not sure which my watch is set for) I have heat, in fact it is up to 48°! Well, a good lesson learned. At least the snow stopped. This time I'm leaving the second tank off so I'll know when the first is empty. By the way, on the way to Tusayan it snowed hard enough to put a couple of inches on the road. Although I passes a number of overlooks, all I saw was whiteout.

No photos today other than the campground.  By the way, that blue sky is now gone (6:00PM) and it is snowing like mad. I'm not going to get any pictures tonight! Hopefully, there will be more tomorrow.

Till Then -

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Still in Monument Valley Sort Of

Today's Photo Goosenecks State Park, UT

I'm still in Gouldings Campground at Monument Valley for tonight.  I went back to the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park to shoot some photos of the moon rise but it wasn't much of a success.  Very cloudy, and the darn moon didn't come up where I wanted to!

I spent the day driving up US 163 & UT 161 exploring some of the suggested sites in both the Gouldings handout & Laurent Martres' Photographing the Southwest, Volume 1 - Southern Utah.

There were many interesting rock formations along the way, including Mexican Hat, a very large balanced rock. The next stop was Gooseneck State Park.  While Horseshoe Bend in Arizona is somewhat more impressive, this bend consists of 3 loops.  Very interesting.  I couldn't fit the entire image in one shot, even with my 17mm lens, so this is a panorama made up of 10 individual images put together in Photoshop.

After Gooseneck I continued up US 161 & drove part way through The Valley of the Gods.  Not quite as impressive as Monument Valley, but much quieter, and a much better road.  The reason I didn't go the full length of the valley is because there was one part of UT 161 I had to drive - the Moki Dugway. This is a 3 mile section of UT 161 that is a gravel road that gains around 1000' going north, complete with many hair pin turns.  Although most of the road is wide enough for two vehicles, there are no guard rails, steep drop offs, and magnificent views! It isn't all that difficult unless you are nervous about heights.   I first discovered the road in a uTube video of a semi going down the road.  They aren't allowed, but it is an interesting video.  After driving up the Moki Dugway, I took a dirt road to the left at the top that goes to Muley Point.  This is a definite stop for anyone.  If you come from the North, UT 161 is paved up to the turn off & you don't have to do any of the Moki Dugway. It is a pretty good dirt road, although badly washboarded.  There are two stops, the last one very impressive.  You can stand on the rocks at the end & see the valley below in almost 360°.  Again, I suggest anyone going near to make a stop.

After that it was back down the Moki Dugway just to see it in the other direction and avoid a long loop to get back to the campground on paved roads.

Again, the campground data connections seem to be non existent, either via their WiFi or my cell modem.  This post gets through, but my attempts at posting larger photos & my Dreamweaver based site all failed.  So, for more photos you will have to wait for a better connection.

Till Then -

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monument Valley

Today's Photo Artist's Point, Monument Valley, AZ

Although the view is wonderful, the weather didn't cooperate - the day is very hazy, the wind is putting lots of dust in the air, and the sky is a bit boring.  In any case, this is one of the stops on the 17 mile Valley Drive.  The Navajo's mean it when they label the drive as "Unimproved".  Although it was not problem for the RAV4, it did rattle things up, including knocking the XM receiver off my dashboard.  I did see a couple of Class C RVs on the road - they were both rentals from Monte; I'm not sure driving the Valley Drive is in their contract!

Again, because of the weather, the photos are nothing to write home about, but more are on my Lakeshore Images Page.  I hope it will be clear enough to take a moonrise photo tonight.  It is almost a full moon (full is tomorrow) and according to my Photographer's Ephemeris app, it should rise in a nice location when viewed from the viewing platform at the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.  If it doesn't clear, I'll try again tomorrow since I'm here in site 20 at the Gouldings RV Park for two days.  A bit expensive at $44.00 per night with the AAA discount, but the only thing in the neighborhood with hookups.

I stopped to pick up some supplies for dinner at the Goulding Market - it is a large supermarket with reasonable prices, far from the typical campground store.

If the wind lets me do it, it will be grilled chicken & broccoli for dinner.  Speaking of wind, it is quite strong.  I almost decided to leave the trailer hooked to the car just to hold it down!  It's rocking a bit, but it doesn't look like it is going to get blown away.

I'll add a moon rise photo if it happens (well, the moon will rise no matter what, but there will only be a picture if I see it!) I'm using the campground's WiFi to post this.  Although there is good signal strength on the Verizon Air Card, the data rate is only about 45K, too slow to post photos. The campground is a bit faster at 150K down & 110K upload, but will not support FTP, so the Lakeshore Images page will have to wait until it does.  Sometimes it will allow updates late at night or early in the morning.

Till Later...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Last Day At Page, AZ

Today's Photo - Sunset at Horseshoe Bend, Page, AZ

There wasn't a lot of color to the sunset last night, but I went with what I had.  Sunrise this morning was even worse.  Perfectly blue sky with no color at all.  I didn't bother making the trip to Horseshoe Bend.  Instead, I did laundry.  The domestic chores need to be done, and since I'm heading to Monument Valley tomorrow, and met a couple in a Casita that just came from there & mentioned that the price of washing & drying was twice what it is here, it's time.

After that I drove to Cottonwood Drive to see the South Narrows, a slot canyon.  Although nothing like the colorful Antelope Canyons, it was interesting in its own way.  Very peaceful, undeveloped, and 25 miles up an unimproved road from US 89.  The road had many interesting rock formations along the way.  One thing I don't understand is how power lines that run along a road always end up on the more interesting side.  If they were planned, they would be on the less impressive side, or if unplanned & following the law of averages they would be half & half, but on almost all the main or back roads I've driven power lines are always in the way!

I didn't go all the way up the canyon - I was by myself, and rock scrambling is not a good idea all alone that far from anywhere!

Rocks Along Cottonwood Drive off US 89

After that it was off to a car wash to remove 1/4" or red clay dust and back to Page-Lake Powell Campground for dinner.  I plan to take it easy this evening & get an early start tomorrow.

South Narrows, Cottonwood Drive
Till Then -

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Upper Antelope Canyon, Page, AZ

Today's Photo - A Sand Waterfall in the Upper Antelope Slot Canyon, Page, AZ

I woke up at 4:00AM, and couldn't go back to sleep until just before sunrise. Of course I was planning to go to Horseshoe Bend for the sunrise, so I missed it. And, of course, it was a beautiful sunrise that I got to watch over the trailer park. I'll set the alarm for tomorrow!

As to today, I decided to take a tour of one of the slot canyons. There are a number of different tours available, ranging from a 1 hour zip through a canyon to whole day guided tours. I took the photographer's tour of the Upper Antelope Canyon, a 2 hour tour. This was an experience of a lifetime. I highly recommend it to anyone that gets to Page, AZ. In fact, I recommend going to Page just for the tour. It is that interesting. It does cost $46.00, you will be with a group, but the lighting in the canyon is unbeliebeable!
I made a full page of just some of the hundreds of images I took - it is at Antelope Canyon.

After that it was back to the campground to post these pages. I'll try again for a sunset photo of horseshoe bend (as well as a morning photo tomorrow!)

Till Tomorrow-

Friday, May 13, 2011

Page, AZ

Today's Photo - Horseshoe Bend, Page, AZ

I woke up early again this morning - I was raring to go at 5:30AM. Hard to believe! This time I drove out to the campground host's favorite place & kept going until I reached a parking lot & the road turned to dirt. I left the car there with all the maintenance workers vehicles & walked up the dirt road. Passed a couple of buildings I'd like to live in, a stream going across the road, and finally came to a open area that serves as a dead storage area for "stuff". Took some photos, came back to the campground, packed up the RAV4 & trailer & headed out to Page. The morning photos are at today's Lakeshore Images page.

I decided to stay on US 89 rather than take 89 Alt. Not sure why since the alt is a prettier road, maybe because I already drove 89 Alt. In any case, I reached Page & stopped for the afternoon at Page-Lake Powell Campground on Coppermine Road. I didn't realize there was a campground on the lake at Wahweap; I drove by it after registering at the Page-Lake Powell location. It was more my style, although at least here I get free showers! While there I saw the biggest boat I have ever seen on a trailer. I guess that is the only way you can get one to Lake Powell, but it must be impressive going down the road!

I also drove back to the BLM Visitor's Center to pick up one of their maps. After that I decided to try to find Horseshoe Bend. Photographing this feature is the main reason I came to Page. It was easy to find, although the directions in Laurent Martres' Photographing the Southwest, Volume II - Arizona were a little off. I plan to go back under better lighting conditions, but the photograph from this afternoon isn't too bad.

I'm going to do an early (well, not so early, it is already 5:30) dinner so I can go back to Horseshoe Bend for the sunset.

Till Tomorrow-

Zion Day 2

Today's Photo Zion National Park From One of  the Maintenance Garages!

I wonder if some of the parks save the best views for their employees? I made a short drive at 6:00AM this morning to the location suggested by the campground hosts. It is a pretty location. Tomorow I'm going to go further up the road but even the early stop had some great light.

After that it was back to the trailer for breakfast, and then on to the shuttle to get a ride up the valley. I made most of the stops; those that I didn't get on the way up I did on the way down. My feet are a bit tired - I should have worn thicker socks.

Right now I'm relaxing under my awning in a cool breeze recovering from a slightly sunburned face and thinking about what I'm going to make for dinner. Probably hamburgers again since I hate to waste the meat & I'm not sure it will go another day. There are many photos from today at the day's Lakeshore Images posting. (By the way, if you are interested in any of the locations from which these photos were taken, use an EXIF viewer on the larger images. They include GPS locations & the direction the camera was pointed.) Here is one of the moonrise over the surrounding mountains:

Till tomorrow (well, actually later today!)

Zion National Park

Today's Photo - Site 106, South Campground, Zion National Park.

How's that for a campsite background!

I think Blogger killed this page yesterday.  I couldn't post a blog entry last night, and I'm sure I posted this yesterday, but this morning it appears to be gone.  So, this is either new, old, or posted twice!

I never did get my shower at the Desert Skies RV Resort. I ended up leaving before they opened at 9:00. The plan was to get to Zion before the campgrounds filled up - I got there at 9:00AM by my watch, but it was actual 10:00 since I made a time zone change. I think. Since I went through Arizona, where they don't believe in daylight savings time, I'm not sure what time it is! My iPhone said 10:00 & it knows where it is, so I'll go by that.

In any case, Watchman Campground, the only one with electricity, was already full. That was to be expected, since is takes reservations 6 months in advance and are usually booked by 8:00AM exactly 6 months before the camping date. The volunteer at the entrance gate suggested trying South Campground. Of the 126 sites at the South Campground, there were only 2 that were open, and I couldn't fit in either. Then I got lucky. A woman asked if I was looking for a site. They had their toad (a jeep) parked in site 106, but it was really too small for their class A RV. They found someone leaving this morning, so offered me the smaller site. It was a little tough backing into - the road is narrow & a post for the opposite campsite was in the way, but with lots of back & forths, I stuffed the trailer into the site. The "Campground Full" sign went up a couple of minutes after I got settled. Pretty lucky! I've got neighbors from Colorado, forgot the name of the town, but about an hour from Leadville.

I went for a short walk - the mountains around the campground are impressive!. I can't wait until the sun sets & rises - I suspect the colors will be amazing. The campground host suggested a good location to photograph at the end of a maintenance road. I'll give it a try in the morning.

It is going to be a tough call if there is going to be good conditions for sunset photos. It has been raining off & on all afternoon - I managed to shoot the moonrise between showers. If I get anthing worthwhile, I'll add them later. I've added a few images at the Lakeshore Images page for today.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Zion National Park, UT

Today's Photo - Site 106, South Campground, Zion National Park

How's that for a campsite background?

I never did get my shower at the Desert Skies RV Resort. I ended up leaving before they opened at 9:00. The plan was to get to Zion before the campgrounds filled up - I got there at 9:00AM by my watch, but it was actual 10:00 since I made a time zone change. I think. Since I went through Arizona, where they don't believe in daylight savings time, I'm not sure what time it is! My iPhone said 10:00 & it knows where it is, so I'll go by that.

In any case, Watchman Campground, the only one with electricity, was already full. That was to be expected, since is takes reservations 6 months in advance and are usually booked by 8:00AM exactly 6 months before the camping date. The volunteer at the entrance gate suggested trying South Campground. Of the 126 sites at the South Campground, there were only 2 that were open, and I couldn't fit in either. Then I got lucky. A woman asked if I was looking for a site. They had their toad (a jeep) parked in site 106, but it was really too small for their class A RV. They found someone leaving this morning, so offered me the smaller site. It was a little tough backing into - the road is narrow & a post for the opposite campsite was in the way, but with lots of back & forths, I stuffed the trailer into the site. The "Campground Full" sign went up a couple of minutes after I got settled. Pretty lucky! I've got neighbors from Colorado, forgot the name of the town, but about an hour from Leadville.

I went for a short walk - the mountains around the campground are impressive!. I can't wait until the sun sets & rises - I suspect the colors will be amazing. The campground host suggested a good location to photograph at the end of a maintenance road. I'll give it a try in the morning.

As for now, here are a couple of images - nothing special, other than some spectacular scenery! I hope to get more over the next two days. In between rain showers I managed to shoot a couple of images of the moon rising over the tops of the mountains.  I'm not sure there will be much in the way of sunset images; with the clouds & rain, it may be a bust.  I'm here for two days, so hopefully it will clear.

Till Tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Arizona (Sort of)

Today's Photo - Zabriskie Point, Death Valley, CA

Well, I'm in Arizona, I think.  The AAA guide says the "Campground" I'm in is in Mesquite, Nevada, but the registration envelope says they are physically in Littlefield, Arizona. In any case, it sure is different from the places I've been staying,  All concrete, utilities on the wrong side of the slab, sites on all sides, and the bathrooms (and, if they are really there, showers) behind a coded door for which I don't have the code.  Seems the office closes at 2:00PM & doesn't reopen until 9:00AM the following day. To top it off, at $50.00 it is the most expensive site so far. I did try for the only other campground listed for Mesquite in the AAA guide, but although I found it, the signs stated you had to register at the hotel, and the hotel seemed to be closed.

Oh well, it is only one night.  I did have one interesting stop today - Zabriskie Point in Death Valley.  You walk up a hill that overlooks some incredible views.  The one in the photo at the top of this post is only one of them - no matter which direction you look it is different & dramatic. It does make you thing what the settlers that moved west went through.  Although I doubt that too many of them went through Death Valley (the name might suggest a different route) but the idea of walking or driving a wagon through those formations completely surrounded by mountains gives one something to think about.  Definitely worth a stop.

I did end up buying 4 gallons of $5.75 gas at the Furnace Creek station, just to be sure I made it to the next gas station.  After getting out of the park I followed CA 127 & CA 178 to Pahrump and 160 towards Las Vegas.  The plan was to stop at the Red Rock Canyon Campground for the night but I never found it.  It wasn't listed on the GPS, and although I followed the AAA guide directions, the only things 4 miles west of I215 on Highway 159 seemed to be new houses.  I did find Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area which is a very pretty drive, but the woman at the entrance stop had no idea where the campground was.  So, I gave up, got on I15, about the only practical route to Utah from Death Valley and a reminder why I hate interstates, and wore out at Mesquite.  So, here I am for the night! I'm having trouble loading anything on my Lakeshore Images web page, so the additional images will have to wait.

After many tries & a phone call to 1&1, my web site host, I got the latest page to post.  If you want to see more images of Zabriskie Point, check it out.

Till tomorrow

A Day of Firsts

Today's Photo - Some Trees at Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes, Death Valley, CA

I would have to call today a day of many firsts. Although I drove the RAV4 to 8300', the trailer wasn't attached. Today it went over Conway Summit, 8142', the highest it has been. To top that, it also managed to hit the lowest altitude I expect to see - 236' below sea level here in Death Valley.

Another first was pretty exciting. Although one morning in Hoh, WA it hit 23°F, it was only for a few minutes & I didn't have any hookups. Last night I woke up around 3:00AM & it was 22°F, and stayed that way until 7:00AM. And, I had water hooked up. The term "had" is a good one - although it was hooked up, nothing was coming out of the taps. The hose was frozen solid, along with the faucet feeding it. I was a bit nervous whether any of the trailer plumbing was also frozen, but there was no way to find out until things thawed. I finally managed to unhook the hose, roll it up, listening to the ice inside crack, attach the ends to each other so that when it thawed it wouldn't flood the storage box, and hook up the trailer to the RAV4. I'm glad I had gloves when I was attaching the spring bars...

That left the problem of the water faucet. I couldn't close it because it was frozen, but as soon as it thawed, it would flood the campsite. No problem; as I was unhooking the electric, the ice plug in the faucet blew out, soaking me! At least I didn't have to wake up the campground owners to let them know the problem.

By the way, the Willow Springs campground is a great place to stay in the Mono Lake /Bodie area. Very nice people, and lots of activities, at least a bit further into the season.

After getting hooked up I headed south on 395. The road parallels hills & mountains on both sides - a beautiful drive through the Owens Valley. Just a few small towns to stop & get gas, and the price is exciting - I paid $4.37 a gallon at Lone Pine, CA, but managed to drive by stations in the upper Death Valley area on CA 190 that were selling regular for $5.75.

There are some interesting passes in the park. Not all that high, at least compared to those in Northern California or Montana, but the steepest grades I've driven. We made it up a 9 mile 8% grade; at times at 40mph, but no overheating. CA 190 is quite narrow & has many twists & turns through the park, but gorgeous scenery. I did hit light mixed snow & rain on the earlier parts of the route.

I made a couple of stops in Death Valley - the first at Padre Crowley Point - quite a trench! After that it was the Stovepipe Wells Ranger Station to get my entrance sticker (free with the Senior Pass) and a bit later the Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes. Although they were difficult to photograph because the sand was blowing, I did get a couple of photos of some interesting trees. I also took a photo of three bus loads of tourists that were lined up to use the bathrooms. I thought they had them on the bus - glad I didn't have to wait; just hop into the trailer! They will be available at my lakeshore Site when I find a fast internet connection.

I quit for the day at Furnace Creek campground. Fairly empty with 136 sites (I'm in 123) and maybe 5 campers at 4:00PM. It is windy, but I found a site that has trees blocking most of it. Only bad part is the trees also shade the solar panel, but I came in fully charged, so I don't think it will be a problem. By the way, I'm in Death Valley, a dry place and, for the second time today, it's raining! Oh well, I have had great weather for most of the trip, at least since I picked up the trailer...

Another interesting point - I've been told that Verizon provides better connectivity than AT&T across the US, and for the most part that seems to be true, but here at Death Valley I have a strong AT&T signal (at least for voice) and nothing for Verizon data. I don't think I'm going to be able to post this.

Well, I was right.  I tried to do a post from my iPhone on the AT&T network, but never got the photo to load.  It is now 4:02PM & I'm posting from Arizona.

Till Tomorrow - actually later today!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Bodie State Historical Park, CA

Today's Photo - The Methodist Church, Bodie State Historical Site, CA

I decided to go back to the south shore of Mono lake to retake some images - the sun was strong enough to blow out some of the clouds & this morning the direction was better & a little more even.  And yes, the water is actually that green!

Mono Lake, South Shore

After that it was off to Bodie State Historical Site.  I'm not sure why they don't call it a ghost town, but they don't.  In any case, just like Tumalo Falls in Bend, the road is only partially open.  At least they put a sign up at the start of the road that warns you that you will have to walk 1 1/2 miles to the site. It was mostly uphill, since the park is at 8375'  A mile and one half isn't all that long a walk, however at that altitude & uphill it takes a bit out of you.

In any case, this is a gem of a ghost town.  Many buildings, machinery, automobiles, etc all looking like the owners walked away from them in the 40's.  According to the brochure for the location, it was a town of 8500 people & 2000 buildings in 1879.  By 1886, the the gold had run out and the town was down to 1500.  The final residences left in the 1940's, and it became a park in 1994.
The Western Part of Town
Bodie Ghost Town, Stamp mill

I'll post a page devoted to Bodie at lakeshore Images when I find a fast enough site to load the 40 of so photos I took. Well for what ever reason, things are fast enough here to load all the images, so if you want more, check Bodie.

After that it was back to the trailer.  I registered for another night here at Willow Springs.  I'm heading east tomorrow.  Don & Anne and I will work out where we are going to meet after they are done visiting in Phoenix.  I'm sure we will work something out...

Till Tomorrow-

Mono Lake, CA

Today's Photo - Mono Lake, CA

On the way out of Burney Falls campground I stopped once more to take a couple of photos from the viewing overlook at the parking lot.

Mono Lake is an interesting place.  Starting in 1941 the City of Los Angeles drew more water out of the lake than nature put back into it.  The result was a drastic lowering of the lake level, an increase in salinity, and dust problems for areas around the lake.

Although it is being restored, the luffa formations that remain above the lake present an unusual spectacle.

I prefer the formations on the south shore of the lake, but they appear in many areas.  In any case, I spent most of the day driving down US 395.  After making it through Reno, I stopped at a McDonald's in Carson City to post yesterday's photos.  I guess I'm going to have to do the same tomorrow since the cell connection here at the campground is too slow to upload the larger versions of the images I post at the Lakeshore Images site. I think this post will load.

Note - I did manage to load the rest of the images at Lakeshore Images Sunday morning.

I drove 277.4 miles to the campground, then added 56 more miles going to & back from Mono Lake.  I'm in site 12 at the Willow Springs Motel & Campground.  I pretty location about 20 miles north of Lee Vining (Mono Lake), although right on US 395.

Since it was already 8:45 by the time I got back to the campground, for the first time since getting the trailer I decided to eat in a restaurant.  The campground owner suggested the one across the street - I suspected it was just because they were neighbors, but the meal was excellent.  If you are ever in the area, check out The Virginia Creek Settlement. Well worth a stop.

Well, it's late, I'm tired from my various hikes from the parking lots to the lake shore, so I'm calling it quits.

Till tomorrow -

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Burney Falls, CA

Today's Photo (Well, actually yesterday's) Burney Falls, CA

Well, it was bound to happen - I have no internet connection - both WiFi & Verizon Cell service (at least data even with the Wilson amplifier) has failed to connect here at Burney Falls. I do have 2-3 bars on my AT&T iPhoneI did stop & take a couple of photos of Mt Shasta on the way down US 97. I wasn't that good a day for pictures, too much haze & clouds obscured the top of the mountain, ut I did include the RAV4 in the photo to prove I was there! After a short stint on Interstate 5, it was onto CA 89 heading for Burney Falls. This is one of my favorite waterfalls. I think my overall favorite is still Chittenango Falls in NY, but this is an awful close second. The many different sections that include a main falls and hundreds of smaller parts, many of which come out of the face of the cliff, not over the top make it different from most. There is more water coming over the falls than the last time I was here. The spray makes it difficult to photograph from the bottom, and the late afternoon sunlight produced flare on the slightest water drop on the lens. I'll try for some more tomorrow morning.

Note - I went back to the falls after dinner around 7:15PM and found the light much better. I also used my B+W 8 stop ND filter rather than the variable ND filter I used in the afternoon. I have a tendency to over dial the variable filter (they warn you not to) and the results is blotchy color. I like the evening results  much better. The image above is from the evening session.

It is warm here. 75°F. I would finally get the chance to try the trailer's air conditioner, but there is no electricity, or water, or sewer. California definitely has expensive camping. $30.00 for a dry site is a bit steep (well, I did get $2.00 off as a senior citizen so I only paid $28.00). I did include a photo of the campsite. If you look carefully, you will see a guest sitting on the passenger mirror. I'm in site 13.

Till Tomorrow or when ever I get to post this!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Still in Bend, OR

Today's Photo Tumalo Falls, Bend, OR

As noted I'm still in Bend, OR, Tumalo State Park, Site B13.  I have to blame it on one of the sites followers - Jack B Nimble posted a comment that there was a nice waterfall just outside of town.  I did some looking on the internet & found Tumalo Falls is only 12 miles or so from the campground. The web pages noted that it was just a short walk from the parking lot to the base of the falls, so I figured I could fit a trip in, still do my laundry & get a reasonably early start south.

Well, my GPS had no trouble finding the falls, estimated 35 minutes so off I went.  Only one small problem - the main road ends & there is a 2 1/2 mile gravel road to the falls.  There is a gate across the gravel road.  Well, I didn't have my walk for the day, so why not?  Actually, it wasn't a bad walk, just a little longer than I expected.  I did see a nice small stream on the way as well as some interesting stumps.

When I reached the falls I could see why the road was closed - the parking lot was under a couple feet of snow.  There are more photos at 2011 Trip Day 18.

Anyway, by the time I got back it was too late to do both laundry & get a good start, so I decided to stay one more day here at Tumalo State Park.  After doing the laundry I still had a couple of hours left before dinner, and, since it was a nice day, I installed my Progressive EMS - HW30C Surge Protector.  Although this model doesn't correct low or high voltage, it does shut off the power to the trailer if there are any problems with the power source.

After that it was grilled Chicken Pollo Asado in celebration of Cinco de Mayo.

Till Tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Still in Bend, OR

The Three Sisters From the End of the Tumalo Reservoir Road

Last night I drove towards the mountains that are west of Bent to take a couple of sunset photos. Of course, the sun was setting behind the mountains, which makes for a pretty dull photo, but I was looking for an interesting location for the morning.

So, at 5:30AM (sunrise is 6:04) I rolled out of bed. Although it was warm & toasty in the trailer, the outside thermometer read 27°F. I thought I had moved out of the cold. Since Bend is at 3623', I guess they are allowed to have cold mornings! Anyway, I headed back out the same road (Tumalo Reservoir Road) to the same location (where the paving ends) and took a few photos. The mist on the water & the color of the mountains was a big improvement over last night! By the time I finished, my fingers were numb - the temperature was down to 23°F (isn't that going the wrong way?) and I headed back to the campground. I took too many photos, but I really liked the location. More at 2011 Trip, Day 17.

I did get a chance to try the solar showers (the air temperature was up to 40°F by the time I finished breakfast, coffee, processing the photos, etc.) the showers were just about as hot as I could stand. No adjustment, just a timed on push button. Of course when you got out of the shower records were broken getting dressed - no heat in the dressing area. At least I got dry before the water drops froze!

Well, baby has new shoes! The bad - $1120.00 installed. The good news - no sales tax. I probably could have gotten another couple of hundred miles out of the old tires, but the sales tax savings more than made up for buying them in California. By the way, it is 75°F this afternoon - sure warms up fast.

Since the solar showers have kitchen sinks attached, I decided grilling was a good idea - much easier to clean up in a big sink than in the little one in the trailer. So, it was a NY steak & fresh asparagus for dinner. The steak was delicious. I think the western states keep the more tender beef out here rather than ship it east.

After that it was showing the trailer to a couple of campers, then time to finish this posting. Not much driving today - the tires took over 3 hours. 56.3 miles; 4309.1 for the trip.

The plan is to head south on US 97 after doing laundry tomorrow morning.

Till then -

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bend, OR

Today's Photo - The Three Sisters, Sisters, OR.

Today was a straight (well actually anything but straight) run down OR 22 to Bent.  Although nothing like the passes in Montana, OR 22 goes through Santiam Pass at 4817'.  I hit light snow just before the pass, and there was 3'-4' feet on the sides of the road.  The roads were clear but wet...

Just Before Santiam Pass

Near the Top

I have an appointment to have the tires replaced on the RAV4 tomorrow & am spending two nights at Tumalo State Park, about 5 miles north of the Toyota dealership.  Oregon's parks switch from the less expensive "Discovery" mode to "Premier," on May 1st, raising the price for a full service site from $22.00 to $26.00, still a pretty good deal. I'm in site B13, a stone's throw from the solar showers.  I wonder if the water stays hot until the morning?  I guess I'll find out - I'm a morning shower person and have never been able to adjust to taking one in the evening.

Toyota Bend ( I guess that is a better name than "Bend Toyota") said they would call me after 3:00 to let me know if the tires came in - no phone call. I guess I'll just show up for my appointment.

I grilled for the first time.  I made a couple of hamburgers, & fresh green beans but while at the store saw some good looking shish kabobs - I think I'll pick one up for tomorrow.   The Coleman combination grill/stove worked well.  After dinner I took a walk to the river that runs along side the campground.

I got to Skype (on line video chat) with my daughter Karin & the grandkids this afternoon, and advantage of stopping early.  I keep forgetting that it is 3 hours later back in the east. 

Today was 103.5 miles & a trip total of 4252.8.

Till Tomorrow - 

Back at Fisherman's Bend

Today's Photo - A Section of the River Walk, Fisherman's Bend Campground, OR

I got a late start today after paying bills & other paperwork, including making an appointment with Toyota of Bend, OR to have my tires replaced.

It rained off and on, so I wasn't sure I'd be coming back to Fisherman's Bend - If it was dry I'd walk the waterfall hike at Silver Falls State Park & stay there for the night.  If it was raining, I planned to come back after just photographing the North Falls.  Well, it was raining, so I hauled the Escape to the falls & back.  Oh well, it is only gasoline (at $4.00 per gallon)!

The North Falls is OK, but not as impressive as those with multiple streams.  In any case, here is a photo:

Of course once I started back the sun came out - I'm sure if I had stayed, the rain would have continued.  When we made out last trip through the Northwest in 2004 we were labeled the rainmakers since it rained most nights even in areas that were having a drought. 

I'm taking a break to have dinner with Lou & Kathy - will finish this later. 

Well, it's later.  Kathy made a delicious Chicken Alfredo for dinner, followed by pumpkin pie with ice cream.  I better not get use to too many of these home cooked meals - I have to live with my own cooking for most of the trip.  Tomorrow it is back to the normal grind!

Till then - 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Fisherman's Bend

Today's Photo - The Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Newport, OR

I made a quick stop at the Yaquina Lighthouse in Newport, OR.  My plan (at least for today) is to start heading inland.  Not sure if I'll still try for the Burney Falls in California; I'll decide as I get further south. I already know it is way too early to try to stop at Crater Lake or Lassen Volcanic National Park.  I guess I'll have to make future trip later in the year, or maybe catch them on my way back north.

I stopped for the night at the BLM campground Fisherman's Bend near Mill City. OR.  It was at the suggestion of a couple I met on line that posts at the RV Pics Forum, Lou & Kathy. I'm glad they suggested the location. It is a beautiful campground; my site has full utilities &, with my Senior Pass, is only $11.00 per night.  Lots of trees with hanging moss, a river running through the campsite, hot showers, what more could you ask for?

Today's mileage was 253.9; and a total of 4063.7 for the trip.  I took US 20 out of Newport, then OR 226 to OR 22 to the campground. Pretty good roads, although US 20 is a bit beat up in sections.  It appears that they are rebuilding sections, taking out some of the twists & turns.

I finished off the sausage & spaghetti for dinner - It was either use it or dump it.  I'm getting used to cooking on a 2 burner stove, and, so far, have been able to live without an oven.  I do miss a real kitchen, but since even my small kitchen at home has more floor space than the entire trailer, I'll have to do without!

I remeasured the tread wear on the RAV4 tires - they still have a bit left, but it is time to start looking for a place to replace them.  Because they are an unusual size & designed to run flat, I don't know if I can get them from anyone other than Toyota.  I'll start looking tomorrow.

Till then -