Monday, March 31, 2014

Riviera RV Park, Las Vegas, NV

Site 69, Riviera RV Park, Las Vegas, NV
Monday, March 31, 2014, Riviera RV Park, Las Vegas, NV - 127.7 miles , 6242.3 For the Trip

I only thought it was windy during the afternoon. Around 4:30 the real wind came up. The rain stopped, the sun came out, and enough wind arrived to do some damage. AccuWeather said the gusts were at 45MPH, but I suspect they were a bit more than that. It blew my portable solar panels 20' from the trailer (and they had 2 - 10 lb rocks on the legs), the satellite antenna off the roof of the campground host, and moved a boat (on a wheel chocked trailer) across the parking lot and almost into the lake. A rock in a lucky location stopped it. After the wind died down they managed to pull it back into the parking lot. As to my panel, nothing broke, so I hope it will work the next time I need it. I didn't want to try to set it up until the wind died, and by then it was too dark for it to work. The boat photo is on today's LakeshoreImages page.

I ended up with soup for dinner - there was no way I could have cooked my burger in the wind. Of course, about a half hour after dinner the wind died down to nothing!

I stopped for the day at the Riviera RV Park in Las Vegas. Nothing to write home about other than it is inexpensive at $24.34, and a convenient one night stop on the way to California. It does have full hookups, and showers, something that is nice after a week of dry camping. My plan is to do short drives unless I discover a location that I want to spend some time in. I thought about revisiting Hearst Castle since the last time I was there was in 1969, but boy the prices have gone up! I think I'll skip it & dig out the old photos...

I'll try again for a bison burger for dinner, although is is pretty windy here in the campground. Might be another soup night!

Until tomorrow -

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Quail Creek State Park, UT, Day 7

Sunday, March 30, 2014, Quail Creek State Park, UT, Day 7 - 0 miles , 6114.6 For the Trip

I started yesterday's post with "It's warming up", so, of course, today had to be different. Never got above 65°F, and very windy - white caps and flying spray on the lake. At 3:00PM it is in the 50's.

I spent the morning reading the Sunday paper, doing Jumble, the comics, etc. Tried sitting outside to read, but too windy & cold, so it was back in the trailer. I made a short run to Walmart for milk & ice cream, and a couple of bananas, then came back to the campground. Many trailers have moved out, and a few new ones in. There is a 24' Argosy, a white version of an Airstream that at first glance, looks like a fiberglass trailer, but isn't.

I started packing for leaving tomorrow - took down the hummingbird feeder, put the extension mirrors back on the RAV, etc. I'm not sure how far I'll get tomorrow; I don't need to be at Champoeg State park in Oregon until the 23rd, so I have plenty of time. No photos today.

Dinner will be a Bison burger & snap peas.

Until tomorrow -

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Quail Creek State Park, UT, Day 6 & Pipe Spring National Monument

Winsor Castle, Pipe Spring National Monument
Saturday, March 29, 2014, Quail Creek State Park, UT, Day 6 & Pipe Spring- 0 miles , 6114.6 For the Trip

It is warming up - I didn't even need the furnace last night. Still lots of open, but reserved spaces in the campground. I haven't seen the owners of the Trillium - seems like they dropped it off, but didn't come back.

I decided it would be a good day to see Pipe Spring National Monument. Pipe Spring was a Mormon outpost and fort that was located at one of the few fresh water springs in the area, and about 50 miles from the campground. It provided a rest stop for travelers, a farm to grow food for the building of the Mormon temple at St George, and became a national monument in 1923.

There is a museum, a tour through Winsor Castle (the fort) and self guided tours around the grounds.

More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner will be one of the batches of frozen beans & sausage.

Until tomorrow -

Friday, March 28, 2014

Quail Creek State Park, UT, Day 5

After the Rain
Friday, March 28, 2014, Quail Creek State Park, UT, Day 5 - 0 miles , 6114.6 For the Trip

Another cold night - down to 41°F this morning. Still warm as toast in the trailer; well maybe not toast, but the furnace kept it at the 55° I set it for. In fact, this morning I decided it was time for a shower so I warmed the trailer up to 69°.

Today was another domestic day. I started out with a haircut, then did laundry. I stopped at Walmart to buy a bicycle lock for my portable solar panel. It was 3.5' long, however I found I needed one at least 4' so I'll have to keep looking. I'll save this one for the bicycle I plan to buy in the future...

I did include a couple of the photos of the lake after yesterday's rain. The campground is fully reserved, but there are still quite a few empty sites. I did take a couple of photos - below me is the only Airstream I've seen that has a slide. It is the 75th Edition, which may be why it has one. There is also a Trillium 4500 parked above me. It makes me a bit nervous - it is in one of the sites that, because it is so steep, is suggested for tent camping only. While they parked it near the top on the flattest part of the site, they blocked the wheels with a couple of rocks! Sure hope they hold...

Photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner was a couple of cheese brots & snap peas.

Until tomorrow -

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Quail Creek State Park, UT, Day 4

Along Kolob Terrace Road

Thursday, March 27, 2014, Quail Creek State Park, UT, Day 4 - 0 miles , 6114.6 For the Trip

A cold night - down to 42°F and rain off & on. I feel for the 6 young folks camping in the site next to mine - all gathered together under 4-5 tarps stretched across the picnic table sun shade. Yesterday's wind blew most of the tarps away, leaving their stuff exposed to the rain. Still, they look like they are having a good time.

I didn't do much of anything today. I did get out the portable solar panel - running the furnace, even at only 55°F last night used up enough amp hours that I didn't think the cloud covered sun today would refill the batteries without it. It was down by 25 amp hours this morning, as of 1:45 only 7.5.

No photos today, so I used one from yesterday for this post. There was great color between the sunset on the mountains on the other side of the lake & the gray surface of it, but I wasn't happy with the photo. The campground is pretty empty - while it is fully booked for the weekend, only two RVs pulled in so far today, along with the 3 RVs, 2 tents, and 1 tarp covered table that were already here.

I haven't thought much about dinner - still pretty windy to cook outside, but at least the rain has stopped. Could be another trip to town for a premade meal!

Until tomorrow -

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Quail Creek State Park, UT, Day 3

Kolob Reservoir
Wednesday, March 26, 2014, Quail Creek State Park, UT, Day 3 - 0 miles , 6114.6 For the Trip

After breakfast I thought about heading to either Kolob Reservoir, Pipe Spring National Monument, getting a haircut or washing the RAV4. Since it looked like rain, I skipped the car, and decided to drive to the reservoir. A fun 27 mile drive (at least without the trailer) on Kolob Terrace Road. On the way I passed the Left Fork Trailhead, where the 9 mile round trip hike to The Subway starts. I'd love to photograph the Subway, however it is a hike I'd rather do with company so I'll have to save it for another time.

I stopped to photograph the rocks & trees along the way to Kolob Reservoir, where, at 8118' the temperature was down to 38°F. The ice is off the resevoir, however there is still snow in many of the shadow areas. I did see a couple of hearty RVers parked in a camping area just above the lake and a couple of individuals fishing. More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I stopped on the way back to the campground at Lin's, and bought some "Fresh Hot Chicken" for dinner. Saves cooking outside in the rain!

Until tomorrow -

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Quail Creek State Park, UT, Day 2 & Zion National Park

The Virgin River, Zion National Park
Tuesday, March 25, 2014, Quail Creek State Park, UT, Day 2 & Zion National Park - 0 miles , 6114.6 For the Trip

I got up late this morning - probably because of the time zone changes. In any case, around 10:30 I headed to Zion National Park. Let me tell you, it anyone complains about being required to use the shuttle busses, they haven't driven through the park in late March. The shuttles don't start until April 1st, and while the road through Zion Canyon wasn't bumper to bumper, all the parking areas were full, with many cars parked along the road, turning sections into a 1 lane road.

One the way up the Zion Canyon road I stopped to photograph the Virgin River in a couple of areas, then stopped at one of my favorite parts of the drive, behind the horse barns on the opposite side of the road from the Court of the Patriarchs shuttle stop. I shot some of the images using my variable ND filter, and, as usual, was unhappy with hte results. I should sell the thing, but it is so nice to be able to dial it open to compose, then dial it dark for the photograph. The problem is it uses polarizing filters to produce the neutral density, and on wide angle lenses it shows the effect of polarizing. I reshot most of the images using my trusty B+W 10 stop ND filter. Photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

After that I decided to call it a day and head back to the campground. It is about a :45 minute drive to Zion from Quail Creek, including the 5 minute wait to get through the gate at the park. By the way, both campgrounds were filled. I suspect you could get a spot in the South Campground if you arrived early in the day, but it was filled by 11:00.

Dinner will be a pork chop, mashed potatoes, and broccoli, with an ice cream sandwich for dessert.

Until tomorrow -

Monday, March 24, 2014

Quail Creek State Park, UT

Site 1, Quail Creek State Park, UT
Monday, March 24, 2014, Quail Creek State Park, UT - 102.7 miles , 6114.6 For the Trip

After packing and saying goodbye to my neighbors for the last two weeks, I headed for the dump station, and on to Quail Creek State Park outside of Hurricane, UT. I stopped on the way out of Valley of Fire to take a photo of the trailer in front of the Seven Sisters picnic ground, which can be found at today's LakeshoreImages page. The only other photo is of the trailer in site 1 at Quail Creek. Quail Creek is a fairly small, almost primitive campground - no hookups, but a bathroom with flush toilets (no showers) within walking distance. I assume there once was a Quail Creek; now it is a lake.

One point for those wishing to reserve a site unseen - some of them are large enough for a good sized RV, however a few of those are so steep that you would never be able to level your rig. I was concerned about mine - it was the only one left that was available for a week & listed as 20' deep. It is actually longer than that - both the trailer & RAV4 fit. Another piece of info about the campground - good AT&T & Verizon service with fast 4G LTE at my site.

They have an unusual boat launch - it has hours. It is open from 7:00AM - 10:00AM, and again 3:00PM to 5:00PM. Not sure why, but today at 4:00, it was closed. At least I think it was 4:00. I drove through Arizona with no daylight savings time, then into Utah. My phone & iPad says it is 6:30, while my watch and clock are still on Nevada time.

I did stop at Walmart on my way to the campground (it is about 4 miles away) and bought a new Coleman Grill/Stove. My old one had seen better days, and the regulator threads were worn to the point where propane bottles wouldn't stay connected. They do sell replacement regulators, but, as I said, the stove itself was pretty worn out. I've been using it for over 15 years. Another important point - the new one is red instead of green & matches the trailer strips!

Dinner was a turkey burger & the rest of the coleslaw from yesterday.

Until tomorrow -

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Valley of Fire State Park, NV, Day 14

Red Tailed Hawk
Sunday, March 23, 2014, Valley of Fire State Park, NV, Day 14 - 0 miles , 6011.9 For the Trip

After reading the Sunday Syracuse Post Standard, I made pancakes & bacon for brunch, making enough extra bacon for a BLT for lunch. Other than that, I spent the day talking with some of the other campers, reading, and shooting photos of birds.

There has been a pair of red tailed hawks that have circled over the campground, but only when I didn't have the camera handy, or had a wide angle lens mounted. Today I saw one of them in the distance, so I put the 70-200mm zoom on the camera and waited. At first, I thought the only bird photo other than hummingbirds I was going to get was a raven, but one of the hawks finally circled over the campground. Never got close to my campsite, so the photos are a bit soft, but at least I got him.  More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

After that, it was a few hummingbirds shots, then it was time to cook the chicken for dinner. I'll be packing up some of my stuff tonight in preparation to heading out in the morning.

Until tomorrow -

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Valley of Fire State Park, NV, Day 13

A View of the Campground From A Cove in the Rocks
Saturday, March 22, 2014, Valley of Fire State Park, NV, Day 13 - 0 miles , 6011.9 For the Trip

While it started out as another do nothing day, I decided to explore the rocks behind the trailer. For those that don't want to hike, there are still many interesting rocks & formations here in the campground. All of the first group of photos were taken within 200 yards of the trailer (site 27).

There was a ranger guided hike to Fire Wave today, but since I already did that, I skipped it. When my neighbors got back from the hike, they mentioned that they also ventured on to more rocks behind the wave & an interesting wash that is almost a slot canyon. So, around 4:00 when the light got interesting, I headed out. Met a couple of women from France that were sitting on top of the wave. Took a couple of photos, then headed down the wash (actually, up). Some nice striped rocks, and the textures in the wash were interesting. While walking on the trail to the Fire Wave, my phone rang. Unusual since most of the park is not well covered by AT&T, but my brother managed to try a call when I was in one of the few areas that was covered.

As usual, more photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner was a surprise - I was going to cook up some chicken, but my neighbors had made a crock pot stew & invited me to dinner. It was great, and for the first time of the trip, I didn't have to cook! They talked with the rangers & extended their stay one extra day (beyond the 14 day maximum) so they will be heading out on Monday, the same day I'm leaving.

Until tomorrow -

Friday, March 21, 2014

Valley of Fire State Park, NV, Day 12

Rocks From Yesterday
Friday, March 21, 2014, Valley of Fire State Park, NV, Day 12 - 0 miles , 6011.9 For the Trip

Another do nothing day. Lots of reading, and a bit of time on some of my favorite RV & photography forums. I did take a break from doing nothing and walked around the campground. Like last weekend (and most of the week) the campground is full. While a few people left, the sites were immediately filled, and many RVs drove through looking for an empty.

I did finish Lawrence Sander's The Tomorrow File. Written in 1975, it provided a pretty gruesome view of what public service would be like in the 21st century. Unfortunately, some of his ideas are far too real. It is interesting to see what predictions are way off base - still using tape recorders, computers are still room size devices, etc. Goes to show how fast electronics advanced in the last 40 years...

No photographs today so I used one from yesterday.

Dinner will be a chicken pot pie, making room to move the last bean & sausage meal from the refrigerator to the freezer. I now have 3 meals ready to thaw.

Until tomorrow -

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Valley of Fire State Park, NV, Day 11

A Rock at Parking Lot 2
Thursday, March 20, 2014, Valley of Fire State Park, NV, Day 11 - 0 miles , 6011.9 For the Trip

I got tired of doing nothing, so I drove along the Dome Rock road & stopped at a couple of places I've been before, as well as a new location, parking lot 2. I spent most of the time taking photos of rock formations & faces. Tried for a black & white of a dead cactus, but the background is too busy for it to work well. I also stopped at the cabins , three that were built by the CCC. There are some petroglyphs behind them. On the way to Overton for groceries I stopped at the East Entrance to the park & took a couple of photos of Elephant Rock. Lots of photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

My neighbor noticed some Prickly Pear Cactus in bloom. I've seen many that had buds, but this is the first with actual flowers.

Dinner will be left over beans & sausage.

Until tomorrow -

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Valley of Fire State Park, NV, Day 10

Ground Squirrel

Wednesday, March 19, 2014, Valley of Fire State Park, NV, Day 10 - 0 miles , 6011.9 For the Trip

Another quiet day. I started the crock pot with the beans, sausage, and many vegetables around 9:30 on high for an hour (it was outside on the picnic table & it was 50°F out) then switched to low around 11:00. Gave it a stir every couple of hours, and it looks to be done at 4:30.

While waiting, I got out the camera with the 70-200mm lens & took some wildlife photos. Mostly hummingbirds, but a few ground squirrels (or are they chipmunks?)  More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner is pretty obvious!

Until tomorrow -

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Valley of Fire State Park, NV, Day 9

Tuesday, March 18, 2014, Valley of Fire State Park, NV, Day 9 - 0 miles , 6011.9 For the Trip

Well, the internet came back, so yesterday's posting made it. The wind died down a bit last night, but with the semi calm came the cold. Down to 45°F - I even plugged in the electric heater.

I didn't do much besides sit around today - while it was cold during the morning & I spent much of it inside the trailer, by late afternoon it was warm enough to sit outside. The internet was off & on during the day, but I did get to read some of my favorite forums, and, of course, my current book, an earlier (2000) J. A. Jance book a bit different from most of hers - Kiss of the Bees.

No photographs today. I thought about shooting the full moon last night, but it was too windy & cold for me to sit out.

Dinner was a steak & a Koor pasta dish that wasn't worth the trouble of cleaning the pot afterwards. Tonight I'm soaking a bag of 16 bean soup mix that I'll cook in the crock pot tomorrow.

Until tomorrow -

Monday, March 17, 2014

Valley of Fire State Park, NV, Day 8 & The Lost City Museum

The Lost City Museum
Monday, March 17, 2014, Valley of Fire State Park, NV, Day 8 - 0 miles , 6011.9 For the Trip

Today was domestic Monday. I drove into Overton after breakfast to mail my granddaughter Zoe's birthday card (While a month early, it takes that long to get to Botswana). After that it was off to the laundromat. There is only one in town. The last time I was here they only had cold water. While there was hot water this time, the place has gone downhill. Most of the top loading machines were taped closed, as were a number of dryers. I did find a front loader that was working & one top loader, so I did get the job done. The large dryer I chose was the hottest one of the trip. Almost burned myself unloading the Clothes!

I stopped at the Lost City Museum just outside Overton. Built by the CCC to house some of the artifacts saved as Mead Lake (behind Hoover Dam) filled. It was built around some of the foundations of Native American villages. The CCC also built some pueblos outside the museum that used the techniques of the original structures. An interesting stop that takes about an hour & $5.00 to visit. I also took a photo of the BLM area south of Overton that is suggested as an overflow area for Valley of Fire. Pretty crowded.  Photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

After that it was a short stop at Lin's Market to resupply the refrigerator & other supplies. I bought a 12" frozen pizza which I have to eat as soon as I get back to the campsite since it doesn't fit in the freezer (but does fit in my toaster oven). So, another early dinner. Not sure what I'll have before bed - since I ate 3/4 of the pizza, I'm still stuffed!

While it was nice and calm during my early dinner, after eating the wind picked up. By 5:00 it was the windiest of the trip. Tents blowing down, RVers rushing to put in awnings, and lots of dust blowing around. I decided it was a good time for a shower, although I probably got just as dusty on the walk back to the trailer as I was when I started.

I'm not sure when you will get this - while my MiFi unit tells me I have a strong 3G service, there doesn't seem to be an internet connection. Maybe the land line to the tower is down because of the wind. I'll try again later tonight.

Until tomorrow -

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Valley of Fire State Park, NV, Day 7

If I Had to Guess - Black Chinned Hummingbird
Sunday, March 16, 2014, Valley of Fire State Park, NV, Day 7 - 0 miles , 6011.9 For the Trip

Another big Sunday morning breakfast or brunch, since it was 10:00 by the time I finished the Sunday paper & made pancakes. I did manage to clean up even without an outside kitchen sink. Not sure why they don't have them since most of the sites here are non RV tent sites.

Since this is the end of the first week, I filled out registration for the next. I also made a reservation for a week starting on the 23rd at Quail Creek State park in Utah, just outside of Hurricane. I should be able to explore the area around Zion, and some of the other places of interest and avoid the below freezing night time temperatures in National Park. It is dry camping, but I should be able to deal with that after 2 weeks of hookups.

I didn't go anywhere today, but did sit around taking more hummingbird photos: By the way, after looking at my iBird pictures and talking with my neighbor who knows more about birds than I do, we've decided most of the photos are of a Costa's Hummingbird.

I had a big, late lunch, so dinner will be cheese & crackers.

Until tomorrow -

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Valley of Fire State Park, NV, Day 6

Atlatl Competition
Saturday, March 15, 2014, Valley of Fire State Park, NV, Day 6 - 0 miles , 6011.9 For the Trip

A quiet Saturday. After breakfast & the paper (on my iPad) I pretty much sat around reading, took a break for a shower just after lunch, then went to watch the Atlatl competition. While there I also climbed the staircase to see the petroglyphs in the area.

I stopped at the Visitor Center and met Diane & Dennis Petersen showing their Native American flutes.  Beautifully made and sounding, but, sadly, not for sale.  They do sell CDs of their music, which can be heard at Diane's Photo Website: (which is well worth visiting for the images as well as the music).

After that I drove out to the parking lot for Mouse's Tank, a short hike along a path lined with petroglyphs. The "tank" is a pool formed by the sandstone rocks that holds rain water for a long time. Named after a native that used the area as a hideout.  More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

After that it was back to the campground and more reading & trying to get a good balance between the sun, shade, and wind. Full sun is too hot, full shade too cool with the wind - you can't be satisfied!

Dinner was a bison burger & chips.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, March 14, 2014

Valley of Fire State Park, NV, Day 5

Atlatls, Knives & Arrowheads
Friday, March 14, 2014, Valley of Fire State Park, NV, Day 5 - 0 miles , 6011.9 For the Trip

I got adventurous & made bacon & an Omlete for breakfast (mostly because it was time to use up the mushrooms & pepper before they needed to be tossed). After brunch I drove to the Visitor Center to get a stronger AT&T cell signal & checked to see if my prescription transfers made it. Unfortunately, the phone was breaking up even though it had 3-4 bars of signal.

I stopped by the Atlatl demonstrations. Lots of different versions, some for sale, along with flint knives, arrowheads, etc. Watched some of the experts throwing, tried for a few photos, then headed to Las Vegas.  More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I stopped first at Goodyear to see if they could order my replacement tires. They had a sligthly larger tire (a 60 vs 55) in stock, so I decided that since I had plenty of clearence, I'd save another 120 mile round trip and have them replace them. They also put a new battery in the RAV4. I knew it would need one - on recent cold mornings the engine was slow to turn over. The old battery tested out at 1/3 what it was rated at.

After that it was off to CVS to pick up the prescriptions. I'm now good for the next 90 days.

I drove back along I15, bypassing the Valley of Fire exit & drove to Overton. Stopped at Lin's Market to pick up milk & a few other things, including dinner - they had a sale on racks (and 1/2 racks) of store cooked ribs. Not too bad!

Until tomorrow -

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Valley of Fire State Park, NV, Day 4

The Fire Wave
Thursday, March 13, 2014, Valley of Fire State Park, NV, Day 4 - 0 miles , 6011.9 For the Trip

I decided to do a little hiking today, so I drove out to Parking Lot 3, and hiked out to the Fire Wave. Not as impressive as the one in Arizona, but still the same type of formation - layers of sandstone etched by the wind. On the way back I hiked out to Fire Canyon.

My low tire pressure light came on - the passenger side front tire was down to 25 lbs. I used my 12V pump to pump it back to 32 PSI, but I don't think I'm going to be able to wait until I get to Oregon to replace the tires. I called Goodyear, got the price on replacements, but the phone dropped in the middle of the conversation, so I will have to wait for better cell service to order them. They are special order tires, so I don't know how long it will take to get them in. Since I'm driving to Las Vegas tomorrow to pick up my prescriptions, I should be able to order them then.

After that, it was back to the campground for some relaxing & reading. Dinner will be a cheeseburger, beans, and the rest of the coleslaw.

Until tomorrow -

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Valley of Fire State Park, NV, Day 3

The Campground Under a 3/4 Moon
Wednesday, March 12, 2014, Valley of Fire State Park, NV, Day 3 - 0 miles , 6011.9 For the Trip

It was fairly clear last night so I took a couple of photos of the stars & campground. I also took a photo of Jupiter with my 600mm lens set up - As I expected, all I got was a blob of light. I'd love to see the image the Sunday Post Standard technology reporter took with his iPad.

By the way, I now realize how lucky I was to find a site here at Atlatl Rock Campground. While there are still spaces available in the more primitive (no showers, pit toilets, and no hookups) Arch Rock Campground, by 10:00 every day the electric sites are filled, and by the afternoon, the entire campground is filled. As someone pulls out of an electric site, someone else is waiting to pull in.

I spent the day reading. I did try the showers on the other side of the campground - much better with adjustable temperature, and a real shower head rather than the high pressure, low volume versions in the nearby showers. Free as well.

The people camping next to me in an A Liner are Atlatl throwers. There is a demonstration & competition over the weekend here at the park & they set up a practice target behind their site. I took a couple of photos of them throwing, and they let me try it. It is harder than it looks, although I did at least get the arrow in the general direction of the target!  More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

That was about it for the day. Dinner was Dole Coleslaw (I finally found my favorite at the Lin Market in Overton) and a grilled chicken thigh sandwich.

Until tomorrow -

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Valley of Fire State Park, NV, Day 2

Slot Canyon at White Domes
Tuesday, March 11, 2014, Valley of Fire State Park, NV, Day 2 - 0 miles , 6011.9 For the Trip

I got off to a slow start this morning. It was a bit cool so I stayed in bed until 8:30. After breakfast, I drove to Overton to pick up some groceries, and get a good cell signal to call in my remaining prescription transfers from Oswego to the nearest CVS, which happens to be in Las Vegas. So, in a couple of days I'll be making a trip to the big city.

By the way, I did take a shower in the solar showers near my site last night. No temperature adjustment, and the water was not all that hot. On top of that it cost a quarter for 5 minutes. On the other side of the campground the showers are free, and have temperature control. I guess I'll try those showers next time.

I did some reading, then cooked up some bacon for BLT's for lunch. Unfortunately, they were only BT's since the head of lettuce I picked up turned out to be a cabbage. Still, an excellent tomato, so they were good.

Once the sun started to get low enough for decent photographs, I headed for White Domes & the 1.25 mile hike to a small slot canyon & the remains of an old movie set. Photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner will be a pot pie since I have electricity to use the toaster oven.

Until tomorrow -

Monday, March 10, 2014

Valley of Fire State Park, NV

Site 27, Valley of Fire State Park, NV
Monday, March 10, 2014,Valley of Fire State Park, NV - 209.8 miles , 6011.9 For the Trip

I was going to try for a photo of Jupiter last night using my 300 mm lens & doubler. The technical reporter who writes for the Syracuse Post Standard used an iPad to shoot it and said he could see surface details. I found that hard to believe, so I dug out the longest lens system I could put together to see. I shot the moon setting up focus, but as daylight faded, the clouds rolled in & I never got the chance for Jupiter.  Maybe tonight.

The original plan was to drive as far as Indian Springs on US 95, and take NV 156 to one of the Toiyabe Forest Service campgrounds for the night. That would split the 200 mile drive to Valley of Fire State Park in half. Only problem - I didn't realize that the campgrounds were at over 8000'. Not only was it a haul (with the instant MPG readout at 4.5), but it got cold! At 10:30 AM it was 65°F when I left US 95, and when I turned around at 8000' it was down to 50°F. I decided to skip the midway stop & drive on to Valley of Fire.

I stopped along the way for a photo of some pretty mountains. Better in person than the photograph - the scenery along US 95 is great.

So, it was a bit longer drive than I planned, but I pulled into the campground around 1:00. There were about 4 electric sites left open - I grabbed the nicest, although most of them (including mine) have the picnic tables & utilities in the wrong place for a trailer. Still, a nice site with a beautiful view of the rocks through any window. It will raise my camping cost average - this morning I was at $19.70 for the trip, but at $30.00 per night, a week in site 27 will bring that up to $20.16, even more if I stay another week. I may - I checked the weather at Zion, and the nights are still below freezing. I was here for a week in 2011 in site 33, when Don & Anne came out to join me for 2 weeks.

More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.  By the way, I'm not sure how much posting I'll be able to do here.  While the Verizon connection is much improved over 2011 (it says it is 4G LTE), it is still pretty slow.

I'm glad I didn't get here any later - by 3:30, all but the disabled electric sites are filled, and most of the water only sites are also taken.

Dinner will be a couple of hot dogs & beans - Hey, I'm camping!

Until tomorrow -

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Death Valley National Park, CA, Day 4

Yikes!  What is This Doing in My Chair?
Sunday, March 9, 2014, Texas Springs Campground, Death Valley National Park, CA, Day 4 - 0 miles , 5802.1 For the Trip

A nice, quiet Sunday, at least until I opened my folding chair. On the seat was a new friend! It must have crawled in overnight. Now I know they tell you to shake out your shoes in the morning in the desert if you leave them outside your trailer or tent, but I'm not sure I believe in shaking. I shook the chair all over the place & it never thought about letting go. I finally pushed it away with a stick. I'm not sure it was all there - it looks like the stinger on the tail is missing, but I sure didn't want to mess with it. After that, I went through all the nooks and crannies of the chair to be sure he didn't have a friend along.

I made bacon & pancakes for brunch - another meal that is tough to clean up after in the small trailer sink, so it is one I save for campgrounds with kitchen sinks. I did get to read my Sunday Syracuse paper, although at the fairly slow 3G connection here at the campground, it took a long time to download. After that it was goofing off reading, catching up on some forums, etc. I did take a break from taking a break to drive to the gas station to fill up for the trip out tomorrow. I exaggerated on the price of gas on a previous post - it was only $5.42 per gallon.

Dinner will be left over chicken stir fry.

Until tomorrow -

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Death Valley National Park, CA, Day 3

Flint Knapping
Saturday, March 8, 2014, Texas Springs Campground, Death Valley National Park, CA, Day 3 - 0 miles , 5802.1 For the Trip

Well, I got just as many complaints about the new background gray as I did for the original black, so I'm going with something in between.

I took a walk down to the Furnace Creek Borax Museum to watch an exhibit of flint knapping. While I've read lots about it since I'm as fan of the W. Michael & Kathleen O'Neal Gear's North America's Forgotten Past books ( People of the _____), I have never actually watched someone doing it. Had an interesting talk with the Knapper.

After that it was back to the campground. I climbed the hill behind Texas Springs and took a couple of photos of both the campground, Sunset Campground, and a panorama of the Furnace Creek area.

After that I sat around the campground reading, and showed the trailer to a couple of campers. I made an early dinner around 3:30 of stir fried chicken with potatoes, onions, peppers, mushrooms & asparagus. It was great, and I have enough left over for tomorrow. It is one of the dishes that is messy enough that I only make it when the campground has a slop sink (like here).

Since there was some decent afternoon light I decided to drive to Zabriskie Point for a couple of photographs, including another panorama. The panoramas, as well as the rest of the photos are at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Until tomorrow -

Friday, March 7, 2014

Death Valley National Park & Scotty's Castle

Scotty's Castle, Death Valley National Park
Friday, March 7, 2014, Texas Springs Campground, Death Valley National Park, CA, Day 2 - 0 miles , 5802.1 For the Trip

Very windy last night. It blew the propane stove off the picnic table, the trailer was rocking, and around 10:00 I heard my folding solar panel sliding along the gravel even though I had a couple of 10 lb rocks on the legs to hold it down. I ended up folding it up & stuffing it into the RAV4 for the night.

I decided today would be a good one for a trip to Scotty's Castle. While I've been to Death Valley a couple of times, I have never visited the castle. So, off I went. There was a big flashing programmable sign at the start of Scotty's Castle Road announcing that the road was closed at Scotty's Castle, and there was no gas available. Still, while I was stopped taking photos along the way, a Class A with a toad stopped & complained that he drove all the way (a good 50 miles) and discovered the road was closed. Not sure why he missed the sign.

The last 5-6 miles to the castle are gravel. It looks like they are rebuilding it which is probably why it is closed beyond the castle. It does make it difficult for those wishing to explore the park and continue north on US 95.

On the way back from the castle I stopped at the Ubehebe Crater. It is a big hole about 500' deep. I hiked to a smaller crater about 1/2 mile above Ubehebe but it wasn't as impressive as the main crater. There is a faint path leading to the bottom of the main crater. Unmarked, but it looks like many have hiked down. Very long & steep - I prefer hikes that put the downhill portion at the end, so I didn't take it (that's my excuse!)

I shot a panorama of the valley floor on the way back to the campground. I stopped at the market at the Furnace Creek Ranch. A reasonable amount of stuff at unreasonable prices, as is the gas - $5.65 per gallon, not that there are alternatives! Photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner was spaghetti & meatballs.

Until tomorrow -

Texas Springs Campground, Death Valley National Park

Along CA 127
Thursday, March 6, 2014, Texas Springs Campground, Death Valley National Park, CA - 175.9 miles, 5802.1 For the Trip

OK, here is a lighter background color. If this helps. let me know & I'll keep it, using black in the tables for the photographs. (I didn't change it here at the Blogger page).

I was hoping to get into an electric site at Furnace Creek, but all the sites, both electric & dry are reserved for the weekend. The ranger at the Furnace Creek entrance suggested that, since I don't have a generator, that I try Texas Springs about 1 mile from Furnace Creek. Dry camping, and no generators allowed, but roomy sites. No shade, but flush toilets & kitchen sinks. I'm in site 51, a pull through site with the back facing south, keeping the solar panel happy. So, it is back to keeping an eye on the electrical usage.

Another happy thing - I have a 3G Verizon connection. When I camped at Furnace Creek in 2012, I had an AT&T voice only connection, and no Verizon. This time no AT&T voice or data, but Verizon data. It may be because Texas Springs is a couple hundred feet above Furnace Creek, but for what ever reason, I can read mail, web pages, and hope to be able to post my updates.

I took a couple of photos on the way of an interesting mountain. I had to clone out a couple of telephone poles (do you ever wonder why telephone poles, high voltage towers, etc are always on the side of the road that has the best view?) In any case, if you look closely, I didn't quite get all the wires out. The rest of the photos are at today's LakeshoreImages page.

There are two other fiberglass trailers here in Texas Springs - a Scamp & A Trillium. I talked with the Scamp owner - He is from Idaho, and has added a very nice shower as well as a wood stove to provide heat for winter camping.

Can't complain about the cold here, so I'll complain about the heat! At 4:30 it is 84°F out & 88°F in the trailer. I'm sure it will cool off some overnight, but it is much cooler than the last time I was here (it was 107°F on May 26th 2011).

I guess I spoke too soon - while my MiFi Hotspot shows 4 bars of Verizon 3G, and it is broadcasting a WiFi signal, don't seem to have an internet connection. I'll try again later. It is now later (10:30) and Verizon seems to have reattached to the internet, so here is the post.

Dinner will the the other broasted chicken leg & thigh along with asparagus.

Until tomorrow -

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Shady Lane RV Camp, Barstow, CA

Site 8, Shady Lane RV Camp, Barstow, CA
Wednesday, March 5, 2014, Shady Lane RV Camp, Barstow, CA - 165 miles , 5626.2 For the Trip

Well, I know I said yesterday I was heading to Bullhead City, AZ, so how did I end up in Barstow, CA? I could say I wanted to drive a bit of Historic Route 66, but I've done parts of it on previous trips, including the full length (when it was a full length road) in 1950 as a 5 year old with my parents on my first cross country trip.

Actually, the reason is I decided to definitely do Death Valley first, and I needed an oil change, etc for the RAV4, and there is a Toyota dealer in Barstow. I also discovered another screw in the same front tire as last time & had them repair it. I will need new tires soon - after rotating them the rear tires only have 3/32" of tread left - the limit is 2/32". I would still like to put it off until I reach Oregon to save the sales tax.

After the oil change, I drove back to the campground (Site 8) and did laundry. I had an early dinner of broasted chicken from Von's Grocery, and digging out the laundry bag managed to spill half a cup of milk all over the front of the trailer, including my comfortable West Marine chair. Lots of washing, scrubbing; it is outside drying. Sure hope it doesn't develop the "spoiled milk" aroma, because there is no way I'm going to toss it. The most comfortable chair I've sat in other than my Lazy-Boy recliner at home.! The laundry here is inexpensive - $1.00 to wash & $.75 to dry, and although I didn't quite have my usual 2 washer loads, if I stay too long at Death Valley, I'll run out of stuff.

By the way, it is interesting to have full hook ups. It has been over a month that I've been dry camping without electricity, water of sewer connections. Hope I remember how to plug things in. I'm also having problems getting used to not turning off every light as soon as I move to a different part of the trailer. It is fun not needing to conserve! It will also be nice to take a real shower. The last was a quick 3 minute one at Anza-Borrego State Park.

I had a complaint that the pages posted on LakeshoreImages are difficult to read. Since I only have my Mac & iPad, and they read fine on them, if you are reading them on something else & have problems, please let me know & I can either try a different group of colors or a larger font. I like the black background because it shows off the photos better than most other colors, but if things are unreadable, I'll have to think about a change.

Until tomorrow -

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Joshua Tree National Park, CA, Day 7 & Solar Panel Install

New 160 Watt Folding Solar Panel
Tuesday, March 4, 2014, Cottonwood Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, Day 7 - 0 miles , 5461.2 For the Trip

Today's post isn't about Joshua Tree, but my new solar panel. I purchased a 160 Watt folding solar panel from Solar Blvd and spent the morning wiring it to the trailer system. While I will be adding a connector that feeds closer to the batteries when I get back to Oswego, I am currently using a 7 pin trailer connector and plugging the trailer cord into the panel. Because I want to keep the original cord that came with the panel, I added 15' of #10 landscaping low voltage wire to go between the panel wiring & the trailer connector. All in all, that puts the panels at the end of about 30' of #10 wire, far more than I'd like, but it is a temporary solution.

After wiring the system, I tested it using my inverter to make a pot of coffee. That puts a good load (around 55 amps) on the system. While brewing, the TM2025 battery monitor showed a 45 amp draw on the batteries, the Go Power meter (running the 95 watt built in panel) showed a 5.2 amp output, and my clamp on amp meter (there are no meters on the folding panel controller) showed 8.5 amps coming from the folding panel. Adding things together, that had 13.7 going in, and 45 coming out for a total of 58.7 amps, about what I'd expect. Since a couple of people asked for a review of the panel, I added a page with more photos and information: 160W Solar Blvd Folding Panel.

Dinner will be a turkey burger. I'll be heading out tomorrow.

Until tomorrow -

Monday, March 3, 2014

Joshua Tree National Park, CA, Day 6

Monday, March 3, 2014, Cottonwood Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, Day 6 - 0 miles , 5461.2 For the Trip

While I won't count the mileage since I wasn't pulling the trailer, I drove over 250 miles today. For the trip the RAV4 has driven (well, I've actually driven it) 8365 miles or 2903.8 miles without the trailer.

I am now the proud owner of a 160 watt folding solar panel. A bit heavier than I expected, and I'm not impressed with the construction, but it was inexpensive, and direct from China. No manual, but it does have a built in controller. I'll work out a better way to connect it to the trailer's electrical system after I get back to NY, but for now I'm going to use a 7 pin trailer connector, and plug the trailer into it. It will be a longer cable than I'd like, but it will do for a temporary connection.

No photos today - If I wire up the panel tomorrow, I'll take some.

Dinner will be a chicken thigh & more snap peas.

Until tomorrow -

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Joshua Tree National Park, CA, Day 5

Ocotillo Bloom
Sunday, March 2, 2014, Cottonwood Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, Day 5 - 0 miles , 5461.2 For the Trip

Last night I had to run the furnace more than usual - it was 36°F at 4:00AM. Another cloudy day - there was enough sun to recharge the batteries since I didn't make coffee or do anything that would draw lots of amp hours. Driving to the "Cell Zone", processing the photos and putting together the journal does most of computer & Hot Spot recharging.

I did drive down this morning to "pick up" the Syracuse Sunday paper. Other than that, not much accomplished today. I did take a photo of the "Cell Zone". For those that don't have an EXIF reader to get the location from the larger version of the image, the coordinates according to my GPS are N 33.69793° by W 115.80276°.

The recent rain (after almost 3 months of none) have some of the desert plants flowering. I don't remember the name of the bush with the red flowers, but do remember from the nature walk I took back at the Lost Dutchman Campground that the flowers taste like cucumbers. The Ocotillo trees in the other end of the park were not in bloom, but one near the "Cell Zone" was.  More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

The current "plan" is to drive to Norco to pick up the portable solar panel tomorrow, then on Wednesday, head to Bullhead City, AZ. I know it wasn't in the original path, but it is a good location to then head to either Valley of Fire in Nevada or Death Valley. I plan to do both, but haven't decided on the order.

Dinner will be the last of the bean soup I made in the crock pit way back when. It will give me more room in the freezer.

Until tomorrow -

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Joshua Tree National Park, CA, Day 4

Saturday, March 1, 2014, Cottonwood Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, Day 4 - 0 miles , 5461.2 For the Trip

Last night was one that made me really appreciate the trailer. There were about 10 tent campers that set up around dinner time. Only problem - Lots of wind & it was a bit chilly - low 50's. Lots of stuff blowing around, flies whipping away, and general mayhem. On top of that, it started to rain around 6:00. Luckily, while heavy, it only lasted a short time. Like I said (well, typed), after 65 years of tent camping, I am sure glad I have a trailer.

More light rain over night, as well as off & on in parts of the park during the day. I sat around appreciating the sun in the morning since the trailer was a bit cool - it went down to 42° last night, but as the clouds came in I decided to check out more of the park. Jumbo Rocks campground looks to be a neat place to stay. There were some open sites, however most of them were tent sites that couldn't be used with the trailer. The few that I would fit in would end up with the rear of the trailer facing north; not so good for the fixed solar panel.

Rather than drive back through the park, I took CA 62 & I10 to get back to Cottonwood campground. Even though it is about 15 miles further, it is faster, particularly without the trailer (California has a speed limit of 55 when towing). I stopped at the "Cell Zone" to post this, but forgot to bring the adapter to load photographs, so I'll have to add today's pictures tomorrow. I want to drive down in the morning anyway to download the Sunday Syracuse paper.

Dinner will be a pork chop - I picked up a package at Walmart in Yucca Valley.

Until tomorrow -