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Friday, June 30, 2017

Zion National Park

We should be very grateful to those foresighted people that preserved this amazing natural wonder for us to enjoy all these years later.

I first visited Zion National Park in 1973 while on a cross country motorcycle trip with my dad and one of my brothers.  I was blown away by the rock formations, the colors and the size of the mountains.  It is a cherished memory of mine.  One formation that stood out in my memory was called Checkerboard Mountain.  I looked forward to seeing it again.

Marti and I set out in our car this morning to tour the park.  There would be no hikes on the many trails for us because of my back acting up from an old injury from my Coast Guard days that has been getting worse.  That didn't hold us back from seeing the wonders via our car, the road through the park has many easy off, easy on pull offs.  I just wish my camera would capture the wonders exactly as seen by eye.

The park provides shuttles, or you can drive your car, we even saw many motorhomes rolling on the roads.  The entry cost is steep, $30 per car, less if you bike or walk in.  I'm lucky, we entered for free because I have a service connected disability card.  I'm glad to have it, the bad back, not so much.  ;c)

I'll let the pictures tell the story.  I waded through a couple hundred I took to pull these few out, hopefully to give the flavor of this amazing park.

There is a mile long tunnel build by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) is cut through a mountain.  Along the side of a mountain are openings to provide natural light to the tunnel.

Finally, the long awaited Checkerboard Mountain came into view, just as I remembered it.  

The one word that comes to mind visiting Zion is:  Magnificent!

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

They Lied

Oops, sorry.  In today's PC culture, they "Misspoke".   About Route 50 in Nevada as being the "Loneliest Highway".  Today's drive took us on Route 93 South which in our opinion dethroned Route 50 from the title.  The proof:

Finally, something to break up the scenery:

Why is it that certain morons have to use highway signs as targets?

Staying at a campground, especially a KOA is a little bit different for us, but it is a good jumping off location.   We're going to drive the car down to Zion National Part tomorrow, we've been told to get an early start because the parking area fills up quickly.  We'll be setting an alarm clock for the first time in a long time.

I just want to clarify what I said in yesterday's post about the mountain roads on Route 50 near Austin, NV.  The roads are completely safe to drive, just require a bit more of caution.  When you are driving a 33,000 pound 40' motorhome towing a car that weighs close to two tons, extra care is the way to drive.  At least it is for me.  Now if I was on my motorcycle, that would be a completely different viewpoint, I'd be looking for roads like that.  YMMV.   :c)

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Loneliest Highway

I've been waiting for years to check this road off on my Bucket List.  Route 50 across Nevada.  The Loneliest Highway.  Today was the day, we were up early to "pull chocks" and head out to this road.

On the way out of the KOA, we noticed a different type of RV, certainly eye catching.

After a few miles on I-80, we turned on to Route 50.  It did look a bit lonely.

I envisioned it being a long, flat road.  I was wrong.  It had all different kinds of scenery,

as well as mountain roads.  Once we got up into the mountains around the little town of Austin, we hit some of the steepest and twistiest roads we've ever been on.  I took it slow and easy, using the exhaust brake extensively as we crept carefully down the road.  Didn't want to take a trip over the edge of these roads.  No pictures, too busy being careful.  The roads are definitely imprinted in my memory.

What we didn't know was Route 50 is built on the pathway of the Pony Express and Overland Coach road.  There were many signs pointing out stagecoach stops along the way.  People that traveled in a stage coach along what must have been a very bumpy road had to have strong constitutions...and cast iron bladders!

We stopped at one area where a stagecoach/Pony Express station stood.  The foundation of the building still stands, protected by a fence.

It was a nice stop, both scenery and history to take in as we stretched our legs.

Tonight we're blacktop boondocking at a truckstop in Ely, Nevada.  331 miles down.  Tomorrow the plan is to head down to Southern Utah and take in Zion National Park.

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Back To California

Yep.  We went back to California.  But it's not what you'd think, no problems or emergencies with our granddaughters.  Nope.

Instead we went for a nice drive in our car around beautiful Lake Tahoe,

A perfect day to sightsee around this amazing lake, there were boats all over the crystal clear waters.  Can't say I'd blame anyone for sailing around the lake.  In fact, years ago I tried to get stationed here. There is a U.S. Coast Guard station on the lake because it is in two states, California and Nevada.  That job is the most desireable station in the whole Coast Guard.  And probably half of the Coasties put in for that billet.  I wasn't lucky enough to get that position.  Darn!

The mountains surrounding the lake still have lots of snow remaining, the lake is almost over full now, with the summer snow melt, it will get quite full.  Very different from the drought the previous several years where lake levels were at all time lows.

A few areas had signs of damage from a forest fire.

An island at the South end of the lake was very picturesque.  We remembered it from a previous visit more than 10 years ago when we flew here and rented a convertible to tour the area.

A nice day well spent, made us feel like we were on vacation.  Now today we're heading out for more adventures.

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Monday, June 26, 2017

You Meet The Nicest People In A Hot Tub

It was a hard goodbye to our California granddaughters this morning.  We had a great three weeks with them, their mom and our son Ryan.  It was so handy to have the Journey parked right in their driveway, too.  Easy access to the kids and easy access to our own bed at night.  Sadly, it will be a bit of time before we can visit in person with them again so we'll have to see them via Facetime and Skype.

The flat California scenery soon turned to beautiful mountains as we headed east on I-80.

We were surprised to see snow up on the mountains, and this is late June.  I bet the ski slopes had a great season.

We crossed over into Nevada and headed towards Reno.  Not to gamble, but to stay at a KOA for two nights!  Wow, we really are slowing down.

Even the mountains around the campground are beautiful, too.

We took our tired bums to the hot tub (they have two!) to relax and let the hot water sooth our bones.  Once again, we met nice folks in the hot tub, this time two ladies from Australia, touring the US with their husbands in a couple of rental RVs.  Lots of information shared and more importantly, lots of laughs.  Just one more reason we love hot tubs.

We're staying two nights here at the Boomtown KOA, to relax a bit, do some laundry with our onboard washer and plan our route for our trip home.  We're looking at Zion NP, Arches NP and then head up to South Dakota, maybe even stick our noses up into North Dakota (we've never been there) and over to Minnesota and Wisconsin before dropping down towards the home base in South Carolina.  We'll be in SC for most of July before we hit the road again for a family reunion in upstate New York (my side) then down to PA for another family reunion (Marti's side) and then for a few more weeks in New Jersey with our other granddaughters  Nice to have a house on wheels.

Can't believe we're actually planning that far ahead.  Better hit that hot tub again and "chill out".  :c)

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Undoing A Sticky Situation

While we're here in sunny (a little too sunny) California with our granddaughters, I got a chance to tackle the ugly Diamond Shield on the front of the Journey.  As I've mentioned before, the glue under the plastic has developed mold spots and the whole thing has to be removed to solve the problem.  Because the Diamond Shield covers the entire front of the Journey from the bottom of the windshield down, I've been working on it in sections as I've found the time.

By dividing it into about one foot square sections, it makes it easier to keep going instead of feeling overwhelmed, it is a very slow and tedious job, making my hands cramp up after just a few minutes.
To make it easier, I found that plastic scrapers are a little bit easier to use as there is more to hold than just plastic razor blades.  To facilitate the process, I use a heat gun on low and remove a few inches at a time.  Too much heat melts the plastic and makes it harder to remove, so just a few seconds of warming in a small 2"x2" area makes the plastic come off with less effort.

Once the plastic is peeled off, the glue remains with the mold spots.  This has to be removed, too.  Heat doesn't work on this.

With a good recommendation from a fellow RV friend, I got some 3M Adhesive Remover,  It has to be sprayed on liberally.  Of course, I ran out, so I got some industrial strength Goof Off which worked just as well.

After spraying the adhesive remover on and letting it soak for a minute or two, the plastic scraper easily slides the glue off.

After removing all the glue residue, I cleaned the surface with Simple Green and then waxed the paint.  It came out looking great.

If you look closely at the above picture, you can see mold growing under the Diamond Shield covering the gray paint.  That's another big job that I'll leave for another time.  It's been very hot here now and I'm glad that I've at least finished the worst looking area.  California heat waves are nothing to be working in if you don't have to.

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

On To Plan C

We planned on booking into an RV park near the California grands' house.  Thank goodness for Plan C!   We're always Semper Gumby (Always Flexible) as the RV lifestyle demands.

The area we're in is limited in RV parks, so we didn't have a lot to choose from.  Our first choice, a fairground was completely filled up, so we looked further.  The next RV park wanted $40 a night for just water and electric.  They did have a dump station, but charged $25 to use it, including the RVs staying at the park.  No thanks, we'll hold it in.

The last choice had a $300 weekly rate, or a $600 monthly rate plus electric plus a $600 security deposit.  Trying to wrap our head around that left us crossing that park off the list.  Now in a quandary,  we'd have to look for parks more than an hour a way, plus the requirement to cross a toll bridge.  Not good enough.

Plan C opened up when the neighborhood president said it was okay to stay right in the driveway.  No objection from us, we've plugged into the house electric to keep the batteries charged and the fridge running while using the house showers/bathroom so we don't need to dump tanks.  Plus with the very mild weather and quiet neighborhood, it's fine to sleep in the Journey, nothing better than your own bed.

Things always work out for the best.  Plus we're saving a fortune on campground fees.  No complaints from us.  :c)

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Monday, June 5, 2017

Plan B

Another beautiful California morning to travel, our last day on the road to reach our destination.  Only about 250 miles to go, an easy day for us.  Or so we thought.

Traveling North on Route 99, we discovered another candidate for our "Worst Road" competition.  The highway was lined with beautiful flowering bushes on the median.

As nice as the flowers were, we wished California would have spent more on the road surface and less on bushes.

We rattled along the highway, listening to the sounds of dishes rattling in our cupboards and fillings in our teeth loosening as we encountered another interesting California phenomenon: drivers merging onto the highway without even looking to see traffic coming.  Good thing we have air horns on the Journey.

We slowed down or moved over to make room for the merging cars as often as we could, but three times there was no way for us to do either and relied on the horns to waken the merging drivers to our presence.  I guess a large, 40 foot motorhome towing a car is hard to see.  Or maybe I'm just not familiar with California driving styles.  I survived drivers in New York City and Washington, DC, so I think I'll get the hang of it here.

We originally planned on getting a site at the nearby fairgrounds but it turned out they are filled up for the near future, they operate on a first come, first served basis.  When we talked to their office several days ago, they said they didn't anticipate any problem getting a site.  Fortunately our son drove over there late Sunday morning and found them all filled up, giving us a warning.

We looked up a few other campgrounds and found one that fit our needs but wouldn't have an opening until Monday afternoon.  So, on to Plan B.

We are able to fit in our son's driveway and spent the night there.  Later today, we'll be heading to the nearby campground for our stay here visiting the granddaughters.  Let the spoiling begin!  :c)

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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Searching For Elvis

Vegas, Baby!  We crossed into Nevada and headed for La s Vegas, a short drive of 99 miles from our starting point in Bullhead City.  We decided to a bit of a rest day and have a bit of fun.

We pulled into the Circus Circus RV Park, a place where we stayed back in 2002.  It is basically a parking lot and it hasn't changed at all in all the passing years.

We took a swim in the RV park's pool and parked our tired bods in the hot tub, can't pass up a hot tub, even in the desert.

We enjoyed looking at all the sights and casinos that line the Las Vegas Strip.

At night it simply glows with all the lights and neon, a feast for your eyes.

The amount of electricity powering all the lights is staggering.  That's why you see out in the desert large solar panel farms,

and solar mirror farms, where thousands of mirrors beam sunlight to a tower where heat boils water that powers a generator producing megawatts of electricity.

We got some coupons for a great discount on a buffet in the Treasure Island casino and discount tickets to the Blue Man Group comedy show in the Luxor casino.  We've seen that show twice before and enjoyed this show just as much.  It's a must see if you ever get the chance.

Inside the Luxor casino, it is themed like an Egyptian pyramid.  Lots of interesting decorations all though the casino.

Today we left around 10 am with all our money in our pockets, we didn't gamble even a penny in the casinos, we left that for all the thousands of other people to do.  As hard as we looked, we didn't se Elvis anywhere.  Maybe he's on vacation?

 We headed out on I-15 and drove up a long steep section of the highway.  For the very first time that we've owned the Journey (ten years now) the temperature gauge started to climb as we went up in elevation.  I carefully drove, keeping the RPMs of the engine up and shifting so the engine stayed in the power band and wasn't lugged.

Once we crested the long hill, the engine temps went right back to normal.  I would have pulled over if the engine temp got too high but never had to with careful driving.

298 miles driven today, overnighting at a Flying J in Bakersfield, CA.  Topped of my fuel tank with B20 diesel fuel, not crazy about that but since I almost always fuel at a half tank, the remaining fuel should dilute the biodiesel fuel and not cause any power issues.

One more day on the road tomorrow and we'll be arriving at our destination, about 250 miles to go.  Looking forward to seeing the granddaughters.  :c)

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