Archive forMay, 2006

Home at last, home at last! But scroll to the bottom to START the trip


We made it! 6,000 miles over five weeks. It was wonderful, but would we do it again? Wellllllllll……… not for awhile. We need to recover.

Our house is dusty but everything, with the exception of our garage refrigerator, did just fine without us. The refrigerator (which wasn’t doing well before we left) died. It’s pretty bad because some frozen meat has thawed but nothing valuable.

Hopefully you have enjoyed this travel blog. If you have any comments, you can email me at We’d especially enjoy hearing from the wonderful people we met along the way.

Last night (Wednesday), we slept like babies. Willow is smiling, and Charlie (our cockatiel) won’t shut up.

Before I sign off, I need to answer a question that’s come up frequently” Where did I find the beautiful sunset photo at the top of the blog? Actually it’s a sunrise, and it was taken from our deck at our place in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

It was wonderful to see the country, but the view from our living room window is pretty nice and it’ll keep us content for some time to come.

home from inside

This is from our living room window. Notice the red-bud is in full-bloom.

Home! There’s nothing like it.

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Davenport Welcomed Us

When we started this adventure, I signed up for an email list (RVing-Moose-Parking) which is especially for Moose members who travel with RVs and want to stay over at lodges. The database they provided me was super. (In return I’ll be writing reviews of the lodges we visited.)

Last night we stopped in Davenport, Iowa, and following the guidelines in the database, we parked behind the lodge where they had installed electric hook-ups for RVs visiting their facility. The lodge itself was large, clean, and not smokey!

We met very nice people, especially Kathy and Wayne who sat next to us. Before long we felt like they were long-time friends who were warm and genuine. The Governor and Past Governor of the lodge also made us feel welcome.

At 5:30 they served enchilada dinners which were fabulous and only $5 for a complete and very filling meal.

Our travels the past five weeks have pointed out that the United States is rich in natural beauty, but more than anything else, we’ve met wonderful, warm, caring people, like the ones in the Davenport Moose lodge.

By about 8:30, we were in our trailer. A fairly severe thunder storm hit the area about 10:00.

It’s now about 10:00 a.m. and we’re somewhere in Illinois. It’s the last day of our trip. I’m feeling nostalgic. What an adventure! We’ll be glad to be home, and we aren’t anxious to travel again for a while, but maybe, just maybe we’ll try a more northerly trip to Yellowstone and into Canada sometime in the future.

And when we do, we’re hoping we can stop in the Davenport Moose lodge. We have left-over tokens redeemable for beverages which we’re saving, just in case.

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Monday and Tuesday on the Road Home

Reluctantly we left Estes Park yesterday morning. The curvy road from Loveland to Estes Park had been rather intimidating when we saw it on the map before visiting the area, but as we drove from the park, we were in awe of the engineering feat and the beauty of the cliffs and crags. This lap of our trip was definitely a highlight, and to think we almost skipped it.

Monday was a long day on the road. John drove well over 500 miles. Much of the time we witnessed a lovely rainbow that stayed ahead of us for quite a while. We didn’t make it to Lincoln, Nebraska, until about 7:30 p.m. When we reached Moose Lodge #175 we were tired and hungry. We met Kathy and Rick. Rick, was working in the kitchen. He made us a couple wonderful hamburgs while his wife, Kathy, quenched our thirst and made us feel welcome. They sure are great host and hostess of a lodge that was definitely the nicest we’ve seen as well as one of the friendliest.

As we were finishing up our meal, a thunderstorm hit. The rain came down in sheets, but Rick fixed me up with an “improvised raincoat” and we spent the rest of the evening in our trailer, safe and dry.

John apparently had fixed the leak which had dampened things a few days earlier. It was perfectly dry and as hard as it rained, that was a test, if there ever was one.

Now we’re in Iowa. We just ate lunch in a rest area. Surprisingly it had free wifi available to travelers. Other states should follow that lead.

The scenery in Nebraska had been flat and boring, but Iowa has a lot of rolling hills.

Tonight we’ll overnight in Davenport (Iowa) at (you guessed it) a Moose lodge. We hope we run into more nice folks. The people who have welcomed us, have truly been one of the best parts of this trip.

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Sunday at Rocky Mountain National Park

John and I had a nice day in the park. It’s incredible.

Unfortunately I came down with a cold. One of those sneezy, stuffy ones that really has knocked me for a loop. I have been toughing it out, but it did put a damper on the day for me.

We took the more southerly roads through the park today. On the advice of park hostess Linda, we went to Sprague Lake and hiked around it. We ran into a little snow, but not enough to justify boots (although I had bought some new warm ones in Estes Park). This area had once been a lodge owned by a gentleman named Sprague. It’s wonderful that the National Park Service is restoring the whole area to it’s untouched state.

Sprague Lake

After our hike, we enjoyed a nice picnic lunch.

The whole area is touristy, but you feel that people who would choose to visit the area love nature.

Here’s a view of Estes Park at the base of the mountains.

Estes Park, Colorado

In the morning, we’ll head out. We’ll be driving over 500 miles tomorrow, overnighting in Lincoln, Nebraska. Tuesday we’ll go as far as Davenport, Iowa. Wednesday, we should be home.

This is an area we highly recommend. The beauty of it humbles you.

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Up in the Mountains

After lunch, we headed to Rocky Mountain National Park. What a treasure! I can’t begin to describe the majesty of the mountains. As we went up higher, we ran into deep snow (6′ in some places) on the sholder, but the roads were clear and dry. Quite a few of the areas had opened today.

I’m sure most Americans don’t know what a marvelous country we have. I know until this trip, John and I would could never have understood what treasures abound. We’re in awe.

Here are some of the views we enjoyed today:

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Tomorrow we plan to return for the rest of the national park. We met a really nice hostess at the Fall Creek Visitors’ Center. Her name is Linda. She gave us wonderful advice that included coming back tomorrow and bringing a picnic lunch. So that’s what we will do. We want to see the more southerly loop of the east side of the park. Her advice and directions worked perfectly today, so we’re prepared for another great day tomorrow.

The weather was flawless. We had temperatures that were in the mid-60’s with low wind and lots of sun. We couldn’t have asked for anything better. Tomorrow we’ll bring along boots and gloves, since we’ll be in the snow area and we want to take a gentle hike. It’s sure pretty!

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If I had to pick a different place to live, Estes Park, Colorado, would be on my short list. What scenery!

Yesterday we went into town and shopped a little. It’s early in the season, so a lot of things are closed.

The campground is nice. Folks are friendly. Here’s our campsite:

Campsite in Estes Park

We’re planning to head up to Rocky Mountain National Park this afternoon. It’s only five miles.

We’ve seen elk grazing right down town in Estes Park. Hopefully we’ll see other wild life in the Park.

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Estes Park (Colorado) here we come!

We waited around until about 10:00 a.m. and I called the campground again. Reportedly the weather is about 40 degrees and overcast, but not raining (a distinct improvement from 34 degrees and drizzle in Cheyenne). We decided to head toward Estes Park. At least we’ll have full-service hook-ups and can take a long hot shower. It’s near the entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park.

If we’re forced to stay inside, we’ll practice our music. I feel really “rusty” since I haven’t had a chance to play for the past month! And John needs to get ready for Banjorama which will occur the Saturday after we get home (a week from tomorrow).

We’re on our way. It’s only about 80 miles between Cheyenne and Estes Park but the last 25 or so mile stretch is apparently a challenge.

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Snow Storm

It’s Friday and we’re in Cheyenne, Wyoming, at 8:30 a.m.

We ran into a blizzard yesterday on I-80. Visibility was down to less than 1/4 mile and it was horrid driving. The wipers started building with the wet snow. Huge snowflakes were blinding and it was all mixed with fog.

bad weather

John’s an excellent driver, but the conditions really challenged him. It finally cleared just before we got into Cheyenne.

At the Moose Lodge they let us park next to the building so we have electricity. We’re warm and comfortable.

Our plan for today was to drive the 80 miles from here to Estes Park, which is right outside the Rocky Mountain National Park, and camp at the KOA campground. The last 30 miles before we get to our destination is an extremely curvy road where maximum speeds often are below 30 mph. The forecast says they’re having snow in the Estes Park area. It’s foggy here, but expected to clear later in the day with warmer temperatures anticipated.

I’ve called the campground hoping to get the current conditions. Got an answering machine. I’m waiting for a call-back.

We’re discussing our options. If we skip Rocky Mountain National Park, we’ll have to forfit our $35 deposit, but obviously the approximate 160 miles we’ll drive south off I-80 will cost us so it may be wiser. We’re certainly not in any hurry to face driving conditions like we encountered yesterday. If we go to Estes Park, we’ll have full hook-ups and showers, but since it is supposed to get down into the 20’s we could easily freeze up.

We’ll wait to hear from the campground.

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Wal-Mart Woes

We found a place to stop for the night at a Wal-mart Super Center last night (Wednesday night) in Evanston, Wyoming. They were very willing to let us stay which seemed like a great find. But as evening approached, it seemed that every trucker in the vicinity had made the same discovery. We carefully positioned our RV so we were the last unit in the row, guaranteeing us that we couldn’t be “boxed in” by semis. Quickly we discovered that we hadn’t selected the best spot. We were on the end near a drive and the edge of the Wal-mart property, but right at the edge of the property were railroad tracks and about every 15 minutes a train came through. So we spent the night parked between a running diesel truck and the near constant trains. It was a toss-up which was noisier.

It got down in the low 40’s but we were warm and comfy under our comforter. Most of the night it rained.

When we got up this morning, everything seemed to go wrong. Willow wasn’t feeling well. She definitely looked uncomfortable and wasn’t interested in eating. Then John discovered that we had a leak in the living room. It was dripping from a seam in the ceiling. The rug by the door was pretty damp, and my HP all-in-one printer which I’d hauled along so I could do our music club’s newsletter and print or copy anything we needed was wet. John had built a table to cover it but the water ran over the top of the table and down onto the control panel. We dried it up as good as we could, but it’ll have to dry out a lot more before I can use it.

It’s 8:30 a.m. We’re on the road to Cheyenne, Wyoming, with over 300 miles to go. The rain we’d had in Evanston has turned to snow now that we’re at higher elevations. I’d say there’s a half inch of fresh snow. The view is shrouded in fog which isn’t bad in the valleys, but gets pretty thick when we’re higher.

For the past two nights we’ve boondocked so we haven’t had electric power. Hopefully tonight, at the Moose in Cheyenne, we will be able to borrow a little electricity. Even if it’s just enough for a small heater and/or my curling iron, we’ll be happy.

Tomorrow is Friday. We will be at the Rocky Mountain National Park. Hopefully the weather will improve because with overcast conditions like this, there sure won’t be any “views” to enjoy.

There’s a steady stream of semis passing us. (We hold a steady 60 while they push the 75 mph limit.) We’ll be stopping for gas at Rock Springs. Gas prices are down from what we encountered in California where it was $3.20-3.13. Hopefully we’ll be able to fill up for $2.939 /gal. and it should be even lower ($2.869) in Cheyenne. (I check the Flying J website every a.m. for the latest diesel prices.)

I miss the lovely scenery. Right now, the mist and fog makes it pretty hard to see in the distance.

Write more later.

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Over Nighted in Wendover

Last night (Tuesday night) we stopped in Wendover, Nevada. It ended up being a good choice. Wendover is the last chance to gamble in Nevada before crossing into Utah. The town was very RV friendly. A huge parking lot was posted for semi and RV overnight parking. They even had a shuttle that would pick you up at your RV and take you to the half dozen casinos. It wasn’t really quiet for sleeping, but we’ve encountered worse.

We went to two of the casinos — Ate dinner at the Red Garter and we were mesmerized by the Rainbow. The Rainbow was a mind-blowing display of lights. The entire ceiling was reflective. There were areas of burgundies, purples, blues and others with turquoises and greens. It seemed everything was neon. It was actually more gaudy and sensational than anything we encountered in Las Vegas or Reno.

We’re in Utah about an hour west from Salt Lake City. It’s gray and rainy. First bad weather we’ve encountered while driving. Roads are nearly empty and smooth. With this wet weather, we may not spend much time sight-seeing in Salt Lake City. Our plan was to find a parking spot and walk around, but the rain may change that. Our hope is that we’ll drive out of the rain. It appears that it’s brighter to the east so hopefully.

We really have no plans for today and tonight. We’ll play it by ear.

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If it’s Tuesday, it must be Nevada…

Our plan was to stay in Reno for two nights at the KOA park, but things weren’t quite as we’d expected, so we left this morning after only one night.

It’s not that we’re hard to please, but this KOA was one of the more pricey nights on our trip and therefore we expected things to be pleasant. I’d made the reservations a couple of months ago and at that time, I requested that we be placed as close to the casino as possible. One of the reasons I selected the KOA was that they advertised free wifi service.

As it turned out, after we had checked in and set up, we found wifi wasn’t available for us. Our campsite was too far out. Not only was it as from the casinos as possible, we were also beside a noisy road.

It would have been one thing if the park had been full, but it was only about 15-20% occupied, leaving many empty sites in our “price range.”

Apparently they were “saving” those prime spots for longer stays or for folks who just drove-in without a reservation. It was a little maddening to walk ½ mile past vacant sites to ours which was in the back-most corner.

So this morning (Tuesday) we packed up and left. Our destination is Wells, Nevada, where we can stay in a Flying J. It’s supposed to be pretty chilly tonight (low 40’s). When we get to Salt Lake City tomorrow (Wednesday), we will probably resort to boondocking again. We just can’t see paying camping fees when we pull in late and pull out early. Thursday our plan is to stop at a Moose Lodge in Cheyenne, WY.

Moose lodges have been great! Except for the first one (in Brazil, IN) we have met nice folks who really rolled out the welcome mat. Brazil was our first night out, and we hadn’t learned how to break the ice. The best by far was Albuquerque. They even gave us a small gift to remember them by. Bakersfield folks were also welcoming. Wish we could find a lodge tonight, but I don’t think there’s one in the area.

When I wrote yesterday, I was concerned about the weather. As it turned out. In Reno, it was about 80. The early evening was about 65 degrees. We were very comfortable. And we got rid of one blanket when we slept.

After dinner last night, we went “downtown” and checked out the large hotels. Looked like small version of Las Vegas. We finally tried a couple of slot machines, just so we could say we’d done it. Gamblers would have laughed at us agonizing over our penny and nickle bets. At one point I won 16 cents and John hit it big and was ahead 50 cents. We found we could make it last by going from machine to machine. The $3 we spent was “cheap entertainment” and kept us busy for about an hour, but gambling just isn’t our thing. We had enough sight-seeing by about 9:00 so we were back in our place petting the dog.

Right now where we’re driving there are mountains in the distance, but the scrub land on either side of the road is flat and dry looking, interspersed with salt flats. Actually the scenery keeps changing. Sharp and rocky looking mountains in some areas are replaced with more gentle ones. In many areas the mountains on the horizon have snow on them.

I’m a little concerned about Estes Park, Colorado, where we plan to stay for three nights this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It’s in the Rocky Mountains, and I forgot my snow boots. I keep hoping I won’t need them, but it’s looking more and more like there’ll be snow. The boots were on my list, and I thought I packed them under the bed, but so far I haven’t found them. John has his and we do have a winter jacket and gloves, but when we saw there was two to four feet of snow in the Sierra-Nevada mountains, I realized early May in the mountains still means snow! I’ll worry about that when we come to it.

We’re becoming experts on the condition of roads by state. When we were in California, I-80 was patched, washboard, and horrid. In Nevada, for the most part, I-80 is smooth and newly resurfaced. Traffic is light the day is beautiful. Temps in the mid to high 60’s.

Only about an hour until we reach Wells, NV.


Well, we decided not to stop at Wells. It was a little too early to “call it a day” when we don’t have electricity so we’re heading on down the road to Wendover. Guess it’s right on the border between Nevada and Utah. Since Nevada is kinda wild, and Utah very conservative, it’ll be interesting. We’ll be that much closer to Salt Lake City. Tomorrow, we’ll get up and take off for SLC. If we find it interesting, we’ll hang around for the day.

The temperature is down to 61 degrees. (It was near 70 all day.) Maybe it’ll be slightly warmer when we get down out of these mountains.

The scenery has changed again. This stretch we’re driving through has tree covered mountains. First time today that we’ve seen trees.

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Monday and we’re seeing white!

When I got up this morning in Seaside, CA, it was the start of a beautiful day. The ocean fog hadn’t burned off, so it was probably about 67, but I dressed for hot weather (capris, a sleeveless top, and sandals). By the time we’d reached Sacremento, on our way north and west, it was about 85. I quickly shed the jacket I was wearing and was glad I’d been wise enough to dress for the warm weather.

But right now I’m looking out the window and there’s probably a two foot blanket of snow! We’re headed to Reno on Hwy. 80. The elevation over 7,200 feet. It’s definitely still winter. The outside temperature is 63 degrees, but a short ways back, we passed a lake still covered with ICE!

Somehow I’m not feeling so wise about my choice of dress.

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Last two days (Sat.-Sun.)

A quiet but enjoyable weekend was spent with my family. Sunday night, we had a nice Chinese dinner in celebration of Kris’s up-coming graduation and birthday. (Kristofer is the older of my two grandsons.)

A nice capper to a very enjoyable stay.

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