Wyoming Part III: Cody

It wasn’t too windy on our drive between Casper and Cody, for which we were grateful. We skipped the interstate and took State Highway 20 Northwest to Shoshoni and due north to Thermopolis, then Highway 120 into Cody. It was a two-lane highway for most of the drive, but the lanes and shoulders were wide, and passing lanes were established on sections where we climbed in elevation. We were able to drive at our own pace and not worry about any traffic congestion. I wasn’t too much of a Nervous Nellie on this trip (Mike would probably argue that), but I did get a little hyped up when we drove through several tunnels cut out of mountain sides.

Our camp spot was located west of town at the Buffalo Bill State Park on the Buffalo Bill Reservoir. We were there for two weeks, and we only had electric and water hook-ups, so we had to move the rig to the dump station mid-way through our stay. The chore was only a slight inconvenience compared to the enjoyment we got out of our views and the area in general.

Cody is the most “western” town we have visited to date. I guess that makes sense because it was established by Buffalo Bill himself. I dare say the little town has as much character as the legend possessed back in his day. There are restaurants, shops, galleries, and museums to visit in town. Many ranches offer trail rides and other cowboy activities on the outskirts of the community. And of course, there was Yellowstone National Park. The campground where we stayed was fifty minutes from the East Entrance into YNP. This stop on our tour was most definitely the best time we spent in Wyoming (although, I should confess, shopping at the Sierra Trading Company Outlet and Distribution Center in Cheyenne was almost as thrilling)!

We had lots of good luck at this stop, and it started the minute we pulled up to the front gate.  Mike had made reservations for us in spot #1 starting on Sunday, May 15th. However, we arrived the Thursday prior to that. The thinking was that we would take any open spot they had and then move to our reserved spot on the day our reservation started. When we got there, it just so happened that spot #1 was the only spot available! All the others with water and electric hook-ups were already taken. We got ourselves parked and situated, and never looked back!

When we went to Yellowstone our target destination was, of course, Old Faithful. Yellowstone is laid out in a Figure 8 pattern with entrances at the north, south, east and west ends. We came in from the East and drove the bottom circle of the 8 pattern that day. By the time we reached the big geyser it was about 1:00 PM. The dogs had to wait in the car, so we found a shady spot where we could park and roll the windows down. We weren’t on any sort of schedule that day, so there was no sense of urgency as we meandered through the cars to what looked like a big open area. As we got to the edge of the lot we saw THOUSANDS of tourists all standing at attention around Old Faithful. It was like church. Everything was hushed. People stood like statues with their phones lifted up, ready to capture the perfect picture when the time was right. We stepped up our pace at that point and found a small space in the crowd where we could see the action that was to come. I realized that the geyser must not go off at random, but on some sort of geological schedule. We stared at Old Faithful for a few minutes and I was wondering what was going on. Nothing was happening, so I asked the lady next to me how long they had been waiting there to see the eruption. She said they had been there an hour and forty minutes. WHAT??? I didn’t plan on standing there for THAT long! Then she said the park ranger sign said it was due to go off 15 minutes ago. Since Old Faithful was taking its own sweet time to peform, we arrived at the perfect moment! If it had gone off when they expected, we would have missed it… and I doubt we would have had the patience to stick around for the next “show”.

We left the interstate to get from Cody to Casper. Our route took us on State Highways 20 to 120 and it was a gorgeous drive. The best part was the Wind River Canyon Scenic Byway between Shoshoni and Thermopolis.

We left the interstate to get from Cody to Casper. Our route took us on State Highways 20 to 120 and it was a gorgeous drive. The best part was the Wind River Canyon Scenic Byway between Shoshoni and Thermopolis.

A taste of what my views out the passenger side window looked like as we drove from Casper to Cody.

A taste of what my views out the passenger side window looked like as we drove from Casper to Cody.

Another shot of the scenery in Wind River Canyon.

Another shot of the scenery in Wind River Canyon.

This was our first view of Buffalo Bill Reservoir west of Cody. We emerged from yet another tunnel to see this!

This was our first view of Buffalo Bill Reservoir west of Cody. We emerged from yet another tunnel to see this!

The view from my desk for two weeks.

The view from my desk for two weeks.

Spot #1 at Buffalo Bill State Park.

Spot #1 at Buffalo Bill State Park.

Mike's view from his fishing spot.

Mike’s view from his fishing spot.

A panorama of the campground entrance (wish we had discovered this photo feature earlier in our trip)!

A panorama of the campground entrance (wish we had discovered this photo feature earlier in our trip)!

One of the rare days that the sky was blue during our two weeks in Cody.

One of the rare days that the sky was blue during our two weeks in Cody.

The furry duo checking out their human's catch of the day. They insist on inspecting the bucket each time he returns to camp.

The furry duo checking out their human’s catch of the day. They insist on inspecting the bucket each time he returns to camp.

This trout turned out to have pink meat, which made us think he had caught a salmon. After asking around and looking online we discovered wild trout can have pink meat because of their diet. Tastes just as delicious.

This trout turned out to have pink meat, which made us think he had caught a salmon. After asking around and looking online we discovered wild trout can have pink meat because of their diet. Tastes just as delicious.

The Carter mountains on the south side of the reservoir.

The Carter mountains on the south side of the reservoir.

We set the alarm for 5AM to make our first trip into Yellowstone. When that sounded, we turned it off and went back to sleep. Our original idea was to drive in at sunrise to see as many animals as possible (like we did at Teddy Roosevelt National Park in Medora, ND), but when the time came we weren't as gung-ho. We finally got on the road about 8:30, but Mike still hadn't had enough coffee to be excited.

We set the alarm for 5AM to make our first trip into Yellowstone. When that sounded, we turned it off and went back to sleep. Our original idea was to drive in at sunrise to see as many animals as possible (like we did at Teddy Roosevelt National Park in Medora, ND), but when the time came we weren’t as gung-ho. We finally got on the road about 8:30, but Mike still hadn’t had enough coffee to be excited.

A beautiful Wyoming farm on the way to Yellowstone.

A beautiful Wyoming farm on the way to Yellowstone.

The east entrance road into Yellowstone National Park.

The east entrance road into Yellowstone National Park.

Some sections of the park looked to be decimated by fire, but other parts of the park that had recovered after past fires were lush with new growth. It was interesting to see all stages of the full cycle.

Some sections of the park looked to be decimated by fire, but other parts of the park that had recovered after past fires were lush with new growth. It was interesting to see all stages of the full cycle.

Yellowstone Lake is the largest freshwater lake above 7,000 feet in North America. It covers 136 square miles and has 110 miles of shoreline. The average depth is 139 feet, but scientists have noted that the floor has been rising in recent history, which indicates geologic activity.

Yellowstone Lake is the largest freshwater lake above 7,000 feet in North America. It covers 136 square miles and has 110 miles of shoreline. The average depth is 139 feet, but scientists have noted that the floor has been rising in recent history, which indicates geologic activity.

Yellowstone National Park is so interesting because there are millions of acres of valleys and meadows and mountains... and then at random, there are these bubbling cauldrons of hot liquids and gases simmering at the earth's surface.

Yellowstone National Park is so interesting because there are millions of acres of valleys and meadows and mountains… and then at random, there are these bubbling cauldrons of hot liquids and gases simmering at the earth’s surface.

This is where the Yellowstone River empties into Yellowstone Lake.

This is where the Yellowstone Lake empties into Yellowstone River. The river runs north.

Elk cow.

Elk cow.

The photo album for the Martin's American Adventure would not be complete without a selfie in front of Old Faithful (just wish I had thought to wear makeup that day)!

The photo album for the Martin’s American Adventure would not be complete without a selfie in front of Old Faithful (just wish I had thought to wear makeup that day)!

Waiting for Old Faithful to erupt.

Waiting for Old Faithful to erupt.

There she blows!

There she blows!

We stopped for a picnic about midway through our driving tour of Yellowstone National Park. This was our view from the picnic table. Not sure what I liked better... the view or the sound.

We stopped for a picnic about midway through our driving tour of Yellowstone National Park. This was our view from the picnic table. Not sure what I liked better… the view or the sound.

The Gibbon River below the falls.

The Gibbon River below the Gibbon Falls.

King of the Road.

King of the Road.

We slowed waaay down to see these two bison face off.

We slowed waaay down to see these two bison face off.

We had a lengthy debate as to whether this was a moose or a horse beside the ranger residence at the east entrance. I said moose. Mike said horse (but I think that is just because I spotted it first and he didn't want to admit he had missed it).

We had a lengthy debate as to whether this was a moose or a horse beside the ranger residence at the east entrance. I said moose. Mike said horse (but I think that is just because I spotted it first and he didn’t want to admit he had missed it).

The primary thing that Mike wanted to see during our Yellowstone tour was elk. We drove ALL DAY for MANY miles, and what do you think we found about 4 miles from our campground as we returned home in the evening? A heard of elk in our "back yard". Could have saved lots of gas!

The primary thing that Mike wanted to see during our Yellowstone tour was elk. We drove ALL DAY for MANY miles, and what do you think we found about 4 miles from our campground as we returned home in the evening? A heard of elk in our “back yard”. Could have saved lots of gas!

We had no sewer connection, so had to move the rig to the dump station at the end of our first week. I waited with Piper and Cessna while Mike handled the dirty work.

We had no sewer connection, so had to move the rig to the dump station at the end of our first week. I waited with Piper and Cessna while Mike handled the dirty work.

Cedar Mountain, originally called Spirit Mountain by the Native Americans. There is great controversy as to whether Buffalo Bill Cody is buried somewhere on this mountain, or in Denver. If you look carefully at where the water touches the surface on the right side of this photo you might see a section of yellow rock (to the right of the red section of rock). This is a geothermal spot. Geothermal activity reaches from Yellowstone all the way to Cody.

Cedar Mountain, originally called Spirit Mountain by the Native Americans. There is great controversy as to whether Buffalo Bill Cody is buried somewhere on this mountain, or in Denver. If you look carefully at where the water touches the surface on the right side of this photo you might see a section of yellow rock (to the right of the red section of rock). This is a geothermal spot. Geothermal activity reaches from Yellowstone all the way to Cody.

The famous Irma Hotel in Cody. Doesn't get any more nostalgic than this!

The famous Irma Hotel in Cody. Doesn’t get any more nostalgic than this!

The City of Cody has placed statues of bison at various points along the community's sidewalks and parks. Each one is individually painted by local artists. This guy's theme was "respect the earth".

The City of Cody has placed statues of bison at various points along the community’s sidewalks and parks. Each one is individually painted by local artists. This guy’s theme was “respect the earth”.

Do you think that small tree stopped the boulder from rolling down the rest of the hill? Or do you think the little tree just grew around the giant rock. I like to think that little tree is a brave hero!

Do you think that small tree stopped the boulder from rolling down the rest of the hill? Or do you think the little tree just grew around the giant rock. I like to think that little tree is a brave hero!

Some décor in the dining room of the Irma Hotel. We had the prime rib buffet on a Friday night and it was wonderful.

Some décor in the dining room of the Irma Hotel. We had the prime rib buffet on a Friday night and it was wonderful.

The hallway in the Irma Hotel.

The hallway in the Irma Hotel.

Irma selfie (had to at least post one when I has some makeup on)!

Irma selfie (had to at least post one when I had some makeup on)!

Live music at the Irma Saloon. It was kind of like Cowboy Karaoke, except the wife controlled the machine and no members of the audience were invited to participate.

Live music at the Irma Saloon. It was kind of like Cowboy Karaoke, except the wife controlled the machine and no members of the audience were invited to participate.

The City of Cody has about 35 deer that live in town. They like to do their civic duty by helping with the landscape.

The City of Cody has about 35 deer that live in town. They like to do their civic duty by helping with the landscape.

A Bill Cody hologram at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. This was an amazing museum with five different sections of outstanding collections. It was like visiting five world class museums in one building. The collections included the Plains Indian Museum, the Buffalo Bill Museum, The Draper Natural History Museum, The Whitney Art Museum and the Cody Firearms Museum. The $20 price of admission was worth every penny. There was so much to see we had to take a break in the snack bar between galleries. Mike refreshed himself with a beer while I scarfed down an ice cream cone. That gave us enough energy to get through to the end!

A Bill Cody hologram at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. This was an amazing museum with five different sections of outstanding collections. It was like visiting five world class museums in one building. The collections included the Plains Indian Museum, the Buffalo Bill Museum, The Draper Natural History Museum, The Whitney Art Museum and the Cody Firearms Museum. The $20 price of admission was worth every penny. There was so much to see we had to take a break in the snack bar between galleries. Mike refreshed himself with a beer while I scarfed down an ice cream cone. That gave us enough energy to get through to the end!

A golden eagle was hit by a car and rehabilitated by staff at the Draper Natural History Museum. He can't fly anymore, so now he helps educate patrons about wildlife. They also had a vulture and another smaller hawk on display during their program.

A golden eagle was hit by a car and rehabilitated by staff at the Draper Natural History Museum. He can’t fly anymore, so now he helps educate patrons about wildlife. They also had a vulture and another smaller hawk on display during their program.

Old Trail Town is the original town site of Cody. It is just a couple of miles west of today's Main Street. A collection of authentic structures and furnishings have been acquired from different areas of the western frontier and relocated to the outdoor museum. A couple of the cabins are notable because they were used by the notorious outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Old Trail Town is the original town site of Cody. It is just a couple of miles west of today’s Main Street. A collection of authentic structures and furnishings have been acquired from different areas of the western frontier and relocated to the outdoor museum. A couple of the cabins are notable because they were used by the notorious outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

I love these antler "trees" that randomly appear around town or on ranches.

I love these antler “trees” that randomly appear around town or on ranches.

Looks pretty cozy to me!

Looks pretty cozy to me!

Upper Falls in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

Upper Falls in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

Lower Falls.

Lower Falls.

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

You probably know I'm not a big fan of heights. I don't like to say I'm acrophobic, but I am. We walked on a small ridge trail between the Upper Falls and Lower Falls, and when I saw these tree roots that had the earth literally fall out from under them I was slightly uncomfortable. I kept thinking about how un-fun it would be if the mountain slid out from underneath us. With all the bubbling earth around us, it wasn't too hard to fathom.

You probably know I’m not a big fan of heights. I don’t like to say I’m acrophobic, but I am. We walked on a small ridge trail between the Upper Falls and Lower Falls, and when I saw these tree roots that had the earth literally fall out from under them I was slightly uncomfortable. I kept thinking about how un-fun it would be if the mountain slid out from underneath us. With all the bubbling earth around us, it wasn’t too hard to fathom.

We actually didn't stop to see the Upper and Lower Falls on our first drive into Yellowstone. When we toured the Whitney Western Art Museum I kept seeing all these fabulous paintings from Yellowstone's Artist Point. I was bummed we had missed the opportunity to see the spot for ourselves. When Mike suggested we make another drive into the park, I eagerly agreed. It was just as magnificent in person as it was in all those paintings!

We actually didn’t stop to see the Upper and Lower Falls on our first drive into Yellowstone. When we toured the Whitney Western Art Museum I kept seeing all these fabulous paintings from Yellowstone’s Artist Point. I was bummed we had missed the opportunity to see the spot for ourselves. When Mike suggested we make another drive into the park, I eagerly agreed. It was just as magnificent in person as it was in all those paintings!

We spotted these Bighorn Sheep on our second trip into Yellowstone. They were in the same general area on our way in as they were when we left.

We spotted these Bighorn Sheep on our second trip into Yellowstone. They were in the same general area on our way in as they were when we left.

We brake for deer.

We brake for deer.

This the kookiest house I've seen since we started our trip. Actually... ever. Sorry the picture is dark. It was on the road to Yellowstone and it was always cloudy when we passed by.

This is the kookiest house I’ve seen since we started our trip. Actually… ever. Sorry the picture is dark. It was on the road to Yellowstone and it was always cloudy when we passed by.

Our last Wyoming campfire.

Our last Wyoming campfire.

Cessna enjoyed the view from our front window as much as we did. Do you see how the trees are blowing sideways and the lake has white caps on it? It was super windy most of the time we were there.

Cessna enjoyed the view from our front window as much as we did. Do you see how the trees are blowing sideways and the lake has white caps on it? It was super windy most of the time we were there.

Wyoming Part II: Casper

Casper was an easy drive over the rolling plains north on I-25. We got lucky and traveled on a day that wasn’t too windy, and we were thankful for that. When Mike was researching campgrounds in Casper, he selected two other options before making reservations at the Fort Caspar Campground. The other two choices had full occupancy, so we went with Plan C. The campground wasn’t much to talk about, just a gravel lot with hook-ups spaced out on a tight grid. But it was on the North Platte River (which meant Mike could fish), and it was in a convenient location, so we didn’t have too many complaints. Sometimes we get lucky and stay in really nice places, and sometimes we get the basics.

The weather was gloomy for most of the week we were in Casper, so we didn’t get a chance to enjoy too many outdoor activities. I had researched some nice hiking trails on Casper Mountain, but the wet weather prohibited us from ever making it up there. We made an outing to the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center and learned about the western migration of settlers along the Mormon, Oregon, and California Trails  – as well as the Pony Express Trail. When the sun came out on another day we drove southwest on State Highway 220 to Independence Rock, which was a prominent landmark on the trails before they separated so travelers could chase gold, religion, or land.

We ate out a couple of times, ran our basic errands, and waited for breaks in the rain so we could get the dogs their daily walk. I got to downtown on our last full day and shopped in some of the local stores for a couple of hours. All in all, Casper was pretty low key. I would l have liked to have been there when the weather was better so we could have taken advantage of more outside activities.

We stayed at the Fort Caspar Campground, it was our third choice for parks in the area. The first two choices were booked and this one stayed pretty full for the week we were there.

We stayed at the Fort Caspar Campground, it was our third choice for parks in the area. The first two choices were booked and this one stayed pretty full for the week we were there.

The campground was primarily inhabited by long term residents who were in town for construction and other temporary jobs. The spots were tight and there wasn't much to look at.

The campground was primarily inhabited by long term residents who were in town for construction and other temporary jobs. The spots were tight and there wasn’t much to look at.

The campground was located on the North Platte River, so there were some trails down by the water where I could walk the dogs in the morning. That was a nice perk.

The campground was located on the North Platte River, so there were some trails down by the water where I could walk the dogs in the morning. That was a nice perk.

It rained much of the time we were in Casper, so Mike only got to go fishing once during our stay.

It rained much of the time we were in Casper, so Mike only got to go fishing once during our stay.

Casper Mountain, on the south side of town.

Casper Mountain, on the south side of town.

Fort Caspar was a military post of the U.S. Army. It was established in 1859 as a trading post and a toll bridge on the Oregon Trail. The Army eventually took it over and made it a post to protect emigrants and the telegraph line against raids from the Lakota and Cheyenne Indians.

Fort Caspar was a military post of the U.S. Army. It was established in 1859 as a trading post and a toll bridge on the Oregon Trail. The Army eventually took it over and made it a post to protect emigrants and the telegraph line against raids from the Lakota and Cheyenne Indians.

The City of Casper had a nice trail system through town along the North Platte River. Even though it rained almost every day we were in town, we did manage to find a daily break in the weather and get the dogs a proper walk.

The City of Casper had a nice trail system through town along the North Platte River. Even though it rained almost every day we were in town, we did manage to find a daily break in the weather and get the dogs a proper walk.

The North Platte River with Mount Casper in the background (to the south).

The North Platte River with Mount Casper in the background (to the south).

A covered wagon and a Pony Express Station outside the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center.

A covered wagon and a Pony Express Station outside the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center.

The National Historic Trails Interpretive Center was created in 2002. The building itself is set up on a bluff with expansive views of Casper. The design of the building honors the regional climate and is set into the side of a bluff to protect it and its visitors from the usual unrelenting Wyoming wind. The museum does a wonderful job of explaining the geographical obstacles and personal motivations for those early settlers that traveled the Oregon, Mormon, California and Pony Express Trails.

The National Historic Trails Interpretive Center was created in 2002. The building itself is set up on a bluff with expansive views of Casper. The design of the building honors the regional climate and is set into the side of a bluff to protect it and its visitors from the usual unrelenting Wyoming wind. The museum does a wonderful job of explaining the geographical obstacles and personal motivations for those early settlers that traveled the Oregon, Mormon, California and Pony Express Trails.

I hope this is not how Mike and I feel as we make our way through the rest of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington before we reach Oregon!

I hope this is not how Mike and I feel as we make our way through the rest of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington before we reach Oregon!

One of the interactive exhibits in the museum was this simulated river crossing. The screen out the front of the covered wagon was of cowboys guiding our wagon through the rough water. The wagon itself swayed and jolted as if the whole scene was real. It was very interesting, and I had motion sickness at the end. Guess I wouldn't have been too great of an adventurous western settler if I had to ride in the "economy coach" section on the trail!

One of the interactive exhibits in the museum was this simulated river crossing. The screen out the front of the covered wagon was of cowboys guiding our wagon through the rough water. The wagon itself swayed and jolted as if the whole scene was real. It was very interesting, and I had motion sickness at the end. Guess I wouldn’t have been too great of an adventurous western settler if I had to ride in the “economy coach” section on the trail!

Wyoming from State Highway 220.

Wyoming from State Highway 220.

Lots of rabbits were living in the crevices of Independence Rock.

Lots of rabbits were living in the crevices of Independence Rock.

As travelers reached Independence Rock, one of the most famous landmarks on the Emigrant Trails, they carved their names in the smooth rocks. That is why is it also referred to as the "Great Register of the Desert".

As travelers reached Independence Rock, one of the most famous landmarks on the Emigrant Trails, they carved their names in the smooth rocks. That is why it is also referred to as the “Great Register of the Desert”.

The Rock is about 25 acres in mass and was a popular camping spot on the trail. Early settlers would have had views like these from their campsites.

The Rock is about 25 acres in area and was a popular camping spot on the trail. Early settlers would have had views like these from their campsites.

There is a trail around the base of the rock which is approximately one mile long.

There is a trail around the base of the rock which is approximately one mile long.

The rock is smooth and round, unlike other rocks of the surrounding landscape (which are sharp and jagged)... so it was easy to recognize. People said it looked like a huge whale coming out of the earth.

The rock is smooth and round, unlike other rocks of the surrounding landscape (which are sharp and jagged)… so it was easy to recognize. People said it looked like a huge whale coming out of the earth.

Downtown Casper was a fun place to explore.

Downtown Casper was a fun place to explore.

I was surprised by the quality of retail Casper had it its downtown. I visited several stores that had a great selection of high-end clothes, shoes and outdoor gear. This Lou Taubert Ranch Outfitters store was enormous!

I was surprised by the quality of retail Casper had in its downtown. I visited several stores that had a great selection of high-end clothes, shoes and outdoor gear. This Lou Taubert Ranch Outfitters store was enormous!

A nice metal sculpture in front of the public library in downtown Casper.

A nice metal sculpture in front of the public library in downtown Casper.

Wyoming Part I: Cheyenne

Including Wyoming, we have seven states remaining on the Lower 48 in 48 Tour. The others being Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California and Nevada, in that order. We planned our first Wyoming stop in Cheyenne, and then we would follow I-25 north to Casper and Cody before continuing north to I-90 in Montana. (We actually plan to visit Jackson Hole when we get back down to the eastern side of Idaho). The trip from Park City to Cheyenne was going to be over six hours, which does not make for a fun and relaxing day. Of course, a six-hour road trip is totally doable, but we had no schedule and no one waiting for us, so we divided the trip in half. We drove from Park City, Utah to Rocksprings, Wyoming on the first day, and boon docked at a Wal-Mart just off the interstate. The next morning we drove the rest of the way to the KOA in Cheyenne, also just off the interstate…but with hook-ups.

We were in Cheyenne for about two weeks, from April 21st to May 4th. The weather was pretty awful for much of the time we were there. We knew bad weather was coming, so we spent our first two days outside at Curt Gowdy State Park, because we could. We had lots of indoor days because of rain, snow and a blustery unforgiving wind. We had dinner downtown a couple of times. We found out that the Rib & Chop house serves boiled crawfish on Sundays starting at 4:00, so of course we did that. We also had some great bar food at Sanford’s Pub & Grub. I also took advantage of the 102-mile proximity to Denver and drove down to visit my besties. I got to my friend Amy’s early in the afternoon on Sunday and drove back home Monday afternoon after lunch and shopping. We cooked a big dinner with my friend Janet on Sunday evening, and then met her downtown again on Monday for more food at lunch. It was a great quick visit.

Cheyenne is the Capital and most populous city in Wyoming. It is also home to Warren AFB and has a population of around 65,000 . The downtown area was built around the railroad industry and the history of the city is celebrated in grand style. The largest event all year is Cheyenne Frontier Days, which is a rodeo and western celebration that started in 1897. The event is enormous and draws about 200,000 people to town each July. It would be fun to come back and experience all the hoopla in person one day!

It didn't take long to find the windmill farms along I-80 as we traveled east.

It didn’t take long to find the windmill farms along I-80 as we traveled east.

The landscape changed a bit as the highway rolled along.

The landscape changed a bit as the highway rolled along.

Camping at Wal-Mart.

Camping at Wal-Mart.

There were still some patches of snow on the ground as we made our way to Cheyenne.

There were still some patches of snow on the ground as we made our way to Cheyenne.

Since we planned to be at the Cheyenne KOA for a week or longer, I asked them to give us an end spot. It made things a little less chaotic as passing travelers arrived every evening and departed the following morning. We even got our own tree!

Since we planned to be at the Cheyenne KOA for a week or longer, I asked them to give us an end spot. It made things a little less chaotic as passing travelers arrived every evening and departed the following morning. We even got our own tree!

A rising moon over the grassy plains by our campground.

A rising moon over the grassy plains by our campground.

Antelope everywhere.

Antelope everywhere.

Granite Reservoir at Curt Gowdy State Park.

Granite Reservoir at Curt Gowdy State Park.

We knew bad weather was approaching, so we hurried to the State Park as soon as we arrived in Cheyenne. We wanted to spend as much time outdoors as we could while possible.

We knew bad weather was approaching, so we hurried to the State Park as soon as we arrived in Cheyenne. We wanted to spend as much time outdoors as we could while possible.

A "side lake" near the Granite Reservoir.

A “side lake” near the Granite Reservoir.

My afternoon tea table on Saturday afternoon.

My afternoon tea table on Saturday.

My tea server at the Nagle Warren Mansion took me on a little tour of the historic 1888 home. I loved seeing all the sections of the wonderful structure.

My tea server at the Nagle Warren Mansion took me on a little tour of the historic 1888 home. I loved seeing all the sections of the wonderful structure.

Afternoon tea at the Nagle Warren Mansion. The three ladies next to my table really did it up in style!

Afternoon tea at the Nagle Warren Mansion. The three ladies next to my table really did it up in style!

The historic 1888 Nagle Warren Mansion.

The historic 1888 Nagle Warren Mansion.

The Crystal Reservoir at Curt Gowdy State Park.

The Crystal Reservoir at Curt Gowdy State Park.

Piper, Cessna and I walked the trails at the park while Mike fished.

Piper, Cessna and I walked the trails at the park while Mike fished.

Curt Gowdy State Park stringer.

Curt Gowdy State Park stringer.

You can see why we wanted to spend as much time as possible outside when we got to Cheyenne. This is what I saw when I awoke on our third morning.

You can see why we wanted to spend as much time as possible outside when we got to Cheyenne. This is what I saw when I awoke on our third morning.

The rain- snow was gloppy, so we covered the floors with dog sheets to try and control the mess in the house. Piper and Cessna lounged while I worked on updating the blog.

The rain- snow was gloppy, so we covered the floors with dog sheets to try and control the mess in the house. Piper and Cessna lounged while I worked on updating the blog.

Is it raining or is it snowing?

Is it raining or is it snowing?

Last week of April, 2016.

Last week of April, 2016.

Piper loves his toys.

Piper loves his toys.

Some of Mike's fish. This batch was probably from somewhere in Utah.

Some of Mike’s fish. This batch was probably from somewhere in Utah.

What do you do if you visit on a Sunday? Cook a big Sunday dinner, of course!

What do you do if you visit on a Sunday? Cook a big Sunday dinner, of course!

Fondue anyone?

Fondue anyone?

The Downtown Cheyenne Boot.

The Downtown Cheyenne Boot.

I just loved this giant red and white building near the depot in downtown.

I just loved this giant red and white building near the depot in downtown.

The Cheyenne Depot building.

The Cheyenne Depot building (part of it).

stage mural

There were several murals in downtown Cheyenne, and this was my favorite – on the back of a hotel in an alley.

Rodeo Boot.

Rodeo Boot.

The Capitol Building was under construction, so I only took a photo of the dome.

The Capitol Building was under construction, so I only took a photo of the dome.

Selfie at Sanford's.

Selfie at Sanford’s.

Inside Sanford's in downtown Cheyenne. It is a small chain with other Wyoming and Montana locations. We had fun looking at all the STUFF everywhere!

Inside Sanford’s in downtown Cheyenne. It is a small chain with other Wyoming and Montana locations. We had fun looking at all the STUFF everywhere!

The wind died down on the last night we were in Cheyenne, so we decided to build a campfire for the evening. Mike had to hurry up and light it because Cessna started stealing all of the wood from the pit.

The wind died down on the last night we were in Cheyenne, so we decided to build a campfire for the evening. Mike had to hurry up and light it because Cessna started stealing all of the wood from the pit.

Big sunset dove.

Big sunset dove.

 

 

Utah Part IV: Park City

We didn’t have a definite agenda when it was time to leave Provo. We paid for eleven nights and we would have to leave after 14 nights, so we watched the weather forecast and planned to travel east along I-80 on a good day. The big picture included Wyoming as our next state, but it didn’t matter when we got there. After we had such a fun daytrip to Park City, we decided to stop there for a week before we left the Beehive State.

We departed Lake Utah State Park on a Tuesday morning around 9:30. Mike drove us for about 30 minutes north along I-15 through the SLC Metro, then we took a loop around downtown and merged onto I-80 on the east side of town. Park City was just down the road about 15 miles, so it was a super easy trip. We were set up by noon, and went to dinner that night at a place called Sammy’s Bistro, which is also a Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives establishment.

The weather wasn’t great the week we were in Park City, but it didn’t interfere with our fun. We still managed to get downtown and enjoy the restaurants and bars during our visit. We also went to a concert at one of the historic theaters on Main Street, and that was a real hoot. Park City is a cute little town with lots to offer the outdoor enthusiast or the city slicker. There are all kinds of activities available to take in the natural surroundings, as well as tons of shops and galleries to stroll through in Old Town. I’m glad we decided to make a fourth stop in Utah!

Mike asked me to make ceviche with some frozen large mouth black bass he had caught in Sand Hollow Reservoir, back in Hurricane, Utah. I was skeptical, but it turned out great.

Mike asked me to make ceviche with some frozen large mouth black bass he had caught in Sand Hollow Reservoir, back in Hurricane, Utah. I was skeptical, but it turned out great.

We had a couple of snow days while we were at Park City, but the temperature never dropped below freezing, so the roads were clear, just wet.

We had a couple of snow days while we were at Park City, but the temperature never dropped below freezing, so the roads were clear, just wet.

We had a bit of cabin fever after two solid days of grey snow rain, so we went downtown on a Friday afternoon to eat smoked wings and watch golf at Collie's Sports Bar.

We had a bit of cabin fever after two solid days of grey snow rain, so we went downtown on a Friday afternoon to eat smoked wings and watch golf at Collie’s Sports Bar.

Park City is such a cute historic mining town. I love how the ski runs come straight into downtown!

Park City is such a cute historic mining town. I love how the ski runs come straight into downtown!

We stayed at Park City RV Resort, which was neither a Resort or in Park City. It was directly on I-80 at the Kimball Junction interchange. We were about 20 minutes from historic downtown Park City. Our spot, A3, was a little tight.

We stayed at Park City RV Resort, which was neither a Resort nor in Park City. It was directly on I-80 at the Kimball Junction interchange. We were about 20 minutes from historic downtown Park City. Our spot, A3, was a little tight.

Park City Main Street with its springtime street banners flying on the light poles.

Park City Main Street with its springtime street banners flying on the light poles.

Inside St. Mary's Catholic Church. It sits out on a meadow and the windows take in the glory of the mountain vista to the southwest.

Inside St. Mary’s Catholic Church. It sits out on a meadow and the windows take in the glory of the mountain vista to the southwest.

The Altar at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Park City. I went to mass on a Saturday evening and just happened to sit behind a couple from The Woodlands! I didn't know them until we made introductions, but it was so much fun to talk to someone from "home".

The Altar at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Park City. I went to mass on a Saturday evening and just happened to sit behind a couple from The Woodlands! I didn’t know them until we made introductions, but it was so much fun to talk to someone from “home”.

Two of our friends told us we had to try to the Shoshito Peppers at High West Distillery, so we happily followed instructions. We also ordered the Pork Wings and twice fried potatoes. Yummy Sunday dinner.

Two of our friends told us we had to try to the Shoshito Peppers at High West Distillery, so we happily followed instructions. We also ordered the Pork Wings and twice fried potatoes. Yummy Sunday dinner.

We had one night out on the town while we were in Park City, and we spent it at the historic Egyptian Theater seeing Booker T. Jones perform.

We had one night out on the town while we were in Park City, and we spent it at the historic Egyptian Theater seeing Booker T. Jones perform.

The stage inside the Egyptian Theater. Mr. Jones is best known as the front man for the band Booker T & the MG's.

The stage inside the Egyptian Theater. Mr. Jones is best known as the front man for the band Booker T & the MG’s.

When I bought the tickets the for the show, the gentleman was quick to point out that there would be no dancing during the show. At least Park City isn't like New Hampshire, where they won't let you get away with it!

When I bought the tickets the for the show, the gentleman was quick to point out that there would be no dancing during the show. At least Park City isn’t like New Hampshire, where they won’t let you get away with it!

Who knew the organ could be so sexy and hip.

Who knew the organ could be so sexy and hip.

Booker T. Jones played lots of his own stuff, and also offered up tributes to Jimmy Hendrix, Otis Reading, Prince , The Beatles and other legends.

Booker T. Jones played lots of his own stuff, and also offered up tributes to Jimmy Hendrix, Otis Reading, Prince , The Beatles and other legends.

Post concert selfie at No Name Saloon.

Post concert selfie at No Name Saloon.

Park City Main Street Sunset.

Park City Main Street Sunset.

This antler chandelier caught Mike's eye. His dad has a smaller version hanging over the dining room at this folk's house, which he made himself!

This antler chandelier caught Mike’s eye. His dad has a smaller version hanging over the dining room at this folk’s house, which W.D. made himself!

Mikey fishing.

Mikey fishing.

The dogs and I explored the trails of Jordanelle State Park while Mike caught our dinner.

The dogs and I explored the trails of Jordanelle State Park while Mike caught our dinner.

We had Jordanelle State Park to ourselves on the day we visited.

We had Jordanelle State Park to ourselves on the day we visited.

Dinner.

Dinner.

Utah Part III: Provo

When it came time to finding somewhere to stay in the Salt Lake City Area, the options were slim and the reviews were poor on every account. Our best chance for a pleasant environment was Utah Lake State Park. It was located in Provo, near I-15, 45 minutes south of downtown SLC, and on a lake with roomy spots. Since it was a state park, each site only had water and 30-amp electrical hookups. Our plan was to stay a few days at the state park, and when it came time to dump our tanks, we could move to a private park down the road… and trade the spacious surroundings for 50 amps of power and a sewer connection. As you will see in the pictures below, we got lucky and never had to move to the more cramped private RV park.

We spent a total of 11 nights in Provo and it was a pleasant spot. Provo is a clean and active college town. We were happy to take advantage of the city’s park trail system. Piper and Cessna got lots of good walks on this stop. We went to downtown SLC once together, and I went back twice by myself – once to attend Sunday Mass at the Cathedral of the Madeleine, and once to see Theresa Caputo, The Long Island Medium, at the events center where the Jazz play basketball. We drove north to see The Great Salt Lake from Antelope Island State Park. We took daytrips to Sundance Mountain Resort and Park City. Mike was able to catch some fish from the Lake, and he was also able to do some cleaning on the outside of the coach. Two things that make him happy. I should clarify that cleaning the coach does not actually make him happy, he just enjoys the results when it is over. He keeps us looking very presentable. Some campgrounds do not allow cleaning of the coaches, so one must take advantage when possible.

The drive north on I-15 was pretty with snow capped mountains always ahead in the distance. The route was mostly flat with a few sections of climbing and descending. We went up about 1,000 feet and came down about 2,000 feet during out three hour drive. A semi-truck only came into our lane once during a descending curve as it blew past us in the left lane.

The drive north on I-15 was pretty with snow capped mountains always ahead in the distance. The route was mostly flat with a few sections of climbing and descending. We went up about 1,000 feet and came down about 2,000 feet during our three hour drive. A semi-truck only came into our lane once during a descending curve as it blew past us in the left lane.

We got to Utah Lake State Park on opening day of the camping season. Other campers had already arrived, but there were still plenty of spaces available. I was slightly worried because the park did not accept reservations until May 1st. The entire month of April was operated on a first-come-first-served basis. As it turned out, there was no reason to worry, we had plenty of options on campsites when we arrived.

We got to Utah Lake State Park on opening day of the camping season. Other campers had already arrived, but there were still plenty of spaces available. I was slightly worried because the park did not accept reservations until May 1st. The entire month of April was operated on a first-come-first-served basis. As it turned out, there was no reason to worry, we had plenty of options on campsites when we arrived.

Provo airport was situated at the edge of the park, so Mike had fun watching all sorts of planes and helicopters fly past us on their final descent to the runway.

Provo Municipal Airport was situated at the edge of the park, so Mike had fun watching all sorts of planes and helicopters fly past us on their final approach to the runway.

 

Quail at our campground.

Quail at our campground.

Upon checking into the park, we settled on two other spots before we finally got ourselves situated in A23. After we got through the front gate, we pulled into a large parking lot and disconnected the Honda. We then drove it through both A and B camping loops to see which spot we thought would be the best. We picked a spot in the B Loop, and Mike went back to drive the Monaco over. As he approached the entrance to the B Loop, he realized a tree with low hanging branches was in the way. He didn't want to scratch our paint, so he abandoned that plan and drove to an alternate location in the A Loop. As he was setting up, I went to figure out the self-pay station. That is when I discovered there was one spot in the A Loop with full hook-ups (we had planned on only staying a few days because the camping spots only had 30 amps of power and water connections - no sewer). It was actually a camp host spot, but there was no camp host yet. It was $35 per night ($5 more than the other spots). I checked with the camp host in the B Loop to make sure it was okay if we took that spot instead. When she said yes, Mike unhooked the power, put the slides back in, and moved us to the full hook-up spot. This was great! We had a sewer connection AND 50 amps of power. We wouldn't have to move now. We could stay there for up to 14 days before we had to leave the park! We paid for one night at first, just to buy some time and review our travel plans. The next morning we paid for 10 more nights.

Upon checking into the park, we settled on two other spots before we finally got ourselves situated in A23. After we got through the front gate, we pulled into a large parking lot and disconnected the Honda. We then drove it through both A and B camping loops to see which spot we thought would be the best. We picked a spot in the B Loop, and Mike went back to drive the Monaco over. As he approached the entrance to the B Loop, he realized a tree with low hanging branches was in the way. He didn’t want to scratch our paint, so he abandoned that plan and drove to an alternate location in the A Loop. As he was setting up, I went to figure out the self-pay station. That is when I discovered there was one spot in the A Loop with full hook-ups (we had planned on only staying a few days because the camping spots only had 30 amps of power and water connections – no sewer). It was actually a camp host spot, but there was no camp host yet. It was $35 per night ($5 more than the other spots). I checked with the camp host in the B Loop to make sure it was okay if we took that spot instead. When she said yes, Mike unhooked the power, put the slides back in, and moved us to the full hook-up spot. This was great! We had a sewer connection AND 50 amps of power. We wouldn’t have to move now. We could stay there for up to 14 days before we had to leave the park! We paid for one night at first, just to buy some time and review our travel plans. The next morning we paid for 10 more nights.

The only problem with being in a camp host spot was that everyone kept stopping by to ask us questions. I didn't think it would be too big of an inconvenience until after we had gone to bed on our first night. All the lights were off - outside and inside. We were sound asleep when someone knocked on our door. I got out of bed and held the dogs at bay while I opened the door. The guy wanted to know if we were camp hosts. After he left I made a sign with magic markers and taped it to our door before I went back to bed. The next morning we re-located it to a sign in front of our spot.

The only problem with being in a camp host spot was that everyone kept stopping by to ask us questions. I didn’t think it would be too big of an inconvenience until after we had gone to bed on our first night. All the lights were off – outside and inside. We were sound asleep when someone knocked on our door. I got out of bed and held the dogs at bay while I opened the door. The guy wanted to know if we were camp hosts. After he left I made a sign with magic markers and taped it to our door before I went back to bed. The next morning we re-located it to a sign in front of our spot.

A bi-plane coming into Provo Municipal Airport.

A bi-plane coming into Provo Municipal Airport.

Utah Lake was pretty big, but very shallow.

Utah Lake was pretty big, but very shallow.

We had nice views from our campground, and yet it was so convenient. We were only 3 miles from downtown Provo, and even closer to the Interstate.

We had nice views from our campground, and yet it was so convenient. We were only 3 miles from downtown Provo, and even closer to the Interstate.

A view from one of Mike's fishing spots.

A view from one of Mike’s fishing spots.

After we left the Mormons we walked UP HILL to The Capitol Building. It was about to rain and we wanted to explore more parts of downtown in a hurry, so we didn't go inside.

After we left the Mormon complex we walked UP HILL to The Capitol Building. It was about to rain and we wanted to explore more parts of downtown in a hurry, so we didn’t go inside.

We spent one afternoon in downtown Salt Lake City, so of course we had to check out the Mormon Tabernacle. It was an interesting experience. The Church of Latter Day Saints has about a 10-acre complex in the center of downtown. "Greeters" are stationed all across the complex to approach people like us. They wanted us to spend time in the visitor's center and would hardly take no for an answer when we said we were just looking around downtown - in general. I also learned that hardly anyone is allowed inside the Tabernacle. The doors were locked. Only the most worthy of the congregation are allowed inside the doors. The lady said it was the most sacred place on earth. Hmmm. Never really encountered a religion that didn't let its own followers inside its primary building of worship. The Mormons that we saw visiting the building were gleefully taking pictures of their families outside the locked doors. I will say they were pretty doors. I will leave my comments right there... I've met many people who take issue with how Catholics handle their own affairs, so live and let live.

We spent one afternoon in downtown Salt Lake City, so of course we had to check out the Mormon Tabernacle. It was an interesting experience. The Church of Latter Day Saints has about a 10-acre complex in the center of downtown. “Greeters” are stationed all across the complex to approach people like us. They wanted us to spend time in the visitor’s center and would hardly take no for an answer when we said we were just looking around downtown – in general. I also learned that hardly anyone is allowed inside the Tabernacle. The doors were locked. Only the most worthy of the congregation are allowed inside the doors. The lady said it was the most sacred place on earth. Never really encountered a religion that didn’t let its own followers inside its primary building of worship. The Mormons that we saw visiting the building were gleefully taking pictures of their families outside the locked doors. I will say they were pretty doors. I’ve met many people who take issue with how Catholics handle their own affairs, so live and let live.

The mountains to the east of our campground turned pink every evening at sunset.

The mountains to the east of our campground turned pink every evening at sunset.

We drove over to Sundance Resort to look around one afternoon. I found out the Sundance Film Festival is actually in Park City. The resort was very nice, and the people who were skiing had Mount Timpanogos practically all to themselves.

We drove over to Sundance Resort to look around one afternoon. I found out the Sundance Film Festival is actually in Park City. The resort was very nice, and the people who were skiing had Mount Timpanogos practically all to themselves.

The view from Aspen Grove Trailhead near Robert Redford's Sundance Resort.

The view from Aspen Grove Trailhead near Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort.

We saw this old sick skunk wobbling down the road of the campground one evening as we were sitting outside and enjoying the sunset. Poor thing was literally on his last leg. It was sad to see, but I was glad we knew he was there so we could be on the lookout when we walked the dogs after dark. That would be a bad surprise to stumble upon!

We saw this old sick skunk wobbling down the road of the campground one evening as we were sitting outside and enjoying the sunset. Poor thing was literally on his last leg. It was sad to see, but I was glad we knew he was there so we could be on the lookout when we walked the dogs after dark. That would be a bad surprise to stumble upon!

Our next stop on our walking tour was the Cathedral of the Madeline. I had to stop my mumbling about the locked doors when we arrived at this stop because the Catholics had locked their doors too!

Our next stop on our walking tour was the Cathedral of the Madeline. I had to stop my mumbling about the locked doors when we arrived at this stop because the Catholics had locked their doors too!

I had read about how beautiful the Cathedral was, so I went back on Sunday to attend Mass. I figured the doors would be unlocked then!

I had read about how beautiful the Cathedral was, so I went back on Sunday to attend Mass. I figured the doors would be unlocked then!

The organ and the choir during mass were unbelievable!

The organ and the choir during mass were unbelievable!

After our walking tour of downtown, we drove to the "cultural section" of town to have a late lunch at a place Mike found online. It was the only place in town that served crawfish, and we were having a craving. They were pretty good. The sauce was called Cajun and it was better than nothing!

After our walking tour of downtown, we drove to the “cultural section” of town to have a late lunch at a place Mike found online. It was the only place in town that served crawfish, and we were having a craving. They were pretty good. The sauce was called Cajun and it was better than nothing!

There was a hill off of I-15 on the way to Salt Lake City that was always busy with hang gliders.

There was a hill off of I-15 on the way to Salt Lake City that was always busy with hang gliders.

We spent another day looking around Park City. We had so much fun, we decided that we would stay there for a week when it was time to leave Provo.

We spent another day looking around Park City. We had so much fun, we decided that we would stay there for a week when it was time to leave Provo.

A selfie from the roof top patio of No Name Saloon.

A selfie from the roof top patio of No Name Saloon.

We could not leave Utah without seeing the Great Salt Lake, so we made the 1.5 hour road trip north to Antelope Island State Park on another day trip.

We could not leave Utah without seeing the Great Salt Lake, so we made the 1.5 hour road trip north to Antelope Island State Park on another day trip.

The lake was pretty low. There were many yards of sand all around the edges of the water.

The lake was pretty low. There were many yards of sand all around the edges of the water.

A view from the beginning of our hike with the dogs on Antelope Island. The no-see-ums were horrible, and they had teamed up with the gnats to try and make us leave. The dogs really needed a walk, so we made it about 23 minutes before we hit our breaking point and turned back for the car. It is hard to walk on a skinny path holding a leash while swatting yourself in the face constantly.

A view from the beginning of our hike with the dogs on Antelope Island. The no-see-ums were horrible, and they had teamed up with the gnats to try and make us leave. The dogs really needed a walk, so we made it about 23 minutes before we hit our breaking point and turned back for the car. It is hard to walk on a skinny path holding a leash while swatting yourself in the face constantly.

We didn't see any antelope on Antelope Island, but we did see buffalo. Actually, I didn't snap a photo... but as we were parking near a camping area to go on our hike, there was a large buffalo that had situated himself beside a camper's tent. Didn't see any humans, so not sure if they were hiding inside or out and about in the park. That would have been a bit unnerving to me!

We didn’t see any antelope on Antelope Island, but we did see buffalo. Actually, I didn’t snap a photo… but as we were parking near a camping area to go on our hike, there was a large buffalo that had situated himself beside a camper’s tent. Didn’t see any humans, so not sure if they were hiding inside or out and about in the park. That would have been a bit unnerving to me!

 

The dogs inspecting their human's fresh catch of white bass. They approved.

The dogs inspecting their human’s fresh catch of white bass. They approved.

Mike had so many fish to clean, he had to set up a station where he could sit down and relax during the chore.

Mike had so many fish to clean, he had to set up a station where he could sit down and relax during the chore.

Hruska's Kolaches, a taste of Texas!

Hruska’s Kolaches, a taste of Texas in downtown Provo!

We haven't seen too many rainbows lately.

We haven’t seen too many rainbows lately.

Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon.

Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon.

A view from the trail near Bridal Veil Falls, looking toward the Timpanogos.

A view from the trail near Bridal Veil Falls, looking toward the Timpanogos.

Shiny river along the Provo Jordan Parkway Trail. We had a nice walk on this trail during our last full day in Provo.

Shiny river along the Provo Jordan Parkway Trail. We had a nice walk on this trail during our last full day in Provo.

This brave robin joined us at our campfire each evening. He insisted on being part of the conversation.

This brave robin joined us at our campfire each evening. He insisted on being part of the conversation.

A flock of yellow breasted blackbirds appeared at our campground about three days before our departure.

A flock of yellow breasted blackbirds appeared at our campground about three days before our departure.

Last sunset in Provo.

Last sunset in Provo.

Utah Part II: Cedar City

The weather remained our biggest consideration as we selected our second location in Utah. When the terrain is near mountain ranges, the general rule is: don’t count out snow until after Mother’s Day. It was only the middle of March at this time, so we had a while to go before we could expect constant warm weather. Our DirecTV satellite was tuned to Salt Lake City stations while we were in Hurricane/St. George, and they were still getting snow showers regularly. We did plan to make a stop near Salt Lake City before we crossed Utah off of our list, but it wasn’t time yet. We also wanted to stay close to I-15, though, so we selected Cedar City as our next destination. It was only 45 minutes north on the interstate, but the town was about 3,000 feet higher in elevation. Even though the distance between the two locations was pretty short, it was still going to be about 20 degrees cooler than the temperatures at Sand Hollow State Park.

We stayed at a KOA which was nice enough. It was small but clean and in a good location right on Main Street. We were within walking distance of downtown, so running errands was very convenient. We had planned to be there for 11 nights, but the weather turned nasty toward the end of our stay, so we extended our reservation to two weeks before it was all said and done. Cedar City was a cute little town and close to lots of natural attractions like Cedar Breaks National Monument, Brian Head Ski Resort, Bryce Canyon, Zion Kolob, and Dixie National Forest. The Utah Shakespeare Festival takes place each year from the end of June to the end of October at Southern Utah University, so we missed that. The festival is a huge draw for the community though, and I would have loved to have been there during the time that the plays were running.

We arrived at the Cedar City KOA on March 18th, and they were still operating under their winter season hours. That means the office was closed between 11AM and 3PM. We pulled into the lot smack in the middle of that window, at around 12:30. They had left our paperwork for us on an outside clipboard so we could get situated before the office opened again. The only problem was that we were assigned a "buddy" spot. This type of spot allows two rigs to pull up from opposite directions and share the green space between them... a great idea if you know the people you are camping beside. However, we were originally scheduled to be there for 11 days, and we didn't want to deal with new neighbors coming and going every couple of days. Piper and Cessna are NOT GOOD with other animals, and Piper doesn't particularly like humans unknown to him either. All I could envision was embarrassing chaos for our immediate future. We decided to wait to hook up or get situated, and ask the office if we could switch spots as soon as the staff returned. While we waited we scoped out the park for better options so we could ask for a specific location when the time came. Mike watched tennis, I made a grilled cheese and heated some soup for lunch. When the office opened again, we asked them if we could move to B11. It was a back-in spot instead of a pull-through, so the nightly rate was less expensive in addition to it having a larger private "yard". They said no problem and we quickly got ourselves situated.

We arrived at the Cedar City KOA on March 18th, and they were still operating under their winter season hours. That means the office was closed between 11AM and 3PM. We pulled into the lot smack in the middle of that window, at around 12:30. They had left our paperwork for us on an outside clipboard so we could get situated before the office opened again. The only problem was that we were assigned a “buddy” spot. This type of spot allows two rigs to pull up from opposite directions and share the green space between them… a great idea if you know the people you are camping beside. However, we were originally scheduled to be there for 11 days, and we didn’t want to deal with rotating neighbors. Piper and Cessna are NOT GOOD with other animals, and Piper doesn’t particularly like humans unknown to him either. All I could envision was embarrassing chaos for our immediate future. We decided to wait to hook up or get situated, and ask the office if we could switch spots as soon as the staff returned. While we waited we scoped out the park for better options so we could ask for a specific location when the time came. Mike watched tennis, I made a grilled cheese and heated some soup for lunch. When the office opened again, we asked them if we could move to B11. It was a back-in spot instead of a pull-through, so the nightly rate was less expensive in addition to it having a larger private “yard”. They said no problem and we quickly got ourselves situated.

March Madness in Cedar City.

March Madness in Cedar City.

When Mike returns home with his bucket and fishing poles, the dogs immediately want to look inside. They've learned there will be strange creatures swimming in water under the lid.

When Mike returns home with his bucket and fishing poles, the dogs immediately want to look inside. They’ve learned there will be strange creatures swimming in water under the lid.

Palm Sunday sunset from my kitchen window.

Palm Sunday sunset from my kitchen window.

Zion Kolob was about 20 miles south of Cedar City on I-15. We put our National Parks Pass to good use again and spent one morning driving through the area. We had the dogs so we were not allowed to hike on the trails.

Zion Kolob was about 20 miles south of Cedar City on I-15. We put our National Parks Pass to good use again and spent one morning driving through the area. We had the dogs so we were not allowed to hike on the trails.

More dramatic landscapes in Zion Kolob.

More dramatic landscapes in Zion Kolob.

The view from one of the trailheads in Kolob.

The view from one of the trailheads in Kolob.

An eagle over the town lake where Mike fished for trout.

An eagle over the town lake where Mike fished for trout.

The limit for trout was two per day, and it didn't take Mike long at all to snag a fresh catch each time he went to the public lake.

The limit for trout was two per day, and it didn’t take Mike long at all to snag a fresh catch each time he went to the public lake.

We had been trying to avoid snow, but it caught up to us in Cedar City. Luckily is was never heavy, just pretty.

We had been trying to avoid snow, but it caught up to us in Cedar City. Luckily is was never heavy, just pretty.

The locals called our town "Cedar", and there was a pretty view of snow capped mountains in every direction we looked.

The locals called our town “Cedar”, and there was a pretty view of snow capped mountains in every direction we looked.

Another view of the landscape around Cedar (City).

Another view of the landscape around Cedar (City).

My 48th birthday happened from this stop, so we celebrated by taking a daytrip to Bryce Canyon National Park. We drove along Scenic Byway 14 through the Dixie National Forest to get there. As we reached a summit on the drive, we stumbled upon a few sheep that must have escaped their pens.

My 48th birthday happened from this stop, so we celebrated by taking a daytrip to Bryce Canyon National Park. We drove along Scenic Byway 14 through the Dixie National Forest to get there. As we reached a summit on the drive, we stumbled upon a few sheep that must have escaped their pens.

Bryce Canyon selfie.

Bryce Canyon selfie.

The amphitheater at Bryce Canyon.

The amphitheater at Bryce Canyon.

These hoodoos looked paper think.

These hoodoos looked paper thin.

Google says: A hoodoo (also called a tent rock, fairy chimney, and earth pyramid) is a tall, thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid drainage basin or badland.

Google says: A hoodoo (also called a tent rock, fairy chimney, and earth pyramid) is a tall, thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid drainage basin or badland.

Sunrise Point at Bryce Canyon National Park.

Sunrise Point at Bryce Canyon National Park.

Me and my dog. There was one paved trail in the park where dogs were allowed, so Cessna and Piper were happy they got to see the hoodoos too.

Me and my dog. There was one paved trail in the park where dogs were allowed, so Cessna and Piper were happy they got to see the hoodoos too.

The Natural Bridge at Bryce Canyon.

The Natural Bridge at Bryce Canyon.

The thing that surprised me most about Bryce Canyon was that there were pine trees along the edges of the Canyon. I expected the colorful arid rocks, but didn't realize there would be fragrant green pines too.

The thing that surprised me most about Bryce Canyon was that there were pine trees along the edges of the Canyon. I expected the colorful arid rocks, but didn’t realize there would be fragrant green pines too.

Rainbow Point selfie.

Rainbow Point selfie.

Bryce Canyon vista.

Bryce Canyon vista.

Mike figured out how to take panoramic photos from his phone!

Mike figured out how to take panoramic photos from his phone!

Hoodoos in the snow.

Hoodoos in the snow.

Some parts of the canyon were very steep!

Some parts of the canyon were very steep!

I would definitely call this a fairy chimney.

I would definitely call this a fairy chimney.

A panorama from Rainbow Point.

A panorama from Rainbow Point.

Grottos at Bryce Canyon.

Grottos at Bryce Canyon.

Looks like stalagmites inside a cave!

Looks like stalagmites inside a cave!

This was the perfect place to learn about the panorama option on the camera!

This was the perfect place to learn about the panorama option on the camera!

Desolate and romantic all at once. If I were a poet, I could write an entire poem about this tree!

Desolate and romantic all at once. If I were a poet, I could write an entire poem about this tree!

Panorama from Bryce Point.

Panorama from Bryce Point.

The last panorama shot from Bryce Canyon.

The last panorama shot from Bryce Canyon.

We drove home from Bryce on Hwy 143 and passed by Panguitch Lake. The edges were starting to thaw, but the middle of the lake was still frozen.

We drove home from Bryce on Hwy 143 and passed by Panguitch Lake. The edges were starting to thaw, but the middle of the lake was still frozen.

As we approached Brian Head Peak the elevation was so high that snow was still everywhere.

As we approached Brian Head Peak the elevation was so high that snow was still everywhere.

We climbed over 5,000 feet on our road trip that day. This was taken near Cedar Breaks National Monument. I really wanted to get out and take a look, but the snow was so deep that there was no way to make it to the overlook - which was only about 10 yards from the road. We would have had to have snow shoes and weather proof clothing.

We climbed over 5,000 feet on our road trip that day. This was taken near Cedar Breaks National Monument. I really wanted to get out and take a look, but the snow was so deep that there was no way to make it to the overlook – which was only about 10 yards from the road. We would have needed snow shoes and weather proof clothing.

A snowy mountain on the outskirts of Brian Head ski resort, which was only about 30 miles from Cedar City. However, the elevation differences made the two locations seem worlds apart.

A snowy mountain on the outskirts of Brian Head ski resort, which was only about 30 miles from Cedar City. However, the elevation differences made the two locations seem worlds apart.

The St. George Art Festival was happening over the weekend of March 25th and 26th. It was only about 45-minutes back down I-15, so we drove over one day to check it out. It was a very high quality juried art show. I was surprised and impressed with the caliber of art offered at each tent. Most of the prices were out of my league, but I did manage to find a small print for a wall in our future home and a tiny birthday gift for my step-sister. No dogs were allowed with the tent aisles, so Mike got stuck waiting with Piper and Cessna on the outskirts while I browsed.

The St. George Art Festival was happening over the weekend of March 25th and 26th. It was only about 45-minutes back down I-15, so we drove over one day to check it out. It was a very high quality juried art show. I was surprised and impressed with the caliber of art offered at each tent. Most of the prices were out of my league, but I did manage to find a small print for a wall in our future home and a tiny birthday gift for my step-sister. No dogs were allowed within the tent aisles, so Mike got stuck waiting with Piper and Cessna on the outskirts while I browsed.

A man-made water fall along a walking trail on the outskirts of Cedar Creek.

A man-made water fall along a walking trail on the outskirts of Cedar Creek.

I guess this black rock was from a pre-historic volcano in the area...

I guess this black rock was from a pre-historic volcano in the area…

There was a sidewalk along Main Street right by our campground, but it was pretty LOUD. After we found this trail in the canyon out side of Cedar City, we opted to drive the dogs over and park in a lot to get our daily walk accomplished in a more peaceful and natural setting.

There was a sidewalk along Main Street right by our campground, but it was pretty LOUD with all the traffic. After we found this trail in the canyon outside of Cedar City, we opted to drive the dogs over and park in a lot to get our daily walk accomplished in a more peaceful and natural setting.

Two locals on a leisurely Saturday afternoon rock climb.

Two locals on a leisurely Saturday afternoon rock climb.

We attended Christ the King Catholic Church on Palm Sunday and Easter morning. The church had its own dog! He was a black and white medium sized short haired mutt names Pilate. He greeted members of the congregation as they entered the church and escorted them to where they might like to sit in the sanctuary. After mass, he mingled with everyone in the vestibule as they made their way back to the parking lot.

We attended Christ the King Catholic Church on Palm Sunday and Easter morning. The church had its own dog! He was a black and white medium sized short haired mutt named Pilate. He greeted members of the congregation as they entered the church and escorted them to where they might like to sit in the sanctuary. After mass, he mingled with everyone in the vestibule as they made their way back to the parking lot.

You can bet Mike is going to take pictures of two big fat dove if he sees them.

You can bet Mike is going to take pictures of two big fat dove if he sees them.

We stepped outside to take the dogs to pee on our last night at the KOA and had no idea it had been snowing for a couple of inches... I mean hours.

We stepped outside to take the dogs to pee on our last night at the KOA and had no idea it had been snowing for a couple of inches… I mean hours.

Utah Part I: Hurricane

Springtime in Utah did not necessarily ensure warm weather, but the chances of enjoying pleasant temperatures were much greater on the southern edge of the state. The terrain is also mountainous, so we wanted to be traveling along a big route like I-15 as we move from the south end of The Beehive State until we reach the north side around Salt Lake City. When we get to Salt Lake City, we plan to hop onto I-80 east and make our way into Wyoming. That is as much as we had decided about our upcoming route on the Lower 48 in 48 Tour.

We located St. George on the map (mainly because it was in the right location and I had heard good things about the city), and started our search for RV Parks from there. As far as attractions in Utah were concerned, the National Parks were front and center on our radar. I didn’t find any campgrounds that were too enticing within the city limits of St. George. A friend of a friend had recommended a place called Zion River Resort in Virgin, but when we researched the details we learned that the rate was $60 per night and we didn’t really want to spend that much if we didn’t have to. I finally found a state park with full hookups and a rate of $28 per night in Hurricane, which was just to the northeast of St. George. We were able to reserve a spot for eight consecutive nights, so we booked a stay at Sand Hollow State Park and started planning our travel route from Page, Arizona.

There were two ways to get to Hurricane, but we really only had one option in the Monaco. We followed Highway 89 to Kanab, at which point we had to go north or south to make it to our destination in the west. If we followed Highway 89 north we would have to go through Zion National Park, and that road was too narrow and winding for a 45-foot motor coach towing a Honda CRV. Our only choice was to take a route that extended our travel time by 45 minutes, and dipped back down into Arizona on Highway 389 to Colorado City, and then back into Utah on Highway 59 into Hurricane. Colorado City had been in the news while we were in Arizona, so we were both interested to see what all the hoopla was about. This remote community at the state line is an enclave of the polygamist sect of the FLDS church. About 4,800 people live there. Its remote location is no accident. It didn’t take long to drive through the small town, if you could call it that. What I saw was a poverty stricken collection of cookie-cutter houses that looked more like dormitories than homes. I guess each “wife” gets their own room. Some sections of the structures were boarded up, as if the construction was put on hold until someone was designated to inhabit that space. The houses were not painted. There were no yards with grass. There was no pride in ownership. Sad looking livestock lived in small pens with wooden fences in between the dorm-homes. Women dressed in solid colors of long skirts, long sleeves and bonnets were walking along the street. Overall, it was a depressing environment. Hopeless in a way. Nothing from that town infused me with an iota of American pride.

Luckily, we were through Colorado City in the blink of an eye and the outlook became much more inspiring. The main theme of this blog post will be the geological kaleidoscope that is Zion National Park. Our campground was only about 25 miles away, which translated into a picturesque 45-minute drive from our coach to the south entrance gate. If I had to use one word to describe Zion National Park, I would start with grandiose. I felt like a dwarf standing at the base of majestic mountains that shot out of the ground like enormous globs of rock that were half chiseled by a sculptor’s rasp. The colors of red, pink and white changed to orange, purple and silver as the sun’s reflection moved across the earth. When you stood still and looked up (everything is up), the views would take your breath away. The diverse terrain was never predictable. Canyons, waterfalls, and a rushing river divided jagged cliffs and mountains that were so velvety smooth, they looked like someone had been sanding them down since the beginning of time. While everything was vertical (park elevations range from 3,600 to 8,700 feed), the horizontal layers of rocks told an entirely different story. It was like the history of the planet as it evolved from oceans to sand dunes to mountains over the course of millions of years was illustrated as simply as if it had been explained in a children’s book. I could easily imagine myself standing in the same place but under thousands of feet of water, or beside a dinosaur who’s head reached hundreds of feet into the air. Zion means “the heavenly city”, and that is exactly what it seemed like… a place that was extravagantly perfect in a multitude of contrasting manners.

When we weren’t at Zion, we were running errands in St. George or relaxing at our campground. The weather was nice with warm temperatures during the day and chilly temps overnight. I spent many hours with my kindle in my hammock, and Mike had good luck fishing. We were at Sand Hollow State Park for a total of eight nights, and it was a good way to start our time in Utah.

The reservoir at Sand Hollow State Park didn't look that big, but it was 1,322 acres. The water was only in the 50's, so I didn't swim. However, the reviews said you could get swimmer's itch, so I wouldn't have gone in anyway.

The reservoir at Sand Hollow State Park didn’t look that big, but it was 1,322 acres. The water was only in the 50’s, so I didn’t swim. However, the reviews said you could get swimmer’s itch, so I wouldn’t have gone in anyway.

The water was very clear and there were lot of boats of every size in the water - from fishing boats to ski boats to kayaks.

The water was very clear and there were lots of boats of every size in the water – from fishing boats to ski boats to kayaks.

There were no trees at the campground, but every spot had its own shade structure over the picnic tables. We used ours to hang the hammock!

There were no trees at the campground, but every spot had its own shade structure over the picnic tables. We used ours to hang the hammock!

One night it rained while we slept and we got to see this pretty view of snow on the mountain to our north. All the white was gone by the next day.

One night it rained while we slept and we got to see this pretty view of snow on the mountain to our north. All the white was gone by the next day.

My Piper boy likes to sit in the hammock with me.

My Piper boy likes to sit in the hammock with me.

A wall in Zion.

A wall in Zion.

The beginning of the Riverside Walk Trail that leads to The Narrows in Zion Canyon.

The beginning of the Riverside Walk Trail that leads to The Narrows in Zion Canyon.

This arch in the rock and the pond below it looked like a natural stage all set for a performance of some kind.

This arch in the rock and the pond below it looked like a natural stage all set for a performance of some kind.

The North Fork of the Virgin River runs through Zion Canyon.

The North Fork of the Virgin River runs through Zion Canyon.

The Narrows is a gorge in the upper part of Zion Canyon that is 16-miles long, up to 2,000 feet deep and at times only 20 to 30-feet wide. We stopped where these people were starting (while we were still dry). At least 60% of the hike is spent wading, walking or swimming in water.

The Narrows is a gorge in the upper part of Zion Canyon that is 16-miles long, up to 2,000 feet deep and at times only 20 to 30-feet wide. We stopped where these people were starting (while we were still dry). At least 60% of the hike is spent wading, walking or swimming in water.

Zion Selfie.

Zion Selfie in an alcove of weeping rock behind a veil of water droplets.

A view from Weeping Rock.

A view from Weeping Rock.

The Lower Emerald Pool did not have too much water yet, and it was still brown. You might be able to see the waterfall at the bottom left of the photo.

The Lower Emerald Pool did not have too much water yet, and it was still brown. You might be able to see the waterfall at the bottom left of the photo.

An example of all the different colors in Zion National Park.

An example of all the different colors in Zion National Park.

A view from our campground when the mountains did not have snow on them.

A view from our campground when the mountains did not have snow on them.

A view from one of our morning dog walks.

A view from one of our morning dog walks.

Towers of the Virgin and West Temple near the south entrance of Zion National Park.

Towers of the Virgin and West Temple near the south entrance of Zion National Park.

A view from our scenic drive on Zion - Mount Carmel Highway.

A view from our scenic drive on Zion – Mount Carmel Highway.

As you drive east through Zion, you can just see enormous ancient sand dunes that have turned to stone.

As you drive east through Zion, you can just see enormous ancient sand dunes that have turned to stone.

Zion - Mt. Carmel Highway is a 12-mile road that connects the south and east entrances into the park. Much of the sights look like this.

Zion – Mt. Carmel Highway is a 12-mile road that connects the south and east entrances into the park. Much of the sights look like this.

A view from the first pull-out after the east entrance into Zion National Park. Checkerboard Mesa was to my left, but the sun was in a bad spot for me to get that photo. This is the consolation photo!

A view from the first pull-out after the east entrance into Zion National Park. Checkerboard Mesa was to my left, but the sun was in a bad spot for me to get that photo. This is the consolation photo!

A big hole in the rock that was once a sand dune millions of years ago.

A big hole in the rock that was once a sand dune millions of years ago.

The mountain goat was monitoring traffic at the tunnel on Zion - Mt. Carmel Highway.

The mountain goat was monitoring traffic at the tunnel on Zion – Mt. Carmel Highway.

We went without the dogs to Zion on our first visit because pets are not typically allowed on the trails in National Parks. They heard how pretty it was when we got home that evening. When they learned there was one paved trail that did allow dogs, and a scenic drive that would be fun to see, they lobbied for us to take them along when we returned.

We went without the dogs to Zion on our first visit because pets are not typically allowed on the trails in National Parks. They heard how pretty it was when we got home that evening. When they learned there was one paved trail that did allow dogs, and a scenic drive that would be fun to see, they lobbied for us to take them along when we returned.

The famous Arch in Zion.

The famous Arch in Zion.

Checking out their human's catch from an afternoon on the banks of the Sand Hollow Reservoir.

Checking out their human’s catch from an afternoon on the banks of the Sand Hollow Reservoir.

Mike has kept me well fed on Fridays during lent this year.

Mike has kept me well fed on Fridays during lent this year.

 

Arizona Part V: Page

I would have to look back at all of my blog posts to be sure, but I think Arizona wins for most stops in a state. We enjoyed our time here in the Grand Canyon State, but the length of stay and number of stops were primarily related to the time of year. We were heading north again, and it was still cold everywhere. Our next state after Arizona was intended to be Utah. They have a picture of a snow skier on their license plates. Their motto is “Life is elevated – greatest snow on earth”. I wasn’t in a huge hurry to get there at the beginning of March. The climate in southern Utah is pleasant during early spring, so our goal was to start the Beehive State in St. George, close to Arizona and Nevada.

That is how we got to Page. It was north of Cottonwood and about three hours from St. George. We could move toward our St. George goal by driving in one of two directions. We could take I-17 to Flagstaff and go west on I-40 through Las Vegas, and then up to St. George on I-15. Or we could keep heading north on Highway 89 when we left Flagstaff and go through Page before we turned west. There was a big lake on the map at Page, so we opted for the route that took us due north. Why not take the opportunity to hang out by water for one more week?

To be honest, Lake Powell had not been on our radar at all… but as with most beneficial discoveries on The Lower 48 in 48 Tour, we accidentally stumbled upon a real gem. Of course we had both heard of Lake Powell. It is, after all, the second largest man-made lake in the United States. But neither of us had been there. Now we plan to return when our Tour is over and we start taking normal vacations again. I’ve always wanted to rent a houseboat for a vacation, and I think we will do that some day on Lake Powell. (I researched options online, and I want one with a hot tub on the top deck).

We stayed at the Wahweap Campground which was part of Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas.  This section of Wahweap Bay and Antelope Canyon is called “down-lake”.  Almost all of Lake Powell is located in Utah, except for the southernmost section at the Glen Canyon Dam. The entire lake (all 254 square miles of it), and much of the surrounding land on the north side, is located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. We had to use our National Parks Pass to get into the resort and campground. The land to the south of the lake shore is within the Navajo Nation. Depending on whether we walked right or left our of our campsite, we were under the jurisdiction of the Native Americans or the Federal Government. The campground had full hook-up and tent spots. There were two marinas, one for private boats and one for rental boats. There was also a lodge with hundreds of rooms, a couple of swimming pools and several restaurants (all of which were closed for the season except for one). We were there during the off-season, which was nice. It wasn’t too crowded. I had a feeling the place could get pretty crazy during the summer months. Most of the other tourists I encountered during our stay were Asian or European. All the Americans were still snow skiing in mountain resorts.

The weather was pleasant – warm during the day and chilly at night. Since we were not in a densely populated area, the sky was sparkly after dark. It was a quiet and peaceful setting. We had a nice view of the lake and the campground staff assigned us a roomy spot. There were lots of sticker burs on the ground, but there was a paved trail that connected different parts of the resort, so the dogs still got good walks each day. Mike got to fish. All of us were very satisfied during our stay. We only went into Page a couple of times – for groceries at Walmart and Sunday church with about two dozen other Methodists. I splurged one afternoon and spent $70  to go on a boat tour out of the resort. I wanted to see the lake from the water instead of just from the shore. The cruise took us for a 2.5-hour trip through the Antelope and Navajo Canyons. Mike wasn’t interested, so I went by myself. I’m glad I did. It was interesting and educational. We ate at the resort on our last night. The menu was very limited because of the slow season, but the service was friendly and the view was beautiful so it was a fun outing. The only thing on my list we didn’t get to do was make a trip to the Rainbow Bridge National Monument. The logistics just didn’t work out. Oh well, like I tell people all the time, “There is so much we HAVEN’T seen on this trip. We could do the whole thing in reverse and see a completely different set of highlights”! Now I have another reason to return for my house boat vacation!

The landscape remained similar to the area around Sedona all the way to Flagstaff. There were even patches of snow on the ground in shady spots, and we were grateful we hadn't seen any of that white stuff since we left Santa Fe.

The landscape remained similar to the area around Sedona all the way to Flagstaff. There were even patches of snow on the ground in shady spots, and we were grateful we hadn’t seen any of that white stuff since we left Santa Fe.

From Flagstaff we drove north on Hwy. 89. The terrain changed completely. We both felt like we were driving through another planet instead of another section of Arizona.

From Flagstaff we drove north on Highway 89. The terrain changed completely. We both felt like we were driving through another planet instead of another section of Arizona.

Roadside stands occupied by Native Americans selling handcrafted jewelry and other pieces of art dotted the highway all the way to Lake Powell.

Roadside stands occupied by Native Americans selling handcrafted jewelry and other pieces of art dotted the highway all the way to Lake Powell.

The landscape morphed again as we approached Lake Powell, even Cessna took note of the dramatic changes.

The landscape morphed again as we approached Lake Powell, even Cessna took note of the dramatic changes.

I was a nervous passenger again as the road dipped, climbed and disappeared around curves - sometimes all at the same time.

I was a nervous passenger again as the road dipped, climbed and disappeared around curves – sometimes all at the same time.

The Wahweap Campground was part of Lake Powell Resorts.

The Wahweap Campground was part of Lake Powell Resorts.

It was still a bit cool during our time here, so the beach by the lake was deserted.

It was still a bit cool during our time here, so the beach by the lake was deserted.

I asked for a roomy spot when we checked in. The place wasn't crowded yet, so girls at the desk were nice enough to put us in spot #8, which I later learned was a handicap spot. We loved all the extra space!

I asked for a roomy spot when we checked in. The place wasn’t crowded yet, so girls at the desk were nice enough to put us in spot #8, which I later learned was a handicap spot. We loved all the extra space!

A view of the short walk to Horseshoe Bend.

A view of the short walk to Horseshoe Bend.

I needed a wide-angle lense to get a full shot of Horseshoe Bend. Since I only had my iphone, you get to see one half of the view!

I needed a wide-angle lense to get a full shot of Horseshoe Bend. Since I only had my iphone, you get to see one half of the view!

Petrified sand.

Petrified sand.

I literally got down on my stomach to take this picture. All I could think to myself was "don't drop your phone".

I literally got down on my stomach to take this picture. All I could think to myself was “don’t drop your phone”. The speck of white in the water near the shore is a boat!

The heights made Piper as nervous as I was. Neither of us could look down when were we were close to the edge.

The heights made Piper as nervous as I was. Neither of us could look down when were we were close to the edge.

Glen Canyon Dam is the reason Page, Arizona was founded in 1957. The dam was built to provide hydroelectricity and flow regulation from the Upper Colorado River Basin to the lower. Its reservoir, Lake Powell, is the second largest man-made lake in the Country.

Glen Canyon Dam is the reason Page, Arizona was founded in 1957. The dam was built to provide hydroelectricity and flow regulation from the Upper Colorado River Basin to the lower. Its reservoir, Lake Powell, is the second largest man-made lake in the Country.

A view of Lake Powell's Wahweap Bay.

A view of Lake Powell’s Wahweap Bay.

The marina at Lake Powell Resorts and Campground was enormous. This picture only shows about half of the entire thing.

The marina at Lake Powell Resorts and Campground was enormous. This picture only shows about half of the entire thing.

I took a little boat tour out onto Lake Powell. I wanted to see the lake from the water instead of just from the shore.

I took a little boat tour out onto Lake Powell. I wanted to see the lake from the water instead of just from the shore. The white “line” in the rocks is called the bath tub ring. (no kidding). It took 17 years for the lake to fill after the dam was completed. The bath tub ring is the high water mark from 1980.

A wall in Antelope Canyon. I thought it looked so cool to see where the earth had dramatically shifted millions of years ago.

A wall in Antelope Canyon. I thought it looked so cool to see where the earth had dramatically shifted millions of years ago.

The walls of Antelope Canyon became pretty snug as we ventured farther into it.

The walls of Antelope Canyon became pretty snug as we ventured farther into it.

When minerals in the rocks create designs and color variations, it is called tapestry.

When minerals in the rocks create designs and color variations, it is called tapestry.

A dramatic example of Navajo tapestry.

A dramatic example of Navajo tapestry.

After a very short walk from our camp site, we were in Utah! The sandy area to the left in the photo is called Lone Rock Beach. The lone rock is across the water positioned at about "one o'clock" in the photo.

After a very short walk from our camp site, we were in Utah! The sandy area to the left in the photo is called Lone Rock Beach. The lone rock is across the water positioned at about “one o’clock” in the photo.

Mike gets really excited to see dove.

Mike gets really excited to see dove.

Catch of the day: Striper.

Catch of the day: Striper.

This plane was flying low over the water one day.

This plane was flying low over the water one day.

Antelope jackrabbit. Big rabbit.

Antelope jackrabbit. Big rabbit.

Our view during dinner at sunset in the Rainbow Room at the Lake Powell Resort Lodge.

Our view during dinner at sunset in the Rainbow Room at the Lake Powell Resort Lodge.

 

Arizona Part IV: Cottonwood

We lingered in Arizona because the weather was warmer than in most other parts of the country during this time of year. We were still moving north, but our next state was Utah and we weren’t in too much of a hurry to arrive there before mid-march… at least. Mike and I had taken a short trip to Sedona once, and I wanted to return to the area and spend more time in that majestic town. There weren’t really any nice RV Parks in Sedona proper, but we did find a great state park down the road about 20 miles. We secured reservations at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood for two weeks and made that our destination when we departed Tucson.

There were lots of things to do and see at this location, and we had a good amount of time for ample exploration. The weather was also wonderful for the duration of our stop, so I was able to take lots of photos. I will spare you excessive paragraphs and let the pictures do the talking for the rest of this blog post.

River otter in the Verde River.

River otter in the Verde River.

Sedona is famous for its vortexes. The area has long been known as a spiritual power center containing subtle energy. I visited the Boynton Canyon Vortex during our Cottonwood stay. This is the trail to the knoll where the energy is strongest.

Sedona is famous for its vortexes. The area has long been known as a spiritual power center containing subtle energy. I visited the Boynton Canyon Vortex during our Cottonwood stay. This is the trail to the knoll where the energy is strongest.

The swanky Enchantment Resort is nestled among a cluster of red rock mountains. If you look closely you can see some of the buildings of the hotel.

The swanky Enchantment Resort is nestled among a cluster of red rock mountains. If you look closely you can see some of the buildings of the hotel.

I sat beside the knoll of the Boyton Canyon Vortex for about 30 minutes, trying to absorb as much yin/yang balance as possible. Not sure if it worked, but I should at least get points for the attempt.

I sat beside the knoll of the Boyton Canyon Vortex for about 30 minutes, trying to absorb as much yin/yang balance as possible. Not sure if it worked, but I should at least get points for the attempt.

They say Juniper trees respond to the vortex energy in a physical way that reveals where the energy is strongest. The stronger the energy, the more of a twist the trees have in their branches. Seems plausible, since I didn't see any twisted Junipers in areas that did not tout vortexes.

They say Juniper trees respond to the vortex energy in a physical way that reveals where the energy is strongest. The stronger the energy, the more of a twist the trees have in their branches. Seems plausible, since I didn’t see any twisted Junipers in areas that did not tout vortexes.

I guess this guy was getting lots of yin/yang balance, since he climbed to the TOP of the knoll. I doubt him screaming "The view is awesome as SHIT" from the top of his lungs helped any of us underlings feel like we were in any sort of peaceful and zen setting.

I guess this guy was getting lots of yin/yang balance, since he climbed to the TOP of the knoll. I doubt him screaming “The view is awesome as SHIT” from the top of his lungs helped any of us underlings feel like we were in any sort of peaceful and zen setting.

This crane stopped by Mike's fishing hole to join him in a little morning angling.

This crane stopped by Mike’s fishing hole to join him in a little morning angling.

I didn't realize our drive north along I-17 after Phoenix was going to be through the mountains. Cessna thought the terrain was very pretty as green emerged throughout the landscape. She was hoping she would be able to pee on grass again.

I didn’t realize our drive north along I-17 after Phoenix was going to be through the mountains. Cessna thought the terrain was very pretty as green emerged throughout the landscape. She was hoping she would be able to pee on grass again.

I tried to hold it together during the climbs and descents, until we passed a sign that instructed all trucks to pull over and check their breaks. As we approached the Runaway Truck Ramp, I was starting to lose it just a bit. Mike, as usual, was in complete control of the rig... even as I was screaming "break, use the breaks, break, what about a lower gear, break, oh dear put on the breaks".

I tried to hold it together during the climbs and descents, until we passed a sign that instructed all trucks to pull over and check their breaks. As we approached the Runaway Truck Ramp, I was starting to lose it just a bit. Mike, as usual, was in complete control of the rig… even as I was screaming “break, use the breaks, break, what about a lower gear, break, oh dear put on the breaks”.

Our spot was number 47 at Dead Horse Ranch State Park. Water and electric hook-ups only. We were there for two weeks. We made it one week before we had to move the Monaco to the dump station, and then we stopped by again on our way out at the end of the second week. I showered in the campground bath house every day, Mike took Navy showers, and we did a great job of conserving water for the rest of the stuff like teeth brushing, dish washing, etc.

Our spot was number 47 at Dead Horse Ranch State Park. Water and electric hook-ups only. We were there for two weeks. We made it one week before we had to move the Monaco to the dump station, and then we stopped by again on our way out at the end of the second week. I showered in the campground bath house every day, Mike took Navy showers, and we did a great job of conserving water for the rest of the stuff like teeth brushing, dish washing, etc.

Park Ranger Dog.

Park Ranger Dog.

The view from my office window. Prescott, Arizona is on the other side of those mountains.

The view from my office window. Prescott, Arizona is on the other side of those mountains.

Dead Horse Ranch had a nice walking trail around three ponds in the park.

Dead Horse Ranch had a nice walking trail around three ponds in the park.

Piper needed sunglasses, so he improvised.

Piper needed sunglasses, so he improvised.

Campfire selfie.

Campfire selfie.

If you look closely, you will see a quail in the middle of the photo.

If you look closely, you will see a quail in the middle of the photo.

I went to Jerome on Sunday afternoon just to check things out. The historic mining town is literally built on the side of a mountain. I don't like heights, so it was a bit of an experience navigating the roads through town. The views were exceptional, though.

I went to Jerome on Sunday afternoon just to check things out. The historic mining town is literally built on the side of a mountain. I am a little acrophobic, so it was a bit of an experience navigating the roads through town. The views were exceptional, though.

Jerome was a super busy place on a clear and warm Sunday afternoon. I was surprised. I didn't realize I was heading up to a weekend hotspot!

Jerome was a super busy place on a clear and warm Sunday afternoon. I was surprised. I didn’t realize I was heading up to a weekend hotspot!

If the weather is pretty on the weekend, apparently there is an unwritten rule that says all motorcycle owners must take a drive to Jerome. Not sure how they get back down the mountain after drinking and listening to live bands all day... but I was gone by then so I didn't worry about it.

If the weather is pretty on the weekend, apparently there is an unwritten rule that says all motorcycle owners must take a drive to Jerome. Not sure how they get back down the mountain after drinking and listening to live bands all day… but I was gone by then so I didn’t worry about it.

A view of our campground from a little hill to our southwest.

A view of our campground from a little hill to our southwest.

We enjoyed gazing at a bright full moon during our stay at this campground.

We enjoyed gazing at a bright full moon during our stay at this campground.

Sedona was just about 20 miles down the road from our campground, and the views en route made the trip seem even much faster than that.

Sedona was just about 20 miles down the road from our campground, and the views en route made the trip seem even quicker than that.

Our first stop in Sedona was with the dogs to Cathedral Rock for a sensational afternoon hike.

Our first stop in Sedona was with the dogs to Cathedral Rock for a sensational afternoon hike.

Some of what we saw during our Cathedral Rock hike.

Some of what we saw during our Cathedral Rock hike.

Cathedral Rock in Sedona.

Cathedral Rock in Sedona.

During the first week of our stay at Dead Horse Ranch State Park a firefighter from Ontario, Canada went to the top of the hill near our campground and played bagpipes at sunset each night. WOW! One of the coolest surprises we have witnessed on our entire trip.

During the first week of our stay at Dead Horse Ranch State Park a firefighter from Ontario, Canada went to the top of the hill near our campground and played bagpipes at sunset each night. WOW! One of the coolest surprises we have witnessed on our entire trip.

Sedona has dozens of wonderful restaurants. One of my favorites was a relatively new place called Mariposa. The items I ordered from the Latin inspired menu were delicious, the views were spectacular, and the décor was absolutely amazing. If you have a chance to visit - go at sunset and sit outside on the patio.

Sedona has dozens of wonderful restaurants. One of my favorites was a relatively new place called Mariposa. The items I ordered from the Latin inspired menu were delicious, the views were spectacular, and the décor was absolutely amazing. If you have a chance to visit – go at sunset and sit outside on the patio.

The entrance gate at Mariposa. Those metal globes are carved with butterflies and turn into flaming torches at dusk. The whole place is totally sexy.

The entrance gate at Mariposa. Those metal globes are carved with butterflies and turn into flaming torches at dusk. The whole place is totally sexy.

Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona.

Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona.

A red mountain behind the Chapel of the Holy Cross.

A red mountain behind the Chapel of the Holy Cross.

Inside the Chapel of the Holy Cross. I stopped in to say a quick prayer and light a few candles.

Inside the Chapel of the Holy Cross. I stopped in to say a quick prayer and light a few candles.

Before we embarked upon this adventure, if you had asked me to speculate which state would provide the most fresh fish during our trip, I guarantee my guesses would not have been Kansas or Arizona. That is for certain! The Verde River was very good to Mike.

Before we embarked upon this adventure, if you had asked me to speculate which state would provide the most fresh fish during our trip, I guarantee my guesses would not have been Kansas or Arizona. That is for certain! The Verde River was very good to Mike.

Tlaquepaque is a shopping village in the heart of Sedona. It is filled with wonderful art galleries, boutiques, restaurants and other shops. A friend told me the men call it "to-lock-your-pockets" and wives should be forbidden from visiting. I spent one afternoon there without Mike.

Tlaquepaque is a shopping village in the heart of Sedona. It is filled with wonderful art galleries, boutiques, restaurants and other shops. A friend told me the men call it “to-lock-your-pockets” and wives should be forbidden from visiting. I spent one afternoon there without Mike.

The pool at the Enchantment Resort. Pretty cool, huh?

The pool at the Enchantment Resort. Pretty cool, huh?

This helicopter flew over our camp spot several times each day. I think they were running aerial tours over to Sedona and back.

This helicopter flew over our camp spot several times each day. I think they were running aerial tours over to Sedona and back.

One of the trails at our campground. We never had to go on the same hike twice.

One of the trails at our campground. We never had to go on the same hike twice.

The captain of the Monaco rigged up our campground fire pit to smoke some of the trout he caught. He's a genius!

The captain of the Monaco rigged up our campground fire pit to smoke some of the trout he caught. He’s a genius!

Mike talked this road runner into posing for the camera.

Mike talked this road runner into posing for the camera.

Sunset.

Sunset.

Tuzigoot National Monument was within walking distance of our campground. It is a two to three story Pueblo Ruin built up on a ridge above the Verde River. They say it was a community for over 400 years, which is twice as long as the United States has been a country!

Tuzigoot National Monument was within walking distance of our campground. It is a two to three story Pueblo Ruin built up on a ridge above the Verde River. They say it was a community for over 400 years, which is twice as long as the United States has been a country!

My friend Betsy and I spent countless riding our bikes around our neighborhood during our childhood in Harlingen. Now she lives in Phoenix with her family. She and her boys (one husband and two children) drove up to Dead Horse Ranch State Park and camped overnight so we could have a visit and get caught up with each other. It was so much fun to see familiar faces during our stop! We almost kidnapped her kiddos and brought them to finish the Lower 48 in 48 Tour with us!

My friend Betsy and I spent countless hours riding our bikes around our neighborhood during our childhood in Harlingen. Now she lives in Phoenix with her family. She and her boys (one husband and two children) drove up to Dead Horse Ranch State Park and camped overnight so we could have a visit and get caught up with each other. It was so much fun to see familiar faces during our stop! We almost kidnapped her kiddos and brought them to finish the Lower 48 in 48 Tour with us!

An eagle flying over the river at the state park.

An eagle flying over the river at the state park.

We got to see two sets of friends during our Cottonwood stop. What a treat! We drove back down toward Phoenix on a Monday to spend an afternoon with our friends Brian and Shanna. We met Brian through our next door neighbor in The Woodlands. When we got close enough to hook up with him and his wife, we seized the opportunity!

We got to see two sets of friends during our Cottonwood stop. What a treat! We drove back down toward Phoenix on a Monday to spend an afternoon with our friends Brian and Shanna. We met Brian through our next door neighbor in The Woodlands. When we got close enough to hook up with him and his wife, we seized the opportunity!

Saguaro Lake outside of Mesa, Arizona.

Saguaro Lake outside of Mesa, Arizona.

A view of Saguaro Lake during our hike with Brian and Shanna.

A view of Saguaro Lake during our hike with Brian and Shanna.

Another Arizona surprise. Would you guess this picture was taken in the middle of the desert?

Another Arizona surprise. Would you guess this picture was taken in the middle of the desert?

A nice afternoon hike with friends.

A nice afternoon hike with friends.

When we got back to our cars after hiking along the edge of Saguaro Lake, I was surprised to see a group of wild horses grazing in the grass beside the parking lot.

When we got back to our cars after hiking along the edge of Saguaro Lake, I was surprised to see a group of wild horses grazing in the grass beside the parking lot.

When the wild horses made their way to the beach by the lake, I was beside myself. What a lovely sight!

When the wild horses made their way to the beach by the lake, I was beside myself. What a lovely sight!

We drove back to Cottonwood through Payson and the Tonto National Forest on Hwy 87 to Hwy 260. It was a beautiful drive the entire way! After dark we were warned to watch out for elk. Didn't see any of those creatures, but we did come upon three javelina in the middle of the road.

We drove back to Cottonwood through Payson and the Tonto National Forest on Hwy 87 to Hwy 260. It was a beautiful drive the entire way! After dark we were warned to watch out for elk. Didn’t see any of those creatures, but we did come upon three javelina in the middle of the road.

 

Arizona Part III: Tubac

While we were stuck at the La Quinta in Tucson we spent a day visiting Tubac, Tumacocori and the Mission San Xavier del Bac. Tubac was an easy 30-minute drive south on I-19. I had never heard of the town, but a friend had recommended we visit so we went to check it out. The tiny little village is most famous as an artist colony featuring a small commercial district full of galleries, shops and restaurants.

When we arrived in town it seemed like we had stumbled upon something special based on the number of tourists who were already there milling around the streets and visiting the retailers. We found a free (Mike liked that) parking space along the street and set out with Piper and Cessna in tow to explore the area. We walked up and down each of the roads and through several plazas enclosed by mom-and-pop businesses. Since we had the dogs with us, I did not get to go inside any of the boutiques and I was secretly hoping for an opportunity to return for a serious shopping session. After about an hour of strolling and looking, we were hungry so we decided to stop for lunch at a place called Tubac Jack’s. They had an outdoor patio with umbrellas to provide shade. It was a perfect day to eat al fresco and enjoy the warm February weather.

A lovely lady named Nancy served our delicious meal and as we were paying our bill we started asking her some basic tourist questions. Another gentleman was outside on the patio and came over to address some of my inquiries about the Tumacacori National Park that was located just down the road. As it turns out, he was the owner and we ended up visiting with Jim-you-can-call-me-Jack for another 45 minutes or so. Really nice guy. He told us all about the story of how he discovered the restaurant/bar and why he had decided to buy it several years ago. We told him some stories from our travel adventures before we finally left and drove over to check out Tumacacori.

I had wanted to return and spend some time in the stores, but wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to fit a return trip down there during our time in Tucson. That was until the Lazy Days shop called us at the La Quinta and told us the rig would not be ready on Friday as we had originally hoped. There are vacation resorts and there are dreary hotels. Vacation resorts are fun to enjoy. They make you feel special in an environment full of high style and distinctive amenities. Dreary hotels cause you to start questioning your life choices. The La Quinta was nice enough, but nothing special. After four nights in the lumpy bed with the crappy pillows, it was becoming a dreary hotel.

Our displacement was depressing me more and more each day, so I was growing bitchier and bitchier by the hour.  We decided that if we were going to be extra homeless for another week or so, we should try to find somewhere to move where we would have a kitchen.  I was worried about the packages of frozen meat we had to bring from the freezer in the Monaco. It was proving impossible to keep our stash of steaks, chicken, ribs and tamales frozen. I was scared it would all be ruined if it defrosted and we were not able to cook it and eat it. We were already spending too much money on coach repairs and hotel bills, the last thing I wanted was to start throwing our grocery money down the drain too.

Mike wasn’t having too much fun enduring my “mood”, so he agreed we should try to find somewhere to stay that had a full sized fridge and freezer, plus a little more space for the four of us to spread out a bit. I went online and started searching for studio or 1-bedroom places that had kitchens and were pet friendly. Since the world’s largest gem show was in Tucson at the time, we could find no options in town. Nothing. I expanded my search and found an affordable two-bed, two-bath golf villa in Tubac. Pet friendly and everything! I couldn’t process the registration application on www.vrbo.com fast enough. This was all happening on a Friday evening and we wanted to transfer locations on Saturday. After I processed the registration, VRBO told me the owner had 24 hours to accept our reservation request. We couldn’t wait 24-hours because we needed to check out of the La Quinta by noon if we were moving on Saturday. I sent the owner a separate email and explained how we were on a four year trip in a motor coach with our two dogs and we were in a hotel while it was in the shop… yada yada. Guess what! I got an email from the owner after about 15-minutes. It was Jim-you-can-call-me-Jack. He was the owner of the villa!

He said he had guests in it at the moment and would need most of Saturday to get it turned over and ready for us. We offered to check in on Sunday morning instead, and the deal was finalized. I could stand one extra night at the La Quinta if I knew for sure I would escape on Sunday morning. Which is exactly what we did. We got up and loaded all of our crap into the Honda and sailed down I-19 to Tubac Jack’s. We met Jim-you-can-call-me-Jack at the restaurant and followed him over to the Tubac Golf Resort and Spa where the villa was located on the main entrance road. He showed us around, gave us the keys and left us to get situated. My mood was improving as each second ticked by on the clock. We unloaded our gear and I unpacked our bags. Mike transferred our food from the coolers to the fridge/freezer. I starting a load of clothes in the laundry facilities shared by the other villas in the development. This Sunday actually happened to be Super Bowl Sunday, so after we were situated and the dogs were walked/fed, we drove over to Tubac Jack’s to watch the game with a group of locals in the bar.

Most of our time in Jim-you-can-call-me-Jack’s villa was spent relaxing and enjoying our neighborhood. I tried to cook as much of the meat from the freezer as possible. We took the dogs on long walks through the beautiful neighborhood at the golf resort. Mike hit balls at the driving range. I booked a pampering package at the spa. He sat out on our back patio and soaked up the sun. We walked to town for a couple of meals. All in all, I was becoming more and more pleasant as each day passed.

We had booked the villa from Sunday until Friday… hoping, of course, that we would be able to pick up the Monaco from the shop on Friday afternoon. We were going on two full weeks now, and surely that would be enough time to complete the repairs. During the middle of the week, Lazy Days called and said the rig would not, in fact, be ready on Friday as hoped. It would be ready NEXT Wednesday. I immediately sent a text to Jim-you-can-call-me-Jack to see if we could extend our stay four more nights. He returned my message with a very apologetic text and told me that was not possible, as he had booked the place with new guests starting Saturday. He offered to let us stay one extra night – on Friday – and I told him we would have the place spotless when we departed as early as possible on Saturday morning. Then I proceeded to have a full blown melt down.

We were going to have to find somewhere ELSE to stay. It was going to cost more money. The issue of our frozen food was front and center again. The rig might not ever be ready to pick up. We were stuck! Mike took the news a little better than I did. He accepted the news in stride, I called my aunt and cried on her shoulder for about two hours until I felt a little better. The most convenient option for us would be to move across the parking lot to a room at the Tubac Golf Resort and Spa. At least it wasn’t a dreary hotel. They did allow pets. And the pool was heated! We walked over to the registration desk and asked about availability. For a little over $1,000 we could stay there for four nights. I handed over my mastercard and the clerk printed me a confirmation number. I was still worried about our frozen groceries, so I sent another text to Jim-you-can-call-me-Jack and prefaced my request with assurance that this would probably be the most odd question he ever received from a villa tenant. Could we store our frozen food in the freezer of his restaurant until we left town on Wednesday? The dear man said yes! Problem solved, stress level reduced.

On Saturday morning I got up at 5AM to clean every inch of the villa and use the laundry room to wash the last of our clothes I was trying to keep clean. At 9AM I drove over to the restaurant to drop off our cooler of frozen goods while Mike waited with the dogs for me to come back and pick him up. Then we moved the Honda to a shady spot in the resort parking lot across the street. We checked with the resort to see if we could check into our room early, but it was still occupied so we would have to wait. We walked the dogs around the neighborhood and then camped out at the pool until noon when a room was ready for us.

The next four days went quickly with long daily walks, some more golf, lots of pool time, and several yummy meals at the restaurants in town. We took one daytrip over to Madera Canyon for a hike with the dogs. On Wednesday we loaded our car AGAIN, and called the shop to tell them we were coming to pick up the Monaco. The shop manager was not in his office, so Mike left a voice mail. After stopping for lunch at Tubac Jack’s (and to pick up our food from the freezer), we were driving back to Tucson around the noon hour. The shop guy called us back to say that all the paint work was done, but only half of the other repairs had been completed. They were able to fix our over-the-air TV antennae and service our Aqua Hot system… but the chassis had not been lubed and the tires had not been rotated. REALLY? We had dropped off the rig on February 1st. It was now the 17th. Good grief! The chassis and tires could be addressed in the span of one day by a competent shop, so we would tackle those tasks on another day in another town.

I dropped Mike at the repair shop and then drove over to the adjoining Lazy Days (KOA) Campground and reserved us a full hook-up spot for one night. Then I drove through the humongous park to make sure I could guide him to spot #1554 without any mishaps. Once I had my bearings, I went back to the shop and led him back to where we would be staying on our last night in southern Arizona. We had reservations at a state park in Cottonwood beginning on the 18th – where we would only have water and electric hook-ups. No sewer connection. We were settled by about 2PM and I used the next nine hours to do a deep cleaning of the coach while I could take advantage of unlimited water. I washed sheets, towels, and all of our dirty clothes. I wiped down the fridge and washed all of it’s shelves/drawers before I reloaded our groceries into it. I cleaned the shower, bathroom sinks, toilet and kitchen sink. I put fresh sheets on the bed. The floors were swept, vacuumed and mopped. Mike worked on the outside, cleaned and vacuumed our car, walked the dogs and picked up In N Out Burgers for dinner (it might be a Texas thing, but I like Whataburger WAY better). By the time we went to bed we were exhausted, but we were back home in our own bed with our own pillows, and every inch of it was clean. We would literally have a fresh start in the morning when we pulled out of the park and back onto the road again. Let The Martin’s American Adventure continue!

Not only was there a FREEZER in the kitchen of our villa, it was also slightly larger than the noisy and smelly La Quinta box from which we transferred.

Not only was there a FREEZER in the kitchen of our villa, it was also slightly larger than the noisy and smelly La Quinta box from which we transferred.

We didn't even know the dogs were going to have a small enclosed yard to enjoy. They were pumped!

We didn’t even know the dogs were going to have a small enclosed yard to enjoy. They were pumped!

When we saw this sunset during the Super Bowl, I was pretty sure the Broncos were going to win.

When we saw this sunset during the Super Bowl, I was pretty sure the Broncos were going to win.

Super Bowl Selfie at Tubac Jack's.

Super Bowl Selfie at Tubac Jack’s.

We spent one last night in Tucson after we picked up the rig from the shop. This dog was still celebrating the victory. I wonder how his paws reach the gas pedal?

We spent one last night in Tucson after we picked up the rig from the shop. This dog was still celebrating the victory. I wonder how his paws reach the gas pedal?

A typical view from our daily walks within the Tubac Golf Resort.

A typical view from our daily walks within the Tubac Golf Resort.

The Anza Trail follows the Santa Cruz River in Tubac. We could get on the path near the driving range at the golf course, and follow the markers for about a mile or so into town.

The Anza Trail follows the Santa Cruz River in Tubac. We could get on the path near the driving range at the golf course, and follow the markers for about a mile or so into town.

We just happened to be in town for Tubac's biggest week. The 57th Annual Tubac Arts Festival went from Wednesday to Sunday. I bought a beautiful copper vase from one of the vendors.

We just happened to be in town for Tubac’s biggest week. The 57th Annual Tubac Arts Festival went from Wednesday to Sunday. I bought a beautiful copper vase from one of the vendors.

The Tubac Golf Resort and Spa was lovely.

The Tubac Golf Resort and Spa was lovely.

Sunrise with coffee from our back patio.

Sunrise with coffee from our back patio.

After we checked out of the villa and into the resort, we spent many hours at the pool.

After we checked out of the villa and into the resort, we spent many hours at the pool.

Some portions of the funny movie Tin Cup were filmed at the Tubac Golf Resort. I guess I will have to watch the film again to see if anything looks familiar.

Some portions of the funny movie Tin Cup were filmed at the Tubac Golf Resort. I guess I will have to watch the film again to see if anything looks familiar.

A section of the trail during our hike at Madera Canyon.

A section of the trail during our hike at Madera Canyon.

The creek in Madera Canyon.

The creek in Madera Canyon.

A view from the top of Madera Canyon.

A view from the top of Madera Canyon.

Madera Canyon in the distance.

Madera Canyon in the distance.

Our view during breakfast on the patio on our last morning at Tubac Golf Resort.

Our view during breakfast on the patio on our last morning at Tubac Golf Resort.

Finding a heart shaped cactus is so fun. They are full of love, and slightly prickly... sort of like me!

Finding a heart shaped cactus is so fun. They are full of love, and slightly prickly… sort of like me!

This road runner was posing for Mike.

This road runner was posing for Mike.

We found this sign taped to a garage door on a beautiful home in the Tubac Resort.

We found this sign taped to a garage door on a beautiful home in the Tubac Resort.

Lots of ducks on the golf course.

Lots of ducks on the golf course.

Mike spent lots of time soaking up the sun from our back patio at the villa. I finally broke down and bought a couple of swimsuits at Walmart, so I could start enjoying the warm weather.

Mike spent lots of time soaking up the sun from our back patio at the villa. I finally broke down and bought a couple of swimsuits at Walmart, so I could start enjoying the warm weather.

We spotted this coyote near the walking trail at the Tubac Golf Resort one evening as we were strolling to town for dinner. He was having fun romping in the weeds and did not care at all that we had paused to take pictures of him.

We spotted this coyote near the walking trail at the Tubac Golf Resort one evening as we were strolling to town for dinner. He was having fun romping in the weeds and did not care at all that we had paused to take pictures of him.

Three mariachis in someone's front yard.

Three mariachis in someone’s front yard.