Sunday, May 31, 2015

Rockhound Russ

One of my earliest memories as a child was my Grandpa Wadsworth taking me rockhounding.  We hopped in his 1950's VW Beetle and drove to the middle of nowhere.  We spent the day digging in the dirt and finding rock treasures.  I was in kid heaven.  Grandpa Wads died a few years later and that day is my strongest memory of him.

Today as we walked to the earthen dam on Chickahominy Reservoir I was in search of a memory.  My grandfathers favorite rock to collect was Black Obsidian.  This area of high desert in Eastern Oregon is rich in Obsidian and I wanted to collect a few rocks for my old memories.

Black Obsidian - a translucent glass like stone.
 I have a few small stones that I'll keep but I'll never get them as polished and smooth as Grandpa.

 We are spending the night at Chickahominy Recreational Site which is a BLM campground.  It is one of those rugged campgrounds where you can drive right up to the lake and have all the privacy you could want.  Each campsite along the lake must be 2 or 3 acres.  And after our wonderful senior access discount it was only $4.00 per night.  I love the BLM.

We are headed to Bend, Oregon for the next few days.  We see some river rafting in our near future.

Yesterday and todays drives have both followed rivers through the mountain passes.  Now that we have crossed the passes on two lane Highway 20 there will be less rivers and more sage brush.

Yesterdays rivers were rushing, todays were meandering.  Both were beautiful.
Life is good for the rockhound and his wife.

Saturday, May 30, 2015


Boondocking, dry camping, pavement parking, BLM camping, Wallydocking (Walmart camping).  These are all names used to describe camping for free in your RV.  This last week we have been "Moochdocking" on the street in front of our friend Collette's house in Eagle, Idaho.

Parked-up in front of Collette's house
Now I'm not feeling too guilty about being a mooch, we did take Collette along for a 3 week trip to Yellowstone in 2013.  Aside from being a mooch it has been good to see her and her dog, Abby.  Eva and Abby have had a good time playing together.

The motorhome did spend three days at Camping World having the heating furnace serviced.  We needed a new burner and igniter installed.  The furnace had started to show a little soot in the exhaust which is an early indicator that it needed to be serviced.  I'm glad we got it done when it was convenient and when we had a borrowed bedroom to stay in.  It only cost $500.15. 

Whenever we have had to have work done on the RV I always remind myself that there were costs of owning a house.  Things always needed repairs in our Raft Island home and it is no different in the RV.

June 30th will be our 2nd anniversary of living in the motorhome.  During that time our total repair costs have been less than two months costs of living in the Raft Island home.  However the Raft Island home got better gas mileage than the motorhome.  Both homes have great views, but I think I prefer the changing view from the RV.

Now if you know me, you know I'm a "number crunching" kind of a guy.  Ever since my wife taught me Excel, I like budgeting and punching numbers.  Between electronic banking and spread sheets I am always playing with our numbers.

So here is an interesting comparison between our lives living in a house and our new lives as nomads.  I'll compare our household expenses between our old home and living in the RV.  We paid cash for the motorhome, but when I compare the two costs, the motorhome purchase paid for itself in 18 months.  That was the simple math of comparing the two expenses.
Our gracious hosts.

It really doesn't matter one way or the other.  We are happy living in the RV and wintering in Mazatl├ín.  That's what counts.

Life is good.  

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Draper, Utah - Camping World Parking Lot

We packed up and left Moab, Utah this morning.  We are headed north and are little south of Salt Lake City.

Driving through the Wasatch Mountains.  Elevation - 7,446 feet.  Almost in the clouds.
But first we need to take care of a little business on the motorhome.  A week ago we broke/ruined our wiring harness that goes between the RV and our Honda.  A simple mistake, the cord came unplugged from the motorhome and drug on the ground for many miles.

By the time we discovered our mistake the plug was ruined.  Now finding a 7 prong plug in the middle of nowhere Utah is impossible.  I called ahead to a Camping World location in Draper, Utah and purchased a replacement plug.  They are holding the plug for us to pick-up tomorrow morning.

A $10.76 mistake isn't to bad.

We are camped out in their parking lot until they open at 10:00 am.  We're lucky they are even open on Memorial Day.

Home Sweet Parking Lot???
We'll do either a long drive to Boise, Idaho tomorrow or we may break it into two short driving days.  We'll see how it goes.  We are headed to Terri's friend, Collettes home in Boise for a few days visit.  While we are in Boise we are going to have the Honda Fit serviced and we have made an appointment to have a service done on the motorhomes furnace.

Life is good.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Envelope Please..... and the Winner Is.....

We've spent the last six weeks wandering our way through Northern Arizona and Southern Utah.  My goal was to see as much of this amazing area as we could before heading north to Washington state.  I knew I wanted to see the Grand Canyon and the "Big 5" national parks.

What I didn't know was there would be millions of acres of other amazing parks including National Monuments, National Forests, State Parks and BLM lands (Bureau of Land Management).  There was just too much to see to fit into six weeks.

We experienced snow storms, 90 degree days, thunder storms, high winds, sand storms, rain and almost any weather you can imagine.  This weather had an effect on our abilities to fully see some areas but was part of the great experiences we had.

I had preconceived ideas as to what area we would enjoy the most.  My ratings of what we liked best surprised me in the end.  Here are the winners.....

Bryce Canyon National Park - The best way to describe this park is "Shock and Awe".  I had no idea before visiting this park that it would be our favorite place.  Stunning is not a powerful enough word to use when describing Bryce.

Zion National Park - A hikers paradise.  This park is a visual overload for the eyes.  We spent a week here and enjoyed it all.

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument - This is not one of the "Big 5" but with 1.7 million acres of awesome scenery it deserves our third place vote.  It also was the area of our Peek-a-Boo slot canyon hike, our favorite hike of the year.

Arches National Park - I thought this would be my favorite park, it could have been if not for the other places we have seen.  It is still an amazing place to visit.

Capitol Reef Nation Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Canyonlands National Park finish out our list with several state parks and BLM land as close contenders.

Sunday we start our serious north bound travel.  We will work our way through Salt Lake City than head for Boise before following the Columbia River west on the Oregon side.   We should arrive in Tottle, Washington in early June to visit Terri's brother and SIL.

That gives us two weeks to cover 1,000 miles.  We won't be moving fast.

Life is good.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Canyonlands National Park

Today we drove to Canyonlands National Park.  It was a scenic 35 mile drive to get to the park entrance from Moab, Utah.  We had Eva with us today so we knew there would be no hiking allowed in the park.  National parks are not dog friendly so we were limited in what we could see.

If we had a 4x4 vehicle it would have been fun to drive this dirt road down into the canyon.

The Green River has cut this channel.

Zoomed down onto the valley floor the erosion has carved another canyon.
Panorama of the valley floor.
It was an overcast day so the whole canyon was not showing it's best colors today.  Of the "5 big national parks" we have visited in Utah, Canyonlands was at the bottom of our list. We'll have to try it in a different season.

Life is good.... Eva had a great car ride.... she's happy.

Another desert flower.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Hiking Arches Day #3

It was a good day of hiking to arches in Arches National Park.  Here are a bunch of photos from our 4 miles of walking.

Life is good in Arches.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Hiking Arches National Park

Terret Arch.
Terret Arch had a second opening as we walked south.
We had a good morning of hikes in Arches National Park.  We did about 3 miles to reach 4 different arches.  About a mile was on primitive trails but none of it involved elevation gains.

North and South Arches.
We climbed up underneath North Arch.
Looking up from under the arch/

After we finished looking at these arches we continued around them on a primitive trail.  We got off track a few times but found cairns that helped us get back on track.

A cool cairn.
Panorama to the West.
Panorama to the East.
Our last arch was Double Arch.  It was raining a little as we arrived so we looked quick.

We took a hike around Balanced Rock.

It was an easy day of hikes.  Tomorrow we will be kicking it up, a big time hike ahead.  Life is good.