October 20

Bummer

Sometimes things happen, just like life everywhere. Well, it happened to me on Wednesday.

I stayed at Sand Island Campground ($15) for a night near Bluff, Utah on Tuesday. I decided to head south to Flagstaff rather than go to Little Monument Valley. As you remember, I was there a couple of  springs ago and I didn’t really feel like going back.

One thing that was on my mind, were the tires on the truck. They were getting towards bald, especially in the rear. I chose to drive to Flagstaff for tires rather than Moab. My thinking was Flagstaff would have a bigger selection than Moab.

I pulled onto a forest road off, U.S. 89, that is well known to campers for an overnight stay across from Sunset Crater Ntl. Monument, and north of Flagstaff. All was well until I found my spot and hopped out of the truck to look for a level spot for the trailer. I heard a hissing sound and bent my head to the driver’s rear tire and it got louder. The tire was full. I quickly backed the trailer to a spot and unhooked and set up. I realized that the puncture had to have happened right in the campsite, since the tire was full, I was just 12 miles from Flagstaff. Bummer!

Later I got changed the tire, with some difficulty, and found I didn’t have a good internet signal. I was only able to get online briefly in the evening and found a Big O Tire in Flagstaff.

I was at their door at 7:50 on Thursday morning and got right in and they changed all four tires and gave the front end an alignment.

I went back to camp and decided to “get out of Dodge” and somewhere near Williams. I’ll admit, it was the KOA at Williams. I did need to dump and I needed lots of water.

Today I’ve been hunting for boondock spots for most of the morning. I’m south of Ash Fork, Az and north of Chino Valley. It took quite a bit of hunting and in the end I still don’t like the site. U.S. Highway 89 is not a great spot for cell signals. I only found this spot and I don’t think I’m more than 10 miles from the hamlet of Paulden. I’ll spend the weekend and see how it goes. I do have about three bars on 4G Verizon which is nice but I am near the highway and it might be only marginally better than the KOA.

Speaking of, why do they put KOA’s right next to interstates?

Since I was on the move so much this week I don’t have any photos.

Thanks for coming along on the crazy ride. Now you see, it isn’t all boondocks in lovely spots, there are headaches as well sometimes.

Rob

October 13

Spooky 13

Tracks

I took the drive to the Needles Overlook last Friday. I have to say it is a sight. What I also found were other campsites, some near the rim overlooking the park. I thought about moving, maybe mid-stay, but then I realized that I may not have a cell/internet signal, and I liked the spot I’m already in.

On that drive I took a drive to a place called “Eight Mile Rock.” It’s an interesting place. Someone built a wall up in the entrance to an alcove in the rock. Not just one but three, one was a concrete wall. Obviously someone lived there and I assume the BLM folks booted them out and locked it up. Honestly, it would be my choice for a home.

 

I also came across a herd of Pronghorns, which was a nice surprise.

Now, some bad news, I dropped my camera last week and find that the auto focus no longer is consistent in it’s focusing. Theses things are delicate and I’ll have to see if it can be repaired when I get close to Flagstaff or Phoenix.

Geordie and I have been taking walks down the road. I’ve been noticing that some of the sage brush is blooming. On one walk some men stopped in their Jeep and inquired about Geordie’s Rex Specs.

Later, I heard a vehicle drive in and came out to find the men in the Jeep. One asked if I had experience with GPS. He went on to tell me that 13 years ago, a friend had shown him a pictograph in the canyon across the road. He had a bunch of maps and showed them to me. The pictograph was of a horse and there was a trail the Spanish used. He introduced himself and his brother. Marty then asked if I’d like to come try and find it with he and his brother Ernie on Sunday.

They came the next day and we drove across the road down a dirt road and began hiking towards the GPS waypoint. I learned that Marty was 73 and Ernie was 75, and over the last three years they have tried to find the horse.

We hiked and dropped down to a canyon. Marty was adamant the horse was possibly down further and hiked on. Ernie and I sat and waited. I decided to head down to a spillway when the water was running in the canyon. I began to get worried as I went down that I’d be rimmed out, and not be able to find a way up. The spillway was a lot farther down than I expected as well. I started back up and at one point a rock slipped out from my feet and fell and I got into a cactus. I stripped off and pulled the spines out of my thigh. I hiked back to Ernie and waited.

To make a long story short, we failed to find the horse and began back up to the Jeep. It was then that I began to feel the pain in my bum where I fell. After a four hour hike we came back to the Jeep.

They dropped me off and we exchanged e-mails to send pictures.

I have to admit these men are old ‘mountain goats’ and it was a pleasurable hike despite failing in finding the horse.

It took five days to ease the pain in my bum. Sleep wasn’t fun either.

Sage bloom

Sunday night I heard sleet and woke Monday morning to snow! It was a blustery day all day and Monday night got down to 29º. Seems a bit early for snow in the canyon country and I have thoughts of moving on south earlier than planned. I don’t think I will though. It’s been a long time since I’ve camped in the same spot for 14 days.

I’m off south to Little Monument Valley on Monday for a few days, then onward to Flagstaff. I’ve noticed my truck tires are looking a little bald.

Thanks for taking the time to follow my treks and travels,

Rob

October 6

Rain and Red Rocks

As you remember, I took the trailer back to the 227 exit in Utah overlooking Bitter Creek Canyon. Well, it rained Saturday night and into Sunday. I took a walk down the road to the interstate and there were a few soggy spots. Then I saw the weather, Monday was going to rain, off and on all day. No getting out for me then for another day. I even saw a few heavy snow flakes come down on Monday.

Low clouds in Bitter Creek Canyon

The good thing about Monday, with all the rain and cloud cover, was seeing that the panels  charge up the batteries to full. I even charged the computer and had the heat on for a portion of the day. Had it just been the single panel I would have been conserving all day. So for me, the system has checked out, “A O.K.”!

Sunshine came on Tuesday and enough to dry out the roads enough to get out. There was still a bit of slipping and sliding, but with the four wheel drive, I made it out.

Moab was hustling and bustling at nine AM and there were long lines in both lanes to get into Arches National Park.

Clean windows

I quickly got gas and drove south and I found a nice quiet spot off of Needles Overlook Road (See my review on Campendium). I have three bars on the Verizon Jetpack and plenty of walking possibilities, so I’m happy.

I’m even more happy about the weather forecast for the next ten days, almost all of them sunny with no rain forecast. Granted, it’s staying cold again at night, but nothing to worry about with plenty of propane and battery power for the heat to be on in the morning.

La Sal Mountains
Alpen glow

The views are spectacular and I even washed all three windows in back, inside and out. The La Sal Mountains are to the East and the Abajo Mountains to the South.

I’ll take an afternoon to go to the Needles Lookout to see about photo opportunities into Canyonlands National Park.

Sunrise
Moon rise

I took a drive on Thursday morning just to see other possible camps. There is Wind Whistle Campground with 17 sites with some reservable, and farther back is on a dirt road is Hatch Point Campground with 10 sites. Both campgrounds do not have water.

There was just enough soil for this Juniper to grow

On the drive a coyote ran across the road. By the looks of him, there is plenty of food for his kind.

Last nights full moon was beautiful, and this morning’s moon was just as nice.

I’ll stay here for another ten days or so then move south.

Cheers,

Rob

September 29

Solar Install

The past week was pure joy. To boondock for a full week was just what I needed.

Geordie and I walked some of the trails and some of the roads. Some days we just sat.

There was a rain which worried me. I thought it might be a gully washer, but it was only enough to dampen the ground. Had it been worse, it may have made it difficult to get out with the adobe clay soil soaked.

Oh boy, this looks like big trouble.

The stars, the quiet, and the nature was very peaceful, after a very long stint of RV parks.

Then it was back to a park for a couple of nights in Fruita, Co.

At the RV park, I was parked next to a very nice woman from Tennessee. She had a ten year old Golden. She and I talked about some of the places she and her husband had been. I offered a few spots to go when they headed to Utah and a few other spots in Colorado.

The storm beyond us looks beautiful

I’ve been thinking about where to go after I get the panel on. I want to check out the solar install and see if everything it working. I may go back to the same spot in Utah for a couple of days, then, I’m off to the Moab area and south for the month of October

It was nice to stock up on groceries while I was in the Grand Junction area. I also got a few things at Home Depot. I knew the only place would be Moab’s City Market until I got down to Flagstaff, Az. I also got all my laundry done, so I’m ready to hit the road and backroads for a good while.

I did find a dog park in Grand Junction, so Geordie got to run around and meet the locals.

I left the RV park and decided to hang out in the Rabbit Valley area on Thursday, before “camping” at the RV shop. Its at exit 2 as you head east into Colorado. It’s another area to camp but from what I’ve seen online and while I was here it gets pretty crowded with mountain bikers and motorcyclists. That told me my original plan to go back to Bitter Creek Canyon is my best bet.

The desert’s life-blood, water holes

The night in the lot of the RV service shop was less than restful. There was another RV there, a 5th wheel, little did I know that the owner would also spend the night. The problem was his generator was on all night. Well, not all night. It stopped at one point and I heard him drive off, then at two AM he arrived and the generator started up again the rest of the night. Even with earplugs it was a rumbling nightmare.

On the plus side the Nash was in the shop for all of three hours, then I got the call it was ready.

I’d taken Geordie to the dog park again during that time and I also went out to breakfast. Right across the parking lot was a Cabela’s so I had a wander about. Geordie got a third stint at the dog park and I did a few errands, then got the call.

I now have 220 watts in solar and two new 6 volt batteries, which will double the amp hours I can use. That means no skimping on electric at night and worrying about starting the heater in the morning.

One panel, two panel, makes life better

I took the short trip back to Bitter Canyon overlook and I’ll see how everything works and take off for Moab, Ut probably on Sunday or Monday.

Thanks for keeping track of my travels, even with the loss of sleep, it’s a great way to live.

Rob

 

September 22

Equinox

Today begins the first day of fall on this equinox. The fading light begins.

Strawberry Reservoir clouds

I suppose I am also equalizing. Up at Strawberry Reservoir there was rain and freezing overnight temperatures. Now I’m boondocked near the Utah and Colorado borders and it’s been windy, sunny, and temperatures in the 40’s to 80’s. I arrived to brisk winds of 25 mph, a bit much for me in the dry high desert. Even Geordie wanted to stay inside!

“Here comes the sun,..” over Strawberry hills! (It just couldn’t be helped)

I’m near the canyon of Bitter Creek which, when flowing, empties into the Colorado. Unfortunately I can’t see the mighty Colorado from camp. When I head over next week to Grand Junction I’ll see how the river is flowing this fall.

This spot is not too far from the interstate but far enough not to hear it, even at night. A bonus is I can look to the East and see a cell tower and I have four bars of internet signal. Also my solar panel has unobstructed skies to keep the batteries full of ‘juice.’

Looking into Colorado

I woke up to neighbors just 50 feet away, on Wednesday morning, not exactly proper boondocking etiquette. I also saw one truck camper at another campsite near the edge of the canyon. He was a good distance away. Those near me were mountain bikers. There is a trail at the rim of the canyon. From what I’ve found, it looks to be the Zion Curtain Trail. I think below in the canyon is the Kokopeli Trail. It runs from about the Fruita, Co area all the way to Moab, Ut, and is about 150 miles.

I washed the front half of the roof on Tuesday. It’s the only area the new solar panel will fit. Now the roof will be clean underneath and I won’t have to worry about it. I’ll do the other half sometime later.

With the wind at bay, I could hear the interstate after all. Still, it wasn’t too bad, since the views all around were spectacular.

This mornings clouds look threatening

Geordie and I took a walk on Wednesday to see what other campsites there were. I found at least three more good sites. As we walked the smell of sagebrush was in the air. It is a familiar scent to me having live in the high desert for so many years. The sage and the smell of Juniper is a smell of the desert southwest.

Thursday we walked early to look for other campsites. I’d seen on the weather report warnings for high winds. They’ve been high most afternoons and I have to say there is fine dust is everywhere. If I close the windows too tight we’ll bake in the trailer. Nothing to do but suffer the dust until the wind subsides. There is a 40% chance of rain this weekend, that should keep the dust down.

I think I need to vacuum the whole trailer this winter. I’m thinking if I put a big vacuum hose around one of the roof vents and open one window, I could do it in one big slurp! Maybe not.

Thanks,

Rob

 

September 15

Fall is Coming

Flaming Gorge was a fantastic spot, but for the early closing on the 10th. It had big views of both reservoir, mountains, and sage brush lands. Why I didn’t take a photo, I don’t know.

The peace and quiet was blissful. The high flying ravens could be heard screeching and the local mule deer came through camp morning and evening. We even had a couple of brief rains which cleared out the smoke from the western fires.

Yesterday’s clouds looking ominous.

I moved down the road for a night in Fort Bridger, Wy then on to Coalville, Ut where I listened to the interstate day and night. It was the best place to camp for Geordie’s check-up, rather than camping someplace down in the Salt Lake metropolis.

Geordie had his appointment on Wednesday and the vet said his Pannus is holding its progression. I was so glad to hear that.

I moved to a Forest Service campground Strawberry Bay which is on Strawberry Reservoir southeast of Park City. Its quiet here and we have had rain. Also, the temperatures have dropped to overnight lows of 40’s and due for lows in the 30’s!

The sun’s attempt to show itself

I’ve seen a few clumps of aspens just beginning to turn yellow.

I made an appointment at Bob Scott RV in Grand Junction, Co  this morning. The game plan is to get an extra 100 watt solar panel put on the Nash and change out the two 12 volt batteries for six volts batteries. The appointment is for the 29th, so I have a couple of weeks to play with and it’s a little more than 250 miles from here. Plenty of time to find a spot and boondock for a week or more.

Lake view with low clouds

When the panel is on I’m heading back to Utah and the canyon lands for the rest of September and much of October. It will be really nice to be able to take hikes in the desert again and wander the washes. With any luck I’ll be able to find some piñon nuts again this year. It’s been nice having them in the freezer ready for snacking. See my post from last fall about piñon hunting. http://knomadtracks.com/?p=1862

I may head back to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. I love that area and have thought about it a lot over the years and all the boondocking possibilities. It’s been years since I’ve been at the North Rim. My first year on the road was my first and only time there.

A blue spot, but for how long

As I finish this post the rain has just started up again with a force of wind behind it. Looks like an indoor day with the heater going, the first this season.

I thank you, as always, for following my wanderings in this amazing North America we have.

Rob

 

September 8

Mountain Ranges and Elevation

I left Hot Springs, SD on the 5th and I’ve been venturing westward through Wyoming.

South Dakota Skies

I spent the night in an odd park near Wheatland then hopped on I-25. Rather than heading south to Cheyenne I cut over on Wy 34. What a fun drive as opposed to the interstate. I climbed hills and passes, I saw one pass at over seven thousand feet. That’s near the elevation I lived at in the old house.

I took the old Lincoln Highway 30/287. This was the original road but when the interstate came through the planners moved the road south. I read somewhere that that stretch of I-80 is the worst possible route for winter time travel. Big winds and white-outs occur often.

I stopped for a night at another KOA. I’m getting tired of those signs, but  I was able to do some much needed laundry, but didn’t sleep well since it way right on the interstate.

To contrast that KOA, I’m now at Flaming Gorge and Buckboard Crossing Campground just south of Green River, Wy. It’s silent but for the birds. I thought it was open through the next weekend but it closes this Sunday.

I’ll probably find a boondock for a couple of days. I’m due in Utah and a campground east of Salt Lake City on the 12th. I’ve got an appointment for Geordie, to check his eyes down near Ogden. He’s on a bi-annual check-up routine.

“Where the deer and the antelope (Pronghorn) play…”

I knew I was in the open plains of the West when I saw a long freight train in the wide expanse of dry grasslands. It looked like some of the photos I grew up with, long trains and even longer views.

I’ve also noticed that my skin is now dry. With humidities in the single digits and the hard water it makes your skin leather-like. I must pick up some suntan lotion for both for holding in moisture and the high altitude UV rays.

Big Bison

Last night was pure bliss. Not a sound could be heard and I had the windows open to the cool air to fill the trailer. How nice it is to wake to Geordie ringing his bell alerting me he wants to go out and the temps in the mid 50’s.

You may be wondering about the smoke from all the fires. Most of the days I’ve been on the road since Rapid City, there is a constant haze in the air. Nothing but a good clearing rain could clear the air. Some days you can smell the smokiness, others just the softening of the landscape is the only indicator.

Wyoming Moon

Wishing luck to both those in the fires and those ready for the hurricane down in Florida and beyond.

Thanks for coming along,

Rob

September 1

Westward Trail

I’m liking moving west, especially turning back the clock with every time zone. I’m making up for last years loss.

Here it is, the last big hurrah of summer campers and nomad freedom just days away. It should be easy to drop into a campground without reservations next week, and it may be that I have the place to myself. Freedom and space around me has been sorely missed, which I’m sure I’ve written more than a few times over the last month or so.

You are finding me just south of Rapid City, S. D. It’s hot here and a surprise for me this late in the season. But I’m in the West and it’s a “dry hot” no humidity to speak of. Upper 90’s are due!

Being close to a tourist mecca, I’ve had to find an RV park, I hope for the last time in a few years. Of all things it’s a KOA down near Hot Springs, SD. With the heat, the A/C will be going full blast.

This weekend is also the Sturgis Mustang Rally. All kinds, years, and tricked-out Ford Mustangs are banding together. I have no doubt that I’ll see a few over the weekend. I may even take a drive up that way and see a few.

My stay in Yankton was nice. I’m beginning to like Pierson Ranch State Park. There is a paved hike and bike path and lots of places to dip you feet in the Missouri River.

From there I spent a night along the interstate in Presho, S. D. There is a nice easy place to camp there. Not a well maintained campground, but water and electric was all I needed.

I stayed at my mail forwarding company on Wednesday and Thursday. Americas Mailbox has put in a campground and also has a few rooms you can stay in. I also was able to pick up some mail with no shipping costs.

I’ve been driving the interstate the last couple of weeks. It’s been a while and I’m getting off them today. Billboards were all up and down the highway. Of course the famous Wall Drug with 5 cent coffee. A few boasted that the Black Hills had 8 zillion rooms in 500 million hotels, ok, maybe an exaggeration. Safari parks, the 1880’s town that the New York Times wrote about, and more. In some ways it broke up the endless grasslands, though I think I’d rather do without them. One nice sight was the acres of sunflowers. I’m sure they are for oil or maybe bird seed, but the yellow against the hazy sky and dry grasslands made me smile.

This weekend I plan to head to Custer State Park and drive around. Custer has a herd of bison and they roam the park. Often they are grazing right off the road. Easy to get in a few shots of the most magnificent beast of the plains. And as you may remember, Dances with Wolves was shot here in South Dakota where the Tatonka lived in huge herds.

Thanks for driving the interstates and back roads with me.

Rob

August 25

Minneapolis and Friends

I spent four nights at the KOA in Hixton, Wi. It was a short drive on Sunday to the campground in Savage, Mn. Town and Country Campground is the closest campground to Minneapolis. It’s a very easy trip up north to the city, which was a pleasant surprise. Of course I’m talking about non-commute times.

My friend Lisa and I figured it had been 20 years since we’d seen each other. As with other breaks in our lives, we picked up nearly where we left off. We got caught up with each others lives. Her husband Glenn and I had met before and when they got married. I met their daughter as well. Real down to earth folks, and it was a fantastic time.

One night Lisa and I went out to eat at one of the local seasonal restaurants in one of the many parks. This one was next to the Minnehaha Falls. The food was great and afterwards we took a walk to the falls and talked as we wandered around the park. Other nights we ordered out or Glenn bar-be-cued.

I really liked their neighborhood, it reminded both Lisa and I of a town we’d both lived, near Chicago.

I moved on after four nights with Lisa and family to a “campground” I’d been to six years ago. In the small town a Maynard, Mn is the Lions Club Park. They have about five spots with electrical  hook ups. There is a sign with the Lions Club address and asks for a voluntary donation for camping. I had the place to myself again. There aren’t many camping opportunities in that part of Minnesota and the one spot I attempted, the casino in Granite Falls was full.

I moved to South Dakota today and surprise, I’m in Yankton, SD at the Lewis and Clark State Park again. I couldn’t find camps at the state parks closer to I-90.

I can’t wait until the Labor Day Weekend and the end of reservation worries. Soon I’ll be back to a full-timers freedom without the crowds of summer.

I can’t wait to be back in the West and in boondocking heaven!

It looks like we’re in for some big storms tonight. I’m sure it has nothing to do with Hurricane Harvey down in Texas. I’m sure glad I’m not in that part of the country now.

Well, that’s about it for now.

Thanks for tagging along.

Rob

August 18

Contrasts

It snuck up on me again, Friday.

I spent a few days in Rhinelander, Wi last week, and I can honestly say it was the worst campground. It may have been nice about 50 years ago but now it’s just old and tired. The roads were very narrow, with trees edging the road. Not good for RVs! I was actually surprised to see large Class As in the park.

Gladstone, Michigan. I believe this is a lifeguard bench at the little swim beach.

I got the tightest site possible. I had the electrical box just twelve inches to one side and just three feet on the other tree trunks. Then I find the electric was 50 amps only. Luckily I had gotten a step down plug while up in Canada, because a few campgrounds had only 50 amps and, again luckily, they lent me a step down plug. I bought one on the odd chance I got stuck, and I did.

I left on Wednesday for Hixton, Wi and the KOA. I was having trouble finding the next campground to line up, because all the camps were booked. I’m guessing that with summer winding up everyone is getting their last camping in before school starts. I found my KOA book and it was just the right distance and not far from the Twin Cities, where I’m headed next to visit a friend from high school. They had more than a few sites available.

To contrast the camp in Rhinelander, this KOA has to be the most beautiful campground I’ve ever been in. I believe it must have been an old farm, as there are some old apple trees. The driveway in is lined with rounded yew bushes. The grounds are rolling with many large beds covered in all kinds of flowers. There are two sections with sites up the hills from the main campsites. Of course for a KOA there is a pool, but also a bounce cushion out in the yard. It looks like fun but I’m going to skip it!

The small lighthouse at the small harbor, Gladstone, Mi

As with any stay these days, its rained for more than a few days, which makes it hard to take photos. I’m also remembering my days in Chicago and the overcast skies and the horrible light for photography. So, I’ve been uninspired to shoot much at all.

I did find some photos I’d taken back up in Gladstone, Mi. I hope these will satisfy for visual content.

And the contrast of Gladstone lighthouse

This next week, the 22nd, I will come to my “Knomad Anniversary” of three years on the road. There is still much to see, and I look forward to new camps in the coming year.

Thank you all for following, I appreciate it.

Rob