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

August 12

Hey, hey, hey

It was Caedyn’s and Geordie’s birthday yesterday.

Who’s Caedyn? She is my great niece and she’s turning one.

Geordie is now five.

I’ve now moved into the Central Time Zone and into Wisconsin.

I think Wisconsin is the only place I’ve ever seen “Dinner/Supper Clubs.” You don’t have to join to go. Maybe in the past, they were restaurants with a big band and dance floor. On a Wikipedia page on Supper Clubs, they seem to come from the days of the Speakeasies and the Prohibition. Al Capone did have a hideout up here in Wisconsin. It would also figure that a Wisconsinite opened the first Supper Club in Beverly Hills.

Another thing you see are “Taverns,” not bars or pubs. I think taverns are a Midwest name. There were taverns where I grew up in Chicago.

I had been staying in Diamond Lake RV Park near Marinette, but now I’m in a Forest Service campground on Boulder Lake near Mountain, Wi.

I was having trouble calling out at Diamond Lake to get a new camp. Also, my emails seem to land on “deaf ears.”

One major thing to note about camping in a Forest Service campground in the woods, solar panels need sun to charge batteries. I was lucky to find a not overly heavy canopy overhead. Another negative is cloud cover. Yesterday was a solid grey cover and any electric use may not be recovered by the limited solar gain.

Today, I think we’ll have sunshine but Sunday cloudy again.

I’m also limited in cell coverage, so this post will be without photos because of the long download times.

I heard from the Diamond Lake Park owner that this summer was an especially wet summer. He mentioned about 30 inches in one month. I’m sure those in the West would love to have a summer with 30 inches, but maybe not in one month.

Hopefully today I can find a spot for Geordie to get out to swim in Boulder Lake. He wasn’t allowed to swim in the last lake.

Until next week, thanks for following my travels.

Rob

 

August 4

Crossing the Bridge

I’m a temporary “Yooper,” aka Upper Peninsula Michigander.

Mackinac Bridge

The trip up from West Branch, Mi was longer than expected. As I hitched up, I found my tongue jack (the part that raises and lowered the hitching part to the truck hitch) had failed. I knew the day was coming. Since last spring, the hitch was missing through a cog in the mechanics. Then, it started missing two cogs. When I hitched up that day, I could lower the jack but not raise it.

St. Ignace Lighthouse

I called, in panic, some RV shops to the North. On the drive to one, I saw a sign for a Camping World. If you’ve been reading long enough, you know I’ve sworn off Camping World, but when I saw the sign I knew they would have a better chance of having a tongue jack. I drove in and asked about it being put on, and I got the reply I knew I’d get. “At least a week and a half out.” Then the salesman said, “It’s and easy swap out, you can do it yourself.” So, I bought an electric tongue jack and when I got to the campground in St. Ignace, I proceeded to replace it. It was a breeze. Luckily, I had the right socket, but I had to borrow a crimper from the campground to connect some wires together. I tested the light then raised the tongue off the hitch, no more cranking for me.

I’ve crossed the Mackinac Bridge before, and it’s always an amazing sight from on top. You can see the ferries heading to Mackinac Island, folks parasailing behind boats, and of course the sailboats.

Sailboat in the mist

St. Ignace is the first town on the U.P. and it feels touristy. The ferries leave from town, and the parasailing boats are ready for tourists at the harbor. It’s not a big town, but has quite a few motels and campgrounds. The big draw to the area is heading over on the ferries to Mackinac Island. The island is actually our second National Park, in 1875, after Yellowstone. The island is car-free, and the only way around is on bicycle or horse drawn carriage. As with most National Parks in the early years, railroad magnates built a hotel as destination resort. So it is with Mackinac Island. The Grand Hotel is the place to stay. Soon, business owners were building “cottages” on the island for family get-aways in the summer. From what I’ve heard, it sounds Disney-like. Maybe someday I’ll go over.

Being back in the Midwest is giving me a constant buzzing in my ears. It could also be the cicadas are all about. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard those loud buzzing insects. There is no other sound like it. It starts off low, then gets louder, then low again and stops. Then another cicada starts up. In the end, it’s a drone of buzzing in your head until nightfall.

On Thursday I moved near Rapid River, Mi which is just north of Escabana. Rain started as I left St Ignace and is due most of the weekend.

They’re high up

One thing I’ve noticed being in the East is, I don’t sleep as well in the higher overnight lows. Most nights, it never really gets below about 65º. Living in the West the temperatures often drop in the low 60’s and even lower in the mountains. I am definitely a low temp sleeper. With the rains here in the U.P., we’re due for overnight lows in the 40’s. My kind of sleeping weather!

Thanks for joining the road trip.

Rob

 

July 28

The Old Country

I drove through the border again, and this time I learned I had to declare the fruits, veg, and meat I had on board.

The guard sent me to another lane and I went inside for the agriculture inspector. He took the keys and checked the trailer. Less than ten minutes later I was on the road.

I spent one night in Lapeer, Mich. and now I’m up in West Branch, Mi.

On the way up, I took a second to comprehend a gas sign and the price of $2.34. I had to remember the US sells gallons and it wasn’t the liter price.

I found a really nice RV park in West Branch. Loranger Pines RV Park has wonderful red pine trees with lots of space between sites. There is a train track next to it but the train only comes through about two to three times a day. Otherwise it’s a quiet park.

Regarding my last post and the city noise. I found an article that might be of interest on the effects of noise and health. http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a10295155/noise-detox/

Also on the topic of noise. Many RVers find using ear plugs in parks helps when they find loud neighbors. I often use them. The KOA near Toronto was right next to the highway and I used ear plugs at night to sleep. Also the white noise of the A/C can help.

I can’t wait to find some quiet boondock camps and move back to the wide open spaces of the West!

I took Geordie over to East Tawas  this morning, and we walked around. I let him swim in Lake Huron for the first time. He’s stacking up the lakes and oceans on his swim chart.

Haven’t really taken any photos just yet. I’ve just been on the move so much. Besides, Michigan red pines don’t make for interesting shots.

That’s about it for this week.

Rob

July 22

More Family Ties

I found more family ties.

Paul Holland Knowlton

There is a town in Quebec that was named after a distant cousin. The Lac Brome area is made up of seven villages and one is Knowlton. The Honorable Paul Holland Knowlton came to Canada from Vermont.  My fifth great grandfather, Decon Ezekiel, had a brother, Luke, that married a Sarah Holland. I don’t have all the information at hand but Paul Holland Knowlton is related.

Welcome

My fourth great grandfather Ezekiel had ten children. The youngest five move to Canada. My third great grandfather, Asaph, lived north of the town of Knowlton in So. Stukely (Stukely Sud). They lived long enough in So. Stukely to have a few children then moved to Iowa.

P.H. Knowlton House
Big Timber

The Brome County museum in Knowlton, Qc is very extensive. Paul Holland Knowlton’s home was moved from what is now the golf course and was restored to the original log home. The timber size is impressive for a log home. The town had a children’s home where orphans and street kids from England were sent and families took them in. Some were adopted by their host families. Many had rough lives in the homes and others ran away. The children were often put on farms so the kids had to do farm work. The museum had a half dozen or more biographies of the children. Some of the boys went into the military in WWI. Which brings me to the military room of the museum. The prize exhibit is the Fokker DVII biplane from WWI. It is one of less than a handful of Fokkers with the original fabric covering. For more information http://www.bromemuseum.com

My Own Pub Has Good Fish and Chips
Another Bar

I spent a couple of nights near Peterborough, On. I’ve wanted to go to the Canadian Canoe Museum since I found the museum book in the Durango, Co Library. It is an impressive collection. They cover the kayaks of the arctic to the dugout canoes of the Pacific Northwest. Of course, the birchbark canoes from the interior to the east coast, and also the elm bark canoe. There was also a replica of a Hudson’s Bay outpost. Any one need “Hudson’s Bay Blended Scotch”?

I’ve moved on to the west side of Toronto. This post is late is because my computer was infected with mallware. I received a notice that my Adobe flash player was out of date, I pressed update and all of a sudden I got about three programs added to my computer. One was a windows search page, I work on a Mac. Such a pain this last week. I found an Apple store southwest of Toronto. I went down the day I got to camp and found the store packed. I managed to get an appointment an hour and 20 minutes later. I walked the mall. I went back in only to find it was going to be about another 45 minutes. Nothing to do but wait. I  waited longer than it took to fix my computer. Either way I’m back to normal.

By the way, in Canada, the mall is far from dying out. The parking lot was full and there were lots folks walking with bags.

Looks like an nice “Auberge”

I went to the Hockey Hall of Fame yesterday in Toronto. It was a longer drive in than expected. Once there I saw the jersey’s of some of my favorite players, Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita from the Chicago Blackhawks and Sidney Crosby’s from the Pittsburg Penguins. To top it off, the Stanley Cup was on display. The folks in line for picutes were putting their hands on the cup, and if you’ve ever seen the last few games and the cup, there is a minder of the cup and he wears white gloves. I learned there are three Stanley Cups. The one in the hall is a copy.

Going into the city also reminded me why I don’t visit cities often. They are very loud and congested with people and traffic.

Our History

I’m also going to head back to the states. I’ve started to get a bit claustrophobic living in RV parks. I need a good state park or forest campground with lots of trees in between!

Thanks for coming along on my Canadian adventure.

Rob