Treasure Hunting and other Summer Stuff

We started off in the RV the beginning of June with plans to treasure hunt for Forrest Fenn’s treasure, visit our new great-grandson, attend a Tiffin rally and spend time on a dude ranch with the family. Alex, my step-son and Zoe, his finance, accompanied us on the first part of the trip. We managed to accomplish all that and more.

Our first stop was in Salt Lake City to visit our grandson, Kody, and his family, particularly the newest member of the family, our great-grandson. We are so fortunate to have them all in our lives! We stayed at the Salt Lake City KOA and it was very convenient.

The next stop was the dude ranch I had picked out, Gros Ventre River Ranch, near Jackson Hole, WY, with spectacular views of the Tetons. We met the rest of the family there and what a fabulous place it turned out to be. Besides looking at the stunning views, we went horseback riding, fishing and just had a spectacular time. This is a place for a once in a lifetime trip. We made such great memories and it could not have been a more beautiful place with the best staff we have ever encountered! Oh yes, Thanks to King and Kristen, we had a few Moscow Mules.

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Next, continuing our five year long search for “The Thrill of the Chase” treasure, we parked at Hebgen Lake near West Yellowstone. As usual, I felt I knew just where the treasure was, so we spent two whole days looking for it. We mostly looked along the Madison river just below Hebgen Lake. If you know the poem with the clues … I decided that “begin where warm waters halt” was the entrance to Yellowstone, only going out, not in. We began there and then “put in” below the house of brown. (Hebgen Lake full of brown trout) Needless to say, we did not find “the blaze”, which will point you to the treasure. We might have missed it by not crossing the Madison and looking where a lot of big rocks are beneath a white “blaze” in the mountain above. (See photo!) Of course the girls, Gypsy and Bella led the pack and we had a fabulous time looking. We even went to Ghost Road and then Quake Lake, where an earthquake moved mountains and buildings  on August 17, 1959. It measured 7.5 on the Richter scale and killed 28 people. You can still see cabins that were moved to the river along Ghost Road. IMG_3963

The next day we looked just outside the West gate. Following “the canyon down – Canyon Street”, we put in just below the museum of bears and wolves “house of brown” and looked for a blaze. We saw a radio tower and headed for it. Again … no luck, but then that would have been too easy.IMG_3985

Off to the Tiffin Rally in Gillette Wyoming, where we met a lot of great people, particularly the group from the “Lucky Seven”. During the rally, we took a day trip to Devil’s Tower with new friends of ours, Stuart and Delores. You might remember Devils Tower from “Close Encounters of a Third Kind”. There is a 1.3 mile path around it which makes a great little hike. After that, we saw a sign for Sundance and decided to check it out. It is a very small town and one of the main attractions is a statue of the Sundance Kid, sitting on a bench in front of the jail. Couldn’t resist the obligatory photo! Robert Redford just missed us!

 

When the rally was finished, we decided to take a different way home and see Crazy Horse Monument. It is very near Mt. Rushmore and is actually larger, with a wonderful museum displaying beautiful Indian artifacts, clothing and art. There is lots of parking, so we just parked the RV and tow car in the lot. It was a good thing we got there early though, as it was crowed when we left around noon. Charge for the monument was $11.00 per person and parking was free.

The long road home took us through a bit of Nebraska and a lot of Colorado. Eastern Colorado has some of the worst roads we have encountered, but the road through western Colorado was stunning. All and all, it was a jam-packed fun month!!

ZION

So friends, here are the photos from Zion at last.

We had such a great time on the trip to Zion with the Sun City Anthem RV club. Lots of outdoor activities, lots of happy hours and lots of shared memories.

The first day, shortly after arrival we had happy hour, heavy appetizers and then a camp fire with our two guitarists, John and Doug playing while the rest of us TRIED to sing. Out of the 40 or so there, only about two had a voice that you would want to listen to under other circumstances.  But then it was all in good fun.

The second day we hiked a couple of easy trails in Zion. It was a perfect day … cool weather and clear skies.

Having had enough hiking, we shopped in Springfield the third day  and went to an old Mormon ghost town just outside of Rockville in the old town of Grafton with our friends Scott and Donna. It had a small cemetery, a school house and a couple of other old buildings. The interesting thing about the cemetery was seeing how many people died from the pandemic flu and from Indian attacks. Also, it was interesting to see how short their lives were. Most died either as children or as young adults. You might notice in one of the photos someone was trespassing while taking photos. Naughty!

The last day we went to Kanab and we stopped to see BEST FRIENDS, a beautiful animal sanctuary just outside of Kanab. It is a wonderful organization that has made a huge impact on turning shelters into no-kill shelters. They have saved thousands of animals since inception. You can volunteer there and we are hoping to do that some day.

We also kept seeing these strange creatures as we were driving around. What? You paid $20.00 for an ostrich egg? Silly tourists.

 

At the end of the trip, our great wagon master told us he and his wife were retiring from being wagon master for this trip.  (Jack and Rochelle) He asked for volunteers and all hands pointed to Lennard, my husband.  Hmmmm … Who is going to do all the work?

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Could not ask for more breath taking scenery!

 

 

Back in the Saddle Again

Yahoo! We are just about to embark on a short RV trip to Zion. We really haven’t been anywhere since our return from our Epic Adventure around the U.S. and parts of Canada. It took quite some time to catch up with family, friends and things left undone for six months. Then  of course there was catching up with mail and a million other things, like Holidays, leaking faucets in the house, cleaning the RV from top to bottom, and  washing everything I had not been inclined to wash along the road.

We have all settled back into the rhythm of being in a house again. Even the dogs are back to chasing rabbits in the back yard and using the doggie door.  I was wondering if we would feel like getting right back on the road and becoming full timers, but that didn’t happen. I like living in the house, and as long as I know we can set out anytime we want for as long as we want, I’m happy with our choice.

We would like to take another long trip in the near future … maybe to the East Coast again, but we will have to settle for a couple of short trips in April.  However, in June we will be going on a trip to Montana and Wyoming for three weeks. I can hardly wait for that one.Zion River Resort IMG_1820

It will include the Tiffin Rally being held in Gillette, Wyoming and should be a lot of fun. Three friends of ours will be joining us for that expedition.

Like I said … Yahoo! Getting ready to saddle up again.

ELVIS IS IN THE HOUSE

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Elvis was born in Tupelo Mississippi on January 8th 1935 in a two room house his father, uncle and grandfather built. He lived there until he was 13 years old, when his family moved to Memphis. Tupelo did a fabulous job of designing a monument to his birthplace and child hood.  You can see memorabilia in the museum, visit the house he was born in and even sit in the church where he first heard gospel singing.  There is a bigger than life-size statue of Elvis as an adult and in front of that, a statue of him as a child. Tupelo is also home to the hardware store where his mother, Gladys bought him his first guitar for his tenth birthday.

You can really get a feel for how poor his family was when you visit Graceland after seeing his childhood home. The comparison is incredible.  Elvis really was a rags to riches story and he never forgot that as evidenced by his generosity to his family, friends and many charities.

We were finally finished with our repairs in Red Bay and took off for home, grateful for all the hard work the mechanics in Red Bay did for us.  We decided to stop in Memphis to see Graceland.  Why not? We were going through anyway. That night we ate dinner at Marlowe’s, which is a famous BBQ and Rib place near Graceland.  Apparently, Elvis ate there and they have a lot of Elvis memorabilia. And…they even have a pink Cadillac, which will pick you up from either the Graceland RV Park or Heartbreak Hotel, both on Graceland grounds. By the way, the food was bad for you, but delicious.

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Graceland was beautiful and the I-pad tour was extremely informative and easy to use.  It not only took you on a self-guided tour of the mansion, but gave you details about Elvis, his family, friends, the art and furnishings. Most of what you see is original, just the way he left it.  We also saw archives of photographs, his automobile collection, his costumes and his two planes.  His favorite was the Lisa Marie, named after his daughter. The tour took about three and a half hors and was well worth the admission price.

 

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The next day we headed out on the long trek across the country, doing about 400 miles per day.  That’s a lot in an RV.  We did stop to get some minor repairs and one day we ended up in a traffic jam for over two hours, adding to our day as road warriors.  We even parked in a Walmart parking lot in Amarillo, Texas because we were so late getting that far.  When we got to Grants, New Mexico, the temperature the next morning was 15 degrees.  Wow! From 80 in Florida to 15 in New Mexico.

Our last stop was a short detour to the North Ranch Escapee RV Park to see our friends from Homer, Tom and Linda and their new dog Swiffer.  Swiffer was sooo darling and loved Gypsy playing with her.  Bella just sat and watched. Tom and Linda took us to dinner at Nichols, a small restaurant in the middle of nowhere, run by a Brit of all things.  The food was absolutely delicious, so we took them to breakfast there the next morning, before leaving great friends.

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We finally arrived home on Sunday, November 15, 2015, six months and five days, and 16,860 miles after we left.  We were happy to be home. During the entire trip we didn’t think much about our house, but did miss our family and friends.  I think we will be home for a while!

BUFFALO WINGS AND THUNDERING FALLS

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Arriving in Buffalo, we pulled into the KOA on Grand Island.  What a great camping spot with ponds, a lease-free dog park, and a little creek running through the camp.  After two days of regrouping, we took a short trip to downtown Buffalo to see the new Canalside Park.  It is a redevelopment area next to the Military Remembrance Park.  It was hot, but we managed to cool down with a few minutes sitting in the shade and a beer. The next day we took the RV in to get the back air conditioner repaired.  While it was being worked on we went to Lewistown.

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Lewiston is a historical village and the site of the first European settlement in Western New York.  It was also the site from which the US invaded Canada in the first major battle of the War of 1812.  It sits just across the Niagara River from Canada.  We spoke to the Harbor Master there, who told us they have a couple of people a week try to cross over to the US from Canada every week.  You could almost throw a rock across the river it is so close. In fact, it is also an area where slaves were ferried over to Canada so they could be free.  A lot of history for a small town.

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Pointing the way to freedom

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We retrieved the RV and got ready to meet our good friends, Jim and Joanne, at their hotel for dinner at the Left Bank restaurant downtown Buffalo.  The next morning my cousins, Darlene and Rick, from Scarborough, Ontario, Canada joined us at the KOA. Jim and Joanne joined all of us for a sightseeing tour of the American side of the Falls, led by Rick, who seems to know every road in the nation!  We also saw the Whirlpool where the river has currents that can take you 150 feet under in a second.  That night we had a BBQ at our RV in perfect weather.

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The next day Rick took us to the Canadian side of Niagara, where we saw the US and Canadian falls, and the view is much more magnificent.  Then we drove to Niagara On The Lake for lunch.  This quaint, British style, town has so many beautiful flowers on the streets and near the stores and restaurants, you would think you were in a magnificent garden.  There were horse and carriages on the streets and old buildings with ornate facades from another century.  It was just beautiful.

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That night we went to the Anchor Bar for Buffalo Wings.  This restaurant was started by a family and still is owned by the same family.  One night the kids came in late with some friends and wanted something to eat.  Mom had some leftover wings so she fried them up, added some spicy sauce and Voila, Buffalo Wings were born.

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Sunday we took the morning Bedore tour of the American Falls.  Our first stop was back at the whirlpool and then we went to the Cave of the Winds.  What an experience.  You wear a poncho and traverse stairs until you are right next to the falls with the water cascading down and the wind carrying the water over you until you are drenched.  It was hilarious and so much fun!  We then went on the Maid of the Mist boat that takes you right next to the falls.  We of course wore the fashionable ponchos again to keep us sort of dry. It was very exciting as the falls thundered down above us.  You can’t imagine the power of the water and the thunderous noise unless you actually experience it.

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We were sorry to see Rick and Darlene leave that afternoon. That evening we took the tour to the Canadian side and went on the Journey Behind the Falls.  You take an elevator down about 150 feet and traverse a tunnel under the falls until you can see out a cave to the falls from the inside.  You can also go to a viewing station to get up close to the falls again.  Not quite as exciting as the morning, but great too. Then we drove to the Flower Clock and the Canadian Hydroelectric power station.  The hydroelectric power dam is not a large as Hoover Dam, but generates more electricity.

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After dark we went up the Skylon Tower to view the falls with the lights on them, and then to a parking spot to see the fireworks over the falls.  Both were exquisite.

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The next day we had lunch with Jim and Joanne before they left for Las Vegas.  Now we are getting ready to travel to Maine over the next couple of days. We are looking forward to visiting Bar Harbor before we travel down to Portland to meet up with Scott and Donna, who are making their way across country right now.  Stay tuned!

RV BOOT CAMP SABOTAGED BY WILD BILL’S SECURITY

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Oh Darn! We got kicked out of RV driving boot camp.  Okay, not really out of the classes but out of the parking lot. Our Instructor had arranged for us to use the back parking lot at Wild Bill’s Casino in Primm Nevada.  He had utilized the same area last year.

As we drove up last Wednesday, the weather was very warm and we could see the old roller coaster high above the wooden structure of the casino.  We pulled around into the “way back” parking area.There were about eight of us there to learn the basics of RVing and how to drive, park and…heaven forbid…the dreaded back-up procedure. Everyone was riding high to have this special experience.

The day was going great.  We had all learned the safety and emergency basics and even had lunch.  I made a salad in the RV.  Some of the rest went into the casino to eat. After lunch we were hearing some rules of the road and our Sun City Anthem RV club rules, when along comes this little economy car and out steps a security guard.  “What are you doing here? You can’t camp here.”

“Why, we have permission from the director of sales to have our RV meeting and driving lessons here.” said our esteemed leader and instructor, Roy.

You can imagine the rest of the story.  We did not win the battle or the war.  Eventually we were instructed that we could park – not sleep or extend our pop-outs – and we could use the casino, gamble and eat.  Huh?  We were going to do that anyway as good members of this community, but if we can’t dry camp then we  all decided to leave.

So, just before happy hour most of the crew packed up and left.  We did have a good day and learned a lot from our esteemed instructors, Roy and Tom, but were disappointed to have to cut short instruction.  One of the things we learned is that when you are RVing, you have to be flexible.  This was our first lesson in flexibility.

(I did finally drive in the parking lot and did not knock over any light poles)

Husband is Obsessive Compulsive

I have mentioned before that my husband has a little bit of obsessive compulsive disease.  That can be a good thing most of the time.  No, he does not have the kind where he washes his hands fifteen times an hour, or the kind where he won’t shake hands with anyone or is afraid of germs.  He has the good kind.  He likes everything to be perfect.

He and his wonderful friend finished hooking up the tow bar to the Honda Fit and wiring the lights.  I thought he was done and came into the garage to find he has now rubber coated the attachment links and locks so they won’t cause damage to the paint of the car.  YES! What a good job he does.

Now we are all set for a trial tow tomorrow.  I’ll let you know how it goes!  I do know one thing, there won’t be an accidental scratches to the car.

First Big Trip to the Oasis

Our first “big” trip in the new motorhome was about five miles down the road to the Oasis RV Park in Las Vegas, Nevada.  It is near the Silverton and Sun Coast Casinos.  We were charged a “locals” rate of $42.00 for an upgraded site.  We were lucky enough to get to park in-between two of our friends who are experts at RVing.  The park is very nice with wide spaces, a doggie area, swimming pool, Wi-Fi,(charged &6.00 for this) small restaurant, fitness area, and lots of palm trees.  The people working at the park were very accommodating and friendly.

Friends from the Corvette club joined us for Happy Hour and dinner and we had a great time with only several small disasters. (I couldn’t get how the microwave worked as a convection oven, but finally figured it out) But, the company and the food was wonderful.  The weather was perfect and we had a great time laughing and telling lies until the wee hours of 9 PM. What ever happened to staying out until 2 in the morning?  I guess time flies by.

We loved out queen sized bed.  Not too small after being used to a king size.  We tried out the electric fireplace, and it was wonderful!  Our two professional RVer friends were a great help and taught my husband how to empty the tanks.  The park allows a RV wash company to come through so we got the “rig” washed for $2.00 a foot.  We weren’t sure if that was a bargain or not.  Husband thought he could wash it easily too.

All in all it was a success, and we did not think we needed to take the RV back where it came from. We will see how the next venture out into the wild turns out.

Purchasing a New RV Without a Clue

Okay, first of all, I have to say…don’t do it this way.  We were planning on purchasing an RV for some time and did some research, but not nearly as much as we should have.  We did, however, decide on a floor plan we liked. We  knew we wanted to have a dinette (to sit at and blog from) and a bed you could walk around, so it was not so hard to make the darn bed. Other than that we did not have any preferences.

So, first of all we looked at class B and C vehicles, around 24 feet, thinking we would have an easy vehicle to drive, it would be gas friendly and we would be able to go where other RVs could not.  Good thoughts, right? Well, okay if you aren’t going to spend a lot of time in it.  While we were shopping, each salesman asked us how we were going to use it.  Our reply was, “We want to go on a road trip around the US for a few months next year.”

“So, you’ll be staying in hotels then?” said the salesman, looking at us like we were dummies.

“No, we want to stay in our RV.”

“Well unless  you want to go to jail for assault on each other you might want to look at a larger option.”

On to the next option.  Now we decide to go to a RV show.  Pomona had one at the end of the summer, so we got up at 5 AM and drove all the way to Pomona to get there when it opened at 10 AM.  No problems, we arrived right on time and began our search, knowing we would not buy one… we were “just looking”.

If you have ever been to an RV show, you know it is gigantic.  After about four hours of looking around, we were thoroughly confused, lost and could not remember what we had seen. No lunch and it was hot.  We had began to think we would like the class C motorhome by now as opposed to a class B.  Finally, we found a sympathetic salesman, who sat us down and asked us, “So what do you want to use the RV for?”  Back to our answer of going around the US in an RV.  Now, we knew we needed one at least 28 feet long and were afraid to have one more than 32 feet long. Then he said, “Since you are going to travel around the country sightseeing, would you like a good view?”  Answer…yes.

“Let’s look at a class A then.” I’m looking at these HUGE vehicles and thinking, no way, they are too big. So, like good little consumers we take a test drive in a very nice Winnebago.  Wow, you can see everything.  It was marvelous. Okay, now we could see the advantage of the class A motorhomes.

We proceeded to begin looking around for the floor plan we knew we wanted and wandered into a very fancy looking area of Tiffin Motorhomes. Once we saw those, we hesitantly asked the price.   Not too, too bad. Maybe we will take a test drive.  Test drive over and sold!  We were sold and I, usually being the cautious one, was completely out of control and said, “I’ll buy that.”  My husband is kicking me and saying we weren’t ready. Thank goodness for him or we would have left with it.  It is now 7:30 PM and we are thirsty, tired and hungry.  We take off for home and stop along the way for dinner, at which time I inform my husband that that was the one I wanted.  2015 Tiffin Allegro Open Road 31SA. Decision made.  Now, all we had to do was negotiate.  We called the salesman and told him we were interested.  He gave us a price and we negotiated back.  “We don’t want to buy unless we get a substantial reduction in the price.” Three hours later we owned a new motorhome.  Yes!

We still did not realize that we really had lucked out, and had chosen a great RV with a good warranty, and it was just what we needed for our upcoming trip next spring.  Talk about being lucky even though we did not have a clue!