Category Archives: RV

Exploring Temple Bar in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area

On another day of exploration, thinking we might like to camp there on a future trip, we set off to explore Temple Bar on other side of Lake Mead, in Arizona. To get there, we headed back to Boulder City and from there, took HWY 193 south, past Hoover Dam until we reached the turn-off to HWY 143 which took us east to Temple Bar, another National Park Campground. The scenery was spectacular – sandy colored monuments rising up from a sparkly blue lake. We stopped at the Ranger Station to get more information about the area but like so many others in this Recreation Area, it was closed. Next stop…..the campground. 

Not a soul was there. Driving around the campground, we were startled to see a car and said to each other, “Oh! Someone IS camping here after all!” We checked out the license plate – Texas. Then we looked past the car for a tent or other signs of habitation and found quite the opposite….a body was hanging from the tree beyond the car. I said to Michael, “Some idiot has taken one of those blow-up dolls and made it looked like a hanging body!” At this point we were startled and still inching forward past the scene so decided to go around and take a better look. The next time round I said to Michael, “Don’t get out of the car! It’s probably some weirdo who will turn around and shoot you!” I couldn’t get it through my head that it was a real body. Michael hollered at it – nothing! We took a single photo in case we needed to show it when we reported it – not knowing where that would be in that moment.

We zoomed out of the campground in a panicked daze; found a marina that looked deserted but which turned out to be open. Entering the building we saw some staff members on duty. Stuttering and stammering over how to share our discovery, we showed the picture (which we deleted right after) – the three girls in the office gasped in horror but….they took immediate action and called the ranger. Fifteen minutes later, the ranger came flying in on his float plane…turns out he’s also a pilot! I had never seen this before but after landing smoothly on the lake, the pilot/ranger drove that float plane right out of the lake, up the boat ramp and parked at the door to the marina. 

…arriving….

….and leaving again after the scene was secured….

Mike went with the ranger to show him where it was and soon came back, verifying that indeed it was a “real” body hanging there and that it was a suicide (the suicide note having been found on the dash of the car.) Until then, I still could not believe it was a real body, hoping and praying it was a hoax of some sort. The image stayed in my mind for weeks and I couldn’t stop thinking about it and how sad and lonely this person must have been. I kept wondering what would have caused a person to come to this far-away, seemingly forgotten place to die and what the circumstances were….how could this have happened….or been prevented.

It was a sober, thoughtful drive back to our own camp at Echo bay.

CAMINO COMPLETED – NOW WHAT??

38 days of continuous walking followed by another 3 weeks of exploring northern Spain….it was time to go home. We left from Charles de Gaulle airport on an early morning flight.

We flew to Atlanta and from Atlanta, back to Denver, arriving in time to catch the shuttle back to Laramie WY. We spent a few nights in Laramie being happily reunited with kids and grandkids….

….joining in the excitement of the Laramie Christmas Parade….

……..getting settled back into our little home on wheels, and seeing the dentist before heading to Lander. We left Laramie and arrived in Lander on a beautifully sunny day and got ourselves all set up. That night there was a big snow storm.

That’s the night we found out that this is not really a 4 season rig – maybe in Florida but not in Wyoming at 22 degrees F. The water pump wouldn’t work properly,the line from the fresh water tank was frozen solid – in a trailer boasting heated tanks, which we discovered were the black & gray tanks ONLY not the freshwater -, air was getting into the system, PLUS there was a hole at the top of the fresh water tank from a misplaced screw….and on and on.

The good part was the spectacular views we had of the snow-covered Wind River range…

    

We stayed until we thought South Pass from Lander to Rawlins would be passable – it turned out to be 3 nights. We took an exploratory trip up the pass just to make sure and decided we would be safe enough to drive the next day. 

We left mid-morning the next day and got as far as Nephi, (south of Salt Lake City Utah) hoping to finally find warmer temps. No such luck – it was colder that night than any other before it! We basically froze. Early morning breakfast at Dennys and then onwards along I15 to Mesquite where it finally became warm enough to melt all the ice accumulations on the AF. At Mesquite we turned off and when we entered Overton, we decided to stay the night at the Robin’s Nest RV Park. Good rates and friendly people as well as a leaking fresh water tank prompted us to stay for a week while Mike tried to figure out what was wrong. We liked Overton…Sugar’s Restaurant, Lin’s grocery store, The Inside Scoop for ice cream, a great senior’s center, 2 hardware stores, and an excellent library, warmer temperatures – we had everything we needed to be happy. 

The week we stayed in Overton, we also went to explore the area. First we went to see Echo Bay, the first campground in the Lake Mead Recreation Area. More about Echo Bay in a separate blog because we ended up becoming the camp hosts there for three months. The next campground was Callville Bay, 30 miles along Northshore Road from Echo bay. At Callville Bay is a fully functioning marina, marina store and cafe, as well as a Ranger Station, campground, and pay showers. From Callville Bay we continued west around the end of Lake Mead to find Las Vegas Bay Campground which boasts a “no generator use” section for campers who hate those noisy conveniences we RVers must sometimes rely on. Now heading back east on the other side of the lake, we discovered Boulder Beach Campground, the largest and most popular of all of the campgrounds in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area or LMNRA. We ended up this particular day of exploration with a visit to Boulder City, vowing to return to check out the Historic Railroad Trail from Boulder City to Hoover Dam, the main avenue for supplies to reach the workers building the dam.

McLeod Montana – our new home for 5 months

We arrived early afternoon, from Cody WY, in the pouring rain. Our first views were magnificent despite the clouds hanging low over unseen mountains. The road was paved most of the way from Big Timber except for the last 2 miles when the pavement changed to mud and gravel. In dry weather, no problem. In the pouring rain, pulling a fifth wheel trailer, not so much fun but with 4 wheel drive engaged, really no problem at all. We were just covered with mud!! That is….the truck, trailer, running boards and our feet.

The road the next day – still muddy but not nearly as bad as when we arrived.

First glimpse of our new home. This is the entrance to the Historic Main Boulder Ranger Station. The road climbs up and turns – important when towing a fairly large rig.

The Historic Main Boulder Ranger Station. (The road you see in front? We backed up on the little dirt road!!)

The next set of pictures show how we had to get into our spot – backing up the whole way! We are still not quite sure how we managed to do it so easily – without killing each other.

   

Here are a few of our first glimpses into the wonder of where are:

There are so many sandhill cranes in this area. Wherever we go, we see them, in the meadows, flying, or we hear them…they have a very unusual call. I think there is a mating couple or maybe even a few couples close by because we hear them constantly.

 

The day after we arrived, we just had to go exploring our territory so we decided to take a drive up the Main Boulder Road (which is the road we drove in on) to check out some of the campgrounds we will be responsible for. The first thing we were impressed with is how many deer there are – everywhere, including jumping out in front of us on several occasions – thankfully the road was rough so our speed was very slow.

 

We also took a drive into McLeod, 12 miles back along Main Boulder Road, to see if we could get a mailbox at the Post Office there. Sure enough, we can.

Also found these cute little cabins for rent in McLeod, right beside the raging Boulder River – high and still rising apparently.

The next day, we went exploring again into Livingston which is where the Forest Service office is and where we will be on a weekly basis. We took the “back road” there. Again, spectacular views.

The “Crazies” as the locals call the mountains you can see in the distance. One of our campgrounds is in the Crazies.

Zoomed in view of the Crazies.

On the way to Livingston.

So many beautiful ranches too.

The Beartooth-Absaroka Ranges.

The town of Livingston.

We consider ourselves so very lucky to be here…lots of wildlife, spectacular scenery, great colleagues in the Forest Service, and lots more places to explore!

THE SAGA CONTINUES AND…..CONCLUDES….COINCIDENCE?

The phone was lost on Friday; we bought a new one on Sunday afternoon; and by Wednesday we had put the whole experience behind us and were happily exploring Boysen Reservoir. This reservoir stretches in a north-south direction between Shoshoni on the south end and Thermopolis on the north end with the spectacular Wind River Canyon joining them. Mike wanted to see as much of the reservoir as was possible, the roads around it, and any potential camping spots we might be able to pull our fifth wheel trailer into.

We started on the west side of the reservoir, heading in the direction of Lake Cameahwait which is very close to Boysen reservoir…you can see the reservoir when you drive into the lake. This time though, instead of turning right onto the road to Cameahwait we went straight…the road was paved for a lot of the way but eventually turned into a well graded gravel road. We stopped often and turned into every side road we saw to explore….beautiful and remote-feeling.

Eventually the gravel road (turned out it was a loop road) became pavement again. Continuing along, we drove directly past the spot where we had gone fishing and kayaking exactly 7 days prior! No sooner had we passed “THE SPOT” and noted the absence of the fishermen and their fifth wheel trailers, than my phone, the new one that is, started to ring. It was a woman asking to speak to “Michael.” I put it on speaker and it turned out to be “Heather” calling from the Verizon store in Thermopolis to tell us that she had our phone!!!! We were gob-smacked….astounded….amazed…..couldn’t believe it…..asking each other “Now What?” COINCIDENCE? I always have believed there are no coincidences but this???? Hearing it had been found when we were in almost exactly the same spot we’d lost it???

At that point, we were near the south end of the reservoir, heading around to the east side where there are a lot more campgrounds to check out. We were already half way to Thermopolis so we headed directly there, deciding to investigate all the campgrounds on the return trip.

Arriving in Thermopolis, we located the Verizon store and met Heather who turned the phone over to us. Oh how we wished that phone could talk!!! She told us that the phone had been turned in by their ‘mail lady’ whose husband had found it floating not in Lake Cameahwait but at “Tough Creek” (Boysen Reservoir). Floating….probably it had been; close….but not where we’d been fishing and kayaking. It had been turned in a few days prior and Heather said she’d kept waiting for someone to call for it. We’d checked Shoshoni, Riverton, and Lander but hadn’t considered Thermopolis! She’d finally looked up the ID# on the back of the phone and had seen it belonged to us and called us. All the way back, we conjectured about what had happened because the facts didn’t match but finally, knowing we’d never get an answer, we stopped “scenario-izing” and simply were grateful for getting the phone back. That gratitude was amplified tenfold when we were informed by Heather that we would be able to return the new iPhone we’d purchased.

A huge thank-you goes out to the Verizon staff in Riverton, Lander and Thermololis who were so helpful; to Verizon, the company; to the fisherman who found the phone and to his wife who returned it to the Verizon store!

LAKE CAMEAHWAIT SAGA – the best of days; the worst of days!

The BEST part of the day was kayaking around Lake Cameahwait (also called Bass Lake by the locals), a 55 mile drive on HWY 26/789 from Lander towards Shoshoni. It was hot and sunny – thankfully we had left Lander early in the morning around 715, arriving at the lake by 830.

The drive to the lake provided beautiful views of grass covered hills, free-ranging cattle and antelope with mountains forming the background. The road was paved and mostly straight until just before the lake.

I was out on the lake by 830. I circumnavigated it in a very leisurely manner, pausing often to snap pics of birds, dragonflies, bullrushes, and a white, fragile-looking feather floating in the water which captured my imagination.

As I paddled, I enjoyed the many views of the lake from the water.

Fishermen camping and site of shaded picnic area.

Along the way I was startled several times by a wild thrashing in the water nearby. There are a lot of wide mouth bass in this lake (hence the name Bass Lake) and apparently they sometimes school up to chase prey into the the shallows. When it gets warm they get aggressive, the biologist I was about to meet, informed me….

Arriving back at my starting point, I checked out the time to see if Michael and his Dad might be heading back for lunch. Earlier I had taken off my PFD (to apply sunscreen) and, enjoying the resultant freedom and greater air circulation, stuffed it under the elastic straps criss-crossing the bow of my kayak. I like to have my iPhone, keys and camera with me when I’m out on the water. I keep my camera in a waterproof box velcro-ed onto the surface of the kayak right in front of the cockpit within easy reach. (I have been known to stuff it down my front for faster picture snapping.)

I keep my iPhone in a plastic dry-bag made specifically for that purpose and store it in a pocket in my PFD where I can get to it quickly. I keep my keys in another pocket. Why all the detail about where I keep my “stuff” you are probably asking? Well, as you shall see, the plot thickens.

As I was bobbing peacefully in my kayak, a few meters from where I had originally started, I reached into my PFD to get my iPhone to check the time. It was almost 11 am. As I looked up to search the lake for Mike and Marvin, I saw them a little ways off. Mike gestured towards the shore signifying that it was time for a lunch break. I still had my phone in my hand and it was at that point that I lost full awareness of where my phone was. I’m guessing I stuffed it down my front and am having faint memories of thinking “I must remember it’s there otherwise it might drop out when I stand up.” (That’s happened before with my camera but thankfully, on land-I obviously I didn’t learn my lesson well enough!) I paddled towards the small sandy beach where I had ‘put in’ and ‘beached’ my boat. Clambering out, I saw a man in a red shirt with the Wyoming Game and Fish logo walk towards me. He was very pleasant, asking if I’d had a good morning paddle which started a conversation about the lake and the fish. Soon Mike and his Dad joined us in the chat until finally, hunger pangs sent us to the sheltered picnic area. I brought my keys, picked up our lunch bag from the truck and headed off, any thought of my iPhone long forgotten!

We ate lunch rapidly because of all the mosquitoes. They were TERRIBLE. At first we planned to go back out but it was so hot and we were tired. The decision was easily reached to call it a day and head for home. I gathered up our stuff and went to get my kayak ready for loading. In no time Mike had it in its rack on top of the truck, Marvin’s boat was loaded, and we were on our way, madly scratching at all the mozzie bites.

And now, the WORST part of the day started to show itself. As we were unloading Marvin’s boat back in Lander, I started digging for my keys. After pulling everything out of the tub where we keep our kayaking equipment….no keys appeared. We put everything back in its place. Then it got worse. I remembered all the pics I had taken with my camera. I had the camera but sometimes I take pics with my phone too, which made me think about my iPhone. Again….tub, purse, and bags were meticulously checked and the truck was searched….glove box, floor, crate…..no phone. We leaped back into the truck and raced the 55 miles back to the lake.

When you are in a boat on this lake, you can clearly see the road leading to the lake from many miles away. As we stopped at the boat launch, a boat was being driven at high speed towards where we were standing on the ramp. It was a fellow fisherman we’d met while we were having lunch. He and his buddies were camped at the lake in their fifth wheel trailers. He’d spotted us coming (hard to miss a bright yellow kayak perched atop a truck). Before we could even say a word, he shouted out across the water separating us that our keys were on the table but that the guy who found them AND the phone, took the phone, saying he would try to find a number to call us and would drop it off in town with the local law enforcement. We asked a few more questions but he seemed to want to go so we thanked him and headed into Riverton, thinking that must be the “town” he was referring to.

Long story short….we went to both the police and sheriff’s offices in Riverton without luck. We called and called my phone. At first, we would hear it ring 3 or 4 times before going to voice messaging but after the 6th call, no more ringing; it went straight to voice message. Whoever had it, had turned it off. We went to Verizon who listed it as “lost or stolen” which would ensure that whoever had the phone would not be able to activate it with ANY carrier. The manager there was also able to see that he had removed the sim card. With that information, Mike immediately recognized ‘the thief‘ had no intention of returning the phone. After searching on Apple’s site, Mike discovered that if we kept the phone as a device on our Apple account, no-one would be able to use that phone ever as it’s registered to us. We made the painful decision to erase all the data on the phone, changed all our passwords and accepted the fact we’d never see the phone again. Such a pity as now, an expensive piece of electronic equipment was worth nothing to anyone; even if it was sold, the unfortunate person buying it might not understand that the phone, although less than 2 years old, is virtually useless.

And so, Tilly’s “Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” ended.

THE SNOWY RANGE – Wyoming’s Wilderness Playground

Whenever we drive from Lander to Laramie, we take the Snowy Range Road. The Snowy Range is one of Wyoming’s most beautiful wilderness playgrounds. It is a spectacular drive on HWY 130/Snowy Range Road out of Laramie, climbing to 11,000 feet at its highest point at Libby Flats.

I believe the drive is steeper on the Laramie side of the range. Views of the range tantalized us all the way to Libby Flats where we stopped to check out the Keystone fire which had started the night before and which is now up to 375 acres.

Also took some pics of the views in all directions.

We met a couple at the top who told us they’d been there two weeks previously and had to slog through melting snowdrifts. We were lucky. Instead of snowdrifts we were treated to the sight of abundant wildflowers at the height of their bloom. (There many more species of flowers and I did take pics – lesson learned – don’t format your card until you’ve checked all of the folders!!)

Along the way we stopped to check out one of the campgrounds, Brooklyn Lake Campground. On the way we found a sweet little outdoor chapel, saw a moose foraging in a meadow, encountered melting snowdrifts across the road with tire tracks to follow through the mess, and a jewel of a lake where the campground was situated. Good thing the campground was closed….not sure if it would be wise to bring our 33 foot fifth wheel there, but we’d sure love to camp there.

On the way down we stopped for lots of pics which I inadvertently wiped off of my card – so sad. Near the bottom, before entering Saratoga, we turned off onto a well graded gravel road and took the back way in to Saratoga, past beautiful ranches and an equally beautiful, apparently highly exclusive golf course.

I highly recommend this drive for anyone traveling in this part of Wyoming!!!

SACAJAWEA HERITAGE TRAIL IN THE TRI-CITIES

It has been pretty hot here in the Pasco area. We have been wanting to do the Sacajawea Heritage Trail (SHT lol) since we first came to this area on March 26th to take possession of our new Arctic Fox FW. However, weather (too cold and windy during our first visit and too hot now, end of June), and “TO DO LISTS” kept us from exploring the trail. Finally the other day, we got up early enough to escape the mid-day heat, loaded the bicycles into the truck, and drove to Chiawana Park, Pasco, on the north side of the Columbia River. We headed west, the sun at our backs.

Chiawana Park

Starting out!

The trail as it passes through Chiawana Park.

The trail is 19 miles. No sooner had we started than we spotted a pelican, standing on a rock in the river, close to shore. We had to stop and take pics. In the process we met an elderly gentleman (a 30 year resident of the area) who said that 10 years ago there were no pelicans here. It’s just in the past 10 years or so that they have moved into the area. They are such ungainly creatures but so powerful and graceful in flight; serene-looking as they float in groups down the river.

We continued on, heading west, along the river. On this side of the river, the trail often stayed beside the river offering spectacular views but in places turned inland a bit to pass behind gated mansions perched riverside. We crossed the river over the 182 bridge and continued by the river in an easterly direction, the sun now on our faces.

On this side, we stopped often to take pics or just to admire the scenes.

Heading east along the south side of the river after crossing the bridge.

A short stop for a rest, a snack on some cherries (’tis the season after all), and to watch the river go by.

A “goose crossing” sign. Now I’ve seen them all….flamingo, camel, donkey, ostrich, frogs ….

…and here’s the reason for the sign….a waterfowl refuge with flocks of geese, both white and grey, all honking at each other; a goose cacophony ….  protecting their young? territory? food? who knows?

Continuing eastwards towards (and under) the blue bridge.

Continuing east towards the cable bridge which we crossed to get back to the north side of the Columbia River.

On the north side getting ready to pass underneath the cable bridge, looking for a place to stop and have our lunch.

Heading back under the Blue Bridge to Chiawana Park, our starting point.

This is the route we took:

… and this is the map we used and some more info about the trail: