Tag Archives: Full Time RV

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:

 

OROVILLE WASHINGTON

We are getting more and more comfortable with our Arctic Fox. It’s easy to tow; easy to hitch especially with the new Curt hitch; easy to level with the 6 point automatic leveling system, and now that we have a routine, easy to store everything in its allocated place, safe for transport to wherever we happen to be traveling to. In other words, we love it more and more every day.

The trip from Steelhead, BC to Oroville WA was uneventful. The drive was as beautiful as I remembered from last year. We took HWY 1 to Kamloops, HWY 5 to Merritt, HWY 5A to Princeton, and HWY 3 through Hedley and Keremeos to the Osoyoos border crossing. There was no wait, not even one other car in front of us. After a brief ‘Agriculture Inspection’ where they took away my limes and lemons and asked several times if we had any pets (we don’t) we were through and on our way to Osoyoos Lake Veteran’s Memorial Park.

Last year we stayed in the parking lot at Princes which has now been taken over by new owners who have shut down their facilities. It is still possible to park there for free but we preferred this time to stay at Veteran’s Memorial Park. It is a beautiful park, well maintained with power and water hookups, as well as shower and toilet facilities, right on the shores of Osoyoos Lake. Most of the time here for us it has been very quiet with few campers. However, July and August will be fully booked as is always the case here. As a matter of fact, today, (Friday) there have been quite a number of campers arriving at the park.

View of our campsite & Arctic Fox from the water.

Boat launch.

We’ve spent our time here:
Visiting with friends;

Making a beer run!

Close enough to walk for groceries.

Kayaking;

Great beach to take off from.

Birdwatching is so rewarding from a kayak.

The lake was like glass.

Our new ‘wheelie cart’ attracted a lot of attention & questions. Works great. Bought it on Amazon for about $40.

Birdwatcher extra-ordinaire in action.

Red necked grebe and her babe.

Hiking the Similkameen Trail which we learned is one small section of the Pacific Northwest Scenic Trail;

The Taber trailhead halfway along the trail for a shorter hike.

Mikal on the old train trestle.

Visiting a most amazing outdoor museum in Molson and driving the scenic 9 mile road with signboards explaining the historical significance of the area;

Some history!

More history of the area.

The old Molson School museum.

Visiting local eateries. We went out for brunch once to Eva’s Diner & Bakery, and to dinner twice. The first time to a Mexican restaurant called ‘Rancho Grande’ and the second time to ‘Pastimes’ a local pub/eatery well known for its burgers (elk, bison, beef, pulled pork). Both places were excellent.

The food was excellent but we were initially attracted by the colorful benches outside. All the furniture inside is of the same style.

Great food & prices. Favorite of bikers.

We ended up our visit to Oroville with a concert at the local Alpine Brewing Company. They featured a group called “Hippies on Vacation” while serving great brews and wine (which they only sold by the bottle – poor me!!).

Great venue outside on the patio – waiting for the concert to begin.

Lazy Days at Steelhead Provincial Park

Steelhead Provincial Park is a small park in the town of Savona BC, on the banks of Kamloops Lake, just where it empties into the Thompson River. We stayed at Steelhead for 17 spectacular days. Spectacular for the good times with dear friends, for the views of the lake, for the maintenance of the park by the staff, for the cleanliness of its facilities (hot showers and flush toilets), and for the friendliness of the park staff and the fun we had with them.

Power & electric sites in the foreground, lakefront sites beyond.

Since we were there from the end of May to mid – June, we experienced the lake and the river while they were at their highest levels. Once, twice and some days even more, we walked to the lake’s edge to check the markers we had established (small sticks pushed into the sand) to check the water level. Most of our time there, the water level of the lake went up, often washing away our markers.

Driftwood & debris washed ashore.

Steelhead from across the lake.

Close – up from across the lake.

We stayed in two different sites. The first site was in an open meadow with lots of trees, chosen because we were able to set up a group camp area with our friends. In addition, it was a bit more sheltered from the winds and fewer people chose to camp there, choosing instead the lakefront and water/electrical sites (of which there were only 8). We ‘dry-camped’ there for 12 days which gave us a good feeling about the capacities of our grey/black tanks as well as the amount of time our batteries would last.

The second site was right where the lake narrowed and curved into/became the river. We stayed at that site, on our own, for the next 6 days, continuing to ‘dry-camp.’ There is no sani-station at this park so at one point we did pack up and drive to Juniper Beach Provincial Park which had a coin-operated ($5) sani-station, to dump both tanks and which was the closest at only 5 miles or so north of where we were.

The current was very strong and the water level was so high that many of the trees normally on the banks were deep in water. This attracted many birds and the odd beaver too. It was here that the almost full-time bird-watching started. We had a spectacular view; no sooner did we get ourselves seated, either inside or out, than a bird would appear. We got to know them and to understand some of their habits.

Bullock’s Oriole

Eastern Kingbird

Lewis Woodpecker

Magpie. Curious as ever.

Meadowlark with such a sweet song.

Northern Flicker

Starlings in a tree just beside our fifth wheel.

Merganzer & babies – we counted 18 one day and 23 the next!

We also enjoyed a paddle or two with the kayaks but since we were at the end of the lake the wind would funnel down the river canyon from either end, creating strong winds and white caps. I’m a fair weather kayaker and enjoy the peace and calm accompanied by the warmth of the sun that come with that kind of kayaking.

We explored the area west to Walhachin;

On the south side of the Thompson River looking west.

On the south side looking east towards Steelhead.

The bridge we crossed to get to Walhachin.

Osprey nest which has been added to over the many years its been there!

Close-up of the osprey nest.

Crossing back over on our way home.

and east towards Kamloops to see the amazing but little known Balancing Rock.

The hike to get to the balancing rock.

The view.

The Balancing Rock.

Close up.

Notice the small figure of a person in the foreground to get an idea of the size.

The time finally came for us to head south towards Osoyoos and the border crossing at Oroville.

OLYMPIA & THE NISQUALLY WILDLIFE REFUGE

Packed up and ready to leave by 10, we headed out of our spot….oh so carefully….I watched while Mike pulled out….all A-Okay! No encounters with trees. I hopped back in the truck and we headed down the road to “dump our load” at the sani-station before hitting the open road. As we were driving on the main road out of the park, we heard a funny noise. I barely heard it; sounded like the splash of water hitting the road. I thought it was water from the roof, or maybe elsewhere, that was set in motion with the driving. Mike thought it was the bikes but we kept on going until a car driving behind us flashed its lights. The driver told us a tree had reached out and grabbed our antenna. It pulled it right out by the roots and let it fall to the pavement where bits and pieces of plastic broke off. Thankfully the park rangers happened on the scene and drove back to get the antenna while Mike drove to the sani-station, fuming with anger at Arctic Fox and their major design flaw. I was upset too, not angry….but then….I wasn’t the one that would have to fix it. It had started to rain again which didn’t make the fixing job any more pleasant for Mike. While he got busy fixing, I gave our contact details to the rangers who promised to fill out an incident report for their own purposes as well as ours, for insurance purposes.

By the time we got going it was 1130. Once again on this drive, I was another “Nervous Nellie” until we hit I5. The new Rand McNally GPS made major mistakes twice!! First in Longview and then again nearer Olympia where it took us past where we should have exited and had us take the next exit, go over the I 5 and then right back on the I5 heading south again. After that though, we had no problems finding the Landyacht Harbor RV Park, where they were very friendly and welcoming. It’s a great park and very quiet while we were there. The only problem was that all of the connections were at the back of the trailer which meant the electrical cord had to stretch all the way out – first time for that….and the black/grey water hose was stretched to the max. Thankfully we had an extra section of hose.

The next day we met Mike’s cousin at the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge which was the highlight of our visit. Beautiful! Spectacular! Phenomenal! We walked, took pics, talked, met a photographer who had taken some great pics of the baby great horned owls (it took him 8 hours of sitting patiently waiting but his shot was well worth it) and who showed us the tree where the owlets were (they didn’t appear for us). He also pointed out a peregrine falcon, and a nest that looked like a weaver bird and a hummingbird nest. He was very quick to spot birds.

Goose IN a nest!

Goose ON a barn roof!

Goose IN a tree!

Goose ON a tree!

Colorful lichens.

We were up early the next morning as it was a travel day….a BIG travel day in our perceptions as we had to drive from Olympia through Tacoma, Seatac, and Seattle. We had everything ready and were on the road by 915.

The first part of the trip, there wasn’t too much traffic but through Tacoma it was heavy but then thinned out again. Not for long. Soon, we were caught up in bumper to bumper traffic pretty much until after Mercer Street in downtown Seattle when it at least started to flow a bit faster. We’d been inching along for a long ways.

The border crossing was a bit hairy but only because of our size and trying to fit through the gates. They asked a few questions but before long we were on our way. No sooner had we gotten back on HWY 99 and we had to turn on 2nd Ave. That turned out to be the “Fast Track” for the commercial trucks. Our turn came right after. Reached the park easily, registered and got into our site, a pull-through. Nice park but we are very close to one another….can almost see into the windows of the rig beside us and behind us. The best thing about this park was its proximity to a splendid little bar called Bennett’s Pub….a five minute walk!