Real life Rears its Ugly Head

It’s always tough for us when our April “vacation” ends, and this year was no different.  We tend to put off unpleasant things as best we can during this month because it is the most stress-free time we have all year.  Consequently those items start to build up, and towards the end of our time we often have to deal with them.  We decided to take our last free week and go to Idaho and see if we could get some things done.  Before we left we had one last night with Cori and Greg, and splurged on a dinner at Hell’s Backbone Grill.  We had passed the restaurant several times and even looked at the menu, but it was way too expensive for a casual lunch.  Cori was curious and did some research and found out the restaraunt has a very special story.

It was started by two women and founded on Buddhist principles, which is incredibly unusual for a restaurant in Utah, in a town of 400 people.  Despite it’s location it is highly acclaimed and has won numerous national awards.  More importantly, to us at least, the owners have been active in the fight to preserve the Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument and since that matters to us, we wanted to support their business.  We made a reservation (can’t remember the last time I did that) and arrived to a packed house.  Coincidentally it was Easter evening, and they did have a few special menu items.

The cook book with a picture of the two owners in the corner. The older woman came to our table but unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to talk to her.

 

I liked their manifesto, especially not eating anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.

 

The forward was written by Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt who talked about how concerned the locals were that the park area would be ruined. Turns out that isn’t the case and I think it’s a good example of the government doing something right.

 

This page talks about how the women felt when they started the restaurant and how long it took them to be accepted. I will say if two liberal Buddhist women can be accepted in rural Utah then there is definitely hope for this country.

 

The main dining room. we were in a side area that was smaller.

 

The light covers were all old colanders which we all thought was pretty cool.

As neat as all of that was I will say the meal was a mixed bag.  Keep in mind it was $140 for the two of us, and I can count on one hand how often I have spent that much on a dinner in the last five years.  Oddly the entrees were the absolute best part of the meal (that’s usually where I am let down), but the appetizers were mediocre and the deserts were a 50/50 split.  Service was OK…took a long time to be seated and a longer time to get our initial drinks, but once we started rolling he did a really good job.  This restaurant falls in the category of “I am glad we went once, but I probably wouldn’t go back”, but it was a very nice way to end our time with Cori and Greg.

We were all excited about the deviled eggs, but they were pretty bland. The only thing I liked about them was the carrot chip sticking up. It was pretty and tasty and I may steal that the next time I make deviled eggs. It was $6 for 3 with an additional half for $1.  Because the eggs are organic they are very small and again I found them bland.

 

Cori and I got the filet and it was excellent. Local beef, cooked perfectly and VERY tender. The boys had meatloaf, again local grass fed beef, and loved it.

 

We decided to splurge and all order a separate desert so we could try them all. Lee loved the lava cake.

 

The lemon cupcake which I was really excited about was again very bland.

 

I didn’t care for the gingerbread cake at all although Cori liked it. I am not a huge fan of ginger.

 

Greg’s carrot cake was OK, but we all agreed Bill’s is way better.

It ended up being a late night, and we all took our time leaving in the morning because we were expecting a short day. Jack seemed excited to go and I was happy that we were going to have enough time to see a little bit of Idaho.  We had blown through the state several times but never really stopped and done anything there.  While researching I found a combination RV Center and RV park and thought maybe we could kill two birds with one stone and get a little bit of work done and sight see.

It was a nice day and a pretty drive as we slowly headed up towards Salt Lake City.  We even found a cool Flying J along our route that had a petting zoo with a camel.  That was a first!

Just not something you expect to see, but good for the owner for having something unique.

As usual, we pulled into the truck lanes and for once were the only vehicle there.  As Lee was pumping gas a gentleman walked over and started talking to him about our tires.  This particular truck stop had a tire repair shop attached, and since it was the Monday after Easter and early in the day I guess they had some extra time. We knew we had to get our trailer tires replaced before the end of the summer, but the repair tech said they could do it immediately if we were interested.  Needless to say this was highly unusual, but two thoughts went through my head.  First was is this some sort of scam, and second was maybe God was nudging us to not wait, and get it done now.  It would cost us nothing but a little bit of time to get a quote so we finished getting gas and pulled next to their bay.  While Lee talked with them about the cost, I took the puppy for a walk in the nearby field which was full of pretty flowers.

They came back with a quote of $1500, which was on par with what it would cost us later.  My only concern was they only had tires that were made in China, but they were able to show us a very recent born on date.  Again, we were back and forth with whether we should get it done, so we phoned our friend Bill to see what he thought.  After some quick research he said the tires seemed to be OK, and verified the cost wasn’t completely out of whack.  Mainly because I couldn’t bear the thought that we would pull out and then get a flat, I agreed it was a good idea and Lee and I went inside to have lunch while they changed the tires.

This Dairy Queen sign was awesome.

 

Did you know they have fried cheese curds at Dairy Queen? Wow were they good. I know not great as a diet food, but I only ate a few of them.

 

In case you think we didn’t really need the tires…

The repair unfortunately took longer than the hour that was quoted and while we were waiting I called the Passport America campground we were planning on staying to get their after hours check in policy.  Imagine my surprise when the answering machine message said the office was closed Monday for Easter holiday  and no walk-ins would be allowed.  WTH??!!??  Since we had stayed there twice before that was the last thing I expected and started looking for somewhere else to stay.   Lee wanted full hookups so we could flush and fill after being without hookups for so long and the limited choices in the Salt Lake area  were all really expensive.  Finally I found a campground with some openings and and paid over the phone to avoid any issues with late check-in.  While I was doing all of this, the tires were finished and the tech came and talked to us about the balancing crystals he had put in the tire.  Lee was worried about our tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), but the tech said they should work fine together.  Lee also watched him hand torque every single lug nut, because we have several friends who had new tires come off because they were not put on properly.

Crystals used to balance the tire were pretty cool. We had never seen these.

 

Two types of valve cores. The top one is a standard valve core, and the bottom one has an extra piece to prevent the crystals from clogging the airway.

We started down the highway, and less than 12 miles later Lee got an emergency warning on our TPMS.  He immediately pulled off the freeway and got out to take a look.  One of our trailer tires was completely flat, and we were stuck on the side of the highway.  Lee called on the phone and the tech said they would drive out and help.  It took about a half an hour to get to us and the tech stated there was something wrong with the valve or core. The tire would need to be taken off, taken back to the shop, and looked at, but they needed to go back to the truck stop to get the right jack to lift the heavy fifth wheel.  We were both pretty upset, but what could we do, so we sat there until they came back to us.  Unfortunately it started pouring down raining and lightning and we knew they wouldn’t be coming back until the storm passed.  If you have ever sat on the side of a busy highway, you know it is pretty unpleasant and the rain and lightning just made it worse.  Jack was freaking out a little bit by the unusual occurrence, so I put him on my lap and petted him so he would stay calm.

The readout on our TPMS

 

Initial visit

 

Started raining

 

Still raining but no lightning when they came back.

The only good thing was when they came back they brought everything they needed to fix it so they wouldn’t have to take the tire with them, and we were on the road again within 45 minutes.  They stated that some of the pellets got caught in the core, but he had changed the cores on ALL the tires there on the side of the road, and everything should be fine now.  Since it was getting late we didn’t argue, but headed towards our RV Park. The “Lakeside Campground” which wasn’t actually on the lake, had nice pull through sites and better still a terrific dog park.  Jack was cooped up all day and definitely needed to run around a little.

The neatest things about the campground was it was right next to a storage place that had tons of cool vintage signs

Really great dog park

 

Easy sites to get in and out of

I thought the lake would be through these trees but it was actually across the street.

Despite the mis-marketing it was a nice quiet campground and after the long day we got a good night’s rest.  Lee was able to flush the tanks and we felt good about continuing our journey.  Unfortunately, this was not to be as we woke up to yet another flat tire.  This was a different one on the trailer and we were both furious by this time.  I called the gas station owner and left a message and Lee borrowed a compressor from the campground to inflate the tire.  They finally called us back and said the tires could be fixed at any tire repair place and they would pay for the repair.  Lee felt OK about driving to the nearest Les Schwab and it was after 11am when we finally pulled out of the campground.  Thankfully we made it to a Les Schwab about 6 miles away and they seemed to know exactly how to fix the problem.  They said all the tire valves needed to be replaced and they were happy to do it.   It was quick and efficient and they didn’t even charge anything for the work.  We were both super relieved that the problem seemed to be solved and drove over to a nearby Chuckarama buffet to celebrate.

The flat Lee woke up to

Nice, clean buffet

The rolls are baked fresh every day and were super yummy

 

One odd thing was it was Tuesday  or “Oriental night.” Watching the video in the lobby talk about how much they loved the “oriental” food was a bit bizarre. They really should update the name and the video.

After lunch, I took a turn driving.  It had been another long day and we hadn’t even got to Idaho yet.  We had gotten smacked pretty hard with real life and both of us felt the vacation was over.

Pooped out!

One more thing  I would like to add… please be careful when you get new tires.  A shocking amount of people I know have had issues with brand new tires that range from flats to tires flying off of trucks or RVs.  If you have TPMS, I personally would never let them use those beads, because they can get stuck in the valves.  I would also watch them tighten every single lug nut and even double check them yourself.  Also, be sure whoever works on them has experience with RV tires.  They are not the same as semi-trucks or cars especially if you have a tire pressure monitoring system.

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

Finishing the Mighty Five with Capitol Reef

There are five major parks in Utah, Zion; Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, and Capitol Reef.  We were excited about visiting this park, but really didn’t know much about it.  We had driven through several times, and the views were stunning, but didn’t really know much about what the park offered.

Gooseneck plateau off the main road. A little underwhelming since we had been to Horseshoe Bend.

 

Despite the gorgeous views, we knew we had only seen a fraction of the park and since it never hurts to start with the visitors center, we made that our first official stop.

This was a great picture of the different rock layers

And here’s a picture of the beautiful rocks

I had heard Uranium was found in Utah, and was glad to see this exhibit explaining it

It talked about the black boulders that were thrown into the area

Which we later got to see.

Waterpockets that the area is famous for

And wildlife. Cori and Greg saw some marmots but no picture unfortunately

What is unique about this park though is the fact that it surrounds the historic settlement of Fruita.  This was a Mormon settlement that took advantage of the river and grew fruit trees.  The settlement has been maintained and many of the original trees still exist.  It also has the original schoolhouse, blacksmith shop, and one of the homes which was turned into a store.  All of that was cool, but what got everyone’s attention was the pies.  Steve and Deb had been here years before and Steve remembered those pies and wanted to make sure Lee got some.  Thankfully he also remembered that they sold out early, which turned out to be the case.  We were lucky enough to get pies (which are made in the traditional pioneer method) twice and cinnamon rolls once.  The cinnamon rolls are often gone by 8:30am…and remember this is all in the off season.

Schoolhouse

We were lucky and saw the fruit trees in blossom

I also tried the sourdough bread which was pretty good.

But really its all about the pies. They look small but there’s lots in there. The apple was so-so but the cherry was…

Seriously the best cherry pie I have ever had. Dee-licious!

There is even a really nice little campground down in this area.  There is no cell service down there at all, but it has a loop of sites big enough for larger rigs and was really nice.  It also has a great dumpstation, which we paid $5 to use.

Really nice views.

After exploring Fruita we talked about what hikes we wanted to do.  The no-brainer was a short walk along a boardwalk that had hieroglyphics.  I had to use my long lens to see most of them, but it was somewhat interesting.

There were areas of the wall where chunks had slid off.

Several of them could still be seen though.

The signage wasn’t very good so we all had to hunt for them and point them out to one another

At the end of this boardwalk was the best one

Unfortunately many of the drawings were damaged by graffiti which in and of itself shows how long people have been visiting this area.

After that short walk I thought I had enough energy to hike the 2.2 mile round trip to Hickman Natural bridge.  I knew from talking to Steve that it was really steep in the beginning, but since I am such a huge fan of Natural Bridges I decided to give it a try.  The beginning was not only steep but rough and they only thing that kept it from being miserable was it was a partially cloudy day which helped with the sun.  The bridge itself was pretty cool, and thankfully the walk back was mostly down hill, but I wouldn’t be in a big hurry to do it again.

You had to be pretty vigilant on the trail

The flowers were pretty, but not much else to look at on way up

 

The bridge itself was cool

And we could walk right up to it and take pictures.

Besides the bridge there was only one other area that was interesting.  It was a mini arch with a water pocket tall enough to stand in.  We stopped and got some cute pictures there.

Like I said, it was ok and maybe I would have liked it more if it hadn’t been at the end of a long couple of weeks. I also really need to remember to bring my hat, because the Utah sun can really get to you on hikes.  Overall I would definitely say Capitol Reef was my least favorite of the five but definitely worth seeing.  If nothing else drive through and stop and get some pie.  Personally I am really thrilled that we have visited all five (among other places in Utah).  We have spent 6 weeks over the last two years there and I barely feel like we have scratched the surface.  Of all the states we have visited since going full time I would have to say Utah would be my favorite.  I wouldn’t want to live there, but it is a wonderful place to explore and enjoy nature.


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

First Time Seeing the Hole in the Rock

Last year when we were touring Monument Valley, we stopped at the Fort Bluff visitors center and learned about the Hole in the Rock.  Essentially, a group of Mormon pioneers were sent to colonize a new area of Utah and because of terrain and hostile natives ended up traveling through an enlarged crevasse in a rock wall.  This was a big deal for a couple of reasons.  First they had to use dynamite to enlarge the hole and second they had to lower their covered wagons down a steep slope to get through the hole.  Still doesn’t sound like that big of a deal?  Check this picture out.

 

Fort Bluff visitors center is a recreation of the little community the pioneers settled in and every cabin has actual heirlooms provided by their ancestors.  When we were touring the cabins we discovered a Perkins cabin.  Turns out the dynamite work on the hole was done by the Perkins’ brothers from Wales.  The leader of the group met them while doing mission work in the mines of Wales and talked them into the expedition.  Since some of Lee’s family is from that area, we were really interested in the connection and it made the story even more interesting.

 

View of the hole from the water (south) side.

 

Memorial to all the settlers

 

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Unfortunately the only way to see the hole from the south is by boat, so we made a vow to see it from the north when we returned to Utah.  When we were exploring Utah we ran across another small museum/visitors center and learned more about the expedition.

This map shows Bluff to the south and Escalante to the north. The road to Hole in the Rock is 57 miles and requires 4WD for the last 7 miles.

The visitors center had numerous stories, but this picture shows my favorite. The very last wagon was the caravan leader and through an over site he was the only man left at the top with his wagon. His wife put her babies on a blanket and helped her husband start to lower it down. Seriously badass.

After those two visitor center we knew this was a Must-Do on our list but we weren’t really sure how to accomplish it without a four wheel drive vehicle.  Luckily Cori, who had initially recommended Fort Bluff to us, was also captivated by the story and she wanted to go.  Since the Chinook has 4WD capability it was an easy decision and the four of us planned a day trip.  One of the best parts of traveling in the Chinook is that the dogs can come as well, and because it was a really long day we brought Jack along.

Jack was excited for an adventure

Lee giving Jack a biscuit

Hobie wants some Lee time.

And Jack wanted to help Greg drive.

One thing I should mention about this road is it is long and dusty.  I mean keep your windows rolled up dusty.  It also has numerous attractions along the route, BUT you need to be very careful about what you do along the way if you want to make it to the end before dark. It simply cannot all be done in one day.  We chose to drive to the end and then stop on the way back, but I am going to show you the stops as they occur from Route 12. In the first ten miles there are several turnoffs and two of those go to slot canyons.   Before going on any side roads I would absolutely do your research and make sure that the canyons themselves are passable.

In contrast Devils Garden at MM 13 is right off the road and easily accessible.  It is also a gem of a place with fantastic rock formation and easy to walk short trails.  There is so much packed into this one tiny area, it is an absolute must see and best of all no 4WD is required as it is relatively close to Route 12. It’s also dog friendly and we let our dogs explore off leash.

Lee’s pic

Lee’s pic

The dogs got so sandy they blended in, but it was worth it as they had a great time.

It even had a small natural bridge

From left: Greg, Cori, me, and Lee

I took this one. It was my favorite of mine of the day.

After Devils Garden there are two VERY cool slot canyons.  Spooky and Peek-a-Boo are both really great but we didn’t have time to do those and hole in the wall.  Next time we will definitely do those and Devils Garden again and the great thing is that is all 2WD accessible.  One thing I should mention is Spooky and Peek-A-Boo are both tight and require some climbing.  They are only recommended for those who are physically fit and should not be undertaken lightly.

After the slot canyons, it is a long 15 miles to Dance Hall Rock historic site.  The pioneers used this natural amphitheater for celebrations and although it doesn’t look like much from the road it is definitely worth the short walk to see it up close.  This area also has a pit toilet, which was the only one I saw on the entire route.

Jack for some perspective. It is a huge area.

These water holes were really neat

There are places we visit where you can feel the weight of history and this was one of those for me. As I placed my hand on the wall, I was fully aware that it was likely a pioneer had done the same over 100 years ago.

Fair warning, after MM 40 the road gets much rougher.  There are switchbacks and hills and sections of slip rock.  Personally I wouldn’t go any farther than Dance Hall Rock without 4WD, but of course it is your call.  At MM 41.5 there is a Boy Scout memorial dedicated to 10 troop members who died in an automobile accident on one of the switchbacks.

These cute signs are all along the road showing you are following the original pioneers path.

You can see that the road was cut through the sliprock. The pioneers had to bring their wagons over it without a road.

The boy scout memorial.

 

Around MM 50 we came upon a plaque on a large rock.  This is the place they recommend you stop without 4WD and gotta say I don’t see the point of going this far if you aren’t going to complete it.  The plaque was pretty lame and ultimately confusing, because this was NOT the spot the pioneers traveled.  Again, without 4WD I would stop at the Dance Hall and turn around.  It’s also worth mentioning that the last 7 miles took 1 hour and 15 minutes to traverse.  As rough as the road could be prior to that, it definitely requires 4WD.  We actually saw lots of ATV’s in that area and that seems like a great way to travel.

We didn’t see any arch.

Thankfully when we finally arrived at the end it was clearly marked and it was everything we had hoped.  The idea that people traveled through this was was amazing to all of us and we just stood their with our mouths open.  The tunnel was blocked a few years after it was opened by a landslide, but it can be traversed by climbing.  Lee and I were both really tempted but when he saw a 10 years old huffing and puffing he decided it was probably best not to try.  If you have time though we were told it was really great.  You can see rings in the walls they used to hold the wagons and you can go all the way down to the water. I wouldn’t mind going back to just do that and I absolutely am going back to do some of the slot canyons.

The end of the road.

You walk up to the opening

To the left is this plaque

And straight ahead this is what you see,

The “path” is blocked by boulders, but we were comfortable with climbing down a little.

With the long lens.

Jack was really brave. I was nervous but he was more sure footed than I was.

 

Lee couldn’t go down so he went up

 

All four of us really felt it was worth it, but honestly you really have to want this.  The last 7 miles is really rough and the entire trip (with stops at Devils Garden, Dance Hall,m and Hole in the rock) took us 8 hours and 20 minutes round trip.  What made it worth it to us was that is was both historically significant and beautiful.  We also realized how special the day was because many people would never get to experience it.  It is highly unlikely that anyone on vacation would take a day to do this and we are always grateful for sites that we know we would never have seen in our old lives.   One last though I would like to share.  This route was hard for us and I can’t even imagine how the pioneers did it.  A six week journey turned into six months but ultimately they made it through.  I think it is worth noting that it is unlikely it would have been accomplished if it wasn’t for the Mormon religion.  The entire state of Utah is full of pioneer settlements that started in the most inhospitable places.

 

If you are still interested, Lee found a couple of YouTube videos about the journey.  They are old but interesting if you want to check them out.

 

 

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

Jack Turns One

In the middle of our Utah travels, I realized that Jack had turned one.  I wanted to take a moment to write a blog about that and talk about the impact he has had on our lives.  It’s been 7 months now, and things have definitely been different.   I would say that I was surprised by how much of an impact he has made.  Emotionally our lives feel fuller with a dog.  He is a lovely little guy with a great personality and has brought me lots of pure joy.  He lifts my spirits, is a great snuggler, and has lots of energy, which has encouraged me to get out and walk more.  I also really like taking pictures of him and am already planning on next years calendar being Jack-centric!

He has also required some lifestyle adjustment.  We haven’t had to completely turn our lives upside down by any means, but many things we used to take for granted now require some additional thought.  Cori and Greg have been great resources for us since we like the way Hobie handles the full time life.  Here are some examples of changes we have made.

  • Travel Days –  Probably the biggest change has been travel days.  Complicated already, with the puppy things were initially much worse.  He wouldn’t go to the bathroom, he had lots of general anxiety, and riding in the truck was difficult.  Thankfully he has acclimated and now manages travel days with barely a pause.  We have a car bed that he lays in on top of our center console and Lee removed his tool box from the back so he could build a platform for him like Deb and Steve have for Hurley. He finally is going to the bathroom in some places on travel days, and even goes prior to us getting in the truck now.  The worst part for him is probably the hitching process, so I generally take him for a final walk while Lee is doing that so he is away from the noise.
  • Day trips – We used to jump in the truck and be gone for hours but now we need to think about how hot it will be, and how long he will be in the car alone.  If we decide to leave him alone in the rig we need to make sure it won’t get too hot in the rig and how long can he go without needing to go to the bathroom.  From the beginning we have both left him and taken him in the truck and gradually built up the amount of hours in each situation. We also used a crate in the beginning although once I got comfortable I let him have the front of the coach and now we let him have the entire coach.  I really think that is the right approach and it paid off when we recently had a training class for our new jobs and unexpectedly were gone for 12 hours.  He didn’t pee in the RV and also didn’t appear traumatized which was a good thing, although those 12 hour days should be few and far between.
  • Work Days One of the best parts of working is most of the jobs are pet friendly.  We did run into an issue however when we were looking at pipeline jobs because we would have been away from our rig for 12 hours a day every day.  Ultimately we decided to not take those jobs and stuck with traditional gate guarding from our rig, but that brought its own challenges.  Initially with the truck traffic we were very concerned about Jack slipping out through the door.  Over time he became used to the trucks but constant vigilance was always required.  In our camphosting jobs we have more flexibility, but we have realized that Jack’s manners are a little lacking.  We just signed him up for a 5 week dog training course to help with that.
  • Dog Food and Treats This is kind of a weird one; not every store carries every dog food.  Despite picking common brands we actually had to order dog food from Amazon once already, and availability is a big factor in my selection of his adult food.  It’s important that his food stays consistent so this is one more thing to worry about.  It’s also been tough to feed him on travel days.  We have a water carrier for the truck but no great way to feed him, so he usually eats at night.  We love our dog dish for travel days but water and food do need removed and then replaced at the beginning and end of each day.
  • Sleeping – Another major change for us has been him sleeping with us.  This was a conscious choice on our part, and one you certainly don’t have to make.  Since our bed is a Queen it’s pretty crowded in the bed, but he has found a spot at the foot, between our feet.  Initially he wanted to be higher up, but his furry self was playing havoc with my hot flashes, so this position works better.  He has woke us up a few times in the middle of the night for bathroom breaks, but as long as I take him out right before bed it’s not too bad.  This is probably Lee’s biggest complaint.  He loves snuggling with him but hates being woken up by him in the middle of the night, which is fair.  Unfortunately you can’t have one without the other.

Overall, despite the adjustments, I am very happy with the decision. I am particularly happy that we bought a five month old dog, because I really think we skipped the worst of the potty training.  Because he is fixed and micro chipped we also have had minimal vet bills and have mostly been doing our own grooming  I think Lee would be fine without a dog, but he has been really helpful with walks, training, grooming etc.  As I mentioned we are taking advantage of being in the same place all summer to get him some additional training, and I am hoping to take him on some more hikes.  He loves being off leash, but I need to be more careful about that since we are in a National forest with large predators.  Ultimately I would love a dog that was comfortable on or off leash so will continue to work on both.  Best of all he is incredibly happy and photogenic, so to celebrate his birthday I want to share some of my favorite Jack pictures.  Seriously, how can you look at that face and not love him?  I know that I do!

The day we picked him up.

 

Getting used to everything

 

Hanging out with his buddy Hobie

 

Gate Guarding Dog!

 

Jack’s first Christmas

 

Zoomies

 

Happy boy

 

Facing down the cows

 

Seriously how cute am I??

 

Who is going to win?

 

Hanging out with my best buddy.

 

Playing in the dog park.

 

I’m smarter than the average puppy!!

 

Lone Rock Beach is Jack’s favorite place

 

Enjoying our first hike.

 

Playing with my friend Hurley.

 

 

Love this picture Deb took!

 

Lee giving Jack a biscuit.  

 

Lee took this picture!  There’s definitely some love in it.

 

Campground Dog!!

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

 

 

A Day Off And How I Keep Up With The Posts

I wanted to take a moment and write about how I keep up with posts when we are traveling.  As you may have noticed, these posts are in the past, and currently as I write this we are in Oregon.  As a general rule I much prefer writing in the moment and find the posts lose something if too much time passes between the events and when they are written.  When we first started out this used to drive me absolutely crazy and I put tons of pressure on myself to post in a timely manner.  Lee hated the self imposed schedule and we had some conflict over how I was using my time.

Later though, as the blog became more ingrained in our life, he understood my need to write about events.  The balance has always been to make sure I didn’t miss out on living my life so that I could write about it.  While we are working, this has rarely been an issue because we are in one place and have solid internet connections.  When we are traveling it is more problematic and it’s not always possible to write about things as they occur.  To be fair it’s not the writing that is so time consuming, but the pictures.  We easily take 300 plus pictures on a hiking day and every one needs to be looked at.  Once I select the “winners” those need to be fine tuned, sized, and uploaded.  That process can easily take a couple of hours and must be done before the first word is written.  In the cases where Lee takes pictures also he needs time to look at his and see if he wants any added.

Posts with videos are even worse because videos need to be cut, scored with music, and uploaded.  Every video, no matter how short, takes Lee at least 2 hours and generally much more.  So really there is no way to do stuff and process the media from it every day without getting up super early in the mornings.  In the beginning I used to do that, but not anymore.  I do take a chunk of my “day off” and write though because it is an opportunity to get caught up.  Physically I am getting the rest I need and it’s fun to look at the pictures.  Lee rarely wants to spend his days off on those activities though, instead preferring to work on pictures and videos early in the morning.

In order to make all this work I have learned I absolutely need to do two things same day.  First and foremost is to take notes of the experience.  My memory is not as good as it used to be and certainly not when many days have passed.  I use the note feature on my phone and capture thoughts as they occur.  I don’t always use those notes, but I have them in case I want to add them. More than anything it helps me feel I am not missing anything which in turn makes me feel OK about waiting to write about it.  The second thing I have to do is put the pictures in the computer.  Let’s face it, geography can all start to look the same in certain areas and sometimes I have no idea which “red rock” picture belongs to which post.  This is even more important for the posts where the pictures are the star and I use them to tell the story.  Lee and I have worked really hard to find a compromise in this area and now we have one folder for his pictures and a second one for mine.  In general I tend to use my pictures to tell the basic story and use his to add additional beauty to the post.  Not every post I write has pictures from Lee but the most beautiful places almost always do.

You may or may not be interested in all of that, but I thought some of you might find it helpful.  Even if you don’t write a blog I would recommend having a good way to organize your pictures, because I can’t tell you how many times I have had to go back and find a picture of something.  Having them in folders by date makes this MUCH easier, and having them grouped by event even more so.

That’s not all I did on the day off though, I also walked around a bit with Jack and took some more pictures in our boondocking spot.  It was a beautiful day, and for once the wind wasn’t that bad.  We also got together as a group and ran two air fryers and enjoyed some chicken wings with multiple sauces.  Huge fan of the air fryer for making chicken wings, and we all had a nice, relaxed day.  We were also saying goodbye to Steve and Deb who were heading out to their next spot, so it was great to just be able to hang out.

Then we went outside and walked around a bit.  Nice view 🙂

 

Jack was sniffing everything.

 

Our Site

 

Steve and Deb’s

 

Lee and Cori were in charge of making wings

 

Most of them we dredged in potato starch then fried.  After they cooked Cori tossed them with sauce.

 

This has been really hard to find while traveling but Lee found five bags at the little country store nearby. Crazy and tasted really good.

 

Munching on wings

 

And a nice fire in the evening!

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

First Time Hiking Calf Creek Falls Trail

When we were exploring Highway 12 we learned about a hike called Calf Creek Falls.  It was a six mile roundtrip hike with 126 feet high waterfall at the end.  As much as I love waterfalls I am generally cautious of hikes that are that long, especially those that involve waterfalls because there is usually elevation change.  Coming off our successful 850 yard elevation hike in Bryce and our successful 10 mile hike in Goblin Valley, I thought how bad could it be.  We scheduled a day to complete it.  Greg decided to take the day off though so the five of us went in two cars.

The campground where the trail head is, is pretty cool.  Only RV’s less than 25 feet can stay there though, so completely out for us. I tried to talk Cori into camping their in the Chinook though, but there is unfortunately no cell coverage at all in the canyon.

You can see the campground from Route 12

It’s nestled right at the base of the most beautiful red rocks

It costs $5 to park and then you hit the trail

According the the research this was a moderate hike with 250 foot elevation change.  The problem was the elevation change was net and in actually there was much more climbing than that.  I knew better, having learned from Nancy and Bill that elevation changes can be deceiving and as we walked up and then down and up again along the trail I knew I should have done more research.  It was also much hotter than we expected down in the canyon.  It was 20 degrees cooler in Torrey than at Calf’s Creek and despite stripping off layers we were all over dressed.  Lastly, despite being marked as a moderate hike the terrain was difficult.  It was either pretty rocky, requiring careful footing or worse sandy which none of us like.  Walking on sandy trails takes a ton more effort especially on a hot day.

We started at ground level.

Then headed up and then back down multiple times.

The trail was clearly marked except in this rocky section. We weren’t the only ones to go the wrong way and we had trouble both going out and coming back.

as you can see we climbed quite a bit above ground level and I was really wishing for a straight trail along the base of the cliffs by the end.

As hard as the trail was, and I do consider it hard, the sites along the way were beautiful, plus there was a nice guide pamphlet with marked places along the way.  I really like when we are on trails with markers and this one was clearly marked.

These are Gambel Oaks which I found interesting.

The dark vertical lines on the walls result from living organisms. The black lines are caused by humid conditions and the orange are caused by arid conditions which help scientists know what the weather was like. Fascinating.

The very best stop was at a cliff wall with three huge painted figures. They didn’t look huge because they were far away but they must have been life sized. We never would have seen those without the signpost to point them out.

They are in the upper left.

 

What they look like from the pamphlet.

The landmarks had the added benefit of helping us know how far we had to go because several of us were struggling.  For some reason this hike was much worse than any of the ones we had done prior and Cori and I in particular were struggling.  Finally we made our last descent into the valley though and that helped.  It was cooler for one thing, and there was a pretty stream running beside us.

Largish pond

I loved the horsetail all along the path. Really cool. We learned that pioneers used to use it to scrub pots and pans.

Deb was fascinated by the different kinds of trout in the streams. She saw three of the four different kinds in the area.

Finally we saw the waterfall and it was a beauty.  There were a ton of people down near it, but it was relatively easy to get good pictures.  The water was REALLY cold and my plans to soak my feet were abandoned although lots of the younger kids got in.

The four boys on the left stripped down and jumped in for about 1 minute before running out. Like I said cold!

Despite the people we got some nice pics

Deb, Cori and I. Gotta say I feel a little frumpy standing next to them 🙂

Overall, I liked the waterfall and was glad I got to see it, but to be honest I wouldn’t want to hike this again.  Going out was worse than coming in and with full afternoon sun in sections was even hotter. I felt like a whiner though when once again I saw young people carrying babies on their backs.  I can’t even imagine doing that as a young person and good for them.  We took lots of extra breaks on the way out just to make it and it was a struggle.   We were all relieved when the parking lot was sited and on the way home I told Lee I absolutely needed a day off.  We had been doing something every single day and it finally caught up to me, so I was taking a day off.  We both learned something from last years pace and Lee agreed.  That was nice.

Hiking with a baby!

At one of our many breaks Deb showed me this lizard, but when she let it go it jumped onto my breast and then jumped off of me. I screamed REALLY loud. Scared the crap out of me.

Lots of full sun on the way out.

On the way home we were able to get a clear picture of the valley from Route 12. Absolutely gorgeous.

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

First Time on Burr Trail Switchbacks

We could have stayed much longer near Goblin Valley, but not having internet for more than four days was a challenge for all of us.  After taking a look at the weather, we decided to head back to the boondocking spot in Torrey in the hopes that it would be clear. We knew it would be windier and colder there, but it was also the perfect jumping off point to explore Capitol Reef and Route 12.  We had a long list of things we wanted to do in the area, and were looking forward to being able to explore with Deb and Steve.  Thankfully the spots were open ,and we were able to all fit in, but unfortunately it was cold and overcast.  Since it didn’t look like the weather would improve all day on Tuesday we decided to take one of the scenic drives.   Cori and Greg volunteered to take us all in their Chinook, so we set out for Burr Trail Road which we knew would ultimately lead us to Anasazi State Park in Boulder.

Going in Style in the Chinook

 

Deb and Steve on one side

 

And Lee and I on the other. It was nice not to have to drive for a change!

 

Greg did all the hard work, with Hobie as his copilot!

 

Initially the views were a little bland

 

Although we did come across this really cool small town war memorial

When the pavement ended the scenery got much better

 

Lots of different colored rock formations.

 

And gorgeous fields of flowers

 

Greg was an awesome tour bus driver. Anytime we wanted to get out we just told him and we took some pictures.

 

Eventually we hit some construction which led up into the switchbacks.

 

We had read about these but nothing did them justice. Super cool drive and there were so many of them. Amazing.

 

 

After the switchbacks there were some beautiful rock formations

Finally, and it took a while, we just ended up on the backside of Boulder. We were all starving so we checked out the restaurants in town.

 

For a small town they had surprisingly good menus although they were pricey and somewhat limited. We ultimately chose Burr Trail Grill.

 

My pulled pork sandwich was so so.

 

But they had beautiful pies in the desert case. We ordered this piece for $7.

 

And Lee had his very first piece of pie post heart attack. As you can see it was a good piece of pie and he was happy.

(Speaking of Lee, I should probably take a moment and give you an update.  By this point he had completely stopped smoking and lost about 17 pounds.  I had completely quit as well, but had put on some weight in the process.  We were both looking forward to some hiking to help with the cravings.   The Chantix was still working well with minimal side effects, although I still get nauseous from it.)  Anyway, after eating lunch we headed over to the small state park which only cost $5 to get in.  It was a small site where ancient Pueblans used to be, and although the museum wasn’t anything special it was reasonably priced, and a good rainy day activity. Thankfully the rain had held off until we got there, but it was starting to drizzle.

This was a cool display it showed how they made jugs from ropes of clay

This was a really great display as it showed the four different tribes of pueblans in the area. They lived in different types of homes.

 

I also liked this which showed artifacts found in the area at different times.

 

The actual area itself was very small, especially compared to other places we have been, plus it was cold and raining so we didn’t spend much time there.

The gift shop was very nice and had this beautiful display of Navajo rugs.

After the state park we headed back to Torrey and unfortunately Greg had to drive us over the mountain to get there.  It was snowing on our drive through the mountains between Boulder and Torrey which made a long drive day even longer.  He was a trooper though, and we all really appreciated him driving us.  The next day we were all headed to Calf’s Creek  for a 6 mile hike to a waterfall.  Lots to do in the area!


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.