First Time Opening a Campground

I am writing this post the morning of 5/17/18, so finally my posts have caught up with me!  Actually it was a really great thing that I had so many posts scheduled over the last two weeks, because I would have been hard pressed to find the time to write anything.  We have worked in campgrounds before, but we have never been part of the opening process, and because this is a new area for us and we are in new jobs there has been a steep learning curve.  First and foremost there are actually 6 campgrounds areas up here near Timothy Lake (7 if you count the dispersed sites, but that is someone else’s responsibility) and each one has it’s own set of challenges.  Thankfully the core support team (maintenance, security, office, and lodge staff) are all returning couples, but we are new and three sets of camp hosts (out of 8) are new as well.  Each of the 6 campgrounds has a main camp host(s) that cover them, couples or a single depending on the size, and then we have two sets of rovers that help cover on days off.

It was really important to me that all the new folks had the training they needed to be successful, so I was simultaneously learning myself and trying to make sure they got the information they needed.  Thankfully the veteran camp hosts have been extremely helpful, and ultimately we paired the veterans up with the newbies so the new people would have always have a go-to person when they had questions. We also had a team meeting this week, which included some training, and the experienced folks took turns training us first-timers on various aspects of the paperwork and other processes.

Campground hosting in and of itself doesn’t vary that much from place to place, but the paperwork and rules can and do vary.  The way I look at it is that if it is not self-evident to me, it probably won’t be to someone else, and personally I had a ton of questions.  Not surprising at all for those of you that know me.  Thankfully folks were mostly very patient with answering them and as we went along we found some grey areas and got clarification on those from the managers.  And since I am a big fan of things being written down, I have spent a lot of time finding any existing documentation or creating new documents when none exists.  That in and of itself would have kept me busy, but of course there were many other things to do as well.

When you are getting a campground ready to open after a long winter there is a pretty large lists of task that need to be done.  I tried to jump in wherever I could and do actual work and Lee has been going pretty much non-stop since we got here.  Because this is a remote facility, most of the equipment is stored about an hour away in the winter, so multiple trips were made to pick things up.  Lee made one or two 2 hour round trip drives almost every day in the beginning and filled a truck bed  (and sometimes a trailer) on almost every visit.  Simultaneously people were cleaning, putting up signs, organizing, and getting settled in, and despite the amount of work that needed to be done, most of it went very smoothly.  This is where having experienced people was really invaluable as they knew the most efficient way to get things set up for the season.

Since there was obviously a setup system in place, I mainly tried to not slow people down, and remove any impediments that came up along the way.  I also created a readiness checklist to use for next year.  While I was doing all of this I also spent as much time as I could just talking to people.  A big part of my job is to help people get what they need to be successful, and the first step to doing that is to just ask them.  Initially to be honest I felt a little overwhelmed by all the information, but by the end of the first week I had created a master list of risks, issue, and action items and having it all written down in one place made me feel so much better.  And if at this point you think this is all overkill for a campground job, I would politely disagree.  By the end of the first week I had 40 different items I was working on that list, and personally I can’t keep 40 different things going in my head without writing it down.  Plus documenting the issues and actions will help me next year as well, and give me a simple way of reporting to my boss what’s going on.

Many of the issues are relatively minor things, but not all of them.  They ranged from needing to special order a special type of bathroom deodorizer for one of the camp hosts, to having someone cut down a huge tree that was causing a hazard.  Certainly some items (safety issues in particular) are of higher priority than others, but they all matter, especially to the people who requested them, and even if everything can’t be solved, people do deserve resolution.  Personally I hate when I ask about something and it totally slips through the cracks, so the list is my way of hopefully ensuring I don’t do miss anything.  Plus as I said, it really helps keep me grounded.

Which is important, because things have been coming at me at a furious pace.  Because this area is snowed up until a couple of weeks before the “soft opening”, the team never really knows what it is getting into until they can get up here.  Since it is a national forest, water lines, phone lines and electrical lines can all be impacted by trees falling and other natural occurrences and every year when they arrive the situation looks a little different. Thankfully the head of maintenance has lots of experience dealing with these scenarios and has been nice enough to both educate me and keep me in the loop as he works his pretty long list.

So I would love to say that I handled every moment well in the last two weeks, but of course that wasn’t the case.  At times I felt like I was in a whirlwind, and although overall I think I did pretty well I certainly had a few mis-steps along the way. Thankfully those moments were few and far between and in the grand scheme of things I think people understood.  Like I said in the beginning, it is a steep learning curve and people are helping me get up to speed as quickly as possible. Plus I have wonderful support from the management team, and for me at least that has made all the difference.  Knowing that they are committed to my being successful has really helped.

All this being said, I should probably mention again that I am not sure how much or even if I will write about this job this summer.  Because I am in a team lead role, it doesn’t feel appropriate to write about what is happening, unless it is 100% only happening to me.  Since that is pretty unlikely, I won’t be writing much about it, although Lee (who is covering the day use areas this year) may do some posts about his experiences. It’s just different than working at Amazon or the Beet Harvest, and those of you who have worked at both types of work kamping jobs will understand why.  My rough plan is to blog more about our experiences outside of working, but initially at least there might not be many of those.  I’ve been pretty tired on my days off so far and will need some settling in time before we start exploring.  Thankfully some friends are already making plans to come and see us, which is really nice since we may not get out much initially.

The whole point of me saying that is don’t worry if you don’t hear from me.  It just means that work is the priority for right now and we need a few more weeks to settle in. Once everything is open and setup, I am planning on doing a virtual tour of the area.  And if you are planning on passing through the Portland area this summer please feel free to send me an email at camperchronicles@gmail.com so we can arrange a visit.


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

Why We Decided to Return to a Work Kamping Job

Originally when we talked about work kamping our plan was to visit a different area of the country every summer, mainly for the variety.  Our thought process was that it was a big country and we wanted to experience as much of it as we could.  We always knew we would have limited options in the winter because of weather, and we thought eventually we would settle on one winter place, which is exactly what happened.  And even though we are gate guarding in Texas in the winters, because we are independent contractors we work in different locations and for different companies, so there is some variety in that experience.  But summer was the time the entire country (and Alaska) was available to us, so why not take advantage of that?  So, some of you may be surprised that we chose to return this summer to the same place we worked last summer. I thought it was worth taking a moment to explain our reasons.  I also thought that if any work kamping employers stumbled across this post, they might find it beneficial as well.  I will say that as always, this is our experience and our subjective criteria, but I think there is some similarity to what I see with many others I have met in the RV community. So here’s our reasons, and roughly in the list of our priorities, because who doesn’t love a list?

  1. First and foremost, we really liked the people we worked for.  This factor cannot be understated, and for me especially, was my number one motivator for returning.  Neither one of us enjoys being micromanaged, but we also like some direction and structure, especially initially.  This can be a tough balance to strike, but the folks we worked for last year tried very hard to give us autonomy and direction and those efforts were much appreciated. There was also a level of professionalism and respect that mattered to me in particular.  Yes, these are “campground jobs”, and yes, many of us are semi-retired, but that doesn’t mean it should be a free-for-all.  The atmosphere is certainly more informal than my previous corporate jobs, which I appreciate very much, but there are also limits and boundaries to behavior and I appreciate that as well.
  2. We loved the area, and this included our site.  When your home is a 400 square foot box on wheels, the outside becomes very important because if it is inviting it extends your living space.  Weather is a big part of that, because if it is raining/windy/dusty all of the time, you might never feel like you can take advantage of the outdoors.  Also, sometimes work kampers are packed together into overgrown/ill kept spots, and if it isn’t inviting, then who wants to sit outside? The sites this company provides are very nice and there is an understanding on their part of how important it is to have a nice living space.  We are encouraged to improve on the sites for future campers, and in some cases materials are even provided to make that possible.  In addition to our individual living space, the surrounding area itself offers lots of things we like to do.  Lots of waterfalls, hiking trails, and scenic drives are things we personally care about, and this location is attractive to us because it offers many of those.  Plus the proximity to the coast and Washington State were huge pluses, because it gives us more places to explore.
  3. We don’t have to start over.  As much as we love exploring new areas and seeing new places, starting new jobs can be exhausting.  There is always a huge learning curve, no matter how experienced you are, and it seemed like right about the time we really felt comfortable, the summer was ending.  It also takes time to fit into an established culture of a place, and since most jobs have returning couples, it always takes a while to get to know people, and figure out the roles.  That’s a lot of work and often stress, and again, about the time we were really forming relationships with people it was time to move on.  I found that I really missed having long-term business relationships with people and the friendships that often result from that.  That was definitely more important to me than Lee, but even he missed having continuity in his life.  Going to a place you know, knowing most of the people, knowing what is expected of you, and knowing how to accomplish that is no small thing.  If is simply less stressful.
  4. Our day-to-day tasks are somewhat fulfilling. I have no problem with doing mundane tasks (including cleaning bathrooms) but the more I get to use my brain the happier I am.  Not everyone is like that, some people really enjoy shutting all that off and just plain working all day, but I know enough about myself now after trying lots of these jobs that it matters to me.  And a big part of that is having my ideas heard.  I don’t expect every idea I have to be implemented, but if it makes life easier and doesn’t cause any issues for anyone, why not try a different way? There are many work kampers I have met  who say these are low level positions and you are paid to just “do the job”.   And honestly I get that.  First and foremost the work needs to get done, but I have always believed that the perspective of the lowest level employee has value to an organization, and I love working for people who believe that as well.  The best employers solicit the opinions of the people on the “front lines” and make adjustments when it works with the overall goals of the organization.  That’s what I experienced last year with this company, and I particularly liked that when they rejected an idea, they always explained why. The “why” of things is important to both of us.
  5. We like the people we work with. We have no expectations we are going to be best friends with everyone, and since people are so different we might be working with people that we wouldn’t hang out with socially in a non-work setting.  That being said, we are both working and living with these folks and we need a level of friendliness and mutual respect to feel comfortable. And it’s important that we feel comfortable because most of us don’t have a home in another location to retreat to.  If you have a work conflict with someone (which happens even in the best of circumstances) it’s likely you will meet them during off hours at the laundry room, common areas, or just walking around.  This company talks about having a safe work environment and that including feeling emotionally safe.  Harassment of any kind is simply not tolerated, and although I am a big girl and can handle most conflict myself, knowing they have my back in an extreme situation matters to me.
  6. The services we have access to are also a big factor for us.  Initially we both thought we could stay anywhere, but after a stint with no internet we learned that simply wasn’t the case.  We need to be able to stay in contact with people and the first thing we did, before even applying for the job was drive to the site we would be staying in and see how many bars we had. We also thought about electric, water, and of course Lee worries about the sewer.  All of that being said, we don’t need 4 bars of 4G and full hookups, and we don’t have that here.  We talked with our boss about our minimum requirements and he took that into account when he assigned us our position.  In order to help with that we made sure we had the right kind of phone service (AT&T works best up here, Verizon coverage is more or less nonexsitent) and we have a booster up to bring the 1 bar up to 2-3.  We also have a dump tank rather than a sewer connection, and use the campground restrooms on occasion to make that work.  We are aware that part of the trade-off for being in such a remote location is some restriction in services, but we were honest about what we needed, and they told us up front what they could do for us.  That’s really the key, because we have walked into situations in the past where the site and services were simply not as advertised, and that is a rough way to start off a new position.
  7. In addition to services in the campground there are also services in the surrounding area.  Where will we do our laundry? Will the doctors and dentists take new patients?  Are there decent hospitals nearby? How far away is the nearest grocery store, and how expensive is the food? These are all factors we are willing to be flexible with, and again we understand that living in a rural area requires some trade-offs, but if I drive an hour to the nearest grocery store (which we often do), I want it to have a decent selection and prices I can live with.  In this case (as in other jobs we have had) the company provides a freezer that we can use to store some stock-up items in, and that relatively minor perk makes a world of difference.
  8. Which leads me to the employer understanding the full-time lifestyle We are aware that unless you have lived like this it is hard to understand, but good employers listen to the feedback from their work kampers and do what they can to provide extra perks that matter to us.  We can all tell pretty quickly when an employer “gets it” and although we are OK with helping educate people who are new to the RVer lifestyle, we don’t have a ton of patience for the ones who want to treat us like “regular” employees, because we just aren’t. Our circumstances are slightly different, but there is also a reason why many employers want us to work for them.  We generally bring years of varied experience to the job, and almost all of us are extremely hard workers with a great work ethic. There are exceptions of course, but I would stack our workforce up against a traditional temporary workforce any day of the week, and more and more companies are discovering this is a great option for them.

As you are reading all of this, you are probably thinking those requirements are a tall order, and frankly we thought that as well.  We were as surprised as anyone, when near the end of last season we started talking about returning, and what that would look like.  We both knew we didn’t want to do the same specific job we did last year, but we hoped there would be a good fit for us somewhere in their organization.  And it turned out that there was.  They looked at us as individuals with skill sets that could contribute, and found us roles that were a better fit. We were gratified that they liked our work enough to go to the trouble, and it further solidified our decision to come back.  And yes, we will still be exploring different areas of the country, but we are hoping to do that during the months of October and April when we aren’t working at all. The month we just spent in Utah proved to us that we can still explore new places and have the continuity we are both looking for, and we are excited about trying a new way (for us) of fulltiming.


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

April 2018 Budget

I’ll be honest I was cringing inside a little before I sat down to write this post, and since I wanted to wait until all of the Utah posts were released before showing the numbers I put off doing the budget for several days.  Ultimately it wasn’t too terribly bad, and I do think it is an accurate portrayal of what a month of leisure time can cost…at least for us.  It’s also important to note that these numbers include travel from the end of our gate guarding stint in Texas to Utah, and then from Utah to Oregon for our summer gig, and we also stocked up on several item prior to getting to Oregon. So taking all that into account, you decide if $5,280 was a reasonable price to pay for what we experienced in April.  From my perspective it was.  Details are provided below.

 

Campground Fees –  We mainly boondocked in Utah, but we did pay some fees at Gooseneck State Park and Lone Rock Beach.  We also had our stays as we traveled, and although we used Passport America campgrounds as much as we could, on one particularly long travel day we ended up paying $47 for a KOA campground.  I hate paying their prices, but when you have a late check-in and are traveling out of season, sometimes it’s the easiest option. 

Propane – Because we were boondocking and it was chilly at night we used quite a bit of propane.  We also filled up our tanks prior to getting to our summer location because we knew that we would be pretty remote and wanted to make sure we got a decent price on propane in case we needed it. Total spend for the month was $106

Groceries – We spent $807 on groceries going over our budget by $207. We would have been exactly on budget if we had not done a major grocery run at the end of the month in preparation for our summer gig.  The nearest chain grocery store will be over an hour away, and again we wanted to be prepared since we didn’t know exactly what we were getting into.

Dining Out – We went over in this category by $133, which actually wasn’t that bad considering. We had a couple of local Navajo meals in Monument Valley and bought food on a couple of our long travel days.  I did try to watch how much I spent when we stopped for gas and think I did a little better, but there is still definitely room for improvement.

Entertainment – We went over by $333, which essentially was our jeep tour day in Monument Valley. Again, this could have been much worse as we did not do the Antelope Tour, rent an ATV, or take another jeep tour, all of which were up for discussion at one point or another. 

Truck Fuel – This number is an eye-popping $1200, which is one of the most expensive gas months we have ever had. Gas in Utah was expensive, and of course we covered many miles getting there and then getting to Oregon.  We also took numerous scenic drives and moved from region to region while we were there.  Basically this was the cost of all the traveling that we did, and it’s a significant amount of money.  That being said, our personal stance is that if we get to the point where we can’t afford to do things because we can’t afford the gas, we really need to re-evaluate our lifestyle. That doesn’t mean we don’t need to be smart about how we travel, but I am not skipping a scenic drive because it costs a half a tank of gas.

Clothing – We spent a whopping $474 in this category, which I admit was pretty crazy. About $100 of that was “legitimate” as Lee needed some more work shirts, but the rest was extravagance, plain and simple.  We love buying T-Shirts to commemorate special moments in our lives and we had lots and lots of special moments.  I really did need some more T-Shirts since I used so many making our quilt, but really we both went a little overboard.

Cigarettes – Again we stocked up on tubes and tobacco for our summer job.  This will balance out for the year.

Home Equipment – I am really happy with this category because despite my purchase of numerous magnets and RV stickers, we broke even.  It’s nice that we did well somewhere in the budget.

Overall, it definitely could have been a lot worse, and I am just glad we didn’t spent the $6K that I was dreading seeing when I did the reports.  We have good paying jobs this summer and will be working full 40 hour weeks, so we will obviously need to make that up.  We are planning on taking some camping trips on our days off and hopefully spending more time in Washington State, but the first couple of months we will largely be staying local as we get acclimated to the new job.


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

Headed to Oregon

We left Moab around 8:30am having gone 9 days on a single 85 gallon tank of water (a personal best for us) and having lots of wonderful memories of Utah. We had decided to give ourselves the extra day of travel in case we ran into any weather issues up north, and we headed out, sad to leave, but excited about spending the summer in Oregon. Since we wanted to travel as efficiently as possible, the first thing I did was look for a passport America full hookup park along our route. We needed to fully flush and rinse our tanks and do some cleaning, and I found one for $20 a night in Ogden, Utah.

As soon as we started heading north we were surprised by how much snow was left on the mountains.  Lee ended up driving through the hilly areas (which had several steep grades) and I took the shift that went through Salt Lake City.  Even though we hit the city before rush hour there was still quite a bit of traffic, and the stretch between Provo and Ogden was longer than I remembered, so I was pretty tired when we pulled into the park.  Wasatch View Estates is a mobile home community that is in transition.  We have seen several of these in our travels, where as long term tenants move out, their spaces are converted to RV spaces and although that is definitely not our favorite place to stay, for an overnight it got the job done.  Lee was able to rinse our black tank several times and we luxuriated in having unlimited water and power.

The next day of travel would turn out to be a long one.  The weather forecast had changed and they were expecting rain or maybe snow at Timothy Lake later in the week and we wanted to get there before that happened.  We decided to push as far as we could with one long driving day and we took turns throughout the day and ate fast food to make our breaks shorter.  Since many campgrounds weren’t open yet in Oregon, and there were no Passport America parks along our route I was really struggling to find us a place to stop for the night.  We knew we were going to have a late check-in (around 8pm) and not all small, independent parks have a process for that, particularly out of season.  I didn’t want to run the risk of pulling into a place that late and not having a place to stay, so after doing some research I finally broke down and paid the $47 (over the phone) for a spot in a KOA. Say what you would like about KOA’s, but they do answer the phone and when you make a reservation with them, it is honored.

Towards the very end of the drive, I was taking a driving turn, and ran into a section of highway that was a 6 percent grade, with numerous curves for several miles, coming in to Pendleton.  It had been a while since I drove on such a long steepgrade, but Lee talked me through it, I went very slow with my flashers on, and it turned out to be fine.  I was still driving when we pulled into the campground, and we were both surprised by how packed it was.  Thankfully our paperwork was on the board as promised, and they had also assigned us a pull through site as we requested, so it was relatively easy pulling into our spot for the night. We did the minimal setup and then fell into bed, both glad the long day was over.

 

The next day our travel schedule was much lighter, which was good because we needed to stop at the main office for the company we are working for and pick up keys to the gate at the campground. There was one long-time seasonal employee up at the campground, but they wanted to make sure we had our own keys to get in just in case there was a miscommunication.  We both enjoyed the drive along the Columbia River and were pleased to see that despite the extensive fire last year, the area wasn’t gutted as I had feared.  Yes, there were definitely patches along the road where the trees were burnt, but there was still a lot of green and we both felt a little bit like we were coming home as we enjoyed the view.

Our first view of Mount Hood was very exciting

 

We stopped at this rest area along the way

 

Have to love a rest area with comment cards…it was spotless by the way

 

And you couldn’t beat the view

 

I found this interesting, that they intentionally removed signs to help with the scenic vistas

I wish I could have gotten some better pictures of the fire damage, but since we were on the wrong side of the road none of my pictures turned out very well.  I did take a moment and go online to see what had happened to the 15 year old who started the fire (he was throwing firecrackers down into the gorge) and discovered he had received 5 years probation and a mandatory 1920 hours of community service under the direction of the forest service.  That may sound extreme, but that fire burned 50,000 acres, caused home evacuations, the weeks-long shut down of a major interstate,  and ultimately cost the taxpayers $38M dollars.  As a mother I hate to see any young person suffer for a moment of recklessness with unintentional consequences, but as a nature lover I hope his sentence is a deterrent to others who are careless in the forest. In any event, we were glad that the fire fighters were able to contain the damage and are once again impressed by their dedication and expertise. Who knows, maybe that much community service with the forest service will turn into a career for him!

You can see a section of burnt trees on the left

It was beautiful day and we made it to the main office by noon and were greeted warmly by people we had worked with last year.  It’s always nice to come into a job and have people excited to see you, and we were definitely excited to see them.  I was eager to get settled though, so we chatted a bit and then got our keys and then went out to the RV to eat a quick lunch.  We always try to pull into a new spot on a full stomach, and after we ate we headed up towards Timothy Lake. We knew that the main, paved road to Timothy still had quite a bit of snow on it, but the “back” way was totally clear.  I was nervous about taking this route because it had 9 miles of dirt road, lots of blind, tight curves and some decent climbs. But I was assured that it had been graded and Lee felt very confident.  Ultimately the road was fine, but the steep drop-offs in several sections made me VERY nervous.  Lee told me to stop looking that way, but it was hard not to since the drop-offs were of course on my side. I think on a few sections I actually put my hand over my eyes.

We both were excited when we saw the Clackamas River

 

And we passed the gate we had to get up at 5:30am all last year and said hooray we don’t have to open the gate this year 🙂

 

The road was in pretty good condition, but there are no guardrails and to the right that is straight down.In a lot of places it’s much narrower, and that drop off on the right has no trees, just empty space.

I was very happy when we were back on pavement and we got our first views of Timothy Lake.  I’ll do a post in the future showing you the entire area, but in advance I will share this little peek.  We unlocked the gate with no issue and were met by the employee as soon as we arrived.  He was very friendly, getting us settled into our site and then let us get setup.  We got our keys, took a little tour, and basically just took a deep breath.  It was a beautiful day (despite the snow on the ground I was wearing shorts at one point) and we were both very happy with our site.  We are excited to see what the summer brings and off to a great start.

A little peek of Timothy Lake. It’s a big one, hopefully I can get Lee to take some drone photos.

 

We will be staying up behind the Lodge and the office

 

Our site!! Had a little trouble getting in initially because of some snow drifts, but we made it

 

This wonderful fire pit and picnic area is for our site

 

After I almost slipped, Lee did have to shovel some snow. It’s been a looong time since he has had to do that but he was a good sport about it.

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

First Time in Dead Horse Point State Park

Lee and I had decided to head out for Oregon on Tuesday, and since we wanted to take Monday to button everything up that left us with one more sight seeing day in Utah.  It was a little hard to choose what to do with that last day, but ultimately I decided that we needed to see Dead Horse Point State Park.  From what we had read and what our friends had told us the views were pretty amazing there, so Sunday morning we headed out.  It was another pretty day, and we made the drive towards Canyonlands National Park as Dead Horse Point sits on it’s border.  We knew there would be a fee to enter the State Park that our America the Beautiful pass wouldn’t cover, but were a bit surprised that the entrance fee was $15 per car.  Despite the fee there was a line when we arrived, and more importantly the visitors center parking lot was completely full.  This was a bit of a problem since they didn’t give maps at the entrance booth, so Lee waited in the truck while I ran in, waited in a line of four people, to be given a xerox copy of a map. Ultimately I am not sure we actually needed it, because there are only two places for visitors to park, and the road leads from the visitors center parking lot to the Point parking lot.  Thankfully, although the second parking lot was also full, there were numerous picnic table areas close by and we were able to snag a spot there and walk to the scenic viewpoint.

Paved walkway and very dog friendly. We saw numerous people with dogs on our visit.

The view was stunning, plus there was a long trail around the rim that we walked part of.  Lee really liked walking around near the edge, but for me it lacked the wow factor that we had gotten from our time at Needles Overlook.  Add into that the $15 and the crowds, and it was definitely less pleasant for me than other walks we had taken, but it was a pretty view.

Dead Horse Point State Park



We did get really excited about this dirt road. We found out later this was the 4×4 road at the entrance of Canyonlands and it solidified the fact that this was a must do on our return trip.

 

We really wanted to be in that little tiny Jeep!

 

The crowds weren’t too bad once we got away from the main viewing area and these rocks in particular were a popular place for people to take pictures.

 

We also had a chance to check out the campgrounds, which are $35 a night, but very nice.  There was a whole new section that looked brand new, and was big rig friendly, and the sites had water and electric, and there were really good dump stations at each of the two campgrounds.  We drove through the two loops, and thought sites 28 and 32 were really good, although you really couldn’t go wrong with any of them. One of the main features of this particular state park are 16 miles of mountain bike trails, which range from beginner to expert, and we saw lots of people out biking that day.  Which was part of the problem with limited parking.  The bikers parked near the visitor center, and on a Sunday at least it was packed.  That being said on our way out we were able to snag a spot and went into the visitors center and took the short hike around the rim to get those views.  The best part of that was we finally saw a sign explaining what those large pools of water are and learned they were part of a salt refinery process in Potash.

One of the site, as you can see very level and pretty huge.

 

View from the trail near the visitors center.  You can see the solar evaporation ponds used to make salt in the distance.

 

And a sign explaining exactly what they are. Though of you Ruth when I saw the sign 🙂

 

Since we don’t have bikes and weren’t planning on hiking any trails, it only took a couple of hours to see the park, and feeling vaguely dissatisfied with the experience we decided to head to Potash road.  This was another drive that we had read about, and after looking at our maps we realized that Potash Road was also HWY 239 which runs along the Colorado.  This drive was really pretty, with steep canyon walls, beautiful views of the Colorado, and again on a Sunday, heavily in use.  Turns out there is a section called “Wall Street” which is very popular with local rock climbers and we stopped for a little bit and got some pictures of the folks climbing. I really should stress here that I am amazed by what an outdoor playground Moab is. Because of the terrain and the Colorado river, in the last 7 days we had seen people white water rafting, rock climbing, hiking, biking, ATVing, and off roading.  I really can understand the appeal, and the town does a great job of providing infrastructure and support for people in all those pursuits.  Pretty impressive really.

Potash Road

 

Beautiful steep red canyon walls

 

Loved the river views

 

Wall Street

 

We actually saw more young women climbing than men which was very cool.

There are also lots of tent campgrounds along this road as well as parking and trail heads for the hike to both Corona Arch and Jug Handle Arch which are both on the strenuous side, but the trail heads were seeing lots of use.  Corona in particular Lee would like to do on a return visit because that is another one of those iconic arches people photograph all the time.  At the end of the paved portion of the road we also saw the Potash Salt refinery which was kind of a cool facility and there was a large ATV trailhead at the end before the road turned to dirt.

Potash Refinery

We stopped at the Day Use area, and Lee walked over to talk to some folks about the road conditions and this is where we got into a little trouble.  The people said the road was in fine shape for a 4×2 so we decided to continue down the road and see what we saw.  It was beautiful, although steep, but I did enjoy it until we hit a sign that said Shafer Trail and the road really went to hell. At that point I asked Lee to stop and turn around, because we just didn’t know what we were getting into and we drove back out to look for HWY 145 which goes on the other side of the river.

The road was OK in the beginning.

 

Really cool rocks

 

And beautiful views

Initially we had a really hard time finding 279 which ultimately it turns out is called Kane Creek Blvd in the GPS.  Despite the fact that it was literally on the other side of the river, to access the road we had to drive pretty far into Moab and ended up making a right at the McDonald’s.  This road was much rougher, and more importantly, narrower, and we saw lots of ATV’s on trailers heading out.  We also saw a group of homes built into the cliffs and caves on the left side as we traveled down the road, which was pretty interesting, and made me think that at some point this was unclaimed land and people had homesteaded it.

This home was really nice

 

But other ones were literally hollowed out portions of sandstone

 

Ultimately the road turned to gravel, but since we were seeing lots of small vehicles we kept going, despite the very steep drop-offs.  I have definitely learned on this trip that I am not a fan of narrow gravel roads with steep drop-offs, and this one was really freaking me out.  Finally Lee found a small parking area he could turn around in and my nerves at that point were pretty frazzled so we headed back.  As we were headed down we came face to face with a Class C, who despite the multiple warning signs against it was going up the road.  Lee stopped and talked to the guy who said he was following a friend and never been on the road and Lee told him, he personally wouldn’t take the rig past the big parking lot that was coming up.  The guy thanked us and we kept driving down and I breathed a sigh of relief when we made it back on pavement.

Thankfully we met the Class C on a slightly wider section of the road.  What you can’t see is to the left was a VERY steep drop-off, and this is probable the widest the road was at any point. Several times we passed Jeeps coming down that had to put their passenger side tires up on the incline to allow us room, and our tires were just inches from the edge.

So now we were both vaguely disgruntled and Lee really didn’t want to end Utah on such a low note.  The problem with having such an amazing time in a place is that not every experience can be extraordinary, and you want to end on a high note.  We both knew that wasn’t really realistic and trying to push it had got us into the last two drives, but Lee gave it one more shot and we stopped at the Moonflower Canyon trailhead.  We had no idea what we were getting into, except there was a reflecting pool at the end, but we started walking and since we could see the canyon end knew it shouldn’t take that long.  Once again the trail wasn’t very clear, but we met a family with young kids along the way and they pointed us in the right direction.  It turned out that this little canyon was truly an oasis in the middle of the desert.  There were really large trees back in there and it was shockingly green after so much desert,  and before long we made it to the reflecting pool.

At the entrance to the trail there is this slot where people had placed pieces of wood and we heard people who had climbed up in there to see some petorglyphs. That was a big no way for me for a variety of reasons, but it was neat looking up at least.

 

Beautiful big trees

 

And so much bright green

 

Unfortunately when we got to the pool there was a couple with their dog and since they didn’t seem to be leaving anytime soon we didn’t stay long.

 

It was a cool pool though, and I would have liked to have seen the reflection without the dog making ripples!

 

Like I said really big trees

Afterwards, we decided to treat ourselves to Chinese food, but the place I wanted to go appeared to be out of business and the sit down restaurant in town was crazy expensive.  Ultimately we decided to try a Thai Restaurant which was half full at 5pm and although the food was good, it was pretty noisy in there.

Thai restaurant that was on a side street

 

We did have some won ton wrapped fried ice cream that was pretty good. Not Chi-Chi’s good, but decent.

 

After having dinner, I am sad to say that I am not a huge fan of the town of Moab itself.  I’ve gone to both grocery stores, gotten a haircut, ate in restaurants, and met some people that grew up there.  It’s definitely a resort town, and although I appreciate supporting local businesses, needing to travel 1-1/2 hours to get to a large “chain” grocery store is a bit much.  The prices in town are inflated, of course, and it is definitely geared towards the tourist more than the regular people.  All that being said, the real problem is the way the town is laid out.  It is two sides of a main street and the businesses are pretty packed together and it is definitely not big truck friendly.  I overheard a guy who was living in the area talk about “coming to town” and he said he avoided it as long as possible and when he did, he ran all his errands on one side of the street and then went back and did the other side and then got out as fast as he could. I can definitely see that.   It’s a shame, because when we first arrived I was thinking, oooh, this could be our ultimate place, but I definitely think it falls in the great place to visit wouldn’t necessarily want to live there category.  I did love, love the outside of town though.  My advice would be to completely stock up on everything you need prior to rolling in, so you only needed to go into town if you wanted to, not because you have to.

Although we ended up on a bit of a down note, we have absolutely loved our time in Utah and are particularly excited because there is so much left that we haven’t done.  Since this is between Oregon and Texas and the weather is really nice in October and April, we definitely will be coming back and spending more time here. I really thought that our time in Alaska had ruined us to some extent for anything we would see in the lower 48, but Utah, in a completely different way, contains the same vastness, wildness, and beauty that we loved about Alaska, without the need to drive 4,000 miles to get here.  Seriously, if you haven’t been you really should come.  Everyone should experience this place at least once in their life. But either bring a 4×4 or be prepared to rent one!


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Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

Hiking in Arches and Salt Valley Road

We originally planned an eight mile round trip hike in Arches National Park but despite the mild temps in the morning I just didn’t feel up to it. Part of that was I was a little worried about breaking in my new hiking shoes on what the park ranger said was a “rough “ hike, and partly I was just feeling tired from the pace of the last couple of weeks, so instead we decided to compromise and  walk the easiest part of the Devil’s Garden section and see how it went from there. I also knew I wanted to do Skyline Arch, which as an easy .2 mile hike, and there was a 4X2 friendly unpaved road in the northern part of Arches I really wanted to check out.

We got to Arches at 9am and since it was a Saturday we were a little concerned about crowds.  The line was actually lighter than it was the last time we came, with about 15 cars, so we drove in and headed straight to the back of the park. It took a while to get back there, and despite the early hour and the huge parking lot, it was pretty crowded.  There are several multiple hour hikes that originate from this spot and that usually results in parking spots being taken for several hours. I have to say in these scenarios I appreciate the shuttle bus system that Zion offers.  We didn’t have any trouble finding a spot, but I am sure anyone who arrived much later in the day did.

The parking lot around 9:20.  You can see to the left how far it goes.

 

I took a pic of this camper van because we have been seeing them everywhere. This is a new way for younger couples to try out camping and they seem very popular. I’m not sure I would try and sleep four in one as advertised though.

The entrance to Devil’s Garden is the same for multiple arches and the first part of the path is well maintained.  It is somewhat steep in sections, but extremely pretty and I absolutely recommend walking it as long as you feel you can.  The first turn-off was to see tunnel arch and then pine tree arch, so we made that turn to walk down a hill.  Tunnel Arch was just so-so, you can’t really get very close, but Pine Tree Arch was one of the best we had seen so far. By this time there were lots of people on the path, and while we were walking back up to the main trail, I actually got ran into by a young student who was with a large group.  We actually saw several groups from one of teenage girls to a group of walking moms, along this trail and it definitely brought the noise level above what we generally like on our hikes.

Entrance to Devil’s Garden

 

Path was well maintained

 

Tunnel Arch

You can see me in the lower left for scale. I was glad I brought my hat because it was full sun that day and little shade along the walk.

 

The underside of this arch was really cool, you could see where portions had fallen off to help create the arch

 It really was a beautiful hike and the surrounding landscape was gorgeous.  It was characterized as easy, but I would call it more moderate because I was breathing pretty deeply when we walked back up to the main trail.

We both thought this rock looked like a submarine

 

Lee’s black and white of a very cool dead tree

 

This one looks quite a bit like an alien to me. Give it a minute…see the eye at the top and the tendrils underneath.  Even looks like it is smiling a little.

 

This was about the normal traffic level on the trails, some separation but still lots of people. Wasn’t too bad as long as we stayed away from the bigger groups.

 

We did get off the trail a little bit and walk next to this canyon wall, but really there were limited places you could go that wasn’t with the crowds

 

As we continued on towards Landscape Arch we left most of the groups with smaller kids behind, because the path was a little rougher.  Right when we got to Landscape Arch itself the path turned “primitive” to deep sand, and at that point I decided I wanted to go back.  I’ll take walking on rock any day over deep sand, and although there were two more arches within another .8 miles, I didn’t want to push it.  I had learned about myself the last couple of weeks that I have a tendency to agree to keep walking and then I was getting angry because I didn’t say no to begin with.  That wasn’t fair to Lee, and it is definitely my responsibility to know my own limits, and I had also proved to myself that under the right conditions I was fine with walking for miles.  Crowds, heat, elevation changes, and ground conditions are all factors in the equation and .8 miles in deep sand is NOT the same as .8 miles on a relatively smooth walkway.  Lee could have kept going (he almost always can), but he agreed to turn back, but prior to that we did spend quite a bit of time at Landscape Arch which was very different than the other arches we had seen and had a cool story.

Lee walking up to Landscape Arch.  You can see it in front of him. The path goes to sand around the corner.

 

Here’s a better picture. You can see on the right hand side it’s quite a bit skinnier and I was glad I read the signs that told why. I almost missed them.

 

In 1991, while people were under the arch a 60-foot long slab  broke loose and fell down. Thankfully no one was hurt. They think it was caused by water getting into the cracks and then freezing and expanding, but it shows that these arches are not here forever.

 

This photograph of the event was captured by an amateur photographer who just happened to be there in the moment. Good for him for getting the picture under pressure and how cool to have some of his work be forever part of the park.

 

A couple closeups taken with the long lens of the thin section

 

 

Because of the incident, you can no longer walk under this particular arch, but we did see several climbers pretty high up on the rocks nearby.  It’s not really clear to me where it’s safe to climb and where it is not, but the locals seem to have a good handle on it.

 

I also was finally able to get a picture of one of the numerous songbirds I kept hearing. They had a beautiful song, but are pretty tiny, so I didn’t see them until this one landed on a far away branch.  I’m pretty sure it was a Say’s Phoebe.

 

After we walked back to the parking lot (much shorter when we didn’t take the side trail to Pine Tree Arch), we saw the parking lot was completely full.  Folks were leaving and new people coming in, but by 11am there was a small was to find a spot.  We drove down to Skyline Arch next, which had a very small parking lot and we were able to find a spot.  I was really surprised by this because this arch was a really nice one, but maybe since you could see it in from the road, people don’t walk back.  The initial short climb to get up a hill was on sliprock, but then the trail levels out and despite the fact the arch is up high, I thought it was definitely worth the walk.  There were just a few of us on this trail, and you could walk back and see the huge rocks where parts of the middle section had fallen down, and I just thought the whole thing was really cool.

Skyline Arch from small pullout.  You can see it right over the sign.

 

Really pretty as we walked up

 

And I was lucky enough to catch a cloud as it passed behind the arch, which made for some pretty pictures.

 

It was really photogenic, as this pic from Lee shows.

The best part of the walk was that as we were walking back, Lee noticed a mule deer pretty close to us.  These were the first mammals we had seen in any Utah park and there was a group of five of them that allowed us to get pretty close.  They were very focused on eating the new leaves that were sprouting and we spent a ton of time watching and taking pictures of them.

Love their ears.

 

Lee’s…he got really close.

 

After we left Skyline Arch, we got on the Salt Valley road and headed to the northwest corner of the park.  This drive was mostly flat in a valley, but there is a small section of rocks up in that corner at the Klondike Bluffs.  When we saw the sign we made a left and went to the trailhead, which was somewhat full, but after looking at the steep trail and reading a description we decided to continue down the road.

Entrance to Salt Valley Road

 

View from Salt Valley Road

 

As you can see the road was well maintained in the park.

 

Klondike Bluffs trail head. From the stickers on the vehicles it looked like this was a popular spot for serious hikers.  

At this point we could have gone back through the main park, but decided to chance it and see where the road went.  The Park Ranger had sort of vaguely said she thought it ended up on HWY 191, but that wasn’t exactly the case.  Lee had reset the tripometer when we first got on the road, so the mile markers are from that spot, and he was using Apple Maps satellite view to see where the roads went to navigate us, since once we left Arches there were no signs to speak of.  Surprisingly we had good cell coverage during the entire trip, especially as we got closer to HWY 191. It is worth mentioning that the road condition definitely worsened once we left the park, but it was definitely doable for a car at least, although I would be very careful how far I brought a big rig back in there. We did see people camping in tents in some amazing spots.  I assume the land is public, although it wasn’t posted anywhere, as there were definitely signs of use.

At MM 15.3 the road forks left and for some reason I felt like we should turn.  We stopped there and Lee checked the road and verified that although the turn road didn’t go straight to 191 it got us close.  We followed that road, which was actually rougher than the one we were on, and when it reached a dead-end we made another left.  This took us to Klondike Bluff Road which was right off HWY 191 and we were able to get right back on.  One cool thing about exploring the area, is we had our first up close and personal encounter with an antelope. We have seen groups of these off in the distance, but this one was close to the dirt road and allowed me to take some pictures with the long lens.  Lee wanted me to get closer, but I was having none of that.  It was a male and had it’s horns in and I was just fine with the distance I had.   Cool moment though, especially because we had seen the mule deer earlier in the day.

All in all it was a nice day, although we hiked less than we originally thought we would.  We are definitely slowing down at this point, and I was more than happy to have a day where we got back by 12:30pm.  We have decided to leave on Tuesday, to give us some extra time to get to Oregon, so only have a couple of days left.  I’m going to look over the list of the things we have left to do and pick a couple for tomorrow.

Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

Laundry Day, Scenic Drive, And Finally A Day Off!!

The next morning, despite our vow to sleep in a little, Lee woke up early and went to do laundry.  There are four laundry places in Moab and two have 5 star ratings, one of which he decided to go to. We don’t always look at Yelp ratings when we travel, but for laundromats we almost always do, because the experience can vary so much.  They had lots of big machines though and he spent the time talking to a young man who is full timing with his wife and two kids and he had a pleasant enough time.
I, on the other hand,  woke up really sore for the first time since we have been in Utah.   It’s not surprising really since I was climbing on rocks like I was a 20 year old and even though it was totally worth it, I was definitely paying for it today.  Lee had said before he left that he wanted to do something today, so we settled on what we thought would be an easy scenic drive.
While Lee was at the laundromat he walked over to a local outdoor retailer called Gearheads and saw they had my brand of Merrell’s.  This winter I had noticed at Amazon that my hiking shoes were pretty much done, but hadn’t had the foresight to buy a new pair since we hit Utah.  Since I really don’t like to buy shoes online I was making do, but yesterday had really brought home they needed to be replaced.  His timing was perfect then in finding a store and once he got back we had some lunch and then headed out.  I was thrilled by both the selection and service in such a relatively small store and they not only had my exact model, but also in my size and at the very reasonable price of $109.  Coincidentally, I have been wearing Merrell’s Moab this entire time and replacing them in Moab itself seemed fitting.

Lee going into Gearheads

I tried them on and they immediately felt good, which is why I am such a big fan and several days later as of this writing there was no “breaking in” needed.  For the record I also buy the ventilated version rather than the waterproof version and prefer these because I don’t like for my feet to sweat when I am hiking.  After Gearheads, we also went down to Shopko where I looked for a shower curtain.  My friends Pam and Vicki both have shower doors like mine and as with mine over time they get cloudy.  Their solution, which I thought was brilliant, was to add a shower curtain, and although the selection was limited in town I wanted to give it a try. When we got home later and put them up I was really happy with how it looked.  Lee is still on the fence about whether he likes it or not, but when it’s just us we can tuck it out of the way.

While we were out I also bought some new socks since the last time I bought any was in Quartzsite two years ago.  The price there was great and I kept thinking we would get back, but finally broke down and bought 6 pairs of socks for around $3 a pair.  I also have had the same $10 pair of sunglasses that I bought in an airport over 5 years ago.  The sand and blowing wind had scratched them up and it was definitely time for a new pair.  I made Lee crazy trying on every pair in the drug store, until I finally found a pair that might work.  They only cost $11.99, so if they don’t work for me I won’t feel too bad about it.
You may be noticing a pattern here, and it is true that on certain things I like what I like, and want a bargain to boot. Lee of all people should understand that, because our next stop was the camera store, and he is a sucker for old-fashioned camera stores.  They are pretty rare in most cities now, but we still find them in smaller touristy towns and Moab was no exception.  He went in looking for lens cleaning paper (which he got), but came out with a rotating, polarizing lens.  Several people had recommended that we try a polarizing lens to cut down on the amount of post work we would need to do after taking pictures, so Lee bought one.  He’s going to try it out and see what the results are, and then I may decide to get one as well.  I’m going to wait and see how different his pictures look with it.
The good news is he did NOT buy the wide angle lens the guy was trying to get him to buy, which I appreciated, but we had talked about what we are going to get in the future.  When my camera dies, which I am sure it will eventually do, I’ll take his and then he can invest in a higher end one. We’ve certainly gotten our money’s worth out of these cameras, and I don’t mind at all investing on something more expensive in the future.  See I am weird like that. (The problem with me buying any new lenses for our either of our cameras (they’re the same model) is that lenses are expensive, and our cameras have a pretty heavily cropped sensor. You can poke around the internet to find out what that means, but basically our sensor is cropped at 1.64, which makes a 10mm wide angle lens take pictures as though it were a 16mm lens. Not really much point in spending the money on a lens if I’m not really getting my money’s worth out of it. – Lee)
On our way back to the campsite we took the scenic drive 123 along the Colorado River.  It was a beautiful drive with several BLM campsites right on the river, that I wanted to check out. The first was Goose Island Campground and had several sites that would work for a big rig.  It was all first-come, first serve and internet was pretty spotty, but still very pretty along the water and much cooler than out in the open.  There is also a really nice bike trail that goes along the river for several miles.

Beautiful red rock cliffs all along the river

 

Farther town there was also Upper Big Bend campsite, which despite stating had no spots for big rigs, we saw several we could fit.  Sites 18 and 19 were tight side to side but would work as would 20.  We also liked 9 and 10, but site 3 was absolutely fantastic. Again all these sites are dry camping with only one bar of ATT, plus first come first serve, but they would be a great place to stay.

Site 3

 

Great views

 

We also discovered that there is a large group campground “C” at Big Bend that is across the street from the river.  It’s a really big parking lot in a canyon and from what we could see looked really cool and could hold several rigs.  I am sure there is no internet back in there and I am not sure what the cost is, but it looks like a great place for a group of friends to gather and is close to Arches and Moab.

After driving along 123 for awhile, and again great canyon and water views, we decided to turn onto the La Sal Loop.  We had read about this loop in a couple of blogs and since they said the road was OK for 4×2 we wanted to give it a try.  Lee was particularly excited because a lot of exteriors in the show West World were shot in Castle Valley, and we recognized several of the views from that show. The valley was cool, and the road was newly paved, but as we started up the mountain I started to get a little nervous because the climbs were steep, the road winding, and we suddenly lost pavement and it went to gravel.

There were even trees down in some sections and although the road was partially gravel and partially paved it was pretty scary.  No good way to turn around though so we stuck it out, but even Lee said at the end that in parts it was terrifying.  Lee loves scary roads, so that is really saying something, and I really didn’t like it at all.  If by the time you get there they’ve finished paving it, it will probably be OK, but if not I would definitely give it a pass.  Not a fan! (The problem (IMO) with roads like this, particularly going up) for a 4×2 rear wheel drive is the very thick layer of loose gravel and washboarding. Washboarding is fine at 35+ mph, but at slower speeds, which are required on hairpins and switchbacks, you bounce a LOT. Going up a steep grade in that stuff the rear tires will occasionally spin, which is no big deal, but this road is very narrow, with sheer drops of hundred of feet on the passenger side with no guard rail or even trees to stop you. With our wide dually and the terrible washboarding, the back end would frequently bump a foot or more to the right (the cliff edge) as we climbed, WAY closer to the edge than is safe. It’s the jumping that freaks me out because it’s unpredictable and uncontrollable. Everything would be fine, I would be maintaining a good 4-6″ from the edge, and then BAM, we would slip, hit a bad washboard and my right rear outside tire would be just over the edge. I don’t like my safety margin evaporating like that, especially since all takes is another bad washboard to bounce me a little farther so that the whole tire is over the edge. – Lee)

We saw these rocks in Westworld in several scenes

 

This small hill (?) in front of the mountains was really coo,l unfortunately too cloudy to get a good pic.

 

What you can’t really see he is this is the edge of the road, which goes to a very steep, yes you would die, drop-off.

 

The higher we got the more snow we saw

 

And even ran into a group of yellow pines

 In all fairness I might have enjoyed it more if it wasn’t such a cloudy day.  And it was pretty popular as we saw several mountain bikers and rock climbers while we were out, but for me it just wasn’t worth it.  It was much cooler up there though, and I could see why it would be a popular destination during the summer heat.  We saw some tent campers and even a couple smaller popups and tiny travel trailers, but I personally would not want to take my RV up any section of the road.

The newly paved road was nice

 

But a huge piece of it was dirt like this

 

And the older paved sections had huge potholes in them

We finally made it to Ken’s Lake and we checked out the campground there.  They are reserveable, had 3 bars of service, and lots of big sites.  We liked 37, 34, 29, 27, in first loop. And in the smaller second loop that is closer to the mountains we liked site 45.

Even saw a camper with some horses

 

After what was supposed to be a relaxing drive I was stressed out and said I simply needed a full day off.  Lee agreed, because the drive was tough on him as well, and he admitted he couldn’t keep up the pace. At almost 50 he doesn’t have the energy he used to, but I told him he had been the energizer bunny for 15 straight days and he should give himself a break.  He seemed a little bummed, but I promised we both had more in us, we just needed one day to rest and recuperate.

The next day I went out for a little while and got a haircut at Parriot Hair Salon, which I highly recommend.  I really enjoyed talking to Mallory about how much Moab had changed and the price at $20 was more than fair.

I also went to the Grocery store and Pizza Hut and got to experience the town a little.  The layout was a little rough though, everything on two sides of one long street, and not great parking for the dually, so I headed back and just enjoyed the rest of the day relaxing.


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Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.