Cody Wyoming and Buffalo Bill

After our fun visit from Sean, Kailyn and Brady, we headed over to Baker’s Hole National Forest Service campground in Montana just outside of West Yellowstone. Of course, the weather turned perfect and sunny right after the kids left! We snagged a great site and stayed for a couple of days ($14 a night, with electricity, senior rate), enjoying the hiking along the river and on the ski trails in the area. It was very relaxing.

Baker's Hole NFS Campground, West Yellowstone

Baker’s Hole NFS Campground, West Yellowstone

Hiking the Riverside Trail in West Yellowstone

Hiking the Riverside Trail in West Yellowstone

Hiking the Rendezvous Loop Ski Trail in West Yellowstone

Hiking the Rendezvous Loop Ski Trail in West Yellowstone

Next we drove the Bear through Yellowstone Park from the west entrance to the east entrance. We wanted to spend a week or so in Cody, Wyoming and the closest spot we could get was in Wapiti Campground which is another National Forest Service campground. We got an absolutely perfect campsite! We could not believe our luck. Most of the sites are first come-first serve, and fortunately for us our site had become available just before we drove up. This campground, and particularly our site, had everything we desire – electricity, total privacy, no road noise at all, a rushing river behind us, birds singing, a gentle warm breeze rustling through the trees, and no bugs! All this for only $10 a night (senior rate).

Love our campsite at Wapiti NFS Campground near Cody Wyoming

Love our campsite at Wapiti NFS Campground near Cody Wyoming

Hiking along the river behind our campsite

Hiking along the river behind our campsite

Hiking the beautiful  Elk Creek Trail from our campsite at Wapiti

Hiking the beautiful Elk Creek Trail from our campsite at Wapiti

We were about a 30 minute drive away from Cody, but we didn’t mind the distance because the drive was so scenic and pleasant.

Scenic drive into Cody

Scenic drive into Cody.  Beautiful little ranches and farms along the way.

12 Cody WY countryside 2

Huh???

Huh???  Bob?  I should have tried to get the story behind this.

The Buffalo Bill State Park surrounds the reservoir of the Buffalo Bill Dam. The Visitor Center at the Dam had a fascinating video presentation on the colorful history and building of the dam. It was the tallest dam in the world when it was completed in 1910 and is a National Civil Engineering Landmark.

Buffalo Bill State Park on the Reservoir

Buffalo Bill State Park on the Reservoir

Wood debris is cleared from the dam every year

Wood debris is cleared from the dam every year

Buffalo Bill Dam spillway

Buffalo Bill Dam spillway – I was standing on the dam looking down

We made the trip into Cody often and had a great time in this historic western cowboy town. Mike enjoyed the bison steak during our dinner at the Wyoming Rib and Chop House. One of our trips to town coincided with the Independence Day Kids Parade, and Arts and Craft Fair at the park.

A glance at downtown Cody

A glance at downtown Cody

Old Trail Town - the original town site of Cody City with authentic structures

Old Trail Town – the original town site of Cody City with 26 authentic structures

Kids Parade passing Buffalo Bill's Historic Irma Hotel

Kids Parade passing Buffalo Bill’s Historic Irma Hotel

An evening at the Cody Theatre

An evening at the Cody Theatre

Dan Miller's Cowboy Music Revue

Dan Miller’s Cowboy Music Revue

We particularly enjoyed the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. It took us a full two days to tour this amazing place which is described as the “Smithsonian of the West” and it was time and money well spent. It is actually 5 separate and distinct museums under one roof, with over 50,000 artifacts. We learned all about Bill Cody’s life in the Buffalo Bill Museum. Mike saw the largest collection of firearms in the world in the Cody Firearms Museum. The Whitney Western Art Museum was so much more than amazing art. All the exhibitions and history made each piece come to life. The first museum we toured was the Plains Indian Museum which so beautifully and movingly depicted the lives and legends of the Plains Indian people. The Draper Natural History Museum brought to life the power and beauty of the Yellowstone region. We attended several of the special presentations put on at various times throughout the day. Always a favorite of ours is seeing the live raptor show. We also attended a bear safety and survival presentation, and enjoyed the chuck wagon cooking demo. We heartily recommend visiting the Center of the West if you visit Cody. Just be sure to allow plenty of time to fully appreciate all there is to see here.

Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Chuck Wagon Cooking Demo

Chuck Wagon Cooking Demo

Making Biscuits and Beans

‘Cookie’ Was Making Biscuits and Beans

Plains Indian Museum

Plains Indian Museum

The Plains Indian Museum was a favorite of mine

The Plains Indian Museum was a favorite of mine

Western Art Museum

Western Art Museum – I love the wildlife art

Frederic Remington's Studio in the Western Art Museum

Frederic Remington’s Studio in the Western Art Museum

The main reason we wanted to be in Cody at this time was for the 95th Annual Cody Stampede Rodeo on July 1-4. This is not to be confused with the nightly amateur rodeo that is put on throughout the summer. The Stampede Rodeo is the real deal. With a $400,000 purse and attracting the top cowboys in the country, it is one of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys of America’s (PRCA) largest rodeos in the nation. I was motivated to get a cowboy hat for this event!

He made my hat fit perfect!!

He made my hat fit perfect!!

The night before the Rodeo starts is an annual event for only bull riders, called the Bull Stampede. In addition to the announcer providing interesting background info on each rider and bull, this professional arena has a large screen which gave instant replay and final scores after each ride. It was so much fun to get caught up in the moment and cheer like crazy for the cowboys that were from any of my favorite places. And the rodeo clown kept us all laughing throughout the evening. I’m not a big fan of clowns, but this guy was a standup comedian. So funny. The beer might have helped. (Actually, I don’t drink beer. It was Mike’s Hard Lemonade. It works on the funny bone the same way.)

Cody Extreme Bulls!

Cody Extreme Bulls!

The clown's job is dangerous!

The clown’s job is dangerous!

The cowboys autograph your program after the event.

The cowboys sit at a long table and autograph programs after the event.

The opening night of the Stampede Rodeo was even more exciting. They had lots of entertainment – from the emotional opening ceremony with the veterans, police and firefighters, to the horseback drill team and their choreography. At the mid-break we were treated to a performance by the EhCapa Bareback Riders of Idaho. This is a group of kids (looked like mostly girls) ages 8-19 whose style of riding is reminiscent of Native Americans. They ride without saddles or bridles and only control the horse with their legs, voice, and a 1-inch leather strap around the horse’s neck. They wear beautiful handmade Native American clothing. Their performance included choreographed riding and jumping over barriers with up to 16 across. It was beautiful and impressive!

Opening Night of the Cody Stampede Rodeo!

Opening Night of the Cody Stampede Rodeo!

31 Cody Stampede Rodeo

Drill Team entertainment

Drill Team entertainment – This is only a few of the riders that were on the field

EhCapa Bareback Riders (that's Apache spelled backwards)

EhCapa Bareback Riders (that’s Apache spelled backwards) – Many more riders were on the field than what is pictured here.  It was really beautiful!

So glad we scheduled 9 days near Cody.  We could have easily stayed longer. But we needed to get over to Jackson Hole for our 13-yr-old grandson Garrett’s arrival. He will be touring with us for a month, and we’ve so many things on our plan.  Much more fun to follow!

Cheers!

Yellowstone with Sean, Kailyn and Brady

We arrived at Henry’s Lake State Park in Idaho ready for our visit from Sean and our two youngest grandkids Kailyn and Brady. The park is about 15 miles from West Yellowstone, an entrance to Yellowstone National Park. We needed to be at a park where we could have an electric hookup and a reservation. There are many public campgrounds in and around Yellowstone, but many are first come-first serve and most of the reservable sites are booked many months in advance. So we locked this in for their visit even though the sites are closer together than we usually prefer.

Our Campsite The Day Before Sean and Kids Arrive

Our Campsite The Day Before Sean and Kids Arrive

Henry's1 Lake State Park

I don’t know if the weather gods were messing with us or if they conspired to give us something special. In Sean’s all-too-short visit, we got wind, rain, hail, snow, and a sprinkling of sunshine here and there. Not your typical summertime weather! But certainly a fun experience creating a lasting memory. And that’s what is most important to me. We picked them up at the airport in Idaho Falls.

Happy Reunion With Brady, Kailyn, and Sean

Happy Reunion With Brady, Kailyn, and Sean

We had a 2-hour drive from the Idaho Falls airport to the campground, so we stopped for lunch at Big Jud’s Diner in Ashton. They are known for their massive hamburgers and the one pictured below isn’t the biggest one, either! The kids and I opted for other menu items, but Sean and Mike just had to split one of these . Apparently, it was good.

The One-Pound Hamburger at Big Jud's Diner

The One-Pound Hamburger at Big Jud’s Diner

The first order of business after reaching the RV was to light candles on a cake and sing Happy Birthday to Brady and then Kailyn. We always miss their actual birthdays because of our traveling lifestyle. This visit called for cake! I never bake in the RV because I don’t have a standard oven. Our RV is equipped with a convection microwave oven, and I haven’t bothered to learn how to cook in it. However, this need for a cake gave me the motivation to read the manual. Of course, Mike generously offered to be my guinea pig and let me practice making a cake a couple of weeks ago. I learned how easy it is, and my first cake turned out great, as did this one. We put 6 blue candles on one side for Brady’s recent 6th birthday. And we put 10 pink candles on the other side for Kailyn’s upcoming birthday later this summer. Then we lit them separately and sang to them separately so they could each blow out their own candles to make their wishes come true!

Happy Birthday to Brady and Kailyn!

Happy Birthday to Brady and Kailyn!

Since our planned campfire was rained out, we spent the evening playing games. One of our favorites with the kids is a card game called “Killer”. Actually, I don’t know if that is the real name. That’s just what we call it. Since there were 5 of us, the game is played with 5 cards, one of which is the Queen of Spades. Mix up the cards, lay them face down on the table, and each player picks a card without revealing what it is. Whoever draws the Queen of Spades is the killer. The killer’s weapon is a wink. Then you all just look at each other. Only the killer can wink and if you get winked at, you must quietly turn your card face up on the table. You’re dead and you’re out. However, if you see the killer wink at someone else before you get killed, you can call out “I know who the killer is!” If you are right, then you win. If the killer can wink at each person BEFORE someone calls him on it, then the killer wins. If you name a killer and you are wrong then you are out, and the person you called is also out. The killer must be very careful about winking at someone so that no one else will see him do it.

Playing this game is fun for all ages, but a 6-year-old can take some of the stealth out of the game. Whenever Brady would draw the Queen, he would exclaim “Woo-hoo! I’m the killer!!” We had to keep reminding him to keep it a secret. And his wink is none too subtle either. It was all so funny.

Brady Demonstrates His Killer Wink

Brady Demonstrates His Killer Wink

Cards Sean Mike laughingCards - Kailyn Sean laughing

Kailyn 'Takes Out' Sean

Kailyn ‘Takes Out’ Sean

Bedtime routine included a tickle fest to wear them out (after all the sugar), but the kids loved it and could have played like that for hours. We might have been spinning them up rather than wearing them out!

Bedtime Tickles

Bedtime Tickles

We drove into Yellowstone several times during their visit to tour different areas of the park. It is HUGE and there is so much to see. I’m not going to post all the gorgeous scenic pictures or pictures of the many wild animals we saw because there will be lots of time for that in future posts. Mike and I plan to be here all summer. This post is about the grandkids’ visit and that is what I will focus on.

A cold front was passing through this week and I’m so glad the kids brought some warm clothes! They needed them!YNP1-Kailyn and BradyYNP1-KailynYNP2-Canyons - Brady talks to PapaYNP3-Geyser Basin

I let Kailyn use my Panasonic Lumix camera on this trip and she loved taking pictures. Now she wants a camera of her own. (sorry Mommy and Daddy)

YNP5-Wildlife pic of buffalo by Kailyn

Kailyn Takes A Selfie With Brady

Kailyn Takes A Selfie With Brady

YNP4-Kailyn photos geysers

Sean and Kailyn Photograph A Grey Wolf.  Brady Decides To Join Them!

Sean and Kailyn Photograph A Grey Wolf. Brady Decides To Join Them!

Another Selfie

Another Selfie While Brady Catches A Power Nap

We arrived at Old Faithful with time to spare before she was scheduled to blow. So we got lunch in the lodge and then, just as we were heading outside, it started to snow! I few little floaty white things in the air, then more, then more. It really started coming down! So we watched Old Faithful from the deck of the lodge. But Kailyn and Brady couldn’t resist the lure of the snow and had to go out and catch snow flakes on their tongues.

Old Faithful Erupts While It's Snowing!

Old Faithful Erupts While It’s Snowing!

Brady Enjoys The Snow

Brady Enjoys The Snow

Kailyn and Brady Enjoy It Snowing On Them

Kailyn and Brady Enjoy It Snowing On Them

We drove around to the Canyons area of Yellowstone and took a hike down to an overlook of the Upper Falls. The last part of the hike is descending 328 very steep metal stairs down to the platform. It hailed on us and then snowed on us during this hike. The hail was very different. It felt light, like Styrofoam little beads. Not like rocks or ice. The Canyon was incredibly beautiful, even if the stairs were frightening.

Down 328 Steps To The Upper Falls Overlook

Down 328 Steps To The Upper Falls Overlook

That's A Long Way Down!

That’s A Long Way Down!

Kailyn, Sean and Brady at the Upper Falls Overlook

Kailyn, Sean and Brady at the Upper Falls Overlook

Of course, we now had to go back UP all those stairs. Mike’s knees were popping before he even got to the bottom, so we weren’t sure how he would handle the climb back up. Our weak link, however, turned out to be Brady! He acted like he was going to die.

Brady Is Wiped Out After All Those Stairs!

Brady Is Wiped Out After All Those Stairs!

Then when we got to the top he recovered in 2 seconds and once again became Sonic (a cartoon character who is apparently very fast).

All Better!

All Better!

That evening we had tickets to the West Yellowstone Rodeo. It was windy and FREEZING cold, but the kids didn’t care. They had a great time at their first rodeo. It was a family-run, kid-friendly kind of rodeo. I think the cowboys actually jumped off the horses and bulls, rather than get thrown. And none of the ropers successfully roped anything, so all the calves were happy. They just ran out of a chute, got chased across the arena by a rope twirling cowboy, and ran into the chute on the other side. It was nothing like the professional rodeo that we saw in Tucson. But the kids liked the excitement, playing catch with the clown, and dancing to the music.

West Yellowstone Rodeo

West Yellowstone Rodeo

Brady Plays Catch With The Rodeo Clown

Brady Plays Catch With The Rodeo Clown

Kailyn Teaches PaPa Some Hand Jive

Kailyn Teaches PaPa Some Hand Jive

Then they had a special event called the Calf Scramble. All the kids in the audience under 12 yrs old were invited to participate. The kids chase a calf around the arena trying to grab the ribbon on his tail. Guess who won!!!

All The Kids Chase A Calf In the 'Calf Scramble'

All The Kids Chase A Calf In the ‘Calf Scramble’

Kailyn Wins The Ribbon!

Kailyn Wins The Ribbon!

I really should tell the whole story. The ribbon actually fell off the calf’s tail and Kailyn was the first to pick it up. So she kind of won by default. But the really funny part of the story is that Kailyn told me she didn’t even know what she was supposed to do out there. The event was announced and it all happened so fast that she didn’t hear the instruction. So when all the kids started running after the calf, she just ran with them. She thought maybe she was supposed to jump on him and ride him!! When the ribbon fell off the calf’s tail, she heard someone yell “pick it up!” So she did. I laughed so hard when she told me that story! I’m so glad she never caught up with that calf!

Another day at Yellowstone, we took the road through the northern part of the park for lots of wildlife viewing and a hike on the boardwalks in Mammoth Hot Springs. I’ll remind you that I’m not posting the wildlife pics because I have so many of the little munchkins that I must post. But we saw and photographed bison, black bear, grey wolf, elk, mule deer, pronghorn, and a bald eagle.YNP16-Kailyn and Brady 2

Brady Watching A Bald Eagle

Brady Watching A Bald Eagle

It Snowed On Us Again!

It Snowed On Us Again!

Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces

Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces

Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs

We took the kids to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone. It is a wonderful not-for-profit wildlife habitat and learning center. We all loved touring the center and seeing up close the beautiful animals which for various reasons cannot be released back to the wild.

At The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone

At The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone

Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center - GrizzlyGrizzly and Wolf Discovery Center - Bald EaglesWe stopped for ice cream, which isn’t exactly newsworthy, except for the fact that Sean ordered their special flavor of the day “maple bacon”. Eewww. Bacon ice cream? It was surprisingly tasty, I have to admit.

Maple Bacon Ice Cream!

Maple Bacon Ice Cream!

Finally, we got some sunshine and we could make our campfire! We were eager to try our new Pudgie Pie Irons that Ingrid (Live, Laugh, RV blog) told us about. Oh my gosh, these yummy calorific concoctions are NOT on anyone’s diet plan. We cooked up pizzas, cherry pies, and Oreo s’more pies. Just shoot me now. I can’t even tell you all the bad stuff in them. Then the kids wanted to do regular S’mores, so we did!Henry's4 Campfire cooking

Yum ..  S'Mores

Yum .. S’Mores

Playing With Lucy

Playing With Lucy

So glad you could come visit us! We had such fun!YNP-Yellowstone Sign

 

Quick Trip Home To See The Kids While Mike & Lucy Stay In Utah

We continued our travels northward, moving through Utah.  Stopped for a few days at the lovely Strawberry Bay Reservoir Campground.  We nabbed a great first come-first serve spot on the hill overlooking the lake and had the whole campground to ourselves during the week.

Strawberry Bay Campground

Strawberry Bay Campground

But the place completely filled-up on the weekend.  It’s a popular fishing spot and it was Memorial weekend.  The weather was kind of rainy, but the fisherpeople went fishing anyway.   I felt bad for the folks in tents.

Going Fishing

Going Fishing

One morning we woke up to see a layer of fog on the water.  It burned off pretty quickly, but I thought it looked really cool.

Fog on Strawberry Bay

Fog on Strawberry Bay

We moved over to Jordanelle State Park because I was flying out of Salt Lake City to take a quick trip home to California.  Mike and Lucy needed a comfortable place to hang out while I was gone.  We reserved a nice spot on the lake that was so pretty I was bummed that I wouldn’t be there to enjoy it!

Jordanelle State Park

Jordanelle State Park

Jordanelle State Park is very close to Park City.  When I returned from California, we enjoyed a day walking around town and having lunch on the outside patio for Bandits Grill.  Park City has many dog-friendly outdoor seating eateries which is good news for us because we like to take Lucy with us when we go out.

Park City - Bandits Grill and Bar

Park City – Bandits Grill and Bar

We took a drive to Olympic Village and watched skiers practice jumps and flips.  At the Olympic Park Training Center they land in a pool.  Just before the skier hits the water, it looks like turbo air jets turn on in the pool.  I imagine they do that to help the fully clothed athlete return to the surface of the water.  Then, they go up the ski lift and do it again … soaking wet.  Brrrrrr.

Skiing down the training slope

Skiing down the training slope

Skier mid-flip, turbo jets on in pool

Skier mid-flip, turbo jets on in pool

Skier post-flip, approaching water

Skier post-flip, approaching water

That was fun to watch, but even MORE fun to watch was my grandchildren.  I arranged my trip home to coincide with my granddaughter Kailyn’s school play.  It was a full production of “My son, Pinnochio”, complete with a number of acts, various set changes, an intermission, and a curtain call.  This was Kailyn’s first stage play and she had two solo numbers!  They obviously recognized her talent!

Kailyn

Kailyn sings

Kailyn emerges from the "Perfect Child" machine

Kailyn emerges from the “Perfect Child” machine

My granddaughter Paige made the All Star Softball Team and I was able to attend one of her championship tournaments.  Her Moorpark team was then, and still is, undefeated this season (currently at 25-0).  So exciting to watch these girls play so well.

Paige receiving another tournament trophy

Paige receiving another tournament trophy

Lance and Kimberly with Paige

Lance and Kimberly with Paige

Paige also received the “Spirit Award” this weekend.  That is an honor that is given to one of the players on her team by the opposing team.

Proud dad with his "Spirit Award" winning daughter!

Proud dad with his “Spirit Award” winning daughter!

I must brag a little more because Paige has also received the Presidential Award for Academic Excellence (Straight A’s all year), as well as the Gold Award for Physical Fitness from her school.

Presidential Award for Academic Excellent and the Gold Award for Physical Fitness

Presidential Award for Academic Excellent and the Gold Award for Physical Fitness

Lest we forget our handsome boys .. Garrett is also an over-achiever in academics and sports.  I attended one of his baseballs games, which are soooooo fun.  I love watching him pitch.  He’s so good!  He’s also a fantastic hitter.  He was just named for the All Star team (as expected), but he declined so that he could come out to spend 5 weeks traveling with us this summer.  We are very excited about that.  He starts high school next year, so who knows if we’ll ever again get the opportunity to have him all to ourselves for that long.

Garrett gets the sign

Garrett gets the sign

Strike!

Strike!

Our oldest grandson Blake is still handsome as ever.  He’s 16 now!  He’s our soccer player and will be a junior in high school next year.  Oh my gosh, where does the time go.  I snapped this picture of Blake and his girlfriend.  It just occurred to me that she must be really tall because Blake is 6 feet.  I guess I never stood right next to her to make me realize her height.  Lucky girl!

A couple of cuties!

A couple of cuties!

The only picture missing is our littlest grandson Brady.  But I will see him tomorrow when he comes out to visit for a week with sister Kailyn and daddy Sean.  We’ll be touring Yellowstone with them.  Can’t wait!  Hope the rain goes away.

Discover Moab Again and Again – The Adventure Never Ends

And That's A Promise!

We sure love this place.  Two weeks went by in a flash.  We will definitely be returning to Moab on a regular basis.

Our sweet boondocking spot!

Our sweet boondocking spot!

High winds prevented us from extending the slide-outs when we arrived.  But that’s ok because we appreciate that it is the high winds that have created this beautiful landscape.  It comes with the territory.  And, of course, the rain.  We need that, too.

Looks Like We're Going To Get Rained On

Uh-oh.  Looks Like We’re Going To Get Rain

After two days of rain, we were sitting in mud.  We didn’t dare try to drive anywhere until the ground hardened.  However, a little mud didn’t discourage the jeeps and ATVs.  They loved it.  We were a little concerned that the road out to the highway would be so rutted from those spin-outs and such that we would have a problem driving on it, but once it was dry it was fine.

We're Not Going Anywhere Yet

We’re Not Going Anywhere Yet

I loved that we were treated to another full moon during our stay.03 Full Moon in Moab

But getting out and DOING stuff is why we wanted to come back here.  We had a long list of things to do, so when the ground was dry, we got busy!

We took a scenic drive to Canyonlands National Park, Needles Overlook and got snowed on!  Ended up eating our picnic lunch in the car.  Then, on a sunny day, we drove up to Canyonlands National Park, Islands In The Sky District for several great hikes.  We did Murphy’s Trail, Upheaval Dome and Shafers Overlook. The views from the trails just take your breath away.

Canyonlands National Park - Murphys Trail

Canyonlands National Park – Murphy Point Overlook

Shafer Overlook

Shafer Overlook, Canyonlands National Park

Several blog commenters encouraged us to do the Delicate Arch hike in Arches National Park, so we put that one on the list.  It was tougher than I expected!  It was only 3 miles round trip but lots of climbing, mostly on slickrock, which I really like.  In case you don’t know this, slickrock is not slippery.  Quite the contrary.  It’s fun to feel completely sure-footed at such incredibly steep angles.  Your rubber soles just stick to it!  And it absolutely was a wonderful hike.  Thanks to all who recommended it.

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

Ute Indian Rock Art, circa 1620 A.D.

Ute Indian Rock Art, circa 1650-1850 A.D. along the Delicate Arch Trail

Dead Horse Point State Park is another area we were eager to hike.  Lucy could go with us on this day.  We completed the East Rim and West Rim Trails logging 5 easy miles around this high-in-the-sky State Park.  Dead Horse Point State Park is next to Canyonlands National Park.  We got another dose of those breathtaking views with the Colorado River below.

Dead Horse Point at the Dead Horse Point State Park

Dead Horse Point at the Dead Horse Point State Park

Yikes!  Don't get too close to the edge!

Yikes! Don’t get too close to the edge!

My very favorite hike was the Hidden Valley Trail.  I’m not sure why it was my favorite.  It may have been that the weather that day was perfect — the sun was shining, the mountains were snow-capped, the air was fresh, the wildflowers were blooming, the previous rain encouraged greenery to spout out of every nook and cranny, the moon and stars were in alignment, and my hormones must have been in perfect balance.  Whatever it was, I was euphoric the entire time!

Hidden Valley Trail - That's our car way down below.

Hidden Valley Trail – That’s our car way down below off Rimrock Road

The hike begins by ascending a series of steep switchbacks up to the top of Moab Rim.  This is where you enter Hidden Valley.  I loved finding this valley in the sky!

Crossing the first half of Hidden Valley.

Crossing the first half of Hidden Valley.

We stopped for lunch at the low pass before continuing to the Moab Rim Trail.

Lunch break along the Hidden Valley Trail

Lunch break along the Hidden Valley Trail

Hidden Valley

Hidden Valley

Down those steep switchbacks and back to the car.  Beautiful hike!

Down those steep switchbacks to the car on the flatland below.  Beautiful hike!

After getting a taste of bicycling while we were in Colorado National Monument, we were eager to bike the Moab Canyon Pathway.  We started at Lions Park and bicycled a nice, flat 5 miles along the Colorado River before taking the pedestrian/bike bridge across the river and began snaking our way up through the gorgeous red rock canyon, past Arches National Park, where we really started climbing.  We turned around at Hwy 313 and enjoyed the mostly downhill return trip.  Total mileage was a little over 23 miles.

Bicycling Along The Colorado River

Bicycling Along The Colorado River

An easy ride along the river

A Beautiful Ride Along The River

7% Grade!  Going down was more fun than going up this hill!

7% Grade! Going down was more fun than going up this hill!

We were so happy when Ingrid and Al (Live, Laugh, RV blog) came back to Moab and joined us for a few days.  We all picked up right where we left off and enjoyed hiking, campfires, food, drink, stories and lots of laughter.  Lucy was giddy with excitement at the arrival of her BFF Ingrid.  Every morning after her breakfast, she would run outside and wait at Ingrid’s door.

Ingrid!  Can You Come Out To Play With Me?

Ingrid! Can You Come Out To Play With Me?

Little did Ingrid know, when she took this picture of a colorful tent while we were out walking, that Al and Mike would have to help this clueless group of kids after they seriously dug their car into the deep soft sand and got stuck.  Al’s Ford F-250 truck handled the job easily.  Mike had a line that was leftover from our sailing days which they used, so both of the guys had male-grunting rights for contributing to the rescue.  Arrr, Arrr, Arrr.

Deep, Soft, Sand Proved To Be A Problem For These Campers

Deep, Soft, Sand Proved To Be A Problem For These Campers

Good Times!

Good Times!

There are so, so, so many more things to do on our Moab list.  We will return, again and again.  Love this place!

Downtown Moab

Downtown Moab

Currently, we are at Strawberry Bay Reservoir, heading to Jordanelle State Park near Salt Lake City next week.  I’ll be flying to California for a week and will leave Lucy and Mike to fend for themselves while I’m gone.  I can’t wait to see all the kids, and get my personal maintenance taken care of .. dermatologist, esthetician, hairstylist, dental hygienist, herbalist, etc.  It’s a lot of work at my age!

 

Colorado National Monument

May 5, 2014

A reservation at the Colorado National Monument near Grand Junction, Colorado, was the only reason we departed Moab, Utah. We usually feel ready to go whenever we break camp and head to our next destination. But not this time. We just didn’t get enough of Moab. So after spending 2 weeks in and around the Colorado National Monument, we are now back in Moab, excited to spend another couple of weeks here before heading north again.

But this post is about our visit to Colorado. Let me begin by admitting that we were warned by our friend Ingrid about taking The Bear up the Monument. She thought we were nuts. We should have listened to her! The park reservation system said we could fit in the campground. And after Ingrid’s warning about the tunnels, we called the park to confirm we could drive through them. Our hearts skipped a beat when we turned onto the Monument Drive entrance and read the sign warning that the tunnels were only 10’6” high. We measure almost 12 ½ feet! But the ranger at the park entrance booth said, “no problem, just stay in the middle.”

We took the Bear through this tunnel!

We took the Bear through this tunnel!

Winding road up to the Saddlehorn Campground

Winding road up to the Saddlehorn Campground

I have to say this was one of the most frightening drives we have ever done. It was only 4 miles up to the campground, but it was the longest 4 miles of my life. The shoulder-less road is skinny and winds up the steep hill with lots of switchbacks. One inch over the white line and you would fall off the cliff. I knew immediately that I would not be going down this road in the RV. We would definitely disconnect The Cub and I would have to drive separately when our stay here ended. Our stay here ended sooner than we had planned.

This is a campsite?

This is a campsite?

The campground is too small for a 40’ RV!! We spent 4 hours trying to set up in 4 different sites. They were all so slanted we couldn’t get level no matter what we tried. We finally squeezed into a skinny site, which was really just a cleared parallel parking space on the edge of the road. Our slide-outs hung into the street. There wasn’t a sitting area, but we were level. We were practically on top of the next person. Plus, this is a no hook-up campground. We need to run our generator to charge the batteries. The only hours allowed for running generators is 8 am to 8 pm. I’ve explained in previous posts that it is hard for us to go 12 full hours without running the generator mainly because of our residential refrigerator. We wanted to get a good charge in before turning in for the night, but at 8:04 pm we got a knock on our door by the camp host telling us to turn off the gen. It was against the rules. Really? 4 minutes over?? And the campground was empty. Nine days here? I think not. We were ready to walk away from the pre-paid 9 days in this campground. The money wasn’t worth 9 days out of my life.

The next morning we pulled in the slides and hit the road. I drove separately, of course. The drive was actually quite beautiful from a car. I met Mike at the Island Acres State Park in Palisade, Colorado. We got a very large site in a pretty park next to the Colorado River. We were happy campers and enjoyed walking Lucy along the path next to the river.

Our spacious campsite at Island Acres State Park next to the Colorado River

Our spacious campsite at Island Acres State Park next to the Colorado River

Since we were feeling the need to make up for the money we lost at the first campground, we wanted to find a free spot to camp. We went to the BLM office and got directions to some open land out beyond the airport. It was perfect! Wide open spaces, sweeping views of the mountains, level ground, and not a soul in sight.

Free campsite on BLM land in Grand Junction

Free campsite on BLM land in Grand Junction

This area is obviously popular with the ATV crowd. We could see all the tracks on the hills around us. Occasionally a few bikes would come around and jump the hills, but it didn’t bother us at all. It was entertaining. And none of them were camping. We had the place all to ourselves at night. Oh, and I also found out that I was getting a refund for my unused nights at Saddlehorn Campground, so I’m very pleased.

A little daytime entertainment

A little daytime entertainment

Then we got a weather report calling for high winds and rain for a couple of days. We considered staying put, but the thought of getting stuck in mud convinced us to go to an RV park until the storm passed. We found a Passport America park in Grand Junction and battened the hatches. Then we went to the movie, ate popcorn and watched a comedy. Perfect way to spend a rainy day!

The typical parking lot style RV park, but we felt secure here for the storm

The typical parking lot style RV park, but we felt secure here for the storm.  This was our view.

Unfortunately, when it came time to check out, their electrical box shorted and caught fire as Mike was unplugging us. It fried our 50-amp plug and we’re just grateful that we have a good surge protector. Mike just went to the local RV parts store, bought a new plug, and everything is fine.

Burned up the 50-amp plug

Burned up the 50-amp plug

Our friends, Al and Ingrid from Live Laugh RV, are also visiting Grand Junction. They had a few days reserved at James Robb State Park in Fruita during the same week as us. That was great fun! We had nightly campfires and lots of socializing. And lots of eating! Ingrid is a wonderful baker and we got to enjoy the fruits of her labors (cookies, pies, cake). Mike was in heaven and I have no will-power around goodies like that! The four of us have many things in common and spent hours sharing stories and laughing a lot.

Our site at James Robb State Park in Fruita, CO

Our site at James Robb State Park in Fruita, CO

The view from our bedroom window

The view from our bedroom window

BBQ dinner with Al, Ingrid, and family

BBQ dinner with Al, Ingrid, and family

Aren't these lovebirds cute?

Aren’t these lovebirds cute?

A night-cap.  Al builds a fire, Mike brings the Frangelico.  Oh yeah.

A night-cap. Al builds a fire, Mike brings the Frangelico. Oh yeah.

Lucy enjoys a run on the grass by the lake

Lucy enjoys a run on the grass by the lake

Ingrid and I take a stroll around the lake

Ingrid and I take a stroll around the lake

Of course, our time here absolutely mandated that we enjoy the hiking opportunities. There is a lovely hike around the lake at the state park campground which I enjoyed several times. Another nearby hike which Lucy is permitted on is the Dinosaur Hill Trail. The trail climbs up and wraps around a hill where a 70-foot-long, 30-ton Apatosaurus dinosaur was discovered in 1900. The highlight of that hike was spotting a yellow-collared lizard. What amazing colors!

Hiking around Dinosaur Hill - excavation site in view

Hiking around Dinosaur Hill – excavation site in view

Yellow Collared Lizard

Yellow Collared Lizard

Dogs aren’t allowed on the trails within the Colorado National Monument, so Lucy had to stay home for our hikes on Corkscrew Trail and Lower Monument Canyon. These were challenging and utterly beautiful hikes that we took on perfect weather days. It felt so good to work out like that!

Climbing the switchbacks up Corkscrew Trail in the Colorado National Monument

Climbing the switchbacks up Corkscrew Trail in the Colorado National Monument

The view from Wedding Canyon trail

The view from Wedding Canyon trail

Enjoying the scenery on the Lower Monument Canyon Trail

Enjoying the scenery on the Lower Monument Canyon Trail

Wildflowers covered the ground

Wildflowers covered the ground

View of Independence Monument

View of Independence Monument

We saw lots of big horn sheep, but I didn't have my good camera with me, darn it!

We saw lots of big horn sheep on the hillsides, but I didn’t have my good camera with me, darn it!

On our final day here, we got the bikes down for 18 miles on the Colorado Riverfront Trail. Going out was great! Coming back was another story. We had 25 mph headwinds that wanted to knock me off the trail. We felt like we were peddling up a steep hill! And I worried about my face getting wind burned. Fortunately, the brewery near the trailhead was having a Blues and Brews Festival that day. So we were able to sooth our weary bones with some great microbrews and replenish our depleted energy stores with beer-battered fish, onion rings, coleslaw, and an angus burger smothered in mushrooms, sautéed onions, and melted Swiss for Mike. We just completely un-did all the good calorie burning from the bike ride.

Riding our bikes on the Colorado Riverfront Trail

Riding our bikes on the Colorado Riverfront Trail

So here it is, May 5, and we just got settled in our boon docking spot back in Moab. The wind is kicking up to 30 mph today and will go even higher tomorrow. So we’ll just sit tight and wait for this to pass. Beautiful weather returns on Wednesday, and our Moab explorations will resume. Can’t wait! In the meantime, we’re celebrating with margaritas since it is Cinco de Mayo. Cheers!

Utah – Moab and Arches National Park

April 10 – 21, 2014

We looked forward to visiting Moab, Utah.  The last time we were here was 23 years ago when we rented a canoe and spent a week on the Green River in Canyonlands National Park.  We have really fond memories of that vacation and just wanted to see the area again.  I wasn’t prepared for just how special Moab would feel to me!  I love it here!  It has the same special vibe as Durango, Colorado.  I think it must be the energy from all the outdoor activities.  We spent 11 days here and only left because we had a reservation at the Colorado National Monument.  But now we plan to return and spend another 3 weeks here in May.  There is so much to do and it just feels good to be here!

Lots to do around Moab and lots of outfitters to help you do it!

Lots to do around Moab and lots of outfitters to help you do it!

Kayaks on the roof, bikes on the back - a common sight

Kayaks on the roof, bikes on the back – a common sight

Mike loves anything that has that old west feel.

It’s a very casual place

Moab

Moab – so cute

Our blogger friends, Al and Ingrid from LiveLaughRV, saved us a beautiful spot on public land just north of Moab.  It was a large and level spot with sweeping views of the snow-capped La Sal Mountains and Arches National Park.  And it’s free.  Love it!

Our perfect campsite on Willow Springs Road

Our perfect campsite!

View of La Sal Mountains from our campsite

View of La Sal Mountains from our campsite

We were lucky to get a full moon while we were here.

Full Moon rising over the La Sal Mountains - view from our campsite

Full Moon rising over the La Sal Mountains – view from our campsite

The lunar eclipse was also going to happen about 1 a.m.  We don’t stay up that late, so I set my alarm.  I’ve set my alarm in the past to make sure I don’t miss special nighttime sky events, but I never actually get up.  Mike would’ve bet money that I would turn off the alarm and go back to sleep.  But I didn’t!  I actually got up and went outside.  Into the cold cold night air.  I bundled up the best I could, but my fingers still went numb while I watched the eclipse go through its slow process.  I’m not the best photographer, but I was able to capture somewhat of a red hue.  You can see the bright star Spica in the photo, as well.

Lunar Eclipse and Spica

Lunar Eclipse and Spica

There are a few good things about getting older.  Not many, but a few.  One of them is our Senior Pass which gives us free unlimited access to all National Parks and Monuments.  We took advantage of being so near and went into Arches National Park quite a few times to do many of the wonderful hikes.

Beautiful rocks in Arches National Park

Beautiful rocks in Arches National Park

Landscape Arch

Landscape Arch

Double O Arches

Double O Arches

Pine Tree Arch

Pine Tree Arch

The hike into the Fiery Furnace is led by a Ranger.  The trail is rated challenging and sounded like fun.  We wanted to do the hike, so we signed up even though we typically don’t enjoy going with groups.  It moved much slower than we normally go, with many rest stops, but the little talks were informative so we enjoyed it.

Into the Fiery Furnace

Into the Fiery Furnace

Ranger-led hike into Fiery Furnace

Ranger-led hike into Fiery Furnace

We also enjoyed the 7 mile hike through the Devil’s Garden.  Lots of rock scrambling and beautiful views.

Rock cairns mark the way through Devil's Garden

Rock cairns mark the way through Devil’s Garden

Parts of the trail had steep drop-offs on both sides.

Parts of the trail had steep drop-offs on both sides.

17 rock cairns mark the way

Part of the trail was soft sand

Part of the trail was soft sand

Another day, we drove out Highway 128 along the Colorado River to tour the Movie and Cowboy Museum at the Red Cliffs Lodge.  You know Mike loves all that old cowboy stuff, and especially loves to see where the movies were made.  I had no idea that so many movies were filmed in this area!  It was a fun to see the old (and new) movie posters and read the history.

As we were driving along the Colorado River, we pulled into one of the campgrounds on the river.  They had a great site available for us the following morning, so we moved in the next day and stayed for 6 nights.  It was nice to be on the water and only 3 miles from downtown Moab.  Our previous boondocking site was about 12 miles from downtown Moab.  So this was great for running into town for whatever reason.  We also discovered some of the great hiking trails that are not in the National Park, so Lucy could go with us.

Lucy got another pair of boots.  She likes these much better.  They are less awkward.

Lucy got another pair of boots. She likes these much better. They are less awkward.

We hiked an easy trail to Morning Glory Bridge, which had a number of stream crossings.  Mike carried Lucy across to keep her feet dry.

Hike to Morning Glory Bridge

Hike to Morning Glory Bridge

Mike carries Lucy for the stream crossings

Mike carries Lucy for the stream crossings

We also hiked to the Corona Arch.  The weather has been wonderful and everything is in bloom along the trails.  So beautiful.

Corona Arch

Corona Arch

Lots of blooming cactus and wild flowers

Lots of blooming cactus and wild flowers

So much of the hiking around Moab is on slickrock.  It is amazing how your hiking boots stick to it.  You can walk on very steep rocks and feel quite sure-footed.

Hiking up slickrock

Hiking up slickrock

However, sometimes you need a little help.

Sometimes you'll find cables to help on the straight up parts of the trail

Sometimes you’ll find cables to help on the straight up parts of the trail

A special place, perhaps?

A special place, perhaps?

We departed Moab on April 21 because we had reservations in the Colorado National Monument near Grand Junction, Colorado.  But we plan to return to Moab after our visit here in the Colorado National Monument.  We just didn’t get enough of Moab.  We’re coming back for most of May, and we can’t wait!  We will return to our spot on Willow Springs Road because even though it is a few miles further out, we like the freedom of being unregulated by campground rules.  We enjoyed the campground on the River, but they had generator hours that restricted its usage from 8 pm to 8 am.  That doesn’t work for us.  Mike needs his Keurig K-cup at 6:30 am!  Then, he brings my coffee to me in bed.  He’s been doing that for 23 years and I love it.

We don’t have solar panels, so we must run our generator for 1-2 hrs in the morning and 1-2 hrs in the evening to charge our batteries.  If the gen has to be off at 8 pm, that means we have to run it during happy hour when we are sitting outside enjoying our campfire, etc.  When we’re out boondocking by ourselves, we prefer to run the gen later in the evening while we watch TV or whatever.  And if we can’t start the gen until 8 am, we lose a lot of our day waiting for the batteries to get fully charged.  We prefer to get them topped up early in the morning.  Anyway, enough whining about batteries.  We need solar panels!!

The Bear getting a bath in Moab

The Bear getting a bath in Moab – washing off the bugs and red dirt

Up next, Colorado National Monument.  Cheers!

 

 

Utah – Comb Wash, House on Fire, and Natural Bridges

April 7 – 10, 2014

After getting our fill of camping on the edge of a cliff in Gooseneck State Park, we continued north on Hwy 191 toward Blanding, Utah, and turned west on Utah 95 for 14 miles to arrive at Comb Wash.  Comb Wash is BLM land and it is free to boondock at this lovely spot.  We read about this location on another blog that we follow Wheeling It.  We have the same size rig as Paul and Nina, so I always feel confident following in their footsteps.  If they can do it, we can do it!  Plus, they always find amazing places.

Comb Wash campsite with views of Comb Ridge

Comb Wash campsite with views of Comb Ridge

We got a very large level site and set ourselves up so that our refrigerator was on the shady side.  This also gave me the necessary afternoon shade to enjoy sitting outside and watching the late afternoon sun light up beautiful colors on Comb Ridge.

Our view of Comb Ridge

Our view of Comb Ridge

Mike and Lucy get comfy for happy hour.

Lucy knows how to relax

Lucy knows how to relax

Nigh-night

Nigh-night

There are many wonderful hikes in this area, but one that we were particularly interested in was the hike to House on Fire.  This is a Puebloan ruin that looks like it is on fire when the sunlight hits it just right.  We read that late morning was the perfect time to catch the light.  What time is that?  We aren’t early morning people, but I figured that we would be doing good if we got to the trail head by 9:30 a.m.  That would give us plenty of time to hike the 1.5 miles to the ruins and still arrive by “late morning”.  I’m impressed that we actually did make it to the trail head at 9:30, but then I got so anxious about missing the perfect sun moment that we practically ran the mile and a half!  We got there way too early.

Mike and Lucy patiently wait for the sun to be right for my picture

Mike and Lucy patiently wait for the sun to be right for my picture

Finally, at about 11:15 am, the flames appeared.  It was definitely worth the wait.

House on Fire Puebloan ruins

House on Fire Puebloan ruins

House on Fire2 I don’t want to take away the magic for everyone, but I thought I would share a picture of what it looks like when it’s NOT on fire.

When the sun gets too high, the flames fade out

When the sun gets too high, the flames fade out

The sun doesn’t actually shine on the rocks.  They are always in the shade.  It’s a reflection of light at a certain angle that creates the magic flames.  We continued on the trail for another couple of miles and saw other cliff ruins, as well.  It was a good hike.

Dirt trail to House on Fire

Some of the trail is dirt

Some of the trail was sandy

Some of the trail is soft sand

Some of the trail was slickrock

Some of the trail is slickrock

Of course, we had to visit Natural Bridges National Monument.  Lucy couldn’t hike with us there, so she had to stay home.  There are 3 natural bridges at the park.  A natural bridge is made by the erosive action of moving water.  We hiked to Sipapu Bridge which is the second largest natural bridge in the world.  It also has the steepest trail to the canyon bottom in the park, and we felt it!

Sipapu Natural Bridge

Sipapu Natural Bridge

On the trail to Sipapu Natural Bridge

On the trail to Sipapu Natural Bridge

Several ladders on this trail help get you down the canyon

Several ladders on this trail help you get down the canyon

Beautiful view from the trail

Beautiful view from the trail

Climbing back up was the fun part.  Whew.

We're under the bridge

We’re under the Sipapu bridge

Huffing back up the canyon trail

Climbing back up the canyon trail with a little help in some places

We also hiked to Owachomo Bridge, the oldest and most delicate of the 3 bridges.  This was a short and easy hike.

Owachomo Natural Bridge from the trail head

Owachomo Natural Bridge from the trail head

Under the Owachomo Bridge

Under the Owachomo Bridge

We only stayed in Comb Wash a few nights, but we plan to return.  There are many more excellent hikes in this area that we have on our list!

Next up, Moab and Arches National Park.  Cheers!