Find us on Google+ Rick and JoAnne's RV Travels: September 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rick Morgan

Hoodoos

Before we cover today’s events we need to mention a couple of items. When we were in Zion, we commented several times on the incredible Southern Utah night skies. Bryce, in fact, known for its phenomenal stargazing was amazing last night. The skies were spectacular! It is estimated that less than half the residents of the Northern Hemisphere can see the Milky Way. In Bryce’s naturally dark sky and high dry altitude not only is the Milky Way easy to see – so are 7,500 stars with the unaided eye. By contrast, in a small town it might be possible to see 2,500 stars. In Denver – forget it.

We walked around the small loop in our campground and counted the rental RVs that are almost exclusively rented by foreigners. We know because when we say hello we hear the French, German, Japanese, British, and Australian accents. The amount of foreign tourists has also been a topic of conversation. We first noticed the number of RV rentals in Yellowstone. In Zion, we estimated that 50 -60 % of the tourists were foreign. In Bryce, it is probably 60 -75%. One wonders how our parks would be surviving with out the foreign support – Clearly, Americans are not traveling.


OK – Today. We started out at the Visitor’s Center and enjoyed the short introductory video. Then on to Rainbow Point and slowly worked our way back stopping at Agua Canyon, Natural Bridge, Fairview Point, Bryce Point, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, and Sunrise Point. Hoodoos, Hoodoos, and more Hoodoos – they are the fantastic shapes left by erosion. It was mid-afternoon by the time we hiked out to Sunrise Point and then treated to a lightning storm over the distant mesas.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Rick Morgan

Sensory Overload

We were very happy to find out all of the Dune Buggy’s kept the quite hours! They were amazing though – from elaborate homemade ones to very pricey “store bought” ones. Before leaving Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Rick took some early morning photos of one of our Anthem “friends” – all of you real friends at Anthem Ranch will enjoy these photos of a Black Tailed Jack Rabbit.

As we were driving towards our final destination of Bryce National Canyon today, we spotted the most unusual site – a cow actually standing next to its own sign. Cute! T2 made a very hard climb (10,460’) to Cedar Breaks National Monument, and treated to what is to be the beginning of more astonishing natural wonders. As we travel the scenic by-ways of southern Utah, what’s becoming very clear to us is how it easy it would be to become desensitized - at each turn revealing a never-ending spectacular view, amazing panorama, and wondrous colors of this beautiful country.

The highways leading to Cedar Breaks and down to Panguitch Lake treated us to Utah’s version of “Colorado’s changing of the Aspen” - a breathtaking show of color!


Tonight we are camped at a heavily wooded, primitive campground in Bryce National Canyon. Our plan is to stay put for the next three days and explore Bryce.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Rick Morgan

Sand, Sand, and More Sand

Today, after watching the sun rise on Lake Powell we headed into Page to begin our trip to Antelope Slot Canyon. Part of the adventure is just getting there. Antelope Canyon is on the Navajo reservation and all the trip guides are Navajo. Milo our guide loaded six of us including Sandy (she was invited to go along (very cool) into an old 4 wheel drive wagon. Much of the trip is along a wash, which means it was a wild ride and we were kicking up lots of sand. BTW – our guide Milo was 22 and spoke Navajo, English (learned when he was 10), Spanish, French and some Japanese. He has been traveling much of the world promoting his culture.

Once we all unloaded and began our walk through the canyon the awe and shutter clicking never stopped. The canyon is an amazing place. It is a very narrow slot canyon and as the pictures will show; as the beams of sunlight enter, the canyon there is a never-ending array of color, light, and shadow. A highlight was Milo playing the flute inside the canyon. It was a great way to start the day.


Once back in Page we continued our trip North on Hwy. 89 toward Cedar Breaks National Monument. Along the way, we were treated to a show of lightning over the mesas. Outside of Kanab, we decided to visit Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. It has a small “primitive” campground and we decided to spend the night. After setting up camp, we headed to the Dunes and a hike. The sand here is like powder - it is so fine – it is also everywhere including inside of JoAnne’s shoes and T2.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thursday, September 25

Rick Morgan

Vermillion Cliffs

We got up early to see the sunrise over the Grand Canyon. The North Rim is much less commercial and crowded then the South Rim. It was a very peaceful and enjoyable morning as we walked out to Angel Point and watched the sun paint the canyon cliffs.

Most of our drive to Page was along Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. It is hard to describe the beauty of this drive - it truly was spectacular (that word again). We stopped at "Cliff Dwellers" - stone homes build under large boulders. We also stopped at Lee's Ferry. This was the early rout across the Colorado River - today it is where most of the raft trips down the Grand Canyon start.

On the "pass" into Page we were delayed by what we thought was road construction. As it turned out it was a fatal car - motorcycle accident. Nothing like watching, the EMTs have to place someone in a body bag to remind you of just how precious life is and how fast it can end.

On a lighter note, we are now in the Wahweap Campground on the shore of Lake Powell. Today has been another feast for the senses - we cannot wait to see what tomorrow will bring.

Wednesday, September 24

Rick Morgan

Time to say Good-by

Rick and JoAnne headed to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Doug and Janis are heading back to Broomfield and tomorrow Ty and Jane will travel with Hal and Lois back home. We had a great time meeting up with everyone in Zion and are already thinking ahead to our next "group" RVing adventure.

T2 pulled up stakes at around 7:30 AM and headed south. Our first stop along the way was at Pipe Spring National Monument. This is one of those little mostly unheralded stops that jump up and surprise you. This very small old “fort” is oozing with history. Ancestral Pueblos, Paiutes, Missionaries, and Mormon Pioneers have inhabited the site. We enjoyed wondering the grounds and gaining some insight into how the rugged individuals who settled this land lived and died.

It was then off to Jakob Lake and their famous cookies. This is really just a wide spot in the road at the junction where 89A East heads to Page and South to the "Big Ditch" - The good news is that we have to come back through Jakob Lake on our way back from the Canyon.

We lucked out a got a spot in the "fully booked" Grand Canyon campground. It didn't have hookups but our Air-card is working and the little general store has Wi-Fi.

Now just to spend some time taking in the splendor of the Grand Canyon.

Tuesday, September 23

Rick Morgan

Are We Crazy Hiking at High Noon?

Today Hal, Lois, JoAnne, and Rick were invited to Breakfast at the home Ty, Jane, Doug and Janis had rented. We got an early start for the trip through the Zion Tunnel to the East side of the park. A well rewarded 45-minute drive with not only great scenery but also a fantastic breakfast. It was then back to the park, a shuttle ride to Zion Lodge and off to a hike on the trail to the Emerald pools - we hit the trail at noon and 90-degree heat. Clearly, we should know better! A refreshing reward was enjoyed...thankfully... with ice cream cones back at the Zion Lodge.

Who says you don't eat like a king when "camping"? Lois prepared a Cioppino Dinner - truly a treat. Guess what - another Hal campfire and roasted marshmallows.

Monday, September 22

Rick Morgan

The Narrows

Today the entire "crew" (actually, having hiked it several years earlier JoAnne has opted to stay back and keep Sandy company), has decided to hike the "Narrows" - this is a hike down the Virgin River in a very high and narrow canyon. On Sunday afternoon, we stopped at an outfitter in Springdale to get "water boots" and hiking sticks. So, early Monday morning we were off to the river and our adventure down the Narrows Canyon. The River was low but the rocks still slippery. Yet, none of us found ourselves up to our neck in water - and that is a good thing. We had a great 5 hour trek and the canyon was spectacular (have you noticed we use that word a lot?).

Dinner that night was hamburgers and hot dogs at the Leslie campsite. Another campfire compliments of Hal and Marshmallows compliments of JoAnne.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Rick Morgan
Zion National Park

Hal and Lois had suggested we take the Zion shuttle to the top of Zion – the Temple of Sinawava., and ride our bikes all the way back down to the Visitor Center. What a spectacular ride through the amazing Zion Canyon - Beautiful, fun, and an overall memorable experience, stopping at the various sites and geologically diverse formations on our way down.


Jane, Ty, Leslie, Tom, and now joined by Janis (Lievens) & Doug (Snyder) all went for a hike to Angels Landing Trail. After our combined adventurous day, the 10 of us met at the campground took the shuttle to the Zion Lodge for a delicious dinner. On the way to dinner, we were talking with Leslie and Tom, and discovered we all grew up in Lombard, IL, went to the same high school – Glenbard East (although we had graduated 10 years earlier), however, turns out Tom & Leslie knew Rick’s sister Tracey and brother Andy. Lots of reminiscing - Small world!

Arriving at the Visitor Center, we headed back to our campsites and guess what – none of us “experienced campers” brought a flashlight. Thankfully, a very kind man heard our laughing as we were trying to find a path back through brush and streams, came to our rescue with a flashlight, and led us to the road! Lots of and many laughs. Arriving at the campsite, Hal made a campfire; we sat around it enjoying marshmallows and stargazing.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Rick Morgan

After leaving the KOA in Beaver, UT, we decided to stop and again check the tires. We had been somewhat concerned about the overall ride we were experiencing in T2. We found a gas station and while Rick was checking the tires, the owner of the station came up to Rick and confirmed that our tires were wearing unevenly and the likeliest cause was bad shocks. Sooooo, we now have all new heavy-duty RV shocks, and T2 now rides like a dream - Onward to meet up with our Anthem friends at Zion.


We arrived around 2:00PM - Already set-up at the Watchman Campground Lois, and Hal Leslie. We had a few drinks with dinner at their campsite. Jane and Ty Fouchey, and their friends from Michigan (Leslie & Tom Welbourn) arrived. Jane, Ty, Leslie, and Tom left to check-in at a house they were renting about an hour away, and Lois, Hal, Rick and I went to the Ranger program.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

Rick Morgan


Railroads and Rockets

Before heading South down I15 to Zion we decided to take a short side trip to the Golden Spike National Historic Site. Out in the middle of "Nowhere" is Promontory, Utah the spot where on May 10, 1869 two locomotives - the Central Pacific's Jupiter and the Union Pacific's No. 119 pulled up facing each other and a golden spike was driven to connect the two railroads and thus the Pacific and Atlantic coast. What had been a 4 to 6 month transcontinental journey by wagon was reduced to a week. It was fascinating watching a reenactment of the two locomotives - exact replicas of the original locomotives. While it is not the most accessible place - we were glad we made the effort.

Two miles down the road from the Golden Spike site is ATK, which is a leading Aerospace and Defense company. They make the rocket and fuel booster systems for the space shuttles. They also make the Patriot and Trident missiles. While you cannot go any further than the front desk (it is a nuclear facility) they do have an impressive missile display out in front of the building.


It was then off to continue our Journey to Zion. We decided to stop at a KOA tonight to re-stock and prepare for our stay in the National Park tomorrow.

Today's Photos

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Rick Morgan
Peace...

On Thursday, we left West Yellowstone and headed for Zion National Park. What was most noticeable was the changing color. Over the past week, there has been an amazing transformation of the landscape. The fall colors were amazing. Along the way, we also stopped at the Shoshone- Bannock Indian Museum.

Our resting spot for the night was Hyrum Lake State Park. This was a wonderful spot in on a pretty little lake in a beautiful valley about 50 miles north of Ogden, UT. JoAnne and I bought Utah fishing licenses and sat on the bank and tried our luck - NO LUCK - but it was a fun and relaxing evening. Oh, and Sandy had a good time too!

Tuesday, September 16, and Wednesday, 17, 2008

Rick Morgan

Tuesday JoAnne and I hung out at the KOA and caught up on blogging, reading, stamping, and laundry. One of the reasons we came to West Yellowstone was to meet up with a group of guys we knew from the insurance industry who were here for a fly-fishing trip. Rick had dinner with the group on both Monday and Tuesday and fished with them all day on Wednesday. Guess what JoAnne did…relaxed!

Today's Photos

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Rick Morgan

The Nail

First thing today, we headed to Canyon Street Auto Repair to get the tire/valve extension fixed. I also needed to stop by Madison River Outfitters to get my fishing license and JoAnne needed to get a pro-time. As a side note - driving around West Yellowstone, there are these amazingly and beautifully painted Bison – just about everywhere. We got to the Repair shop at 8:00 AM - We were told that they were booked and we needed to come back at around 10:00. So, we headed out to take care of the fishing license and pro-time. We then headed back to the auto repair shop. They still were not quite ready to deal with our problem. So, we parked - connected to the Internet and "hung out" until around noon when they finally pulled the rear tires on T2. As it turned out it was NOT the valve extensions but a nail. They plugged the hole re-mounted the tires and we were as good as new.

Part of the reason we are in West Yellowstone is to meet several friends and business associates from the insurance industry who are in town for some fly-fishing. I got a text message from two of them when we were getting the tire repaired and they had just arrived in West Yellowstone and wanted to have lunch. So, JoAnne stayed with Sandy in T2 and I had a quick lunch with the guys.

The fly-fishing group is staying at the Bar N’ Ranch, which is located right next to the KOA where we are staying. I had dinner with the group. They are fly-fishing the next three days. I am going to join them on Wednesday.

Today's Photos

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rick Morgan

Geysers Galore

Our plan for today was to get an early start with the hope of seeing wildlife as we drove toward Old Faithful. It had been a cold over night - 19 degrees! We woke to Elk bugling and even cooler Wolves howling! We did not see any Wolves - but hearing them howl was a highlight.

What an incredible morning drive - The steam from the rivers and geysers coated the trees - creating a frosty wonderland. I can only imagine how spectacular the park must be in winter.



On the drive to Old Faithful, we got up close and personal with Bison and spotted several Coyote. As we arrived to the “main attraction” to some, our timing could not have been more perfect - we waited only about 15 minutes for Old Faithful to erupt in a cloud of steam. It is always an amazing site, to see the steam, hear the bubbling water churning and then sprays of water emerge from the spout. We re-filled the tire, (yet again), and headed to the town of West Yellowstone. Along the way, we walked through several geyser sites bubbling and hissing and took a side road drive along the Firehole Canyon.

Today's Photos

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Rick Morgan

Oh No…a Flat Tire!

As JoAnne was doing her pre-departure "walk around" T2, she commented on one of the tires looking low. Upon checking we found that the inside tire on the passenger side was flat. Therefore, the first order of business, was to see about getting the flat fixed. Found a service station in Mammoth. While they could not fix the tire, I was able to fill the tire and found that it was holding the air – suspecting now it was the valve extension, not the tire itself causing the problem. While in Mammoth, we witnessed to young Buck Elk practicing fighting each other. They do this until they are old and big enough to challenge a Buck with an established harem. It was actually exciting to watch the fight.



Back to the tire issue - We drove to Gardner, MT which was 5 miles away to see if THE ONE and ONLY tire store was open (no cell service in Yellowstone). It was NOT open, so there was nothing to do but wait until we reached West Yellowstone.

Today, our plan was to travel 7 miles to Indian Creek campground - which we did. This is a wonderful campground - more remote than, and not as large as many of the other Yellowstone campgrounds. When we checked in mid morning, we set up and then took a hike along the Gardner River. We spent the rest of the day reading, and working on the many photos, we had taken over the last several days. That evening, we drove to Willows Flat to see if we could spot Wolves and Moose - No luck on either account - but we did have a “natural” candlelight dinner watching the sun go down over a beautiful valley.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Rick Morgan

National Parks

We left the campground and headed to Jackson Lake Lodge in search of Moose – no luck - however, treated to many spectacular views of Jackson Lake and the spectacular Tetons. It was then off to Yellowstone. We entered through the South entrance and immediately struck by the progress the new growth has made since the Big Fire of 1988. When were in Yellowstone several years ago the hillsides were still barren and scarred. It was nice to see all the new pine trees and re-emergence of Yellowstone. We were also struck at the amount, and abundance of wildlife right along the highway. One sure sign there was an animal were the amount of cars along the road.


We headed East on the Grand Loop around Yellowstone Lake. It was traveling along the Lake that we saw the Moose we had failed to see in the Tetons – We stopped for “Lunch with a View” and then headed on to Fisherman’s Bridge. There is an RV campground here with full hookups but we opted to travel further and camp in some of the more “primitive” campgrounds (just think no cell and no Internet and no hook-ups!) for the next several days. We had originally hoped to camp at Canyon but that campground was closed for the season. We decided to go all the way to Mammoth. Along the way, we stopped at Artist Point for spectacular views of the Lower Falls. We also saw two large buck Mule deer and herds of Buffalo in the valleys along the drive. We would have taken more time to hike around the North Rim of the Canyon but it was closed for some major maintenance – bummer.

The Mammoth campground had a “full” sign on it when we arrived – but we lucked out - we checked anyway and found that they actually had a couple of open sites. The major excitement tonight was the Elk. One very large buck had wandered into the campground with his harem. Later in the evening a second younger buck also showed up with his much smaller harem – they came right through our campsite. We had great fun watching them, as did Sandy for a couple of hours and getting some great photos.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Rick Morgan

A Driving Day

After three very restful days at Bear Lake, we packed up and headed for Teton National Park. The drive along the Idaho/Wyoming border was beautiful. The only diversion was a short stop at the National /California Trial Center in Montpelier, ID. Clearly traveling in an RV is preferable to an ox drawn Calistoga wagon. The fall colors are beginning to emerge along the hills. Even though we had been to the Tetons’ just a few weeks ago, the Tetons’ remain awe-inspiring. We camped at Colter Bay campground.

Today's Photos

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Geocache!!!!!!

Rick Morgan

September 9, 2008

Typically, you will not find a Geocache in a State Park; however, the park rangers at Bear Lake State Park in Utah have a keen sense of humor and certainly one for adventure. Rick, Sandy and I started out to find the Geocache located somewhere in this enormous state park. Using our trusty Garmin GPS for walkers, we were able to locate this find.

See the photos for an amazing discovery. :)

The Caribbean in Utah…Who Knew?

Rick Morgan

September 8, 2008

We left Flaming Gorge early in the morning and given a fond farewell by a buck Pronghorn Antelope. Continuing our drive, we spotted the Fort Bridger State Historic Site and Museum, so of course we had to stop to learn more about the original “mountain man” Jim Bridger, and one of the main hubs of westward expansion.

Onward toward our destination, Bear Lake State Park in Utah, the view of the most colorful rocks and mounds along the way were amazing! Arriving at Bear Lake was a real wow! We were taken aback to discover right here in Utah, there would be waters as colorful as those of the Caribbean. Luckily, we were able to find a wonderful camping spot with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and vivid waters.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Driving, Dinosaurs, and a Dam

Rick Morgan
September 7, 2008

Today (Saturday) we decided to leave Steamboat Lake and head toward Flaming Gorge, Utah. On the way, we stopped at Pearl Lake State Park. Pearl Lake is a beautiful lake and has some very nice rustic camping sites – perhaps we will visit here next year. Flat tire on my mountain bike means an unscheduled stop in Steamboat to get it fixed, while there we stocked up on groceries. We drove west on Hwy 40 toward Craig and decided to spend the night in Yampa River State Park.

On Sunday, we continued our trip to Flaming Gorge. This Northwestern part of Colorado known as Dinosaur country. Years ago, we stopped at Dinosaur National Monument, and made a decision to stop there once more. The Dinosaur Quarry and Visitor Center is closed for “renovation” but we drove around, had lunch at Split Mountain, and found the Petroglyphs – the rock art of the Fremont culture. At Vernal we headed north on 191 toward Flaming Gorge. This was an exceptionally beautiful drive known as the Flaming Gorge/Uintas National Scenic Byway. The drive is a challenging climb and decent through 18 Geologic formations – basically, that means that we passed through about a billion years of Geologic history in 40 miles. On the journey, we almost “literally” ran into open range cattle crossing the road. I wonder what formation they belong to?

One of the highlights was seeing and touring the Flaming Gorge Dam. It rises 455 feet above the river and 47 feet below the river. While not as massive a dam as Hover – it is in a beautiful canyon and the reservoir is spectacular.

The most unexpected highlight was watching the Kokanee Salmon running up river to spawn. JoAnne took some very unique photos – they look like watercolors.

After a long day of driving, we ended up at the Lucerne Valley Campground, which was on the shore of the lake. Surprise! – We had Pronghorn in our campground. Time for a glass of wine and reflection of all we had seen today.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Kayaking Steamboat Lake

Rick Morgan

September 4, 2008

We decided to rent a kayak today when the weather was somewhat cool, but calm. By the time, we had completed our trip, the storm clouds came rolling in, and the waters became rough, we headed back to the marina. The hills, reeds, willows, cattails, and scenery from the water were beautiful, even with the gloomy skies.

However, as we began, a Mallard Duck was actually swimming along with us, and I was so taken with that scene, I guess I did not hear Rick say “we’re going to duck under the bridge”…and indeed we did!

Steamboat Lake Up Close...

Rick Morgan

September 3, 2008

We woke to frost and 30 degree temps. Brrrrrr…

It is very sad to see the destruction the Mountain Pine Beetle has done, and is doing to our forests. On our hike around Steamboat Lake today, when you see the dead, and dying, and soon to be infected trees up close, it is devastating. Still beauty in the mountains abounds. The lake was glistening! The summer foliage colors fading, and autumn colors emerging, it made for some serene and soothing sites. We stopped at a bench on the trail, enjoyed our gourmet PBJ sandwiches, and took it all in.



Wednesday, September 3, 2008

We're on Our Way...

Rick Morgan

September 2, 2008

We’re finally off on this new, and exciting 6-week adventure. Today was a leisurely drive from Anthem Ranch to beautiful Steamboat Lake State Park in “Colorful Colorado”. Upon arriving, we walked around, and had a magnificent view of Hahn’s Peak. Set up camp, and enjoyed the rest of the day relaxing. As a side note, this was our first chance to use Verizon’s Broadband Internet Air Card, which is a great device that allows us to get access to the Internet in places where Wi-Fi is not available. It worked great – very cool!