Sunday, May 31, 2015

Atherton Creek Campground, Wyoming

Update on note: I like to use Microsoft Live Writer to create my blog entries. This software will push the content right into Blogger that is owned by Google. Google made a change to their Blogger software about a week ago and that has caused Live Writer to not work. I do not know when or if it will get fixed. In the mean time, my posts will not look as good and will not happen when we are without a solid internet connection. Sorry about that.

We left Calamity Creek Campground on May 26. The crowds were gone and we were the only ones in the campground or staying down by the river. We headed south along the Palisades Reservoir for about 20 miles then turned up the Snake River Canyon to Jackson, Wyoming. That was an easy and beautiful drive. Jackson is a cool little town, but I will write more about that in the future. We then went north and entered Grand Teton National Park. The peaks were socked in with clouds, so we did not get a good look at them. We then turned on Gros Ventre Road and went east. We left the NP at the little town of Kelly and then drove up a very good paved road for 3 of 5.5 miles. The last 2.5 are paved, but are filled with pot holes. We just went slow and made it to the campground. We got set up in this awesome spot:

Here is a shot of Slide Lake that is just behind the rig:

It is a beautiful spot and is a USFS campground at a cost of $12. Can you believe that they are charging $50 per night for a site with electric in the NP. It is just us and 3 others in the campground. Check out the glass smooth water. You can see in the picture above, we decided to go paddling right after we got set up. Here are a few shots of the outing. It was very enjoyable.

Kim really likes the boat.

Here is a shot back to our campground.

Our rig is the white speck in the center of this shot.
We paddled all of the way down to the south end of the lake and then the wind came up, but the good news is that the wind was blowing north, so we did not have to paddle as much heading back to camp.

As you can see by the sky in the shots above, we have been in and out of rain for what seems like weeks. I guess that is the same as our friends in Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri. We are not sure how long we will stay here, but I am good with waiting until the weather clears to get a good look at the Teton Range.

I have been asked by a couple people about my solar system and how it is working. To recap, I have one 100 Watt solar panel that is not mounted to the roof of the rig. I have it on a stand that I made, so that I can move it around to get maximum charge. I have a 60 Watt charge controller to manage the charging of my 2 12 volt batteries. I recently purchased a separate NICAD battery for my CPAP machine because running the inverter all night was killing the batteries completely. Now that I have done that, if the coach batteries are charged completely, they still have good charge in the morning to run the heat to bring the trailer up to acceptable temperature. We do not run the heat at night. We like to sleep when it is cold, but run the heat one cycle in the morning to bring the temp up to about 55 degrees. We do have to run the generator more when we have cloudy days. We try to get a bulk charge in the morning with the generator and then let the solar trickle charge all day, but some days we have to run the generator in the evening to finish charging the batteries. All in all, I am pretty happy with the system I have now. Keeping things charged is kind of a pain, but if we go for a drive, we just bring an inverter with us and do our charging from the truck. If we are having a good solar day, we can just turn on our coach inverter and charge the CPAP and computer batteries during the day. The best thing about this system is that it allows us to stay in complete comfort in places like where we are now.

Let me know if you have any other questions and I would be happy to answer them .

We went on our first Grand Teton NP adventure on Wednesday. That did not go as planned. I will fill you in on what happened in my next entry.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Motorcycle Ride from Calamity Creek Campground

Note: I have been having issues with Blogger. I have a number of posts written, but can't get them to post. I should have this straightened out shortly. Stay with me...

I decided to take a ride on Sunday, May 24. There were lots of people enjoying the holiday weekend by riding 4 wheelers, side-by-sides and dirt bikes all around us. I was not sure where they were camped when I started this ride, but that question would be answered. I had seen a trailhead when we drove in that looked good, so that is where I headed.
Here is a shot of the trailhead. It starts out innocently enough as a two track heading up the valley. I could see that would not last long as the valley got very steep and the mountains were much taller than anything we would see in the Midwest.

After about a mile of this fast two track, the trail got serious. The climb got steep and I went up and up and up with no breaks. I went almost 5 miles up that canyon. It started getting very steep and I remembered my promise to Kim to not take any serious chances. The bike started to overheat, which is a problem for this bike at high altitude. I decided this was far enough when I was faced with a steep muddy shoot with snow.

Did I mention that this trail was rocky? This trail was as rocky as anything we have in Missouri.

This is the view looking back down the valley. As is usual, the pictures just don’t show how steep this was. I could not easily stand on the trail.

I have to keep myself under control when I am out riding by myself. I decided that discretion is the better part of valor and turned around and headed back down. That sounds easy, but with the rocks and mud, it was sketchy, but fun. I made it out of that trail unscathed except for my pride. I really wanted to get to the top.
I decided to ride down to the Snake river and see the Riverside campground on the Holiday weekend. The Campground was not full, but there were rigs parked everywhere along the road and trails. I would guess there were about 300 rigs, all there to ride something. I rode around to check out the scene. Here is a shot of the water coming out of the bottom of the dam.

I saw a hill on the side of the road that some folks were trying to climb. It looked easy, so I gave it a go and went right up no problem. I was feeling pretty good as I rode across a flat field on the other side of the hill. Then for what still feels like no reason my bike took a hard right turn. I am still not sure what happened. It was kind of muddy, but there was no saving it. I hit the ground. I was not going that fast, so I was not concerned until I looked down at my GPS that I carry on my handlebars. It must have fallen out of its mount and smashed on a rock.

Well, that is not good. I really liked that GPS. I got up and looked over my bike. The front forks were tweaked, so I had to straighten that out. I then eased back to my camp. I looked over the bike closely and found that I had a bad front wheel bearing. Could that be the problem? I really don’t think so, but I spent the afternoon changing them. I am still very confused about this incident. I have never liked the way this bike handles and I really don’t like the front tire I have on the bike ( DOT Kenda). Oh well, I came away with just a bruise on my arm, so all is good. I will have to do some easy riding to get my confidence back in the bike.
In my last entry, I mentioned our private dining room and kitchen in our campsite. Here are a couple of pictures.

The fire ring is really cool. The grate and arm pivot out of the flame to flip the stuff on the grill.

We ended up staying at Calamity Campground for 6 nights. That got us through the holiday weekend. We were now ready to move on. We have a 80 mile drive over to a campground that is close to Grand Teton National Park. We once again found an awesome campsite. I will write all about Atherton Creek Campground on Slide Lake in my next entry.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Calamity Campground, Idaho


We arrived at Calamity Campground on Wednesday, May 20. As I said in my previous entry, we love this place and we really like our site. We don’t have a view of the lake that Kim likes at the site, but it is only a short walk away. Our site (A8) is on a spur road and gets almost no traffic. The really cool thing is we have a picnic table and fire pit that is very private below the site that is like a private kitchen and dining room. Unfortunately, every time we have tried to eat dinner down there, it has rained. Come to think of it, it has rained every day that we have been here. I guess that is common around the country.

We have gone paddling a couple of times, here are a few shots from the lake. Here is the boat ramp and dock. It was kind of choppy the first day, so we did not go far.


We found a small cove that protected us from the wind. We just stopped and hung out for a while.


The next day the water was like glass. We went much further. It was a very nice day. 




I really like that last picture.

After the paddling trip on the 21st, I decided to walk the campground. Our campground hosts, Cheryl and Mike had told us about a Moose they have seen in the past, but not this year. As I was climbing a steep hill, I saw something black in the bushes. At first I thought it was a horse, but when he turned his head sideways. It was surely a moose. My guess is that it was only about a year old. While I was watching him and looking for mama, I saw a second one to my left. Two baby moose, now that is a first. These things were still very large, my guess about 1000 lbs., but much smaller than other moose I have seen. I never did see Mama.

May 21, 2015 3_23_27 PM 

May 21, 2015 3_24_11 PM

I did not get a good shot of baby moose #2, but that was a cool experience.

We have hung out here for what will end up being 6 nights. The crowds did come on Memorial day, but did not come all the way to the campground. I think we had about 6 sites taken over the weekend. I took a ride down to the snake river below the dam and wow there were large groups with 100’s of ATV’s enjoying the weekend. I will do a separate entry about the ride for my riding friends.

It is now Monday afternoon and as is normal, most have headed home to get an early start on making it to work tomorrow. Here we sit in this empty campground enjoying the peace and quiet.

We are moving on tomorrow. We want to get somewhere closer to Jackson, Wyoming so that we can make a few short trips to Grand Teton National Park. Get ready for lots of pictures of big mountains with snow on them and beautiful lakes in the foreground.  I hope you enjoyed your holiday weekend and at some point remembered what Memorial Day is all about. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Rainy Days and Mondays…Are Awesome!


We were thinking about leaving Downata Hot Springs on Tuesday, May 19, but it was raining. We don’t like to travel in the rain and we had hookups and fast Wi-Fi here in the campground. We really did not want to soak in the hot pools again today, so we just hung out and watched some movies and TV shows. We love those lazy days. I finally got out and took a walk.


This is a beautiful valley with some really pretty farms.


I love to look at raptors of all kinds. This is a nice red tail hawk looking out over the field for his next meal.


20150520_173957The weather cleared some on Wednesday, May 20, so we decided to hook up and get moving. Kim was catching up on a TV show and was not ready to leave until 2:00, so we left then. We had a drive of about 150 miles up the Snake River valley through Pocatello and Idaho Falls, Idaho. It rained on us off and on for the entire trip. We stopped off at an RV parts house to see if we could get a part for our toilet, but no luck. I guess I will have to order it when we get to a place that will accept a shipment. No big deal, it is only a minor issue.

The picture to the right is the Snake. It is a very large powerful river. It looks like more than we are ready for with the kayak.





We had some beautiful views all the way up the valley. We found signs pointing to our campground. They were not where Google told us they would be. We found out that you used to be able to access this campground via a road going over the dam, but after 911, they close the dam road and we had a 7 mile drive over a muddy dirt road. Now we know why there were very few reservations for this park for the holiday weekend. When we finally made it, we were delighted. We were the only ones in the park other than the very friendly camp hosts. The sites are very nice and the views of the Palisades Reservoir and surrounding mountains are awesome. We love this place!


The truck and trailer got some mud on them, but as luck would have it we had a water spigot right at our site and Kim rinsed off both vehicles before it dried. They look better than they have it a while. The Service berries are in bloom. They have tons of huckleberry plants in the park, but they won’t be ready until late July. We would love to stay, but we have other plans. Here are a few more shots of Calamity campground.

May 21, 2015 2_51_07 PM

May 21, 2015 2_58_50 PM

We have plans to spend some time paddling on this lake. The scenery is really breathtaking. We chose this campground because it looked like a place that we could stay through the Memorial Day holiday weekend. We have learned to be careful on those weekends. The parks that are never full, fill up. We are booked in for 6 nights. We will see if we want to stay longer. There are ORV trails that lead right out of the campground up into the mountains above us. It is a bit wet now, but if it dries up, I will go for a ride.

That is it for today, come back for paddling pictures and something that I have never seen before. Can you imagine a 1000 pound baby?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Downata Hot Springs, Idaho


When we got back from our drive up Logan Canyon on May 17, the campground was empty. When we left there were rigs all around us and now we were the only ones left. I have to admit, I love empty campgrounds. I like to be social, but I really like it when we have the place to ourselves.

Just as I was ready to go out for a walk we got one neighbor, but the rest of Hyrum Lake SP was empty. It was a beautiful evening with almost a sunset.


We really enjoyed this lake and the surrounding scenery. What a gorgeous evening to be trolling around the lake.


Lots of those Gerbes cruising around the lake and fishing for dinner.



We had only planed to stay at Hyrum for a day or two. As is normal with us we stayed a week. On Monday , May 18 it was time for us to move on. As we drove along, Kim took some picture of the surrounding mountains. The rain we had been getting was putting snow on them. As we were driving we crossed into Idaho. We had been in Utah since Easter Sunday about a month and a half ago. Have I mentioned how much we love Utah? Utah is an awesome state, now it is time to see what Idaho, Wyoming and Montana have for us.


When we sold the house and decided to live in our trailer full time, Kim had to give up her Hot Tub. She really liked it and it took some convincing to get her excited about making the transition. I told her that I would take her to natural hot springs around the country. I was looking for a place to stop for a couple of days and on the Passport America site, I found Downata Hot Springs. It sounded pretty nice, and was only $12 per night with the PA discount. We drove the whopping 60 miles to this place:


That is warm water in the ditch. This place is out in the middle of a beautiful valley surrounded by livestock and alfalfa fields. It is really beautiful.


It was us and one other rig in the RV park. We would not like this place if it was full because the sites were close together, but we loved this place. We got an added bonus of a few Sandhill Cranes that had arrived from down south. Their trumpeting is very distinctive.

Sandhill Cranes Downata

We were a bit disappointed to find out that only the hot pools were open. All of the slides were not available to us. Ok, I was disappointed.


The pools felt great. We met the other couple in the RV park. Cal and Lorie are from British Columbia. We had a great time talking. We find that other travelers have a very similar mind set to ours. We spent 2 and a half hours in the pool and I was cooked. The back pool is 100 degrees and the front pool is 105 degrees.

This is a great place to stop for a night or two. Kim was happy and that is what is important to me. Now maybe I can go fishing a couple of days. It is all about making those deposits into the relationship bank. Have an awesome day and do something nice for the one you love.

The next entry will be about our next move. We found a special place.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Logan Canyon and Bear Lake


On Wednesday, May 13, we went for another paddle in the kayak. It was getting a little windy, so we stayed close to the launching point. It was a fairly warm day and we learned a bit more about how to paddle in harmony. You may read into that what you would like.

We met some folks that were from Holland. They are traveling full time in their 5th wheel throughout the US, Canada and Mexico. Tom and Bianca are a bit younger than us. They were interested in our Sea Eagle, so I gave Tom a demonstration on how it inflated and deflated. They look like they are having an awesome time. It is always fun and interesting to meet other full timers from other countries.

Later that day the weather got nasty with wind and cold rain. It would last for a few days with some snow on the peaks surrounding the valley we are in. We were considering moving up to Bear Lake or other campgrounds, but staying put made more sense. We had electric, Cell and TV. We just hunkered down and watched some movies and got caught up on some TV shows we like. We love lazy days.



We ended up deciding to stay through the weekend because they had a cancellation for our site. The rest of the electric sites were booked, so luck was shining on us again.

The campground filled up for the weekend with an RV club. We were right in the middle of it and our view was a bit diminished, but they were nice folks and braved it out through the rain and wind.

On Sunday, we went to church and then decided to take a drive. We started by driving up a canyon into Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management area. We were hoping to make a loop of this drive up to Bear lake and back down Logan Canyon, but when we got to the end of the pavement we saw other vehicles covered in mud and decided we did not want to do that. There are hundreds of miles of ORV trails at the top of that canyon. It looks like you could ride for many days and not see the same trail twice. Utah is very ORV friendly. Almost every place we go has ORV trails that lead out of the campground.

The rock formations up this canyon are very cool. Here are a few snaps:




There is also a beautiful river that had awesome fishing spots. We saw a number of people out fly fishing.


We went back to Logan and headed up Logan Canyon. It has a better highway, but the scenery is just as good. They do a bunch of snowmobiling up there. Here is a shot of that area:


Once you get to the top, about 7600 feet, it drops down into the valley and Bear Lake. This is a natural lake and is very large and very beautiful.



They have found that this is the perfect environment to grow raspberries. Unfortunately it was too early in the season to pick some. They have a number of shops that make Raspberry Shakes. Sounds good, but we decided not to have one because the raspberries would not be fresh. 

We took a drive along the lake and you could see the lake was down significantly from the docks and boat ramps. Maybe all of the rain we have been getting will help them out. On the drive back up the hill, we saw a moose cross the road in front of us. Very cool.



We stopped off at a Ricks Spring on the way back down the canyon. That was pretty cool.



The flow was very significant.


Note to my Dad and brother Alan: On the way down the canyon we went by a ski area called Beaver Mountain. Is that the ski area we skied at on the trip we made to Utah in 1973 or 1974? I remember us stopping in Logan because Dad had some work to do at the University, but I am not sure. Do you remember?

It was a another good day of exploring and Bear Lake was very beautiful. The weather was only slightly improving over the next few days, so we decided to move on. We were not sure where we would stop. What we found, was another one of those hidden gems. Come back in the coming days to hear about that.