6 Months on the Road

Before we start on this post we wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.  We are fortunate enough that we are able to spend this holiday with family and are looking forward to good food, company and maybe a drink. :).  Wishing the same for all our Blogger friends and fellow full timers.

Wow, it seems like we were just writing about being on the road for 5 months and now we are approaching our half year anniversary.  So much has happened in that time (and before).  We made our Sunday video a recap of the last 6 months and you can see it below.  For our fellow RV’rs with spotty WIFI here is a quick summary:

  1. Planning
  2. Repairs
  3. Seeing amazing sites
  4. Loving each other and our pups.

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Cooking on the Road – Gnocchi Video 10

Hi All,

Here is our Wednesday video.  Sherry is making Gnocchi/Chicken Soup.  It was delicious and great on the trail.  We actually brought some along when hiking the Grand Canyon and heated it up in the JetBoil.  Yummy!

On a side note.  We are running a contest on our Facebook page for a free 16X20 print of one of our photographs.  All you need to do is ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ the post about the contest to enter to win.  We know none of us full timers have wall space but if you are interested, or know someone who might be interested direct them to our Facebook page.  https://www.facebook.com/loveyphoto/?ref=bookmarks

 

Lake Mead, Sedona and Flagstaff… Oh My

Hello friends!

Yes, it has been an incredibly busy month of October and promises to continue to be such for us.  We can’t start this entry without thanking everyone for the positive response to our videos.  We had no idea they would be such a hit!  Look for a video update from us each Sunday and Wednesday.  We will do our best to stick to a post each of those days and already have enough to keep us going for a few weeks.  Please subscribe to our channel on YouTube to stay up to date on the videos.  Sherry and Sean’s YouTube Channel We will try to answer questions that have come our way, especially about cooking and life in general in the RV.  Now, on to the blog:

We left Mesquite, Nevada and drove a few hours to get to a camp sight on Lake Mead.  The drive was pleasantly uneventful other than some rough roads and traffic through Las Vegas.  Yes, there were some shorter routes for us to take, but we decided to stick to interstates and keep it simple.

When we arrived at our spot on Lake Mead, we quickly set up, walked the pups and took off for Hoover Dam.  Sean had last visited the area with his grandparents back in the 70’s.  He commented several times how amazed  he was at the low water level.  We knew how tough the drought conditions were, but the sight of the water line marks on the lakes edge and the actual water line were stunning.

Since we only had a day, we tried to make the most of our time.  We started off by heading to the dam and, after passing through a security checkpoint, we stopped at an area were we could take a foot tour up to the new Tillman Bridge and across the bridge to get a bird’s eye view of the dam.  The bridge and dam are both amazing feats of engineering.  Sean remembered taking a tour of the inside of the dam and learning that so much concrete was poured in such a short time that cooling pipes had to be run through the dam to aid in the curing of the cement.  Otherwise, it would have taken decades to finally set.

We did drive down to the dam and park so we could walk across.  A note here.  Don’t bring your spare tanks of gas with you when visiting the dam.  You can’t park anywhere but the open sites due to security. We didn’t think of that when we left as we were rushing to get on with the site seeing.  OH, another note – Sean made too many dam jokes as we took our walking tour.. pun intended.

The day after our visit to the dam we crossed the Tillman Bridge with our home in tow and our next destination of Williams, AZ where we would stay at Railside RV.  Our original plan had us here only a few days but we upped that to a week so we could see all we wanted to see.  Sherry also had her heart set on riding the train into Grand Canyon National Park… Well, that will be the subject of a new blog AND a video!    : ).

The day after we arrived in Williams, we drove into Sedona.  This was a beautiful drive, winding down the mountains on a road that reminded us of the Going to the Sun Road, only a little wider.  We dropped several thousand feet and gained a few degrees.  It is probably worth mentioning that we went from 90 degree temps to 60 degree temps going from Lake Mead to Williams.  Brrrr.  There are several parks along HWY 89A worth stopping at.  One of them, Slide Rock State Park is the home of one of the top ten swimming holes in the country.. or so we heard.

Sedona was amazing, and we enjoyed wandering the small town and visiting many shops.  Sean even found a coffee mug like one used by his favorite ex-late night talk show host Craig Ferguson.

After Sedona, we holed up in the RV for a little R&R… Well, cleaning and laundry.  The weather had really turned on us and was wet and cold.  Perfect to catch up on chores and edit some videos.  The next day was marginally better so we decided to drive into Flagstaff to see the Lowell Observatory.  This was a religious experience for Sean.  Please don’t ask him why Pluto should still be considered a planet.  We toured the old observatory and heard about the conditions the astronomers faced when it was in use like climbing onto the roof to shovel snow and standing around at night in sub zero temps getting frostbite while waiting for a photographic plate to gather an image of the heavens.   Amazing.  We also had our first (but not last) Tarantula sighting along one of the trails at the observatory.  YIKES!!

In our next several blogs we will cover our trips into the Grand Canyon and a few videos on cooking and baking.  One of the upcoming blogs will cover some of the amazing people we have met through blogging and travel since we started this journey.

Our next entry will be a video blog about cooking.  Sherry made a delicious Butternut squash soup.  Yes, we will share the recipe. : )

Please pass along our links to anyone you think would be interested.

Signing off for now!

Click the link below to see more photos of Sedona, Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, and Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.

Travel Photo Link

Zion – Part Duex

We began our planning for a return trip to Zion on our drive back from the first trip (for reference, see a couple of posts back where we went and it was so packed we couldn’t get a parking space). So, the night before our return trip we had packed backpacks, chilled plenty of water and Gatorade and packed several Cliff Bars.  By the way, the Pumpkin Spice Cliff bars are out and quite yummy!  The day of our return to Zion we got up early, walked the pups, ate a good breakfast, and were out the door in the hope of a good parking space.

The drive to Zion wasn’t too long, but we did lose an hour crossing a time zone.  Sherry was frustrated because she has a watch that has decided it won’t always let her set the time when she tries.  It likes to choose whether or not it is going to work.  It did not work this time, so she was stuck looking at a watch that was an hour behind the actual time in Zion.  Annoying, but what can you do with a finicky watch?  When we got to the entrance, we were stuck in a long line of cars waiting to pass through the gates.  No worries, we had planned for this.  If we couldn’t park at the visitor’s center, we would head back a few miles to town and catch the excellent shuttle bus into the park.  The shuttle service at Zion is really very good and consists of two loops.  One circles into the nearby town of Springdale and the many areas for public parking.  The other loops from the visitor’s center along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.  That road is essentially closed to all traffic but shuttle buses.  Fortunately, we got one of the last spots at the visitor’s center and were able to catch the Canyon Loop Shuttle to our first destination: the Temple of Sinawava which is where the trailhead for the Riverside Walk and The Narrows begin.  The ride is about 40 minutes long with stops along the way at various trailheads and scenic views.low res-2380

One of our ‘must do’ hikes on this trip was an area called The Narrows.  We had heard from several fellow RV’rs about how unique this hike was and we were looking forward to it.  The ride on the shuttle was enjoyable. The park service has a good audio presentation that hits some of the highlights along the route.  Our driver was also kind enough to point out several deer as we drove past.

The hike to the narrows begins on the Riverside trail.  This is a paved and moderate trail with one early side excursion off to see the river.

See mom, the flood warning was “not expected” that day. 🙂

Before the trailhead there is a warning sign regarding the dangers of flash flooding.  Tragically, just a day before we arrived in the area in September several hikers were killed in the narrows when they were caught in a flash flood.

It had rained the two days prior to our hike, but we checked the forecast that day and double checked the warning signs at the park and were good to go.  The Riverside section of the trail is lovely. It is easy to forget one is going through a desert.  There is even a small swamp along the trail!

The cliff face overhung the trail in several areas.

The cliff face overhung the trail in several areas.

In several areas ground water is forced through permeable layers of the cliff sides creating ‘weeping’ walls and hanging gardens.

Heading into the narrows.

Heading into the narrows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Riverside Trail abruptly ends where the Virgin River cuts through the Narrows.  The Narrows is a steep sided gorge cut by the river; cliffs rise hundreds of feet on both sides.  The day we arrived was warm, but with the sun blocked by the cliffs and the cold river water running through the gorge, there was a definite chill to the air.

Sherry hiking through the Narrows.

Sherry hiking through the Narrows.

It only got colder when we stepped into the river to begin hiking up the narrows.  BRRRR.  We knew this was coming and had planned on how best to approach our shoe situation.  Many people along the trail had rented water shoes, some went barefoot, others in sandals….  We decided to stick to our Keen hiking shoes.  They had great traction, even in wet conditions and were waterproof (although with water getting knee deep in some areas that didn’t matter).  Sherry also brought along a pair of hiking sandles for after and several pairs of socks (Sean would later borrow a pair of dry socks).  The water was frigid, and we couldn’t imagine how some people had open shoes or no shoes at all!  Too cold!

In the Narrows.

In the Narrows.

The hike was beautiful and surreal.  We were amazed to see so many other hikers with us on the ‘trail’.  Stopping every so often, we would gaze up at the sky overhead, framed by the rock walls.  Small falls occurred in several areas along the trail and always, the constant sound of water over rocks.

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The photos cannot capture the scale of this place.

We were glad to be able to add this very different hike to one of our adventures.  If you visit the park, this hike is a must see.  The total hike is 10 miles round trip and is estimated to take 8 hours.  We only hiked into the first mile of the watery trail, but Sherry keeps saying that we should go back and do the whole thing just to say that we did it.  Who knows, we might write another blog in the next week sharing that we traversed the whole thing.  We wouldn’t bring the good camera this time, and we might rent some water boots and poles this time.  We were not aware ahead of time how deep the water actually got in some spots.  This may have been because of the rain two days earlier though.  In any case, we are still thinking we have several days in the area.  We wouldn’t want to “shoulda, coulda, woulda” the opportunity.  There’s also a hike called Angel’s Landing that is supposed to be spectacular.  It was closed for repair while we were there, but it is supposed to reopen this week.  We may have some items to put back on our list.  Lol.

Zion is a wonderful national park with many sites to see.  We have several other places in this area that we want to see before we move on, so stay tuned for more adventure!

If you would like to see a full gallery of the photos from Zion, click the link below:

Zion National Park Photo Gallery.

Being flexible, Snow Canyon and 4 Months on the Road

Moon Rise from our 'backyard'.

Moon Rise from our ‘backyard’.

One of the very fun things about our adventure is that neither one of us has a problem changing plans on the fly.  True, it can be a little frustrating when things don’t work out the way we plan.   Fortunately, we both approach life with the attitude that it is more about the journey than the destination.  A good case in point would be our recent trip to Zion NTL Park.

We had heard that it was important to arrive early in order to get good parking, so we got up, fed and walked the pups and then hit the road.  From where we are staying, in Mesquite, NV it wasn’t a bad drive of only 60 miles.  Some of this was backtracking on HWY 15 but we enjoy that section, especially going through the Virgin River Gorge.  A note for any future travelers; It is a very steep and winding section of HWY with several warning signs about high crosswinds.  There is also construction that narrows the lanes considerable.  Nothing that slow and careful can’t overcome.  🙂

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A few miles from the Zion Entrance.

The road leading into Zion passes through several small towns and has a number of places that would be worth pulling off to take photos of the mountains.  We arrived at the park entrance around 10 AM and were greeted with a relatively long line of cars and a sign that told visitors the park lots were usually full from 10 AM to 3 PM.  We’d already noted many cars parking in town and along the road leading to the park.  Oh well, we decided to drive on and at least scope out the park and, if needed, make plans to visit another time.  The short version is, what we could see from the road was amazing but there was absolutely no parking.  Our adjusted plans now have us returning, parking outside of the park and then riding the shuttle bus in to our hiking destination.  Like many others, we plan on seeing the narrows, a strenuous but beautiful hike.

So, after leaving the park, we started discussing our other options.  Sherry had heard of a great state park in St. George, UT called Snow Canyon and since it was on the way we decided to make a stop.  Our truck was also ready for an oil change so on the way Sean called a Chevy dealership in St. George, Steven Wade Chevy, to see if we could get in for oil, tire rotation and a brake check.  Lucky for us, the service rep said they were slow that day and could get us right in!  This is probably a good area for another side note.  We are both adamant about preventative maintenance.  One of the reasons we got our particular tow vehicle was the great extended warranty and reliability.   We’ve stuck to the recommended service schedule and pay particular attention to the biggies like tires and brakes.  After all, it would really suck to go down some of these big inclines and realize you can’t slow down.  YIKES!!  🙂  Anyway, we were able to get in and out within 30 minutes.  All was great with the truck.

Snow Canyon was a short drive from the dealership.  We paid a small fee of $6 to enter that park and drove on to the first trail, Jenny’s Canyon.  The park itself is very small but there was a great deal to see in that small area.  The Jenny’s Canyon trail is relatively short, under a mile and leads through some scrub brush and cactus to the canyon.  The trail does branch off, go right and take a steep climb to the canyon overlook, or go left and enter the narrow canyon.  For a short hike, there was a lot to see and we enjoyed exploring the narrow canyon.

Driving on, we stopped to take several pictures before arriving at the petrified dunes and Butterfly Trail.  This is a longer trail that leads over and along the dunes and into the ancient lava flow.  A very fun hike and not too strenuous.  Even the inclines were made easier by nature’s staircase along the petrified dunes.  Sean was very excited to walk on the lava flow.

As we were leaving the park we did see the camping area and thought it looked very nice.  They do have sites with water and electricity as well as a dump station.

We have just passed our 4 month on the road anniversary and as is our custom, we thought we would wrap up with a few thoughts.  Some we mentioned above, such as the maintenance needs.  It is easy to get in a vacation mindset and ignore some of the basics like vehicle maintenance.  Don’t let that happen!  This month we have been on the road more than the last two and we truly enjoy it.

Whether we are out taking a hike and exploring or staying close to ‘home’ there is always something to see if you look around.  Even if it is just watching the Gambels Quail walk up and down the stucco fence near our RV or seeing Maggie scamper after salamanders on one of her walks.  Watching the moon rise over the mountains or sitting amazed at the sight of thundershowers in the desert.  It is about the journey.

Well, enough rambling on for now.  We are waiting for weather to clear and the danger of flash flooding to subside before we make our trip back to Zion.  Hope you are all enjoying where you are and what you are doing!

For more photos, click the link below:

Snow Canyon and Assorted Nature Photo Gallery

Vegas and Sean’s Birthday!

We have been very busy the past few weeks. After we left the Yellowstone area, we travelled to Provo, UT for a couple of days.  They have a really nice Paleontology museum on the campus of BYU and a gorgeous trail to Bridal Veil Falls.  We took the opportunity to visit both of these spots while we were in the area.  The RV park, Lakeside RV, was nice with a dog park and walking trails.  It was also close to the Provo State Park and lake.

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50?!? That can’t be right!

We headed out on September 15, the day before Sean’s BIG birthday – the BIG 5-0!  We made our way to the Arizona/Nevada border and set up at a nice RV resort with a pool and LOTS of luxury amenities.  We spent the day of his birthday lounging by the pool and eating whatever he wanted.  (NORMALLY we eat vegetarian meals, but Sean wanted bacon for breakfast, so bacon we ate!)  Sherry made a cake (if by made you mean bought); Sean’s favorite is German Chocolate.  Sherry also made a favorite for dinner – tofu stuffed pasta shells and asparagus.  Nom Nom!

 

On September 21 we headed to Vegas to celebrate even more!low res-2224  We boarded our furbabies at the Animal Inn in Vegas and we stayed at New York New York.  Sherry had never been to Vegas and Sean had not been there since he was a teenager with his grandparents.  Our room was great and the atmosphere at New York New York was fun.  We joked that for the last several months we have been in quiet, forested, park areas, Vegas was a shock to our senses.  The lights, noise, and sea of humanity was overwhelming at times.  We enjoyed spending time touring the inside of New York New York.  low res-2627They have “streets” indoors that are similar to those in NYC (Greenwich, Times Square, Broadway, etc).  Vegas has the feel of a theme park like Disney – it is designed to be visually appealing and make you spend money.  lol.  This whole trip has been about decompressing and decluttering our lives, so maybe Vegas was not the obvious choice for a getaway.  We felt the whole place was a little anti-climactic.  Sherry wanted to see the Gondolas at the Venetian, but was disappointed that they weren’t as grand as they were on TV and photographs.  We both enjoyed the fountain show at the Bellagio – they played “All That Jazz” from Chicago, one of Sherry’s favorites.    Sean wanted to see some of the old hotels that were there when his grandparents took him there, so we trekked down to Circus Circus (on the monorail that Sherry thought would be a good idea – it wasn’t…) and it was not the fun, bright hotel of yesteryear.  It was a little “house of horror” looking.  It looked run down and tired.  We think the appeal of Las Vegas that is shown on TV did not come across while we visited.  Maybe we just aren’t Vegas people…

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An “old school” selfie – taken with our good camera propped up on the ironing board in the room.

However, the big excitement was the show that we booked!  We saw Zumanity, a Cirque Du Soleil show at the New York New York.  It was a sensual, funny, heart-stopping type of show.  There was a little person who did a stunning aerial silk act that we couldn’t believe!  It is only for 18+ though, so don’t think about going with kiddos – or if you tend to be offended by sexuality and language.  We had a great time.  😉  Sherry was disappointed, however, that people didn’t seem to dress up as much as she thought they would in Vegas.  Being involved in theater, she always follows the rule that you dress for a show.  Sherry wore a nice dress and heels and Sean wore a suit.  low res-2659The ticket person at the door commented that he loved to see attractive people dressed up for the show, and no offense to Sherry, but he prefers a nice looking man in a suit (wink wink).  Sherry felt pretty lucky to have such attractive arm candy.  It was odd to see many people show up in what they probably wore all day – shorts, tees, and athletic shoes.  Maybe a different show or hotel draws a different crowd.  It was also disappointing to see not many people dressing to go out at all.  low res-2652We spent two nights visiting the dueling piano bar in the hotel and other restaurants around town, and people were dressed casual or less than casual.  Sherry assumed Vegas would have more pizazz and stylish people roaming around in the evenings – it understandable during the day because of the heat and amount of walking, but at night it’s supposed to be glamorous and sexy time! Lol.  We guessed we just weren’t visiting the right places.  We sure didn’t want to spend the money for that kind of style either.  We did have a little luxury by the pool one day when we rented two cabana chairs.  They came with cushions, iced drinks, and a pool raft.  Even though we weren’t gambling at the tables or shopping at overpriced stores, we still had fun eating, drinking, and people watching.  Sherry thought the food was the best part of the whole Vegas experience.  We didn’t have one bad meal!  We also visited the aquarium at Mandalay Bay.  We realized as we were visiting hotels that many of them have selfie booths that take your picture and send it to you through email.  Sherry decided that it was a mission to find as many as possible and get a picture.  These are from all the ones we could find (minus the one from Linq because their machine had a window directly behind us that whited out the picture…):

All in all, Sean had a fun birthday and we added another experience to our adventure.  We still think that we prefer what mother nature has to offer over the man made stuff.  We are still considering going back to Vegas one more time before we leave the area to see another show.  We would both really like to see Book of Mormon while it is there.

Many (but not ALL) of our pictures from this trip were taken with our phones.  We really didn’t want to lug the good camera around while we trekked the streets of Vegas, so if you would like to see what we got, visit the gallery on our website:

Las Vegas and Sean’s Birthday Photo Gallery

 

Tetons: Grand, Brewed and Distilled

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The rig with our guard moose ‘Wally’.

Our original plans had us staying for an extended period near Yellowstone then the Tetons.  Over the last few months, we made several adjustments to those plans, so we could accommodate other stays which meant we only had a week to explore this area.  We decided to stick to our idea of stopping in one location, setting up house, and driving a little longer to get to some of the sites.  So, we found a nice spot in Rexburg, Idaho (Wakeside RV) and planned our drives into Yellowstone and the Tetons.  The RV park had nice wide and level spots for our rig with room to park the truck.

Rexburg is a small college town and we joked it often had a 1950’s feel to it.  In fact, they even had a drive in theater.  Sherry had never been to a drive in (There is only 1 in the St. Louis area), so we decided to take an evening and go see a movie.  We enjoyed the movie -Jurassic World/Park… 10?  🙂

Sean loved the old projector they had in the concession stand.

Sean loved the old projector they had in the concession stand.

Sherry Movie

We arrived early for a good spot. It was neat to see all the families that later came to enjoy the weather and movie.

Both of us have had minor sinus issues lately (we blame the heavy smoke the last three weeks we were in Glacier) and decided to forgo any major hiking until we felt better.  Therefore, we started our stay by visiting some local sites.  Teton Brewery and Teton Distillery seemed to be great places to visit and also medicinal.

Grand Teton Brewery is in a little town called Victor, with a great view of the Tetons.  On our drive to the brewery, we passed through several small towns and loved this sight of a horse tied up on the sidewalk.

Notice the horse is 'parked' at the Old Livery.

Notice the horse is ‘parked’ at the Old Livery.

It definitely harkened back to the distant past.  The brewery has a small tasting room as well as outside seating.  We sampled several brews. They do flights by providing you with a small cup of whatever they have on tap.

You can see some of the wares at the Brewery behind Sherry.

You can see some of the wares at the Brewery behind Sherry.

They have a good selection and it was very relaxing to sip, sit back and enjoy the time together.  Sean enjoyed the Imperial Stout and bought a bottle for later. 🙂  Sherry really like a brew called ‘Snarling Badger’ – a citrusy pale ale.

We had also researched and knew there was a distillery in the region, but from the website, it looked like they didn’t have a tasting room or tours.  We actually passed the distillery on the way to the brewery and decided that we would stop and see if the website steered us wrong.  To our delight, the Teton Distillery has a small tasting room and small tours.

Our Distillery tour guide.

Our Distillery tour guide.

Since Sherry was our designated driver she limited her intake to a few sips at each stop.  We truly enjoyed the distillery.  Again, a small tasting room but very congenial hostesses.  Before sampling, they offered to take a small group on a tour of their facility.  Afterwards, we did try a few of their wares.  Sherry loved the spicy, sweet taste of their Spiced Apple Moonshine enough that we bought a bottle… Again, for medicinal reasons, mainly.  Sean felt the Bourbon was a much more effective cure for his sinus ailments.

While at the distillery we had great conversation with the hostesses and a local about the region and best ways to see the Grand Tetons.

Early Christmas decorations and a great view of the Tetons.

Early Christmas decorations and a great view of the Tetons.

Following their recommendations, we decided to go to the Targhee Ski Resort and use the chairlift to ‘climb’ 9000′ up Mt. Fred for a great view of the western face of the Tetons.

low res-1904When we arrived, there were very few people at the resort and the lift tickets were quite reasonable.  The view from the top of Mt. Fred was amazing and yes, we did hike a little to get to the summit for an even better view.

low res-7792low res-7806Hiking the Tetons is something we hope to do, but it will have to wait until our next circuit around the country.

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Taken with an ND4 filter.

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This little guy was taking in the view at the summit as well.

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We are loving our travels, still and despite a few mechanical glitches here and there.  The more we see, the more we realize there is to see.  As we left Rexburg, we commented to each other about how much the scenery will change as we move from the mountains to the southwest.  We can’t wait.