Category Archives: National Parks

Nothing in Nebraska… or is there??

There’s nothing in Nebraska, am I right?

Wrong!

We had been in Colorado for a little over a week and decided to head eat, then north to be able to mark off a few more states on our US sticker map. First stop, Nebraska.

We weren’t expecting a whole lot. We found a city park in Bayard, NE with hook ups that’s FREE for the first 2 nights! The little town has less than 2,000 people. And it was great to find this little gem of a village.

Last night we after we arrived we went for a run through town and noticed lots of extreme tree damage but mostly newly removed huge trees! This morning we found out a tornado ripped through town last Monday!

This morning we headed out to hike at the Scottsbluff National Monument. The typography on this area is amazing! It’s plateaus of sandstone!!! 

You can to the top of the bluffs and they have little paved trails and lots of educational displays. Both the Oregon Trail and the Mormon Trail went through this area.

Granted, it is mostly farmland out here but we love to see neat geological formations on our travels. 

Time to Get Back on the Horse

I haven’t blogged in almost a year! Before that it had been several months….. When you first start RVing it’s like you’re on vacation and have a million stories to share. And then you finally get in a groove and either you don’t appreciate the stories you have to share or your just get lazy about writing about it.

I was both lazy and distracted to see all the stories we have to tell. I keep forgetting that my “everyday” is not everyone else’s “everyday” and might actually be interesting! We have traveled quite a bit this past year and are currently outside of Provo, Utah. It’s gorgeous, I won’t lie.

The other part of my blogging was taking pictures with my Canon Ti5 and posting here. But I wax and wane with using the camera. I’ve been getting better with it the past few months. But sometimes it’s hard to bring it along when you just want to hike or bike ride because I’m constantly stopping to shoot. Mike swears he doesn’t mind but sometimes I do! Especially when I’m biking I like to get on my road bike and RIDE! And I would never take it mountain biking because I rarely come home in one piece and I wouldn’t want to ruin my camera.

Speaking of mountain biking. We were in Page, Arizona about two weeks ago and biked the 10 mile Page Rim Trail. It was fantastic! You can hike it or bike it and it runs the edge of the rim around town with beautiful views of Glen Canyon, Lake Powell and the stunning18342795_10154408822195474_6770848968407107273_n rock formations out further in the desert. If you mountain bike there are some technical sections, or if you’re like me, you haul a$$ up and down the rocky sections and then wipe out on a flat section. Yes,this is the bruise about day 3 or 4. I hit so hard it squished tissue out from the side of my thigh to a fat lump on the back side. But less than two weeks later it’s almost gone!! I have never had a bruise heal so fast!

Another big change we have done in the past year, actually just since January of this year, is we joined the Elks Lodge. Many Elks lodges across the country allow RV dry camping for members only and some even have hook ups! They charge a nominal fee, even the locations with hook ups. We started boondocking (dry camping) for a large portion of our travels this past year and the Elks were a great addition to alternative options to state parks and expensive private campgrounds. Plus we get to meet great new people at every location! It’s a win-win!

I don’t want to overwhelm you or me with relaying a year’s worth of info so I’ll finish up here and share some photos.

Some Utah photos:

 

Payson, AZ:

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Page, AZ and the Glen Canyon:

Toadstool Trail (HooDoos) north of Page, AZ:

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Granite Dells, Prescott, AZ:

Prescott AZ Granite Dells

Time Slips Away

I bet you thought we’d given up on RVing, didn’t you. I haven’t blogged in almost a YEAR! What has happened to me??

We are still RVing our little hearts out. We’ve been around the country almost 2 times! We’ve stopped at some familiar haunts and discovered new ones. We’ve had trials and tribulations and also a heck of a lot of fun! But we’re still at it!

When we first started this adventure almost a year and a half ago we were buzzing from place to place. A few days here, a few days there, maybe even stopping for a week! But that pace gets tiring really fast. It’s not difficult, per se, to pack up and move. But all the time driving (which equals less time working) and gas money between stops is exhausting.

We initially had to take some time to figure out exactly how to work while on the road. This wasn’t a function of logistics as much as developing a new business plan and executing it as well as working together. And once we really got the hang of it it became apparent that we should sit tight for a while to accommodate all the conference calls and work that needed to get done.

Due to the El Nino conditions this year we skipped California.  We cut our stay in Florida short this past winter and headed west sooner. We’ve been hashing (our beer drinking running club) a lot more across that country than we did last year! We spent more time in southern Utah, including a whole week in Moab in March. Which brings me to the first serious break-down we’ve had on the road.

Breaking down in the middle of a road trip in any vehicle can really put a damper on things. If it’s your camper that breaks down, well, that’s even more concerning. But when your HOUSE breaks down….that’s a whole new can of worms.

We were headed to southern Utah, killing a bit of time (luckily) before we were to meet Mike’s oldest daughter and her boyfriend in Moab for a week, complete with all four of us running a half marathon! As we were passing through the northwestern tip of Arizona, while driving in the Virgin CANYON we had another RV pass is making gestures. Oh boy, we have a flat tire on the camper. When you’re driving a camper with three axles you don’t automatically know you’ve blown a tire.

But where to pull over?? We were driving through a windy gorge! Luckily we found a pull off most likely used for construction vehicles. Just big enough for us to safely get off the road. But where were we?

Murphy’s Law states you will have car trouble in the middle of a canyon with no cell service.

We got out to take a look at the damage and Mike immediately realized we didn’t blow a tire. The tire was about to fall off!

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We unhitched the camper, knocked the tire off and headed out to find help. Did I mention there was a concrete barrier between the lanes of traffic? We could only continue going the way we came and had no idea how long until we were out of the canyon or how far we’d have to go to get back to the camper.

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Luckily we were only 2 miles from the end of the canyon and the Utah state line and the town of St. George, Utah. We found a mechanic, relayed our issues and were told to go pick up the camper and limp back to the garage. And we did. Slowly at 30 MPH. Through a winding gorge.

What turned out to be a tire falling off was actually a whole host of issues the mechanic found under there. Lucky for us this “minor” tire issues alerted us to a bunch of things that could have gone wrong soon that could have resulted in some serious, really expensive issues. Like… and axle falling off!

We were sidelined for a few days but we weren’t complaining! The mechanic was great and walked us through everything to make sure we knew what he was doing and what he found. (I’ve never had such a great experience with a mechanic before!) and the town of St. George is beautiful! We walked and biked the paths in town for hours every day we were there.

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Once everything was repaired and replaced we headed out! We eventually made our way to Moab and ran the Canyonlands Half Marathon through a beautiful canyon on the edge of Arches National Park.

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We’re now in South Carolina. Hanging at my dad’s for a bit while the weather is moderate and sunny. Ok, with an occasional spring shower….

I’m going to try and record our travels again. It’s so easy with Facebook to just drop a quick update. But I want to make sure my Aunt Dotty gets to hear about our travels since she’s not on facebook!!

 

Utah is……

I know, I know. I’m kinda dragging out this whole vacation posting thing. And S, if you’re reading, I know, there’s not enough about you in it. 🙂 But the thing is, I have real work to get caught up on, RV packing up and moving to do, campsites to immediately find, pictures to go through… on top of that I’m also trying to reach back a week or so and even remember what the heck we did. Yes, there were funny moments – none of which I feel I’m capturing here. (yet, anyway). But I really want to make sure I, at minimum, get down what we did and where for posterity. Along with the photos, of course.

The lesson learned: Blog while you’re vacationing. Even if you can’t post it you can write it. Then it doesn’t turn into such a chore when you get back. And you really do capture the funny stuff to share!

After our night in the secluded beauty of the rainbow rocks, we continued to our next destination, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park in Escalante, Utah. I had booked us a few nights at the state park that sits inside the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Let me be honest – I had no idea what this park was about. Several months ago, when we decided on this vacation, I sat down and started combing state and federal parks for a site that a) was available and b) could fit our rig. A 39′ fifth wheel is no small camper. Campground after campground was coming up booked (it was spring break, after all) or could not accommodate a camper our size. When this park had an opening I snagged it. I figured we were close enough to other parks that the worst situation was that we’d drive everyday to a park and just use the campground as a base camp.

Man did we luck out!

It’s called the Petrified Forest state park for a reason! DUH! First there were rocks and boulders EVERYWHERE! And what did I say keeps a Boadway happy? Climbing on rocks and boulders!! Second there was a fantastic path up the side of the hill through an area covered in petrified wood! I had no idea it would be so colorful!

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And the scenery was breathtaking.

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That’s how we spent one morning. That afternoon we headed to Calf Creek to hike the three miles, one way, to the Lower Falls. It was just a 10 mile drive east of our park. The drive itself was indescribable. Marbled canyon walls, steep, hairpin turns. Unfortunately not enough great places to pull the big dually over to take photos. There’s the Kiva Koffee House between our camp and the falls on Hwy 12 that sits atop a hill, surrounded by all of this gorgeousness. It has wraparound windows for an unobstructed view. However we went to falls on a Tuesday – the day the Koffee House is closed. I have no idea what their coffee is like but I’m certain you need to stop for the phenomenal views!

At Calf Creek we meandered the three miles to the falls. Interestingly, a lot of the trail is sandy. Sand so fine, in fact, it’s like powdered sugar the color of terra cotta! Sounds neat. Crap to hike in. But still a hike that it worth it!

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There were ancient pictographs too!!

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And getting close to the falls…

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And the falls!!!

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And more in the “S Doing Scorpions in Scenic Places: A Collection”

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That was enough excitement for one day! I think we all slept like the dead that night. Which was a good thing because I had it on good authority that Bryce Canyon is waaaay better than Zion National Park. Convenient – since we were a lot closer to Bryce Canyon anyway.

That is, of course, so long as it’s not’s SNOWING!!!

Yes folks, the kids that left Syracuse, New York to get out of snow woke up to light flurries. Oops! Although no one was in the mood to hike in it, it made for some great pictures. That’s after the mad raid for warm clothes through MY closet. S was swaddled head-to-toe in my oversized long sleeve performance shirts, fleeces and jackets. Z was in my Adidas workout pants, flood waders for him, and my Clemson sweatshirt. (because you know, 16 year old boys are too cool to be too warm and cozy, but humble enough to wear ridiculous looking highwater athletic pants.) And Uncle Dan had on a pair of my funky designed spandex running tights under his shorts. Michael swears he will never look at me the same way in those (previously sexy) running tights again. :-/

We may have driven through Bryce Canyon but I took some pictures (and on the way there!!)

We pulled over the side of the road to capture this snow system moving across the distance!

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Bryce Canyon in snow.

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Another long day and we were pooped. We needed our rest because we were headed back to Nevada and Las Vegas, baby!!

Spring break adventure… with teens…

You may recall a while back I lamented on the difficulty of posting regularly while on the road. You may also notice it’s been about two weeks since my last post. Yep, there’s a reason for that.

Like most of the US, especially those with children, we have been on Spring Break. And our SB involved:

  • a 13 year old
  • a 16 year old
  • retired Uncle Dan
  • some of the most beautiful places in America
  • spotty, if any, cell service

Anyone in this day and age might read “13yo, 16yo and no cell service” and gasp in horror at what terrible stories lie ahead. There are stories to be told, and for your bladder and eye comfort, not all in one post. But I will say we all survived no worse for the wear after this extended holiday. I’ll be the first to admit my utter surprise that we all appear to have remained sane. Me, most of all. (but just barely)

Some background: Michael has three kids. T, the oldest, is in college and is past “family holidays”, much to her dad’s chagrin. Spring break is a little easier to understand since colleges don’t have the same break schedule. Z is 16 and a sophomore and S is a 13 year old 7th grader. These ages are hard to juggle vacations too but more because you’re vying for time against school activities, after-school activities and the dreaded “social circle of teenager friends”. Because we all know, there is absolutely NOTHING cooler than your teen’s BFFs, am I right?

And if you’re an amazing enough parent that your kids want to spent time with you , you still have to be in constant competition with the current Wi-Fi enabled communication device. What if there’s a text from their bestie?!?!  And, seriously folks, where was streaming music when I was a kid? Yes, I had a walkman and then a discman, but I could never get that volume loud enough to drown out the books-on-tape my mother insisted on renting from the library before we went on a cross country car trip!

And I can’t forget Uncle Dan. Mike’s brother is barely 50 and already retired. You think we’re living the life?!?! Uncle Dan lives in WV. The kids flew in from Syracuse, so everyone was excited to get out of cold weather. We started our grand adventure with everyone flying into Las Vegas, because what else would get you the side eye when you say you’re taking your teenagers to Vegas?

I was the self appointed tour guide for the trip. I had very mixed feelings about this title. Michael didn’t ask me to plan the trip at all. But his idea of trip planning is “winging it” and hope for the best. I’m the exact opposite. Since we’ve started full-timing I’ve had to loosen up a bit. (for me it’s felt like a lot!) But I refused to have 3 people show up and not have a flippin’ idea of what was going to happen. I wanted them to have a nice trip. And I didn’t want to become unhinged. (to put it mildly)

I didn’t take this responsibility lightly. I pondered and complemplated and speculated for weeks about what kind of activities would really “make” a vacation for this group of people. That’s a tough order. At least I thought it was. Luckily they all like to hike. I finally realized, what better vacation than to show them the “fun” vacations my family took when I was growing up? None of them had similar experiences and it would include all the types of activities Michael and I would like to show them.

So I decided to plan a traditional “Dillon Vacation”! The only real difference – my family did it in a car or minivan with camping gear in the back. This group was lucky enough to do it in the luxury of a 5th wheel camper and Wi-Fi! (sometimes..) My dad was a teacher so we were fortunate enough to hit the road for weeks at a time in the summer, just road-trippin’ and seein’ the sights! Tourist trap, anyone? And like any vacation with sight seeing on the agenda, the trick is how-much-can-you-jam-into-12-days??

FIRST STOP – THE GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK

Everyone knows this is a default on “The Bucket List”. None of us, except Dan, had ever been there. So as not to try and over-plan our trip I generally made campsite reservations and looked up possible things to do in each area. Then once we got there we could take a consensus, see what people were interested in, see if there was anything the locals or guides suggested. You know, roll with it. (This is about as “winging it” as I feel comfortable. Especially since many campsites were completely booked solid months ago since it was a holiday week.)

We really only had a few days in Williams, AZ, a cute little Route 66 town. And yes, I made Mike drive part of the way from Las Vegas to Williams on the historic Route 66. Scenic drive!! Ok, not as much as I had hoped. But I felt compelled to give a quick history lesson about Rt. 66 and what is was, etc.

And that’s when it hit.

Oh My God!

I’ve turned into my mother!!! (insert Psycho movie music here.)

Because every vacation had to include an educational element. And it was tailored to your age. Because my brother is 11 years younger than me. And sometimes my little cousins would come with us. So everyone had a learning syllabus geared towards his or her age, interests and abilities that ran parallel to the vacation stops. Case in point: One year while in the Northeast we had to stop at Walden Pond. I was in high school so I had reading assignments by Thoreau. My little cousins got to gather sticks and hot glue gun them onto picture frames. Clearly they were in elementary school. The oldest, Brian, then about 10, now a lawyer, probably had to identify some plants while doing this. But I digress.

So, Route 66. The kids could have cared less. Uncle Dan seemed very interested and always had his own facts to add. Mike? Couldn’t say. He always drives when we’re haulin’. Not interested or just focused on the road? Or maybe just amused by the whole show going on in the rest of the truck? But we did stop at little dive tourist trap on the way – Grand Canyon Caverns. We took the $20/ person tour through the “Largest Dry Caverns in the United States”. Folks, I’ve been to some amazing caverns. I was really excited to see the “largest”. And it was a very interesting tour! Did you know you can actually spend the night – like a hotel – in this cavern?? But what I realized as we were touring is that all the cool stalactites and stalagmites and the really colorful deposits are left in wet caves….  :-/

As you may recall I bought a fancy pants new camera. I’m still learning how to use it, let alone take fancy pants artistic pictures with it. But I don’t feel bad about my pictures of the Grand Canyon. I think very few people can truly capture “The Grand Canyon” on film. But I snapped a few. The first day we drove up and just checked things out.

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Little did I realize we started a new photos series with S, her doing cheerleading scorpions in scenic places across the US. That is what is interesting to a 13 year old girl.
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The second day we took the scenic Grand Canyon Railway Train to the canyon instead. Once there we only had a few hours to hike a bit down into the Bright Angel Trail and back before the trail left the station for the 2.5 hour ride back to Williams.

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In Williams we stayed at the Canyon Motel & RV Park. It’s a cute, quaint little place where you can stay in a room or in a caboose or railway car!! It looks so neat I almost didn’t want to stay in the RV! THe staff was very helpful with getting our train tickets too. However, as a side note, when management of the RV park tells you to unhook your water line at night because it might freeze… don’t forget to do it the second night because it might break a fitting on their pump. And parks don’t like it when you accidentally break their stuff. Just ask Uncle Dan.

So after all the majestic grandeur of what is known as THE Grand Canyon… no one was very impressed. I’m serious. “too many people”, “paved trails? really??” “It’s crowded”.  It seems as though this particular tour group prefers serious hiking and rock climbing. I think everyone would have enjoyed it more if we’d had more time to really hike down into the canyon, possibly spend 3-4 days packing it in and around. That’s probably too advanced for S, but that’s right up Z’s ally. I have already informed Mike that we have to get my camping/backpacking gear out of storage so we can do the canyon “right” next time!

NEXT STOP – UTAH BY WAY OF VERMILLION CLIFFS IN ARIZONA