Saturday, 10 November 2018

Oct 24 - Oct 28, Illipah to Cathedral Gorge,Nevada to Zion Park, Utah

Oct 24
Last post we had just made the turn for Illipah Reservoir and I must admit that at first I was skeptical.
The road wasn't terrible but it was rough with lots of rocks sticking up. We have a heavy rig here and I'm thinking it wasn't that bad, sometimes I worry too much :) 
My fears were gone as soon as we pulled into the gates of the BLM and we got a look at the site map. 
Good to see how big this place is.
We talked briefly with another RV'er and decided to pull into site 12 a little ways away from him. I parked the rig with the back window looking out over the reservoir and down the hill. We looked closer when we got parked and beside the few cattle that were grazing there were 5 wild horses, well we think they are wild at least. It was amazing to see them. What a cool place to camp and it's free!
View out the back window.

The horses in for a drink!
It's a great site. We walked over and had a beer with our neighbour, Crosby. He is older than us and traveling alone in his motorhome. Interesting fellow but we are starving and headed back for supper. 
There are worse places in the world!

From the other side.

Long view.
We made supper and played some crib for the first time in a long time. Leslie cheats, that's all I can say :)
Oct 25
Happy Birthday to my ol' buddy Mark. I remembered to send him a text later in the day. He's in his highway truck in California. Cheers buddy! We've seen a lot of birthdays since we were 12!
Leslie and I got going at a decent time and decided to try some higher altitude exercise. I'm really interested to see if I can run at 7000 ft elevation? She took Margaret for a little run and then did her own thing afterwards. I took off around the top of the area we're parked in. A mesa?? There's roads and quad trails to run on anyway. My first walk break after I started running was 0.6 km into it! I was sucking for wind. What a difference. I slowed my pace lots and managed about 5k before calling it quits. Altitude makes a huge difference. 
We hopped in the truck to take a little drive towards Ely and find cell signal. Within about 7 miles we pulled over and caught up on texts, emails and Facebook, etc with decent signal in a little valley. There is no service at our site which is okay for a while but we like to stay connected for various reasons. We drove back to the rig and relaxed a bit before taking Margaret for a walk to see the horses. They were out on the hills earlier in the day but are back at the reservoir this afternoon. So peaceful at this spot. Just perfect for right now. It's cold at night though at 7000 feet.
Oct 26
This is a beautiful spot but we want to move on again. Definitely we'll keep this in our minds if we pass through again. We are headed for Cathedral Gorge State Park in southeast Nevada before we head to Utah. The sandstone formations look amazing in the park and state parks are usually a little cheaper with water/electric and a dump station. Our first point of interest is Ruth Copper Mine, Nevada's largest pit mine and second largest open pit mine in America. It is massive and produces copper, gold and molybdenum.
A little about the mine.
There isn't really a good viewpoint to see the whole thing and we are towing the trailer which makes it even tougher to go looking. We drove up to the town of New Ruth. Old Ruth was overtaken when the pit got bigger so they moved the town and renamed it New Ruth. I snapped a pic of a cool mural on the wall of a building by the mine.
Looked more impressive in person.
Then literally across the road we took pictures of the mine, until 2 really big German Shepherds came running out to see us that is! They were tall dogs that obviously have seen tourists taking pictures before.
No doggie pics but this is the mine. Part of it at least.
More of the mine from the highway.
We stopped for fuel in Ely, Nevada and used the free sewer dump station. It's about the closest one to Illipah that we could find. We turn south in Ely on US 93 towards Cathedral Gorge Park. The highway is nice and flat and easy going with the stunning mountains on the left in Utah. Wheeler Peak was the standout by far at 13,062 ft. 
I love travel days for stuff like this. Beauty!
Around 1 in the afternoon we pulled into Cathedral Gorge State Park. I actually planned our arrival time based on what other bloggers have written. You want to arrive close to the time the other campers have to leave, 12 o'clock checkout normally, so 1 pm isn't a bad time to get a spot in first come first serve campground. We pulled in and lucked out with spot #13 ! A nice curved pull through with 30 amp power and water for $25 per night. Good enough. Lots of things to see and trails to hike. Yep happy campers.
Trail map.
Once we got set up etc we wanted to go for a short hike to check things out. The limestone is spectacular here!

We walked around for at least an hour and then back to the rig for a beverage. Our next site neighbours walked by and commented on Margaret which started a conversation. We sat and enjoyed some time together before supper. I totally forget there names but he is 80 and she is younger by a couple years and they are still traveling. Awesome! They want to go to Newfoundland next year from Seattle because they get a great deal. Good for them. 
We made supper and just relaxed for the evening. Have some hikes planned for tomorrow to have a good look around.

Tomorrow we will really get out and explore!
Oct 27
We woke up to a beautiful sunny day with a predicted high to 27C/80F. We're planning on hiking the Juniper Draw Trail, about 4 miles. It does a big loop close to all the cliffs across the floor of this valley. Should be amazing! Our site is working great. It gets quiet early and the sun is in our windows early in the morning warming everything up.
Water/electric site with picnic table, firepit & a bbq stand. 

From the back of the site.
We headed out fairly early on the Juniper Draw to avoid the afternoon heat. It's a nice trail but does take some scouting to stay on trail. The trail is in and out of a wash with brown markers to keep you on track. 
Getting started on the trail.

Takes longer to walk the 4 miles because you stop so often.

Looks so cool ! You can see how the water level dropped slowly.
It was a fantastic trail to see! I'm going to try running it tomorrow because it's so great. We were hungry after our hike so we jumped in the truck to go out for lunch. There is a small town about 15 miles from here named Caliente.
Coolest town name ever! Or is it kinda hot ?
Just the name made us want to go see it. Scenery is back to black rock and trees with a few cattle ranches along the way. We drove the full length of the main street in Caliente and chose our lunch spot. Lots of vehicles outside this place so we hope it's a good clue.
A local gem for sure.
The food was great and lots of it. Lots of locals in the booths all saying hi to each other. It was a great spot and we were happy to have found it. So if you're ever in Caliente, Nevada look for the Knotty Pine. Oh and if you are wearing full camo with animal blood on the back of your arms that's okay too lol.
We drove back to Panaca and the State Park. We stopped for fuel on the way back because we are moving on again tomorrow.
Oct 28
We got going early because it's a travel day today. Not far but we have a full week in Zion River Resort outside Zion National Park. We're both excited about Zion.
I wanted to run the Juniper Draw and Leslie is taking Margaret for a walk and then she is trying the trail to Miller Outlook to see the gorge from above. For me it was an awesome run on sandy trail with so much to look at that it made it easier. Perfect. Leslie hiked a great trail and got some good pics of the gorge.

What a great start to the day for us both. Margaret too. We got packed up and hooked up and stopped at the dump station by the park entrance. A left turn at Panaca and we are on the highway to St George, Utah and then to Zion River Resort. We crossed over the Nevada, Utah border heading south on highway 18.
There was a place along the way called Mountain Meadow Massacre Site that we wanted to check out. 
123 people killed by Mormon militiamen. Only 17 children survived.
A real stop & think moment.

Parking and the trail to the site.
One thing that didn't work well was the small parking lot! Like my trucker buddy Mark told me "if you can get in, you can get out". My only choice was to back up onto the highway. Not a great thing but not much choice at that point. We pointed south again and headed for St. George.

We couldn't believe all the red rock and this golf course looked amazing.
There was a bunch of road construction in St George and our trucker GPS was beeping warnings about narrow roads up ahead.We fit but what a pain. We were slowed to a crawl in places. We were both hungry but it was crazy trying to pull off the road with the construction. We finally stopped at a Maverick Gas Station and Leslie bought us burritos. She said they actually make them there so she saw what went in them. They tasted great. We got out to I15 north headed for Virgin, Utah and the resort. Our GPS took us through a town called Hurricane and up a monster hill on highway 59 east. We got over the hill and the road flattened out and we could see The Watchman, a huge rock formation in Zion Park.
Very excited to get there. 
The GPS says we need to turn in a mile and I'm looking at the land in front of us but there isn't a road?? Finally it says turn left on the dirt road!! Oh no, I'm not turning on that road with my trailer! We pulled over to the right side of the road to figure this out. Our trucker GPS avoids anything that isn't tall enough or wide enough to get through. There is a tunnel beyond the resort but for some reason the GPS won't let us get to the resort. We called the resort and the nice lady on the phone gave us directions. Thanks Garmin 660 !! We had to go back down the big hill through another small town called La Verkin. We turned out of LaVerkin up another good hill and across the top of a flat plateau. Finally we see Virgin, Utah. 
It was a short drive from there to Zion River Resort thankfully. We are tired and a little grumpy after the GPS fiasco but grateful to be here. Can't wait to hike a bunch of trails in Zion.
Our home for a week!
We found our site and got backed in and set up. Time for a nice frosty beverage! Next up is our week in Zion. Should be very picture intense. What an amazing place!!

Friday, 2 November 2018

Oct. 21 - Oct. 24 A Few Down Days in California and Nevada

Oct 21 
We're taking a couple days to relax and enjoy some trails around Susanville, Ca. The park we're in is not incredibly busy and it's great here. Days End RV is $30 US/night. I phoned this morning and got a Passport America card that gives 50% discounts on camp fees at participating campgrounds. Days End gives one night at 50%with the card, cool! We chatted with Arnie, the owner, and he gave us some booklets with trails and he recommended a couple. We are trying the Bizz Johnson Trail that runs through Susanville on an abandoned rail line. It's going to be a hot day 27C/82F but a good portion of the trail is shaded and it's early enough that we haven't peaked yet. On the drive into Susanville we noticed a large fire in a field. Turns out it was a prescribed burn, there were signs on the highway and fire trucks all over the place.
Grass fire cleaning the field.
It took a little GPS work to find the trailhead but we found it and got ready to go for a nice walk. It's a multi use trail just like the Ironhorse Trail in Bonnyville. There were mountain bikers getting ready too and evidence of horses on the trail.
Start of the trail.
We did about 4 miles out and back. Margaret wasn't into going any further anyway. Really cool trail in all the rocks and pine trees. It runs beside the river for a large part so it had a little of everything.
Cool twist in this tree.

The fall leaves continue.
We stopped at the Susanville Market on the way home and grabbed a few groceries for Les to make spaghetti and meatballs tonight. So excited! I love Leslie's pasta sauce and with meatballs.... fugetabout it haha.
Oct 22
Had a pretty good night last night. We're a little close to the highway and there is some heavy truck traffic but it wasn't too bad. Oh but the farm next door has chickens and a rooster that crows super early every morning. Ahh nature sounds lol.
We decided to get the bikes off the rig today and ride farther out on the Bizz Johnson Trail. We parked further up the trail than yesterday when were walking the trail.  Before we take off from the park I have to clean the bikes up and lube the chains with dry lube. They get surprisingly dirty in the bag on the back. Before long we were unloading at Miller Rd access and getting geared up to go. Margaret gets to ride with us in a backpack on my back.
Ready to ride.
Riding the trail is a great idea! We went way farther up the trail and saw some great spots. The fall leaves and the rock walls all beside the river made for a great ride.
Nice little waterfall coming down in the trees.

Susan River. 
We stopped at the 5 mile post and let Margaret out for a stretch. She seems pretty happy on the ride, just lies down on the towel in the pack. 
A little break at the turnaround.

Happy faces.
We took our time on the way back to the truck and enjoyed the slight downhill grade. What a beautiful place here in California. We met two really nice women out for a walk by our truck. They noticed the Alberta plates and wanted to tell us about some other places to see while here. How nice is that? We chatted for a little bit and then took their advice and took highway 189 to North Eagle Lake. I had looked at that before on Google Maps because there is a campground out there. Beautiful afternoon for a drive. 
Eagle Lake in front of us.
Lake level is way down, cattle grazing out there.
We turned at the junction for secondary 201 or Eagle Lake Road and headed south again. This area used to be really popular for boating and fishing but the lake is so far down. Feel sorry for the property owners around here. There are for sale signs everywhere and the houses look empty already.
See the dock in the brown grass? 
We drove further south and turned into the National Park to check out the marina. The water gets closer to the south shore. I was curious to see what the marina would look like with lake levels so low.

Unbelievable right? The boat launch is on the other side now.
We walked out to the end of the breakwater and back. There was a few boats out there still so there must be enough water but it looks awfully shallow. They need rain around here.

Our walk to the end of the breakwater.
We drove back to the main highway, then back to Standish and our rig. We cleaned up the bikes again and stowed them on the rig as we're pulling out tomorrow heading east to Fallon, Nevada. Leslie decided to do a load of laundry before we left and the laundry room here is spectacular. I know that sounds weird but this place is unbelievably clean. The laundry is the cheapest we've ever seen too. It was $1.25 for a wash and Leslie only used 75 cents to dry what we had. Unreal. 
Oct 23
We left Standish around 10:00. It's not far to Fallon Nevada. We are driving through Reno and overnighting in Fallon Walmart to stock up a little.
Heading east.
Casino in Reno

The freeway on the north side of Reno heading east.

The start of US 50 going east to Fallon.
We got parked at the Walmart in Fallon and headed in to do some shopping. We are planning on boondocking all week so we loaded up pretty good. The spot we have at Walmart is pretty close to the highway so it's going to be noisy. It's an earplug night tonight. On the plus side we get a few TV channels and price is right. Leslie managed to catch a great sunset pic on our first night in Nevada. 
Pretty sweet sunset.

Oct 24
Up pretty early because of traffic noise but that's okay. We want to get going anyway. After I secured us a lovely McDonalds breakfast we pulled out of Fallon, Nevada. We are heading east on US 50 aka "The Loneliest Road in America". Looking at it on the map it is fairly straight with hardly any towns and goes through some empty country. Hills and desert, dat it. It didn't take long and we saw evidence of loneliness....
Salt mud on both sides of the highway.
Shortly after the salt flat we saw this huge pile of sand.
Aptly named Sand Mountain

You can play here!
We have been seeing lots of rigs with trailers and all kinds of ATV's on the back. From regular looking side by sides to pimped out sand rigs that look awesome.
Not the tires you have in Bonnyville.
Of course we had to pull in for a look. There were rigs parked all over on the sand and piped up ATV's everywhere. Very cool!! It reminded me of offloading snowmobiles in the mountains at a staging area. Just way warmer!
Some can make the top and others have to bail out.
We parked off to the side and watched a few runs to the top. Man it looks fun but my pedal bike ain't going up, that's for sure. Time to get back to the lonely highway. Leslie has been looking online and picked our first BLM campsite to stay at for a few days. BLM stands for Bureau of Land Management and is similar to Crown Land in Canada. Here the US government has set up no frills camping areas for free to anyone! How freakin' cool is that. Our destination for today is Illipah Reservoir Recreation Area just this side of Ely, Nevada. First we have to cover about 175 miles of desert and mountains. There are a couple 8% grades that I saw and lots of twists but it's dry and warm with smooth pavement.
Pretty lonely but incredible.

Margaret is absolutely thrilled with the drive ;)
And then while Leslie and I are commenting about how there is nothing out here forever.... we see this guy!
Dude are you kidding me?? He looked pretty happy.
The first town we hit was Austin, Nevada, not Texas that will be another post. Austin is built on a steep hill, like "I'm not stopping for pictures here Les or we'll get dragged backwards" steep! Very cool little town and there is an RV park but we just kept going. Even the parking areas are steep slopes.
Doesn't show the grade very well but it's a good one.
Looking back at Austin from on top of the climb out of town.
The coolest thing about travel days is you get to see what's on the other side of the hill. We run out of words all the time but we are blown away how rugged and beautiful it is here. Mountains, trees, rocks and sage brush, lots of it. Actual tumbleweeds rolling across the highway. If I see a roadrunner and a coyote with ACME boxes my life is complete. Sorry got off track there.
The next small town is Eureka. I need fuel so we are stopping here and it's fairly flat so it's good. They have refurbished much of the old buildings in town and it looks great! What a cool place to visit but unfortunately we want to press on so we can find this BLM in daylight.
We found out how friendly this place is.

We saw a write up saying they have weekly shows at the opera house still.

Love how they refinished everything.
According to the GPS we have just over 40 miles to the BLM left so I want to put on some water for our stay there. The gas station is not set up to get our rig close enough to a hose bib to fill so we need to look elsewhere. I spotted a restaurant up ahead that had a huge parking lot so I pulled in there. Sure enough I can see a tap on the back of the restaurant. I walked in expecting to pay $5 or something to fill our water but not in Eureka! The gas station folks were nice and apologized that we couldn't fill there and as soon as I asked the waitress she said "sure, help yourself". We get pulled in behind the place and the owner comes out and says hi and wants to make sure we knew how to use the hydrant. They were great, I felt bad that we couldn't stop for a burger or something but I'll remember if I'm back this way.
DJ's Diner, stop here if you can.
Now full of fuel and about 50 gallons of water on board we have yet another climb up another mountain before we get to the BLM. The truck is pulling like a champ and the shocks are really controlling the bounce we used to have so it's not a huge deal. We're averaging about 10 mpg pulling the trailer through all the hills but I rarely go under 50 mph/ 80 kmh going up 6 to 8% grades.
These are good hills with decent peaks.
We dropped down a little before we started looking for the sign to our camp spot for the next few days. The site is 1.5 miles or 3 km's off the highway and should be so nice and quiet. I can't wait The Walmart last night was the opposite of quiet. With awesome directions from we found our sign easily and turned off on a dirt road and over a cattle guard to peace and quiet.

A little piece of heaven coming up!
I'll post what we have here and we'll start fresh at Illipah Reservoir. I was a little worried at first but when we saw the spot!!! Ahhhh. At 6880 ft elevation the nights will be chilly but the days are close to 20C/70F. Looking forward to more relaxing and I want to try a run at this elevation. But now it's frosty beverage time. Cheers!