Our Travel Blog
- Don and Donna
- Driving Miss Donna - what does this mean? Whenever I want to go somewhere, if Don is home he will usually drive. He always says he is driving miss Donna! This blog is for our travels, usually with our truck and fifth wheel trailer, but sometimes in our other wheels. When we are not vacationing check in for updates, although less frequent, about our life at home and our wonderful family:)
Friday, March 16, 2018
Although extreme winds kept us form doing more than one actual hike, we did get in some great walks everyday, and truly travelled every road available in the park. This is the second largest national park, the largest being Denali.
Our hike started at Zabriskie Point and travelled along the Badlands Loop. This day was hot and dry in the gulch, and although there was some wind up top, in that valley it was hot and dry. But we were prepared with lunch and water aplenty. The sign in the photo says Golden Canyon Trailhead, but we hiked the Badlands Loop.
We spent all our days driving and exploring and as I said taking the touristy walks when the opportunity arose.
One interesting spot was the Borax Mines. Yes indeed, Borax, the staple in all the kids homemade slime recipes that are so popular right now. I grew up with Borax in the house, as I am sure many people did. It is quite the story to see unfold, from the early days of the mine to it’s closure.
There is a natural bridge walk in this park as well, but not anywhere near as astounding as in Natural Bridges in Utah. It was a steep but short walk, and offered a great place for a picnic lunch.
I threw in a photo below of the Trona Pinnacles as well, which we saw on a drive outside the park.
The boardwalk photo is the Saltcreek Trail. We were expecting a hike and as you can see it was an easy walk. LOL The fish in the picture are called Pupfish.
The multi colored rock photo is a drive thorough Artist’s Palette. It was hard to capture the brilliance of all the different colors, especially the green rocks.
Our last walk was though Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the US at 282 feet below sea level. Look carefully in the last photo and you will see the Sea Level sign high above the parking lot.
Overall our stay here was relaxing despite the wind warnings, and having The Pads as our excellent boondocking base made it perfect. Although large in land mass this park is small in activities and we really wouldn't see a reason to visit a second time, we are glad we came and saw. The scenery was breathtaking, and we never tire of exploring different mountain ranges and little towns.
We are on our way to Las Vegas for some city life and a concert. I’ll catch up with you later.
Monday, March 12, 2018
And Death Valley National Park
We were looking for somewhere different but kind of in the same area, meaning within an hour or two of Las Vegas but somewhere we haven’t explored. Don suggested Death Valley and after checking some other traveler's blogs and posts and Campendium for a place to park, I agreed. Actually it would take a lot for me to disagree with Don’s choices. He, on the other hand, has numerous reasons to question my choices. Actually it is not my choice but rather the time of year that I am usually off with. For example I really wanted to visit Sun Valley, Idaho. Don’t do it in the fall. LOL
Anyhow, back to this story.
Both Don and I had read about a boondocking place called The Pads, just on the south park border, nestled against the Funeral Mountains. We parked the trailer for one night at Tecopa Hot Springs Campground and used the opportunity to scout some areas. We knew we found a winner with The Pads. Access to the park was within miles, access to the camping area was within feet of pavement, etc. There was one downfall that seems hard to escape when boondocking and that was phone service. I know some boondockers will not stop if they don’t have service, but it isn’t all that bad being disconnected for a while. A short drive in either direction and we could be connected, so we agreed to stay there.
I need to back up one stop and talk about Tecopa Hot Springs Campground. I’m not sure why but I found this place a shining example of WHERE NOT TO GO!! I had called ahead, asking if we needed reservations and some general questions about the park. I guess I did not ask do you have potable water, do you have phone service, do you have any attractive features that make me want to be there. LOL I honestly think this was the saddest campground in all our travels. It was plain ugly, with the only positive there were power hook ups. There was a dump station but no potable water. Actually no potable water in the whole area!! Not one reviewer said anything of the sort, nor did the campground manager I spoke with, even when we arrived and discussed staying a week. It might be beneficial and great customer service to say “remember to fil with water, this area has none”. Although one might wonder why the other two RV parks in the area were able to have full service? Again though, they were not able to fill us at even a cost. Oh and the hot springs? Dark little “houses” with pools that were separated for men and women. So indoors by yourself with other women. And according to the cleanliness of the other facilities, I think not. No thanks! Can you tell I do not want to go back? LOL
Okay I have that off my chest so let’s go back to The Pads. There are a few theories out there on what this is. A park built for mining staff is the consistent and seemingly correct one. There are 58 concrete pads as I show below, with most of the service pipes intact, and in some cases other concrete pads that appear to have been sheds. Of course things are starting to overgrow, but it is actually a very clean area. Most of the other RV’s here when we were (varied form 4-6) used the pads as their parking place, but we used it as our patio. The pads were generally 10x50’ and in great condition. There was an area with three sewage lagoons as well. At one time according to some “locals” there was also a community hall, tennis courts and pool. That is evidenced in the Google photo Don found at the end of these photos. It shows quite well the area and every rectangle you see is a pad!
I can’t determine who actually owns the land, some say the mining company still, others say it is BLM, and no one seems to mind the boondockers. And in all fairness, it is far nicer than a lot of campgrounds!
I will tell you about exploring the actual national park another day, maybe when we are actually done our tour of it.
Saturday, March 10, 2018
Again, before we had Campendium, we had Ivan. a seasoned boondocker whose opinion we could always trust on sites to stay at. Nevada Telephone Cove is one of those amazing finds, tucked along the Davis Dam just outside of Laughlin. Although the road appears intimidating to some, it is well maintained. Pulling the rig down takes about 20 minutes and what you are rewarded with is worth it many times over.
Lakefront property? Yes please! No charge with washrooms and garbage disposal? You bet! As you can see from the photo, this is a well kept secret and not too busy with RV's.
The weather here was way better temperature wise, but still windy. In fact so windy that BBQing was challenging and solar panels had to be anchored. Wind is seeming to be a common denominator this trip thus far.
Telephone Cove was our stop for over a week. I had mentioned a Co-op conference I was flying to – this is where Don and Ivan would stay while I was away. It is just over an hour to the Vegas airport, and with Laughlin and Bullhead City so close it is easy to shop, have a happy hour away form home, do laundry etc.
Although I enjoyed the conference, I was abhorred to have to deal with winter storms and snow. LOL It made the temperatures and sunshine that much more appreciated, and I found myself forgiving the wind when it wasn’t plastering cold snow against your face!
Don and Ivan had some challenges while I was gone. You can read about Ivan’s mechanical repairs on his blog. Don discovered the solar wasn’t working well, and the end result was a new controller. He makes these things seem easy peasy, but we met some new travelers just getting into the solar world, and I realized not everyone has the type of interest and hence knowledge Don has in this area.
Gilles and Celeste and Mitch and Anika were a pleasure to meet. We shared some stories and life’s adventures over a few happy hours, and exchanged emails and contacts. Don helped Mitch get his new solar working, and after sharing some spare parts and such, thy were up and running.
This is one of the best parts of travelling, meeting folks from everywhere that also enjoy the lifestyle we’ve chosen. I regret not getting a photo of our happy hour evening when we all hid from the wind inside our trailer.
We are parting roads with Ivan for now. Sometimes we will meet again unplanned along the way, but for now it’s goodbye.
We are headed to Death Valley National Park just across the border in California, so when we have Wi-Fi I will update you on that phase of the adventure!
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
The area we camp on is shown as Lake Mead on the GPS, but from the growth and roads, it is obvious there has been no water at this level for years. The launch site and beach just north of us, Overton Beach, has been closed since we first started trekking down here, although the first year you could drive to the launch, but since then it has been barricaded off. If you are interested spend some Google time on the area and Lake Mead itself, to gain an understanding.
The town of Overton looks small at first, but the service area is quite large, and the shops and stores have done an excellent job of maintaining a community.
There are several boondocking locations in this area. Poverty flats is closer to Overton and a very busy area. We don’t mind neighbors although some boondockers do, but what we prefer about Stewart’s Point is the water view. Seeing water when in a desert like area is refreshing. If you want to use an app to locate basically any type of camping facility from boondocking to extravagant costly RV parks, Campendium is fabulous!
We are also very close to Valley of Fire park, renowned for it’s bright red rock. The photos below are just a tease of what you actually see. This is a picnic and small hike area on the road to Las Vegas and not part of the Valley of Fire, but rather the first outcrops of the red rock. I don’t have any photos of Valley of Fire this year, but Imagine nothing but the red rock and blue sky for miles.
I was reading through posts on Instagram and made a comment on someone who was near Valley of Fire. That comment received a follower, and a new Facebook page for me to follow – RV to Freedom. AND! we met the people connected to it. They posted on my comment and said they were at Stewart's Point as well and when the sun rose look to the north. There they were parked down the road from us.
Now back to the best topic around, the weather. Again it was horrid. This is usually where we end up getting our first sun burns, sunscreen or not. No worries this year. It was so cold and windy we just bundled up in our trailer and kept thinking how it had to get better! The view was lovely and quite deceiving. We have excellent phone service here though, and Ivan graciously shred his unlimited Wi-Fi. And again, other than wanting to walk around a bit and get some exercise, the weather wasn’t preventing that much from happening, as nothing much “happens” any way. LOL
We made a trip to Vegas for some supplies - a stop at Costco and Target because why not.
We also went to Las Vegas Wetlands Trail for a hike. Umm, poor hike. First no wetlands really, and poorly marked trail. But at least we stretched our legs and had a bit of sunshine. The pictures may look better than my description.
After a week here we agreed it was time to move on. Our next stop – another magical boondocking spot, this one by Laughlin. Stay tuned.
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
We usually leave for the south after my annual Co-op Conference and AGM is Saskatoon. That means typically that we leave by March 1. This year I had no work commitments past February 16 and the Co-op event was March 2. I had the brilliant idea of leaving early and since we fly to the conference anyways, flying form somewhere yonder rather than home. That would allow us an early departure of February 17. I saw this as almost a gift to Don, who I know would like to be away even longer, and a chance for me to start breaking myself away from home sooner. This year we will be on the road for 10 weeks!
All this drama is not leading up to anything serious, just a snowstorm both at home and farther south, that prevented us from leaving for 2 days. Don followed the roads and weather into Montana closely and things were a mess with snowfall, wind and warnings. So we departed home at about 5:30 a.m. February 19.
It was a nasty drive all the way to Dillon Montana where we stopped for the night. Our goal is always to make it to Idaho Falls. We have never taken a hotel room before as the temperature was always around –5, but this time we couldn’t do it. Look at the temperature!! Yikes. We had a great room though, and we thrilled that they offered a soup and bun buffet. Odd but welcome!
Excuse the odd photos from my phone .
The next day we set out with determination and expectations. Some not met. Don took every challenge the roads and weather provided, and after the 2 – 3 hour delays the day before, we were still at our destination of Sand Hollow Park in St George Utah by 6:00 p.m.
It was my birthday and we were going to go for a nice dinner, but honestly we didn’t have the energy to do anything. We loaded up on groceries and selected some take a way from the deli and that was it.
The weather was nasty and windy, although no snow. We appreciated the full hookups as we de-winterized the trailer, ran the fireplace almost non stop and filled the pantry.
After 3 nights it was time to make a break and try yo get back into our regular pattern! We knew Ivan was in the area, which for RV’ers might not be as close as readers think, and agreed to meet at Stewart’s Point. Ivan introduced us to this boondocker’s delight and it has become a favorite of ours.
After getting the rig washed in St. George we were off. Still not shorts weather but I am sure we’re getting there, right?
Sunday, February 18, 2018
January started out with a sleep over with Connor and Mason on New Years Eve. I had a few plans we could initiate, but the weather was cold and the boys found lots to do inside. It was a quiet and peaceful ringing in.
There were the usual work days for us, interspersed with watching hockey, ringette and swimming. We visited Red Deer and watched Emerson and her team in a tournament. Being at the rink and watching Ringette never gets old for us, it just feels like we are back 20 years.
Emerson and Reese were also both in their home tournament, the Silver Ring, and as well as watching a few games, I worked a volunteer shift at the registration table. Now that takes me back as I was the tournament director in Spruce Grove for more years than I would like to remember!
We went to Lanigan to celebrate Don's brother Ken's 65th birthday, and continued to Tisdale to visit more with his family. I love that my sister Ginger is working in Tisdale - it gives me a great chance to see her more often. I reserved my spot for lunch with her both days:)
We also took some time to shop for a new truck this month and were successful. The only small change is the color - form white to a light silver. It will be interesting to see how it pulls without the delete kit, and I am happy to have heated seats, even if I don't ride in the truck in cold weather too often.
As the grandkids get older and their birthday parties get more hectic (to us), I was looking for a way to make their birthday time with us a bit more special. So I decided that we could take them out on a special day with us where we let them pick a present, have lunch or supper, and get some one on one.
Mason was first. We picked him up at school, went to McDonalds for lunch, and Toys R Us for the gift. It was a lot of fun watching him get down to the business of gift selection, and he is at that age where he doesn't study prices, so we topped up the Lego present he picked with a gift card. He turned 4 on February 3, and it's hard to realize he truly is not a baby any longer. Independent, strong willed and very funny.
Next up is Emerson. She turned 9 on February 16. We picked her up and went to West Edmonton Mall for supper at the food court and then some clothes shopping. She is pretty set in her style sense, had a great time trying everything on, and came away with lots of new things. She spent her money very wisely and had enough left for one squishy toy. Emerson is quite the girl; deep feelings, loves her friends and family so strongly, and loves ringette and Ukrainian dance.
The last grandchild birthday in February is Connor. Our day out with him is extra special as we are not going to be home for his actual birthday. We went to watch him and Mason in swimming, then headed out for lunch and shopping. He picked McDonalds as well, and rather than a toy store only wanted the Lego store. He is a cautious shopper, taking a lot of time to think through his purchases and the money he is spending. Connor is such a deep thinker, very considerate of others, and like Em loves his family and friends very deeply.
Both of our son in laws celebrate their birthdays in February as well! I didn't give them a special day and meal with us though. LOL
And last for February birthdays is me!!! I like to think of it as my birthday month. First I had a great brunch and spa date with Maria and Anne, then I had a birthday day that started with a manicure, pedicure, and haircut. the day was finished with the most mazing supper at the Melting Pot with Tracy and Lindsay. I can't remember the last time the three of us sat for over two hours with no kids and just visited. Thank you so much girls!!
And the takes care of our time at home in January and February. On February 17 we were hoping to head to warmer climate and an extended vacation, but the snow storms and roads in Montana kept us home for another few days. That gave me a chance for a few meals out with some girlfriends and Don and I went ice fishing with the Stecyks!
We are attempting another departure tomorrow so I’ll let you know how that goes!
Wednesday, December 27, 2017
We try very hard to attend the grandkids events and experience little precious times with them, and it's a bit scary knowing with our own kids how that time goes by and you never get it back.
So that's where we have been though November and December. We have both been doing quite a bit of work as well, and yes the days have flown by.
As Christmas approached we had some great days with everyone and find ourselves ready for Christmas and our annual DWS Aggregates Christmas Party.
Don's mom stayed with us until November 7 and we had a great time having her to ourselves.
I had a fantastic girl's weekend away with two very good friends, Don went to Jasper to watch parts of Blake's hockey tournament and came back to Edmonton with Emerson so she didn't miss Ringette, we had the Stecyk boys for a few nights while their mom and dad attended a staff function, and we went to many many ice times and swimming times.
Reese celebrated her 7th birthday and had us over for dinner and cake.
I spent two weekends in Co-op meetings, learning and retreats; Don spent 7 days working in the field, etc etc!
Two very fun things we did this season were our annual trip to see Santa at West Edmonton Mall and a kids shopping day. At the mall you can book a VIP appointment with Santa and it is FANTASTIC! You get 20 minutes of uninterrupted Santa time and every child gets a chance to interact and not be rushed. As for the shopping I thought it would be fun if each family were able to shop for their parents with me. The boys were first and we visited the mall, bought the gifts and had a quick dinner. They were so fricking cute picking what to buy, although their decisions were made faster than I expected. The Cameron kids had a lot of notice and had put quite a bit of thought into their gifts beforehand, so the time was spent mostly considering types and sizes. We took time for a Starbucks visit as well. This was so much fun for me, I cannot wait to do it again!
I sent Christmas cards out but no letter, so I can't even cut and paste that. But I will end this year with our annual family photo and send tons of love and friendship to all who are a part of our life. We are blessed and happy and that is a great way to end 2017. Talk to you next year, and please if you are ever near us stop in for coffee,