Our Travel Blog

My photo
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 Journey. Don retired October 2011 so hopefully the travelling part will increase! When we are not vacationing check in for updates about our life at home and our wonderful family:)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Checking Out the Canyons in Utah

I must admit I am weary of finding new words to describe the brilliance of the Canyons as we drive through them.  We have over 150 photos, but I am not even sure they do justice.  I wish each one of you was travelling with us, and we could ooh and aah along with us. As I said in a past blog, each view has its own merit.
Over the last 2 days we have travelled through Bryce Canyon National Park and Capital Reef National Park.  In many instances the “scenic route” we drove along to get there afforded more attractions and beauty than the actual canyons.
On Saturday we packed our lunch and headed through the park on Hwy 63.  We thought that was funny, as it was as different from Alberta’s Hwy 63 as you can get.  Bryce Canyon is full of incredible red hoodoos, not unlike those in Drumheller, other than the height and quantity.  It is so overwhelming to see them, and the drove allows you to stop and view from so many different angles.
Sunday we headed out again, ready to see Capital Reef National Park.  We were not sure what a reef was considered to be in this area, and must admit after the tour, still not sure why they chose that reference.  Capital Reef primarily allows you to drive rather than along the rim of the canyons, such as Grand Canyon or Bryce, along the river valley that created the wonder.  A totally different perspective.  Signs along the way warn you not to park in the river bed, or even enter,if there are any sings of impending storm.  As a side note, and not as an insult, it seems that Americans need to have posted warnings about everything in life.  You are in a raging storm and sitting in a river in your vehicle – you may want to leave!
Each of these day trips was so worthwhile.  I cannot believe how much new country we have visited this trip.  But also must admit I am done for the spring with red rock, canyons, and hills.  The truck must be wondering what we are doing to it.  The fields around Lethbridge will be welcome!
I will post pics as soon as we are in a more stable wifi zone.
Have  a great evening!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Lake Powell Country

We travelled yet again into new country on Wednesday – Page Arizona and Lake Powell.  Lake Powell is formed by the Glen Canyon Dam, built on the mighty Colorado River in the Glen Canyon Recreation Area.
The closest town, Page, was formed in 1957.  Page is a popular area for snowbirds, and the scenery is majestic and peaceful.  We stayed at the Lake Powell Resort.  Although a bit expensive for our taste, we do enjoy having services in the heat, especially electricity and the campsites had fire pits.  Fire pits are not easy to find in campgrounds!
Tonight we are packing up after spending 3 nights here – it is time to move on.  Our stay has been quite slow paced here, it seems we are starting to get the hang of doing nothing while feeling like we are busy.  We did a road trip each day, today’s was most interesting, travelling to see Lees Ferry and the Navajo Bridge on Route 89A.  At the Navajo Bridge they have the original bridge closed to traffic in 1938, adjacent to today’s current bridge.  The Lees Ferry was at one time the only river crossing on the Colorado for 600 miles!
The weather has been very cooperative for us, hovering in the mid 20’s, although the wind has been testy at times.  We have finally been able to have an evening fire, share a few stories, and make some new memories.
What more can a person ask for?
Tomorrow we are heading a bit north to the Bryce Canyon area.  Not sure where we will pick to stay, but I will let you know.
Have a great weekend – I know we will.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Smiths Do the Grand Canyon

So we have been here before – BUT with the car and on a flying trip.  One that Don refers to as a Chevy Chase visit.  Watch Chevy Chase Vacation if that reference means nothing to you.
Anyway, this time we took our time and stopped at every viewpoint offered.  And it was totally worth it.  I heard someone say it was visually overwhelming, and that is an accurate way of looking at it.  I also heard a young boy about Emerson’s age say wow dad that’s a lot of really big rocks and hills hey.  Yes another accurate statement!
We visited the South Rim of the canyon, it is the North Rim that has the glass walk out, so before you ask, no we did not go there.  And we would not have walked out on that anyhow!
I think the pictures do the canyon justice, not my words, so here you are!
Tomorrow we are out of Flagstaff, heading to Page and Lake Powel.  Take care.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Amazing Road Trip

Today we travelled to Sedona, Arizona.  I mentioned we had driven through earlier, but today we stopped, walked and shopped:) 
Main street in Sedona is a busy place, with so many tourist shops, coffee shops and restaurants, that you may think you are anywhere in Canada or USA, like Jasper, etc.  But then you look at the view, and know you must be somewhere a bit different, as all landscapes have a beauty their own, no matter how similar to other locations you have visited.  What makes every place unique while appearing somewhat the same is what nature has done with what’s at hand.  In this part of Arizona it is not hard to find red rocks and canyons, but it seems to me if you really take the time and look you start seeing all the special differences and details.  It may be the vegetation that grows along the roads, the flowers that pop out now and then, or even the type of farming that happens along the way.  But every place offers its own views.
So I keep posting pictures of mountains, lakes and rocks.  If you are like us and love exploring the “in your face” differences, as well as the subtle differences, and collecting memories along the way, you will enjoy the photos.
We travelled Hwy 89A to Sedona, this is the scenic route.  After today’s trip Don declared all highways with the letter A mean scenic, as well as sometimes erratic and not straight.  Look at the GPS photo from a  few days ago to see what he means!  I usually get to pick the route we take (hence Driving Miss Donna), and sometimes as driver he pulls rank.
Anyway one of our stops was Montezuma Castle National Monument.  Just a note to travellers – National Parks week is a great time to discover all these treasures, as there is no entry fee all week to any National site or park. And I am not going to tell you much else about this great spot, other than you must visit.  In person or online – it was not Montezuma who lived there!  The link will tell you everything, and our pictures are amazing.
Now 89A didn’t have Don pull rank, but it was close. Next stop Jerome.  You must visit Jerome if you are ever in this area.  Do not drive a long vehicle when doing so.  Although it is common to see signs that state not to drive anything over 50 feet, this was not the case.  But if you are we are not sure how you get though the town of Jerome on this “scenic” drive. The city is made up of more hairpin turns that we have experienced in all of our travels together.  It is America’s most vertical city, the largest ghost town in America, and also a National Historic District.  And in no way is it a ghost town as you may think – it has as many restaurants, bars and shops as you would expect.
After Jerome, the trip was rather uneventful back to Flagstaff, but still scenic.  It made a great day trip.
Follow us in the photos…

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Driving to Music

Today’s travels take us to Winslow, Arizona.  Don and I have a habit of picking a line from a favourite song, one that has a town in it, and heading out to find that place. 
It all started with driving song we have had for years – on 8 track actually – CW McCall and Wolf Creek Pass.
************************************************************************************************
September 2006 Road Trip with the NEW Fifth Wheel:
Bodega Bay, California – Bodega Bay by the Untamed
Oh my baby still loves me - she called me today
Come away for the weekend to Bodega Bay
It's a place by the ocean where lovebirds can play
Come away for the weekend - to Bodega Bay
************************************************************************************************
April 2007 Road Trip in the new Dodge Charger with Ron and Bev:
Bakersfield, California – Streets of Bakersfield by Buck Owens and Dwight Yokam
I came here looking for something
I couldn't find anywhere else
Hey, I'm not trying to be nobody
Just want a chance to be myself

I've done a thousand miles of thumbin'
I've worn holes in both my heels
Trying to find me something better
On the streets of Bakersfield

************************************************************************************************
September 2007 Road Trip with the Fifth Wheel:
Pagosa Springs, Colorado – Wolf Creek Pass by CW McCall
Sign says clearance to the twelve-foot line, but the chickens was stacked to thirteen-nine. Well we shot that tunnel at a hundred-and-ten, like gas through a funnel and eggs through a hen, and we took that top row of chickens off slicker than scum off a Lousiana swamp. Went down and around and around and down 'til we run outta ground at the edge of town. Bashed into the side of the feed store... in downtown Pagosa Springs.
Taos, New Mexico – Taos by unidentified artist1
Here I am in jail with no one to throw my bail and I just wanna go home
And when I do I'll never leave Maria alone
I'm servin' time in Taos, New Mexico and I just wanna go home
I'm servin' time in Taos, New Mexico oooh never felt so alone

************************************************************************************************
June 2009 Road Trip to Alaska with Paul and Mary:
Alaska - North to Alaska by Johnny Horton
"'Cos a man needs a woman to love him all the time.
"Remember, Sam, a true love is so hard to find.
"I'd build for my Ginnie, a honeymoon home.
"Below that old white mountain just a little south-east of Nome."
Where the river is winding,
Big nuggets they're finding.
North to Alaska,
They're goin' North, the rush is on.
North to Alaska,
They're goin' North, the rush is on.

************************************************************************************************
2012 Road Trip with the Fifth Wheel:
Winslow, Arizona - Take it Easy by the Eagles
Well, I'm a standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona
and such a fine sight to see
It's a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin' down to take a look at me
Come on, baby, don't say maybe I gotta know if your sweet love is
gonna save me
We may lose and we may win though we will never be here again
so open up, I'm climbin' in, so take it easy

 
So – you see the pattern?  BUT – Winslow was just the best!  Not only a statue of one of the Eagles and an actual red flat bed Ford, but 70’s music streaming from an adjacent corner curio shop, and an opportunity to buy commemorative T Shorts, which we don’t usually do.
If you have a special song with a town in it - let us know!
A great day spent seeing more countryside, and a great place to stop.  Enjoy every moment – who knows when or if we will be back.  Some great photos on this special stop on Route 66…

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sedona, Arizona

is beautiful!

After finding an RV site and having some lunch, we headed out to explore.  We headed south of Flagstaff down Highway 17,hoping to go off highway a bit and find some more rustic campgrounds, not just an RV park.  You know those old fashioned places with picnic tables, trees and fire pits!  We had only signed in for one night in Flagstaff in hopes.

We veered off Hwy 17 on SR 179, at a sign that said Cottonwood.  That sounded nice and we knew of a state park called Dead Horse Ranch which deserved discovery.  Dead Horse SP is quite scenic, although not as nice as the online pictures depict no surprise.  And we felt good about our decision not to pull the trailer down as it was again 36 out and no shade, and the campground was full.

So off we were again, in search of a new road to go back to Flagstaff on.  The sign said Sedona, and we have heard so much about that area it seemed like a great idea.  And that is when I fell in love with Sedona – for those of you on Facebook…  The city is surrounded by the most magnificent red rock and canyons, and as well as that it has numerous quaint streets, lined with coffee shops, restaurants and shopping!  Every house we saw in the residential areas were constructed to look like adobe walled homes, and that was in many economical areas.  I’m sure they have the more traditional homes as well but don’t ruin my dream!  Very much like the towns and cities we visited in New Mexico a few years ago.

Now some advice if you visit Sedona – don’t go on a weekend – it was worse than West Edmonton Mall on the last opening day prior to Christmas!!  We will go for a walk around and shopping/lunch this week.  And do travel Hwy 89A, the “scenic route” back.  You ramble past the most unique state parks, a natural rock water slide and many lazy fishing rivers.  And again incredible scenery.  A perfect drive.

But I will leave you with a few photos, and hope to share tomorrow’s adventure with you soon!

 

And I thought 28 was HOT??

Wow – last blog I said we needed to find a cooler place, as 28 was too hot.  Well someone heard us and the temperatures soared to 38.  Lucky us!

Our days at Camp Davis Park near Laughlin were filled with activities we could do inside – eating, visiting, shopping, eating, visiting, shopping.  You get the picture.  Throw in a couple of evenings spending a few $$ at the machines, and that wraps it up.

But it is always great to find a new place to visit, and this time we discovered the AVI Casino.  It is just 20 minutes south of Laughlin, has an RV park with services and an RV dry parking lot (this means $$ vs zero), a wonderful restaurant or two, a beach, a golf course, etc.  We didn’t stay there this time but ventured down on Friday night to try their seafood buffet.  See a pattern here with us and buffets?  Anyway Pat, Walter, Don and I headed down on Friday for dinner, and I have to tell you that the AVI Buffet beats the Freemont Buffet.  That is a hard one for me to admit, as everything on Freemont Street is usually my favourite.  But not this time.  Also remarkably cheaper at the AVI.

We had a great evening out; the food, strolling through the unexpected car show, playing the machines and enjoying the atmosphere.

It was great spending these 3 days with Pat and Walter, it is always nice to see them, catch up on their winter, and generally just visit.  Although they only live in Calgary in the summer months, it seems we never get there.  Last year we were fortunate because Walter was working in Edmonton so we could meet for dinner often.

So this morning Don and I are headed to Flagstaff.  Can’t wait to tell you what we find there!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Where Do the Days Go?

I hope no one gets tired of me saying how relaxing this is, but here I go again.  You have to appreciate that this is the first real taste Don and I have had at this retirement thing, so we are a bit giddy about it.

I left you on Sunday, while we were boondocking with Ivan at Stewart’s Point, Lake Mead.  It was so peaceful there.  Don jokes that they bored me into relaxation, but it is just a matter of teaching oneself to relax, and then the day passes quite nicely.  I think for me it’s the fact that I cannot remember a time since I was about 14 that I have not had a job, school, kids, volunteer work or something to focus on… 

Reflecting on the past few years I have been over the top about commitment to jobs, and I am just now appreciating that fact.  Good thing I have had Don to balance me out.  As recently as last September when we tried to get away for one week, that week was consumed by emails and conference calls with work.  There is nothing wrong with being a dedicated employee, but please take heed that I TRULY believe you should not give more than 100% to your job.  There may be circumstances where that requires some different approaches, and that is fine, but you always need to ensure your current priorities are being met, in life not in business.  So give it a 150%, but do it for yourself and your own sense of ethics and morals, and not for the “company”.  And take some down time after. Now let’s see if I heed my own advice.  LOL  I think I am going home to a part time position with Volunteer Alberta, but it is not confirmed yet.  Hopefully by the time we return I will have a contract letter or something, as it will have been over 10 weeks since the offer was made.  And I will dig into my business, develop a plan, and start engaging in it.  Don has a few more jobs lined up as well.  I am so proud of his company and how far he has come in a few months!

Okay – back to the vacation report.  We ended up spending 3 nights boondocking, then felt the urge to move on.  So we carried down to Davis Camp on the Colorado River.  It is across from Laughlin Nevada, identified as in Bullhead City, Arizona.  We love this campground, and you will see the photo below.

On Tuesday we drove into Vegas, and stayed at our favourite Fitzgerald's Hotel on Freemont Street.  It has been 11 years since we first went there, and we paid $32, which is $3 lower than the first visit.  We had a great evening out, ate at the Seafood Buffet and watched all the light shows at the Freemont Street Experience – American Pie, Bon Jovi, Queen and the Doors.

This morning we returned home to the trailer, and having a relaxing day at the site.  We are here until Saturday and then need to move somewhere cooler.  Don and I are not cut out to be sitting in 28 degree weather.

Pat and Walter Parker are joining us today, and we look forward to our great visit with them.

Have a great week everyone – it’s hump day so you’re almost there!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

It’s The Weekend…

…and that means nothing!  LOL  How wonderful when you have to ask each other what day it is because it just doesn’t matter.
We have had a great few days.  We visited the Valley of Fire State Park, pulling in on Wednesday morning, and picked a site nestled amongst the giant red mountains.  I haven’t loaded the photos to create a slide show for you – maybe this week.
It is very warm and VERY windy here.  I can’t remember the last time we had the trailer in such wind.  But the temperature is still enjoyable and still short pants weather, so that is wonderful.  We set up camp and left to do some touring, and driving through the small town of Overton found a McDonalds with wifi, so had no choice but to have a milkshake and let our emails load, update Windows, etc.  All those things that use precious G.  Then off to the grocery/liquor store and back home.
We decided to see if one more day would ease the wind, and so when we got up on Thursday and had breakfast we headed to Las Vegas.  First stop has to be Costco, for essentials that are so much cheaper than other places.  For example Coors 36 packs for $18.99 and Baileys 1.75L for $19.99.  Then it was off to the Vegas Premium Outlets!  Love the outdoor mall thing.  We had big plans this day – to stay and visit Freemont Street, eat at the extraordinaire Freemont Buffet, have a few drinks and go home.  But we copped out.  The lure of that camper was calling.
And what a great choice we made, as when we pulled into the site and looked across there was Ivan!!  What a treat to see him there.  That led into an evening of visiting and a great campfire.
So it’s now Friday and we have to make a choice – stay or go?  Ivan was off to boondock at Stewart’s Point, just miles form the campground, so we followed him to see if we would be comfortable pulling our rig there.  It’s a great place, with a 15 night maximum stay, and the views are beyond.  (Pictures I promise).  So we headed back to camp, hooked up and went on our way. 
Although still extremely windy, and rain overnight, the site is as beautiful this morning as ever.  Lake Mead can be viewed form 3 sides of the trailer, and the only other occupant visible is Ivan.  Quiet and solitude, and a pile of books.  The only downer is our trailer batteries, which we will have to replace today.  Don suspected this would happen soon, and the time has come.  We didn’t worry too much about when as it is warm enough not to need the furnace.  So when the world wakes up and the stores open, we will be off to Overton NAPA.
Sorry we have no “exciting” news to tell you, relaxing is not that easy to write about.
Enjoy your weekend…

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Short Update:)

Well we never made it to Snow Canyon State Park to camp – it was full.  What a hidden gem.  But only 20 sites.  It is amidst the best hiking in Utah (so I am told, not by experience).  So we went on to the city of St. Georges, which we would have been visiting anyway, and are staying at St. George RV Park.
On Monday we arrived and did the grocery thing at Walmart, then toured around and purchased a mobile internet stick from AT&T.  This is a big move for us, as we have talked about it endlessly on our travels and decided enough is enough.  To control our usage habits we have one that is pay and go, no contracts.  So this time we purchased one month, 1G, and have it figured that should be good for this trip.  Next time we come south we can simply buy more online, and there is no start up fee each time. Don has 1G on his phone, which is a mobile hotspot in Canada, and we have tortured it and never gone beyond the 1G, so hopefully we made the right choice.  I am happy because I can Facebook, so Don is happy too.  LOL  The simple things in life…
Today was a great day – the first of actually holidaying and no towing.  We started out slow, and then took the truck to get detailed.  They have a special interior clean called extreme, and advertise that they blow all the dust out of the vents. etc.  I wonder if they knew what they were getting into?  That Don’s trucks spend a majority of their life in gravel pits?  So it took one hours, 4 workers, and WOW!!  It looks cleaner than when it was new.  While that was happening we had a great pizza lunch.
Then it was off for some adventures.  We drove around the Red Cliffs area, back through Snow Canyon State Park, and through many small communities outlying St. George.  It is such different views than our prairie province.  Obviously the hills are red rock, and mixed in are black lava piles…
A relaxing evening outdoors, visiting other campers, and tomorrow off to Valley of Fire State Park.  We will stay there for a few nights, and make a visit to Vegas and the favourite Freemont Street, as well as the BEST outlet mall I have ever visited (one of my higher rated skills so don’t scoff).  Quite a few items on my list – new runners, a Coach purse as a surprise for a special friend who always does so much for me (if she reads this she might guess?), some clothes for the grandkids, maybe a dress for Dana’s wedding, and looking for a store that sells Toms.  Equals happy Donna again!  Don needs sunglasses and runners as well.
Here are some photos of today’s drive, and one of the truck.  Don wanted to remember how clean it was.  The buildings are on an Indian Reservation, and looked very mysterious against the backdrop of mountains.  I should add we have a travelling friend Ivan who likes to find the most amazing scenery to park in.  So I found you a spot Ivan on a back road.  Just for you!
Have another great day – we did!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

First Days of April

Well April Fool’s Day fooled us – with snow!  Somebody must have heard me comment that I didn’t need to get an SUV this winter, because they have made sure on several occasions that it has come in handy.  Rather than a typical winter of steady snow and cold, we had a teaser winter where the weather was usually very mild, and then freak storms set in.
The first week of April was spent getting things in order for the holidays.
Don had several maintenance issues to deal with.  The awning over the trailer slide needed repair or replacing, so that was ordered, and almost taken care of.  Meaning the new one didn’t fit so it was re-ordered, and will be installed in May.  To save ourselves from loosing it on the highway, we had the shop remove the old one entirely.  The truck received it’s annual spring windshield, and while towing the trailer around for the awning we discovered it needed 2 new tires.  So all is in order now, we hope.
I spent the majority of my time getting the house ready for Connor’s first visit, Easter dinner and baby shower!  (As well as ensuring all my volunteer work was in place and order for a month.)
First we chose Good Friday to have our family Easter meal.  It was a great day with Tracy, Cal, Blake, Emerson and Reese out as well.  Cal and the kids had not met Connor yet.  The most surprising one was Reese.  We didn’t think she would be very interested in Connor but she was transfixed with him, and wanted to hold him constantly  It was so cute!
Lindsay and Jeremy and Connor were home for the Easter weekend, and while in town, we hosted a baby shower.  The house was at capacity, but everyone had a great visit and enjoyed seeing Connor for the first time.  Facebook has a lot of photos if you visit Tracy or Lindsay’s pages.
Don and I headed south on Saturday, after the baby shower.  We were all packed so on Sunday morning we could just get up and go, but typical for us we were too excited to hang around.  I just have to say we have the best friends and family, helping us clean up after the whole event so we could leave.  Tracy, Kim, Sharon and Stephanie, THANK YOU!
Our adventure so far has been Walmart camping Saturday night in Lethbridge, Sunday in Salt Lake City.  Today we are headed to Snow Canyon State Park by St. Georges Utah.  This is an exciting stop for us, as we are getting the truck cleaned.  Think of the most expensive thorough Bubbles package, less actual steam cleaning, and that is what we are having done.  For a tidy sum of $39.99.  I kid you not, about $200 less than Canada.  As well we are buying a US phone and wifi stick.  Enough is enough and it is time to commit.
Not sure how long we will stay in the St Georges area, it s very beautiful and we have never explored around there.  Temperatures are perfect for camping, about 30 degrees, so we will see.
Have a great week…