Our Travel Blog

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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, March 29, 2015

Adding to Our List of Firsts

The length of time between blogs is directly related to two very important items – the staggering beauty of our location and being consumed by that, or the lack of internet strong enough to post.  In this case it was about 60/40 in that order.

Our first visit to this area of Utah has not disappointed.  We decided to base our discovery at Gooseneck State Park, the closest town being Bluff, Utah.  Gooseneck is as close as you will come to boondocking but still pay a fee.  For $10 a night you will receive pit toilets, garbage receptacles and some degree of comfort knowing that Rangers patrol the area.  Oh and also firepits and picnic tables.  The rest is up to you.  Our solar power, invertor, etc. have already been tested this trip, and they paid for themselves at the end of this stay.  That all sounds quite priceless, doesn’t it?  But what I can only show you is the view.  Monument Valley was always in our sites, as well as breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, colorful rock displays, and nature at it’s best.  Click on each photo to open it and enjoy to the fullest.

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We travelled through Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods, and were able to see up close the Monuments observed from the campground.  I think the majestic nature of these rock protrusions and the uniqueness of every one is what makes Monuments as popular as they are.  As you drive down the road, every time you turn your head you see a different arrangement and a new sight.

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Oh and then of course we had to take a short drive to see the rock that Mexican Hat is named for…

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We spent 3 nights here, not only enjoying the sights, but also the privilege of sharing our campfire with some new friends.  We met Kim and Linda from just down the road – Pigeon Lake, Alberta – and our goodbye included exchanged numbers and emails and promises to visit once we are all home.  We also spent time with Lynn, who was travelling from Oregon.

And that concludes three nights in Gooseneck.  We are moving down the road, only about 20 miles, to visit Natural Bridges National Monument, which as a park, not a single “monument”. 

Oh the places you’ll go when Driving Miss Donna

Friday, March 27, 2015

Kodachrome

You give us the nice bright colors, you give us the greens of summer.  This is just pictures, with a small bit of words.  Who misses those days of film cameras and Kodak?

To start – did you notice the truck and trailer picture on our blog has changed?  I found a website that makes caricatures.

truck and trailer caricature

And if you follow us on Instagram (@drivingmissdonna) you have already seen this photo taken in a canyon at Snow Canyon State Park.

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The rest of the photos are from the petrified forest.  I continue to be at a loss of words to describe this place.  I believe it is a song by CW McCoy that describes the aurora borealis as flames form a prehistoric campfire?  The Petrified Forest is the location of the woodpile.

From Petroglyphs to rolling red hills, to messy woodpiles and woodchips left behind; this is a testament to the power of nature.  Enjoy…

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

New Places

Sometimes it must seem to our readers that we discover places and keep going back, and that is true to some extent and several factors.  Of course endless time and money would allow us to go somewhere new every year, but that isn’t the case.  And routes are sometimes predicted by the weather.  There are only a couple of safe ways to travel south in the winter.  And let’s not forget when you love a location why deprive yourself form seeing it.  Hence many trips to the west coast, Oregon of course, and the Lake Mead area.  BUT this year we are exploring new National Parks and areas that have been on our list for some time.

This portion of our trip found us passing through some old territory to see some new.  After leaving Laughlin we headed east to discover The Petrified Forest National Park in eastern Arizona.

It is hard to explain the terrain in the park, so I will just show photos and some dialogue.

One fact to note is that Route 66 travels through parts of the park.  If you look closely in this photo you will see the crest of the highway in the grass.  When you are up close and personal it is easy to find, so if the picture doesn’t provide you with the view, you will have to use imagination or perhaps travel here!

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There were several hikes in the park, leading to unique views and memories of times far ago.  Here is the physical evidence of people living long ago in this area.  The first house is called Agate House and is constructed of petrified tree “stones”.  The second is only a small part of what was called Puerco Pueblo housing, a conglomerate of 8-9 rooms, most the size of a closet in today’s houses.

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This was an excellent stop for viewing petroglyphs.  Often a sign will tell you they exist but you need to really focus on far away hills and rocks.  Not the case at Newspaper Rock, where there were rock faces filled with stories of ancient times.

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Our favourite hike was into the area called Blue Mesa.  There was an insistence that the colors of the rocks were blue, but we felt the truer description would be purple.  Whatever you decide, the landscape and colors were breathtaking.

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And of course I need to show you pictures of the petrified wood.  Don’t forget we are talking about literally miles and miles of this.  Some of the biggest trees we have viewed since the California Redwoods.  You do not realize these trees are now rocks until you touch them, or notice the colors within. 

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It has been a great stop in this fabulous countryside.  Definitely worth the stop for the views and for the hiking.  

We are excited to move into Utah now and a few weeks in more new to us landscape.  We have just purchased a new camera and can’t wait to try it out on the parks of eastern Utah.

Take care…

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Visiting Old Friends

Well locations can be friends too can't they?  This segment of our trip is Laughlin. We first discovered Laughlin several years ago when we started our April sojourns to the south. Although we love Vegas for a night or two, we found it wasn't a long term stop. A friend suggested we try Laughlin, and it was a perfect fit. Approximately one and a half hours south of Vegas, Laughlin has 11 casinos. Situated on the Colorado River, the casinos are connected by a river walk. It is definitely a smaller version of Vegas, and has even more seniors than it's big north sister. But it is also within easy distance of Lake Havasu City, Kingman and Route 66, and if you like driving like we do, close enough to Mexico for a day trip. 
We have found a new campground here as well. Big Bend of the Colorado State Recreation Area is 24 site fully serviced campground on the Needles Highway. It is in the town limits of Laughlin, so very accessible to the amenities, but hidden away off the roads and streets. With no street lights it offers the feel of being out in the woods without being so. I can honestly say we have never found campsites this large. This picture may not  show it well, but there is no doubt 3 rigs could fit in side by side!


We've stayed here 5 nights, which is quite a long stay for us. We are certainly learning to relax and not need to be on the move as much. I should mention that we did spend one night at a past favorite, Davis Park Dam Park, but it was not pleasant. We have stayed there every RV visit to Laughlin and always loved it. However upon our arrival this time we were told that we no longer fit and would have to stay in their "parking lot" area. You know the usual cement and pavement, no fire pits or tables, and the opportunity to hear your neighbour pass gas!  We took one night and said adios to the spot. Also a very rude staff member made the choice easy. They insisted we could have never stayed there and we had we should have received a warning. WTF!  I reminded him if he checked his records he would see he had actually placed us in past years. Anyway...
Our time here has been so pleasant. We have passed the time relaxing, reading, shopping and walking the casino river walk every night. Of course that allows us to drop our regular $10 in the machines, one penny at a time. Don actually plays for a nickel!  We travelled to Lake Havasu one day for a walk on the beach and lunch under the bridge. It was as peaceful as ever, keeping in mind that it is the spring break hot spot of the area. There is a 5 mile beach Boardwalk and that makes for a great walk!
Pat and Walter spend the winter in Yuma. We have stopped at their winter home in the past but we aren't going that way this winter. We phoned them and on Saturday we met half way in Parker for an afternoon of visiting and an early dinner. It was a great visit as when we are both in Alberta we seem to busy to make the 3 hour drive. So yes it was the Parkers in Parker!
Sunday was another day of rest, and then moving on. 
We're headed for some new territory in eastern Arizona and then Utah. I will let you know where we actually end up and what we see. There's no sense telling you in case the truck takes a different route. 
I just want to say a quick hi to all our readers out there, but a special one to a new follower, our grandson Blake!  
Until then...

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A New Campground

It is not usual when in an "old" place to find a new campground, but we did just that. A few days ago when we took the little road trip with Ivan to the Hoover Dam we stopped in at a couple of campgrounds near Vegas. One of them was the Boulder Camprground and RV Park. The RV park was as expected, close and cluttered and either pavement or cement all the way. We didn't even take time to check the cost. But the campground was a bit more appealing. Nice size lots, fire rings and picnic tables, and $10. Come on now next to free $10 is pretty sweet. Located just minutes away from Boulder and about 20 minutes from Las Vegas, this was a spot to keep in mind. So we did just that when we left Stewart's Point. We didn't just keep it in mind but decided it was a perfect spot to stop for a couple of nights and take another drive into Vegas. We love the Feeemont Street light show and a certain Seafood Dinner Buffet at the Paradise Casino so we just had to grab the opportunity!
I also used the opportunity for a pedicure and Starbucks fix, as well as we both took ample advantage of the Starbucks wifi for some computer updates. 
We had a great St Paddy's day on Freemont. It was a rocking place with 4 live bands from Celtic to old rock, lots of green beer flowing, and of course in true Vegas style numerous unique individuals. 
Worth the stop!



Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Plans In Jello

Once again we chose Sand Hollow State Park as our location for de-winterizing the trailer. Last year it was so windy we did not get an opportunity to enjoy the park, but this year the weather that greeted us was far kinder. 
We spent a quiet few days here, getting groceries, setting up the phone and having the truck detailed. We have had vehicles and the trailer detailed at Saint George Car and RV Wash and they have done an above average job all times. This year was the exception. The exterior was ok, but the interior was questionable. The dusting was half done, the vacuuming no better and the glass was streaky and dusty in some places. We really should have returned, but we had other plans. And it was one of those cases where we noticed things gradually through the morning. Good thing it was only $22.
At the end of the last blog we said we were visiting Zion National Park, but we also often say our plans are in jello. We proved that once again by not going to Zion but rather taking a spin through Snow Canyon State Park. It was a great decision. 
We stopped for a few beautiful hiking opportunities as we drove the park. We can never get enough of these amazing red mountains in this area.
The next day we decided to move on. We have spent six nights boondocking at Stewart's Point, a few miles from Overton Nevada, on Lake Mead. 
Our adventures were many, as we explored areas including the ruins of St Thomas - an abandoned town in the flats of Lake Mead, a day in Las Vegas shopping, rambling down the Gold Butte Trail, driving to and walking around Hoover Dam and a few trips to Overton for ice cream and wifi. If you've followed our blog for a few years I did an extensive post on St Thomas 2 years ago, however at that time we did not walk the area. It is a perfect hike through the remains of town, where much of your time can be spent imagining the uses for the buildings and the lives of the people who once lived there.
The Gold Butte Trail promised sightings of petroglyphs, and we did spot a few, from past times and present.  Our interest in the trail was a result of curiosity at our Stewart's Point camp site, where every evening we would observe headlights and wonder where they were from.  So the easiest way is to set across the lake and try to locate a road, which turned out to be the Gold Butte Trail.
Since our first visit to Hoover Dam in 2001 we have been watching the building evolution of the new bridge, but have never had the opportunity to see it in full use.  It was well worth the drive to see the end result.  With several parking lots and stairways, you can walk across the new bridge, and walk down and over the dam, allowing awe inspiring vies of the operations.
Most of these visits included some walking and/or hiking, which is a bit challenging for us Canadians not yet used to the +30 ish temperatures. Ivan is well conditioned and didn't seem to notice!
We now say farewell to Lake Mead for another year.  This location continues to be the perfect choice for our first hot spot of the trip, allowing us to unwind, climatize and refresh!
Here are some photos, but I'm having some challenges with photos and decided I needed to wrap this post up. Hopefully more next time!




Monday, March 9, 2015

We've Moved!

Into our second home!
Departure day finally arrived!  Friday morning we were up and at it, with a hopeful destination of Idaho Falls. Although we watch weather patterns and traffic, you still never know for certain.
The roads and weather were superb and we arrived about 8:00 pm. 
Idaho Falls is a great stopping point with the Walmart being across from a hotel with free wifi, within walking distance of several restaurants and a Starbucks!  Nothing wrong with being happy!
We opened the slides, turned the furnace on and went for dinner. 
After a great sleep we continued to our first destination of Saint George. Typically by the time we make it there it is summer weather. No disappointments in that this year. With daytime temps of 24 and nights of 10, this desert weather always surprises me. But I really like sleeping in the cooler weather so it's a pretty perfect combo. In a few days as we move south we may loose the cooler nights. 
We did our usual grocery shopping and phone initializing here. This year Don has unlocked his new Windows phone and is again using AT&T. Their rates have improved once again and he is paying $65 monthly for unlimited US calling, unlimited texting to US and Canada and 250 minutes to Canada. It also allows 4G of data and he can hotspot. There was a snag at the beginning but the next day all was working smoothly. 
I am testing Roam Mobility this year. I have also unlocked my iPhone. Their rate is a bit lower with all the above and unlimited Canadian calling BUT only 2G a month. You have to commit to 3 months, but you keep your SIM card and hence your phone number. That's $39.95 per month. It's a plan designed for snowbirds. I use a lot of data at home so I am watching a bit closer to see how this goes.  Coverage is a concern but so far we seem about equal. We are both enjoying having "our" phones with us and are half Telus now unlocks even phones on plans. 
So the last days have been spent just relaxing and getting used to the pace. I know that sounds odd but it isn't always easy to slow down. Oh and of course Yahtzee!
Today we are out to discover Zion National Park. Hopefully we find a good hike. 

DrivingMissDonna is also on Instagram now if you would like to follow us
@drivingmissdonna

Have a great day!  Here's some pics for your pleasure...