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:)

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Anticipation

I always get so restless on the last leg of the journey home. 
There's so much to look forward to, but also so much being left behind. It seems I fill the last few days of vacation anticipating what I wil do when home, whether that is family, social or work. But then I reflect on what is left behind; days with Don, just the two of us, a tiny uncluttered space to live in, and a weird type of solitude not found as easily once "home". 
Our last 2 nights on the road were spent kind of treating ourselves. Supper out, nice cold beers and in one case full services and a fireplace. The fireplace helps the weather transition just a bit, although the forecast at home is as warm as I like it. 
I'm glad we are going to be home in time to see all the kids before Monday and the school race. We've missed them like crazy, and if I could see them at least monthly while on the road, I would be happy to be gone for months. 
We have so much camping booked this summer I certainly won't miss he trailer at all. I'll tell you all about that through the spring and summer. Of course there's no need to remind you that updates won't be frequent!
Take care and thanks for joining us!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Touching Base with my Roots

This is my sick sense of humour. How many people know that at one time in my very innocent youth my family was Mormon?  I don't have many details and so I'll leave it at that. Just wanted you to know this next stop was Salt Lake City.
It seems to be a habit now to stop at Utah Lake State Park for a few nights before we make the serious rush to Alberta. The weather here is usually about the same at home, or as in this case, a bit colder. It has also been somewhat rainy. But will full hookups allowing the fireplace and the coffee pot for nonstop essentials, it is still a great place. The campground has numerous walking opportunities with large jetties to explore, as well as miles of walking on the Provo River Walkway. We spent our day with a slow morning, then a visit to a couple of stores. Don needed a part for his Trimble GPS and we hoped Monsen Engineering would have it. They are the Trimble  dealers in Utah and carry many used parts and equipment. They did indeed have the parts needed, and we also viewed some used equipment. The items were priced right, but not with the Canadian dollar exchange, so we left with a small purchase. One unique area at the store though was a display of Trimble GPS's through the times. It was comical to see a few that Don has used locked up in the display case, and one that his peer Dave still uses. Sometimes a company makes a good product you can't beat. 


I made one last stop at one of my favorite American stores, and that was the day. Downtown SLC has such a combination of old and new. Always an interesting drive. 


That morning when we woke up it was to sunshine and warmth. We fit in a long walk before lunch and actually got our steps in. We had cases out a coffee shop on the bike trail for the next morning, but when we woke up it was to rain. We're no fools and knew that was our cue to pull up camp and continue home. Only a day sooner than planned, which is not too bad for us. 
We will see where the next couple of nights take us, but with home in our eyes, it won't be long. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Favorite

This post could be called many things, a favorite, an old friend, a scenic stop. It's Stewart's Point on Lake Mead. We were first introduced to this boondocking spot by Ivan. Our first foray into boondocking. True boondocking at its finest. We've done a lot of dry camping over the years in managed campgrounds without services. In fact last year in the Moab adventures we boondocked on BLM land but it still an organized campground with a charge. And this year we boondocked by Sedona. But the difference here is the tranquility and removal from highways and people. There were of course other boondockers but the terrain and distance made them hard to find. A glimpse of a rooftop or an antennae peaking out, or the glow of a fire or evening lights alerted you to neighbours. Don has read blogs recently where people thought Stewart's Point was closed to camping. This is not the case. The only signs you need to heed are the BLM signage. And this one is pretty clear. It's quite clear there is no problem staying here.






















I've developed a deep curiosity about Stewart's Point. In fact my imagination has gone overtime developing stories about the cabins that remain here and the people who belong to them. I'm going to have to do some major googling about this area and dedicate a blog to it. For now I don't have any photos to share with you of those cabins.
A few years ago when we first stayed here Ivan showed us a unique rock garden area. We wondered around until we found it again and we're pleased to see further development. As I've said, this took some talent as well as a time on your hands!
 
 











We were here just over a week and awed with our boondocking abilities. The solar panels provided more watts than we would ever need. We've even discovered we can run the microwave, which we did not do, but the fact that we can appealed to the geek in us. We left with no empty fresh water tanks and no full black or gray tanks so that equals success. 
We took it pretty easy during this stay, but admittedly more due to weather than ambition. We had hoped to do some hikes within the Valley of Fire but the temperatures in the mid 30's and winds in even higher blowing patterns deterred us. Instead we explored by truck, taking in our favorite haunts such as Las Vegas' Freemont Street, Overton McDonalds for wifi and the various state parks and beaches along lake Mead (Echo and Callvile Beaches). We discovered Mesquite, meaning looking around and acknowledging that it is a rather large community with many amenities and services other than casinos. 
And we travelled the Extraterrestrial Highway, the borders Area 51, a United States Air Force range. 



As always whether it's the tourists or entrepreneurial locals, this highway has become a "site not to miss". And as we often find quite frankly just odd. LOL
There was one day that we planned in visiting the Hoover Dam, but this time in a new way. We discovered the Historical Railway Trail which follows the railway of the US Government Rail during construction of the Hoover Dam. The trail ends at the Hoover Dam and Visitor Centre and is approximately 12 km return. The trail is gravel all the way, gentle sloping, and follows through 5 tunnels. It was a great day and wonderful to finally put some muscle to use. I added one picture of Las Vegas Marina as viewed from the trail.




 












As always Stewarts Point was a wonderful stop regardless of the strong winds and hot temperatures. Always a return destination!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Life is a Highway

Life is a highway
I want to ride it all night long
If you're going my way
I want to drive it all night long

No matter who sings it this might have to be the tag line for Driving Miss Donna. This time the highway took us to an old favorite - Laughlin, and a relatively new favorite campground, Big Bend of The Colorado Recreation Area. 

No surprise that the campground is right on the river!  The real treat is the campground itself. Being on the quieter edge of Laughlin, away from developments, makes this location so quiet. Add to that attraction the huge sites, full services, and easy access to the area and its tourist activities ( such as bars, diners and casinos) and you have a winner. 


We have done nothing here. Literally. Except for relax, walk the river walk, have some cold beverages and go for a few drives. One of which included an afternoon in Las Vegas and a stop at Freemont Street. And Costco.
When in Laughlin our evenings are typically spent with a river walk and a few dollars on the machines. I've had good luck this time around and have supplemented Don's Bonus Poker with my Lobster Mania skill. We're not sure yet where the highway will lead tomorrow when we leave, but I will let you know.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Will You Take Me Places I've Never Known?

Well in anticipation of the upcoming Meatloaf concert in Edmonton, we have been listening to some tunes.
As I'm trying to place a song with this next blog I hear this line. And I realize we are going somewhere new. So a perfect fit. 
We spent the last 4 nights in Safford. What drew is to this location was reports of great boon-docking at Hot Well Dunes recreation area. We landed in Safford, unhitched the trailer at Walmart, and headed out to determine if we in fact wanted to camp there. The road in was paved nearly the whole 25 miles. Upon arrival the campsites were incredibly large and private. And there was phone reception. Although that all sounds like a dream, it didn't really fit our wishes. With the exception of the hot tubs, it wasn't our kind of spot. We were thirsting for a place to walk and bike and this was an ATV dream. The thick sand roads and trails were not bike friendly, and not really up for walking either. So we headed back to town to determine next steps.

The map showed a state park on the outskirts of town. I don't normally miss these when I'm searching but I did miss this one.  We drove to scope things out and it seemed appropriate. We didn't need services so the price was okay, and although they were full that night, they had plenty of openings on Sunday. Hence we spent the evening in the Walmart RV Paradise park. On Sunday when we arrived at Roper Lake State Park the attendant told us we were getting the most sought after site there. We were a tad skeptical, but blown away when we pulled in. Why can't we have these places in Alberta??  Backed onto the lake, the site made private by both water and trees, trails to hike and bike and a natural hot tub?  Yup, were in for a while.


We really took it easy on this stop (because you noticed we were so busy previously LOL). Our only out of area excursion was a drive over the border to New Mexico. It was actually raining somewhat were we to do?  We visited a little city called Silver City. A stroll through their downtown area, with a. Lunchtime stop at a small cafe, and we were in our way home.  I like to take photos of the signs when we enter new states so here is New Mexico, although by the graffiti everyone isn't as pleased as I am.










During our time here we heard from Ron and Bev that they were going to be in Apache Junction again, getting theoretic packed up for the return to Saskatchewan. As plans are often as solid as jello, and a highway we were planning on using was closed, it was an easy change of plans to pop into their resort and stay a night or two. So we did.

Bev and I had a great girls day out with shopping and lunch, then she treated us to an amazing supper. We had such a great although short visit, then it was time to hit the road. We've decided to return to Laughlin for a few days. There's a campground there that win is over last year and we are going to treat ourselves. See you soon!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Get Back

"Jojo was a man who thought he was a loner/But he knew it couldn't last/Jojo left his home in Tucson, Arizona/For some California grass."

Well why would anyone leave Tucson?  I love the area. We picked Catalina State Park as our home here for a few days. It was such a good choice. As well as the area being simply beautiful, there were some day trips that added to the fun, and a campground and weather that helped make the evenings enjoyable.  One of the neat things about revisiting an area with people who haven't been there is either showing off your favorites or discovering again through others eyes. We had the opportunity for both.















Our first day trip was to the Pima Air and Space Museum. The last time Don visited an air museum was the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon and I had declined accompanying him, thinking I wasn't that interested. After visiting this museum I may have been wrong. It was an informative but interesting visit. And of course I had Don along to answer my hundreds of questions about each plane and period of time they were in the air.  There were several hangars full of planes, as well as over an acre of outdoor displays.  Kudos to Brenda for selecting this. A successful day!
















Our next day trip was a jaunt to Tombstone. I think last time we visited we weren't in the right mood, as I had stayed we didn't see a need to go back. But my apologies to Tombstone tourism, as this visit we actually enjoyed. Maybe it was the additional company as well. We wandered the streets and shops, had a fabulous lunch and spent a rather long time in the museum. We didn't take any photos here as they were posted in the blog form our last visit.  Check it out here if you wish, from our 2014 trip.  When we returned home we actually watched a Wyatt Earp movie, so our OK Coral education was complete!

Not to be outdone by our need for RV tires, Ken needed a truck tire as well. As they were headed home to Saskatchewan after this, the repair which turned into a replacement was taken care of in Tucson. Seems simple enough but nothing is ever simple.  In any case though they did get a new tire put on.

This wraps up our three weeks with Ken and Brenda. It was a great time together and they will be missed. This is a photo from our hike but a fitting farewell!



Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Take Me Out To the Ballgame

The Phoenix area was our next stop. It was going to be a special stop for us as the Cameron family was spending spring break at a house in Buckeye.
Some time ago when we were orchestrating the details of this segment of the trip with Ken and Brenda I checked on campgrounds in the area. Thankfully I did that because it was late January and already the sites were quite full. Although we don't normally book that far ahead there are times when you just know better. This was one of them.
So we reserved at White Tank Mountain State Park on the west side of Waddell. 


Besides shopping, which I seem to be running a marathon in on this trip, we spent a lot of time just relaxing and visiting the Cameron's. The home they used is owned by a good friend of Lindsay's. I fell in love with the place. Four bedrooms, large living room and kitchen dining room open to the house and an outdoor patio and pool.




Our other new adventure was attending some games in baseball's Cactus League. This was a new experience for me and I wasn't sure if I would enjoy it. But we did spend years at ball diamonds with the girls, although that was softball. I think it was as much fun to see how excited Blake was to be there as anything. I love people watching as well so this was a good opportunity. It might be spring training to us but let me tell you there are some die hard baseball folks there. Like Blake or my brother in law Ken!  One day we all attended a game. The weather was ideal - warm and breezy.












The next day the guys went and the girls shopped. Emerson thought we should eat at Chick Fil A and so we did. I'll tell you if I'm going to eat that sort of fried deliciousness that is the place to go. Yummy food.  The Cameron's were on their way home on Thursday and we extended out stay to make a day trip to Mexico. As you know I consider Los Algodones my dental plan, but this trip I was also hoping to get a back up pair of prescription sunglasses. When we are boating in the summer I'm always worried about my Maui Jim ones getting lost or damaged. I didn't end up having my teeth cleaned as my facial neuralgia was troubling me and a dental visit typically makes it worse, but I did find an affordable pair of sunglasses. Brenda did well too, scoring two pairs of progressives for a great price. Besides a stop for a cool one and lunch, our Mexican day adventure was complete.




We made plans to visit Pat and Walter for dinner, meeting at the Quechua Casino. We had a great catch up and then it was time to trek back to our campers. Our last day was spent relaxing, and getting ready for the next part of the great Smith road trip.

Oh but did I mention we needed tires on the fifth wheel?  We knew this was in the future and there is one tire that always have issues before the new axles (Yup you read that right, new axles last year). So that was another task to fill our time. Finding a Costco with 4 tires. It wasn't possible so we bought one at one store and three at the other where they were installed. The installation we took care of on our way to Tucson, the next planned stop. See you there.