Short-y Reprieve from the Desert

^Tex, Oreo & Shorty xoxoxo

I flew from Boise - Las Vegas - Tampa and back, both times delayed in Las Vegas by Southwest Airline.  I left July 22 and returned August 12.  When I got into Tampa (at 2:30am due to delays) Shorty was there waiting for me.  We got breakfast at IHOP and I crashed in his camper van from about 5am - 3pm. 

I staggered bleary-eyed into the heat and humidity to check in at the Fairfield Inn, just a few blocks from Shorty’s house.   I showered and got organized, then crossed my fingers and went to the License Branch to get a new driver’s license - no problem!  It cost $70 and expires in ten years, if I outlive it.  We met up and had dinner at the Americana 50’s Diner nearby. 

Next day after errands, Shorty took me to IHOP after work, and we made plans for our trip north.  We got started about 5:30pm Saturday, July 26, after hitching the Yaris to the Roadtrek.  We hit a little rain in Kentucky and Ohio; that and to fuel up/eat were the only times we let the Roadtrek rest.

We got to our Fort Wayne hotel around 4pm Sunday and were having dinner at Gramma’s by 6pm.  Next day we slept in and met everybody at Panda Express at 1pm.  We packed up, left the van at Gramma’s, and drove to Sandusky, OH to go to Cedar Point the next day.  Parking is crazy - $15 bucks just to get into the lot.  Luckily we had gotten a great deal on tickets - half price ($30). 

J & M had gotten an expensive “Fast Pass” of some sort - we kinda followed them around from coaster to coaster.  Shorty and I got cool Olde-Tymie photos of us posing as soldiers.  We drove the bumper cars a couple times - I haven’t seen Shorty laugh so much for a long time!

^ J&M

^Elephant Ear buyer’s remorse

A million steps later, we were back in Fort Wayne at a super convenient hotel at Lima Road and Coliseum.  We took a “day off” to recover from the drive and the theme park.  By evening we were a little bored so we brought a couple pizzas to Gramma’s house and brought the van back to the hotel with us.

Next day we all met at Texas Roadhouse, just down the street from our hotel.  Afterwards we went to see a movie - Lucy, with my brother.  I’ve always loved Scarlett Johanssen and was surprised to see that she hasn’t aged a bit.  She’s still playing 20-year-olds.  Anyways, it was a pretty cool movie until the very end when things got a bit wacky.  Morgan Freeman played a totally implausible scientist.  Really, casting???  He can’t even pronounce “scientist” correctly…sigh.  Maybe we’re all just sick of seeing him in every other movie…

Anyways, Friday August 1st I invited ourselves over to my sister’s house.  I exchanged a few things in storage (her barn) and from there went to Paulding, OH to copy some obituaries at the library.  I found a bunch of them and learned lots of new things about my ancestors. 

Saturday I made a big crock of mac n’cheese at Gramma’s.  Sunday I made a big crock of Awesome Frickin’ Chicken and we played Rummy 500.  Monday we all met at the Culver’s burger/frozen yogurt place right next to our hotel for lunch.  From there Shorty and I headed south again.

We alternated drivers every few hours overnight and got back to Florida around 9am Tuesday.  I showered and zonked out in the van until 4pm.  Next day I checked into the Quality Inn for six nights and we had dinner at Cody’s (twofer fajitas).  Next day I didn’t hear from Shorty - at some point he slept for 14 hours straight!

Saturday August 9th I ventured to the Oldsmar 20 AMC to see six movies:  Dawn of Planet of the Apes, Into the Storm, 100 Foot Journey, Sex Tape, Begin Again, and TMNT.  They were good in that order.

My last day in Florida, Shorty and I went to Sonny’s BBQ.  He liked it so much, I got him a couple sandwiches to go.  I miss him terribly!  The last day there I was so sad, Shorty had been so nice to me I didn’t want to leave!  He had treated me like a queen since the moment I arrived with a spotless van to crash in, complete with air fresheners.  I was trying to think of ways to avoid leaving - even (gasp!) considering settling down again in a little house near his!

I mentioned my anxious thoughts to Corny and he was a bit concerned!  I have always been the one saying “Once I hit the road, I’m not stopping!”  I was only back in Boise for one full day when we left for Oregon.  The first rest area we stopped at for the night was surrounded by cedars and smelled of pine.  There were cherry trees and blackberry bushes and a geocache - and I was so glad to be on the road!  As we travelled toward the west coast, we got into much cooler temps (70s) and fresh coastal moisture.  I think I found my summer state…now to get Shorty to come to Oregon…

Life is Godd!

Boise, ID

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We checked out of Wasatch View and went to Promentory Point.  About 10 years ago we had arrived there after the replica trains had been ceremoniously put away in their sheds, so it was an itch that needed scratched.  I spent a lot of time in the RV doggysitting. 

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We headed north into Idaho and landed at Fort Hall Casino.  We had nice nachos and a taco salad at their Buffalo Grill and camped in their parking lot. 

Next day we found out what that red “EBR-1” on our southern Idaho road atlas meant — Experimental Breeder Reactor, the first one ever in the U.S.  It was pretty cool, see…

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^ Looking through 29 layers of leaded glass

^Manipulative Corny

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^core degeneration chambers

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At the first rest area north of EBR-1, in the middle of nowhere in the middle of nowhere, I hit 10,000 geocaches!  I’m so lucky…

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After that excitement, we visited Craters of the Moon NP.  I guess since we had both previously been to Hawaii, and I had hopped around on lava chasing geocaches, we weren’t too impressed by it.  Corny was actually a little disappointed - he had wanted to go there since he was a kid.  Anyways, we got our little NP Passport books stamped. 

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That evening we landed in a nice little outta-the-way campground with electric and water hookups for $12 in Twin Falls.  It was just an orange picnic table on our atlas - we thought we would check it out before heading west on I-84 to Boise.  What a nice surprise - it was in more of a quiet residential area with a rockin’ little stream, Indiana forest terrain, a feisty gopher snake, and two geocaches!  We stayed two nights and Corny had a little crack in the Jeep windshield repaired, or so to speak.  I could still feel the hole and see the spider veins after the repair. 

The first day Corny left with the Jeep while I was still asleep.  The second day we went to the same places he saw, together with the dogs - Shoshone Falls and Centennial Park.  We saw a bunch of young guys gearing up - to jump off the Perrin Bridge.  I stayed in the Jeep with the dogs while Corny filmed some of them. 

>just a random Waterfall

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^Perrin Bridge in the background, over Snake River

I was feeling like I was walking in glue when Corny wanted to stay a third night in ? where were we again? - I couldn’t get to Boise fast enough.  I was getting a little tired of the heat.  Doing the big 1K train-shaped  powertrail in Owyhee County was postponed due to heat - and it wasn’t looking good for the State Star just north of Boise, either.  I had foolishly thought I could get up pre-dawn and hike until just before I passed out; then repeat until I had gotten all 51 caches.  That didn’t work out too well.  Actually it didn’t work out at all…darnit.  A few days were triple digits, only one day was less than 90.

We tried a couple nice RV parks in Boise, but they all had waiting lists.  We ended up at Garrity RV Park.  When we called, the girl told Corny that they take Passport America, but forgot to tell him it isn’t valid certain months, and this was one of them.  We paid $23 for one night and the wi-fi seemed okay, so we went to the office to sign up for a month.  She told us we would have to move the RV.  There was no shade to be found anywhere, so we asked her why we had to move.  Her reply was to point to the map and our current site and say “These are the sites my father said are daily and weekly”.  Really.  She had no clue it might be a bit of an inconvenience to pack everything up, unhook, and move over two spaces.  We had our hopes up when we saw a guy with a rare shady spot hitching up to leave, but we got stuck in a narrow little spot next to a broken-down rig with a big dog and Harley riders.  I hate the place because the girl at the front desk is a liar and doesn’t care about her customers.  Plus since we moved, the wi-fi sucks.  We have been using our little Poco-Net mi-fi during the day and staying up late because that’s the only time the free wi-fi works.  Whenever a new rig pulls in, we joke that they are on a waiting list at a nice place…

Anyways, I got a little reprieve because back in Utah, when the weather pattern was normal, we booked a flight out of Boise for me to go see Shorty.  Of course now we wish it had been out of Portland.  Shorty and I will continue on to Indiana &Ohio from there.  I’ll be gone two weeks.  Yay!

Life is Godd!

Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

So Lovely & Clean, Utah…flowerbeds on every corner, not a speck of trash in sight, friendly and helpful people, a dozen DDD restaurants…  Corny and I loved it here and want to come back and stay longer.  We stayed two weeks, but it was a working two weeks. 

Except for Sundays and holidays, I took the tram (which was also clean) to the Family History Library to work on my roots.  I found a few more families to add and a lot of proof.  I spent the majority of my time perusing historical books from Ohio, North Carolina and on the last day, New Jersey.  They had a very small collection of family history books, way fewer than the library in Fort Wayne.

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^Love the brass birds on the tram stop roof!

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^ …to the mall

In the evenings, I would Skype Corny, he would come and pick me up and we would go to a DDD restaurant.  Each one was awesome and we wanted to go back to each one:

Red Iguana - Columbian/cinnamony food.  We got the big “sampler” plates with four items each.  Everything was awesome good and interesting,   The next day I walked from the library to the “express” Red Iguana at the mall and got the he-uge killer nachos just for myself :0)

Moochie’s Meatballs - the first philly cheesesteak I’ve had since high school.  Now I’m not afraid of them anymore!  Yum!  Of course the meatball sub was sublime. 

Pat’s BBQ - this one we DID go back to.  I got the unbelievable smoked meatloaf, twice.  I don’t think I’ll ever eat any other meatloaf again.  I’m kinda craving it right now.  Corny got the brisket and there was NO fat to pick through.  We missed the Tuesday smoked turkey because it was a lunch special :0(

Blue Plate Diner - I think they used a whole can of black beans in their giant enchilada.  It was very tasty.  Corny got the turkey/cranberry sandwich with waffle fries.  I guess this one would come in last on my list, just because it was horribly noisy in there - no sound absorbing surfaces at all.  It was a relief to get out into the roar of the traffic.  Although there were several things on the menu I’d like to try, we didn’t go back.

Ruth’s Diner - except for Pat’s smoked meatloaf, this one would top my list.  We went twice.  The Dijon chicken was carazy good, Corny got the chicken walnut salad twice, and my chicken enchilada was so fresh - it quickly disappeared.  The chocolate malted pudding was the star of the show.  It was sooo good, you roll every spoonful around in your mouth going mmmm…mmmm.  The second visit we got the pudding AND the brownie a la mode, which was carazy good too.  I had to ask the waitress what kind of ice cream was in it - Tropical Dream, Hawaiian ice cream.  I seem to recall seeing it in Wally’s but didn’t know it was like, illegally good.  We’ll have to get some.

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Lone Star Taquiera - absolutely astoundingly fresh.  I had gotten sauces as we waited for our order, but nothing needed anything.  It was all PERFECT.  Corny kinda hogged down the nachos we “shared” because he was in love with them.  I know the feeling, so I’ll forgive him.  Unfortunately this was the longest drive, over 10 miles, or we definitely would’ve returned.

Maxwell’s Eatery - we went here twice.  It was a little pricey, $21 for a large thin crust pizza.  We halved it with my side tomato, basil & moz; Corny’s was five cheese and sundried tomato.  I thought mine was absolutely perfect - then I tasted Corny’s - WOW.  I also got a chicken, green pepper and onion cheesesteak with white american cheese.  It wasn’t very hot and not enough cheese, but very nicely seasoned.  Corny raved about his pasta of the day - chicken ravioli.  They were giant.  On our second visit, I got the Max BBQ - a sandwich with nice chopped deli pickles and red onion on top.  I’m glad I got the vegetarian chili, too, because it was a small sandwich.  Corny got the tortellini, which was $12 on the menu.  It didn’t look like enough, just a small bowl full, single layer, for Corny.  When we got the bill, it was $16.  We talked about it as the waiter stood there, but he didn’t offer any answers.  We left assuming because it was Sunday around 2:30pm it was some unpublished “dinner” price.  Maybe we just got ripped off by the staff.  I wrote on my desk diary “$16 tortellini” to remember where we had eaten that day.

On my birthday we went to the SLC Chuck -a-Rama buffet.  We knew it was good and I didn’t want to chance having a horrible birthday dinner somewhere we hadn’t been.  It was kinda blah after eating at all the other good places, but I was glad to be there.

I got good schtuff for my birthday:  a big fat check, a big fat Art Wolfe book (an unbelievable photographer with a show on PBS), plane tickets and a hotel to go see Shorty!  I’m so blessed.

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^cool bench!

We had to pack up and move the RV THREE TIMES in the two weeks we stayed at the SLC KOA.  The first time, Corny did it himself on a Saturday while I was at the library.  He had gone to Les Schwab in the Jeep iso tires, who said to bring it on in.  Then when he got there, they gave him a spiel that he needed new kingpins for $1400.  Fortunately Corny left and was all over the Internet about kingpins and knew he didn’t need them.  Even if he did, the pins and install kit go for about $125.  However, the guy had marked the tires way down since his estimate included the kingpins.  The total was going to be $2500. 

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^New vs. old tire

Early Monday morning we packed up, I went to the library, and Corny got just the new front tires at Les Schwab.   He says $700 is “real cheap” for the two tires.  Once again we packed up and went in for an alignment, so hopefully the new tires don’t wear down so fast.  The tech with the laser said we were waaay out of alignment, like 10x more than it should be.  Corny said some RV dealers suggest you take your brand new RV off the lot directly to an alignment shop.  It was about $100.  They checked the back end too, but on this model chasis (Ford F-53 v10) the rear axle is fixed.  So glad that work is done…

On the few days I didn’t “work” in the library, I did nada the first Sunday; we moved and got the alignment on my birthday; on Fourth of July I went for a little bike ride/GX excursion (by little, I mean it was like 97 degrees outside little); our last Sunday we toured around Temple Square on foot although it was again about 97 degrees.  I checked the national weather that week and we would’ve had to go to Montana or Maine to escape the heat.

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^Looking toward Temple Square

>The old Temple

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^Replica of the Angel Moroni on top of the Temple

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^The Nauvoo Bell, brought from Illinois and rung hourly

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^A tribute to the seagulls that saved the Mormons from starvation>

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>The Conference Center

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We didn’t move far next - just about 40 miles north to Ogden at Wasatch View Estates.  We stayed two nights using a Passport America discount.  We decided to skip Antelope Island due to low water levels = stink, and July = gnats that are immune to DEET.  I took a personal day and Corny went to the free Air Force Museum.  We used the pool both evenings.  Life is Godd!

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^Corny worked on the B1B

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American Fork, UT

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Our stay at “The Dump”, as we fondly refer to it, was almost uneventful.  It is officially in American Fork, UT, just north of Provo.  We have our own willow tree for some steady, solid shade.  One stumpy branch holds the hummingbird feeder, as we can’t get it to stick to the window anymore.  We take a step outside and have our own private dog pee area.  A few more steps and we have a gorgeous view of the snow-topped mountains surrounding Utah Canyon.  One day it was cold and rainy and the mountains had a lot more snow on them the next morning.

There is a Carl’s Jr. a few hundred feet away and Taco Bell across the street.  We tried the Carl’s one Sunday.  Ick.  Corny’s burger wrappers were covered in grease; the ketchup dispenser and tables were all grimy.  Not very appetizing.  Taco Bell was just fine as usual; we walked over there several times.  We also went to the In & Out several times - it was just a mile or so away.  We found a Chuck-a-Rama buffet which was pretty good - we went there three times.  I think I only cooked a couple times.

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^Carl Jr’s on left; Taco Bell on right w/view

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^Carl Jr’s overflow lot w/view

One day there was a fight at the trailer park.  Most of the residents are “between jobs”.  A meth-head with no upper teeth beat up a George W. - looking little man and half the residents came over to have a look and exchange opinions.  We watched the show from our back window.  The victim had apparently dropped his meatball sandwich because I had to restrain Poco from sampling it for three days until the rodents finally finished it off.  There are also some quail running around here.  Poco found out they can fly, too.  There are several residents who act weird and laugh to themselves inappropriately and I have seen several smoking odd looking pipes.

Despite the free entertainment, I got bored after about a week and a half here.  We hiked Ikea one day.  We are in the market for a folding table and a comfortable sofa.  One day we drove over to see Bridal Veil Falls. 

^Bridal Veil Falls

We drove up to SLC a couple times for DDD restaurants and to make a reservation at a decent campground.  Another day we hiked up Timpanogos Cave National Monument.  It was 1.5 miles with a 1065’ gain in elevation.  It was paved, which was nice.  It was tough but it didn’t almost kill us like Mt. Margaret in Washington did.  That Beiatch was 2 miles up with a 1600’ gain.  Anyways, it was a cool little cave - but I thought it would be bigger.  Still glad we went, though, because that’s about all we did here for two weeks :0) 

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^Corny

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^Broadleaf Beardtongue
Penstemon platyphyllus
Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)

I did a solo bike ride/geocache trip around town one day and got about a dozen nice geocaches.  I thought they would all be urban micros; instead they were very nice.  Three were placed in residential areas in a cacher’s yard.  One afternoon I spent about three hours at the library because The Dump’s Internet hadn’t worked for a couple days.  Most of my time at The Dump was spent downloading my daily limit of 6,000 waypoints for Idaho and Oregon caches, weeding out the missing ones and attempting to solve the puzzle caches.

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^It’s not a birdhouse!

We had an extra day between The Dump and the KOA in SLC in which we were supposed to get new front tires on the RV.  That didn’t work out because Sam’s Club needed five weeks (not a typo) to order them.  Instead of paying for an extra night at The Dump, we stayed at a Wally’s.  I was just so relieved to get out of there -  I was packing up the day before.  Although the alert people were very nice, the drug users made me uneasy.  I wish them well but wouldn’t stay there again…

Scenic Byway 12 (part II), Southern Utah

When we left the Cannonville/Kodachrome SP BLM site, it had been in the mid- to upper 80s and  I was getting a little panicky that I would die of heat exhaustion.  I seriously considered skipping the rest of our tour and heading directly north.  The canyons and cliffs are beautiful, but they tend to act as an oven, and there is very little shade in this corner of the world - the junipers don’t get very tall.

We were lucky to get one of two sites left at Petrified Forest SP in Escalante.  $25 got us a little shade, electric and water (no sewer) for the night.  We wanted to stay for two nights but the site was already reserved for the next day.  We figured if we’ve got to pack up and move, we would just continue on the highway, not to another site.  We did two loads of laundry and the grey water tank was full.  Our site was next to the Reservoir, and it was snowing from the cottonwood trees.  We were right next to the beach, screaming kids, and facility dumpster.  We couldn’t hear or smell anything with both front and back A/Cs pumping away.

^lower right

In the morning I got up before Corny and hiked the petrified forest trails.  I was in awe.  We have seen petrified wood before, but never so much scattered about the side of a hill all willy-nilly and not surrounded by a fence.  This was the first time I was allowed to touch it, and it meant a lot to me.  Some of you know that when I die, I want to become part of a tree.  I know in which forest I want my ashes to be scattered.  I often comment how even when they are dead, trees continue to give life.  I thought these trees must’ve been so blessed, that God turned them into crystal to be admired for hundreds of millions of years.  It also struck me that these blessed trees will also eventually turn to dust, and how correct the Old Testament prophets had been when they said “…ashes to ashes, dust to dust…” 

^Balanced Rock, on the trail to the sleeping rainbows

^the Ancients on the trail

Although the petrified trees are in a shiny rainbow assortment of colors, my favorite was the dusky-looking one with bark, and even knotholes still intact.  The outer dull silica coating hasn’t eroded away yet, so it is still tree-colored.

While in Escalante, we also checked out the Visitor Center.  I was able to ID two flowers I had just photographed in Kodachrome SP:  Sego lily and Woolly locoweed. 

Corny got me a book on Everett Ruess - a young explorer who went missing in this area in 1934.  At Kodachrome SP where I thought one formation looked like St. Francis, it got us talking about young vagabonds who go barefoot, leave behind their “worldly goods” and trust in God for their next meal.  This young vagabond struck a chord with me, so I got the book which contains his letters home.  It’s ~almost~ my birthday.

We got subs at Subway, the only “fast food” around for hundreds of miles.  They were out of onions, avocado and two kinds of bread!  “The truck comes on Thursday”.  I’ll bet there were onions at the grocery store…

^How the kids travel

We didn’t move the RV very far for the next leg of our trip - just a few miles to BLM land on Hole-in-the-Rock road.  Along the way we stopped at a Heritage Center (Morman Church sponsored) and watched a video about the pioneers who cut the road and found the way down to the Colorado River through the “Hole”.  We also pulled off the Byway to see “The Granary”, a Mesa Verde - type shelf where two grain storage rooms had been built.

That afternoon all five of us got into the A/C and drove down the washboard to Devil’s Garden…

^Devil’s Garden

…and Dinosaur Tracks!  They don’t show up well in the pictures, but I was very thrilled to find them.  There are no road signs to help you find the site - just a notation on the Escalante map.  When you finally find the site, the trail register is placed 1/4 mile away from the tracks.  Someone was kind enough to leave a hand-written note pointing us in the right direction.  As you can see it took a bit of climbing.

^That white speck up there is me.  Cool, huh!

^That white speck down there is the Jeep

During the evening, after enduring about 40 miles of washboard road, we decided not to go the 50-something miles each way to Hole-in-the-Rock until the road is paved.

Next stop:  Boulder.  BLM land on Burr Trail Road, about five miles in, to be exact.  The heat was starting to get to me again, so an A/C drive down Burr Trail sounded good.  All five of us piled into the Jeep again and drove through the stunningly gorgeous canyon and down the steep switchbacks to the ‘waterpocket fold’ of Capital Reef NP.

^Capitol Reef NP sand art

I thought we would take the Burr Trail to the park then come back the same way, but it was only 2pm when we got there (and the hottest part of the day) so we decided to go the whole 30+ miles more to the north end of the park.  It was a gorgeous place, but pretty much 30 miles of the same gorgeous view.  There was more to see on the north end:  a Visitor Center, petroglyphs, an old cabin and a schoolhouse that was under repair.

We had better luck, onionwise, at the Subway in Torrey.  We stopped at several pull-offs on the way home to Boulder and even found some geocaches.  We were all good and tired by the end of the day.  We were looking forward to hitting the Interstate and Wally’s in a day or two, with only the Anasazi Indian Museum left on our agenda.  Besides Subway, we hadn’t eaten at a restaurant since Memorial Day.  Our fridge and freezer were as empty as they had ever been.  We had been eating leftover Christmas ,  Easter, and Mother’s Day chocolate, and it was about to give out.

In the morning we packed up and drove the RV to a shady spot in the road to hitch up the Jeep.  We explored the Anasazi Museum, which includes an archeological dig site (aka the Coombs dig) out back.  I was just snooping around and found a big ammo can geocache!  I hadn’t even checked the GPS!  We brought back lots of goodies to add to the nearly empty big can.  After that, we headed to Provo to recover from our travels.

We stopped at one campground and they were full (it was Saturday 6/7).  Using the Good Sam guide, I called the next one north and they were full.  The next one didn’t answer their phone, and the next one north had an invalid phone number.  It was about 7pm, so we decided just to stop in at the nearest unlisted campground using the GPS.  We ended up at the American RV Park at American Fork, UT.  They had two spaces open, good wi-fi and more shade than we had seen since leaving Florida.  We signed up for two weeks.  It is a bit on the trashy side with mostly long-term locals, but quiet and safe.  Corny wants to get a couple new tires for the RV while we’re near Salt Lake City.  I want to take my RootsMagic family tree to the Family History Library.  We’ll probably move to north SLC at the end of two weeks.

Life is Godd!

Here it is - hafta post it separately on Tumblr.  Enjoy the roundup.

Scenic Byway 12, Southern Utah (Part I)

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Sorry about the 40-something photos this entry.  It couldn’t be helped…

Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, I used over a pound of butter making pecan bars and orange icebox cookies.  For lunch I had the salmon at Applebee’s.  It wasn’t anything special - although it seems any salmon is good.  We camped at the Home Depot lot next to Wally’s to do some Internet homework on upcoming points of interest, and to just relax without feeling like we had to get out of the campground.  Sunday we had Cowboy burgers at Applebee’s then hit the road. 

After the short drive and despite it being Memorial Day weekend, we found a nice roomy site on BLM land at Red Canyon about six miles west of the Bryce Canyon National Park entrance.  We find all kinds of good/free camping sites using an e-book Frugal Shunpiker’s Guides by Marianne Edwards, a Canadian with a Roadtrek whose emphasis is on free camping and hiking.  That night I filled the toilet with shit and the pedal of the flusher broke!  Poor Corny.  He soiled a pair of pliers and propped the flapper open for the night. 

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The next day Corny drove about 260 miles round trip to the nearest Camping World in St. George and got a new toilet.  I had a nice quiet peaceful time at home doggysitting and watching the hummingbirds.  It didn’t take long to install the shiny new toilet.  Then we had to find a place to dispose of the old one, in the new box.

We had driven through an awesome place, Red Canyon, on the way to our campsite.   We went back the few miles and took picture after picture.  We climbed up a steep, gravel, slippery slope to get to a geocache under an arch at the Visitor Center.  We also found a nice geocache called “The Broomhole” which gave a little history of the area - it was about a one-foot hole in a rock formation next to where the old road was, where the oldtimers used to keep a broom to wipe the red sand off their cars.

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^Red Canyon>

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We stayed put at Red Canyon eight days.  We got an annual National Park Pass ($80) and went to Bryce Canyon three times; once with the dogs the whole 18 miles, stopping at every pull-out.  We had to take turns watching the video at the Visitor Center.  While I was doggysitting, a car with a poodle pulled in next to me with the A/C running.  They shoved their beloved family pet into an undersized crate, shut the windows tight and all four of them went into the Visitor Center.  I felt sorry for the poor dog.  If they were any dumber, they’d need watered twice a week.

Anyways, we started at the back of the park at mile marker 18 so we didn’t have to cross traffic and U-turn at every turnout.  When we got up to mm 3, we finally found the spot all the calendars, posters, keychains and post cards in the gift shop were about.  I’m glad we saw the whole park, but if we return, I would only visit the first 3 miles.  Corny ran out of “film” at the second-to-last viewpoint, so we went home (tired).  We stayed home and took a Senior Day the next day.

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^Inspiration Point, BCNP

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^Natural Bridge

Just Corny and I returned to see the remaining Bryce Point, Sunset Point and Inspiration Point views.  Holy Wow.  I could’ve sat and looked for hours - I wished I had my folding rocking chair.  It is really a special place.  We decided to come back in the morning and hike the “moderate” Navajo Loop Trail, although the 8000+ elevation is already kickingmyass.  We ended up doing a mile or so more than I was expecting - and saw more of the cool canyon floor.  The Park has a new “Hike the Hoodoos” program funded by Coke, but they ran out of pins to give away to those who completed it. 

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Navajo Loop Trail>

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^Two Bridges

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After hiking and sweating and getting covered in red dust, we discovered a “Cowboy” buffet at Ruby’s Inn, just outside the park.  It was crazy awesome good for about $20 each.  Everything tasted homemade:  salmon, pot roast, chicken/broccoli casserole, the works. 

The day before leaving Red Canyon, we hiked a short way to Mossy Cave and waterfall.  The cave wasn’t much more than an overhang and wasn’t very photogenic, but the dripping moss inside was cool.  We had done just about everything we had set out to do in the area, so we spent the evening packing things up.

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^Mossy Cave & Waterfall>

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June 2nd we moved to another free BLM campsite about a mile south of Kodachrome State Park, near Cannonville.  We got “permission” at the Escalante/Grand Staircase Visitor Center in town.  Our site has the best view of any yet.  It overlooks the State Park, has plenty of space, is a loop/pull-through, quiet, private and level:

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^Our Kodachrome campsite and view>

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The first evening we drove about 10 miles south on washboard dirt roads, dodging cows, to see Grosevenor Arch.  It wasn’t that impressive IMHO, but it was good to get out of the 85ish degree RV and have A/C.  We brought along the dogs to bark at cows.

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^Grosvenor Arch

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Next day we did a short hike in a slot canyon at Willis Creek.  On the way out, we hit a little roundup with real cowboys. 

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»>cowboy dashcam video to follow«<

We found a half-decent grocery store/restaurant in the little town of Tropic and loaded up with a few bags of things.  Corny noticed the chili rang up $1 more than the sale price (we got two cans) so he went back to the cashier.  Turns out the tiny grocery store “Clarke’s Country Market” has a shopper’s club card!  The cashier was argumentative because we didn’t see a sign somewhere and wouldn’t let us sign up for a club card because “It’s mostly for the locals”.  In other words, they like to rip-off the tourists, which are probably 90% of their clientele.  Finally the line started getting long so she agreed to ring up everything all over again using a club card.  With Internet nowadays, they’ve got to be careful cheating people - or become a pariah.  Our little $35 bags of stuff was overcharged about $5.  There is a town in Texas (Van Horn) that RVers know to avoid, thanks to the Internet.

Anyways, after the slot canyon we came home, had lunch, (potato chips and ice cream) and took the dogs to Kodachrome State Park.  It is a tiny park, and I’m afraid after seeing BCNP, we weren’t very excited about the scenery.  It doesn’t help that our campsite overlooks the southern part of the park.  It was in the upper 80s so we didn’t do any hiking except when I walked about 400’ to a geocache.  We meant to use our receipt to come back later when things got cooler, but that didn’t happen until about 8:30pm..

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^Chimney Rock

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^I thought this formation looked like St. Francis

I’ll end our Byway 12 trip (Part I) here, when we moved the RV to the town of Escalante at a campground with Internet, so it makes a good place for a break.  Life is Godd!

 

Cedar City, Utah

What a sweet little town.  There is more green grass and small trees here than around Vegas.  The people are so nice - they don’t have an innate suspicion of strangers.  The Wal-Mart we stayed at two nights was so white, they still have Brach’s Pic-a-Mix.  There are no “Greeters” at the entrances.  I think they can afford an extra staff member or two since there are low shoplifting losses, which makes for a cleaner and more organized store.   Just about the nicest Wally’s I’ve been to.  I got ingredients to make our five favorite dinners plus sandwich fixins to pack our lunch when we go geocaching.

I had asked Corny before we left about the weather where we were heading.  He said it’s basically like Vegas, only five degrees cooler.  Turns out we weren’t going to ~that~ part of Utah.  We were going to the part where it was 40-something degrees with occasional hail!  The first night was just above 30 degrees.  The next day we were scoping out a campground at Three Peaks and it was around 50 degrees with hail.  I was in jeans and a T-shirt to geocache.  We saw a fox, some sort of prairie-dog-type rodent with long tails, chubby red-tinted squirrels, and lots of hares and rabbits within minutes of entering Three Peaks.  When we got back to the RV it hailed some more and there was snow on the mountains where there hadn’t been any before.  It was nice to snuggle up all cozy and relax.

One of our first stops in town was at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office to get a map of free camping BLM land near the geocaching trail.  There is a huge power trail called “The Musical Highway” on Lund Highway to the NW of Cedar City including some geo-art:  a sun, a moon, and a star.  The star is made up of 51 caches and is part of a new U.S. series - there will eventually be one in each state.

The day we moved from Wally’s to the BLM campsite we found, it was around 60 degrees and sunny.  It was stunningly gorgeous 360 degrees around.  I postponed taking pictures until we were pretty sure we wouldn’t be getting kicked out (we camped ON a Jeep trail).  I put out the new hummingbird feeder and within about 15 minutes we had our first little visitor.  He wasn’t the only one - about every 10 minutes we had a guest.  The feeder became a very popular place.  I’m glad we can be a blessing to the creatures who live here.

The night before Mother’s Day, I noticed it had begun to snow.  We put in the slide-outs to keep a little warmer and in the morning, woke up to this:

We had a little trouble retracting the jacks - they were sluggish and gave an error message.  The trails weren’t slushy yet, and THANK GOD, we had no trouble getting out of there.  We stayed at the Best Western hotel/campground right in town for three nights, until the cold snap was over.  Cedar City made the Salt Lake City news because the power went out for about four hours where we were, and there were trees down all over town.

We were both a bit depressed because even after adding hydraulic fluid, we still couldn’t get the jacks down or the slide-outs out.  Corny did Internet research and called the Lippert company.  He discovered there were two blown fuses in a box under the steps.  Boy, were we glad to “get our house back”.  As soon as the slides were out, Corny steam cleaned the floor and did marathon laundry.  I was out geocaching that day, and it was so nice to come home.  We soaked in the hotel hot-hot-hot tub as long as we could stand it, then went to Sizzler (right across the street) for the second day in a row. 

Forgot to mention we had gone to Applebee’s on Mother’s Day, and I Skyped with Glennyrd for a long time that evening.  He is the coolest kid.  I’m so proud of him xoxoxoxo

When we returned to Three Peaks, we found a more secluded, more level campsite behind the Group Camping area.  There was only one other camper there with a van.  Our hummingbird feeder was buzzing with activity.  One time I saw three birds drinking at once!  One was perched and the other two were hovering, sipping away.  I went to the bookstore near Wally’s for a hummingbird book, but it was a very, very Mormon bookstore.

One Friday afternoon a group of teens came in and set up about a dozen little tents.  We figured it was going to be a noisy weekend, with dirt bikes, ATVs, and dune buggies all over the place.  Turns out the church group people were just there for one night.  We gave our neighbors a bunch of Harbor Freight Tools free flashlights for the little kids running around.  I never heard them leave in the morning.

It took me three trips and about five hours of hiking, but I finished the Utah State Star geo-art.  I’ll miss the cows and antelope.  I alternated the hiking with the power trail.  I hiked the moon (22 caches) in one visit.  Corny helped with driving a few times.  Altogether I found 280 caches here and my rank in Florida went up to #51.  I have a total of 9,950 finds.

Finally, after nine days of dry camping, we ran out of water and headed back to the Best Western campground to resupply and do about 4 loads of laundry.  We ate at Sizzler again.  I caught up on all my geocache logging.

While I was out geocaching, Corny installed a few outlets for the solar panels.  He thinks one panel isn’t working (it looks discolored) and is going to check things out once we settle in for a month (or more?) at Salt Lake City. 

We can watch TV, charge up the phones and Kindles, and use the computers now that we have solar power.  We both watched the Survivor finale.  I was disappointed at who won.  Spencer was my hopeful.  Or Kass or Woo.  Anybody but Tony.

Now we are heading east to hit some of the big Parks:  Bryce Canyon, Grand Staircase/Escalante, Capitol Reef, Glen Canyon, Natural Bridges, Hovenweep, and then Canyons of the Ancients in Colorado.  We are skipping Zion because dogs aren’t allowed on the mandatory shuttle buses.  There should be a lot of pictures on the next post!  Life is Godd!

Buffet Month

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What horrible timing - we got to Las Vegas March 26th; our Alli diet pills were recalled March 27th due to tampering.  It didn’t slow us down much though.  We just accepted that we would be putting on a few pounds this month.  We used the American Casino Guide BOGO coupons at a buffet nearly every day.  Corny ordered a second book.  You get your money back the first time you use a coupon, and this year there are 17 buffet coupons.  Plus stuff like free margaritas, $5 match play, etc.  To add to the terrible diet pill timing, the food service workers downtown threatened to strike!  Last year it was the taxi drivers, which didn’t concern us at all.  We think the city should just extend the Monorail a few hundred yards to the airport. 

Anyways, there is no brief synopsis of our buffeting/silver mining - we did each nearly every day.  We tried every Station casino.  Our favorites are still Golden Nugget and Silverton; Sam’s Town for a cheap buffet.  Corny was blown away by the prime rib at Rampart, plus we each won a free buffet and left with a nice jacket, hat and T-shirt when we signed up and gambled away $20 each.  We didn’t go to any of the expensive buffets on the strip.  The Paris is tempting, but the line is always carazy-long.  Next year for sure.

We also got into the habit of stopping at a Harbor Freight store or two (or three, once!) after our buffets.  We each used a ‘free item with no purchase’ coupon.  There are four HFT stores around Las Vegas.  We’ve hoarded a big pile of geoswag:  flashlights, screwdrivers, tape measures, volt/ohm meters, electronic fly zappers, rope and several 5x7 tarps for ourselves.  The picture was taken after I had already placed a few items into geocaches, and before we added a few more.

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We walked the strip one night from MGM to just past High Roller, the new ferris wheel.  Rides are 30 minutes long for $35.  Each.  At night when you can’t see anything…  I got the T-shirt I had been wanting since last year - the one that says F—- you, you f—-ing f—-.  I embarrassed the crap out of Corny by wearing it, but I was all giggles and people we passed were loving it. 

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I also indulged in expanding my booby card collection (thanx to Corny) by a big handful.  I saw a couple other women collecting them, too.  I guess its a bizarre novelty to us to objectify a human being like she were a brainless, soul-less cartoon character.  Plus it costs the exploitive company money every time  I take a card from them.  I noticed a few female snappers (illegal immigrants who hand out the cards) last year; this year they were nearly 50%.  I guess they make more money than if they put on a Dora the Explorer costume and pose for pictures.  The Showgirls, Chewbacca, Elvis, Alan and the baby from The Hangover and “Kick me in the balls for $20” were still there.  New to us were the girls wearing paint. 

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One trip to the strip would’ve been enough for me, but one night Corny dragged me there just to get out and get some exercise.  We took a picture of him with the painted girls.  I hadn’t seen him smile that big since - I dunno.   You can see his souvenir gold tooth from Carson City glowing. 

We went back a third time to attend a quickie Geo Event at the faux Eiffel Tower.  Some French geocachers had set up a meet & greet to collect Travel Bugs to take to France.  That night we got a picture of me with Dr. Evil and Mini-Me.  He was so engaging - he made me laugh every time we had passed him previously.

Corny and I went to a Geo Event at the In & Out Burger place just south of the strip one day.  It was supposed to be a quickie/30 minute event, but we ended up staying a couple hours having lunch and chatting with the geopeople.

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Surrounded by urban micro geocaches in town, I escaped to a Jeep trail in the desert (the Eldorado series near Searchlight) for about 600 caches.  I went four times, solo, and had a blast.  I got 155 the first trip and was sore for three days.  I got 223 caches the second trip and was in much better shape.  Third trip I got about 60 then got a flat tire.  I thought I could get by just inflating it with the air compressor, but the air was leaking out of the gash so fast I could hear it hissing.  I changed it within about 30 minutes.  I had to look in the manual to see where to put the jack.  Other than that, no problemo.  The toughest part was getting the new tire lined up.  Only one snake sighting - he stayed under his rock and I didn’t poke him.  I did wear my snake boots after spotting him though. 

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^Joshua Tree roots

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One Saturday Corny gave blood in the morning and I was recovering from a geotrip.  We didn’t get up and around until about 2pm when buffets normally close for an hour or two between lunch and dinner.  We tried the Longhorn Casino “steak” special.  Corny’s “well done” was pink.  Mine was the worst steak I have ever experienced.  It was overcooked/black and every bite was full of stringy gristle and most of it ended up spit into my napkin.  We took half of it and some trimmings home to the dogs.  The Longhorn did have good yeasty rolls, though.  I was also tempted to come back to try their turkey and dumplings, but there are so many good places to eat…

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^Pretty Panda

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^Sam’s Town Ass

Easter dinner we used Corny’s bloody free buffet coupons at Sam’s Town.  They had given him 1000 points and two free buffets in exchange for a pint of blood.  Then he got a 20% off coupon for next time, so we will happily be going back.  Their desserts are sooooo much better than the Station casinos.

One Saturday evening when the Internet wasn’t working and there was nothing good on TV, I got bored and went to bingo.  I was quickly reminded that I cannot win.  Ever.  I think I got it out of my system.

We extended our Vegas stay by a week when Corny found out the Union Pacific “Big Boy” steam train was coming to town.  It is the largest steam train ever built (weighs about a million pounds) in 1941.  The Rail & Locomotive Historical Society of Pomona, CA was moving it to Cheyenne, WY, and made several stops along the way.  It was impressive.  I’m not so much into trains, but I thought it would be a fun photography subject.  I’m enjoying taking pictures more and more…I’ve got tons of Jeep pix (as you may have noticed).

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I just scanned my tumblr document and don’t see where I ever wrote about Poco being deaf.  It took us a long time to figure out why he was ignoring us!  We kept trying different names and didn’t understand why he wouldn’t come when we called him or learn any words, like num-nums, bed, or out.  Anyways, last winter I looked at Cesar Milan’s website to see what he said about deaf dogs.  He said “Your dog is deaf - so what?”  We started using hand gestures to train him to “come”.  It only took a couple tugs on the leash and he got it.  Instead of yelling at him when he barks, I make the “shhh” sign with my finger to my lips.  We got him a Christmas jingle bell to wear on his collar so we can hear him if he wanders away - I’m afraid that is how he got lost and ended up under a shed at a nursing home when he was a puppy.  Poco can only hear really loud noises, like the sonic booms at Rachel, NV that rattled the RV, loud thunder, or Dolly barking at the windshield wipers.  But we still talk to him and love him to pieces.

Although I’m very fond of my old DumbPhone, Corny surprised me when two identical boxes were delivered by UPS.  He got us two Nokia SmartPhones.  I was kinda proud of the fact that I was the last person on earth with a 10 year old DumbPhone.  I will eventually attempt to geocache with it, but it arrived just a couple days before we took off and I haven’t even figgered out how to text yet… I took some pictures of the dogs with it, but haven’t found out where they went.  Corny tried loading a Geocaching app and maps on his but the Internet here is too glacial.   Anyways, my number is the same.

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Also new in my life is a hummingbird feeder we stuck right to the window in view of the sofa.  There are tiny hummingbirds here, not much bigger than a June bug.  I also brought in one of the folding rockers and OMG, it is so much more comfortable than sitting on the sofa crouched on one elbow with the tiny netbook two feet away from my gut.  Now I have armrests, I don’t have to strain to see the screen, I can see out the windows on both sides, I am closer to the A/C vent, the dogs aren’t wallowing all over me, and Corny can’t see me from his table (meaning I can pick my nose to my heart’s desire).  I was in such a better mood that first day.  I felt so normal.  Then a tiny bit of reality sunk in when I realized I couldn’t reach the light switch or open the window/shades above the sofa without getting offmyass.  My life is so exciting!

It’s been an easy month, but I wouldn’t want to live in Vegas.  It is too hard for people to make it here.  There is one or more beggar on every corner.  Between the RV and the nearest Harbor Frieght tools store we became used to seeing androgenous “Pat”, who lives under a bridge, the happy bus stop hooker who was absent a few days after we saw her chatting to two police officers,  and the young blond with a dog in a stroller right on the HFT corner.  The nearer to the strip, the more beggars.  It’s sad.

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Between buffets, whenever the Internet was working, I loaded up geocaches for the entire state of Utah.  I spent a lot of time working on or deleting the 1500+ puzzles.  I think we will spend a couple weeks in the southern area with all the parks, then probably hook up for a month in Salt Lake City.  The average temps look perfect.  I tell Corny it’s time to unzip the fat suits, get moving and geocache our “buffets” off.

Life is Godd!

Tucson to Quartzsite

We purposely stayed at Del Sol Casino longer than we had planned so I wouldn’t miss Wednesday’s Survivor episode.  Thursday March 20 we drove to Quartzsite and got there right at sunset.  We parked at a site right off the highway to avoid driving around the desert in the dark.  We had a nice quiet night, then moved to Hi Jolly campground the next day. 

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^ Charging stations behind the Quartzsite Carl’s Jr.

We parked facing north so we had afternoon shade from the RV to sit in.  Behind us was a little wash with a shady area we only used once since it was morning shade.  The stars were amazing.  We broke in the folding recliners well.  I should’ve taken pictures, but the RV was still filthy with red dirt from Texas.  Bubbles and Dolly were allowed to go off-leash with supervision.  Dolly amazed me - she usually doesn’t like walks; we went out in the desert and she took off in the lead like she was on a mission.  Her little legs were moving so fast it looked like she had eight feet.

Someone has planted a ton of geocaches around Quartzsite.  We piled everyone into the Jeep and went out on the trails several times. 

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^ Corny retrieves a geocache

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Corny got to be a cowboy.  We had some harrowing/fun ups and downs.  We’re learning the capabilities of the Jeep - it hasn’t disappointed us yet.  We should’ve had good footage from the dashcam but it got erased by the time we made it to Las Vegas.  We passed the rock outlines where General George Patton’s troops bivouac’ed while training for Africa.  I surprised numerous horny toads and long-tailed lizards on the way to grabbing caches.  No snake sightings.  Otherwise it was lots of black rocks, saguaros and ocotillos in bloom. 

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We were doing fine with water rationing and the toilet hadn’t burped yet, but Corny picked up the weather forecast on his Kindle and it was going to be 91 degrees in the shade the next day!  I didn’t want to be stuck indoors for the next three hot days - we would’ve had to run the generator constantly or plug in at a campground for the A/C.  We decided to collect Corny’s tax paperwork from General Delivery, visit the nudie bookstore for about a dozen VC Andrews books, and make a run for Las Vegas. 

We had planned to stop in Lake Havasu City, but it didn’t look as interesting as we expected.  We stopped in Bullhead City for gas and a fun $15 do-it-yourself RV wash, then on to Don Laughlin’s Riverside casino parking lot for the night.  We drove the Jeep to Harrah’s for their buffet.  Everything was good.

In the morning we drove the hour or so to Las Vegas and the trashy trailer park we like - King’s Row - and signed up for a month.  I was glad to be somewhere we could extend both slide-outs, run the microwave, use the electric can opener  ~and~  it was a lovely 72 degrees.  I have about 20 tv channels, three of which are music videos and four are all movies.  The Internet is less than perfect, but it works if you’re patient.  It took me a couple hours to order the rest of the VC Andrews books I needed to complete every series on my list. Corny quickly got me a wi-fi antenna, which helps a lot.

The first day in Vegas we went to the nearest buffet - Boulder Station casino.  We had a BOGO coupon but since they misspelled Corny’s name (Mr. Crown), he got a free buffet at (re)sign-up.  He played his $3 freeplay and won a couple dollars.  I sat at the machine next to him, put in a $20 and pulled out $45!  Maybe we’ll forgive them for treating us like sheiat last year.  We had thrown away our cards, we were so disgusted with them.  That’s why Corny had to sign up again.

Next day we stayed home and had Sam’s Club frozen fried rice.  I wore my boxer shorts all day but Corny had to go out to get some DVDs from a couple different RedBoxes.  I realized I hadn’t missed the sound of airplanes overhead - there is quite the air traffic in Vegas.

Looking forward to the next month.  Life is Godd!