Agua No Mas

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A working frost-free water hydrant

October is at an end and the water in the park is mostly turned off. There are a half dozen frost-proof hydrants scattered about, but not many are near a campsite. Site 2 (and 4 if you have a long hose) can run a hose to the hydrant near the dump station and site 25 can reach the camper service building. The winter-host has a special heated connection to the water supply, but the rest of us have to get water the old fashioned way ( I have no idea what that means, it just sounded nostalgic. Maybe picture an older guy with gray hair carting water in wooden pails up a snow-covered hill.)

There are far fewer Park visitors as well. There have been some rain/snow storms in the mountains so it is a chore to get over the mountains to/from Denver. I suspect a few cross-country travelers have taken the southern route along I-40 to avoid the snow. The amount of time it takes me to do my camp-host job has dwindled in direct proportion to the number of visitors so I’m spending more time working on Park repair projects.

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Watching for rabbits in the early morning fog

This is my first fall season living next to a river on the western slope and the fog has this interesting way of forming just as the sun comes up in the morning. The sky is clear as a bell before sunrise and as the orange glow reaches over the mesa and floats down the river the fog materializes out of thin air and hugs the trees. sometimes the fog thickens enough to blot out the sun, other times the sun heats the air and the fog remains a patch-work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Alta Wy to Fruita CO

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View from our Teton Base Camp

Alta to Cokeville WY

First of three days on the road getting from the Tetons to the western slope of Colorado. We have a camp host gig in Fruita set up for October and November (stop by if you are in the area!). I choose the western route out of Driggs instead of climbing over Teton Pass to Jackson. I added a few miles but it saved me the agony of creeping down the east-side of the pass. The Snake River valley is still in peak colors too so that turned out to be a colorful choice. Yellows, reds, greens, orange – delightful!

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Last day in the Teton’s

The land between Driggs and Cokeville is wonderful valley-bottom surrounded by mountains. I can see buying a retirement villa there and whiling away my golden years watching cows, antelopes, and sunsets.

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Trail at Grand Targhee Resort

Cokeville to Somewhere south of Flaming Gorge
Well I have a new entry into my worst roads in america section. I thought WY 412 was rough until I came upon WY 414 from Mtn View to the Utah state line. Top speed on WY 414 was 45 MPH then I transitioned to UT 43 and it was like driving into the perfect shit-storm of potholes, frost-heaves, and cracks! I had to slow to 30 MPH to keep from bouncing off the blacktop. I’m not sure what the other roads to Flaming Gorge are like, but I advise taking a different route than I did. What a mess! (Hey, Utah DOT. Crack-sealing a shit-storm does not fix it. It just makes a crack-sealed shit-storm).

On the plus-side the colors along the Henry’s Fork River are peaking this week. I even saw a purple bush. And at 30 MPH I had plenty of time to tree watch. I could even read the historical markers without stopping.

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The boys are out for the evening. Please leave a message

UT 44 south out of Manila is in slightly better shape and winds its way through the side canyons near Flaming Gorge. Up hill and down with some of the slopes at 8% it’s a slow trek. The leaves are a few weeks past peak at this elevation and the grass has long been dormant. We found a camp spot in the forest before the afternoon wind kicked up to the predicted 25-mph gusts.

Why is the word for wind and the word for wind the same? The wind is blowing whilst I wind my way through the forest (winding my watch as I go). English is weird. Lets agree that from now on wind will be the thing that blows and wynd will be what roads do as they twist and turn through the mountains. Good. Proceed.

The Forest near Flaming Gorge to Fruita, CO
Tumble dry: Low heat
Wow! Colorado 139 from Rangley to the south side of Douglas Pass is rough, wyndi and steep!! It took 2 hours to drive 35 miles. The aspens on the north side of the pass were in full color: green, red, orange, yellow which made the climb nice. Down the south side of the pass took a very long time. The speed limit is 20 and the corners are 15 MPH. It was nice that we had a 25 MPH headwind holding us back on the descent.

If you want to have some idea what it’s like to pull a trailer on a rough wyndi road whilst the wind is blowing 25 MPH go to the Laundromat, put $50 worth of quarters in the biggest dryer there, get in, select tumble dry, and stay there until the $50 runs out. That’s been my life the past two days.

 

 

Camp-Host Wrap Up

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Clear skies
A strong northern storm pushed all the smoky air out of the area and for the first time in weeks the sky is smoke-free and clear as a crystal. All the colors are more vibrant. The air has a sweet arctic smell. Mmmm

Later that week
The clear skies were short lived. When the wind returned from the west it blew the smoke back in and the temperatures climbed back into the high 80’s

Wrapping it up!
We’ve been here for almost 5 weeks now and the first week of September marks the end of the season at Tongue River State Park. Next week we are back on the road heading for Boise ID. Our route will be back west across Montana on I-90, which will make the number of times we’ve driven that route three. Planning to stop at some of the places we skipped the first two times.

Bon Voyage
Raymond and Judy-Rae had us over for cake on our last night at Tongue River. Jim, David, and I had a great time volunteering at the Park and working with Raymond and Judy-Rae!

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Jim, Raymond, David, Judy-Rae, Mike

The boiz have not been in their travel-crates for 5 weeks so it will be interesting getting them back into travel-mode. They have been enjoying our month of sitting still and have marked out the nearby field as their territory. I underestimated how important it is for them to have a territory they can mark out and explore each day.

Pro-tip: don’t take outdoor cats on a road-trip

 

Tongue River State Park

Volunteering Week II
When I got here there were thunderstorms coming through the Park every night cooling things down and stirring things up. Wind gust-fronts coming from the northwest pick up black coal-dust from the mine and whip it into the air. It creates a black shadow along the horizon as the gust-front gets close. Very ominous looking.

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The dark dust is coal dust swept out of the mine by the wind

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Same view without the thunder-coal storm

I’ve settled into the park volunteer routine of trash pickup and bathroom cleaning assistant. I usually get all my work done in the morning so I can take the afternoon off and enjoy the 100*-plus heat wave we’re having these days.

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I’m not having any luck hiding from the heat this summer

 

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It’s 105* AND on fire.  Sweet!

I’ve been letting the boiz out each morning for an hour or so in the cool, crisp air. They have adopted the area behind the RV as their own and patrol it looking for edibles. The park is very quiet on weekdays so they can prowl at their leisure.

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The boiz play-space

 

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Chaffe CR 194 to Wheat Ridge, CO

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Looking out the window at the nice motel

After 2 nights boondocking in the cool quiet mountains it’s on to the big city for some warranty work on the RV and a visit to the dentist.

We left early Sunday morning to beat the traffic. In Colorado you have to leave early on the day before a holiday weekend ends or you will be stuck in traffic for half a day trying to get into the city. Really sad 😦

The drive was nice. We had a big ole tailwind blowing us across South Park and up and over Kenosha pass. The winding decent down-canyon along the South Platte River was green and the river was flowing strong. There appears to be more snow on the northern mountains than there were on the southern ranges near Salida, but even at that there is not much snow on the high peaks anywhere in Colorado. News reports say 2017/18 is the fifth-driest winter on record.

The boys (all 4 of us) are a bit freaked out that we are in a Motel instead of the RV. The RV needs a roof repair and we can’t stay in it while the shop works on it. In addition to the warranty work (which I might say more about when I write a long-time review of the Outdoors RV) we’re getting a Maxxfan installed.

We checked into the Pet-Stain Motel 6 near where the RV is being repaired and didn’t like it one bit! The area seemed like a good place to be robbed and the motel was so bad I didn’t take my shoes off. Everything was sticky! Long-story-short I moved the RV to a better area for the night and took it to Ketelsen Campers the next morning. We got a much better room at the La Quinta in Westminster for the remainder of our stay. MUCH nicer motel! King-size bed, fridge, microwave, aahhh.

One of the first rules of RVing is if the area gives you the creeps – Get Out of There!

 

 

Marshall Lake AZ to Gallup NM

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Kitty soaking up the afternoon sun near Marshall Lake

Well that was interesting. The forest service told me they were closing the forest on Wednesday because of extreme fire danger. Then business I-40 in Holbrook was closed because of a fire. All of the camp grounds I’ve visited in Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona have fire bans in place. I think we need some rain in the west!

Also, I feel compelled by the bruises on my spine to report the pavement on I-40 in Flagstaff is easily the roughest asphalt I have ever driven over – Argh! The only stretch of pavement that comes close to being as bad are the first few miles of Hwy 287 in Oklahoma.

Since Gallup is just an overnight stop on our way to Ridgway, CO we pulled off I-40 at a truck stop near a railroad crossing. We found a place to park in the dirt lot next to the retaining pond. The wind is gusting to 30 miles per hour and politely swirling dust into the RV. This is going to make our next planned stop in Durango seem like a mountain paradise!

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Got to get here early if you want a spot by the trains

FYI: Gallup Propane has great prices for tank refills. We had a 30# tank filled for only $15! That’s about 1/2 what it would have cost in Denver. Also the best price for gas and diesel seems to be on the north end of town heading toward Shiprock.

Payson, AZ

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Heading north across Arizona this week. We made the trek from Oracle to Payson and reached a tall-trees pine forest. Passed by Roosevelt Lake on the way to Payson and the wind was perfect for sailing.

Had a minor phone-failure along the way and was shocked at how I’ve come to depend on the map function therein. I had to pull over and get the map out from behind the seat so I could see what road I needed. Paper maps are still a good back-up to the all-knowing, all-seeing google!

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The neighbor’s cat is on the roof of their RV.      Fabulous!

I’ve been looking for a way to exercise my cats without letting them run free and this might be a way. I just need to build them a roof access and they can fiddle up there all they want. I think this cat got on the roof by climbing the tree, but if the RV was away from the trees my guys would be isolated on our roof.