Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Something Old......Something New

We picked up my parents at the airport on the 10th and began their 2 week adventure traveling with us as we made our way back to Lake Mead. This is the first time in 45 years since they've been out west. In 1967 they bought a new Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser station wagon....just like the one on 'The 70's Show'. They loaded the car with camping equipment, my sister and I and headed out for a 3-week trip out west. Our stops along the way included the Astrodome, Juarez and Del Rio (Mexico), Painted Desert, Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns, Las Vegas, Los Angelas, Yosemite, Sequoia NP, Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore and St Louis Memorial Arch. I remember many a night sleeping in the back of the car while dad kept driving to our next destination.

We didn't make that many stops on our way from Denver to Lake Mead, but we did show them some things they'd never seen before. Joan and I had set up in St Vrain State Park just off I-25 in Longmont about 25 miles north of Denver. It had been raining since Monday, but not so bad that we couldn't enjoy the park. If you get the chance, check out St Vrain. On Wednesday we drove about 40 miles to  Estes Park to take in Rocky Mountain NP. It was overcast and rainy but we persevered and drove into the park. We saw a few Big Horn sheep as we began our climb into the mountains. It didn't take long before we were completely encompassed by the clouds and visibility was down to a few hundred feet.
We only had 1 day to see the park so we kept driving hoping to get above the cloud cover. We made it all the way to the top but never got out of the clouds. So we turned around and headed down. Just as we drove out of the clouds at the base of the mountain we saw a few cars pulled to the side of the road. We looked and sure enough it was an elk. We pulled over and got to watch him for about 30 minutes while he grazed, wallowed in the mud, scraped/rubbed his rack in the bushes and actually got him on video 'bugling' several times. All in all it was a good day.

We went to bed that night to the rain on the roof serenading us. And we woke up Thursday the same way. It had been raining since Monday and there were numerous puddles all throughout the campground. We were about 20 minutes from pulling in the slides and heading out when we heard a knock on the door. The park rangers were going door to door in the CG advising campers that the St Vrain river (which runs through the park) was overflowing its banks and they were evacuating the park. Our timing was spot on so we quickly finished packing and drove out of the park along with many of our fellow campers. We headed south on I-25, then west on I-70 towards Utah. It rained on us all the way to the Eisenhower Tunnel, then it cleared up with only a few sprinkles as we drove across western Colorado. We arrived in Moab, Utah that afternoon and set up in Portal RV Park. We got set up and turned on the TV news to get a weather forecast (it had been raining in Moab the past few days). What we saw surprised us......The St Vrain River had flooded parts of Longmont; both I-25 and I-70 had sections that were closed due to flooding and/or mudslides; the entire Denver area was experiencing record rainfall and flooding. I guess our timing was really good for us to have escaped that before we were caught up in it.

Moab was great. We took ma & pa to Arches and Canyonlands NP; Dead Horse State Park; and we took a couple of scenic tours; one through the La Salle Mountains; the other off-road through Long Canyon. They both had a great time and really enjoyed being off-road and seeing some of the back country sights you just can't see from the pavement. I don't think there's a jeep in their future, but they'll be ready to go again whenever invited.
View from La Salle Mountains

Kolob Canyon

We stayed in Moab for 4 nights and left Monday headed to Zion. Joan found a 'new' Utah State Park called Sand Hollow just outside of Hurricane. It's the newest state park in Utah with paved drives, full hook ups and pull through sites that were able to take our 40' MH with the trailer attached. There is a reservoir and the park has a focus on fishing. The sites are spaced out and the views are nice.

The next day we drove through Zion on our way to Bryce Canyon. We got lots of "ooohhss" and "aahhhhhsss" from ma and pa; and my dad's arms got tired from holding up the camera and taking so many pictures. We drove back through Zion that afternoon and saw several different light conditions and angles on the scenes we'd seen that morning.

The next day Joan downloaded several geocaches and we elected to drive Kolob Terrace Road. Joan and I had discovered this 18 mile scenic drive on our motorcycles when we visited Utah in 2007. The road climbs 3000' along the way and contains several different types of terrain; from desert to forest to high mountain valley. And you can actually see many of the mountains in Zion from this road. My mom was right with Joan as she exited the car at several locations to search out geocaches. I think we found 7 in all that day. While we were in Hurricane we also visited Kolob Canyons; a part of Zion NP, but with a separate entrance to Kolob just off I-15.
Sand Hollow SP

We packed up on Thursday and headed towards Nevada. Along the way we passed through the Virgin River Gorge on I-15. It's a spectacular drive through the gorge near the Utah/Arizona state line. My dad was disappointed that he was driving our car because he couldn't take pictures. We drove into and set up camp in Valley of Fire State Park at the north entrance to Lake Mead NRA about 50 miles north of Vegas. Again we had 50amp/water hook ups; pull through sites (that are actually designed to park 2 40' MH's in each site); completely surrounded by 'fire-red' canyon walls; out of sight of the road through the park or any other man-made structures. We had red canyon walls on our left lit up by the morning sun and red canyon walls on our right lit up by the afternoon sun. Everyday campers were up very early and right at sunset to take pictures of the canyon walls surrounding us. No street lights or car lights at night; we sat in almost total darkness as we counted stars each night and watched as the full moon rose over the mountains. It was really nice. Joan hit 4 home runs with her campsite selections during this move.

We called our new boss Dara while we were here and she invited us to set up in the VIP campground near Boulder Beach on Sunday. VIP stands for Volunteers In the Park; our job this fall will be a volunteer position for the National Park service; road monitoring. The park service will provide us with a 4-wheel drive truck and our job will be to drive the remote back country roads throughout Lake Mead checking road usage, looking for signs of misuse or driving off of the designated roads; sign repair; plant or road damage restoration, etc. What a job! We relocated Sunday to our 'winter home' and set up the MH so it looks like home. All the stained glass, pictures and knick knacks that don't travel well were unpacked and put in place. My parents treated us to dinner at Outback as this was their last night with us. We dropped them at the airport in Vegas Monday morning and they headed back to North Carolina. Bye Ma...Bye Pa....we'll miss you and our games of Hand & Foot. But we have to make room for Joan's uncle Jimmy who arrives Tuesday. He'll be with us for 2 weeks. Feast or famine. Last year in Oregon we were gone from Florida for 10 months and our only visitors were Jim & Debbie. This year in Colorado we've had Richey drive from Florida on his motorcycle; my son Chris fly out for a week; Joan's niece from Virginia stay with us 3 days; our friends Susan and Richard from Raleigh out for a quick visit; my parents for 13 days and Joan's uncle Jimmy....and we've still got 3 months left! Who's next?

Ta-ta-da-dah!!!!!!!! (imagine horns blowing) SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT....Do not touch that dial...do not attempt to adjust your settings....you will not want to miss what comes next! Any guesses? No, not that......un uh...not that either......OK I'll tell you...As of 9/20/2013 I am a grandfather. My oldest son Doug and his wife Erin have presented me (yes it is all about me this time) with my first grandchild.....Tristyn Claire was born on Friday 6'14" and 19" long. She's a beauty. Takes after her mom.

And according to my youngest son Chris she has her father's mouth....open! If you notice closely you'll see she's 100%. A chip off the old block. Congrats son. Proud of ya!

That's it for now. We start our new job next Monday.

From left....Dad Sean, brother Ryan and
Birthday Boy Bradley

PS...Happy Birthday to Joan's grandson..Bradley....11 years old.

Stay Tuned. More to Come.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Words and Pics Just Can't Do It Justice

It's been 2 weeks since my 60th birthday and 2-month wedding anniversary. And just in case you're wondering, being old and married is going OK!

*****Editor's Note***** After 'proofing the blog, Joan looks at me and says "So it's just OK?" Now I know I put an exclamation point after OK, but evidently that's not enough....so....

The first 2  months of married life have been unbelievable. It's hard to describe what it's been like. Words just can't express what I've been feeling. I'm not sure it's possible to accurately communicate the emotional and personal feelings I've experienced. And in the immortal words of Forest Gump....."that's all I have to say about that!"

As the workamping season is drawing to a close in central Colorado we got together with our fellow workampers for a little Putt Putt Golf.

We all had a great time and decided the evening wouldn't be complete without a little ice cream after our evening on the links.

From the left - Joan, Steve, Steve, Teresa, Joyce, Jack, Sandi, Joe
We had 4 workamper couples and the owners working at Chalk Creek this season. Jack and Joyce finished on 9/3; Joan and I worked thru 9/7; Steve and Teresa finish on 9/13; while Joe and Sandi will be staying on until the campground closes end of October or until they wear out-whichever comes first! This was the owners, Lars and Tamara's first full year managing the park on their own (they bought the campground March 2012). Next year may be a challenge for them as all 4 workamper couples have decided to pursue different opportunities next year. They'll be recruiting all new workampers and having to train them on all phases of park operations. Not a task I would want to undertake.

Steve and Teresa are interviewing for a job in Buffalo, Wyoming; Jack and Joyce are staying in the Nathrop area but both have lined up jobs in the local community-Jack at a hardware store and Joyce as a nurse for a local physician; Joe and Sandi as well as Joan and I have submitted resumes and held interviews to work at Crazy Horse Memorial near Custer, South Dakota. Our friends Phil and Rudee (Workin' RVers) are working there this summer and after reading their blog and speaking with them we decided South Dakota could be a lot of fun. We'll know more in November.

We took a couple of 'last drives' before we left; one on the bike and one in the car. The scenery is spectacular anywhere you go and we just wanted to make sure we took it all in before we left. Here's a pic overlooking Browns Canyon.

And another when we drove through 11 Mile Canyon. Pics just don't do them justice.

We left Nathrop Sunday morning and are currently just north of Denver to have the MH serviced. We pick up my parents at Denver International this week and they will be traveling with us in the MH as we meander our way back towards Lake Mead. We're hoping to show them Rocky Mountain NP, Moab, Bryce and Zion along the way. And we've just found out that our friends Larry and Jean may join us in Moab and travel with us for a few days as they commute from Garden of the Gods campground in Colorado Springs to their winter job at Leaf Verde CG outside of Phoenix.
On the Road Again

PS....only 2 weeks until I become a grandpa! Wish us luck.

That's it for now. Stay Tuned. More to Come