Monday, December 9, 2013

Time Flies

Well we've wrapped up (literally and figuratively) our last few days here at Lake Mead NRA for 2013. Literally because our last workday for this year was Thursday the 5th. Figuratively because "Baby, it's COLD outside!" Yes even in Vegas it gets cold. The forecast for last night was a low of 25 in the Vegas valley area. We got down to high 30's in Boulder City last night and that's where the temps started a couple of days last week. Even with the temps in the 30's & 40's the amount of 'cold' you feel is dependent on your immediate surroundings. If you're in the shade, or if there's a little bit of a breeze you really feel the cold. I'm talking about layered shirts, jackets, gloves and knit cap cold. However if there's no breeze and you're standing in the sunshine then it's really pleasant. A long sleeve shirt and sunglasses are all you need. That's the kind of winter weather that has enticed us to seek out a workamping gig in this area.

Our last few days here were very interesting as we got to do and see some new stuff. Last Tuesday we worked with the 'Vegetation' group to water some plants.......well actually we 'dry watered' the plants. WWhhhaaaatttt? That doesn't make sense? What you talkin' bout Willis?

As you probably already know most plants need water to survive, especialy when they have been transplanted. Late last year during an entrance station rennovation an old roadbed was removed and the vegetation group replanted about 350 native plants. If you look at the pics you'll see small brown tubes (about the size of tennis ball cans) placed at the base of the 'new' plants. You'll also see small tubes of a clear substance. That clear substance is referred to as dry water. It has the consistency of....well....snot. Some times you can peel off the wrapper and hold the snot..kinda like play dough, only a little softer. Other times as soon as the wrapper is opened, the contents start running just like your nose during a bad cold. The dry water is placed into the tubes at each plant and over the course of 1-2 months the compound breaks down into a liquid and 'waters' the plant. A little bit messy, but really cool!

My Lovely Co-Pilot & Partner in Crime!
On our last day of work we drove AR61 & AR62. AR62 ended in a steep wash very close to Lake Mojave. Joan and I decided to take a short hike to see if we could get to the water. When we arrived at the water's edge we discovered a little piece of history....a Gauger's Station. When Hoover Dam was being built, there was still a question about the affects the dam may have on the local environment. In an attempt to gather data, Gauger Stations were built in the 1930's along the river downstream from the dam.

Gauger Station Foundation Overlooking the River
The 'gauger's job was to measure water speed, depth and silt content. Each day the 'gauger' traveled along the rocky embankments on the river to small 'buckets' that hung on cables strung across the Colorado River. The gauger climbed into the bucket and pulled himself out over the water so he could drop lines and measuring tools into the river. Not a job I'd want, especially back in the 1930's. The scenery was nice, but the job was a real challenge.

Joan and Barb Celebrating
On Thursday we celebrated a birthday with our neighbors and fellow volunteers. Happy Birthday Barb. If you look close you'll see the Happy Birthday Princess button and tiara that she got to wear all evening!

Tomorrow we leave early to begin our holiday road trip back to Florida. Even though the midwest has been blanketed wth winter storms the forecast is for sunshine and no precipitation along our route for the next 3 days. Let's hope that trend continues until we're home!

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

Saturday, November 23, 2013

We're Down to 3 Oreos and a Grape Soda........I'm Not Sure We Can Make It!

One of our lunch overlooks on the east side of Lake Mead
Another couple of weeks have gone by and we're still having a great time in our volunteer position at Lake Mead. The opportunity to use the park's vehicle and fuel to visit all of the back country roads and see sights that most of the Vegas tourists will never see has been very satisfying. We actually look forward to going to 'work' on Mondays.

And the adventures we encounter are always interesting. Many of the roads we drive end after turning into small box canyons or near old mining sites. We've explored several small slot canyons and several dozen abandoned mines during our time here. And we've driven some roads that I would definitely not have taken our jeep down; sometimes because their so rough; other times because the 4x4 we use at work has much better clearance than our jeep. Last week we drove about 50 miles south of Vegas to check out the 'Approved Roads' near Laughlin.
Lake Mojave
One of the roads ended at the shoreline of Lake Mojave so we decided that was a good place for lunch. The view of the lake was great; weather temps were very comfortable and the company was fun to be with. When we finished lunch we packed everything up and went to start the truck when..........nothing. Nothing but a slow clicking noise. The kind you don't like to hear anytime....much less when you're 6-7 miles off the paved road. We shut everything off and waited a few minutes before trying the truck again...alas with the same result. Dead battery. Not to worry, we have a 2-way radio so we can call for help. "700 Victor Lima 62" (Dispatch, this is Volunteer 62) click, click, click. Guess works off the same dead battery that won't start the truck. Uh oh! Dun Dun Dun!
At least we found a place to stay for the night!
What now! We're down to 1/2 bag of carrots, 3 oreos and a grape soda! I'm not sure we can make it! Let's see if we have a cell signal. Yes sir we do! So we call our supervisor and eventually get in touch with a park service maintenance tech that works out of Laughlin. He's there within about an hour and we're on our way. We were lucky this time, because once we were on our way out we attempted to call our supervisor to let her know we were OK. No cell signal. Once we were away from the lake shore and into the tall washes we could not use the phones. Like I said, we do enjoy our adventures.
Devil's Cove
Wednesday our trainer Kelly went out with us to drive AR115 on the north side of the Colorado River. We drove about 2 hours on the interstate north to Mesquite, then turned off onto a small broken pavement road to the east towards Gold Butte. The rough pavement lasted about 10 miles before turning into a rough rocky dirt road which we drove for another 30 miles alongside the Virgin Mountains before heading down into an extremely steep and challenging rocky wash towards Devils Cove. There were a couple of spots where we had to back up and take a different track around large rocks that the truck could not clear (on the park maps this road indicates Experienced 4x4 only). Once we got to the lake shore we had been traveling for almost 6 hours. Many times when the park crews have to work in this area they plan to camp overnight so they can be more productive. I know it's not for everyone, but Joan and I really enjoy getting to go different places and especially when they are far out and off the beaten path.

View from the Bridge
On one of our days off we decided to take the hike out onto the 'new' Hoover Dam Bridge. Technically it's called Mike O'Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge and was completed in 2010. It spans the Colorado River between Arizona and Nevada and offers a great view of the dam from above. 

The bridge was the first concrete-steel composite arch bridge built in the United States and it incorporates the widest concrete arch in the Western hemishpere. At 1900+ feet in length and 840 feet in height above the Colorado River, it is the second-highest bridge in the US, following the Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado. It is also the world's highest concrete arch bridge. In the middle of the walkway across the bridge is a marker for the state line.

Thursday morning we packed an overnight bag and headed north towards Utah. We were hoping to see snow and that we did. We thought we might be able to drive Kolob Terrace road from Cedar City back into Zion NP, but once we started up the mountain in Cedar Canyon there was so much snow on the road we were fairly sure we would not be able to make the entire 35+ mile drive across the unpaved mountain roads back to Zion. So we turned northeast and drove towards Cedar Breaks where we found more snow, but snow we could handle. The drive was beautiful and we made a loop around and back down into Zion for the night. Friday morning we drove back into St George, Utah for a meal at Chik-Fil-A and a wet but scenic drive through Snow Canyon State Park.

It's so hard to portray the actual beauty of the land around us. We try and try, but even as good as some of our pictures turn out, it doesn't really do it justice.

You just have to see it with your own eyes to really get a feel for how spectacular it really is.

Less than 3 weeks before we head back towards Florida for Christmas. Along the way we'll stop in Alabama to see Joan's brother Jimmy and his family. And we'll stop in Atlanta to see my new grand daughter Tristyn.......and her family(almost forgot about them). This year has really flown by. Joan and I are really glad we made the decision to go full time. And we got to go early. Our original plan was to go full time on 9/10/11/12/13 (November 12, 2013; 9:10am). But we went early. Look what we would have missed if we'd waited!

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

Thursday, November 7, 2013

"It just goes to show you, it's always something--if it ain't one thing, it's another."

Just like Roseanne Roseannadanna would say.......It's always something! So the time changes Saturday night/Sunday morning and now it's light when we wake up and dark by 5pm. Joan and I like being up and out early....better chance that we might see some wildlife and we will get home before dark from our volunteer jobs. So we decide that we'll start getting up an hour earlier at 5am so we can make it to work by 6. It's Sunday night and I'm already snuggled into bed; Joan's brushing her teeth and all of a sudden we hear an audible 'click' and the overhead light in the bathroom goes out. And it's really dark....darker than usual when the lights are out. As I look around I notice all the small LED lights throughout the MH are dark. HHMMMMMMM....wonder what that's about. So I slip on some clothes and start checking things out. All of our 110v outlets work, but none of our 12v lights or 'cigarette' outlets work. I go outside and check the inverter/ appears OK and the remote says it's charging the batteries like it should. I check the surge protector and it shows 'E 0" No Errors. Well it's late and I'm since the 110 works, we can survive until I figure it out. I'll just sleep on it. I slept well; even had a dream that the problem was fixed....felt good when I woke up and then remembered the 12v was still not working. I checked the 12v fuse panel and none of the fuses were blown. I read through the owners manual and got nothin'. I check the inverter again and it's fine as is the surge protector. I check the fuse panel itself and there is no 12v coming into the panel.

In the great words of the Bard...."O, woe is me, T'have seen what I have seen, see what I see!"(William Shakespeare, Hamlet). What to do, what to do. So I fall back on the tried and true......IRV2. Before we leave for work I fire off a quick note asking if anyone has any ideas on what may be causing my 12v to fail while leaving my 110v alone. It doesn't take long and within a couple of hours I've got 2 responses, both of which indicate I should check the Battery Disconnect Solenoid. Oh yeah! I've read about this several times before. As soon as we're home from work I start checking. 
Front Compartment
I Don't See Nothin' But Fuse Covers
OK, where is it located? Let's try the battery compartment. OK, there's a solenoid....let's see if this is it. Check it with a VOM and I've got 12v on both that's not it. Check the inverter solenoid in there. There were some fuses in the front driver's side compartment, so I check there and no luck. Nothing that looks like a solenoid. Now what? It's starting to get dark and I've run out of ideas. We'd be OK without the 12v for a few days except that the switches that turn on the hot water heaters are all we've got is cold water. Well I better make a service appointment to have it checked out. I call a local RV dealership and speak with Al in their service department. They close in 5 minutes and the earliest appointment available is almost 2 weeks away.....that won't work. Al help me out you happen to know where the battery disconnect solenoid is located on my model? No, that's not one of the models I'm familiar with....Hold on a minute.........I hear him speaking with someone in the background......try the drivers side compartment; it should be in there. OK I'll look again. So out I go, looking everywhere in the compartment when I see a black cover with 3 wingnuts...spin off the wingnuts and 
Behind Door #1.....There It Is...
The Little Yellow Thingy Bottom Left

HALLELUJAH! in and amongst all the wires and connections is a solenoid....the solenoid....and there's a small slot on one side with a 5A fuse. I pull the fuse and sure enough it's blown. I pull out a spare fuse...plug it in.....and all the new LED lights and 12v outlets come to life. Thank You AL! You're the MAN!

It's always something. If you're an RVer....especially a will find out it's always something. Kinda like will definitely encounter obstacles along the way. What's important is how you handle them. When you run into that brick wall...don't beat your head against it...look for a way around it. If you haven't already, check out IRV2. Bookmark it as it is a wealth of information and members who are more than willing to help you when you encounter trouble. 

And Kudos to Al at Johnny Walker RV in Las Vegas. With a little help from Al and IRV2 I managed to fix a problem with a $.50 fuse instead of a $50 (or more) service call.

Stay Tuned. More to Come

Sunday, November 3, 2013

November!?! What Happened to October?

One of our training days with Kelly
Repairing a barricade
Well it's the 1st weekend in November and we're back to work. We started our volunteer position the last day of September, then the closure started October 1st. We were allowed to stay in the volunteer campground within Lake Mead NRA during the closure, but all access to the rest of the park was restricted. We couldn't walk or hike the trails; couldn't drive through the park; didn't have access to the lake; nothing! All of the park entrances were barricaded and Rangers were stationed at each entrance to keep unauthorized visitors out.
Yes that's snow at the Las Vegas Ski Resort
near Mt Charleston

Joan and I tried several different things to stay busy. We took a weekend trip to Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah where we saw lots of fall color. We took a day trip to Mt Charleston on the northwest side of Vegas; even saw snow on the roadside from a light dusting earlier in the week. Did you know there is a ski resort in Vegas? We didn't until we drove to the top of Mt Charleston.

I did lots of little maintenance jobs around the MH; adjusted the drivers and passenger captain's chairs that had started to loosen up on their floor mounts; replaced a couple of door latches that had broken; took down the cabinet doors in the bathroom, re-stained them to cover some scratches and polished the hinges that were starting to show some rust. But my biggest project was to change out several of the fluorescent overhead lights with LEDs. I found a thread on IRV2 from a guy who had changed out his lights and decided that would be a great project since I had 2 lights that appeared to have ballast problems. I ordered the parts online from EBay for $46; which included 30+ feet of LED strip and enough connectors to replace 10 or 11 lights. I opened the light fixtures, removed the fluorescent tubes and ballast cover, then cut the +/- wires from the ballast. I replaced the ballast covers and began working on the LED strips. I cut sections of the LED strip to the same length as the fluorescent tubes, attached the connectors, then used the backing tape to stick 3 LED strips into each fixture. Then I connected the +/- wires in the light fixture to the LED connector wires. Voila...we have light...a clear white light that turns on immediately and doesn't flicker. And the LEDs are rated at 100,000 hours of usage, quite a bit longer than the old tubes...and quite a bit cheaper too. All in all I replaced 20 tubes (@ $4-$6 ea), got better and brighter light and still have materials left over for less than half of normal bulb replacement would cost. And that's not counting the cost of any ballast I would have had to replace.

Temple Bar - Arizona

We've been back to work for 2 weeks. We took 2 days of additional training and we've been on our own since. So far it's been fun. We've seen places in the park that very few folks get to see.

Cottonwood East - Lake Mojave
Some days we drive 50 miles just to get to the area where we're working; then another 10 miles on secondary roads just to get to the back country roads. Then it's 30-40 miles of back country roads looking for disturbances that we record and attempt to restore if possible. The shortest day was 80+ miles total round trip; the longest was 180 miles.

Some of the wildlife we see 

And what's really great is that driving these back country roads is what we used to do on our days off; using our jeep and our fuel. Now we get to use the park's 4-wheel drive vehicle and gas. It just doesn't get much better than that!

Joan's BFF from Seattle, Teri came into Vegas for a couple of nights and Joan took advantage of that time to show her some of the sights we've been enjoying during our stays in Lake Mead. Joan and I started the day by getting up early and driving across town to see the Vegas Balloonfest.

There were 15 different hot air balloons and they coordinated their launch so they were all up at the same time.

Can You See the Moon?

We got some great pics.

Southwest Diner
A Triple D in Boulder City

Then we picked up Teri and took her to one of our favorite Diners, Drive ins and Dives eateries Southwest Diner for breakfast. Then the girls took off to visit Valley of Fire, Hoover Dam and a tour of Lake Mead. Last week we went out to lunch with friends we worked with in Oregon. Terri and Mel were in town on their way to Arizona so we joined them at Arizona Charlies for lunch. A couple of days later Allan and Sylvana came into town after closing their campgrounds in California and we met them at Sam's Town to catch up. Joan and I know that our families back in Florida worry that we're out west all alone, but it's not like that at all. We've made so many new friends in the last 18 months that we never have to be alone unless we want to.

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

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Viva Las Vegas.....Where's Elvis?

Joan's Uncle Jimmy arived 2 weeks ago and we've been very busy ever since. While he was here we tried to show him as much of the area as possible. We took him to Fremont Street in downtown Vegas where he promptly 'fell in luv' with the locals.

We took him out to Boulder Dam, down to Lake Mead, up to Valley of Fire all in the 1st week. He had thought about driving up to Skywalk in Arizona, but after a little research he decided his money would be better spent on a helicopter ride over and into the Grand Canyon. He had a blast, including 'falling in luv' with the pretty young passenger next to him in the helicopter who kept leaning over into his lap to look out the window and take pictures.

The 1st day of his 2nd week here Joan and I had to report for our 1st day of orientation at our Road Monitoring job in Lake Mead. We met our boss Dara; and Kelly who would be training us on the GPS and other gear we would be using. We spent the morning filling out paperwork and then hit the road with Kelly. We drove about 4-5 miles out into the mountains between Lake Mead and Henderson on some of the rockiest 'roads' we been on in quite some time (I think she was testing us to see how we'd react). We finished up the 1st day with the caveat that we would report back to work the next morning 10/1 "if the government didn't shut down". Well we all know how that went don't we! Needless to say at this point, but we're still waiting to report back to work! We're still living in the Volunteer campground inside the park, but everything else in the park has been closed. There are LEO's (park service Law Enforcement Officers) stationed at the 4 primary entrance gates to Lake Mead and no one is allowed to enter the parks. The marinas are closed as are all the other campgrounds. Even the campers already set up had to leave.

Hiway driving towards Cedar Breaks
In reading through the various camping discussion groups I've stumbled across several threads where folks are 'bragging' about moving barricades and closed signs in order to enter many of the closed national parks and monuments. And unfortunately IMO too many replies to those posts are in support of the park 'crashers'.

The Fall Color was everwhere

Many of the statements being made are portraying the park service and their employees as the bad guys in this situation. I understand that many folks' vacations are being sidetracked because of the shutdown, but it's not the Park Service.

I can't imagine how I'd feel if a vacation I'd planned and saved for was impacted like many of the folks we see everyday as they're turned away at the parks. But just a little time and research will show you a multitude of options: there are numerous state, county and public parks where these folks can go. And there are thousands of scenic drives and locations that can be accessed. The parks are just doing what they have to do because their budget has been shut off. 'Nuff said about that.

Since we had time on our hands, we packed an overnight bag and set out towards Utah. We discovered that the roads through Zion and Cedar Break parks were open for normal travel (not stopping or parking or hiking).

And with the leaves starting to show their fall colors we thought a nice drive might be in order with Uncle Jimmy. We spent 2 days driving through southwest Utah, exploring some new roads and revisiting some known ones. The aspens in Cedar Break were bright yellow and gold, and many of the back road sights and overlooks were breathtaking.

Brian, Theresa (bless them) & Uncle Jimmy
After 10 days of staying with us Uncle Jimmy was off with Joan's cousin Theresa for the rest of his vacation. He visited a couple more casinos and took an off road ride in Theresa and Brian's rock climbing jeep (the same one we rode in earlier this year). Joan and I have really enjoyed the visits from my parents and her Uncle Jimmy. And we're looking forward to the next time we have visitors. That being said it's been hectic with company for 23 of the last 24 days; especially in the motorhome. We'll have to plan better next time we invite company.

A quick shout out and Thank You to Jack Mayer. The cell reception in the Volunteer campground is spotty at best; have to step outside to be heard on some calls and you never know if you'll be able to access the internet or not. I've read Jack's posts on communications for some time now and earlier this year we purchased a WiFi Ranger to improve our WiFi reception while at Chalk Creek based on his recommendations. After reviewing his posts on cell reception and a couple of email exchanges we elected to purchase a Wilson Electronics Sleek 4G V cellular 'booster'. And Jack was spot on again. Our cellular signal went from 1X to 3 bars of 3G and even 1-2 bars of 4G at times. It's not the perfect solution as the phone must remain in the 'cradle' for the signal to be boosted. But until a 'wireless' 4G booster solution is available, this will do just fine. Thanks Jack.

Most of you know how much I enjoy playing softball. I had hoped to play this year at the Huntsman Senior World Games held each year in Utah. The Senior World Games host over 10,000 age 50 and up atheletes each year at this event. There are 27 different sports including track and field, golf, biking, shooting, basketball, softball and others. Check it may want to compete one year. Unfortunately my softball buddies back in Florida were unable to get a 60's team together to play this year. But some of my friends that play in the 65 age brackets are playing; so Joan and I drove up to St George, Utah to see them and catch a game. While we were there it was mentioned that many of the 350 softball teams need a player or two to fill open positions. That's all it took. I threw my name and info into the system to see if anyone could use my help. The 60's teams were already locked in at this point, but maybe a 55 team (they play next week) will need some help. Wish me luck.

That's it for now.

Stay Tuned. More to Come

PS...write your congressman. Tell them to figure it out!

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 not attempt to adjust your 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! 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

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