Monday, September 07, 2015

It's been a wonderful adventure! But now it's time for a different chapter in my life! Keep Reading!

In the book “Adventures of Slim and Howdy”, the author writes:

People seem to settle for so many things in life. They settled for things that were easy and adequate but not perfect – and told themselves they loved it because perfect took too much work and even then there were no guarantees. And all too often they end up one day looking back at a decision and thinking, 'why didn't I hold out for something better than that'? Many people are miserable and have no one to blame but themselves, because they settled for something less than what they really wanted.”

Sumner Lake State Park
With three weeks before a commitment in Rio Rancho, New Mexico State Park Volunteer Coordinator asked for my services at Sumner Lake State Park, a 2-hour drive away. Always happy to help out, I loaded Jeremiah with groceries and headed east and a bit south. The Pecos River feeds this lake and thanks to rain and runoff, the lake is pleasantly full of water and boaters. It is a popular lake.

The park rangers and summer seasonal workers do a great job there, leaving not a whole lot of stuff for me to do but greet and chit-chat with campers. And what interesting people I met. A single lady and her hairless cat were there in a small trailer.

A variety of wildlife entertained me including, deer, turkeys, lizards, gopher-snakes, rattlesnakes, ground squirrels, toads, cottontails, and jackrabbits. Birds included barn swallow, western kingbird, mockingbird, curve-bill thrasher, lesser goldfinch and towhee. The barn swallows and western kingbirds were actively sitting on just-made nests during the time I was there.

Those three weeks flew by and I drove back to Rio Rancho to house/dog sit for my friends Jesse and Sylvia while they traveled. Max the Dog is no trouble at all. He sleeps in the house; I sleep in Jeremiah. In the morning, I give his a dog biscuit and let him out in the large fenced backyard. At dusk, I get Max in the house – bribing him with another dog biscuit and giving him his daily meal. Done and done. The days are for reading, shopping, visiting friends, going out to lunch – basically loafing.

When Jesse and Sylvia returned, I drove to Santa Rosa Lake State Park to continue my serious loafing/reading there. I was there a week and then returned to Rio Rancho to house/dog sit Snoopy, daughter Sue's dog. They will be gone two weeks – out on a brief sailing adventure and a well-deserved vacation from work. It will be more reading, loafing and time with friends. One activity with friend Hilda was the Unser Racing Museum.

Books I've read include: The Thief and Polar Shift (Clyde Cussler), Clarence Thomas' Memoirs, Walk Across America (Peter Jenkins), Telegraph Days (Larry McMurtry), Uh-Oh (Robert Fulghum), Sycamore Road (John Grisham), Walking with the Wild Wind (Stoltz), Adventures of Slim and Howdy (Brooks and Dunn), Calico Joe (John Grisham), and Highway Signs and Wonders (Cobb). I am currently reading Cussler's Bootleggers.

Planning my next adventure
The last week of July was time spent at home in Prescott Valley – eye checkup with my ophthalmologist, lunch with sisters Elaine and Susan, and visiting neighbors and my card-playing friends. And I studied maps for an upcoming 6-7 week adventure in Jeremiah. With loose, flexible ideas, I would travel in Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and ???.

Flexibility rules this trip – changes galore!

On August 3, I headed north.
I like the serenity and solitude of driving on little-traveled two-lane roads. Highways 89, 160 and 163 were delightful, taking me through Navajo lands and into Utah. What beauty! Colorful reddish hills and open spaces.

Goosenecks State Park – southern Utah – August 3
With a goal of staying in state parks, I located Goosenecks about 20 miles over the Utah border. As I drove I wondered how/why the park name was chosen. As I drove up to what initially appeared to be the 'edge of the world', found a campsite, and got close to look over the edge – wooo! My stomach did flip-flops and I quickly backed up several steps. It was a long WAY down and I don't do heights!

I was able to see the San Juan River winding its way below. Not just one or two curves – a lot of them. In fact, the park brochure said that six miles of river is compressed into 1½ miles as it flows west into Lake Powell.

It was a busy park during daylight and deserted at night. I was a long way from any civilization and the park is not staffed over night. And on top of this, the night I was there it was stormy – lots of lightning, thunder, rain and wind! A restless night for me. Sure was glad when daylight arrived and I continued on my way.

'Oh Wow'
My initial plans were to drive north on Highway 261 – that was before I read that this northbound highway would include almost a dozen miles of gravel switchbacks with up to 10% grades! That sounded like too much adventure for me. Instead I took Highway 191 to Blanding and then headed northwest on highway 95.

The 'Oh Wow' increased. I was driving in canyons with tall, tall, tall rocky land – reddish with cliffs and huge boulders above me that looked like they could crash down at any time! Those “watch for rocks on highway” and “falling rocks” signs did nothing to comfort me. The road was well-deserving of the scenic designation. I crossed the Colorado River. The nature of the roads and the fact that no photo I could take would or could really show the beauty of the drive, means no photos for you today.

August 4. At Hanksville, I took highway 24 west into Capitol Reef National Park. Enough driving for today. I located the camping area and settled in to a primitive campsite. No Internet, no telephone, no utilities. And I slept well!

Ho Hum”
August 5. Today's drive was on highways 24, 28, 89 and ended at Deer Creek State Park just north of Provo, Utah. This basically goes through a fertile valley with farms and small towns along the way. My trusty Garmin took me through Provo - right down University Avenue and past the University. I was glad to have electric hookup after two nights of primitive camping. A pleasant drive but hardly with the 'wow' factor.

This state park is a nice campground with lousy showers – absolutely no dry place inside this tiny room with a s-l-o-w drain. Sure enjoyed the magpies and their distinctive call.

A short driving day turns into a long one – August 6
My goal was Bear Lake State Park in northeast Utah. Good thing I am flexible! Arrived at Bear Lake camping area to discover they had no open spaces! The reason? It was Raspberry Festival weekend. As I continued into the Idaho portion of the lake on the one-and-only road, I found out that a parade would take place later and the small towns were crowded with people. I was glad to get through the festival area before it became congested.

I continued into Idaho, keeping an eye out for an RV park. After a few tries, I lucked out and found Massacre Rocks State Park just off I-86. It is Thursday. I had full hookups and got the old-lady weekday deal of $19!

Aug. 7. With the weekend here, I needed to settle down early on Friday in order to get a campsite. After a short drive, I arrived at Three Island Crossing State Park at Glenns Ferry. And no deals this time – Friday and Saturday nights came to $68 with electric and water hookups. Finally an entire day off after five driving days. The park is nice – lots of tall trees and green grass – and full of families enjoying nature. The park is near the Snake River.

Time for solitude and reading Current book is “Uh-Oh” by Robert Fulchum. A passage that grabbed my attention said, “Not everything can be the way we like it all the time. Criticism and harsh words rarely bring about a lasting and peaceful cooperation or fulfillment of our desires. Patience and kindness on the other hand do.”

While there, I had a text from friend Newell (co-host at McDowell Mountain Regional Park in Phoenix). He was in mid-Oregon and I was headed sort of in that direction. We made plans to meet up at Bully Creek Reservoir in western Oregon on Sunday, Aug. 9. This camping park was mostly deserted – peaceful and lots of green grass and trees. We enjoyed getting caught up on travels, mutual friends. We went into the nearby small town of Vale, hoping for place to eat; but nothing was open that Sunday evening.

August 10. Monday morning we went separate ways – Newell went east; I went north and drove Idaho highway 95 to Ponderosa State Park (Idaho). As its name says, the large and popular camping park sits amid ponderosa trees. Being a popular/busy park, they do not give senior discounts at all. Reading John Grisham's “The Appeal”.

August 11. Continuing north, I found Winchester State Park in western Idaho – a good two-night place.
Was awakened the next morning by three siren wails – a call to firemen to report to the station to fight a wildfire in a canyon east of the park. No need to leave the park, according to the ranger. As always, I'm glad I fill Jeremiah's gas tank before arriving at a park; can make a quick get-away if needed.

August 13. Two days later I was on the road again, this time north in Washington and settled into Peaceful Pines RV Park. This morning's reading included, “Some people complain that God put thorns on roses; while other praise Him for putting roses among the thorns.”

August 14-15. Two delightful days with nephew Peter and his wife Carlene in Spokane. Always a pleasure visiting them. Smoke from the Idaho fires was in the air.

August 16 – 21. Drove south and west, spending the night at an RV park in Vantage, Washington. Then a night near Yakima and three nights at Maryhill State Park on the Washington side of the Columbia River. Interesting “wildlife” – thought this was just a dry leaf; looked closer and saw it was a moth!

Loved this park – day and night train traffic on both sides of the river (Yes, I love trains) and barge traffic on the huge river. And more smoky air!

August 21 – 23. A super weekend with niece Kim and her husband Andy in Portland. They showed me around the area and we took a short road trip to Multnomah Falls.

Aug. 23 – Get me out of this smoky air!
My original trip plans were to head back through the top of Idaho after visiting Kim and Andy. Then I would drive into Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and back to New Mexico.

Getting “out” meant driving south to Lakeview, Oregon near the Nevada border. I spent three super nights at Junipers RV Park – in the midst of a working cattle ranch. I was serenaded by a herd of black cattle who hung out along the fence not too far from my campsite. This is one of my favorite campgrounds – I've been here three times. It is clean, tidy and has wonderful restrooms and showers. No push-buttons or slots for quarters for wonderful showers. And no smoky air!

Aug. 26 to 29 – awesome days with sister Linda and her three boys in Gardnerville, Nevada. Great visiting included a drive to South Lake Tahoe and a family dinner at nephew Tim's home. Linda's three boys – Richard, Tim and David (and David's four children) made for sweet family time.

On August 30, with a goal of arriving at Navajo Lake State Park on Sept 1, I boogied my way east across Nevada (Highway 50), Utah (Highways 50 and 70), south through western Colorado (Hwy 550) and into northwestern New Mexico. It was drive – camp a night in Delta, UT, drive – camp a night near Ouray, Colorado, drive to NLSP.


With lots of solitary driving time, as usual I did a lot of thinking – and that led me to my big life change – time to sell Jeremiah. Time for a new chapter in Carol's Adventurous Life! Time to live where I don't have to make out a couch/bed each night, shower without having to push buttons or feed quarters into a water meter. I have been motorhoming 10 years and have traveled a bit more than 100,000 miles! I've seen lots of the USA and connected with a lot of people – family and friends, and made new friends, also. It's time! Jeremiah is still raring to go – so I will sell this magic carpet and let someone else enjoy the travel. INTERESTED? Call and leave a message or text; or email and put “Jeremiah” in the subject line.