Archive for category Sam-a-lama-ding-dong

Critters and Clingers

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Silver Reef, Leeds Utah

After leaving Moab, Jeff and I headed north to Salt Lake City for a day of business. We checked in to the Springville/Provo KOA just south of SLC. I can’t believe I am going to say this, but we were looking forward to some peace and quiet after Moab in a KOA of all places, and it delivered.

We were surrounded by snowcapped mountains right our front door. While we have done well to not experience winter on our travels so far, we got a little flavor of it during our stay. We had rain, sleet, snow and wind. The cold damp air chilled us to the bone and made us thankful that we have only participated in winter 4 days rather than 4 months.

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View out our door at the Provo KOA

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Getting in a quick trail run before leaving our 4 days of winter!

Time to head south towards Zion National Park.

Zion National Park was on our radar for two reasons. 1. Neither of us have been there and 2. There is an Ultra Trail Run that fit into our schedule on April 9th.

Since we were arriving a week before our race we decided to camp near St. George, UT. We read about Silver Reef on Campendium in Leeds, UT in the Dixie National Forest. Free dispersed camping on National Forestry land with designated campsites and good connectivity for work is just our style.

Though this is considered dispersed camping it was “camp in designated campsites only” and we were fortunate enough to snag the last site open. WOW…what a find! Bright spring green vegetation and freshly sprouted cottonwood trees against the backdrop of the red rock canyons. Throw in a babbling creek and gobbling turkeys and we were on sensory overload!

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Now that’s a campsite!

Jeff and I were pinching ourselves at such a wonderful campsite UNTIL… I heard a something at 4AM that sounded like a raccoon INSIDE our camper, munching and scampering around. Jeff on the other hand can sleep through a parade, so I had to wake him up to have him investigate. I love a man who will take on ferocious beasts in the middle of the night in is underwear!

Imagine my surprise when I saw a big scary… mouse run across the camper! That’s it! We are moving!!!

He (the mouse, not Jeff) had been snacking on our bananas and Lara Bar I had out on the counter. Who knew mice like bananas. Avocados? Not so much!

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You dirty rat!

This is the first time we have had a mouse inside our camper.

In 2013, we had a mouse outside making its home in the end cap of our Travel Trailer (that I thought was a raccoon too). That’s when we put out one of those sticky pad mousetraps with a piece of dog food on it. That seemed like a good idea until Sam, not being able to resist his dog food, tried to eat his kibble and ended up having his face stuck to the mousetrap!

You learn something new every day folks!

We went into operation, “kill the dirty rat” and set out traps all over the camper. By 11:30pm we had caught our mouse! YEA…problem solved. I could shut my eyes knowing that some little varmint wasn’t going to snuggle up with me or poop on my pillow in the middle of the night.

But within 30 minutes we could hear movement again and had caught mouse #2. Dang…two mice…in our house!!!

But wait, there’s more! By morning we could hear a third invader stuck to another trap. OMG there were 3 mice!

The next night we set up a trap in a shoe box with a hole in the side outside the camper by our tires to try and catch any additional mice before they got inside. No invaders inside the camper but we caught a 4th in the shoebox overnight!

I’m not sure if we parked right over a rat hole, but all was quiet after that. Peace and harmony was restored. YEA!

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Sam inspecting the carnage…that he slept through!

That is until we had an invader of another sort.

We have heard of this phenomenon from other dispersed campers. One minute you are in private solitude, miles apart from your next neighbor. The next minute someone is parked so close you can smell what they are having for dinner. That my friend is what is known as “a clinger”!

Yes, there are people who will move right in on your designated campsite just because it is big enough for two and then apologize because “there were no other sites open”. Instead of moving on like any normal respectable person would do, they encroach on your space and then proceed to run their generator at 6:30am.

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Clingers

I put clingers in the same category as those who decide to put their jacks down, set up their satellite dish and put out the mat and lawn chairs at a Walmart parking lot.

Despite our inconsiderate invading “guests” we did have a fabulous time at Silver Reef.

There are miles of places to run, hike, ATV and mountain bike as our camping road connected to the Red Cliffs Recreation Area. All this and only a 15-minute drive to St. George.

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Silver Rim Trail steps from our front door

I needed to get in a 10 mile run so I headed south to the Red Cliffs not knowing where I would end up. I just happen to pop out at the delightful Red Cliffs Campground.

Red Cliffs has only 11 sites with a 25’ max RV length and no hookups. While I was running the loop a camper told me about “the pools”, so I started down a trail right from the CG and ended up at an amazing find! Canyon pools spilling from one level to the next, creating a water oasis in a dry parched land.

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The red cliff pools

What a treat!

With hiking trails, well-maintained gravel roads and incredible scenery we will definitely stay here again. We will just bring extra mousetraps and a can of patience when we do!

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Ahhhh…serenity!

 

 

 

 

 

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Migration South

Sedona

It’s been a while since I posted on my blog. My last entry was about our epic hike at the Grand Canyon back in October. I started typing my next post when something went drastically wrong leaving me unable to keep typing!

After Jeff and I left the Grand Canyon we headed back to Flagstaff where we dispersed camped at one of our favorite spots by Lake Mary. The alpine forest, miles of forestry roads to get lost on and hiking on the Arizona trail are some of my favorite reasons to camp here.

We did try a new location just north of Flag after calling the Forestry Department. “There are plenty of camping spots up there”, they said. “Good access”, they said. But after an hour of narrow roads and only two camp spots that were impossible to get in to, we decided to “go with what we know” and pushed on to Lake Mary. Trouble was, we were up a creek without a paddle. Or in RV’ing terms…down a narrow road without a turnout! After carefully backing up a 1/2 mile we finally swung the 5’er into to weeds to get turned around.

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Contemplating how to get this thing turned around

I’ve found the most challenging parts of dispersed camping is that you never know what you are getting you and your rig into.

One persons opinion of “plenty of clearance” is usually nowhere close to the reality of our specific rig. If someone has wedged a 30,000lb forty-foot motorhome in a spot, then I have a bit more confidence in their recommendations. But NEVER take the word of a non-RV’er unless you want to find out what serious heartburn is like.

Lake Mary works out well for a Triathlete in training. The pool at the college is an easy 10 miles away and Lake Mary Rd is a major thoroughfare for cyclists and runners. Perfect for Jeff to continue some high altitude training for the Arizona Ironman.

Arizona Trail

The Arizona trail just steps from our campsite

While Jeff trained, I hiked a portion of the Arizona trail just steps from our camping spot.

The Arizona Trail is a National Scenic Trail that runs from the border of Mexico to the Utah border, traversing the North/ South length of Arizona for 800 miles. It was officially opened December 16, 2011.

The section I hiked was near the Lowell Observatory and Marshall Lake. It was not particularly scenic with primarily flat hiking through cattle fields.

Sam dog is a great little hiker as he follows the trail very well. If I come to a part where I’m not sure where the trail is I just follow him…he knows every time. But he did step off the trail briefly and ended up with a big cholla ball stuck to his front leg. When that happens he tries to keep going because he HATES when I pull those dang things out. He hollers like you wouldn’t believe and comically when I pulled this one out to his great displeasure it flung out and stuck his back leg, doubling the experience. Once we start moving again all is forgiven and Sam stayed on the trail.

We decided to pull out of Flagstaff a day early since wet weather was coming in and we were on soft ground with low batteries. So we pulled up the jacks and headed to Sedona.

There is free dispersed camping available west of town on Forestry Road 525. We camped here last year and learned if you travel about 5 miles back on the washboard roads you are treated with some spectacular views and close hiking trails. We had some great days of sun and got the batteries charged back up to 100%.

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Scene out our front door

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Sam tearing it up and turning a nice shade of Sedona red

Sedona is incredibly beautiful and is one of my top 5 places to see thus far in our travels.

Hiking is spectacular in Sedona, but it is also very popular. If you are looking for a get away from it all experience you will have to travel a little further out of town. But what I love the most about hiking here is the sandy red soil contrasted with the green scrub bushes, Junipers, Arizona pines and Pinon Pines. Mix that in with the scent of toasted pine needles on the trail, red rock views at every turn and warm sun and you have yourself hiking nirvana!

After paying a $5 day use fee Sam and I set off on Soldier Pass Trail. This trail is a great loop with incredible views of the red rock formations, slabs and the city. We hiked the trail counterclockwise; since I have hiked this trail clockwise a couple of times before.

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Trail dog Sam leading the way

The initial accent takes to you to some red slabs with wide-open views. It’s a great spot for a picnic and photos before heading up natural stairs towards Brin Mesa. At the top of Soldier pass the trail flattens out and turns from red to a light sand color. I wanted to take the Brin Mesa tail for an out and back, to log some additional miles.

The Brin Mesa trail takes a steep decent back down the other side of the mountain. I always laugh at myself after descents like these because my mind automatically thinks about having to hike back up. Like the Grand Canyon  my mind blows up the imagined accent to be much more difficult than it actually is. Then I’m always surprised when I get to the top wondering if I still have “the hill” to go. Silly self!

I mistakenly thought the Brin Mesa trail would actually take me to a mesa. But once I ran into a forestry road, my turn around point, I was informed by other hikers that the actual mesa was off some other offshoot from Soldier Pass. I’ll have to catch that one the next time.

Back on Soldier pass, Sam and I started down the west side of the mountain back into red soil. It was getting hot by now and my two bottles of water were starting to get low. Thankfully we reached more slabs on this part of the trail. The slabs have some natural pools that form from bowl shaped indentations in the rocks. These pools had collected fresh water from recent rains, which Sam found refreshing for consumption and wading in, leaving the remaining water in the bottles for me.

Closer to the west side Soldier Pass Trailhead near “The Sinkhole” it gets pretty noisy from jeep tours and ATV’s that are allowed on the trail here. We jumped off Soldier Pass at this point and took the Jordon trail heading east back to our parking lot.

Sam found another pool that was pretty murky and large and waded in to cool his dogs. Problem was it was very deep. To both our surprise he disappeared underwater only to bob back up sputtering. He wasn’t too thrilled about going scuba diving but he was super frisky after that. I guess his bath really cooled him down.

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Sam cooling down in a shady spot

We ended up hiking 8.5 miles over 3 hours…what a great time!

After a week in Sedona rain and snow moved in. It was stunning to wake up to a ring of white snow on the red rocks at the higher elevations. But to maintain our shorts and flip flop temps we moved on to Phoenix/Mesa…. where things turned very interesting!

Flat Iron

What the heck!

 

 

 

 

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Quartzsite. All Things Interesting

Welcome to the carnival of Q

Welcome to the carnival of Q

The big Q is over and we are on our way back to Arkansas. Quartzsite was a big success for many who sell their wares for a living.

Many of the items sold in the big tent are the same things you see at most of the RV shows. LED light bulbs, towing products, sewer hoses, telescoping flagpoles.

But there were a few booths that caught my eye and thought their products were something to write home about.

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They ran out of my favorite blend so I made due with rocky road and chocolate chip

ICE CREAM

I know, not very unique in its own right. But the ice cream “booth” was packed from the moment it was open until it closed. These guys are here every year and a sought after treat by the patrons.

The owner was ornery and a bit unfriendly. But what he lacked in personal sweetness was made up for in his generous proportions of scooped creamy deliciousness. Everything was $4 no matter 1 scoop or 2, cup or cone. And the helpings…ginormous!

You pay the man first and collect your ticket and stand in one of 8 lines that form in front of ice cream freezers. There are 12 flavors to choose from and you can mix your scoops. My favorite?  A scoop of black cherry and a scoop of chocolate. Ooooohhhh myyyyy!

THE ULTIMATE TRIP

Quartzsite AZ

The Ultimate Road Trip Planning Guide

One of the bucket list trips for most RV’ers is a journey to Alaska. It’s a trip that requires a bit more planning for those of us who tend to wing it. http://www.NorthtoAlaska.com makes the planning easy by providing free information on 3 major routes.

Canada and Alaska got together to promote tourism to their country and state. Canada realized that many people were driving through their country (naturally) to get to Alaska without making it a destination as well. So the two got their heads together to outline various routes, attractions and overnight accomodations for RV’ers. The information can be used for the solo traveler or if you prefer to go with an organized group, they will hook you up with others looking to caravan.

The volunteers were very knowledgeable and have driven these routes themselves. They were ready to share their enthusiasm for their country/state and their love of RV travel.

It is a great service and all free. www.northtoalaska.com. Check it out!

Sorry Tony, this is all I have to remember you by!

This is NOT Tony or his product but reminded me of his flare for life!

COOK TOP GRILL 

Ok. So this product may not be new or revolutionary. But our booth was right behind Tony and he himself was unique. He makes a nice living demoing different cooking products 12 hours a week at festivals and RV shows, Quartzsite being his biggest and longest show. (So bummed that I didn’t  get a picture of Tony)

Tony was demonstrating a Stove Top Grill right behind our booth. And with the prevailing north to south winds our little curtain could not contain the smell of garlic and bacon. ALL. WEEK. LONG!

The Stove Top Grill works on gas or electric ranges, gas grills or campfires. It had a drip pan to prevent flare-ups, was easy to clean and small enough to store in your camper.

His humor and strategic use of fatty pork and garlic draws his customers to his booth all the while charming them with his easy personality and quick whit. This guy was goooood!

Of course being booth neighbors netted us an endless supply of tasty samples that would mysteriously appear on a toothpick through the curtain like magic!

SNOW REGION GIFT SHOP

This booth was selling beautiful cashmere scarves for $15 (two for $25) and yak wool throws for $35. I was drawn to this booth for the quality of the products at very reasonable prices. I picked up a beautiful yak wool throw that was super soft and extra warm. Watch out for the shedding. My hiking pants picked up the fibers and coated them before I knew what was happening. I was ensured that this would stop after my first washing.

They are machine washable but must be line dried.

The owner, Loden Tsering (Sorry, no website) was a sweet gal and I found out that her parents were from Tibet. They fled the country for India during the Chinese invasion (1951). Loden was born on their way to India. She has lived in California now for about 6 years and travels to festivals, trade shows and farmers markets to sell her beautiful Tibetan products.

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Dog tired after a nine day show

Well, those where my vendor highlights for Quartzsite as we finish up at the big show. This is one of those places you need to experience for yourself at least once, if you can bring yourself to terms with the crowds, plentiful scooters and dogs in strollers.

It has a carnival atmosphere with flee market vibe full of interesting people who are traveling this amazing country in their home on wheels.

Quartzsite 2016…we will be back!

Ditto!

Ditto!

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Boondocking and Booties, Lake Havasu City, AZ

After a brief two night stop over in Quartzite, AZ we moved on to Lake Havasu City. Not sure how we landed on going there but think it had something to do with water. It usually does.

Lake Havasu City is an interesting town and has been featured in the “Best Places to Retire” lists in Money Magazine, Portfolio.com. It is a mecca for ATV hobbyists, northerners who come here to stay warm for the winter and Californians to utilize the beautiful lake in the summer.

LHC boasts 300 days of sunshine and less than 3″ of rain a year. Summers are extremely hot averaging over 100 degrees.

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There is many opportunities to boondock close to town. So we stayed at Craggy Wash just north of the airport.There is a camp host who issued a free 14 day pass. The entrance was quite crowded with many RV’s…some that appeared to have overstayed the 14 day limit. But as we traveled further in, the RV’s thin out and we had plenty of private options to choose from.

There are many hiking opportunities here and we were able to see some wild burros and big horn sheep. Sam got a little more up close and personal. We were walking the wash when we heard him way off in the distance. Finally seeing movement up on a mountain about a 1/2 mile away, big horn sheep were scattering on the hillside as a little white fur ball gave chase.

Crazy dog! He sliced up his feet pretty good and he walked around tender footed for a week. This put a damper on our other hiking plans since he goes with us everywhere. So we stopped in at Petsmart and bought a set of doggie booties for his tender toes. It was hysterical to watch Sam walk around the store for the first time with his new shoes. But once we arrived at Dead Burro to hike this 5 miler, Sam was in happy mode.

After about 3 miles, however, he had run so much the shoes started falling apart. We returned them on the way back home. We were happy with the fit and how well they stayed on his feet, but the quality of construction had some obvious issues

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Shredded Booties

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Sam's new shoes

Sam’s new shoes

 

Dead Burrow was a great hike…once we found the trail. There are no real trail markers around these parts so we were left with other hikers directions to find the trail.

Description for this hike went something like this. “Drive the wash until you pass the hills on the left, then take a jeep road to the right and go to the right on the hill to the left. Back track to the other side of the mountain and take the small wash around a curve that will take you to a mesa. Cross the fence on foot and look for a poorly defined trail. Follow this trail to another wash that will traverse the right side of the canyon”.

If that wasn’t confusing enough there were unlimited hills, washes, jeep roads, mesas and burro tails that will take you off in directions not even close to the canyon you are trying to find. After taking many jeep roads and poorly defined trails, by some small miracle, we actually found the right canyon. It was definitely a great hike overall and like nothing we have done before.

The adventure was fun and it challenged us mentally.

If you happen to come here for yourself just be sure to take the second wash on the right.

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Very important to elevate your feet after a strenous hike!

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