Wednesday, August 28, 2013


I've managed to screw up my computer - when I log in I get a message about my profile isn't recognized.  Apparently I have to screw around with the registry and my operating system.  Sorry but I'm not up for commenting on my travels.  More later.  Hope everyone is having a great time.  Take care. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013


As I said, I forgot my camera!  Grrr!!  However my faithful wife did bring hers and we have been using it.  I'll start with one from Craters of the Moon from way back on the 12th. 
This is some of the hard lava.  There must be square miles like this.  All the walks are paved because it lava is actually quite fragile. 

We finally made it to Glacier.  Apgar Village is just a disaster.  Way too many tourists, little parking & not much except trash and trinkets to be seen but I guess you have to check these places out.  On the Friday we took a horseback ride!  I haven't been on a horse in probably 50 years and haven't really wanted to try it again but my wife loves horses.  We were pretty disappointed not to be doing it in the park but their rides were all full.  Happily our horses were pretty calm and the route through the forest fairly level.  It did kick our asses though and we were feeling it the next day as well.

We checked out the park a bit on our own but the highlight was really taking the Red Bus tour across the Going to the Sun Road.  I don't like driving on roads with no guard rail or shoulder so taking the tour was a no-brainer.  Here would be a few photos starting with our bus.

These buses were built by White Motor Co.  for all the parks.  Most of the other parks got rid of theirs but Glacier managed to get Ford Motor Co. to fix theirs.  They took the body off the running gear and put it back on a modern Ford truck chassis.  So you have a propane powered Ford truck with the old, restored body on it.  This was done in 1999 and our driver said Ford ponied up about $250K per vehicle to do the update.  I must admit to being pretty happy about having big disk brakes under us when coming down the mountain. 

The fun part is that the roof is canvas and can be rolled back.  The driver stopped at the hotel so we could check that out and he could roll the roof back.  It made it pretty chilly riding along in the cool morning but there were benefits!
We rode in the last row of the bus.  The seat was really close to the floor but we had more leg room.  Since we weren't full, my wife and I got the last row to ourselves.  That was fun.  It was also cool because we couldn't see the road at all, only the mountains.  The other rows had three people per row; intended to be four if the trip was full.  There are only doors on the passenger side so you have to slide across the seat to enter & exit.  Because of wildfires over in Idaho we had quite a lot of haze.  Most of our mountain photos are pretty crappy because of haze.

This is a photo of a bus that was ahead of us going up the hill.  This west side road was built in 1928 and it is really just carved out of the side of the mountain.  The east side was done a couple years later.  Some places, like this, they had to just build a place for the road.  You go through two tunnels on the trip.  We were told that one had to be dug by hand without using dynamite because they were afraid of taking the whole section of the mountain down. 

At $80 (plus tip) each for the all day tour we thought it was a pretty good value.  Lunch at the hotel at Many Glaciers, a bit farther north in the park, wasn't such a great deal.  $14 overcooked hamburgers just aren't that wonderful.  The view was pretty spectacular. 
The hotel was built on the side of a beautiful lake with a great view of this fan-like mountain ridge on the other side. 

My internet connection is pretty crappy here so I'm stopping now.  There will be a few more photos of Glacier and on later.  Have a good one!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Still motoring...

We left Twin Falls, ID headed for the small town of Arco, about 100 miles (160km) away.  Arco has two things going for it I guess:  it was the first city (pop. 995 LOL) who's electric power was created using an atomic reactor; and Craters of the Moon National Monument.  The first is because there was an expermental reactor (EBR-1) built nearby.  The second is why we stopped here.  The rv park, Valley View RV Park was really quite nice with grassy sites, gravel roads and some nice trees.

Since it was only a trip of 100 miles, we unhooked the trailer and headed back to the Natl. Monument.  There is a 52 mile (80km) rift in the earth's crust under the park.  As recently as 2,000 years ago there was an eruption here and scientists expect there to be more at some time.  There is a 7 mile (11km) loop trail that you can drive with stops along the way to take little hikes.  You need to stay on the drive or the hiking trails because the lava is actually quite fragile.  It is really amazing how this material is rough in places, smooth in others, and almost sand-like in others.  Interesting stuff.  And there is a lot of it!  We took a couple of the shorter hikes but it was really a bit too warm for comfort.  In the winter they have snow sking and snowshoeing along the drive!  They have a small campground:  first-come, first served; with water, restrooms, charcoal grills and picnic tables but is mostly for very small rigs or tents. 

After checking out the park we went back to Arco for dinner.  It was so bad it was funny.  It is the first time in quite a while that we were over-charged and the place was covered in flys.  I've got to say, if you stay in Arco bring your own food!

You might wonder about the lack of photos in this travel blog.  Well, we were a little out of sorts or something while getting ready for this trip.  Your correspondent left his damn camera at home!  My wife has hers but hasn't downloaded any photos.  Maybe later!  We also left a few other things we usually carry; it was just too exciting I guess.

Leaving Arco behind we continued up US 93.  This is farming country thanks to irrigation on a large scale. They are growing corn, hay and oats that I could identify.  Haven't seen a potato yet and I think I'd know one.  Along much of the way we followed the Salmon River.  What a beautiful area!  The valleys are not as wide as farther south but very beautiful.  The stream is absolutely lovely.  My wife is the fisher-person in our family and I could see coming back here to spend some time just for the fishing.  Finally we left the Salmon and headed into Montana stopping for the night at the small town of Hamilton.  We stopped at a park called the Black Rabbit RV Park.  Foolishly I didn't ask about the name but I'm sure there is a story.  It was a nice little park but was all gravel, roads and sites.  Like most of the RV parks we've seen on this trip there is a large proportion of permenant residents.  We didn't stop there for any real reason; just because it was a moderate drive.  Again, this is farming country but on every side there is a little brown Natl. Park Service sign pointing to a fishing area or camping area. 

Wednesday morning we left Hamilton and headed for Colombia Falls, MT.  This will be our base for visiting Glacier NP.  The park we are staying at is Colombia Falls RV Park; a rather conventional name after the Black Rabbit.  It is rack-and-stack kind of place with long but rather narrow spaces and lots of them.  Not cheap and they have lots of rules.  But their high season is short and demand is high so you get what they give you.  Today we will make our first visit to the park and plan out the next few days visiting.  Until you are really on the ground it's tough to make detailed plans. 

Well, that's our travels for today.  Have a good one!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

On the road, really!

We finally got stuff fixed up at home and started our summer vacation.  Whew!  It was a while getting here.  The plan is to drive over to Las Vegas, pick up US 93 and head north.  US 93 is also known as the Great Basin Highway.  In about 1,000 miles we should be near Glacier National Park.  Neither of us has ever been so we are looking forward to it.  Also we are hoping, if not really expecting, cooler temps.

We left Friday and after some discussion, ended up the day in Ely, NV.  Driving up 93 is very pleasant.  It is a two lane road but there is very little traffic.  The tone of the road changed every 50 miles (80km) or so.  Sometimes you have a slow vehicle lane, sometimes you have a center lane that switches from northbound to southbound; sometimes neither.  Sometimes you get a great shoulder; other times the shoulder is about a foot wide.  I sure wish they would put shoulders on that thing all the way!  You are driving up a valley between two mountain ranges.  The mountains are amazing; they change every mile.  Just before Ely you have a 7,800 foot pass (2,375m); not real high but you do go up 5,000 feet (1,500m) in the day.  We stayed in Valley View RV Park just north of Ely.  It is about 75% residential with only the first couple rows used for visitors.  It was ok at $25 a night water & electric only.

Saturday we went over to visit Great Basin Natl. Park.  It was a bit of backtracking but the closest town of Baker, NV is a wide spot in the road.  We thought that Ely would be a much better base of operations.  The park had a lot of interesting information about the "Great Basin".  It stretches from mid-Eastern Oregon; to the Rockies in the middle of Utah and south to Vegas and California.  The reason it is called a basin is because water from the area never reaches the ocean.  It either fills a local lake or fills the aquafer.   Well, that is the way it was before so many millions of people moved into the area; and so many farmers planted so many crops. 

We were too late to visit the major attraction, Lehman Caves.  The rangers take tours through the caves but only 20 people at a time so we wouldn't be able to go until rather late.  I don't like high narrow roads so we skipped most of the park viewpoints and came home.  On the way we passed one of the largest wind farms I've ever seen.  My wife thought there were at least 60 of the monster windmills planted in rows like so much corn.  Back in Ely, we tried to visit the Northern Nevada Railroad Museum but either there isn't anything there or it was locked up.  There were three or four volunteers around but they were too busy with themselves to help visitors.  Can't say I was impressed!  Their brochure claims that you can hire a locomotive to drive.  Either steam or oil; for an hour or a day.  Bring lots of money though if you are interested.

Today we got going again and ended up just outside Twin Falls, ID.  Another quiet day of driving without much traffic.  Each day we've driven we've passed signs saying 'No Services for XXX miles' where XXX is around 120 (> 190km).  Pretty lonesome country up here.  Here we are staying at the Twin Falls 93 RV Park.  Nice enough with some grass for each site, young trees, gravel roads and sites but $35 with a Good Sam discount.  Hell to find from the South too; it is hiding behind a storage facility and the directions are poor to say the best.

Onward tomorrow but even less distance than the last couple of days.  Thanks for checking in.  Hope you have a good one.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Jeez, it's been a while!

No I didn't get run over by my own truck or anything.  We did have to buy two new batteries for the trailer; the old ones wouldn't hold a charge.  I was stupid and let them get discharged down to nothing one too many times.  Then after cleaning the posts & charging the truck batteries I had to go buy new batteries for it because they wouldn't hold a charge either.  I can't really complain; it is a 2008 truck so five years service isn't bad.  The guy at the store claimed the average life of a battery out here in the desert is only about 27 months.  It sounds really short to me but what do I know. So now I'm just waiting for the Toyota to need a new battery.  I mean it's the only one left!

My wife was on jury duty last week and the trial has been extended until tomorrow.  We are hopeful that they will be able to finish but not really optomistic.  It is a civil case, not criminal, so there is lots to quibble about.  She can't talk about it of course but it sounds like it is both boring and facinating at the same time.  I'm looking forward to the end so I can hear all about it.

As you can see, it's still pretty warm around here.  This display is for Las Vegas but it's pretty close to our weather.  Walking is definitely done in the morning or not at all.  The folks behind us are having some work done to their yard.  I sure feel sorry for those poor guys working in the mid-day heat.

Obviously there isn't a whole lot going on around here these days.  Hopefully I'll have more to say another time.  Till then, thanks for stopping by.  Have a good one.