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Published on September 16, 2017, by admin in Adventure.
A cave in the forest.

A cave in the forest.

Mile long cave

Mile long cave

I have been camping in the Coconino National Forest for a few days. I knew from reading blogs that three friends I met last winter were in the area of Flagstaff, so when I arrived in town I emailed John to see if I could drop by for a visit. He replied back that he, Nancy, and Jeanne were all camped north of Bellemont, about 10 miles west of Flagstaff. He said there was lots of room where they were staying, and to come on out and camp with them.

It has been nice to see them again. We go for walks in the morning and catch up on all the news of places we have been this summer. Yesterday, John drove us all to McDonalds at the end of the road where we all enjoyed a breakfast. They have been saving their receipts and going online for a coupon for free food. I thought you would have to give out your email address but they said no.

This afternoon I drove 8 miles north of here to a lava tube cave. The Lava River Cave is almost a mile in length. It has not been improved in any way, and in fact the forest service tries to remove any trash or graffiti left by humans. It is really kind of a nice place to go.

Because it was a Saturday, there were many people there to hike the cave. There is only one entrance to the cave so everyone has to walk two miles to do the whole length. The entrance is quite technical with large, jagged, slippery boulders, where you scramble down a steep slope for about 50 feet. Then the cave levels out for the rest of the way. There are still piles of rocks to climb over that sometimes roll around under your feet, and low ceilings that don’t move if you forget to duck. Ouch!

Picture in the cave.

Picture in the cave.

A lot of the walking is on a floor of bubbles, seams, and lava flow, turned to rock. It is quite easy to twist an ankle or lose your balance in the dim light of a headlamp. I saw a few kids that moved too fast over the uneven rock, trip and fall.

As I traveled further back into the cave, the crowds thinned and there were even times when I was all alone and out of flashlight flicker from people ahead and behind. When I reached the end of the cave, there was a group of young people playing band instruments. I not sure what kind of celebration they thought they were doing, but to each his own. The noise ruined the affect for me.

I was pretty tired by the time I got back to the entrance. I had already walked 4 miles that morning, and the additional two of the cave left my legs pretty rubbery. I would like to do it again someday when there were not so many people.

Cave entrance.

Cave entrance.

I’m going to leave in a couple days and travel down near Richard and Dianna. They are leaving to travel to Texas in a couple weeks and it will be nice to see them before they go. Then it will be time to find a lower altitude to camp – it has been down to freezing the last two mornings! Brrrrrr!

 
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Published on September 13, 2017, by admin in Adventure.
Monument Valley

Monument Valley

After a relaxing two weeks in the Monti-LaSalle National Forest above Moab, I have moved further south into Arizona. I’m presently camped at a free campground in the Navajo National Monument about 30 miles west of Kayenta, Arizona.

I really liked the camping spot I found in the Monti LaSalle National Forest. My site was secluded and pretty, I had a stream nearby for cleaning and washing, I had some shade trees behind my RV, and I got pretty good cell signal.

There were also a couple of things that were not nice. Even at 7500′ the weather was warm in the middle of the day. I would take walks early in the day or late in the afternoon and sit in the shade through the hot part of the day. The road up the mountain was under major construction, so to miss long waits for the pilot car, I had to time my trips to town during the weekend. When I left camp yesterday, I drove to another forest road past the construction zone after all the workers had parked their yellow machines and went home. I parked just before dark and left early this morning.

When I drove the road to Navajo National Monument I noticed several vehicles parked alongside the road and the people crawling around under the trees. This morning as I waited for more construction, I asked the flagman what they were doing. He told me they were gathering Pinyon Nuts. I didn’t Google it to see if he was right, but he said the trees only bare nuts every few years. They roast and sell them along the road for pretty good money.

 
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Published on August 31, 2017, by admin in Adventure.
Still warm at 7500'

Still warm at 7500′

Harper holding Olivia

Harper holding Olivia

Lily holding Olivia

Lily holding Olivia

I traveled south from Idaho and and spent the night in a town park near Burley. The park had hookups for $25, which was nice because it was hot and I could run my A/C.

The next day I drove to a campsite in the Cache National Forest. Unfortunately, my favorite spot was taken so I parked in a site across the road. If my site was open, I would have stayed a few days.

The next day I drove further south to Strawberry Reservoir and found a nice place to camp for a few days. I stayed at the reservoir for a week and then drove to Salina and found a campsite high on a mountain road in the Fishlake National Forest. Fishlake was just another overnight stay.

As I set up camp I noticed a smell of propane. Further investigation found that my propane regulator was leaking. I shut off the tank, removed the bad regulator, and transferred most of my food into my 12 volt fridge. I have had three propane regulators go bad since I bought Minnie. I think I will carry a spare from now on. That’s one way to make sure it never fails again.

The next morning I drove to Moab, Utah. I found a new regulator in a little farm and home store. It was twice as much as the last one I bought but little else could I do. I headed south of town to find a campsite in the Monti-LaSalle National Forest where I could install the new regulator.

About half way up the mountain I ran into construction. I had to wait 15 minutes for the pilot car and then drive 10 mph for 6 miles of construction. The road to my favorite campsite was blocked off, so I went down another road until I found a place to camp. I will be here at least through the weekend.

You can tell by my travels that I like national forest campsite. This time through I have not had good luck finding a place to stay. A few times I have passed up a previous camp because I had no Verizon where I had AT&T before. One place had washed out roads that left me leary of driving down. But most of the good campsites have been occupied by a trailer left to reserve it like a summer home. It’s not fair to take a good campsite and not be there except on the weekend. I want to make a sign to tape to the door of these rigs:

WARNING!!! THERE HAVE BEEN BREAKINS OF TRAILERS LEFT UNATTENDED IN THE FOREST IN THIS AREA. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR TRAILER FOR VANDALS TO DESTROY YOUR PROPERTY!!!

 
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Published on August 22, 2017, by admin in Alaska Trip.
Camp in Idaho.

Camp in Idaho.

This will be my last post of my Alaska trip. I will always remember the great time I had on my trip into Canada and Alaska, and to sum it all up in one post seems impossible. Every day there were new experiences and feelings and thoughts as I traveled 8000 miles from Arizona to the Arctic Circle and back. I crossed wide rivers, drove through majestic mountains, hiked and flew to glaciers, touched permafrost at the Arctic Circle, saw a glacier calve in Prince William Sound, watched grizzly bears catch salmon in Fish Creek, and met some very nice people along the way. Alaska is a vast and beautiful land. I’m very glad that I went.

Not all the trip was easy and some things were not enjoyable. I worried sometimes that I would break down and bankrupt my savings with a astronomical tow and fix. I didn’t like the mosquitos when I tried to camp, or the roads that were filled with frost-heaves. And I’m not sure I would like to live in a place that never gets dark in summer and never light in winter. But with all things taken into consideration, the trip ranks right up there as the second best thing I have done since I retired.

Looking at the sun with special glasses.

Looking at the sun with special glasses.

At the end of my trip, I met my sister Donna, my brother Daryl, and Daryl’s wife Gisele, in Idaho for the total eclipse. It was an awesome experience! Words cannot describe what it feels like to watch such a beautiful and alien sight. No picture I have seen captures the image of totality, with the ring of vivid corona blazing spectacular from the dark center. That it happens so quickly and then is over, makes it all the more special. You wish it would last longer but you know it cannot. It leaves you craving for more. We all came away with a sense that we will have to travel to the next US total eclipse in 2024.

Daryl, Gisele, and Donna. The Eclipse gang!

Daryl, Gisele, and Donna. The Eclipse gang!

As I write this I got a text from my son, David. He and wife, Lisa announced a new baby daughter, born tonight at 9:12 pm. Her name is Olivia. She is my 9th grandchild. My Mom is smiling!

 
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Published on August 15, 2017, by admin in Alaska Trip.
Near the Continental Divide in Montana.

Near the Continental Divide in Montana.

I crossed back into the US Sunday morning and spent the night in Cascade, Montana. They have a town park where travelers can stay for free. There is also a dump station on site. I found it on the way up to Canada three months ago and knew I wanted to stay again. The park is right next to a cell tower and I knew exactly where to aim my dish for TV.

The next morning I drove west and spent the night in Lolo National Forest a few miles from Missoula, Montana. The wind across Montana was brutal so I stopped early to find a campsite. I knew it would set me back a day to arrive at ground zero for the eclipse but I still had several days before the event. I had TV but no cell signal.

Clearwater River along Highway 12.

Clearwater River along Highway 12.

Today I drove Highway 12 into Idaho. Highway 12 is about the only way to get across Idaho without going way north or south. There is a huge area of mountains and wilderness smack in the middle of the state, and they aim to keep it that way. There was talk of damming the Clearwater River years back and the idea was scrapped and they turned thousands of acres into wilderness.

The road is narrow and twisty for almost a hundred miles. It parallels the same route that Lewis and Clark took in 1804 to explore and map a Northwest Passage to the Pacific. Lewis and Clark kept such detailed records of there path through the mountains that today we know almost exactly where they went. Many signs along the road at pullouts tell information such as – “Lewis and Clark crossed the river here and with their Shoshone Indian guide headed up the steep slope of the mountain over there.” It’s pretty cool! The sad part of the story is when Lewis and Clark were caught in the snow of the mountains and almost starved, the Nez-Perce befriended them and nursed them back to health. Seventy years later the US army chased the Nez-Perce indians into South Dakota and all but wiped them out.

Great view above my camp.

Great view above my camp.

Donna told me about a campsite she stayed at in the Nez Perce National Forest below Grangeville. I found the campground but had no cell signal, so I drove up the road and found a dispersed site that had a little LTE signal and was open to the sky for my dish. I should make it to her campground near Cascade Lake tomorrow.

 

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