Thursday, August 29, 2013

You can't camp here and now Gypsies?

Two more days and we’d be back home. Today’s agenda, more pavement, this time in Illinois and Indiana. We had varied from our planned route a a bit over the last couple of days and now had to figure out were we would spend the night. We decided to to head for Independence Dam State Park in Ohio not far from Fort Wayne, Indiana. It took us a little longer to get there planned and after we entered the park we couldn’t find any signs for the campground area, eventually we found a ranger who told that a campground in the process of being built there but it was not open yet. (Don't believe everything you read!) We looked at the map and he gave us some ideas for other options, 45 minutes later arrived at our last overnight stop of the trip at Mary Jane Thurston State Park in McClure Ohio.  This park has a tiny campground area with sites right on the Maumee River. Sometimes when we pull into a campground the Shasta draws a lot of attention and sometimes we draw stares as if the gypsies have pulled into town. This time no stares, no one at all, but the only other occupied site has a homebuilt gypsy Vardo trailer sitting on it! Unfortunately we didn’t meet Paolo Garbanzo and his troop, they arrived late after we had gone to bed and we hit the road early before they were up but we certainly admired their trailer. I've seen a few of these rigs and have been impressed, they seem typically used by folks who cover a lot of miles which makes what we do seem more reasonable. On our last day on the road crossed the rest of Ohio, the corner of Pennsylvania by Lake Erie, and lastly headed into New York and to our home near Buffalo.  The end of a great trip!  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Crossing an ocean of Corn

Drove straight through the last of bit Colorado and most of Nebraska the next day. We did make a brief stop for lunch at the Archway museum hoping to pick up a Lincoln Highway anniversary t-shirt, but the event proved so popular they were gone. Stopped for the night just west of Omaha at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, didn’t do much more than eat dinner in the dark and sleep at Mahoney. Found that there is a Air & Space Museum right next to the park, if traveling through the area again this could be good sightseeing stop. The next day we crossed Iowa, again with the goal of covering as many miles as possible. We did decide to stay off the Interstate and take a smaller road Route 34 all the way to Illinois. Most of these two days were spent driving past corn crops (now two feet taller), at some point we passed a small radio station and tuned in to see what they were broadcasting, it was the farm report. We ended up spending the night at Jubilee College State Park near Peoria where we had stayed on the drive west. The campground hosts were surprised to see us again and almost in disbelief hat we had been all the way to Utah and back. The kids liked Jubilee a because the campsites and showers were inhabited by a large population really tiny frogs, enough frogs to be entertaining and not quite to the point of being gross. I’m still wondering why Jubilee is so large yet had so few guests both times that we were there, reading online it sounds like the park has been closed at times due to state budget cuts. If you area traveling through the area we found it to be a good place to the park for a night or two. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The longest day..

Continuing east through Colorado on I-70 the elevation gain is significant as you approach the continental divide and the Eisenhower-Johnson tunnel. Our Chrysler Pacifica usually does a fine job pulling the Shasta but it was in this stretch that I saw the engine temperature gauge soar higher than I had ever seen before. In need of letting the car cool down we stopped in the small town of Frisco and had some ice cream, this town has a good thing going with Breckenridge just down the road and both a summer and winter tourist season. After taking a break the car did fine for the rest of the day but this stretch of road was definitely the toughest of the entire trip. Late in day after passing though Denver when we encountered serious thunderstorms in the very flat eastern part of the state, it was pretty scary with spectacular lightening visible all around us and torrential rain. We stopped briefly at a Target at the eastern edge of Denver's suburbs to stock up on food supplies then a a few hours later we stopped for the night as planned at North Sterling State Park just as the storms finished up.

Monday, August 26, 2013

More highway and Green River, Utah

Continuing home our first nightly stop was Green River State Park, right off I-70. Hard to believe we were still in Utah, as this campground looked more like those we are used to back East complete with trees, grass, and a river. Definitely a good stop for those traveling through, our neighbors at the next site were from Toronto area and were on a tour similar to ours. The campground was fairly empty but there was a large group of kids that were prepping for a week long guided canoe trip starting from the park. The leaders were having them run laps in the park which made for some good entertainment. When traveling through this part of the country be sure to stop at the occasional rest area as the scenic view above is not at a national park it’s just on the side the road! Sometimes the rest areas are also good for photo-ops that can remind you that your vintage trailer is not even close to being the largest vehicles on the road. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Cove Fort - a.k.a. an 1867 motel

On our first day headed back east we were looking for a place to get off the road to make lunch, we stopped at Cove Fort near the junction of I-15 and I-70 in Utah. We decided to take one of their tours which made this quick stop into nice history lesson. Cove Fort was built by the Mormons in 1867 as a safe place to stop overnight when traveling though this region. The construction of the fort is quite unique as is built using volcanic rock and limestone. To me the outside looked somewhat familiar to early forts back east, but once inside the courtyard you find something quite different. It's more like a family home with a bunch of attached motel rooms, just circa late 1800's! Quite a few important guests stayed there including Brigham Young. Near their modern visitors center we also found that they had the most impressive hollyhock garden that we've ever seen. If you're passing through the area you will find this a welcome break in the day.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Bryce Canyon National Park - Utah

Working out of our campsite at Zion we also made a day trip to Bryce Canyon National Park. It is amazing to me how different the landscape is at these parks in Utah. I felt like we had visited several different planets, each with it's own type of terrain. We didn't see this park at sunrise or sunset which are claimed to be the most spectacular, but it was still one of the highlights of our trip. At Bryce we wanted to hike down into the canyon to to experience the hoodoos up close, but given the July heat and our time constraints we pretty much kept to the paved trails at the rim.

Here's a travel trip that I wish we knew about during our visit.. since there are no showers at the Watchman campground in Zion, take your towel and soap so you can use the showers near the campground at Bryce. Also if they let you, drive into the park instead of parking outside the main entrance and taking the shuttle, this will save time and you won't have to carry as much stuff around with you.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Coral Pink Sand Dunes in southwestern Utah

While staying at Zion we made side trip to check out the Coral Pink Sand Dunes. The photo's don't do this area justice and the kids talk about this as being one of their favorite places on the trip. The sand is super fine and very very pink. I've been to White Sands in New Mexico and this is an interesting contrast. Definitely worth a quick trip. Also worth a stop is the Thunderbird Restaurant which is about halfway between the Dunes and Zion.  This would have been a good photo-op with the Shasta but unfortunately it was having a much deserved rest back at the campground.