California Bound

29 08 2017

We’re California Bound, expecting to arrive on the northern California coast in about 10 days. Once across Utah and Nevada, we’ll spend 2 nights at Susanville, CA, then 2 more nights near Lake Shasta at Redding.  We’ll cross over to the coast for 4 nights at Trinidad, CA then 3 more nights at Crescent City, CA before starting the return “loop” through southern Oregon.

Our first stop after leaving home is the KOA in Silt, CO.  A favorite KOA, we’ve watched as the owners opened to torrential rains and a muddy mess of a campground about 3 years ago. Now nicely landscaped, we enjoy the spacious riverside sites the best.  Our second night finds us back at Green River State Park.  We visted this park last year and would note that it still suffers from over watering and a fly/mosquito problem.  But, for a quick overnight – the cottonwood treed oasis is just fine.  Tomorrow we’ll continue to western Utah at Delta.  More from there…

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Douglas, WY – Eclipse Day

21 08 2017

Eclipse Viewing Equipment

It’s eclipse day and all around final tweaks, tests and re-calibrations are being done to insure the best views and images of the 2 minutes and 22 seconds that we are all here to see.

Totality begins on the Oregon coast at 11:15AM (MDT). It takes only about 30 minutes for darkness to arrive in Douglas where we enter totality at 11:44AM (MDT). Just over 60 minutes later the shadow will have finished crossing the US when the South Carolina coast enters totality at 12:46PM (MDT).

Special thanks to Jim Matzger, a fellow camper at the Douglas KOA for these images:

Going Away!

Totality!

Light Returns!

The eclipse starts at around 10:30AM with no perceivable difference to this beautiful sunny day in Douglas.  Eclipse glasses are the only way to note the very small “bite” out of the upper corner of the sun.  By about 11AM, the lighting is different – different colored and different intensity. And the shadows of tree leaves and other objects take on a strange oval shape.  But still the only way to see the eclipse is through our glasses. However, just as totality occurs, a quiet hush falls over the campground followed by a roar of applause  – and everything changes.

Removing our glasses, it’s not completely dark, the hazy orange twilight sky is all around us, birds have quieted and it’s cooled nearly 15 degrees. The sun is a glowing halo in the sky.  A few of the campground lights twinkle on and headlights can be observed on the vehicles moving along the highway.  The 2:22 minutes of totality goes by very quickly and without warning, we begin to see and feel sunlight returning.  Again donning our glasses we see the sun beginning to peek out around the edge of the moon.   And, the event is over!  Under nearly perfect weather conditions, perhaps even enhanced by some of the smoke haze of western forest fires, we’ve all just experienced what is undoubtedly the best North American eclipse of our lifetimes.

Comments from friends outside of totality run from “non-event” to “kinda weird”.  Many around the campground talk about two completely different experiences from past eclipses – outside of totality is like seeing a mountain peak, totality is like being on the mountain peak.  Outside of totality you’ll wonder what the hype is all about, inside totality you’ll begin planning to be there for the next one!

 





Douglas, WY – Tour Day

20 08 2017

KOA Kampground, Douglas, WY

The Douglas KOA has gone all out with food, entertainment and learning options for our eclipse weekend.  Starting Friday evening, they are hosting dinners and breakfasts through Monday morning. There’s evening entertainment, a beer garden and even a lecture on the science of an eclipse including NASA brochures, dark sky maps and eclipse glasses.

On Sunday they have chartered a school bus and arranged for private visits to some of the most significant sites in Douglas.  Our day starts at Ft. Fetterman, located a few miles north of Douglas. This 1867 fort helped protect those traveling the Bozeman Trail.  While most of the wooden structures were destroyed for fuel, two restored buildings representing the officers quarters and an ordnance warehouse provide some interesting insight of life on these northern Wyoming plains.

Ft. Fetterman, Douglas, WY

Our next stop is at Camp Douglas, a prisoner of war camp established during World War II.  Italian and German POWs were held here due to over crowding of prisons in Europe and Northern Africa. These camps were built in specific “safe” areas of the US.  Douglas qualified due to it’s remoteness, access to the rail line and the communities willingness to host military personal as well as the prisoners.

Leaving town, we travel about 15 miles west to Ayres Natural Bridge Park, a beautiful park on La Prele Creek and then on to the LaPrele Station Pony Express site.  Returning to town, we stop at the fairgrounds for a tour of the Pioneer Museum and then back to the KOA.  All in all an interesting and informative day!





Las Vegas, Lathrup and Home

4 05 2017

Good Morning from Conifer, CO.  We’re home!

Spanish Peaks, Lathrup State Park

After leaving Bottomless Lakes State Park near Roswell, we fought NW winds most of the way across eastern New Mexico to Las Vegas.  The KOA in Las Vegas is just off of I-25, at the intersection with highway 84 which connects with I-40 near Santa Rosa.  The campground is set on the side of a hill among cedar and pinon pine.  There are a handful of long pull-through sites that are very flat.  The majority of the other pull-through sites will require some leveling.  While you’re fairly close to I-25, the noise from the highway isn’t objectionable.  This is a rustic campground – anyone expecting shiny new restrooms, pool or other pubic spaces will be disappointed.  But, for a single overnight, it works fine

From Las Vegas we made the short trip over Raton pass to Lathrup State Park outside of Walsenburg. Roads were dry over the pass, but it was evident that the snow plows has been out during the preceding snow storm that dropped up to 12” on this area.  Even at Lathrup, there were small snow piles in the shady spots.  The Spanish Peaks were stunning with their fresh topping of snow.  With snow showers continuing at home, we opted to spend a 2nd night at Lathrup.

On Thursday we completed the last leg of our 2017 Spring Road Trip, logging nearly 5000 miles and 68 nights at 24 campgrounds and RV parks.  Once again our time spent with good friends was the best- Lost Dutchman State Park near Phoenix, Davis Mountains State Park near Ft. Davis, TX, Big Bend National Park and of course South Padre Island.  But, we’re only home for 7 days before once again hitting the road to return to Lathrup State Park.  More from there…

 





Las Cruces, NM

15 03 2017

Las Cruces, NM KOA

We’ve arrived in Las Cruces, NM – the second largest city in New Mexico after Albuquerque, followed by Rio Rancho, Santa Fe and Roswell.

We’ve opted to spend our 2 nights at the Las Cruces KOA – PARK MAP.  Located on a bluff west of town, this park overlooks the city and beyond to the Organ Mountains to the east of town.  We’re in site #13, a “View Site” which backs-up to a short rock fence and the amazing views beyond.  These premium sites are $48/night after our Value Kard discount.   Most of the parks sites are large, somewhat reminiscent of one of our favorite RV parks in Taos, with lots of native cactus and plants between sites.   There’s even a small public-use gazebo in the corner, providing extra space between sites #12 and #13.

Las Cruces, NM KOA

All of the facilities are top-notch, including a very clean laundry facility with about 6 commercial top-load washers and 3 or 4 very large commercial front-load dryers.  Washers are $2.00 and dryers are $1.00 for 30 minutes, in quarter increments.  The park offers good WiFi (made better with our WiFi booster) and there’s plenty of cellular coverage too.

If there was any downside, it was the hookups.  All located near the front of the site, the electric was far enough away that we needed to use our extension.  And, the sewer port was slightly above grade, making for a bit of an inconvenience.  But, all in all – a KOA we’d return to.





Eastward across New Mexico

14 03 2017

Lordsburg, NM KOA

With about 450 miles of eastward travel along I-10 in our immediate future, we opt for 3 shorter days across New Mexico with our first stop at Lordsburg, about 2.5 hours from Tucson.  The only RV park in Lordsburg is the KOA.  The typical A-frame building greets you and shows the best potential of this park.  Behind this façade are 7 or 8 rows of pull-through sites laid out on a gravel parking lot.  A few leaf-less trees dot the area and there’s even some grass along the back fence reserved for tent campers.  Pretty much as expected – we’ll spend 1 night here before departing for Las Cruces.

Facilities:  We found virtually no over the air TV, but with a cable connection, we had the major networks, some from Tucson and some from Albuquerque.  The office had a WiFi hotspot, but even with a WiFi booster, the service was unpredictable.  It’d run along at 3Mb one minute and then fails to connect  the next.  Frustrating – but again, mostly as expected.  Cellular phone service was spotty too, with 2G or LTE service – but very little data bandwidth.

We’re off to Las Cruces today – bigger city and better services hopefully – more from there!





Good Morning from Silt, CO!

9 09 2016

wp_20160909_001After a fairly early departure from Vernal, we’ve arrived at this new KOA along the Colorado River by about 1PM.  We’ll have park WiFi and good cellular access here allowing us to get caught up on at least the most critical work.  We last visited this KOA about 2 years ago – with brand new trees, grass and gravel pads, and after an unusual amount of rain the entire park was left a muddy mess.  Deep tire ruts were everywhere, it must have taken the grounds crew some time to fix broken sprinkler heads and fill in the ruts.  Today you’d never know of these growing pains – the trees are healthy, the grass is lush and green, and the back-in sites along the river offer some of the best views of any RV Park.  KOA’s are always a bit pricey, these premium sites are nearly $50 with applicable taxes.  But, the amenities are many, a beautiful pool and spa area, a sparkling clean laundry room, equally clean and tidy showers and a great kids playground.  Sites are long and level and provide a fire pit and picnic table.  And the park provided WiFi isn’t bad, especially in non-peak times.

This is our last stop of the 2016 Olympic Peninsula trip.  We’ve traveled nearly 4000 miles, parked at 18 different RV sites and spent 29 nights on the road.  In all, a great trip, and one with many places we want to return to.  Among those would be the Oregon Coast, Sequim and the Port Angeles/Port Townsend areas and Jordanelle SP near Park City, UT.  We’d also like to spend more time along the Columbia River from Ft. Stevens SP/Astoria eastward.