Thursday, May 31, 2012

Spokane Interlude

8:25am -This morning I'm testing my new Android app for my phone to see how it works.  Here is a picture of our view from our bedroom at my sister's home....yes, we are staying in their guest suite for the month we are here.  This will give us a chance to do some deep cleaning, reorganize, and some minor repairs.

I'll write more later....

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11am - Got the bikes out of the trailer this morning, and my XM radio installed over the wall stereo in the trailer, AND got my mountain bike ready for some riding. Heading to downtown soon to see neice Stephanie dance in a flash mob. Well, I was planning on showing some pictures of the flash mob, but a arrived just after it was done...just took longer to get downtown than we expected.

9:25pm - After our aborted attempt to see the "flash mob" dance routine at the mall, I spent the rest of the day squaring away the trailer, removing most of the bikes, and working on my Intense 5.5  mountain bike.  I haven't ridden it since January 30th when I last rode with my mountain bike buddies.  It's ready to go, and I'll be taking it out on a local trail tomorrow morning.

 My view while watching the Spurs/Thunder game

Not much happened today other than getting clothes washed, the XM radio installed, and the trailer emptied out into my brother-in-law's garage.  We'll be doing a lot of riding in the next 5 weeks.  The weather forecast is good for the next 5 days!

How we are situated at my sister's home

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Based on weather reports predicting rain on Thursday in Spokane (60% chance) we have moved up our plans to move over to Spokane to Wednesday.  That meant that we needed to get in our "long" ride on Tuesday.  When we want to cover a lot of ground in a short period of time we get out the Cannondale tandem.  We can average over 15mph on the tandem in contrast to our average on the road bikes of around 8-9mph.

The forecast for Tuesday was a high of may have gotten that high, but it sure didn't feel like it.  As you can see from my picture of the Lovely Elaine, we were bundled up the entire day.  

Taking a short break at the Washington border

We got underway around 10:15am, and pointed the tandem south to the Prarie Trail, which would lead us to the Centennial Trail.  Today we would head west on the CT to the Idaho/Washington border.  As soon as we turned on to the west bound Centennial Trail path we were met with a chilly headwind, although moderate in force.  The Centennial Trail in this area runs high above the Spokane River.  In fact, you only really see the river for one brief 100 yard stretch, and then at the Washington Border.  Nevertheless, the ride was very pleasant.  We pretty much rode the entire 17 mile distance to the border non-stop, other than when we were on the street section and had to wait for red lights.  Of the 17 miles to the border approximately 4 miles was on surface streets, however, 90% of those sections are routed through quiet, low traffic neighborhoods.

We arrived at the Spokane River Rest Stop (about 1.5 miles over the border into Washington State) around 12:15pm.  The rest stop used to be staffed, and there was information available on the entire trail relating to conditions, closures, etc., but due to lack of money it sits empty, so a nice facility sits with doors locked, and no information available whatsoever.

 At the Idaho/Washington border

One of the rare views of the river on this stretch of the trail

After a short break we turned back to the east and began turning the cranks again.....the nice thing about the turn around was that now we had a tailwind!  By the time we turned around I was getting a little hungry so Elaine and I dug into the supply of energy bars she had brought.  We also stopped to take breaks several times on the way back....there were a number of 9 and 10% grades to climb on the way back, and while the climbs were not long in duration, we were 20+ miles into the ride, and were not at 100% energy levels anymore.  We stopped off at a local Fred Meyers grocery store (looked more like a small Walmart to me) and did a little resupply of some of the basic food stuffs before we move over to Spokane.

We arrived back at "home" around 2:30pm, had a late lunch......Elaine makes the world's best sandwiches!  Around 3:30 we both lay down to take a nap......ended up being a 2 hour nap!  I got up just in time to watch the Spurs/Thunder game.  Another great game with the Spurs winning their 20th game in a row, and 10th in a row in the playoffs, without a defeat.

Wednesday morning we will begin packing up our "stuff" again, but we won't put the T'bird back in the trailer for this short 40 mile drive over to Spokane, and that will make packing the trailer about 90%!

We'll leave here around Noon, or a little before, stopping at the Flying J a few miles down the Interstate in Post Falls to dump our tanks one last time before we settle in at my sister's home until after July 4th.  The day is very cloudy, and cool portending the rain to come tomorrow, no doubt.

That was our Tuesday, thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Exploring Coeur d'Alene bike paths....

The Coeur d'Alene area is replete with bike paths and bike lanes going in all directions all over town.  There are two long bike paths, or trails if you will, for which the area is famous: 1) Northern Idaho section of the Centennial Trail, and 2) the Trail of the Couer d'Alenes.  

Centennial Trail - Idaho

Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes

Over the past few years I have ridden portions of the Centennial Trail in the Spokane area.  The trail begins just north of Lake Coeur d'Alene and follows the shoreline of the the Lake to the Spokane River and then westward to Spokane.  

The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes uses old railroad right of way and begins in the town of Mullan, Mt and ends at Plummer, ID on the southern end of Lake Coeur d'Alene.  It is pretty much all downhill from Mullan.  This trail of part of the "Rails to Trails" national network utilizing old railroad right of way.  The great thing about railroad right of way is that the grade never exceeds 3% up, or down, which makes these trails very rideable, even for the least experienced bicycle riders.

Over the next few weeks we will be riding large portions of both of these trails.  After attending church with our friends on Sunday we got out our road bikes and set out from our friend's home down to the Centennial Trail and then eastward through the resort area along the lake about 7 miles.  

Sunday evening we enjoyed a few hours sitting by the outdoor fireplace in George and Brenda's backyard.  I love outdoor fireplaces!

Then on Monday morning we rode westward on the same trail using our recumbent trikes about 7 miles.   After we have settled into our month long sojourn in Spokane we will drive up and ride portions of the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes.  The portions of the Centennial Trail that we have ridden are well paved, and very clearly marked so you know at every intersection which direction to take to continue on the trail.  Other trails we have ridden, specifically the Jordan River Bikeway in Utah a couple of weeks ago, are not well marked, and it is easy to take a wrong turn on a regular basis.  In an hour or so we will head out to explore more of the Centennial Trail on the tandem.

Our plan was to move over to Spokane on Thursday, but it appears there is a 60% chance of rain on Thursday, so we will move tomorrow, Wednesday, when there is zero prediction of rain.  It is no fun moving in the rain.

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay over Memorial Day weekend with our friends, but the workaday week is now upon them again.....George left this morning for Dallas, TX on his job, and Brenda will be heading off to her job later this morning, so we will be on our own today.

The weather here in Coeur d'Alene remains very cool....mid to high 60's with rain falling for several hours Monday night/Tuesday morning.  As I write the sun is out, but it is in the low 50's.

Well, that wraps up Sunday and Monday....we're off in a little while to do some riding on the tandem.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

"Frankly, Sclarlett, I don't give a dam...."

 East bound on the Spokane River at 35mph

I slept in until almost 7am Saturday....that's kind of late for me.  Elaine stayed in bed until after 8am.......she says "Clarke, you take your nap in the afternoon.......I take mine after you get up in the morning".......haha!

I puttered around writing my daily blog, and then while the girls went to the Farmer's market, and George went over to ready his ski boat for an afternoon of boating on the lake I got busy washing and detailing the 'Bird, and then washing the coach AGAIN!.  You will recall that I washed the Newell and trailer a day, or so before we departed South Jordan.  Well, the day we left it started raining, and rained for 100 miles, so all my detailing work went down the drain.  So, I started in washing the coach for a second time within a week.  Three hours later I was done, but no one was home yet so I went in to take my nap......I was one tired boy.  Thankfully it continues to be very cool, and dry here in the Northwest.  I know it is baking in most the rest of the country this weekend, but for a change I'm in the right place!

George and the girls got home by 3:30pm, and we headed over to the boat ramp to launch the Baja ski boat and headed out into the wind swept Lake Coeur d'Alene.  Fortunately it was not too wind swept, but just breezy.   

 One of hundreds of beautiful homes around the Coeur d'Alene area

Lake Resort in background

George took us by some homes of the Rich and Famous, including the summer homes of John Elway and Jake Plummer....both former NFL quarterbacks of some fame.  It's a nice life I guess, and someone's got to live it.

 John Elway's summer home on left and Jake Plummer's summer home on right......"Are you ready for some football?"

We then headed back across the lake (by the way we barely scratched the surface, so to speak, of this enormous lake) to see the world's only "floating green" at Coeur d'Alene Resort Golf Course, seen below.  This is a stock picture from the internet....the little boat in the foreground ferries golfers to and from shore.  The drive to the green is approximately 175 yards.  Most people we watched hitting on to the green came up short I mean they hit the water.

14th hole, a floating green!  

We then headed over to the Spokane River which drains Lake Coeur d'Alene, and flows westward to Spokane.  You can boat westward on the river about 10 mile to Post Falls where the dam is that controls the level of the lake, and that stretch of the river.  Because there is still runoff from the winter's snow the dam gates are wide open right now to prevent flooding.  As we neared the "dam" there were warning signs that the dam was only 1/4 mile further, and not to go further.  Well, we did go further, and suddenly found that we were in shallow water.....too shallow for the outdrive prop to move us as it was hitting the mud and sand on the bottom of the river.  Hmmmmm......isn't this what happens in movies?  You're sitting there in your seat thinking why are they ignoring the sign?  It's like "don't go down into that dark basement with the broken light bulb"....nothing good ever comes of that, does it?  Well, we weren't that far from shore, and it was shallow enough that we could have walked out easily, even though the water is VERY COLD!  However, we were continuing to drift down river toward the dam, and that is never a good idea, so first George hopped out and began to push the boat to deeper water, but combined with the current pushing the boat the other way, and a slight breeze, he was having difficulty making much progress, so I quickly pulled off my polar tech jacket, emptied my pockets of electronics, money/credit cards, ID, etc. and jumped into the 2' deep, freezing water to help.....I am so thankful I had worn shorts, and my water shoes.  Within a couple of minutes, with our combined pushing efforts, and being cheered on by the girls, we got it back into 4' water, and stiffly (my legs were losing feeling quickly) climbed back into the boat the fired up the motor, and extricated ourselves from the DAM area.

Brenda had brought several beach towels in case we got wet, even though George insisted at the outset that no one was going to get wet (haha!), so they came in handy to dry us off (by the time we got back into the boat the water was up past our abdomens), and to cover us while we headed back eastward on the river to the boat launch area.  I want to emphasize that we were not physically in any danger, and could have waded to shore, and just abandoned the boat if necessary, but it seemed at the time that we could save the boat easily with two of us in the water pushing.  The current was not that strong where we were, but, nevertheless, I was very concerned for a few minutes....who wouldn't be?

The first picture at the top of this blog entry was taken after the "DAM" incident.....the ride back "up" the river to the boat launch area was very pretty as we skimmed along over glass like water at 35mph.

Later that evening George BBQ'd up some lamb burgers, and Brenda and Elaine provided the salad and summer squash.  We downed a bottle of local red wine, and talked until almost 11pm.  Another nice day.....but not quite uneventful!

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Heart of an Awl

Our sleep Thursday night could not have been better....the fairgrounds were quiet and dark at night, and we slept like the dead.  I was up around 6:30am and promptly turned on the big generator to make the coffee and to run the block heater.  The night temps got down into the mid 30's and I knew the DD would need a "warm blanket" to come to life again this morning.

We had promised the ground keeper that we would be out of the fairgrounds before 8am on Friday, and we were true to our word as we passed through the entry gate at 7:40am.....we decided to drive over to the local Lowe's about 2 miles away and park there for a couple of hours while we had breakfast, and I wrote yesterday's blog entry.  The great thing about Lowe's that we discovered quite by accident in San Antonio is that they all have FREE "Guest WiFi", and it is very fast!  As we have traveled across the US we have frequently used their WiFi, and today was no exception....the signal was good, and fast!  While I wrote the blog, Elaine made me some hot oatmeal for breakfast.  I have liked oatmeal since I was a little kid.

Our second issue of the morning was to find an RV dump site to dump our black tank before we arrived at our friend's home in Coeur d'Alene, case you have not guessed, the title of today's blog is the definition of the French phrase Coeur d'Alene.  This name was given to the local indigenous Indians by the French traders "referring to the perceived shrewdness of the trading skills exhibited by the tribe" (definition taken from a Wikipedia article on Coeur d'Alene).  Elaine has a Flying "J" directory she refers to often to find dump sites, and found one just 5 miles west on I-90 at exit 96.  Normally Flying "J's" charge to use their dump station, but this Flying "J" does not!  So we were able to dump for free for a change!

We were back on the road by 10:30am headed west to our destination.  The drive was very pleasant, but we had a couple of big passes to go over....Lookout Pass and Fourth of July Pass, but the DD (Detroit Diesel) was up to the challenge and we chugged over both passes in style, although down in the 30mph range.  Both passes were at the maximum of 6% allowed on the Interstate system, which meant I had to gear down to 2nd gear a couple of times to maintain our forward momentum.

Rest Stop just before the Lookout Summit

We arrived at our friend's home around (what we thought was) 2:30pm, but we found out quickly we had gained back the last hour we had lost months ago as we moved eastward.  We are now back in Pacific Daylight Time!    Before we drove the coach into a neighborhood with which we were unfamiliar, we decided to unload the T'bird at the local Lowe's about 2 miles from our friends home, and drive over to inspect the streets, driveway, etc.  I'm glad we did, because I wasn't sure we would fit.  As it turns out, we were able to park the coach and trailer in their driveway next to each other.

Parking the trailer was a little tricky, but, fortunately our friends have a Chevy Tahoe with a receiver hitch, so I hooked up their Tahoe and carefully backed the trailer into the side yard of their property and then pulled the coach in......fits perfectly!

We went inside and spent some time talking, and catching up and decided at some point that we would go out to dinner at a local Italian place called Tito's Italian Grill.  It is down on the shores of Lake Coeur d'Alene, and was a great choice for dinner.  After dinner we walked around the floating boardwalk that circumnavigates the entire marina.  It is about .7 miles long, and is reputed to be the longest floating boardwalk anywhere.  Whether it is, or not, it is spectacular.  We viewed a number of wooden boats, which to me were more like floating furniture than boats.

Stock picture of the Resort at Coeur d'Alene where we had dinner...spectacular!

We returned to George and Brenda's home and sat outside by the outdoor fireplace talking and catching up even more.  A great ending to a great travel day!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, May 25, 2012

What the "Missoula?"

The Salmon River - largest river in US contained completely within one State

We spent two days in Challis, ID and really only spent time outside the first afternoon we were there when we walked to the local supermarket and stocked up on consumables.  The weather was windy, and cold with occasional rain showers the 42 hours we spent there, but as I have remarked previously, we are living not on vacation, so we take what we get and adapt.  There is no urgent need to "see" everything....sometimes just experiencing a place is enough.  We know that we will go back to Challis in our travels when the weather is more conducive to outdoor activities.  

Knowing the overnight temps (Wednesday night) would be down near freezing I left the water bay heater on to prevent freezing, and turned on the block heater when we went to bed so we could easily start the DD in the morning.  At 9am it rumbled to life once again as she always does!

Our driving goal for the day was Missoula, MT....about 199 miles northbound on US93.  The drive north was very scenic....much of the morning we drove along the banks of the Salmon River, which was right up to the banks in many places.  We took a break in the lovely town of Salmon, and then continued our delightful drive north.  Our elevation as we left Salmon was 4,000' give or take a few inches.  We began an ascent that would top out at 7,200' and a snow storm.....yes, that's right, snow on May 24th (see picture below).

The grade on the north side of the summit (which was the Idaho/Montana) border was around 7-8% for the first 10 miles, so I moved the shift lever down to 2nd gear and let the Jake Brake escort us down the grade.  As we descended the snow abated and the skies cleared somewhat.  We got down to 5,000' in Darby and took a lunch break.

I had no idea when the day started that we would go over a 7,000' pass, but that's what's so cool about take what comes and adapt.  

We arrived in Missoula, MT around 2:30pm and headed for the Western Montana Fairgrounds where we would spend the night.  The "Days End" book suggested calling ahead to see if there were any activities going on that would prohibit us from staying there overnight, but I've found (thank you Nick Russell) that arriving and a apologizing usually works to our benefit.  When we arrived the security guy asked if we called ahead, and I said "No....were we supposed to?".....he said, well there is a rodeo this weekend....then he hesitated and asked...."do you just want to stay overnight?", and I said "Yes"....."do you need hookups?"....."No" I answered......"OK, then you can park right where you are as long as you're gone by 8am......"Cool" I for $12 we were allowed to park overnight in a quiet area.  

We unloaded the T'bird and drove into town to have an early dinner at the Iron Horse Brew Pub on Higgins in downtown Missoula.  What a great Brew Pub....good appetizers and great locally brewed draft beer.....we chose al fresco dining, and enjoyed the cool afternoon air and the sun peaking through the clouds occasionally.  I had a pint of Big Sky Summer Honey Ale, and Elaine had a pint of Kettlehouse Cold Smoke Scotch definitely had a smokey taste....yum!  Both Big Sky and Kettlehouse are local micro breweries.

After a delightful couple of hours we walked across the street to Worden's Market and Deli and bought some half and half, then headed back to the fairgrounds.  This little market has an amazing selection of craft beer and wine!  I watched a little of the Heat/Pacer NBA playoff game, and then at 9pm, by popular request (Elaine), we switched to watch "So You Think You Can Dance".  We hit the sack around 11pm, and slept like we were dead....I'm glad Elaine put the extra comforter on the got down into the mid 50's in the coach last night......down to near freezing outside.  It was quiet and dark....great ingredients for sound sleep!

View this morning of local mountains

Another great day in the books!  Today we will move westward about 169 miles to Coeur d'Alene, ID where we will spend the Memorial Day weekend, and part of next week with old college friends.  Now, off to the Flying J to dump our black tank......what fun!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Into the 40's

Fresh snow from last night's rain on the local mountains

The wind blew most of the night, and, in fact, when we awoke, was still gusting.  It was cold enough that I knew I would need to preheat the engine with the block heater to start it when we left around 9am, so I turned on the big generator around 8am along with the block heater.

I had put away the limited amount of "stuff" we had taken out the 3 days we were in Craters of the Moon the night before, so we were ready to leave around 9am.  While the generator and block heater were still on I turned over the Detroit Diesel and it roared to life easily.  After that I turned off the generator, and Elaine rechecked the inside of the coach to be sure all drawers, cupboards, closet doors, etc. were closed and/or secured.  She then took her co-pilot seat and we drove out of the park on to US 93 northbound for new territory and new adventures.

Just north of MacKay, ID it began to rain.  I had applied the RAIN-X to the windshield, side windows, and side mirrors the day prior and it worked wonderfully.  I didn't even have to turn on the windshield wipers....the water just beaded up and fell from the window.  We bought the bottle of RAIN-X a month, or so ago, and I just kept forgetting to apply it.  When the rain stopped the windows dried without the normal water spotting.  In addition, the mirrors were much more useful with less water on them, and also dried with no water spots.

We gained elevation steadily from Arco, ID until we hit 7,160' in elevation then we descended gently into the town of Challis, ID, our destination for the day.  We arrived around Noon, and were quickly checked in by Frank, the owner of Challis Valley RV Resort.  Frank is a great guy with a lot of local knowledge about what to see and do in the area.  We are in a 100' long pull through site.

The weather in Challis has been very cold.....I don't think it has gotten out of the 40's on Tuesday, and today, Wednesday it is hovering around 45 degrees, and blustery.  It feels more like Fall, than late Spring, and just a few days from Memorial Day weekend.  It rained on and off most of Tuesday night, and has sprinkled several times today preventing us, along with the frigid temps, from getting on our bikes and add to that the forecast is for 50-60% chance of rain the rest of today.  It has turned out to be a nice day for reading and sipping hot tea.  I think we will just stay inside today and enjoy the view.

Right now Elaine is down at the laundry room doing a couple of loads of laundry...I'm waiting for her call to help carry the clean clothes back up the hill to our coach.

Stormy, blustery

We will be here until tomorrow, Thursday, and then head northward to Missoula, MT for a day, then on to Coeur d'Alene where we will spend the long weekend with college friends.  

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Craters of the Moon

 Craters of the Moon Nat'l Monument campground

Our intent last Saturday was to find a good spot on some BLM land (Bureau of Land Management)  near the Snake River to spend a few days.  Typically you can stay on BLM land for free, or a nominal weekly fee.  Saturday morning we departed Snake River RV Park and headed over to the Walmart to park, and unload the Thunderbird so we could drive up to the BLM land and inspect the sites available.  It was about 27 miles out to the area in which we wanted to camp.  As it turned out the BLM dispersed camping area was up a long dirt road, which became washboardy after a while, and there was no way I was driving the coach in there.  It was a nice round trip drive, but a total bust as far as our plans for the next few days, so we tucked in our tails and headed back to Idaho Falls to regroup.

Our original travel plans after staying at the Snake River for a few days was to continue north on I-15, but now that our Snake River plans had gone up in smoke I started taking a look at US 93 which pretty much parallels I-15, but is on the west side of the Bitteroot Moutains.  On top of that just southwest of Arco, ID is Craters of the Moon National Monument.  It took Elaine about half an hour to switch her mindset, but eventually she came around to my idea and we headed west of Idaho Falls on Idaho 20 to Arco, and then south on US 93 to Craters of the Moon.  What a cool place this turned out to be!  Since this is a National park we can use our Golden Age Passport cards which waives the entry fee of $8, and cuts in half the daily camping fee.  So, we signed up for 3 days in the campground $15) and parked our coach in site #7.

By the time we got settled in it was after 4pm, and a little windy, so we just relaxed and enjoyed the afternoon reading.  

Sunday morning we got our road bikes out and decided to ride the 8 mile scenic loop.  The ride was great, but we had no idea how much elevation we would gain.....I think we were up to 6,500' elevation at one point, which means a lot of climbing.  We both did great.....I'm always glad we both have mountain bike gearing on our road bikes.....makes this kind of ride much more manageable.  Along the loop are several walking self guided tours, which we walked.  We ended up riding just under 11 miles, and walking about 4 miles, but it was a very enjoyable day of site seeing, and, little did we know, it wasn't over.

We got back to the coach around 3pm, and I took my cell phone up the hill (see picture below) to get a cell phone signal so I could check my voice mail, e-mail and any other kind of mail I might have.  Over the 3 days we spent at Craters of the Moon I walked up this hill 8, or 9 times.  The picture of our coach above was taken from the top of this hill.  Once on top of the hill my cell signal went from zero to 5 bars.

After taking a nap we went outside and sat in the shade of the coach watching the day wind down.  Round 6pm a ranger came by and told us there was a partial eclipse of the sun occurring, and we could come up to the Visitor Center to watch it on the "sun scope".  The eclipse was supposed to reach its peak around 7pm, so we took our time drinking our Scotch, and smoking a couple of small cigars before we walked up to the center.

Our timing was perfect as we arrived just as the eclipse reached its peak....the picture above is the eclipse viewed through the "sun scope', which protects your eyes.  The picture below is pretty cool......I took a picture of the sun with my phone camera, and was surprised to see afterwards that the lense had captured the eclipse.....see the red spot just below the sun with the eclipse in it....I don't know how this happened, but ended up being a very cool picture totally by accident.  I was just taking the picture as a contrast to the "sun scope" picture!

One of the hikes we took on Sunday was to see the "tree molds".  The hike was 2 miles round trip, and the picture below is of a mold made of a fallen tree when the lava was flowing  a couple hundred thousand years ago!

There was one hike we wanted to take after our bike tour on Sunday, and we headed out on foot from our camp site tohike the "North Crater" trail.  It was 1.8 miles long, and turned out to be quite challenging.

The North Crater

This tree obviously grew up and died since the lava field was active....completely bleached white.....not my wife, but the tree....haha!

This is a picture of one section of the trail viewed from across a lava field that we had to cross about half way through the hike.  Elaine did great on the hike in spite of the fact we ended up doing it during the heat of the day.  We got back to the coach around 3pm, and quickly took showers to wash the trail grime off our bodies, then headed outside for happy hour again.  Around 9pm the wind came up and rocked the coach on and off all night.  It appeared that the wind preceded a front moving into the area.  

Well, that was another 3 days in the life.....we loved our three days at Craters of the Moon, and highly recommend it.......thanks for stopping by!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Out of touch

For the past 3 days we have been outside of cell phone and broad band coverage so I have not been able to make a post.  I have WiFi for a few minutes, so I'm making this short post.  We are at "Craters of the Moon National Monument" outside of Arco, Idaho about 19 miles.  It is beautiful here, and I will have many pictures and stories to tell tomorrow when I am back in range again!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Rain Man

Originally we were going to leave South Jordan Thursday, but I didn't feel well Wednesday afternoon when I would have been getting things ready for moving, so we decided to leave Friday.  It was too hot to leave on Thursday anyway, and Friday looked to be cooler.  Well, it was a lot cooler......cold, windy and cloudy enough to rain.  

I was up at 6:30am, and girding myself for the final packing of bikes, and the car.  We had to back the coach out of the driveway, then hook up to the trailer, then load the car, and the trike.  We had no sooner finished loading the car and my trike than I started feeling a few rain drops.  After saying our goodbyes we headed north to the local Sinclair gas station where we bought 67 gallons of diesel at $3.79/gallon to top off the tank.  Diesel will not be this cheap for a couple of months.  This should get us to Spokane with a 1/3rd of a tank, which means we won't have to fuel up again for a couple of months.....yea!

This was our view for the first 100 miles of the day

Just as we pulled into the Sinclair station it started raining in earnest.  By the time we poured in 67 gallons of diesel it was pouring, and would pretty much continue on and off at that rate for the next 100 miles.  I am really glad I installed the new windshield wipers when we were at my sister's home in Michigan.  The old ones were making a lot of noise....the new ones are whisper quiet!

Our first stop of the day was at a rest stop north of Ogden, UT where the rain abated for a while, but once we were on the Interstate again.

Rest Stop

At last, about 20 miles into Idaho the rain stopped, and the sun came out.    We needed to dump our black tank after 9 days, and the rain stopping just before we came to a Flying J with a dump station was way was I going to dump the tank in the rain!  It's a good thing we are never in a hurry, because it took forever to fill the black tank with fresh water to flush it out twice.....very low water pressure at the dump station.  I think we were there 45 minutes at least....usually we can dump the tank, flush it twice, and be on our way in 15-20 minutes.

Finally as we entered Idaho the skies began to clear

Our goal for the day was Idaho Falls, Id, about 222 miles north of South Jordan.  We decided to stay at an RV park (Snake River RV Park) we had visited back in November of 2009.  Then it had been snowing for several hours when we pulled into the park that cold November night...we were grateful for 50 amps of power that night as all the heaters were running!  Looks quite different today.


Tomorrow we'll drive the 'Bird up a few miles on the Snake River to investigate a couple of BLM dispersed camping spots where we will stay for a few days.  

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Getty ready to move again....

It has been a wonderful week in South Jordan, UT.  Visiting family for extended period of time on our journey has been one of the highlights so far, and this stop has been no exception.  We've enjoyed visiting with my brother, Dwyer, and his wife, Lori, as well as their two children, Ingrid and Arthur.  I've especially enjoyed spending time with my brother watching NBA playoff basketball.  

In addition to family, the bicycling opportunities in this area are over the top.  Bike paths, and wide bike lanes abound.  Some of our readers may not understand the difference between a bike lane, and a bike path.  Essentially, a bike lane is a separate lane on a street designated with painted lines for bicycle traffic only.  You are still riding on the street with other motor vehicles, but there is a feeling of separateness, nevertheless.  Too often, in the southern, and eastern states there as not even a small "shoulder" on which to ride.  We were often in the same lane as motor vehicles, and that tends to lessen the enjoyment of a bike ride.  A bike path is typically, completely separated from street traffic.  A good example is the bike path we have ridden twice in the past few days....The Jordan River Bikeway which follows the Jordan River.  We used to ride the Santa Ana River Trail often when we were still in SoCal for the same reason.  You have no interaction with motor vehicle traffic, and, rarely have to cross a street.  Another example is the Pacific Electric Bike Path that I have written about in the past.  Bike paths can follow existing, but unused, railway rights of way, or rivers/flood channels, or can be cobbled together with parcels of public and private land like the bike path that is being built around Lake Tahoe.   Many states are re-purposing old railroad rights of way into urban, and suburban bike paths.....these are called "Rails to Trails" projects.  You can read more about this organized effort at the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy website.

Well, like other stops along our journey today is the day we get ready to move again.  We'll be leaving South Jordan, UT tomorrow morning and and heading north into Idaho for a week of exploring.  We have not spent much time in Idaho in our journeys.  Usually we are just passing through on I-15.  Our last pass through was in November of 2009 when it snowed on us the day and a half we were there.  We are looking forward to a warmer experience this time around!

Yesterday, Wednesday, we stayed close to "home" doing some deep cleaning inside the coach, and some minor repairs.  When we had the wood flooring installed 4 years ago, the "1/4 round" molding available, that matched the flooring, was a composite "wood".  It did not stand up well to the wear and tear of daily living the past year, so I went over to Lowe's and bought 20' of real wood "1/4 round" molding, and replaced almost that much of the existing molding where the wear and tear was the most obvious.  When my brother came home he got out his nail gun and made it permanent.  I think it looks a lot better.  On our next pass through Utah I'll get at the rest of it.

A sample of one section I replaced

In a few minutes I'll start straightening up the trailer so we can get the 'Bird back in tomorrow morning after we hook the coach back up to it, and then I'll start the mammoth job of washing a couple of months of grime off the Newell.  The last time I really thoroughly washed it was in Thibodaux, LA.  I did a partial job in Chelsea, MI while at my sister's home, but it is time for a thorough cleaning.

That's the latest from northern Utah.  Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Doing some serious bike riding

Let's put some miles on that tandem!

I am really getting into these cloudless, low humidity days in Utah.....those of our "Nomad" friends who are still in the deep south have my sincere (well, mostly sincere) condolences.  The other thing I am getting used to here in Utah is the abundance of bike paths, and bike lanes.  Monday Elaine and I got out the Cannondale, tandem and around 10am rode south on the Jordan River Bikeway.  This is a nice bike path that follows the Jordan River, which is a real flowing river, which flows north toward the Great Salt Lake.  The portion we rode extends about 10 miles south and was mostly uphill.  There are still some gaps in the trail, but eventually you will be able to ride all the way south to Utah Lake.

On our way back, with the wind at our backs, and going downhill, we stopped off at Beans and Brews, a local coffee house chain, and got, what else, some frappuccinos.....we're beginning to call it the "Frappy Hour".  It was beginning to heat up by the time we got there so it was a nice break, even though we were only 2 miles from the coach.

At the furthest point can see Kennecott Copper Mine in the background

After a short nap we headed into my brother's home for dinner......he grilled some steaks, and Elaine provided the grilled asparagus....yummy.  We enjoyed a bottle of Pinot Noir with dinner, and great conversation.

Tuesday (today) was supposed to get up to 88 degrees (and it did), and we wanted to ride the same bike path we rode Monday north into downtown Salt Lake City.  It appeared to be around 15 miles each way on the Google map, but it wasn't.  At any rate, on Tuesday morning I got up and washed the trailer (still have to wash the coach) before it got warm, and then Elaine and I took off around 9:30am heading north (downhill with the wind) up to the city.  The bike path was  great all the way, however, they could put a few more signs to tell you which way to turn.  I say this, because we took a "few" wrong turns going and coming due to the lack of signage.

We arrived in downtown Salt Lake around 11:30am after 21 miles, and headed for Squatter's Pub and Beers for lunch.  We really enjoyed their food on Sunday when we had an early dinner there.  I didn't eat breakfast (still full from dinner the night before), so I was famished.  We sat out on the back patio drinking lots of water, and, for me, eating Fish and Chips.  I was tempted to have a draft beer, but I listened, for a change, to the little voice in my head warning me against such foolishness.

Around 1pm we started our ride home.....uphill, and into the wind.  It was starting to get warm when we hit the half way mark home.  Below is a picture of the Lovely Elaine taking a's not as bad as it looks there, but it did get worse later as it got hotter.  Fortunately we had taken 6 water bottles with us so water was not an issue.  We arrive home around 3pm having ridden 42 miles!  Wow, since we have gotten to Utah we have put 75 miles on our bikes.....good for us!

Thankfully, Elaine is very!

Elaine is off shopping with my sister-in-law....mostly because she (my sister-in-law) wanted to take a ride in Elaine's Thunderbird....who can blame her.  My brother says she has been wanting one, too, for several years.  Well, I guess the pressure will be increasing now.....haha!

That's it for our day, and now you are up to date.  Thanks for stopping by!