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Adventures in the Villa

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Utah

2021-06-23 – Heading Home from Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 28 – Ely, Nevada

We started out today by leaving the RV Park at 7:50. We headed out to buy fuel. However, the phone app that told us where it was was wrong, so we had to back track. On our way we were stopped by a train crossing.

We sat there for over 20 minutes… While some people might be annoyed while a freight train moved back and forth for 20 minutes, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The train was off-loading cars into a freight yard. It would pull forward, a worker threw a switch, the train backed up a bit, the worker disconnected a car or two, and the train would stop. The loose car(s) would continue to roll onto the siding.

Fascinating!

The train finally pulled away, and we crossed over; we quickly found the truck stop, where we refilled the diesel and the DEF. And we were off!

We traveled south, and then we jogged west at Salt Lake City. The freeways on the 15 and 215 in SLC were some of the worst roads we have seen on this trip, and we have seen MANY bad roads. Finally we came to the shores of the Great Salt Lake.

I’m not sure we ever saw any clear water in the lake – only the salt flats…

We passed this huge plant of some kind. We could not figure why this “smoke stack” was so large, but it was a fascinating thing to see…

There a Mosque, too…

And on we drove. Salt everywhere…

And a salt processing plant…

We stopped to stretch our legs at Delle. Nothing here except a small gas station and a very large gravel parking area with outhouses…

We continued west. Salt…

A we neared the Nevada border we noticed that cars stopped along the road had been driving onto the salt… Weird!

Then it dawned on me…

This is the Bonneville Salt Flats!

The Bonneville Salt Flats are a densely packed salt pan in Tooele County in northwestern Utah. The area is a remnant of the Pleistocene Lake Bonneville and is the largest of many salt flats located west of the Great Salt Lake. The property is public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management and is known for land speed records at the “Bonneville Speedway”. Access to the flats is open to the public.

Motorcar racing has taken place at the salt flats since 1914. Racing takes place at part of the Bonneville Salt Flats known as the Bonneville Speedway. There are five major land speed events that take place at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Bonneville “Speed Week” takes place mid-August followed by “World of Speed” in September and the “World Finals” take place early October.

Just west of the salt flats we went through Wendover, Utah. We crossed the border and entered West Wendover, Nevada…

We stopped… where else? At a casino parking lot…

We enjoyed a nice lunch and a short nap… Then we headed south. The road looked like this for 110 miles!

And then we arrived at the “booming” town of Ely, NV, and we easily found the KOA campground…

We settled in, walked our required 30 minutes, enjoyed Happy Hours and dinner…

An enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-06-22 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 27 – End of Caravan – Heading Home – Tremonton, Utah

We wanted to beat the traffic entering Yellowstone, so we pulled out at 6:45 am. We headed from the RV Park in Montana, into Wyoming, and through the Roosevelt Arch…

The early morning drive through Yellowstone was beautiful, but, other than the elk that was standing in the Roosevelt Arch, which delayed our drive for a few minutes, we saw no wildlife…

That isn’t to say that there was no excitement today… Back in Burbank our two older grandchildren boarded the big yellow school bus for the first time… They are heading to Beach Camp! We expect them to return tired, sandy, and sunburned (just a little…).

So we continued through the park. Believe it or not, this is the fastest route from Gardiner, MT to California…

We came upon some geothermal activity. This was bigger than any similar sulfur-smelling steam venting we had seen in all our time here…

But we continued on, traveling south, then heading west, exiting the park at the west entrance…

It took about one hour to travel the park. As we left we saw the lines of cars trying to get into the park. This line of traffic is still 3-4 miles from the park entrance…

So we passed on out of Wyoming, back into Montana, and on through to Idaho.

Somewhere in Idaho we stopped to stretch our legs and eat a snack. We pulled off an anonymous offramp and parked between the Potato Growers of Idaho Association and a FedEx Distribution center…

Back on the freeway we continued south…

We ate lunch at a nice rest stop somewhere in southern Idaho…

We passed over into Utah, and on the Tremonton, where we found a very nice RV Resort…

Aspen Grove RV Resort, Tremonton, Utah. Large sites, concrete pads, full hook-ups. Come back in 5 years – they have planted a tree at each site – in five years we won’t be able to use our satellite TV…

There was another Airstream in the park – pulled by a Porsche Cayenne… We had an interesting chat about tow-vehicles, hithes, and Airstreams in general…

Another interesting feature of the RV Park is that several sites have Electric Vehicle charging stations…!

For our 47th wedding anniversary dinner we selected the finest restaurant in Tremonton… It is a diner at the bowling alley…

We tried to have a toast, but this being Utah, there was no wine…

After a fairly unremarkable dinner we returned to the Villa…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-06-13 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 18 – Traveling to Grand Tetons National Park

We are Parkers! Every caravan assigns various duties as needed throughout the caravan. In the past we have been parkers, de-parkers, singers, and Grace-sayer…

Today we are parkers. That means we need to leave extra early , arriving extra early at the next RV park, so that we can assign campsites to the various caravaners before they arrive and help them find their sites when they do arrive…

We left at 7:00 am. Today will be the longest travel time on the caravan… 290 miles!

We were following one of the Co-leaders… You will see a lot of pictures of his rear-end…

We traveled north across northern Utah, and somewhere (we don’t know where…) we crossed over into Wyoming…

We stopped briefly to stretch our legs and buy some groceries…

We continued north through Wyoming…

We started to see evidence of mountains ahead…

We stopped again in the small town of Pinedale, WY…

Looks like a great place for lunch, but we had no time!

We finally arrived at Jackson, WY, the main town in Jackson Hole. What a touristy mess!

Leaving Jackson, we now viewed the Grand Tetons in all their glory!

We parked the Villa in our assigned site, then showed up for our parking duties…

We had a flagger, to flag in the Airstreamers so that they did not miss the park and have to drive all around the world again to find it… Some of us handed out sandwiches, others gave directions and site numbers, and others kept track of who had arrived and who was still on the road…

After our parking duties were over, we walked about. We are parked right on Jackson Lake. This is the marina, with the Tetons byond…

This is just above the swimming beach, on Jackson Lake.

Our campsite, naturally, is in the trees. No internet, no satellite TV. No TV of any kind…

We had a meeting with the Ranger to explain to us the rules, mostly rules on how not to get eaten by a bear…

We returned to the Villa. No power. Half the park is out…

We had an early dinner and turned in early. (Power came back on at about 9:30…)

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-06-12 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 17 – Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, Dutch John, Utah

This morning, since we had not had a group dinner upon our arrival, we shared a lovely breakfast at the Flaming Gorge Resort…

After breakfast we drove towards Red Canyon. This is beautiful, but we still don’t know anything about Flaming Gorge…

We arrived at Red Canyon, and peered over the rim…

Flaming Gorge Reservoir is the largest reservoir in Wyoming, on the Green River, impounded behind the Flaming Gorge Dam. Construction on the dam began in 1958 and was completed in 1964. The reservoir stores 3,788,900 acre-feet of water when measured at an elevation of 6,040 feet above sea-level (its maximum).

The reservoir is mainly in southwest Wyoming and partially in northeastern Utah. The northern tip of the reservoir is 10 miles southeast of Green River, Wyoming (not to be confused with the town of Green River, Utah), 14 miles southwest of Rock Springs, Wyoming, and the Southern tip is approximately 40 miles north of Vernal, Utah. The lake straddles the Utah-Wyoming border. The nearby town of Dutch John, Utah, was built to serve as a base camp during construction of the dam, and as an administrative site afterwards.

We were spellbound at the views from here… especially since the land (rocks) we were standing on were clearly separated from the “mainland”…

After being amaized by the views from Red Rock Canyon rim, we drove a short distance to the Swett Ranch…

Swett Ranch, southwest of Dutch John, has buildings dating from 1909. A 14.1 acres section of the ranch was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. It included nine contributing buildings and three contributing structures.

There were three houses on the ranch. An original log cabin, originally elsewhere, was disassembled and reassembled here on this site. This was the original house, and later it became a bunkhouse for the family’s sons.

This is the second house, added a few years later.

This contained a Kitchen-Living area, a primary bedroom, and a loft for the family’s daughters…

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The third house was the family home from the 1940s to the 1960s. While it is quite modern in appearance, it took them until the 1960s to finally add a fully functional bathroom… and even then, they had to walk outside to get to it…

This is the stable; beyond it is the schoolhouse…

Inside the stable…

The Spring House…

The root cellar… It has a long passage, with three doors, which extends into the hill beyond. Being an underground room, it is at a constant 55 degrees – it would make a perfect wine cellar…!

The Swett family live here from 1909 into the late 1960… living without electricity until the late 1950s… All farm equipment was horse-powered; they never had a gasoline or diesel powered tractor…

The countryside is beautiful here. After the ranch we drove towards Dutch John…

There is a great bridge we drove over…

And then we found the dam…

We returned to the RV Park…

This evening we were treated to a wonderful dinner at the Red Canyon Lodge by Patricio and Essy Donoso, new Airstream friends from Florida.

It is their 45th wedding anniversary today…

This is the finest restaurant in the area… I, of course, brought the wine… They had the audacity of charging $8.00 corkage fee! What are they thinking? I haven’t seen $8.00 corkage since the 1980s…

We had a lovely dinner, and the grounds were lovely in the twilight after dinner…

We returned to the Villa. An enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-06-11 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 16 – Traveling to Flaming Gorge, Utah

Travel day again. We are leaving the Dinosaur National Monument area, and traveling only a short ways north, to Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, near the town of Dutch John.

We left just after 9:00, and traveled through the town of Naples, where we topped off our fuel. We continued west a few miles to Vernal, which looked interesting. We stopped and walked the town for about 45 minutes. It clearly has seen better days, but it looks like improvements are on the way…

At Vernal we turned north again and climbed more mountains…

We continued driving north through the mountains…

We arrived at the RV Park and found our spot…

That evening we had happy hours and a GAM to celebrate our arrival…

We returned to the Villa and an enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-06-10 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 15 – Jenson, UT – White Water Rafting

Today was our exciting White Water Rafting trip down the Green River, through Split Mountain… but we were not allowed to bring our phones/cameras, so we took no photos…

However, another Airstreamer did have a waterproof camera, so he was kind enough to lend us some of his photos…

We had to be at the Raft Store in Jenson at 8:30, so naturally we were there at 8:00. We waited around and finally enough of us (there were 18 Airstreamers on this excursion…) arrived so that we could be fitted for helmets and Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs – life vests…).

We were all loaded into two vans, along with three rafts and four River Guides. We drove about 45 minutes through some of the most desolate landscapes I have ever seen. We stopped along the way to view some petroglyphs (not to be confused with pictographs…).

Finally, we arrived at the Green River. While one of the River Guides gave us our safety talk, the other three unloaded the rafts, stowed away the equipment and food we would need for lunch, and got everything ready for our departure.

Lynda and I were joined by four other Airstreamers and two river guides into our raft. We had the middle seats… I would have preferred the rear seats, but that didn’t work out…

By the way; I have never done this before. Lynda has, on a Senior trip, with a raft loaded with about fifteen 17 year old boys and girls…

And off we went. The river was very quiet here, so we practiced paddling for a few minutes. Then we headed downstream. We were the lead boat…

We looked something like this. Frankly, I can’t tell if this is our boat or not…

The trip covers nine miles of the river, with four Class 3 rapids, plus lesser rapids in between…

About halfway through the trip we stopped for lunch. We had safely maneuvered three of the Class 3 Rapids; we had been splashed and bumped, and we were generally pretty tired. However, we were all still in the boat!

We landed and came ashore. Most of us quickly shed the cumbersome helmets and PFDs…

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We had a chance to relax, drink some water, and chat about our travels…

And then came lunch!

If you hadn’t noticed by now, our river guides were four very strong 20-something young women!

The rest of the trip went off without a hitch, except that at the last Class 3 Rapids, just before our take-out spot, we had wind gales/gusts of 40-50 mph blowing us back up the river! We ran those rapids three times, each time only to be blown back up the river… (the water was flowing at about 20-25 mph…).

Our guides finally pulled us along the shoreline where they could walk in the water and drag us down river against the wind, while we paddled furiously and used our paddles to push off the shore. I don’t know how orthodox or how unusual this is, but it worked.

We finally landed and were able to stand again on dry land. As we rested, we watched the four river guides hoist these rafts onto their shoulders and place them on the trailer. We had a short trip back to the Raft Store, from which we returned to the RV Park…

It was a great trip and I think we would all do it again. It was a little wet, a little bumpy, but it was all in good fun!

Back at the RV park we had happy hours. And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-06-09 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 14 – Traveling to Jenson, UT

Today is a travel day, as we leave Colorado and enter the far northeast corner of Utah, just a few miles south of Wyoming. We left about 9:00 am and traveled north. At first the roads were small, straight, and well paved…

The views are very stark, very moon-like…

Mountains are rocky and very distinct…

We climbed the mountains, as usual. The road got windier, and the pavement got rougher. In fact, it was terrible!

We turned west, and entered the town of Rangley. We parked the Villa and walked the length of the town. We ate lunch at Dottie’s Diner. Best French fries we’ve had on this trip! But the chili had absolutely no spice or heat to it – I suspect there wasn’t even salt and pepper… But we easily put these things aside, and we enjoyed our meal…

Walking back to the Villa we passed one of the very few modern building we have seen on this trip…

We walked back to the Villa and continued west, into Utah!

We proceeded west, passing through Dinosaur, CO, where the local townsfolk have a lot of fun naming their streets things like Brontosaurus Street and naming their ice cream parlor “Bedrock”…

Utah looks a lot like Colorado here…

We proceeded west, finally arriving at the tiny town of Jensen, UT. We turned north and entered Dinosaur National Monument…

Our RV park is in a valley adjacent to the Green River. The Green River here is about as large as the Colorado River was near Fruita. Many miles south of here, just north of Moab, Utah, in the city of Green River, Utah, the Green joins the Colorado, and the Colorado becomes a very large river. It was at this point, on the Green River, that John Wesley Powell began his exploration of the Colorado River, starting in 1869, eventually traveling through the Grand Canyon…

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We set up the Villa in the park. We are “dry camping” here – no electricity, water, or sewer hook-ups. We are really roughing it! I set out the solar panels, and I hope we won’t have to bring out the generators…

We left the RV park to visit the Dinosaur National Monument Visitors Center and Quarry Exhibits.

We approached the Visitors Center. Quite a nice modern building…

Dinosaur National Monument is located on the southeast flank of the Uinta Mountains on the border between Colorado and Utah at the confluence of the Green and Yampa rivers. Although most of the monument area is in Colorado, the Dinosaur Quarry is located in Utah, north of the town of Jensen. The nearest Colorado town is Dinosaur, while the nearest cities in Utah are Naples and Vernal.

Originally preserved in 1915 to protect its famous Dinosaur Quarry, the monument was greatly expanded in 1938 to include its wealth of natural history. The park’s wild landscapes, topography, geology, paleontology, and history make it a unique resource for both science and recreation. The park contains over 800 paleontological sites and has fossils of dinosaurs including AllosaurusDeinonychusAbydosaurus, and various sauropods.  The Abydosaurus fossil consists of a nearly complete skull, the lower jaw, and first four neck vertebrae.

Paleontologist Earl Douglass of the Carnegie Museum discovered eight vertebra of an Apatosaurus on August 17, 1909, which became the first dinosaur skeleton discovered and excavated at the new Carnegie Quarry. The area around the quarry was declared a national monument on October 4, 1915.

We took a shuttle from the Visitors Center up to the Quarry…

The Quarry Exhibit Hall is a magnificent building, built into the side of the mountain, to shield the quarry exhibits from the elements, and to show visitors what the bones and fossils look like when they are uncovered.

Again, I find the building much more interesting than dinosaur bones… I found this picture of the original building, erected in 1958. Unfortunately, due to the soils under the building and the seismic activity over the years, the original building was condemned in the 1990s, and totally reinforced and rebuilt. Note the difference between today’s building, above, and the original building, below…

Inside is a giant, two level exhibit hall, allowing visitors to see the fossils and bones on display…

All these fossils and bones are in their “as-found” condition… It is quite a display…!

The views were great from the Quarry Exhibit… After we had had enough of bones and fossils, we returned to the Villa…

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Happy Hours ensued, which turned into a weenie roast..

This is a typical thing on Airstream caravans – social get-togethers to share ice cream, birthday cake, or, in this case, a weenie roast…

We have cooking crew volunteers to set these things up…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-06-07 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 12 – Fruita, CO

Today we return to the Colorado National Monument to see more of its beauty…

On our way to the entrance we crossed the mighty Colorado River…

The Colorado River is the major river of the southwestern United States and northwest Mexico. Its headwaters are in Rocky Mountain National Park where La Poudre Pass Lake is its source. It flows southwest through the Colorado Plateau country of western Colorado, southeastern Utah and northwestern Arizona, where it flows through the Grand Canyon. It turns south near Las Vegas, Nevada, forming the Arizona–Nevada border in Lake Mead and the Arizona–California border a few miles below Davis Dam between Laughlin, Nevada and Needles, California, before entering Mexico in the Colorado Desert. Most of its waters are diverted into the Imperial Valley of Southern California. In Mexico its course forms the boundary between Sonora and Baja California before entering the Gulf of California.

We re-entered the Colorado National Monument.

On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the “Organic Act” creating the National Park Service, a federal bureau in the Department of the Interior responsible for maintaining national parks and monuments that were then managed by the department. The National Park System has since expanded to 423 units (often referred to as parks), more than 150 related areas, and numerous programs that assist in conserving the nation’s natural and cultural heritage for the benefit of current and future generations.

The National Park Service manages all of the various “units” – Parks, Forests, Monuments, Historic Sites, Lakeshores, Recreation Areas, Scenic Trails, and several other designations. The first parks were Yellowstone (1872), Sequoia (1890), Yosemite (1890), Mt. Rainier (1899), Crater Lake (1902), Wind Cave (1903), Mesa Verde (1906), Glacier (1910), Rocky Mountain (1915). Colorado National Monument was established in 1911. The different desinations have to do with how they are created. National Parks are created by acts of Congress. National Monuments and most other designations are created by the President via Executive Order. Thirty States have National Parks; the States with the most parks are: California (9), Alaska (8), Utah (5), and Colorado (4).

We began our visit with a ranger talk in the picnic area where we had had dinner last night…

We learned about the geology of these magnificent cliffs and canyons, plus a little of the park history. The man behind the creation of the Colorado National Monument was John Otto, who settled in Grand Junction in the early 20th century. Otto was the first white man to explore the area.

Prior to Otto’s arrival, many area residents believed the canyons to be inaccessible to humans. Otto began building trails on the plateau and into the canyons.  As word spread about his work, the Chamber of Commerce of Grand Junction sent a delegation to investigate. The delegation returned praising both Otto’s work and the scenic beauty of the wilderness area, and the local newspaper began lobbying to make it a National Park. A bill was introduced and carried by the local Representatives to the U.S. Congress and Senate but a Congressional slowdown in the final months threatened the process. To ensure protection of the canyons President William Howard Taft (who had visited the area) stepped in and used the highest powers available to him via the Antiquities Act and presidential proclamation to declare the canyons as a national monument

John Otto was hired as the first park ranger, drawing a salary of $1 per month. For the next 16 years, he continued building and maintaining trails while living in a tent in the park.

For many years during the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps. built roads, tunnels, trails, and other features of the park. The CCC left in 1941; the major Rim drive was completed in the 1950s.

Following the Ranger talk we visited the Visitor Center. I liked the fact that it is built from the native sandstone…

After we had seen a few exhibits in the Visitor Center we drove the Rim drive for 23 miles, all the way to Grand Junction. We saw 23 miles of rocks.

Here I liked the walls made from the natural sandstone… These walls are several hundred feet long, and they occur at many of the pull-outs along the Rim drive…

After we left the park we drove through Grand Junction again. We found truck fuel and DEF. Tomorrow we will return to Fruita for some final grocery shopping before we enter the wilderness of Dinosaur National Monument, Flaming Gorge Dam, and the Grand Tetons National Park…

It was 97 degrees again, but we have good, clean power, so both AC units are running in the Airstream… At 5:00 we took a walk around the lake in the park.

We also saw the Colorado River again, adjacent to the park…

Unfortunately, we walked out of the park and around the outside of the park, and finally had to go totally around the park and walk in the maim entrance…

After a short break we joined other caravaners for happy hours. We returned to the Villa, and an enjoyable time was had by all…,

2021-05-25 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan…Traveling to Rock Springs, WY

We had our first view of magnificent, snow-capped mountains today. We traveled, south to north, almost the entire length of Utah, driving among beautiful mountain meadows and valleys, surrounded by towering mountains.

North of Provo we turned east onto the mighty Interstate 80, which extends from San Francisco to Teaneck, NJ. Again, these beautiful mountain meadows are around 6,500′ elevation, with towering mountains all around.

We stopped for lunch at a great local sandwich shop and walked briskly around the parking lot to keep our watches happy… The shopping center was on the highway leading to the entrance of the Park City ski area…

We’re not sure what this is we’re looking at. Maybe ski jumps?

Eventually we almost got a picture of the Wyoming state line…

More meadows with towering mountains beyond. Those are patches of snow on the meadow floor, although the temperatures are in the mid 60s here…

We continued driving straight across Wyoming. Straight across…

The topography does change on occasion…

And when we drive straight across Wyoming, we also drive straight through the mountains…

We stopped for the night in Rock Springs, at another KOA. This place was very beak, as KOAs go, but sites were spacious, it was quiet, and we has a restful evening…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

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