Two Holes in the Ground

Miffed about the Rift

Welp, my intent to visit the Grand Canyon North Rim was foiled by our country’s overreaction to the #}~*&$!€ Covid threat. So very stupid at this point. Open. The. Damn. Country.

So I hung at Jacob Lake on the Kaibab Plateau, 40 some miles from the canyon rim. I could’ve gotten to the rim by way of forest service roads but they were rough and a 3-hour drive each way in an F250 didn’t fire me up. I’d had done it in an ATV…

The cold, windy weather made it tough to stay outside so it turned out to be a lazy couple days listening to the pine trees sing.

Another Hole in the Ground

When I passed through southern Utah last spring Cedar Breaks National Monument was inaccessible because the roads were still closed. This time I made it! The scenic road had opened just a few days earlier. Thankfully.

Cedar Breaks - Sunset View Overlook
Cedar Breaks – Sunset View Overlook

I dropped Synko at the KOA in Cedar City and then drove the 60-70 mile loop around this really cool, beautiful geological display. Similar to Bryce Canyon, the Breaks displays maybe a dozen layers of rock and sediment types. Very cool. Very pretty. Very impressive.

My added reward for a few extra miles of driving was stopping into Policy Kings Brewery downtown. I’d visited here last year and this time was great too. Soooooo nice to be able to actually sit and enjoy a couple brews, Covid be dammed. Their Chai Saison and Azzaca IPA are both very good. I like this family-run place; they always change up their beer selections, as they run a nano system making very small batches. Kinda like Bonfire in Eagle Colorado. Good stuff.

Friday I dropped in on friends Ed & Kathryn; we visited Snow Canyon state park, Tuacahn Center for the Arts, and then Coyote Gulch for a remarkable dill Havarti burger. (Scratch adjective remarkable; superb is a better descriptor.) Good scenes, a good burger, a good brew, a good venue and good friends made for a really good evening. Thanks to Ed & Kathryn for their hospitality. I’d missed them last year when I was in the St. George area but they away. Glad to have it work out this time!

I made the short drive to Las Vegas better by detouring through the Lake Mead Recreation Area and Valley of Fire state park. Much better than boring I-15. The couple hour drive wrapped up with a quick visit to Blue Beacon Truck Wash to knock the bugs out of Synko’s teeth. It was an $80 bill but the ol’ girl looks much better.

Only Slots in Vegas this Time!
Only Slots in Vegas this Time!

At the Vegas KOA I spent hours cleaning the Utah red dust from every nook & cranny of Synko’s insides. That stuff gets everywhere. My truck got the same treatment. Tedious cleaning—but it’s not like I was distracted by any gaming action. The only slots playing today were the laundry machines! Stupid Corona.  Scratch stupid Corona; stupid Coronoa overreaction is a better descriptor.)

Next up: a week in Pahrump hanging with Pam & Billy, and Julie—a scenario for times unreportable? Oh yeah, here comes the heat tooa few days north of 100 forecast this week. Dang, kinda early ain’t it?… Check back in a week or so for whatever’s reportable from Pahrump and then my 5-day run across country to Nashville the first week of June.

Past Houses Farms & Fields

Pahrump was fun! Julie & I had a blast hanging with Pam & Billy, enjoying the company of their family and each other. Can’t say we really did a helluva lot but they were good times! A few days were stupidly hot but the week ended in beautiful weather. All-in-all, we had a great time!

Julie and I headed out from Lakeside Casino RV Park Monday late morning and an hourish later I dropped her off at McCarran airport to catch her flight back to DFW. I kept rolling, planning to spend the night in Flagstaff. Anxious Arizona changed that plan, as they had enacted a statewide nighttime curfew. With no place to hang for a brew or dinner I just kept heading east until I reached curfew time near Petrified Forest National Park.

The Great State of New Mexico’s Roads
The Great State of New Mexico’s Roads

That couple-hour mileage gain put me ahead of schedule for the next day and my original plan to reach Las Vegas, NM was completed by about 1pm so I just kept going eastbound and down, bouncing across northeast New Mexico, a corner of Oklahoma and into Kansas.

 

The unremarkable stretch of southwest Kansas into Dodge City rolled slowly by. I noticed all the grain silos were on the west side of the highway. When I mentioned this Shelley suggested it was because railway tracks were on the west side; finally made more sense than mere coincidence. After a long drive of 12.5 hours I backed into a mediocre site at the Dodge City KOA. It was good enuf for a quick overnight.

Wednesday was truly a day spent “rolling past houses, farms and fields” as I crossed Kansas on US400. Good road overall and got pretty nice winding through a few hills as I neared Missouri. With rain clouds in my mirror I pulled into the heavily wooded Springfield KOA and let them deliver a pretty decent pizza to my site. Early morning storms threatened to throw tree branches onto my rig but the ones that did fall thankfully missed me.

My eastward trek contributed through the Ozarks into western Kentucky and the pretty Kentucky and Bartley Lakes region. I overnighted at at campground I had stayed at before on the east shore of Lake Bartley. Synko got a bath but my clothes did not, as Kentucky apparently is one of the states that overreacted to corona; the campground laundry facility was closed. In the end that gained me about $25 as I griped that they had not informed me of the loss of that amenity. (I also griped about the narrow site they gave me and the flaky power that they had to fix. Management was good to honor my request and I’ll return to that nice campground,)

After a short 90 minute drive Saturday into Nashville I settled into the KOA resort near Opryland where Shelley & Brett joined me in the site next to mine. And that’s where the trip currently finds me this beautiful Sunday morning. Church online is on in 30 so I’ll sign off here and pick up in a week or so after we’ve searched out a distillery or two! Cheers!

Pahrump & Death Valley

In early March Julie, Brad & I were having dinner and got to talking about this upcoming trip. We realized I was only gonna be a few hours from Las Vegas when I was in Flagstaff. So since our cousin Pam & Billy live outside Vegas Julie decided to fly in and join me for a week hanging out with Pam & Billy.

I overnighted at a KOA in Vegas (this old man was in bed by 8:30, lol!) and then picked Julie up at the RV lot at McCarran Airport, after buying a new taillight assembly to replace the one I killed in Williams (a $150 ugh). We drove up to Pahrump, set up camp at the nice Lakeside Casino & RV Park, and then Pam came over for cocktails and Billy joined us for dinner after he got home from work.

We really did just about as little as possible all week. I installed remote door locks, a tire monitor booster and fixed a few minor things. But the overall theme was “chill.” Enjoyed some of Pam’s great pulled pork and a fire in their backyard; bummed around town a bit (you can’t do much more than “a bit” in Pahrump!); and had brunch with $1 Bloody Mary’s at the golf course.

Sunday night Shelley and her work friend Tissa stopped by for a glass of vino on their way to check out Death Valley Monday, before attending a conference in Sin City. Julie & I joined them at Badwater Monday morning to quickly take in some of Death Valley’s attractions. The Valley was really pretty this time of year—even featuring some water in low places! And it was not freaking hot! It was a good day, certainly worth the drive. More noteworthy: huge thanks to Pam for doing my laundry while we were away for the day! Truly a sweet, much appreciated favor!

It was so great hanging with Pam and Billy; we hated to pack up and head out after the week. But Julie needed to get back to her retirement life in Frisco. For me, Utah was calling!…

Southwest Spring Summary

An alliteration of S’s for my spring in the southwest: stunning, superior, scenic, sensational, spectacular, striking, splendid.

From the boldness of Big Bend to the uplifted canyons of Utah to the fun of spring training and a week visiting Pam & Billy, this was an awesome six weeks! Checkout my posts for this phenomenal Southwest trip.

Trip stats:

  • Racked up a total of 5752 miles
  • The trailer hung with me for 3956 miles (69%); lots of non-towing driving in Big Bend, Death Valley, Bryce, Canyonlands)
  • Drove a total of 151 hours
  • Traveled through 7 states
  • Stayed in 21 different campsites over 44 days
  • Averaged 12 MPG in fuel consumption (that’s as good as I got last summer towing a traditional trailer that was 5 thousand pounds lighter; I’m very pleased!)
  • Used 90-100 pounds of propane for cooking, cooling, and lots of heating

I’m now back at the Vineyards Campground on Lake Grapevine until mid-May when I take off for the Rockies for the entire summer!

I appreciate God giving me this awesome opportunity and for looking over me while I traveled this region of our great land. And thanks for your prayers for safety. Love y’all. God’s best,

Mark