Sunday, July 28, 2013

Inverter Blues Cured

Springville, UT and St. George, UT – July 26 through 28, 2013

We timed today’s trip to arrive in Salt Lake City after 12 noon to pick up our new inverter. We had about a 100 miles to go and it was mostly downhill, great for the fuel economy. As we got closer, the traffic began to pick up and get squirrely. But I kept saying to myself, I only have to put up with it for a day.


EJ picked a Walmart to park Big Guy so we could unhook the Element. It was close to both the interstate and West Marine where the inverter waited for us. As it turns out, the Walmart was right next door to an In-n-Out Burger. And it was lunchtime when we got there. Yummy!!


After lunch we ran over to get the inverter and found out it didn’t come with the required fuse. Since we upgraded from a 600 watt to a 1000 watt inverter, the fuse we were currently using wouldn’t be sufficient to handle the load. And of course, West Marine didn’t have the fuse we needed.

So, we spent the next four hours running around south Salt Lake City looking for a 150 amp fuse to fit the holder I had already installed. I didn’t think it would be this difficult because the first car stereo shop I went to back home in Orange Park had it. We must have found half a dozen car stereo shops and they were either closed up or had never heard of the fuse I needed. We even tried several auto parts stores. Finally in frustration, I picked up a fuse that I could modify to fit the fuse holder. As we were driving back to Big Guy, we spotted a car stereo shop that wasn’t on our list. A quick u-turn later I ran inside and then back outside with a triumphant smile on my face. They had exactly what I wanted.

So, half an hour to pick up the inverter and 4 hours to find a fuse. Just in time for rush hour traffic out of Salt Lake as EJ scours the internet for a place to roost for the night.


Oh, and it hasn’t gotten any cooler either.


We find a nice place in Springville, about 50 miles south of Salt Lake that will accept one of our many discount cards. After we get settled it turns out to be cool enough (barely) to sit outside while EJ does some computer work. While we’re here Frank gets the new inverter installed and we are once again electric hookup independent. Now if we can just find some place that doesn’t require 24 hour air conditioning.


The next day finds us on the road to St. George, UT where an Elks Lodge with electric hookups awaits us. EJ was watching the weather radar on the iPad and suggested we take a break at one point because it looked like the thunderstorms were closing in on us.


On the way we also pass a Walmart distribution center. That’s a lot of trailers to fill.


As we get closer to St. George you can see the scenery change more and more to an orange/red hue.


At last we spot the Elks Lodge nestled up against the red rocks.


The first night we had company, but after that we pretty much had it to ourselves. We look lonely don’t we?


On our first night we went inside the Lodge to check in and buy a couple of adult beverages to celebrate our arrival. We met the camp host who proceeded to invite us to have some pizza on the house. Wow! Drinks and dinner.

The next day it was still miserably hot so it was definitely a day for inside activities. We found a movie with blissfully cool air conditioning and watched Red2 and had popcorn for lunch.  We still needed some exercise so we searched for and found a shopping mall where we do a few laps and stretch our legs in air conditioned comfort. As a reward we consumed a Jamocha Shake. Once again, all things were in balance and harmony.

Having finally made the decision to visit EJ’s brother in Monterey, CA (before turning around for home) we decided to stop in Las Vegas to see some old friends since it doesn’t add that many miles to the trip. So, next stop, Vegas!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Meeting Matt or How to park two big RVs in one Spot

Phillips Campground, Evanston, Wyoming – July 24 & 25, 2013

It was hard to leave the Grand Tetons, but off we go. On the way to Evanston from Jackson (both in Wyoming) the drive along the Snake River was really beautiful.

P1000812 (1024x728)P1000814 (1024x768)

Life on the road always has it’s little surprises. All of a sudden we hear an alarm and look at all the gauges to figure out what’s going on. Turns out it was the leveling jacks alarm, so we pulled over to check it out. Frank fiddled with it and all seemed OK.  As a side benefit we were in Afton, WY where they claim to have the worlds largest Elkhorn arch.


Further down the road we saw this unidentified structure next to a soccer field behind a pile of bundled wood sticks.


We choose Evanston as our next spot to land for three reasons. One because the Phillips Campground offered a decent discount, two because it perfectly poised us for our descent into Salt Lake City to pick up the new inverter for Big Guy and three because it had a Laundromat.

On our arrival EJ immediately went into laundry mode because we intend to only stay one night as the inverter will be ready for pickup late tomorrow afternoon.  After the laundry was done our reward was dinner at Pedros, a convenient Mexican food establishment next to the campground. They served a decent Margarita and the food was good (even if a little messy) so EJ was happy.


What we hadn’t counted on was Evanston being an interesting town with lots of history. It was a former mining town and railroad center.  There’s going to be lots to explore. On the way to breakfast we discovered this artifact which has something to do with mining, we think.


There was an excellent Museum where a docent adopted EJ and wouldn’t leave her side the whole time we were there. The docent didn’t like me though because maybe I snarled at her or something. But EJ got a lot of information. The museum was in an old Carnegie Library and full of great exhibits and lots of mining and railroad artifacts.

Our timing was right for a change and we were able to catch the local farmers market. There was a neat renovated truck at the entrance to the market, an old Freightliner, I think. The market itself was good as there was lots of good ole’ produce and decadent baked goods. In fact at one of the baked good vendors we had to fight off a little old lady to get the last cinnamon roll. (Actually a new tray of cinnamon rolls came out so there was plenty for everyone).


Afterwards we walked around downtown to check out the old buildings and flowers.


We figured the townfolks liked having fun with us tourists. For instance, all the crosswalks had instructions about how to push the button to change the traffic lights so it was safe to cross the street. Only there were no buttons to push.


At one point we went back by the RV to pick something up and there was a big beautiful Country Coach parked in the site next to us. The owner came over and said “you’re in my spot”. We thought he was just joking around. We didn’t think too much about it until we drove by a little later and it was in the same site, only pointed in a different direction. We thought it a little odd, but didn’t pay much attention as we were in search of the local Elks Lodge to say hello.

I had remembered seeing it on a map as being located close to us, but after we drove a reasonable distance and didn’t find it we decided to pull out the iPad and see what info the Internet had about it. Of course it had a different location all together so we drove across town to where the GPS said the address was. There was nothing there but houses, duplexes to be specific.

So we drag out the iPad again and ask Google maps to find the local Elks Lodge. It shows it located just beyond where we gave up searching the first time. We figure we’ll be more diligent this time and leave no street unexplored, no stone unturned. We follow the directions along a gravel road up a hill to what looks like a promising building and find this.


We finally came to the conclusion that there is no Elks Lodge in Evanston, Wyoming.

We finished the day exploring the railroad buildings and parks. Evanston was a repair center for locomotives and had a huge roundhouse. Over the years the building had fallen into disrepair, but efforts are under way to restore it. About half the building has been fixed up and it looks pretty good.


After a day of exploring it’s time to head back to Big Guy and relax. Only, when we get to Big Guy, the Country Coach is now parked on the opposite side from before and over in our site, about 3 feet from the side of Big Guy. Now EJ knows I ‘m kinda touchy about what I perceive to be my personal space and this guy had stepped waay over the line. When we pull up, I see the Country Coach owner and the campground owner having a go at it, and I figure I’ll just sit back and see what develops.

The campground owner is unhappy because he’s parked the wrong way and I’m unhappy because he’s parked over in our spot and well inside my personal space. I’m hauling our farmers market booty from the Element to Big Guy and Country Coach owner corners EJ and starts chatting her up.

It becomes obvious that Country Coach owner (who we now know as Matt) is starved for company, likes women and the spot he ended up in is the only place he could get his Direct TV satellite antenna to work. After we talk a bit, he goes back inside his coach and brings out a present. It’s a roll of toilet paper. With Obama’s face on each square. We break out laughing and Matt looks relieved. He wasn’t quite sure how we were going to react.

Turns out Matt is 82 years old, travels alone, and has been fulltiming for about 20 years. EJ and I set up some outdoor chairs and invite Matt to join us. Reluctantly he agrees, afraid we’ll be offended because he has a tendency to talk too much. Which is understandable because he said he has a hard time finding agreeable company.

We had an enjoyable evening listening to stories of his travels, his wife who passed away, girlfriends and Frank even managed to get him to talk about his coach. It was 16 years old and looked brand new. Country Coaches really hold up well.

We finally call it a night, Matt asks us how late we sleep in because he doesn’t want to make any noise before we’re up since he’s only three feet away. EJ told him she hoped he didn’t snore too loudly!

The next morning he’s on his way and we wave goodbye. We’re not far behind him.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

GRAND Tetons

Gros Ventre Campground, Grand Tetons National Park, WY – July 17 thru July 23, 2013

When we had visited the campground earlier, we were told it is best to check in between 11:00 and noon, So we packed up and headed out. The drive was even better sitting up high in BG.

Grand Tetons (1) (1024x756)Grand Tetons (2) (1024x754)

After getting settled at our site we took off for Jackson or as it’s also known,  Jackson Hole. Traffic was heavy and lots of people, so much for our theory that mid week things aren’t as busy. We found the Snake River Brewing Company and had lunch.

Grand Tetons (29) (1024x683)

Thus fortified we’re off to check out the town. EJ did some browsing and Frank sat in the town park to avoid the crowds. They had these great arches made from Elk antlers at all four corners of the park. Nice place with lots of Galleries, but nothing in our price range.  

Grand Tetons (30) (1024x669)Grand Tetons (31) (1024x681)

Frank was ready to be done with town, so we headed back. We did stop at the Visitors Center and enjoyed the dioramas and displays. We learned that the male Elks shed their antlers every year, so that is why there are so many to create all of the arches and other art. The center was located overlooking the Elk Refuge and from up top we could see all of the traffic coming back into Jackson.

Grand Tetons (32) (1024x683)

We had heard about the town of Kelly near our campground that had a deli/coffee shop so we checked it out on our way back. The town has maybe two dirt roads with houses and several Yurts. Kind of a cloudy sunset, but the view from the RV can’t be beat.

Grand Tetons (3) (1024x768)Grand Tetons (4) (1024x766)

What a nice cool night and lazy morning. Frank was outside and told me to look out the front window. This herd of Bison were slowly grazing by.

Grand Tetons (7) (1024x766)

We headed out for some of the roads less traveled that we had not done yet. We drove out Gros Ventre Road and made a stop at the coffee/deli in Kelly. Uh oh – they make a great Mocha Latte. We came upon the Gros Ventre Slide area. Interesting  event that caused the damning of a river, creation of a lake and dramatically changed landscape.

Grand Tetons (8) (1024x768)Grand Tetons (9) (1024x768)Grand Tetons (10) (1024x768)Grand Tetons (11) (1024x747)Grand Tetons (12) (1024x768)Grand Tetons (14) (1024x744)

We had to check out the Kelly Warm Springs. It turned out not to be so warm, but it was a spring none the less. We got out feet wet, but the rocks were too slippery to go very far. We later talked to the coffee shop manager and she said the locals don’t go in because of all of the Bison using it. Maybe that’s why they call it a Warm Spring.

Grand Tetons (16) (1024x768)

Off to Signal Mountain and more great Teton Views along the way.

Grand Tetons (15) (1024x768)Grand Tetons (17) (1024x768)

It was a really nice drive up to the top and we were rewarded with spectacular views of the northeast corner of the park. Including an area they call the potholes. Back at the bottom of the drive we had a peek at Jackson Lake.

Grand Tetons (18) (1024x763)Grand Tetons (19) (1024x768)Grand Tetons (20) (1024x768)

Traffic wasn’t too bad, so we decided to check out Teton Village to get some information on the Tram ride up the mountain. Turns out it had stopped running at 6pm, but the 8 passenger gondola that went up 3/4 of the way to a restaurant and overlook was still running AND since it was after 4:30, it was free. Can’t pass that up, so off we went. Great views on the way up and at the top.

Grand Tetons (21) (1024x768)Grand Tetons (22) (1024x768)Grand Tetons (23) (1024x768)Grand Tetons (24) (1024x768)Grand Tetons (25) (1024x747)Grand Tetons (26) (1024x768)

As usual for us, we paid for two nights thinking that would be enough, but we felt there was more to do and enjoy so we upped another night and hung around camp. Later in the day we took a break and a drive to the coffee shop. It is very bad that it is only a mile from camp. Went to explore a dirt road we hadn’t been on yet and came across a herd of Bison enjoying the afternoon. This time we could see some young ones.

Grand Tetons (33) (1024x683)Grand Tetons (34) (1024x683)Grand Tetons (35) (1024x680)

Still not sure where to next and we are getting sooo good at this linger longer stuff, we upped another day. Went to our(getting to be personal) coffee shop for lunch and local wildlife.

Grand Tetons (36) (1024x666)

Grand Tetons (27) (1024x767)Grand Tetons (28) (1024x762)

Also on Monday Frank’s theory concerning crowd sizes and idiots was proven again. (Let’s use the term Bozo’s instead of Idiots. It’s a little less harsh). Monday morning we went to the camp entrance to pay up for one more day. It seems as though a lot of folks decided to stay over Sunday night and leave on Monday. You can already sense that a crowd is in the making.

At the entrance there is a loop that contains 2 dump stations and one fresh water station. The loop is one way, with signs, and there is room for one RV at each station. Well, all the stations were full and there was a line of RV’s waiting their turn. That makes a crowd, right? Well, sure enough, one Bozo decides he doesn’t want to go the direction the one way sign indicates. So he backs up and runs right into another RV. Sigh, you just can’t fix stupid!!

We have really enjoyed our time at the Grand Tetons. We did take time to go into Jackson again for groceries, Pizza fix, a movie and to take care of some paperwork. We also got to have a campfire one evening and soak up the full moon. Not a bad way to end our stay.

Grand Tetons (37) (768x1024)Grand Tetons (40) (1024x768)Grand Tetons (38) (1024x751)Grand Tetons (39) (1024x767)

Unfortunately the additional inverter that Frank installed to help conserve our battery usage shot craps one day, so our next stop will be in Salt Lake City, Utah where we will pick up a new one.