Friday, October 31, 2014

Week One in Utah

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We have been in Salt Lake for a little over a week and what an action packed week it was!
Activities included; hiking, biking, fishing and a Birthday Party just to mention a few. We arrived at Lindon Marina on the south side of Salt Lake Wednesday afternoon and quickly got set up. Everything looked pretty much the same as when we left last spring. Again, Lindon Marina is not an official campground but the owner will allow RV’s for $12/night with no hook ups. We had the entire Marina to ourselves and weather permitting we will be here through December.

Thursday we spent the day at Forrest’s doing laundry and washing the truck. Forrest and Lily got home a little after 5 and Somer got home after 7. It was good to catch up and see everyone. Lily has really grown in the past few months!
Friday we spent the day at Jessica’s. Visiting and washing the 5th wheel. We had driven a lot of gravel roads in the past few weeks and it really needed it. Both Dylan and Kendall had grown since we saw them last as well. Dylan is now quite the talker and Kendall is almost to the crawling stage.

Saturday Barb, Forrest, Lily and I went up American Fork Canyon to do some hiking. Forrest had told us about a little trout lake near the top of a mountain and we wanted to see it. The drive to the parking area was quite an adventure in itself, a lot of switchbacks on gravel roads with severe drop offs and no guardrails. Once we got to the parking area Forrest pointed to the top of the mountain and said “That’s where we are going”. I started wondering what I had gotten myself into.
Barb and I loaded up our backpacks while Forrest loaded up Lily and we headed up the mountain. It took us about an hour and a half to get to the lake which was on a shelf a few hundred feet below the peak. The trail itself was not horrible, the first 1/3 was a gravel trail with a gradual slope through an aspen forest. The second 1/3 was a pretty steep grade with numerous switchbacks softball to bowling ball size rocks as the trail. The last 1/3 was went back to a more moderate grade though pine trees. Between the high altitude (10,000 feet) and the steep grades it was an @ss whooper! But once you got to the top the views were spectacular! It is hard to believe you would find a lake up here, let alone one with trout in it. We fished for about an hour and caught a few small trout then explored the area a little more. Barb had downloaded a geocache location that was up there. Once we got within 50 yards of it Barb and Forrest had to go “off trail” uphill to find it. The terrain was pretty steep so Lily and I volunteered to stay on the trail and wait it out. When they returned they said the geocache was located at the mouth of an old mine shaft that was barred off. That in itself would have been cool to see. They took a few pictures and came back down. We also found an abandoned miners cabin back in the pines. It would be very interesting to know the history of a building like that. There were lots of names, initials and dates carved into the wood on the inside. The oldest we saw was from 1953.
A look back down the trail

Old mine

Barb looking for a trout
 We made it back down the mountainside just as the sun was setting…..everyone slept really well that night! I attempted to create an adventure video of this trip. I am just learning how to do this so bear with me. You should be able to click here to see it.
Sunday morning Forrest was over at the trailer at 6:30am to pick me up for some duck hunting. We went to a slough about 3 miles south of the marina. It reminded me of duck hunting when I was a younger, 6 decoys and a long walk through the slough to small open water channel. There is something special about watching the sunrise in the middle of a slough with your son. Although the ducks were not really cooperative, we had a good time and managed to get one mallard for our efforts. That afternoon Somer and Lily came over to the trailer and we watched football and had duck kabobs. Barb had made some jalapeno duck poppers with Cajun cream cheese wrapped in bacon which they all ate up!

I continue to be amazed by the interesting things that we run across on the road. In this case, it happened right here at the marina. When we parked the rig we noticed several boats with large nets parked in front of our rig. The next day a couple of trucks pulled up to the boats and a group of men in waders got out of the trucks, went to the boats and took off out on the lake. The boats started returning one at a time several hours later and pulled up to what looked like a hay elevator we used on our hobby farm. From a distance I could tell that they were loading something on the elevator and dumping it into a large dumpster hooked up to a truck. Curiosity got the better of me and I wandered over to see what was going on. Turns out that these guys were contracted to remove the excess carp from the lake! Talking to them, they said that their overall goal is to take 1,000,000 pounds and they took 14 tons of carp from the lake that day alone.
Carp boats and nets
Unloading their catch
Tuesday the 28th was Dylan’s 5th birthday. Jessica had rented a bouncy house for the day. It was a small get together with only 4 kids; Dylan, Lily, and two of the neighbor kids who were 7 and 2. It has been years since we have been at a birthday party for a 5 year old and let me tell you….. you mix presents, kids, sugar and bouncy house and you are in for a meltdown or two! Actually, everyone was really good and a good time was had by all.
Dylan with one of his presents
Birthday boy!

Jessica and Barb on the bouncy house

Lily riding the scooter


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Flaming Gorge

Click pictures to enlarge....

We left Ditch Creek campground outside of Hill City on Thursday. We had a great couple of days there, had the campground to ourselves, hiked and went fly fishing in Ditch Creek. Although we caught a couple of rainbow trout, the wind was pretty nasty which made it difficult to control the flies.

The morning we departed we woke up to frost on the ground and a thin layer of ice on the puddles. The wind had died down and it was a beautiful morning. After hooking up we headed down the gravel, about two miles down the road we came across a pretty good size tree across the road. No doubt a victim of yesterday’s wind. Luckily, it was broken in enough places that Barb and I were able to drag it off to the edge of the road and continue on our journey.
Any bigger and we would have been in trouble!
Our next destination was going to be Flaming Gorge National Park in the northeast edge of Utah but our goal for the day was to stop outside of Casper Wyoming. As we were driving Barb was on line looking at different places that we could stay, we had decided that we would get through Casper and find a quiet location on some BLM land where we could stay for free for the night. Do you ever get cravings that interfere with reason, logic or other practical thinking? Well, it was one of these cravings that changed our entire plan for the day. Instead of driving through Casper and finding a free spot for the night, we stayed in Casper, paid for a site and had Chinese for dinner! I don’t know if it was our craving or if the food was really that good but we both agreed that it was some of the best Chinese that we had ever had!

Our site at Fort Casper
We ended up staying at the Fort Casper RV Park. At $21.00 for the night (with our Passport America discount) it was pretty reasonable and had full hook ups. Like many of the city RV parks we have stayed at, it seemed like more than ½ of the sites were filled with fulltime tenants. You can often tell someone has been parked there a while when you see permanent skirting and large propane tanks outside their rigs. We took advantage of the full hook ups the next morning; Barb cleaned and vacuumed the rig while I topped off the water. We were on the road by 11:00 on our way to Flaming Gorge.

If you are planning a trip to the northeast part of Utah, you must visit the Flaming Gorge area! It is absolutely beautiful. One of our “must do’s” while in this area was to fish the Green River which is one of the premier trout rivers in the country. Many of the Forest Service campgrounds were closed for the season but we were able to find one that was still open and had sites big enough for our rig. Dripping Springs Campground is just outside of the town of Dutch John and within a couple miles of many of the attractions in this area. Unlike Ditch Creek, we did not have the place to ourselves. In fact, it was a lot busier than we thought it would be for this time of year. It was not real crowded, just busier than we thought it was going to be. Evidently the Green River attracts fly fisherman at all times of the year, that  plus the fact that it was the opening day of deer season made for more people than we were used to.
State signs are sometimes very interesting
A mule deer who was nice enough to pose for a picture

Green River from the overlook....from here I see 7 fisherman

Another view of the Green with only one fisherman in the bottom right

We drove to the area we wanted to fish and saw that it was fairly crowded and decided that we would wait until Monday when the weekend warriors had to go back to work.  Instead we drove around, visited the local fly shop where we picked up the “hot flies” and then visited some of the local attractions around the area. The area around the Flaming Gorge Reservoir is stunning, the water is so clear you can see down 20 or more feet and we could see trout swimming everywhere. There were a number of people fishing and it seemed like most of them had 3-4 nice size trout on their stringers. I talked to a younger fisherman who looked like he was from the area and asked him if he knew of an area that was a little more remote that we could fish. He pointed us to an area down Jug Hollow Road that has pretty good shore fishing and is remote. Barb and I found the road, drove about 5 miles down a gravel road to the reservoir. He was not kidding when he said it was remote! When we got there the only people we saw were two elderly gentleman fishing along the shore and they had 7 nice trout on the stringer. After talking with them and getting the skinny on what they were using we also discovered that this area was BLM Land and that we could also bring our rig down there and stay for free if we want to as well!
Jug Hollow road with the reservoir off in the distance 

Flaming Gorge Dam
The next morning we hooked up the trailer and headed for Jug Hollow! The road down there was fairly decent but you could tell from the ruts in the road that it could get dicey if we got any rain. The forecast for the next two days was good so we found a nice spot right next to the lake and set up. We did not see anyone for the next two days and caught several very nice trout. We took a lot of pictures but like many we take they just don't do the scenery justice. Finally I climbed on top of the rig and took a few which turned out much better. We read, fished and reorganized the belly of the trailer getting rid of two more totes. It was a very peaceful location but Tuesday called for a 40% chance of rain so we thought we better pack up and head out just in case.
No another soul in sight!

View to the north.........

We released most.....

but kept two for the grill!
After setting back up at Dripping Springs we headed to the Green River to try our luck at with the fly rods. As we were arriving an old-timer (we guessed he was in his 70’s) was fishing the river and walking out. We talked to him for a bit and he said “the damn trout have lockjaw!” and that he did not catch a thing. Barb and I fished for several hours, saw numerous trout, put our flies right in front of their noses and by God, the old-timer was right……they just weren’t biting! Regardless, we had a great time and walked some beautiful country. Although we were skunked on this outing, we will be back!
Our site at Dripping Springs
Next stop……Salt Lake City where we will be staying at the Lindon Marina for the months of November and December so we can spend the holidays with the kids!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Two Days in South Dakota

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“Yes!” Was the first word that came out of my mouth. What got me so exciting and thankful at the same time? Let me back up to the beginning of the day. We woke up Monday morning at Roosevelt National Park and got ready for our short 3 ½ hour trek to Spearfish South Dakota. Leaving Roosevelt we headed south on highway 85 which would take us all the way to Spearfish. The scenery went from rugged hills to agricultural fields, to rolling grasslands. It is amazing how quickly the terrain can change when you get out to the western edges of the Dakotas.
Daisy, enjoying the scenery

Our destination was Rod and Gun Campground just outside of Spearfish. We had tried to get to this campground last spring when we were in the area. Unfortunately the road was still closed from the snow so now we were hoping to finally get there. Barb had been doing some research and thought that Rod and Gun would be a nice, quiet, out of the way campground. The website said that 25’ trailers were the max that this park could handle but Barb had read a couple of reviews from fellow bloggers saying that it could handle much bigger rigs. We had 4 miles of gravel once we got off the main road, when we got to the campground I pulled in and stopped at the entrance so we could walk through and see if we could fit in any of the sites. There were two problems; one there were no sites big enough for our rig and two, it was a dead end road with a small turn around. Barb remembered that there was another campground a mile of the road so we thought we would check that one out. Backing out and getting on the main road we made our way to the next campground and pulled in. Again we parked at the entrance to see if we could fit in any of the sites. Luckily both campgrounds were totally empty so we were not in anyone’s way. The nice thing about this campground was that it had a circle drive encircled with large rocks so at least we could get in and out. By this time Barb and I were getting tired and a little frustrated but although tight, we thought we could make it into one of the sites. The next thing she said to me was “Careful you don’t hit a rock”, that’s when I handed her the keys. Now Barb is one of the best drivers I know, she has driven horse trailers for years and the 5th wheel as much as I have, she certainly would not hit one right?????? Around she went, me walking beside the inside tire to guide her if she needed it. At the tightest spot the rear trailer tire about 5”s from the rock when she went by it, that’s when I heard……crunch! Daisy and I made our way to the front of the truck to see that she had hit a rock with the front outside tire smashing the wheel cover! The first thing out of my mouth was “Yes!” She said she was so intent on watching the mirror to make sure she missed the rock to the rear, she did not even see the one up front. I just started laughing saying “I am so glad that was you and not me!” We both laughed and she said something like…..”You’re not going to blog this are you?” The first thing I did was got the camera and said “Of course not honey!”
The replacement is already on order

Ends up we could not fit into any of the sites at that location either so we decided to make our way to Ditch Creek Campground where we stayed last spring. Well, we set the Garmin for Ditch Creek and it did it to us again! If you recall one of our first adventures “Don’t Trust Your GPS” Garmin sent us down a dead end road that nearly ended our adventure before it really started! Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice….well, it did not fool us this time! When it told us to turn right on county road 321, we looked before we turned and what we saw was a road that was filled with large rocks, going up hill and not even wide enough for the truck! We made it to Ditch Creek Campground 2 hours later and were set up just as the sun was setting, 8 hours after we left Roosevelt, so much for the short day!
County Road? Looks more like a path!

The morals for today……Although you cannot believe everything on the internet, some things should be believed,….. Sometimes it is better to laugh than cry…….A bad day on the road is better than working!.....When the going gets rough, give Barb the keys…
Just like in the spring, we had the place to ourselves!

Day two we went into town to get connected and download some geocache locations as that was our plan for the day. I don’t mind hiking, but I need to have a purpose or goal. Geocaching is the perfect solution for that. Barb chose a half a dozen that looked interesting and after we walked Main Street of Hill City away we went. The first one was really easy, you could basically drive within 50 yards of it and it was just film canister with a log. The second one was a little more challenging requiring a ½ mile walk in hilly terrain. The cache was located at the base of a pretty cool rock formation and had some unique items in it. The most unique being a Hello Kitty wristwatch.

Barb, heading out on a hunt
Which led us to the base of this rock
The contents of some of these make you wonder.......
The third one….oh the third one, where do I start. The description stated that it was on top of Flag Mountain where the old fire watch tower was located. Armed with coordinates we headed that way in the truck. We drove up the hill (had some great views!) and drove what felt like around the peak but no matter what we could only drive within a ¼ mile of the coordinates. Now, a ¼ mile is nothing but when that ¼ mile is almost straight up it makes you think twice! After driving up and down the road a couple times looking for a road that brought us closer we decided there must not be one, parked as close as we could and started our ascent.

Huffing and puffing up the hill we went, I kept asking Barb “How much further?” She would relay 2 tenths of a mile, then 1.5 tenths, 1.2 tenths….. the higher we got the steeper it got and the more frequently we had to stop. Near the end we would go up and 10-20 feet at a time then rest. Finally, we climb over a rocky ridge and what do we see? A frick’in road! Unbelievable….. Well actually it is believable, of course an old fire tower is going to have a road going to it! The view from up there was spectacular, the pictures below do not do it justice. Only the base of the fire tower was remaining but you had to wonder the work that went into building that back in the day. As we continued to search for the cache, it said it was downhill! I was like hell, no I am not going down there! I stayed on top while Barb went down to look for our treasure. She found it in pretty short order, signed the book and smashed her finger with a rock hiding it again! So if you are ever outside of Hill City, looking for the geocache on the top of Flag Mountain, take the road and look under the rock with blood on it!

The views up here were awesome!

Barb uncovering the cache

Barb and Daisy at the remains of the fire tower

The way down went much quicker I think Barb spent most of the time sliding down on her butt. I asked her what she was doing and she said something about gravity and trying to stay in control. After that we called it a day, we had probably walked just over a mile all day but we were whooped!

Sunday, October 12, 2014


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Come over for dinner tonight she said, we are having Fleischkuechle. These were the words of Deanne Finken the day before we were to leave their farm in Douglas North Dakota. Those of you that know me know that I am more than a little bit picky about what I eat. My initial thought was “Hell no, if I can’t pronounce it or spell it, I ain’t eating it!” Then I reminded myself that Barb and I vowed to live more adventurously and step outside of our comfort zone once in a while. Deanne went on to say that Fleischkuechle (Flesh-Keek-Luh) is a German pastry that has been made in her family for years. I “googled” it to learn how to spell it and found this description: “Fleischkuechle is a Germans from Russia meat pie that is popular around the Dakotas. It is so popular in some places that you can go to a local Dairy Queen and get it, I hear it even outsells hamburgers.”  The picture below is exactly how Deanne’s looked as well.  Regardless of the fact that I still cannot spell it and can barely pronounce it, it was delicious!
The next morning, after a little over a week on the Finken farm, we packed everything up for our trek to Medora North Dakota. Bob, Deanne, Dillon, Chris and Holly were great hosts and we truly enjoyed our time with them.
The four hour trip to Medora was a little longer than it needed to be as we decided to take out time and try a little more scenic route. It is interesting to see the terrain change from prairie potholes to rugged hills and bluffs. Arriving at the Cottonwood Campground in Theodore Roosevelt National Park we set up our campsite and had an early afternoon cocktail. As we were sitting there we realized…..this is the first time we have been alone since we were in the Blackhills last April! Since then we have either been staying with friends, family or had been up at Pasha Lake Cabins in Canada. With no place to be, no one to visit and no one looking for minnows, it was quiet, peaceful and kind of surreal. Barb and I had a toast sitting outside the rig watching the sunset and enjoyed the moment. 

The campground itself is very nice. Situated along the Little Missouri River, there are quite a few pull through campsites. However, there were probably only 6 that would fit our 40’ rig. There is potable water located at the entrance to the campground and with no power, we relied on our solar battery bank for all our power during our stay. Cell service was limited but we were able to get a couple bars and 3G with our Millenicom Jetpack. Being off season the daily rate was only $5/day which was a definite bonus.

The following day we were on a mission to explore the park and look for some local geocaches. There was only one problem, they don’t allow geocaches within the park boundaries. We were able to find some “virtual geocaches” within the park that provided clues to the next one and eventually led a geocache outside the park boundary. Each of the virtual locations led to scenic areas within the park, then you had to use the coordinates of that location and add some numbers provided in the clue to get the coordinates to the next location. It took us a good ½ day to find and walk to these locations but we had planned on seeing as much of the park as possible so it was time well spent. We saw some spectacular scenery and quite a bit of wildlife. Buffalo were quite abundant and were on the road several occasion. On one occasion we actually had to navigate through a herd on the road that would not move out of the way. Barb was sitting on the roof through the sunroof taking pictures.  Most of the buffalo could care less if you drive by them but there was one bull in particular that was not happy that we were within a couple feet of him and kinda growled as we went by. For a moment I thought he was going to ram the truck! By early afternoon we had visited all the virtual locations within the park and had the clues necessary to figure out the coordinates for the actual cache outside the park.

That big one in the middle was not  happy when we passed him!

"Almost got Honey, just one more step back"
After lunch (and watching the Gophers beat Northwestern!) we headed out to find the geocache outside the park. It was along a lake about 16 miles from our campsite with a trove of treasures located inside a metal ammo box. People put the weirdest things inside geocaches, this one had; the log book, a pair of pliers, a tape measure, a matchbox car and a few business cards. According to the log book it had been placed there in 2003 and had only been found twice in the past year. We added our name to the log book and added probably the most valuable thing in the cache to date…..a free drink chip to the Thirsty Otter in Balsam Lake Wisconsin!

Tomorrow we pack up and head south towards the Black hills, where we will stop is anybody's guess. Barb is doing some research on where we will stop tomorrow as I write this and watch the Vikings getting whooped again!
Wild horses in the prairie

I want a backrub too!

Who wants a backrub?

Win Canyon Sand Sculptures