Thursday, November 27, 2014

So Much to be Thankful for........

This is our first Thanksgiving on the road and we have so much to be thankful for. For me personally, I am thankful for Barb, my kids/grandkids, our health as well as my family and friends. It does not take Thanksgiving to remind us of how thankful we are, Barb and I talk about it frequently.
Traditionally we would be spending this week with many of our good friends at deer camp in northern Wisconsin, a tradition we have been part of for many years. Thanksgiving itself, would be spent with my brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews in the Wisconsin/Minnesota area. Although all these people are dearly missed, this year we spent the day with our two children in Salt Lake, something we have not done in over 13 years.

We failed miserably in the picture department. Barb was busy preparing the feast and I……well……I was watching football. It was not until we were on our way home I realized that we did not take any pictures.

The main purpose of this short post is to wish a happy Thanksgiving to our dear family and friends. There are way too many to mention so I am going to try and group some together……So Happy Thanksgiving to my family, who we missed this year, to our friends in the Milltown/Balsam Lake/Somerset/River Falls and Spring Valley Wisconsin area, Barb’s family in northern California and southern Oregon, to our deer camp friends, to our friends in North Dakota, to Barb’s horse friends and her friends at the county and last but not least to our new fulltimer friends we have met (online and in person) while we are on the road. We wish you all nothing but well wishes and are thankful to have you in our lives.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thawing Out in Zion

Click Pictures to Enlarge

We left Salt Lake Wednesday morning in hopes to find a warmer climate where our waterline (and us) would thaw and we would have running water again. We drove I15 south for about 4 ½ hours to Zion National Park, the temps were in the mid 50’s when we pulled into Watchman Campground so hopefully things would thaw out in short order. We had not made reservations as we peeked at the reservation website and saw that it was not that busy and we wanted to see the sites before picking. We pretty much had our pick of sites and set up in B22, a beautiful site with great views. We only booked for two nights as we were hoping to find a boondocking location for the rest of our stay.
Prior to driving down, we had been in contact with fellow full-timers FOSJ who we had met in South Dakota last year. They are working in the Lake Mead area for the winter and said if we were ever in the area they would meet up with us. Well, to full-timers 2 ½ hours is considered “in the area”. You will not find nicer people than Steve and Joan, they drove up to Zion to meet up with us and show us the area. They have been to the area numerous times in the past, in fact, this was their 4th trip this year! They know the area very well and showed us many of the usual places as well as a few lesser known areas that we would have never traveled to on our own.  There are so many beautiful sights, it is hard to know which pictures to include.

Our tour guides, Steve and Joan

Barb saved my life!
This is absolutely the most beautiful park we have been to so far, the views, nature and rock formations are second to none. As Joan pointed out, the views change throughout the day as the sun hits the rock formations at different angles. The pictures don’t do it justice but we did the best that we could. We also created a short video of this adventure which you can view as well. Steve and Joan stayed two days and headed back to Lake Mead leaving Barb and I to fend for ourselves.

One of the first orders of business was see if we could get the water running. In additional to something freezing up, the water pump stopped working as well but we should be thawed out after two days in the upper 50’s. It seems like they put the waterpumps in the most inconvenient areas. But after accessing it through a panel in the belly I discovered an inline fuse was blown. After replacing it, I go back inside and hit the switch, turn on the faucet, and we have water! Shower time!
We were not able to find a place to boondock so we needed to reserve our location for the next couple of nights so we went to the office and it was not available, as a matter of fact there were no site available for two consecutive in the entire park! Who knew that Thanksgiving week would be so popular in Zion? We were able to get a different site for that night and another site for the next. So we moved and were ready for our day.

Our next order of business was to head to our “must do” hikes, Angels Landing. It is described as: “The Angels Landing Trail is one of the most famous and thrilling hikes in the national park system. Zion's pride and joy runs along a narrow rock fin with dizzying drop-offs on both sides. The trail culminates at a lofty perch, boasting magnificent views in every direction. Rarely is such an intimidating path so frequented by hikers. One would think that this narrow ridge with deep chasms on each of its flanks would allure only the most intrepid of hikers.”
We headed out full of anticipation and enthusiasm, the first part of the hike was not too bad, a few switchbacks and beautiful level area between two rock walls. This was followed by some more severe switchbacks to a plateau where we had lunch and prepared ourselves for the most intense part of the hike. The last section is an intense hike up the “narrow rock fin with dizzying drop-offs on both sides” described above. There were chains to hang onto in the most dangerous spots and believe me when I say we had a tight hold of the chains! Neither of us are great fans of heights so we focused on the area right around our feet and only took peeks at the surrounding scenery. After numerous breaks we finally made it to the top and it was definitely worth the trip. I made a 4 minute video of this adventure and this is one you cannot miss!

The next day, we had to move sites (once again) and I stayed home trying to get rid of a cold while Barb went hiking. She did the Hidden Canyon route and took some great pictures while in a narrow canyon.


Another cool thing about Zion is the wildlife, we saw mule deer, bighorn sheep, turkeys and a multitude of other creatures. Being late in the fall, it is mating season for the deer and bighorns so the bucks and rams were busy chasing the ladies around. I was able to get some good video of the mule deer chasing each other around, follow this link to see the video.  On the morning of our last day when Barb took Daisy out for her morning walk and only made it about 15 feet before she was charged by a deer! She turned and ran for the rig dragging Daisy as the deer chased them! It wasn't until Barb and Daisy hit the stairs that the deer veered and ran within 3' of the trailer!

Today (Monday) we are packing up and making our way back up to Salt Lake in preparation for Thanksgiving. Hopefully, it has warmed up enough to stay until Christmas, if not, we will head south to thaw out again!

Monday, November 17, 2014

You Know You Married the Right Woman When.........

I could write a book on this subject as there are so many reasons…… this is just but another example of “You Know you Married the Right Woman When…..” It started last Friday, Barb was over at Jessica’s painting Dylan’s room and I was to spend the day getting started on a project of finishing the roughed-in bathroom at Forrest’s house. I went to Home Depot, picked up some sheetrock, insulation and a few other supplies. Returning to Forrest’s I remove everything from the truck and get to work. I got as far as I could for the day and decided to go to the bike shop to get those bicycle flat tires I mentioned on my last post fixed and jumped in the truck to head to the bike store. Halfway there I realize I don’t have my wallet…..turn the truck around and head back to Forrest’s. Search the house high and low….cannot find my wallet! Go look in the truck, no luck. Go back in the house…. Nothing. I knew I had it at Home Depot, where the heck is it?????? Now I am panicking, did I leave it at the store? Back out to the truck, take everything out of the truck, jacket, computer, iPad, trash….. no wallet! Ugh! Back in the house tear the couch apart and there it is! Whew.
I jump in the truck, all is well and I am going to get those tires fixed. I get about a mile down the road and I hear something sliding across the roof of the truck followed by Bam, Clank! “What the heck is that?” I look behind me in time to see the computer bouncing off the bed of the truck and head towards the pavement. I stopped as soon as I could but it was too late. I walk back and start picking up the pieces….computer body, battery, CD door. Walk back to the truck and remember that I had put my iPad up there as well. I get out again and look, no iPad. I have a protective case around it so maybe….. just maybe it survived. So I turn around and retrace my path and a few hundred yards back I see my iPad! I pull over run over to the iPad and pick it up. No iPad, just am empty case. I look a little further down the road and there it is in the middle of the road totally smashed! I again pick up the pieces and head back to the truck totally sick to my stomach! Between the two items, there goes a couple of grand. Mentally beating myself up I head to the bike shop and drop off the tires and head over to Jessica’s to wait the hour it will take the bike shop to fix them.  Do I tell Barb right away? Do I wait for the right moment? May as well get it over with…. “Barb, can you come out to the truck, I have something to show you”. We get out there I tell her the story and show her the pieces. She starts laughing and says “Sucks to be you!” That scenario could have gone so many ways but that my friends, is another example of how I know I married the right woman!

That night I get home and inspect the computer. The screen is not broken….maybe, just maybe…. I had to jam the battery back in and after a few whacks it seats itself in place. I open it up and hit the power button… works!!! I give it a good run through and other than not having a CD door and some cosmetic issues it seems to be okay!
One survived the crash
The other did not...

The weather turned for the worse here much like almost everywhere else across the country. Not a lot of snow, but the temps have dropped down into the 20’s during the day and the single digits at night. As a result we have not been doing a lot outdoors. Most of our time has been spent at the kids continuing to paint and finish Forrest’s bathroom. The trailer held up for a few days but we woke up two days ago and everything was froze up. No water! We have been trying to thaw it out for the past two days but no luck. We finally came to a solution that we know will work, we are leaving Wednesday morning for warmer temps! As of right now, it appears as though we are going to head to Zion National Park about 4 hours south where the temps will be in the 60’s. We have been wanting to see this area and planned to when the weather turned colder, we just did not think it would be this early. Our plan is to stay there for 4-5 days and head back to Salt Lake for Thanksgiving. 
Another result of this cold snap was the marina froze up with 3” of ice virtually overnight leaving 8 boats frozen in their slips. Talking to the marina manager, he doubts it will thaw anytime soon and they were going to work on getting the remaining boats out today.

Frozen in tight!

Last but not least, I managed to put together two videos this week from some adventures we had earlier in the year. One is of a trout fishing excursion we had in Hill City last spring. The other is some underwater video of the Monster northern Pike I was feeding much of the summer while in Canada which is really cool!
Hopefully the weather will be a bit warmer when we come back!
If you have an example of how you know you married the right person, feel free to post it in the comment section, we would love to hear it.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Halloween and Goat Heads!

Halloween and Goat Heads, two things that can be very scary indeed. Life at the marina is going well, the weather has cooled off and day by day we see boat owners removing their boats from the water before the harbor ices over. We have had a nice mix of family time and adventure time throughout the week. Last Friday we went Trick or Treating with the kids. Our children Jessica and Forrest only live about 25 minutes apart so everyone was able to get together for the event. Dylan dressed up at a Teen Age Mutant Ninja Turtle, Lily dressed up as a pumpkin and Kendall, well, she dressed up like an adorable 7 month little girl. Lily’s costume was actually the same one that Forrest had worn when he was her age some 25 years ago! It was really cool to walk the neighborhood with everyone and watching the kids run from door to door. After about an hour the kids had had enough and with buckets full we headed back to Jessica’s to review the bounty!

Jessica inspected the buckets for safety removing any sketchy looking candy and choke hazards then Barb and I then inspected each of the buckets removing a couple of choice items for ourselves! On the way home that night Barb reminisced about how she and her younger brother “Shorty” would go out and get pillow cases full of candy and come home, and spend hours trading with each other for their favorites while her dad snuck in and took what he wanted. Both Shorty and her Dad passed away several years ago and it is nice to have happy memories like these that bring a smile.
On a wagon ride

Lily and Dylan ready to go!

Lily in the 25 year old pumpkin

What’s with the Goat Heads you ask? Being Halloween, you are probably picturing Zombie-like bloody heads with bulging eyes. Not quite, but these Goat Heads are equally as scary. Also known as stickers, prickers, thorns…….usually with an appropriate adjective in front of them, Goat Heads are everywhere! When we take Daisy for a walk she is on three legs more often than not, and at least once a night I manage to find on while walking barefoot in the trailer. Would you believe Barb just laughs when she sees me swearing, hopping around on one foot?!?!?! I think she is planting them strategically throughout the trailer!

We finally got the bikes out the other day as there were a few of geocaches within a couple of miles that was wanted to find. We had not ridden our bikes for a couple of months so I got them off the carrier, oiled the chains, topped off the air and away we went! We went to the furthest one first which was about 2 miles from the trailer and found it without issue. The next one was on our way back and we had to go off road a bit but found that one pretty easily as well. Once we got back to the bike trail our tires are covered with…… that’s right….Goat Heads! I start plucking them off the back tire and I start hearing psssssss…..Oh man! We jump on our bikes and book it back to the rig before the tire goes totally flat. Shortly after we get back I have two flat tires and Barb has one! Come to find out that most cyclists in this area have self-sealing tires filled with Slime or a similar liquid.

The infamous Goat Heads!
On another geocaching adventure we hiked up to some local hot springs called Fifth Water Hotsprings (see latest video here). The trailhead is about 45 minutes from our trailer. The scenery on the way to the trailhead is worth the drive along and only gets better once you start walking. Barb and I had underdressed as the start of the trail was along a stream between two ridges where the sun does not hit. There was frost on the ground and we were off to a chilly start. The trail is a couple miles long and works its way uphill along the river. We were starting to warm up from our walk and the river valley opened up allowing the sun to warm the ground. Now were we were perfectly dressed!

Beautiful scenery and waterfalls around every bend
Barb had downloaded 6 geocaches that were allegedly on the trail to the hot springs so we searched for those along the way too. The first two we could not find, either they were not there or the cacher who hid them did a very good job. We plugged in the coordinates for the next one and the notes said it was on a large rock. As we got close we started looking for a large rock….. what the heck…. There are rocks everywhere how do we differentiate this particular rock from the rest? As we rounded a bend, there in front of us next to the trail was a large rock! Well, I think I was call it a huge freak'en rock about 10’ tall! We walked around the rock trying to figure out how to get up there and did not see an easy route. After walking around it a couple times we said screw it and decided to go onto the next one.
The next one was called “Treed by a Moose” After entering the coordinates we headed up the trail. The coordinates led us to the base of a large cedar tree and we walked the area looking for the cache. The GPS said we were with a few feet of it and nothing….we would spread out our search but the GPS said we were getting further away and kept leading us back to the same spot. That is when we thought of the name and a light bulb went off and we started looking up! No…..who are the people hiding these? They must be part monkey! Being part monkey myself, up the tree I went and sure enough, there it was! (see video)

A short time later we arrived at the hot springs. There is about 3-4 different pools that are created by “hot springs” bubbling up from the ground and someone had built rock walls creating several pool areas where you can soak for a while. The water was a blueish/green color and was really beautiful.  Rumor had it the higher up the trail you went the hotter the springs got so we decided to head up a bit further and see how hot they got. We rounded another bend and whoa!!! Here is a naked guy standing in the next pool (again, see video!). I guess now we are overdressed! He unbashfully stands there and talks to us as we walk by. We check out the area and decide that maybe we will soak in one of the vacant ones down the trail. We head back to the first pool, get our suits on, lay out our lunch on a flat rock next to the pool and get it to have lunch and relax. We were there about 15 minutes enjoying the view, the hot water, our lunch and guess who comes walking down the trail? Yup, naked guy! So much for the view and our appetite! He walks by, finds a sunny area and sits down on a rock sunning himself…..really! After a while, he moves out of sight to another sunny area out of sight from us. We thought this might be a good time for us pack up and head back down the trail again. About 100 yards down the trail, there he is again, on a rock above the trail in the sun! By this time we are laughing our @sses off with our latest stalker!
Notice the color of the water

Barb relaxing in a pool

On the way back we were enjoying the downhill walk, taking pictures of the scenery and waterfalls until we come upon…, not him again! Our other nemesis, the big rock. We walk around it again and there is just no way we can get up there. Until I say “I have an idea”. I explain the idea to Barb and she says “No way!” After a little prodding, she gets on my shoulders, I stand on a log next to the rock then she stands on my shoulders and success, she is on the rock! Guess what? No cache! Unbelievable! Barb gets down the same way she gets up (see…..yup, the video!)

"The Rock"
We make it back to the truck, drive back to the trailer and prepare dinner. As we are eating and reminiscing about the day, the hike, the waterfalls, the geocaches but what image do you think is burned into our memories forever????? Ugh!