Day 1, Sunday, June 10, Home to Reno, NV via SR99, I-80: 186 Miles
(Photos lost during an earlier site migration.)
We moved our departure date up one day because, well… just because. I guess we were anxious to get on the road. Lavonne brought up the idea and I jumped all over it. I love to drive and travel on these RV trips; Lavonne loves to visit the kids. For her it’s the destination. For me it’s the journey. We were both happy to hit the road.
But it is a lot of work preparing the coach for the trip, cleaning it inside and out and loading it with groceries and clothes and all the little necessities of everyday life. We worked for two days to get it all done. But these trips are worth the effort. For now. When we get much older I don’t know if that will be so. I hope it will be.
We drove up I-80 to Reno, the worst of California’s rotten roads. It is a concrete monstrosity, cracked, broken and worn unevenly by the chains used during the harsh winter snows of the Sierra. It was so rough that the coach shook and rattled like a tin can. There is simply no excuse for such shabby infrastructure. Governor Arnie should be embarrassed but he probably doesn’t even know. This trip was taken aboard our first coach, a 2001 Rexhall which we owned for several years and drove for 100,000 miles. We then sold Ol’ Rex to our friends, Rich and Juanita Poelstra, who put many more miles on her. (File Photo)
We camped for the night in the parking lot of Reno’s Atlantis Hotel and Casino. We had a lovely dinner in one of their several restaurants,then gambled away $40 on the slots. I guess that’s their fair return for our night in their lot. We rarely gamble and throwing away our money as we did that evening is the main reason why.
Day 2, Monday, June 11, Reno NV to Wendover, NV via I-80: 388 Miles.
We drove almost 400 miles the 2nd day of our trip. It was sunny and mild ’til we caught up to what may have been the storm that blew through the Sierras ahead of us. We drove into it, clearly seeing the darkness and lightning ahead. We drove through pounding rain for a spell,eventually arriving at Wendover, Nevada for the night.
We didn’t see much rain during the evening but the wind blew well into the night. Even so, we gambled for a couple of hours and almost broke even; we lost about $2. Not a bad price for a bit of entertainment. We had a delightful dinner at the Peppermill’s Coco Palms restaurant. The Peppermill is no small town casino. It’s a flashy, beautiful casino that belies its remote location. It is obvious that the casinos in Wendover have invested heavily to attract the travelers along I-80 and the Utah gamblers. It was a lovely place to spend the second night of our vacation.
Day 3, Tuesday, June 12, Wendover, NV to Pinedale, WY via I-80, US189, US191: 353 Miles.
We left Wendover for our next stop which we thought would be Rawlins. However, Lavonne has a couple of old friends living about a hundred miles north of I-80 and has talked of visiting them on one of these Colorado trips. I was happy to drive the extra miles if she wished, and after calling them, the visit was agreed to. We headed north on US 189 a few miles east of Evanston, and headed to US191 and their home near Pinedale.
Lavonne hadn’t seen her friends, Bill and Lucille Belveal, for 30 years. She was anxious about the visit as we climbed higher and higher towards the Wind River Range on the two lane highway for about 90 miles. At US 191 we turned south for a few miles and drove through Pinedale to their lovely home and several acres of pasture. Horses occupied their pastures and the whole spread sat in a beautiful setting below the towering peaks of the Wind River Range. Folks such as myself who have driven only I-80 through Wyoming are surprised by the natural beauty of the state north of Interstate 80.
We had a lovely visit as we dined with them and then drove a few miles up a back road to an elevation of about 9000 feet. The view of the Wind River Range at that altitude was simply awesome. We passed high elevation lakes as we climbed, including one that occupies what certainly appears to be an old crater. It was cool and crisp high in those Rocky Mountains, and the night air dropped to a very cool 37° as we slept aboard the coach. A couple of spare blankets were put to good use that night.
Day 4, Wednesday, June 13, Pinedale, WY to Laramie, WY via US191, I-80: 295 Miles.
We left early the morning of Day 4 because our gracious hosts had a long trip to make that day themselves. We drove south on US191 for 100 miles to Rock Springs, a town located at the junction of the US Highway and Interstate 80. We then continued east for about 150 miles to Laramie, Wyoming, where we stopped for the night at a KOA RV park. We were able to “camp” very comfortably at the park with the convenience of all the usual utility hookups. Having arrived early in the afternoon, we had the rest of the day to rest after four days on the road. It was a welcome rest and we’d arrive at our kids’ home the next afternoon.
Day 5, Thursday, June 14, Laramie, WY to Greenwood Village, CO via I-80, I-25: 165 Miles.
We took our time leaving the RV park the morning of Day 5. I dumped the holding tanks and filled the fresh water tank and did a myriad of other little chores that are all a part of RVing. When we got underway, all was done and we were good to go for several days.
However, in just a few hours we would be parked at our kids’ house for a few day. We continued east on I-80 to Cheyenne, Wyoming where we headed south on I-25. As we neared our destination near Denver, we decided to pay a visit to Walker Manufacturing, probably less than a mile off I-25 in Fort Collins, Colorado. We were distributors for Walker Manufacturing and sold Walker Mowers for about 17 years – ’til we sold out and retired in 2002.
The Walkers, brothers Bob and Dean and their father, Max, were all at work when we dropped in. We enjoyed a very pleasant visit with them and several of the employees we knew back in the “old days”. The factory continues to move ahead with very modern technology and automated systems. I was treated to a brief tour of the factory where I saw an amazing automated materials handling system. That system stored and retrieved raw sheets of steel, cut parts from the sheets and stacked the parts – all without the touch of a human hand. I also witnessed an automated robot welding machine that was just as amazing. This world is, indeed, becoming a technological wonderland.
After our very pleasant factory visit we continued south on I-25, passing Denver and arriving at the home of our son and daughter-in-law, Allen and Nancy. We stayed for several days as we visited and caught up on their very busy and interesting lives. The days and evenings were filled with happy visits and plenty of dining out. This Colorado trip has become an annual affair and we really do enjoy every single visit.
Days 6 – 11, June 14 – 19, Parked in Colorado.
It was a busy yet relaxing visit with the kids. We ate out about every night at such notable places as Sullivan’s Steakhouse in downtown Denver. That place was an experience! Valet parking at the door, lobsters on death row in their glass holding cell, live jazz music wafting through the restaurant from the bar and truly excellent dining fare. For an ol’ redneck like me, that was about as grand as dining gets. And the many old time boxing photos and even the great John L.Sullivan’s championship belt hanging on the walls impressed this old boxing fan.
We also dined at somewhat less extravagant restaurants such as Boston Market (even that was a first for me) and the very unique and Mexican restaurant, The Hacienda, in nearby Lakewood. They advertise “Mountain Mex” as their style – and it was very good.
We also spent time lolly-gagging in the hot tub and just hangin’ out with the family. But the time had to come that we packed our stuff back into the coach and headed west for home. We took beautiful US40 through Colorado and Utah and then I-80 through Nevada and on home. Those long, scenic and sometimes lonely two lane US Highways are always an enjoyable drive for me. We see the real America at 55 MPH on those back roads that most folks miss while speeding down the roaring Interstates.
Day 10, Tuesday, June 19, Greenwood Village, CO to Vernal, UT via I-25, US6, I-70, US40: 329 Miles.
We began our last day with the kids the same way we began every morning with them: By having coffee together and continuing our lovely visit. The plan for our first day on the road heading back home was to catch US40 and see the beautiful Rocky Mountains from a smaller, less traveled highway. And we were not disappointed.
The beauty of the Rockies is breathtaking as one climbs to Berthold Summit on US40 – an elevation of over 11,300 ft. (Strange, but the summit on I-70 is also called Berthold.) The coach pulled us on up and over with little effort other than gearing down and pulling hard. We were surprised to see that not many miles later we crossed another pass near the 10,000 ft. elevation – both passes being Continental Divides. How many continents are there in Colorado?! Apparently the Continental Divide covers more than one range. I’ve seen the same in Wyoming.
Highway 40 continued on through lower elevations, but none much below 6000 ft. until we reached further west in Colorado. The evergreens gave way to a desert landscape and the day grew very warm. We ran the air conditioner much of the day.
Eventually we reached the Utah line and soon after pulled into the Wal-Mart store in Vernal. While at the kids’ I checked the internet to see if the Vernal Wal-Mart store accepted overnight RVers as do almost all Wal-Marts. According to the website I checked, which was not necessarily gospel, they did not accept overnight RVs. Ahhh, but I have spent the night at too many Wal-Marts all across the country with signs declaring overnight parking taboo to believe Wal-Mart wouldn’t invite us to rest for the night in their lot. But sure enough, as we pulled into the Vernal Wal-Mart lot, a very official looking yellow and black sign declared that Vernal’s city fathers forbid “unauthorized” parking. That is a catch all ordinance if I’ve ever seen one. What is “unauthorized”? I’m sure it was about overnight parking, although it didn’t say so explicitly.
I checked with the greeter at Wal-Mart and was told very nicely that I was welcome to stay. He had never heard of the city ordinance actually being enforced – and it certainly wasn’t Wal-Mart’s idea. Just as I thought – and not at all uncommon – the local RV parks have undoubtedly convinced the city fathers to forbid Wal-Mart the freedom to invite whoever they want to spend the night on Wal-Mart’s very own private property. What is this country coming to!? We pulled in and parked for the night and struck another small victory for freedom. God bless America.
Day 11, Wednesday, June 20, Vernal, UT to Elko, NV via US40, I-80: 386 Miles.
We rested comfortably and quietly at the Wal-Mart store parking lot. A couple other RVs joined us for the night as well. Because the weather was quite warm, I wanted to get an early start. We headed west on US40 at about 6 o’clock – just a bit after sunrise.
Before we left Colorado, we planned to drive to Wendover, NV and camp at the Peppermill Casino again. But having driven further Tuesday than we planned, we also drove further Wednesday and pulled into the Best Western Gold Country Inn and RV Park in Elko about 2 o’clock PST. We rented what was the last space available, and settled in for the afternoon and night.
Lavonne likes the RV parks because our stingy RV shower rules can be somewhat relaxed and that makes for a bit more shower time. It is nice to have cable TV and AC power without running the generator, but for myself, when I RV alone, I virtually never use RV parks. Being parked cheek-by-jowl with other RVers is not my choice, either. I’d rather be at a parking lot where I can move to a less cramped area if I wish.
Naturally we had to visit the casino, and dropped another $42 “gaming”. We then succumbed to the temptation to dine in their very nice restaurant. We ought to eat the good food we bring along in the coach, but these casino restaurants are just too tempting.
Day 12, Thursday, June 21 (Summer Solstice), Elko, NV to Boomtown, NV via I-80: 292 Miles.
We had a restful night at the Best Western in Elko in spite of the nearby railroad tracks and the occasional train passing during the night. After our morning coffee I dumped the holding tanks, filled the fresh water tank, and did my usual morning routines to make ready for the day’s journey.
We got an early start to beat the summer heat of Nevada’s high desert on this, the first day of summer. Unfortunately, as we motored west on I-80 a huge cloud of dust suddenly shot up from the roadway a few hundred yards ahead of us. Lavonne asked what it was and I suggested that someone must have run off the road. As we slowly passed the scene, several folks had already pulled over and had run across the highway to the center median where a small auto was upside down, wheels still spinning. A passer-by was already looking into the vehicle. We never heard the details, but someone’s day was surely ruined. It did not appear that anyone was thrown out of the vehicle. We assumed the driver fell asleep, ran off the road, lost control and turned over. Hopefully there were no serious injuries.
We arrived in Sparks, just east of Reno, and tried to land at the Silver Club – a casino just off the highway where we planned to spend the night. The whole area was a mess due to construction, so after driving around several blocks we returned to the freeway and headed for Boomtown, just west of Reno. We pulled in about 2 o’clock and found it very easy to park in their big, patrolled parking lot. We fired up the generator and turned on the air conditioner to keep little Miss Wiggles, our poodle, cool and comfortable while she waited for us in the coach. We then headed to Boomtown’s casino and pulled out some more cash to dump into the poker slots.
After dropping about $45 plus the cost of dinner, we returned to the coach. Wiggles welcomed us back with her usual enthusiasm, unaware of the wasteful nature of our absence. I guess dropping a few bucks is the price we pay for foolishly trying to get something for nothing. But we had a good time and it was probably worth the money.
Day 13, Friday, June 21, Boomtown, NV to Home via I-80, SR99: 175 Miles
Friday dawned cool and breezy in Boomtown. We even turned on the heater in the coach to make it comfortable. After running the generator and air conditioner the night before for six hours, the cool weather was a surprise.
We completed the morning routine early and got underway just a bit after 7 o’clock. I pumped 20 gallons of gas into the coach to be sure we’d make it home and headed up the hill to Donner Pass. From Donner Summit to Sacramento it is a downhill run most of the way. For this old trucker it is an entertaining drive. It has a lot of curves, uphill pulls and downhill runs. I drive such highways like my old log truck driving days. It is a stretch of highway that I can often run well over my usual 55 or 60 MPH as it’s “free” speed with all that downhill.
We stopped at Galt, fairly near home, for breakfast aboard the coach. We were home at 10 o’clock and began unloading the coach at once. That’s a big job – and after dumping the tanks I always wash the front of the coach to remove the bug collection. We were all done by a bit after noon.
It’s good to be home, but the trip was a great getaway for us. Another of our three sons, Craig, and his two kids, Breanne and Brett came over for lunch to welcome us home. And it was very good to be home.
We spent over $900 for gas during this trip of almost 2600 miles. With gas prices averaging about $3.25 per gallon, RVing isn’t quite the pleasure it once was, but we did have a good time and aren’t about to give up to the high cost of driving. Hopefully gas prices will drop by the time I leave for the next trip. I noted that the prices here at home are down 12 cents or so per gallon. Perhaps the worst of the high prices are over.
Over the years I have posted many exciting fishing and boating stories here, but now in my seventies, it was time to sell the boat and find less demanding pastimes. All the fishing stories are still here! I will now post my travels aboard the motorhome and other activities. I hope y'all will still enjoy the fishing and boating adventures and perhaps peek in on my post-boating activities on occasion. Thanks for dropping in and I hope you enjoy your visit.