Our annual trek to Colorado – and this year, Oregon!
June 6-22, 2010
Day 1, Sunday, Home to Winnemucca, NV via SR99, I-80: 340 miles
After a week’s delay our annual road trip to Allen and Nancy’s in Colorado had arrived. And the timing worked just fine; we’d avoid the slurry coating of our home community roadways and RV lot. That’s a time of much inconvenience and we needed to get the coach out of the lot anyway. Other than fishing trips and my treks to Dean’s, we hadn’t been on an interstate adventure since our trip to Allen’s last September. I was anxious to hit the road; my lovely Lavonne was tolerant.
It was the usual climb up Donner, but there was a lot of snow there for June, and we were happy to see it. It has been a wet winter and spring and I’m hoping the lakes will fill nicely with the springtime runoff.
Soda Bombed!! High elevation and warm weather must have caused this mess. We’ve hauled sodas over Donner many times in the summer. It’s never happened before and is still a mystery.
We arrived at Winnemucca, Nevada’s Walmart store at 6:20 in the evening. Upon exiting the coach I noticed something dripping out of the forward starboard hold – and discovered that a bunch of soda cans had exploded during our drive. It was a mess! About 18 cans of the several cases onboard had blown open, and there was an inch or so of cola in the hold. Everything was soaked including other supplies that we carried there. After a 45 minute cleanup, all was pretty much back to normal, but the mystery remained. We have carried sodas with us as long as we’ve been RVing. We’ve driven on much hotter days, driven the route from our near sea level home over Donner Summit at 7000 feet plus, but never had this happen. The only difference we could think of was that these were Diet-Rite sodas whereas we’d always carried Coke or Pepsi in the past. Could the Diet-Rites have weaker pop-top seals? More explosive carbonation? We didn’t know- but we cleaned up the mess from the Diet-Rites and hoped that we never get soda-bombed again!
Lavonne seemed to enjoy the first day’s travel. She tolerates the journey; the destination is her greatest pleasure.
We settled in for a quiet, restful night, as usual, and would head for Evanston, Wyoming on Day 2. The RV life is good!
June 7, Monday, Day 2. Winnemucca, NV to Tooele, UT via I-80: 324 miles
Early morning at Winnemucca’s Walmart. The start of Day 2.
We were back on I-80 and heading east towards Utah by 8:30 a.m. on Day 2. It was a perfect day to be on the road; it was sunny and mild and we drove through very light traffic across Nevada’s desert.
We had a change of plans as we approached Wendover on the Utah/Nevada state line. I had been bucking cross winds by that time, and was pretty tired of the driving. We decided to pull into the Rainbow Casino on the Nevada side, and spend the rest of the day. We’d already driven over 200 miles, and an early stop seemed like a grand idea. After a couple of hours at the slot machine, however, I was rested and wanted to get back on the road. The drive across the salt flats between Wendover and Salt Lake City is long, tedious, and boring. And this time it was also very windy. I bucked a cross wind the entire 100 mile+ drive, and by the time we got back to civilization near a small town called Tooele, UT, we decided to call it a day. We pulled into the Flying J on I-80 at 5:00 p.m. Mountain Time, dropped the jacks and were done for the day. I was pooped. We were entertained by the thunder storms that drenched the area that evening and overnight, something we’re not used to in our area.
Thunderstorm at Tooele, Utah – refreshing and entertaining!
It was a restful evening, as usual, and we would drive the 400 miles to Laramie, WY on Day 3.
Day 3, June 8, Tuesday, Tooele, UT to Laramie, WY via I-80: 400 miles
After chores and a walk, we were back on the road at 8:15, and began the day’s drive by joining the Salt Lake City commute. It wasn’t half bad, and we didn’t have to deal with slow traffic. Beyond Salt Lake City is the long climb up to Park City, Utah. From there to the Wyoming line is some of the most beautiful scenery along I-80.
The view above Park City near Coalville, Utah – a beautiful drive with green pastures and ranch land.
The drive through Wyoming is quite different; it is many miles of endless grassland and is often windy. It is not beautiful by my definition, but I always enjoy the drive. The traffic seems to be mostly trucks whizzing along at about 75 MPH, probably streaking from one end of Wyoming on through to the other end, delivering the goods across the nation.
It seems that there is a decent sized town about every 100 miles across Wyoming. We pulled off at Green River, WY in response to a sign on the Hiway for TacoTime – Lavonne’s favorite Mexican fast food chain. After a drive of about five miles, we pulled in to a most attractive little hut and found a one cashier counter that took about 20 minutes to get our order. But it was a good lunch, and we headed back the five miles to I-80. Some miles later we stopped again in a small town so I could get my “double whammy” – a McFlurry and a cup of coffee – at a McDonald’s. That combination really jolts me when I’ve gotten road-rummy. I walked into the modern store with three cash registers – and 10 customers standing around like cattle waiting for service. Not a soul was to be seen working the counter – and after a couple of minutes of standing there with the herd, I headed back to the coach. How does McDonald’s do so well when they have stores that fail so miserably?! And I’ve always wondered why they call Mickey D’s “fast food”. It’s seldom fast. But I do love the stuff.
Jacks down at Laramie’s KOA. I was hoping for another thunder storm – it didn’t happen.
We pulled into the KOA just off the highway in Laramie, Wy about 5:00 p.m. and were welcomed warmly by the very friendly hostess. The place is just gravel roads and the sounds of I-80 keep one company day and night, but it is a well run and very friendly place. We paid our rent for the night and settled into a space. The clouds looked like a thunderstorm might entertain us for the second evening in a row, but none developed. I was disappointed.
We enjoyed our evening in Laramie’s KOA, and looked forward to arriving at the kids’ place on Day 4. Life on the road is good!
Day 4, Wednesday, Laramie, WY to Greenwood Village, CO via I-80, I-25: 158 miles
We took our time heading out of the KOA, but were still on the road before 8:00 a.m. I wanted the holding tanks empty when we left so that we could park at Allen’s for the week knowing that when we continued our journey after the visit, the coach would be ready.
Along Wyoming’s I-80 heading east towards Cheyenne.
We were only 158 miles from our destination as we left, and had plenty of time to pay a visit to our friends at Walker Manufacturing in Ft. Collins, CO. They’re only a couple of miles off I-25, so we gave them a call to see if Bob Walker was available. He was and we agreed to drop in as he had time for a visit. We were distributors for Walker Mfg. during our business years and have fond memories of those days. It was good to see Bob and several of the office gals we knew way back when. We were on our way again in less than an hour. After all, these folks are still productive and we didn’t want to keep them from their work.
Walker Mfg. near Ft. Collins, CO. These folks build the Walker Mowers we sold during our “productive years”. (www.WalkerMowers.com) I hauled many mowers from this plant over the years – and the memories are sweet. But not as sweet as our wonderful “retirement years”!
The skyline of Denver – we were getting close to the kids’ in Greenwood Village, CO!
The heaviest traffic since leaving California would be Denver, and we made sure to hit the area behind the morning commute. As it turned out we had no delays and streaked through the beehive that is Denver traffic. Whew. We have dealt with long delays there in the past, but didn’t this trip.
We arrived at the kids’ place just after noon, and Allen met us shortly after with sandwiches from his favorite sandwich shop. We had a leisurely visit over lunch, then back to work he went. We planned to be there ’til the coming Monday, and looked forward to a very relaxing and pleasant visit.
Jacks down at the Walters’ Estate in Greenwood Village. We visited several days and had a wonderful time – as always. Their place is really beautiful – and spacious.
June 9 to June 14, Wednesday to Monday at Allen & Nancy’s: Good times!
It’s always fun to be with the kids! This family is not stuffy as their beautiful neighborhood might imply; no, this family loves good times. Unfortunately, we all love to eat when we get together, and I always tend to over do it. Over the course of our visit, we brought in a Boston Market chicken dinner and gourmet sandwiches. We ate out at P.F. Changs, a first class Chinese restaurant. We also had a great meal at Flemming’s, a wonderful upscale steak house. And, of course, Allen and I took several dunks in the hot tub during our visit.
Erica, our granddaughter, joined us several times, including our times eating out. And a first for us, we visited via Skype with our grandson, Jason, who works in London. His face was on the computer screen and we talked as if he were right there with us. Technology is a wonderful thing – except for my laptop computer which would not connect to the kids’ wireless. Allen spent hours trying to make the connection, but for some reason it just never worked. On a few occasions I used one of their laptops to connect to the ‘net. Ahhh, well, this old laptop still works great for everything except connecting to the ‘net.
Day 8, June 14, Monday, Allen’s to Vernal, UT via I-25, I-70, US40: 329 miles
After the pleasant days of visiting the kids, the time to head for Oregon was upon us. We gave much thought about whether we should take I-80 back through Wyoming or take the beautiful US40 route through Colorado. After checking the weather, we figured the prediction of a 40% chance of precipitation at the 11,000 foot Berthoud Summit on US40 would be rain. We were wrong.
Climbing toward 11,000+ Berthoud Summit on SR40 west of Denver. I hate cold. I abhor snow!!
We thoroughly enjoyed the uphill drive along I-70 toward Steamboat Springs, CO and the beauty along US40, but we had no idea of the snow that awaited us. As we approached Berthoud summit at 11,315 feet, the rain became snow. The snow continued to increase, sticking to the coach windows, then sticking to the road, and by the time we were at the summit, it was a mess, with about two or three inches of snow on the roadway. I’ve done my share of snow and mud driving years ago as a log truck driver and also in my business hauling Walker mowers from Colorado to California – and it makes me a nervous wreck. We had no choice but to push on, and we did. As much as I hate climbing a mountain in the snow, I hate descending a snowy grade even more! It’s scary and not a bit of fun. But as we carefully made our way down from the summit we eventually were driving on just wet pavement – a big improvement over driving on snow. And that was the only snow we dealt with all day. Whew.
The drive along US40 in Colorado was just gorgeous.
The rest of the day was a beautiful drive along US40 through scenic Colorado. What a wonderful route it is this time of year when everything is green and the traffic is very light. It was a grand and very enjoyable drive – including the sheep traffic jam we encountered!
More of the beauty along US40 in Colorado.
I believe this is a rustic schoolhouse along US40.
The day’s 329 mile drive (actually 339 miles by the more accurate GPS) made for a long day because of the slow drive over Berthoud Summit. We were very pleased to drop the jacks in the parking lot of Vernal, Utah’s Walmart store. After shopping the Walmart store for a few items we need for our continuing adventure, we settled into the coach for the night. We were more than ready for a good, restful evening.
Along US40 we came across this sheep traffic jam as they were being led to new pasture, I suppose. We could not make a ewe-turn and go back, so we just idled along and the sheep made room for us. What a sight!
Day 9, June 15, Tuesday, Vernal, UT to Jerome, ID via US40, I-80, I-84: 384 miles
We slept well in the Walmart lot, as usual, with all the comforts of home: satellite TV, microwave, hot shower, forced air heat to take off the morning chill, and most of all, a bed that is even more comfortable than the one at home!
Vernal, Utah’s Walmart store was our home overnight. From this view, it looks more like a park.
We were on the road early, halfheartedly planning to make Mountain Home, Idaho by the end of the day. But 465 miles was too much to drive comfortably, and we settled in at Jerome’s Walmart store, about 80 fewer miles. The drive included about 20 miles of I-80 that we traveled a week ago as we headed through Utah. At the I-84 junction, which I’ve driven past many times, I took the exit and headed northwest towards Ogden, as the sign said, and far beyond. It’s always a pleasure to drive hiways and byways we’ve never seen and I-84 was new to us. It was an absolutely gorgeous drive as the photos show.
Starvation Reservoir along Utah’s I-84
More beauty along Utah’s I-84
…and more scenery along I-84 in Utah.
When we entered Idaho, much of the beauty was gone, and we drove through the rather scrubby landscape that is this part of Idaho. I hoped he scenery would improve as we headed for Oregon the next morning, and also hoped the roads improved. I’m not much of an Idaho fan so far!
Day 10, June 16, Wednesday, Jerome, UT to La Pine, OR via I-84, US20, US97: 441 miles
The day dawned cold and breezy – an appropriate start to one of the more challenging days of this trip. I had designated La Pine, OR as our destination on the navigator, at over 400 miles, but intended to stop at an RV park somewhere around 350 miles or so. But as it turned out, La Pine actually would be our destination that day.
A few miles before we exited I-84 to US20, which runs east and west across Oregon, we pulled in to a Flying J to fill the propane tank. I cannot remember the last time I filled it, but the coach uses very little propane over time. Only the fridge runs on propane during our drives, and it also fuels our forced air heater and water heater as needed. While at Flying J, even though I had a half tank of gas, I decided to fill up as their price was just $2.89. As it turned out, during our long trip across US20, that choice was a very good one as gas was very hard to come by during that long drive.
Not such a bad drive, really, but this went on for 200 miles! I’ll have to find another way if I ever drive from La Pine to Winston again!
Soon after beginning our drive along US20, we pulled over for brunch. I was reminded of US50 through Nevada because US20 is lightly used, and as we were to learn, it is an endless, lonely, hilly, windy, curvy hiway through the trackless Oregon hill country. I probably would have preferred US50 because it is, at least, mostly straight. We have avoided US50 in recent years because it is so remote and if one got into trouble of any kind, help would be hours away. And so it also was with US20. I cannot imagine I’d ever drive it again. And to add to the misery of the place, we dealt with miles and miles of freshly oiled and graveled roadway. And we spent too much time waiting on the construction work.
Eventually, we found our way to Bend, OR and began looking for a RV park to spend the night and dump the tanks. We found only one in the area on our badly outdated navigator, and drove through the busy city to find it. It was a grungy, druggie looking dump filled with old RVs populated by locals and obviously the local RV ghetto. We simply passed by, refusing to even consider such a dive.
The drive down US97 from Bend, OR to La Pine was, as always, very scenic.
La Pine was about 30 miles away, and so, thanks to our navigator GPS, we wound our way through the city to US97 and headed south. Just a few miles before La Pine there was a rather nice, rural sort of RV park which I’ve seen many times on trips past. We pulled in, exhausted from the long and challenging drive of that day, and settled in. It was a grand relief to finally be somewhere besides the Oregon wilderness! We phoned my sis, who lives in La Pine with her hubby, John, and let them know we were finally in town. We all agreed that we’d get together the next day to begin our visit. We would park at their place for the next three nights.
Day 11, June 17, Thursday, to Sunday, Day 14, at La Pine to visit family.
We met my sis at Gordo’s, the local truck stop restaurant. It really is a tidy, modern and very well run restaurant with good food and very good service. I’ve met the family there in past visits and knew they would serve up a good meal. While we waited for my sis to arrive, we drove the coach next door to a truck and RV wash rack and had the coach washed for a buck a foot. That’s a good price and the guys did a fine job – and it took them all of about 12 minutes. We then met my sis, Gale, at the restaurant and after eating we headed for their home.
Parked at Gale & John’s home in La Pine, OR for a few days.
I dropped the jacks out front and ran a cord to their front porch plug. We were then set for the visit and I’d be able to sleep in the coach where I sleep best. We spent the day visiting and I also hung out in the coach watching TV a bit. When John got home from work, we had a fine dinner of hamburgers and too much dessert.
On Friday my old buddy, Al in Prineville, called to say that he is dealing with too much pain from his shoulder and neck to meet me in Bend for some Chinese food, which was the plan. Instead, I rode along with John into town for awhile, then returned to their home. Later, Craig and Preston, their son-in-law and grandson who live two doors down, drove me out to see a local trout hatchery and also the headwaters of a local river whose name I cannot recall. The water literally gushed out of the ground from constant springs and simply flowed away, forming the river. It was an interesting drive.
On Saturday Al called again to say it was still more of the same. It was a shame that he was suffering so. I know he loves to fish and we always have a grand time, but not this trip. Perhaps I would head up to the wilds of Oregon again later this year when he’s feeling better. On Saturday afternoon, John drove us into town and I got a haircut at the local barber. I wished he was in my home town – he gave a great haircut complete with shaving the neck and ears for just $10. Oregon is cheaper living in many
Day 14, June 20, Sunday, La Pine, OR to Winston Or via US97, SR138: 159 miles
The scenic SR138 from US97 to Roseburg – a beautiful drive.
Sunday morning rolled around and it was time to head to Winston, Oregon near Roseburg. After a short morning visit we were on our way. We drove down SR97 some 40+ miles to SR 138 which runs west across Oregon to Roseburg. The drive along SR138 was simply gorgeous. It was 100 miles of evergreen trees, many miles of the rushing Umpqua River, and stunning beauty. While some of the drive was very winding, it was well worth the effort. Unlike US20 we drove from Idaho, I look forward to another trip along that beautiful drive.
The Umpqua River rushing alongside SR138 – gorgeous!
We arrived at our friends’ home in Winston, OR about 3:30 in the afternoon after spending a couple of hours at Roseburg’s Walmart, doing a bit of shopping and catching up on the trip log and photos. We had a grand evening together, including a dinner out at a local restaurant. Rich and Juanita are avid country musicians, and I got to sit in with them with my cornet as we played a number of good ol’ gospel hymns and country music. I haven’t done that in about 30 years, and I had a ball – and it seemed they did as well.
Overnight at Rich & Juanita’s, our old friends from Kalifornistan who wised up and moved to Oregon! If only Wifey would see the light.
Yep… I do love my coach!
Day 15, June 21, first day of Summer, Winston OR to Red Bluff, CA via I-5: 265 miles
After another comfy night in the coach, and another hour of playing music together, we went to breakfast in town with Rich and Juanita. We had a grand visit, as usual, and were ready to hit the road.
Southbound on I-5 heading toward Kalifornistan – but I’d rather just stay and live in beautiful Oregon!
We drove I-5 to Red Bluff, CA and spent the night in the local Walmart lot. The sign welcoming us to Kalifornistan was unnecessary; the rotten, broken roads spoke loudly to us that we were back home in the failed People’s Republic of Kalifornistan. After driving through seven western states, we were back on the most neglected roadways in America – the broken infrastructure is just one of many signs of our decline.
Back home in Kalifornistan. Note Mt. Shasta in the background. Also note the neglected, broken concrete highway! This photo is a perfect example of our state: great natural resources surrounded by neglected, formerly well designed and executed infrastructure. It all boils down to Kalifornistan’s broken political system.
That first day of summer was the first day and night of the whole trip that we dealt with summer-like weather. We ran the main generator and air conditioner for over four hours as we spent the evening there. According to a nearby sign, the temperature was in the 90s. Even so, the coach was comfortable and our evening was relaxed and pleasant. We were getting excited about getting home the next day after more than two weeks on the road.
Settled in at Red Bluff’s Walmart lot for the last evening of our adventure across seven states. Thanks again, Mr. Sam!
Day 16, June 22, Red Bluff, CA to home, via I-5, SR99: 186 miles
We were getting excited to head for home, and were on our way well before 0700. Other than a stop at a McDonald’s for breakfast just south of Sacramento, we drove straight through. We were home at 1045, exactly 16 days of travel. As for myself, I was happy to be home; I just wish home were somewhere else – perhaps the east side of Roseburg, OR where SR138 brought us two days ago. It was as lovely an area as we’d seen, with the Umpqua River rushing nearby. Also, they have milder weather there than in beautiful Colorado and Utah. Ahhhhh, well. Lavonne ain’t budging – yet – and it seems I’ll continue to be held against my will in the broken Third World state of Kaliforniastan.
A field of sunflowers bloom along I-5 in Kalifornistan.
I look forward to my next trip aboard our magic carpet in July, 2010 to Oceanside, CA to see my son, Dean, and his family.
The trip, according to the coach odometer, was 2993 miles. That’s a bit short according to our GPS, and we actually traveled about 3100 miles. We drove through California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho and Oregon.