Labor Day Trip to Allen and Nancy in Colorado!
Monday, August 25, 2014 Day 1, Home to Winnemucca via SR99, I-80: 342 miles
We visited Allen and Nancy in May, and if we were to visit again this year, it was time to head their way. After September the weather is too chancy to head for Denver. We were welcomed to visit over Labor Day, and it was time to head east.
Honestly, the loading of the coach on Day 1, and the other prep work such as washing it the day before, seems more demanding as the years go by. But we managed to get loaded, and headed off on our great adventure a bit after 1000.
We chose to drive I-80 as there was a lot of road work that Caltrans warned would cause delays on the route we usually take, SR88. It is the scenic and less traveled route, but we wanted to avoid the delays. Once we were bouncing along the already pretty rough I-80 up to and beyond Donner Summit, I swore that highway off again even though that stretch was just rebuilt about four years ago or so.Heading up I-80 towards Donner Pass.
We had a 10 minute slow down through Sacramento due to a minor accident and the usual rubber-neckers. But we made pretty good time otherwise.
Stopped at an I-80 rest area for lunch, parked with the big boys.
This is how I know my Trail Buddy is ready to continue: Miss Curly Top awaits!
Scenic I-80 climbing the Sierras – a beautiful (and sometimes rough) ride.
My sweet Lavonne puts on her happy face even with the long trip ahead.
We finally topped the long pull to Donner Summit.
Welcome to Nevada!
Approaching Reno. We cruised right on through and didn’t lose a dime.
I was delighted to have Reno behind us as we continued east. That meant I had the rest of Day 1 and all of Days 2 and 3 to drive the long and un-crowded miles of rural I-80 to Cheyenne. The endless, heavy traffic in Kalifornistan had worn me out and it was a real treat to get away from the madness.
These three racing team rigs passed us as we continued east. I assumed they all left from the same event, but with a little online research, the GoodGuys left an event in Pleasanton, and the Bentley Team was en route from Pebble Beach. I think.
We finally landed at the Walmart in Winnemucca for the night. It was good to relax after the tedious drive through the crazy Kalifornistan traffic. Next we had three days of wide open I-80 ahead of us.
We arrived at the Winnemucca, NV Walmart a bit after 1700, and settled in for the night. As I set up the coach I discovered that the jacks would not work. The control panel was dead. I looked around a bit, but couldn’t seem to fix ‘em. I’d been dealing with the false alarms from the jack system since the time I hit a tire casing in LALA Land the prior year. It was more than time to get the jacks fixed properly.
After a quick trip into Walmart for a couple of things we needed, Lavonne set about making dinner. She made spaghetti at home for the trip and just had to zap it in the microwave for a good dinner. Some garlic bread and fruit made for a good meal.
As she cleaned up the kitchen after dinner I showered and got myself relaxed for another glorious night aboard the coach in a Walmart parking lot. I do know how to have a good time! Lavonne is a good sport and puts up with my Wallydocking.
Life aboard the coach at Winnemucca’s Walmart lot.
We spent the evening comfortably. After I edited a few photos and began this travelogue, Lavonne played her online games while I watched more documentary of WWII on the TV. The weather was comfortable in Winnemucca and we used the air conditioner very little that afternoon.
We hit the sack around 2200 and slept very well in spite of the slight tilt of the coach without the leveling jacks.
Day 2, Tuesday, Winnemucca, NV to SLC downtown Walmart via I-80: 347 miles
On the morning of Day 2 there were about 15 other RVs that spent the night in the Winnemucca Walmart lot with us.
I was up a bit after 0500 and turned on the forced air and water heaters to take the chill off the fairly crisp morning – we awoke to a morning in the low 50°s.
I got after my morning chores and began updating this travelogue and editing photos. It’s always a lovely morning when we’re on the road. Well, for me it is. Again, my cute lil’ Trail Buddy tolerates life aboard the coach. A Walmart parking lot just isn’t the same as home.
We pulled out of the Walmart lot a few minutes after 0800 and drove across the street to the Flying J Plaza for a fill up. Gas was $3.53 and I’ve been conditioned to believe that was a pretty good price.
I was happy to pull onto the interstate and head east with such light traffic and the beauty of the desert to enjoy all day long.
We found a Dale’s Diner at a rest area along I-80 once again. This one had the cutest cook/waitress I could wish for. And the food was better, too.
We pulled into rest areas for breakfast and lunch, and I found a Dale’s Diner in both of them. This trip the Diner had a cute and ambitious cook/waitress that made life a little sweeter, not to mention the improved food and good company.
I-80 through Nevada can be quite scenic, as above, yet miles and miles are wide open desert land. I love the drive through the desert.
We covered a lot of highway during our drive, and the only real change came as we dropped down onto the salt flats at Wendover. What a sight the endless flats were. We looked out over the Bonneville Salt Flats where racers try to set new speed records every year. For about 100 miles the flats stretched out on both sides of the highway and not much of the view changed save the mountains in the distance.
Overlooking the salt flats of Utah as we approached the Utah line. The flats stretched a hundred miles ’till the road reached Tooele, Utah.
Wendover, the gambling mecca for Utah residents on the state line of Utah and Nevada.
Welcome to Utah!
We pulled into the rest area near the Bonneville Salt Flats where world speed records are set and challenged every year.
Before we arrived at Tooele, UT we had planned to drive the 10 miles out of our way to the local Walmart in town. Once there, we decided to pull into the Flying J and save ourselves the extra 20 miles. We planned to meet Erica, our granddaughter who lives in SLC, for breakfast the next morning. I went online to find a Walmart in SLC near her home. We found one about four miles from her place. After calling to see if they allowed overnight parking for RVs, and they did, we headed to SLC to spend the night.
We found the place to be less than inviting. Nevertheless I pulled in and we settled in for the night.
Our overnight spot at the downtown Walmart in SLC. It was quiet, but the store was so strange with that two level parking structure. Walking into the store through the dark lower level, to say the least, was not inviting.
It rained during our overnight stay, and we thoroughly enjoyed the sound of rain on the coach.
Lavonne heated up spaghetti for dinner again, and we enjoyed it. Along with some garlic bread and lots of fruit, we had a good dinner.
We had driven under threatening clouds as we approached our destination and finally got some rain there in the urban Walmart lot. It came down hard for awhile and it was a welcome change.
We spent the evening aboard with Lavonne on her internet sites and me editing photos and writing. As we alternated the computer we also alternated the shower. I watched more of Driving Miss Daisy as Lavonne played games online. A bit after 2200 Mountain Time, we hit the sack. The evening included rain and we loved the sound of rain beating down on the coach. We had a very comfortable night aboard the coach in one of the strangest Walmart lots I’ve seen – and I’ve seen a lot of them.
Day 3, Wednesday, SLC to Rawlins, WY via I-80: 285 miles
We were up and around at 0500 Mtn Time. We worked our way through the morning chores, Lavonne’s first chore being a hot cup of coffee. After I was up and about I headed to the store for a couple items we needed.
The Walmart parking lot was two levels and the bottom level was dark and ominous. Pigeons roosted on the overhead structures and have made a mess of the concrete floor. The bottom level was out of the rain and apparently seldom washed – if ever. It was disgusting. The store itself was one story, and those who parked on the top level had to take an escalator down to the store. As I entered, there were two people watching every move; the greeter and a uniformed private service guard. All back packs and other large carriers had to be checked in as one entered. I supposed it to be the way life in any big city Walmart, and they doubtless have to be extra vigilant in such an area. Still, I’ve never seen such an uninviting Walmart. Its one redeeming feature was a MickeyD’s inside.
The dark and ominous parking area and the store front in the distance. There are 100 of those overhead lights burning 24 hours a day. Still, it’s a dirty, dark, strange walk to enter the store.
Around 0815 Erica drove up to the coach and joined us for breakfast. I took orders for pancakes from Lavonne and Erica, and headed for MickeyD’s to get them fresh and hot. I ordered a McGriddle. Back at the coach we enjoyed a quiet and pleasant family breakfast. We also shared the grapes and cantaloupe that we had on board. Mmmmm.
We welcomed Erica aboard the coach for breakfast and had a wonderful visit.
We had a wonderful visit with Erica as she brought us up to date on her life and happenings. She acts in plays and sings as her true vocation, and works part time, as well. She seemed very happy with her life and our visit was very warm and enjoyable.
After breakfast we had a very warm and enjoyable visit with our grand daughter Erica.
It was nearly 1100 when we pulled out of that strange Walmart lot. Erica asked us to please not judge SLC by that place, and we surely wouldn’t. We’ve seen much more of SLC and that it surely is a fine place to live.
The day’s drive was under cloudy skies and spritzes of rain. We thoroughly enjoyed the climb up I-80 past Park City and Coalville, a couple of the most beautiful areas I know.
The long pull up I-80 from SLC to Park City seems to go on forever. Here one of the many extra long rigs passed us – he was empty at the time. This rig had at least ten axles – twice as many as Kalifornistan rigs.
Another of the monster rigs that run the highways of Nevada, Utah and other states. They haul more, improving productivity. And they are not held to a foolish and artificial 55 MPH creating rolling road blocks as in Kalifornistan.
The Utah landscape along the Park City area. This area attracts skiers during the winter time.
I-80 nearing Coalville, Utah. This area is among the most beautiful I’ve seen over the whole country.
We also drove the ups and downs of Wyoming’s mountains, climbing to over 7000 feet as we crossed the Continental Divide. Wyoming is a vast and empty place, and while I enjoyed the drive through, I’d never want to live there. The winters are atrocious and I doubt that the wind ever stops blowing.
Formations along I-80 in Utah, nearing the Wyoming line.
Welcome to Wyoming!
We stopped at Evanston’s Flying J to gas up, and pumped on something over 53 gallons at $3.59 per. Lavonne had to average the prices as Wyoming does not have 97 octane, just 95 and 98 so I mixed them, and mostly 98.
I think I shot Wyatt Earp as we drove through Evanston, WY to the Flying J station. He sure looked like the real McCoy.
We stopped at a very nice rest area in Wyoming, and several Bison were in a field next to it. They were huge!
A small herd was gathered near the fence, and I shot half a dozen photos. And no, I did not try to roller skate in the buffalo herd!
These formations near Green River Wyoming are stunning.
We crossed the Continental Divide at almost 7000 feet.
Wide open Wyoming seemed to go on forever, and only 583,000 people live there, the least populated state in the country. Over half of those live in just 13 towns and cities. If one wants lots of elbow room and miserable winters, it’s a great place to live!
After our visit with Erica and a later than usual start on the day’s drive, we decided to settle at Rawlins, WY for the night, about a hundred miles less than our usual drives through Wyoming. We found a decent looking RV Park near the highway, but not so close as to hear the traffic. We pulled in, paid our $32 and plugged into their electricity, WiFi, and cable TV. As I hooked up the electric, I walked gingerly over a mix of gravel and mud. I believe mud is the state mineral in Wyoming due to my experiences the last couple of trips. But we’d be able to dump the tanks in the morning and arrive at the kids’ place with empty tanks and be ready for the return trip.
Our coach at the Western Hills Campground in Rawlins, Wyoming. Those clouds would unload on us the next day!
We had dinner in the coach, and again it was spaghetti. I’m not complaining, I love the stuff the way Lavonne makes it. We’ve been very righteous by eating all our meals in the coach this trip. Dale’s Diner is certainly cheap. It’s also quiet, clean, and free of kids and rock and roll “music”. Yep – it’s my kind of place!
Once settled in we spent the evening online via the park’s WiFi. Our smart phone hot spot, which we pay AT&T dearly for every month and seldom use except on RV trips, drew a blank almost all day long. After three calls to them during the day trying to get right, they finally admitted we had no coverage through most of Wyoming – and they had no active contract with another provider. I advised them that the following month when my contract expired, I’d be shopping elsewhere. And I surely will. There’s just no excuse for such lousy coverage.
View from our window at the RV Park toward the west and the gathering clouds. Judging by the muddy park, it had been raining quite a lot already.
We climbed into our cozy queen bed around 2200 Mtn Time. It was a cool Wyoming evening, but we were snug and warm in our traveling home.
Thursday, Day 4, Rawlins, WY to Allen’s in Greenwood Village, CO via I-80, I-25: 251 miles
We woke up to about 50° outside around 0600. I turned on the heaters again to keep it warm and comfy indoors. It was a cool morning in August, but we’ve seen 30s here in the past about this time of year.
We got through the morning chores including dumping the holding tanks so they’d be empty while at Allen’s and ready for the return trip home. It was cool and windy as I worked outdoors and it was not pleasant.
We were happy to continue our drive east about 0745. As we drove along I-80 the rain came down, heavy at times. It rained most all morning but eventually stopped sometime before we reached Cheyenne.
It was a rainy drive through much of Wyoming the morning of Day 4, and we didn’t see clearing for over a hundred miles.
When we reached Laramie, we pulled into MickeyD’s for breakfast. I walked through the rain and wind to bring pancakes to the coach for Lavonne and I had another McGriddle. And an orange.
The Lincoln Monument at a rest area as we drove by on I-80; we weren’t about to pay ol’ Abe a visit in the rain. This is the highest point on all of I-80 at 8,640 feet.
Wyoming is proud of its wind energy! Above are wind turbines on the windy, open space which is most of Wyoming along I-80.
Yep, Wyoming is mighty proud of its wind turbines. They do have plenty of wind and plenty of space for wind turbines.
When we turned south on I-25 at Cheyenne, we pulled into the Flying J there and topped off the gas tank. I like to have the tank as full as possible when we head back home.
We were welcomed to beautiful Colorado!
I always have to shoot this bison at Colorado’s state line.
Storm clouds gathered over Denver’s skyline. We were to get more rain.
We arrived at the kids’ place in Greenwood Village at 1300. We waited awhile for Allen to arrive from work, and a while later Nancy joined us from work. We had a wonderful visit, as usual, and it was great to be together again. The rain pounded down as we visited! It was good to be in their lovely home looking out at the rain, and looking forward to a long weekend together.
We made it! This is the kids’ home in Greenwood Village as we pulled up after our long, wet drive.
Lavonne and I suggested we take them to dinner for a belated birthday gift for Nancy. The kids phoned in a reservation, and we headed off to Cool River, a nearby, upscale restaurant mentioned in the travelogue of our visit back in May.
Dinner at Cool River Restaurant in Greenwood Village, CO with Allen and Nancy. Cool River was cool!
We were escorted to the same table we had last visit, and were treated to wonderful food and drinks. I ordered their Devil Creek shrimp as an appetizer, and then ordered the same for dinner along with a side of button mushrooms, just as last time. It was wonderful. The others ordered chicken, steak, and salmon with salads. Mercy, did we eat! Well, perhaps the others showed more restraint, but we all chose to have our deserts boxed and we took ‘em home for later.
At home we continued to visit ‘til around 2100 when I headed to the coach for the night. Lavonne spent the night in their guest bedroom, as she prefers. I suppose their visit went on some time longer than I lasted, and I climbed into bed a bit before 2200.
Day 5, Friday. Jacks down at Greenwood Village, CO for the long weekend.
I was up and about at 0600, and after the usual morning chores, I walked over to the house and joined the others for morning coffee. We had a few minutes to visit, and we enjoyed starting our day with the kids. They soon left for their jobs, and we had a day off. We welcomed the relaxing change.
The two Moms got together for lunch out, and as they left I got a great photo of them: Allen’s Mom, Lavonne (L) and Nancy’s mom, Norma, who lives nearby.
I returned to the coach and did a Google search to see if someone else had the dead control panel for the leveling jacks that I’d been dealing with. Sure enough! I read a forum where a fella told of simply disconnecting the connections behind the panel, and reconnecting them. I did just that to one of the three connectors and… the panel came to life, lights flashing and the jacks working! I had fixed ‘em! It couldn’t have been simpler, and I was mighty pleased to have the coach stable and level.
It sure was good to have those jacks go down, and I was pleased it was so easy.
The coach parked in the kids’ driveway over the long Labor Day weekend.
Lavonne caught up on her internet sites, e-mails, etc. and I took a walk. My knees have been giving me fits this trip, and I think it was the five steps up to the coach every time I entered and exited. My ol’ knees had been so sore that walking was not pleasant, but I made it. If only I’d lose 50 pounds…
The beautiful park about a block from the kids’ home where I took several walks. It is a lovely place to walk and enjoy beautiful Greenwood Village.
When Allen and Nancy returned home from work, we visited in the living room for some time before we had dinner at home. In the evening we spent time on the patio around their very comfy fire pit. Even though it was August, the day’s weather included sunshine, wind, rain, and thunderstorms. I love that about Colorado – they get weather!
Visiting in the kids’ lovely home…
…and out on the patio by the fire. It was all good family time!
The kids’ patio after sunset. It was a lovely setting for warm family visits.
We had a lovely visit and around 2200 I headed for the coach and a good night’s sleep. It had been a most pleasant day.
Day 5, Saturday, at rest.
We took a day to just visit with family, including Seff and Norma, Nancy’s parents. Seff lives in an assisted living home about a mile or so away, and Norma also lives nearby. We all got together on the kids’ splendid patio and just had a grand ol’ time. Such good times make our RV trips warm and memorable.
Good times on the kids’ splendid patio with Allen (L), Lavonne, some guy who eats too much, Nancy, Norma, and Seff. Such times make RV trips all the more memorable.
…and another family photo just because.
Seff was an RVer some years ago, and it was such fun to welcome him aboard the coach to look over our home on wheels. Although climbing aboard and exiting the coach with its five steps each way was quite a challenge for him, he was determined to take the tour. He gave us a thumbs up and a big smile to let us know he approved. I suspect that meant more to me than he knows.
We took it easy the rest of the day, just hangin’ out. Allen and Nancy brought in dinner from Famous Dave’s, a local bar-b-q. We had ribs and chicken and… just too much! It was another splendid day with the kids.
Day 6, Sunday, another relaxing day in Colorado.
At breakfast we decided to take a ride to Washington Park in Denver. At least I think it was Denver. There are so many cities in the area that one moves from one to another unknowingly.
Washington Park was a beautiful place, and whichever city lays claim to it should be very proud.
Lavonne poses among the many flower beds at the park.
Nancy and Allen jumping for joy for our visit. Maybe not.
More flower beds – and there were many.
We rented a pedal boat that was not so much fun because the gears were slipping as we pedaled. We were happy to exchange it for a quad cycle on which we toured the park.
This was more like it! We circled the park, or at least the section around the rental barn with all the boats and bikes. We enjoyed a scenic ride and had a good workout as well. Lavonne and I were slackers and pedaled only when called upon to get the bike uphill.
After the park adventure, we returned home and dinner was the next pleasure. Nancy and crew set about creating a wonderful fajita dinner. Norma joined us for dinner, and it was a delicious spread that we all greatly enjoyed.
Our barkeep mixed margaritas before dinner and the family partied on!
During the afternoon on the patio several deer joined our dinner party, but settled for nibbling the backyard grass. This is a daily sight at the kids’ place and it always amazes me how many deer live comfortably in the green belt of a busy metropolis.
What a colorful spread for dinner! The fajitas were excellent. After dinner we played a word game around the table, and as darkness fell we moved to the fire pit to stay warm and whip up S’mores for everyone.
The evening air cooled quickly but we had a grand ol’ time around the fire making S’mores like a bunch of giddy kids. For me, it was the first S’more I’ve ever had. I never realized until that moment that I had been a disadvantaged child!
Our dinner party carried on ’til well after dark when we began toting the dinner fixins’, dishes, etc. back inside. This old man tired and headed to the shower and on to the coach for the night around 2100.
Back in the coach I watched some of the documentary The Century; America’s Time which is a great history of the 20th century, chock full of old newsreels, and stories of the great wars and monumental changes that are so interesting.
A bit after 2200 I called it a day and hit the sack. What a day it had been!
Day 7, Monday, our last day with the kids before continuing our trip.
The last full day of our visit was a day of shopping as the girls went to department stores for clothes shopping, something they love to do. Allen and I went car shopping, which we love to do. After our visit to the dealer and several phone calls during the afternoon, Allen made a deal on a new VW Tiguan for Nancy. Everyone was having a grand day – especially Nancy!
Around 1600 Allen and Nancy drove to the dealership to sign for the new VW and take delivery. After they left, I set about preparing the coach to continue our trip on Tuesday morning. I added water to the fresh tank, then washed the windows as the coach was dirty from all the rain we’d driven through.
After I was done, I began climbing the stairs into the coach when something in my knee tore with excruciating pain. I fell onto the steps in a seated position and took a moment to realize what had just happened. There I was, over 1200 miles from home, and could not walk. Eventually I used the little three-step ladder I use for windows as a crutch and made my way into the house. I told Lavonne about the injury, and after some discussion knew I had to get crutches first thing. We called Allen and Nancy who stopped by a Walgreen’s on the way home with the new car and got crutches. When they arrived back home with the new car, we ate a quick dinner and then headed to the nearest emergency room.
Damn! What a fix to be in, especially 1200 miles from home.
After X-rays and a doctor’s examination, they declared my knee whole, unbroken, but sprained. I was in no pain unless I tried to put weight on it. Then I was in awful pain. After Allen and Lavonne got me back home I learned that I could walk gingerly so long as I kept my leg straight.
I went to bed in the coach as usual and had no real trouble during the night. I didn’t need the crutches nor the thingy on my leg shown in the photo to get around. I was in relatively good shape but could walk only with great care and very slowly. I was beginning to think I could make it home after all.
Tuesday, Day 8, Allen’s to Rock Springs, WY via I-25, I-80: 362 miles
Lavonne and I had held the return trip home open for the option of heading off in another direction to see new country. We had decided just the day before to drive into Nebraska, then on north to South Dakota and the Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, and more. We would drive into Montana, across Idaho to Washington and south through Oregon and on home, perhaps visiting friends and relatives in Oregon.
Those plans went up in smoke with my knee injury. Now we were in “get-home” mode, hoping we could just make it home in four days, but not so sure that we could. Day 8 would be the test.
I was up around 0600 and began the day with a prayer for healing and the ability to drive the coach for hours on end. I moved gingerly about the coach getting ready for the day, then walked ever so carefully down the coach stairs and on into the house – with no crutches or leg brace. And I did fine.
We visited as usual for a short time, then had to get Lavonne’s things moved into the coach with Allen’s help. Allen and Nancy had to head to work around 0800. I set about getting the coach ready to roll, raising the jacks and securing stuff inside.
At one point as I was stepping down from the coach, I lost my balance and fell backward, having to choose a fall over trying to catch myself using the bad knee. Allen was nearby and helped me up. I was Ok but humbled a bit, and continued preparing to leave.
We said our good-byes, and Nancy headed to work with Allen leaving shortly after. Lavonne and I climbed into the front seats of the coach and headed for home at 0815.
Nancy headed to work for the first time aboard her brand new VW Tiguan.
I managed to drive with no real problem. Getting out of the seat was a bit of a chore, and the longer I’d sit without moving about, the stiffer my knee would get. We stopped twice for meals aboard Dale’s Diner, and I did just fine moving about so long as I took it slow and easy.
Beautiful Colorado with Denver behind us and open roads ahead!
The drive through Colorado began with the heavy morning commute, but the further north we drove, the lighter the traffic became. The wind was flat calm. Wyoming was another story; the wind blew something awful all day long. But the traffic was light.
Welcome to Windy Wyoming – hang on tight!
This sad looking little tree struggles to survive in the median of I-80 between the rushing traffic in both directions. Its story is below:
The rest area with the Lincoln Highway museum and Lincoln memorial is at over 8600′, the highest point of all I-80. Yep, I mentioned this while east bound, and every trip through Wyoming I suppose, but here are some better photos.
This is quite a monument to ol’ Abe. It must be miserable overlooking all the wind, cold and snow that is Wyoming at over 8000 ft.!
It was a long drive to Rock Springs where we pulled into a KOA campground for the night at 1715. We had proven that I could drive a long distance with my sore knee. With Lavonne’s help I got the coach hooked up to electricity and cable TV. Then I got the laptop online with KOA’s WiFi which worked rather well. We were at home for the night. The wind continued to howl all evening. I suspect that Wyoming is an Indian term meaning windy.
Abandoned and forlorn enterprises such as this long forgotten gas station along lonely I-80 somewhere in Wyoming always catch my eye. I wonder about the story of their success and failure. Ultimately, there are probably many sad stories.
The above photos are interesting formations near Green River, Wyoming.
We whipped up dinner and enjoyed the conveniences of the RV hookups and a comfortable evening. We had cable TV for a change and hardly watched it. The Century documentary was so much more interesting, and so was Lavonne’s time creating her Facebook postings and for me, writing this travelogue and editing photos.
We hit the sack around 2200 after a very long day and we slept well.
Wednesday, Day 9, Rock Springs, WY to Elko, NV via I-80: 406 miles
We overslept. I reckoned we needed it as I rolled out of the sack at nearly 0630. We worked our way through the morning chores as we prepared for another day on the road.
My Trail Buddy ready to hit the road again.
I had to dump the tanks and load on fresh water along with the usual chores. I was very pleased that my sprained knee felt much better that morning. Although my range of movement was very limited I could not put any weight on it if it was bent even a little. I could, however, put all my weight on it when it was locked straight. I tackled the dumping tanks chore with great confidence. I got the work done with no problems and my confidence grew even more. I was doing just fine with a gimpy knee!
We pulled out of the RV park about 0830, then drove across Rock Springs to fill up at the local Flying J. We paid more for gas there than anywhere this entire trip, having to buy mid-grade since the regular was just 85 octane and the burly Ford V-10 thirsts for 87. We paid $3.70 per. Ouch. That was even more than we paid in Kalifornistan!
More strange formations along I-80 in Wyoming.
Huge rigs rolled up and down Wyoming highways. I would have loved to have tried my hand driving such monsters during my truckin’ days.
Every state we entered welcomed us. How nice.
Entering Utah on I-80 from the east is sure a lot more scenic than the endless salt flats on the west.
The day’s drive was a grind as we fought a headwind virtually the entire trip. Wyoming’s wind was expected, but to fight it through Utah and Nevada was not. One never knows how the wind will blow, does one?
Dropping down I-80 from Park City into SLC. It’s a long and twisty drive.
The Saltair Pavilion III along the banks of the Great Salt Lake. The stories of this and earlier historic Saltair resorts near this site are very interesting. For a good read, check it out on Wikipedia.
The tallest free standing structure west of the Mississippi River is this huge stack along I-80 and Salt Lake near Tooele, Utah. For details, check it out here.
A view of a very small part of the Great Salt Lake.
The grind of fighting the wind all day was tiring. We stopped twice at Mickey D’s for coffee and some calories to wake me up. At the second stop we bought burgers and fries and called it lunch.
Not far from the Great Salt Lake we discovered this Morton’s Salt factory. Imagine that!
Nevada welcomed us again. We were feeling pretty popular.
Fighting the headwind all day, as we did, was very tiring. We finally completed our long, 400 mile+ grind when we pulled into Elko, Nevada’s Walmart lot a bit after 1700. I dropped the jacks, put out the slide and we made ourselves at home. After some rest and a good shower, I was refreshed and relaxed.
It was so good to drop the jacks at Elko’s Walmart lot and be out of the wind!
Thursday, Day 10, Elko, NV to Verdi, NV via I-80: 296 miles
We spent a comfortable night aboard and slept well. We were up and around a bit after 0500 and made unusually good time getting ready for the day but I really didn’t know why; we had all day to drive just 300 miles to Verdi, NV, near Reno.
I tended my bug collection as part of the morning routine as we’d apparently been driving through some buggy country. I was surprised that the bugs were out in such numbers with all the wind we’d been dealing with.
We pulled out of Elko at 0740, rested and ready for our relatively short drive to Verdi, NV, nearly on the Kalifornistan line. We’d been on the road 10 days, and we were looking forward to arriving home the next day.
As we cruised along I-80 through the beautiful emptiness of Nevada, we came across the California Trail Interpretive Center. I’d seen those signs for years, but never knew what they were all about. The center told of the early settlers who drove their oxen and wagons along the same area we drive, but who took a month to cover what we would cover that day, about 300 miles. That’s just 10 miles a day – the distance we cover in 10 minutes! And they had their families, oxen, and whatever other critters they might have had along to feed, water, defend, and see safely through rugged and dangerous land. My… what we take for granted nowadays!
My cute lil’ Trail Buddy checks out the info at the California Trail Center. If we had to travel like those who blazed this trail, we’d choose the bus or fly!
A bit of the information at the center. It’s really quite moving to realize what those tough folks who came west with wagons and oxen and dreams were willing to deal with to make those dreams come true.
Frankly, knowing what I know after 70 years living in Kalifornistan, I wouldn’t have crossed the street to get there back in the mid 1800s! But I reckon back then taxes were not paid by the average Joe, crime was dealt with quickly, and Governor Moonbeam was probably still in high school.
We continued our own migration westward aboard our air conditioned covered wagon with built in kitchen, bath and bedroom, whisked along by 362 horses at a mile a minute. Times have certainly changed!
We had to take a detour around a tunnel repair along I-80 in Nevada. It was a very scenic detour and followed the Humboldt River around the site.
Feeding my face some Mickey D’s McFlurry, the real reason I love to RV!
We stopped somewhere along our trail and whipped up breakfast aboard. Later, in Wendover, on the Utah/Nevada line, we pulled into a Mickey D’s where I bought a small McFlurry and a large coffee to jolt me wide awake for the drive on west to Verdi where we would meet up with friends that were heading to Wyoming aboard their coach.
Our covered wagons at rest in Verdi’s Gold Ranch RV park. Our friends and neighbors, Lew and Shelley and Lew’s sister, Donna, were aboard the gorgeous Dolphin LX on the left. I love that coach! Our humble Itasca is on the right. Our friends were heading to Cody, Wyoming for a club gathering of some sort. It was quite a coincidence that their plan, and ours, was to spend their first night on the road there, and ours was to spend our last night on the road at the same town: Verdi – and on the same night! When Shelley and Lavonne, who stay in touch regularly, realized we’d all be in the same town on the same night, we naturally stayed side by side.
We had dinner together at the Gold Ranch restaurant and casino. It was good to meet with them and we had a grand time. I envied their eastward trek, knowing we’d have to deal with the traffic and nonsense of Kalifornistan to the west. Ugh.
We said our good-byes after dinner, and headed to our coach. They played the slots while we had our usual evening aboard the coach writing this blog, editing photos, perusing the internet, etc. We hit the sack around 2200 and planned to head for home early the next morning.
Friday, Day 11, Verdi, NV to Home via I-80, SR99: 173 miles
We pulled out of our space in Verdi before sun up, as planned. We wanted to get home as soon as possible to avoid unloading the coach in the heat of the afternoon.
It was very clear, very soon, that we were back in the madness of Kalifornistan again. The traffic was in commute mode, and much of the time we dealt with more traffic than we’d seen since Denver. Even so, we enjoyed the beauty that is the Sierra Mountains.
The sunrise seemed to reflect from the clouds as we ascended I-80 to Donner Summit. Traffic was fairly light, but everyone was in a hurry. Including us, I suppose.
Two photos of the rugged and beautiful Sierras as we headed for home.
It was a busy drive down I-80 from Donner Summit, as always. The traffic is usually heavy and the curves and grades seem endless. We did not want to hit the Sacramento area at commute time, so we pulled off the highway in the town of Loomis for a stop at a Taco Bell where I tried one of their Waffle Tacos. We took our time so as to let the commute thin out somewhat before we reached the urban nuttiness of Sacramento. We succeeded pretty well and for the most part cruised right on through. Oh… by the way, Mickey D’s has nothing to fear from that Waffle Taco at Taco Bell!
I-80 drops for miles in a straight line to the valley floor during the final descent into the valley.
Once back in the valley we made pretty good time considering the congestion and construction we knew awaited us. At one point we lost about fifteen minutes as three lanes were reduced to two for a bridge repair. I was already missing the emptiness of Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.
We made it! Yep, we were finally home as we approached the gate of the little senior community we call home.
Through all the traffic on the last day of our Denver adventure, we finally arrived home safe and sound a bit after 1000. At home we faced the daunting task of unloading the coach and with my gimpy knee, I wondered how it would go. But all went well; I hauled load after load of stuff and Lavonne hauled her share and more. The knee required I take it slow and easy to avoid putting any weight on it while bent.
In just two hours we had unloaded our stuff, I had dumped the tanks, washed the front cap of all the bugs, and Lavonne had most of the stuff put away. We were mighty pleased to breathe deeply and take a few moments to enjoy just being home again.
Our Denver Adventure lasted 11 days. We covered 2,462 miles according to the odometer. While it was good to be home, it had been a real pleasure to see our loved ones, to enjoy driving the wide open spaces of the western states, and to live aboard our very comfortable motor home.
After all these years of RVing, I am still awed by the great invention that is the modern Class A coach. We have every comfort of home when we stop for the night, save the hot tub, I guess, and with the push of a couple of buttons our home away from home converts into a magnificent traveling machine with panoramic views no other ride can offer. I’m already looking forward to the next RV adventure!
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