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Tuesday, 2015-6-9, Day 1, Home to Winnemucca, NV via SR99, SR88, US395, I-80: 339 miles
I was looking forward to another long trip with great anticipation, even more than usual this time as I had a real need for some wide open highway driving – outside of Kalifornistan and away from its intolerable traffic and rotten roads.
I washed the coach the prior day, and that pooped me out as is usual nowadays. We loaded the coach the morning of Day 1, and that pooped me out as much as washing Big Blue. Poor Wifey was dealing with allergies and was feeling very poorly as she helped load. For the first time ever she spent most of the day’s ride laying on the couch. I was hoping that getting her into the desert of Nevada would cure the allergies.
We pulled out of our little senior community at 0940 for the drive over the Sierras on SR88. It was a long, twisty, steep climb to the summit, and then was a much easier drive after we got into Nevada.
The drive began with a short delay as we headed east on SR88 toward the Sierras and on to Nevada.
The drive was beautiful, as usual, and the effort well worth it for me. Lavonne wasn’t so happy with all the curves but spent most of that time on the couch. Still, she preferred SR88 to the traffic through Sacramento and the climb up I-80.
I always get a kick out of these strange neighbors in Jackson; Walmart and K-Mart sit cheek by jowl. K-Mart’s lot is usually nearly empty and Walmart’s loaded with cars.
Beautiful SR88 heading for the Sierras on a perfect day for driving – but there was more wind than we like.
We got a bit of rain as we drove high in the Sierras.
More beautiful SR88 in the Sierras.
Caples Lake near the summit. Gorgeous!
SR88 itself was not so beautiful; it continually reminded us that we were still in Kalifornistan.
The drive through Carson City and on up US50 and SR95 to I-80 was without further delay, but there was plenty of traffic and some climbing. I was pleased to finally drive onto eastbound I-80 at Fernley for the relatively straight line drive to Winnemucca.
Carson Pass at 8,574 ft.
The GPS agreed with the sign, so the satellite is very accurate because the GPS was about six feet above ground. Amazing!
East of the pass the road straightened out nicely and we were making good time. It was a beautiful drive.
We actually had a few drops of rain on the windshield as we drove under threatening skies. The last stretch before Winnemucca was aided by a tailwind that made the drive very pleasant. The noise of wind on Big Blue’s flat face is nearly nil when a tail wind is present, and makes for a quieter ride.
It was nice to see the Nevada welcome sign and it was wonderful to be out of Kalifornistan.
A beautiful Nevada spread along the highway. What a way to live!
Nevada Highway Patrol added to our welcome as we continued along at our regular 58 MPH.
I saw a lot of signs warning drivers of wild horses. We drove by a herd that was grazing just off the highway but I failed to get a photo.
Finally! After the twists, turns and rough road of SR88 and the traffic through Carson City, we found the on ramp to eastbound I-80 and it would be smooth, straight sailing for days!
It seemed we were driving into some heavy weather but it didn’t amount to any real rain.
We pulled into Walmart at 1720 and were ready to drop the jacks for the night. It was warm, in the mid 80s or better, and we ran the generator and air conditioner for hours after our arrival. I zapped a frozen dinner and Lavonne ate carrots and celery as she was feeling pretty poorly from the allergies. Or maybe she just felt like a rabbit.
Jacks down at Winnemucca’s Walmart store for the night. We were pretty worn out from loading the coach and the long and twisty drive.
After dinner we walked into Walmart and did some shopping. We spent something over $40 and figured that paid our space rent. Thanks, Mr. Sam, for the use of your parking lot!
Back in the coach we settled in for the night. I showered and, upon dressing, discovered that I had left all my T-shirts at home. I wear the darn things every day as my usual attire and didn’t have a single clean one! I donned a button-up and headed back to the store. After digging through stacks and stacks, I found a few my size with pockets. I paid and headed back to the coach with enough to last a week. And for the next day or two I could wonder what else I left at home.
oops. I almost forgot to post this settlement along I-80 before we reached Winnemucca. I don’t know whether it was a small town or ranch houses or – ? It sure looked inviting out there with all that open space and gorgeous views.
Lavonne climbed into our cozy bed early as she was feeling pretty bad with her allergies. I watched about an hour of the VHS history collection called The Century: America’s Time which is about the 20th century which was, in fact, much of my time. I hit the sack around 2230 and slept very well.
Wednesday, Day 2, Winnemucca, NV to Salt Lake City, UT via I-80: 349 miles.
I heard a reefer semi nearby a time or two during the night, and sure enough, in the morning we had one on each side of us! I try my best to avoid the dang things and their noise, and even back in my trucking days I tried to avoid them.
The best laid plans… I awoke to two reefers, one on each side of us. I never park next to one, but ya just never know who’s going to pull in during the night. That one on the right woke me up a time or two.
I was up and about at 0500, wide eyed and looking forward to a splendid day of driving the wide open I-80 through Nevada and into Salt Lake City where we planned to spend the night. We worked our way through the morning chores, including tending the bug collection on the windshield in the rain. Yep. It actually rained for awhile and I enjoyed it, even though I was getting a bit wet.
We pulled out of Winnemucca a bit before 0800, and I bought a large coffee at the local Mickey D’s before pulling onto I-80 east. It was an absolutely perfect day for driving, including a tailwind much of the day. We had breakfast in Dale’s Diner at a rest area around 0900, and around 1300 we stopped at a Mickey D’s for a couple of McFlurries which we called lunch. I love ‘em and along with a large coffee they jolt me wide awake when I get sleepy.
We parked Dale’s Diner for breakfast at a rest area next to this monster 34 wheel, 10 axle, 129,000 lb., 105 ft long rig. The driver was a very friendly fellow and I had a short chat with him about the monster he drove. He hauled lime in those pneumatic tanks. I hauled lime back in the day when I drove; I loaded it near Death Valley and hauled it to Manteca’s Spreckles Sugar plant which is now long gone.
It was a beautiful day to drive through Nevada. We even had the pleasure of a tail wind most of the drive.
More of beautiful Nevada as seen from Big Blue. What a ride!
Last year we met our granddaughter, Erica, in Salt Lake City at a Walmart we didn’t much like due to its two story parking arrangement which makes for a dark and dreary lower level. We parked next to it out in the open then, and while it was Ok, it was an urban store with a few less than desirable types walking about. I swore that place off then, but we wound up back that afternoon as it’s the Walmart nearest our granddaughter’s place. Lavonne and Erica had talked on the phone and made arrangements for this visit.
Utah welcomed us with quite a view of the salt flats beyond the sign.
Somewhere out there is the Bonneville Salt Flats where racers try to break speed records every year.
Here’s a good reason to drive through Utah on I-80. Even so, we chugged along at our usual 58 MPH.
This was a strange sight out in the distance along the Interstate as it somehow appeared to float.
Salt Lake City spread out before us as we arrived. Those mountains made for a gorgeous photo of the city!
When we pulled in it was pretty warm and we ran the air conditioner for quite awhile. Lavonne, feeling a bit better, got ready for dinner out with Erica as I headed to the store for a few more T-shirts. A while after I came back, Erica arrived and we visited briefly in the coach before she took her grandma to dinner. I passed on the invite as I don’t much like restaurants at peak hours. The family understands and everyone is happier. I don’t have to put up with squalling brats and rock and roll; the family doesn’t have to put up with me and my disgust with such outings.
Jacks down at the Walmart store in Salt Lake City. Actually it was one of four or five Walmarts in the area.
I busied myself with this travelogue and editing photos. Photos! My gosh, I had over 80 to sort through on Day 1 and over 60 on Day 2. The vast majority get deleted and I wish I wasn’t so quick to shoot photos during these drives. I managed to pick a few to post, and brought this blog up to date.
Lavonne and Erica returned at 2145 with desserts in hand to tempt me. They ate dinner at Ruth’s Diner and stopped at a gourmet bakery on the way home for the desserts. I ate more than my share, and also the chicken Lavonne brought home from dinner. I tried to stay on my diet but with such temptations I succumbed. It was a great treat!
We had a lovely visit with our granddaughter, Erica, after they arrived back at the coach from their Girls’ Night Out.
The outrageous desserts that the girls brought home – how could I resist?! I didn’t even try. mmmmmm.
We visited in the coach ’til almost 2300 when Erica headed for home. It was a warm and fun visit with her and it was a great pleasure to see her.
We hit the sack around 2330 and had to run the fan to be comfortable enough to sleep. It was a warm evening in SLC.
Thursday, Day 3: SLC to Laramie, WY via I-80: 384 miles
We were up and about around 0530. The coach was comfy and we slept well but we had a rainy day ahead of us according to the weather forecasts.
We got through the morning chores quickly and pulled out of the Walmart lot a bit before 0700 hoping to beat the commute.There really wasn’t much traffic to deal with and we made good time driving up the mountain past Park City and Coalville. It was a long, steep climb through some beautiful country and we always enjoy the beautiful scenery.
The long climb out of SLC to Park City and beyond. It’s a long, steep climb and very scenic.
The Coalville area, beyond Park City, is as pretty a place as any I’ve seen in my travels. I’d love to live there, but not during the winter.
Echo Reservoir lies beyond the beautiful Coalville area, and we pulled into a rest area overlooking the reservoir for breakfast. I zapped the usual breakfast sandwich. I had an orange for dessert and was back on my diet.
Echo Reservoir, located beyond Coalville and before entering Wyoming. It was as full as I’ve ever seen it, but by autumn the farmers will have used a lot of that water.
More of beautiful Utah near the Wyoming state line.
Wyoming welcomed us and was very generous with her rain storm.
We continued the drive toward Wyoming and the rain. Not long after entering the Cowboy State the rain began, accompanied by wind. We stopped at the big Pilot truck stop near Rawlins to gas up and pumped on 71 gallons at the best price we’d seen so far that trip at $2.81 per. We made lunch in the coach after gassing up, and then continued our drive to Laramie.
Some views of Wyoming we saw during our drive:
This straight line is a five mile stretch of I-80.
Some strange formations along I-80. Note the flag atop the left peak.
Ah, yes. The rain. We couldn’t forget the rain as we drove through it for many miles.
A few more unique formations along I-80. This was taken near Green River, WY.
It was wet and blustery all the way through Wyoming to our destination in Laramie where it continued to rain ’til evening. We considered renting a space at the KOA there, the only RV park in the area. However, having dealt with their muddy grounds and silty water in the past, we opted to stay at Walmart. We would dump the tanks en route to the kids’ place the next day.
I passed someone! I passed someone! When you drive 58 MPH all day, this is a big deal!
Wyoming now permits 80 MPH, too. I believe this is new to Wyoming and although I stick to my 58 MPH, I like it.
Yep. The Continental Divide was still there. But I had to shoot it again, anyway.
For two people to be able to live aboard the coach for three full days including showers, etc. is quite a feat. Many of the newer coaches don’t have the tank capacity of our humble 31 footer, and that was one of its attractions when we bought it. The newer coaches, many of which have about 80 gallons of total holding tank space or less, I call “daily dumpers”. Even many of the diesel coaches in our size range can’t match the tank capacity of Big Blue. But I digress.
What the…!? This huge flame was visible for miles!
I believe it was an oil well being drilled, or maybe natural gas. It seemed to be a big hole in the ground with a raging fire. Scary. We kept on truckin’.
There didn’t appear to be any let up of the storm ahead.
I went into the store and shopped a bit after the rain stopped. We had dinner aboard the coach, as usual. We enjoyed a comfortable evening doing the usual computer and TV routines. I finished the history documentary I’d been watching and dug out another old favorite called A Fighter Pilot’s Story. It’s an old VHS tape I recorded from PBS years ago and is a very poignant self-produced documentary about a WWII pilot. God bless that Greatest Generation that survived the depression and won the war!
Friday, Day 4, Laramie WY to Allen’s in Greenwood Village, CO via I-80, I-25: 153 miles
We had a quiet and restful night at Laramie. It was quieter than the KOA we’ve stayed at before as Walmart was well off the Interstate and the KOA was right next to it. We were up and around by 0600 and were excited to arrive at Allen and Nancy’s for our weekend visit.
Morning at Laramie’s Walmart lot.
We pulled out of Laramie at 0720 and began the long climb up to the highest spot on all of I-80 which is 8640 ft. Sherman Summit. A statue of Lincoln gazes out over the highway and is visible to all who pass. There is a rest area there, but this trip we didn’t stop – and somehow I didn’t even take a photo. From that highest peak on all I-80 it was a relatively flat, descending drive to Cheyenne where we turned south on I-25 to Denver.
A portion of the long climb out of Laramie to Sherman Summit, the highest spot on I-80 at 8640 ft.
The drive to Cheyenne from Sherman Summit was beautiful.
At Cheyenne’s Flying J Plaza we pulled in and drove up to their RV dump site. For $7.50 I dumped the tanks after three days on the road. They had no water at the site due to freeze damage that wasn’t yet repaired. I had to walk over to the diesel pumps for water and haul it back in my bucket to rinse the tanks. There was no water to fill the fresh water tank, either, but we had enough on board to get to Allen’s.
We were welcome in Colorado.
A natural fort along I-80.
The drive to Allen’s on I-25 passes just a mile or two from the Walker Mower factory for whom we were distributors during our business days. It’s been a long time, 13 years, since we sold our business and retired, but we still like to drop in when we can and chat with the fine folks we dealt with.
The Walker Manufacturing plant in Fort Collins. Back in the business days I hauled many a Walker mower from these fine folks.
Parked at the factory to visit some old friends for awhile.
Bob Walker joined me in the reception area and we had a nice chat about old times while Lavonne visited with Mary Beth, an employee who has been with Walker nearly since they started business. We didn’t want to hold them up too long as they are very busy folks. After nearly an hour we bid our farewells and continued the drive to Allen’s.
The obligatory photo of the Denver skyline which I must shoot every time I see it. The traffic was pretty heavy and slow as we entered Denver due to construction, but we breezed through easily after that.
At some point just north of Denver the Garmin navigator froze up. It was very strange; I couldn’t turn it off, it wouldn’t respond to any input and it showed the same location and speed no matter what. We managed to find Allen’s without it, but it was an epiphany of sorts to realize how lost I felt without it. Once we got to Allen’s, I could only wait for the battery to run down which took only a couple of hours. I then restarted it and it seemed to be just fine. I hoped so.
Allen showed up shortly after we arrived, and greeted us with some Chick-fil-A sandwiches for lunch. It was great to see Allen again, and we had a warm visit in the coach as the house cleaners were busy in the house. After our visit, Allen headed back to the office to finish some pressing business. Lavonne and I made ourselves at home in the coach and had the house open to us if we needed. I busied myself with this blog and editing photos. Lavonne seemed to stay busy around the coach and the house.
Soon Allen and Nancy were both back home and the good times began. They are a fun couple and we always have a grand time. Allen and I drove to Famous Dave’s Bar-B-Q and picked up all kinds of good meats and sides for dinner. Norma, Nancy’s mom, joined us for dinner along with Jenny, a friend of Nancy who was also visiting. We all enjoyed a grand meal, and one of us ate too much, as is the custom at such times. We played a word game of celebrity names all evening, even as we sat around the patio fireplace whipping up S’mores for dessert. We enjoyed a very lovely evening.
I bid them all a good night at 2100 and headed to the coach for the night. I watched a bit of documentary on TV for awhile and was in bed by 2230.
Big Blue with jacks down in the driveway for our weekend with the kids.
Saturday, Day 5, Jacks down at the kids’ place.
I slept well in the coach, but alone. Lavonne prefers the kids’ guest bedroom while I prefer sleeping in the coach, where I sleep better than at home. Around 0700 Lavonne knocked on the coach door and wanted to make some coffee. We headed to the house where family members, as they got up and around, gravitated to the kitchen and patio.
Nancy set out some cinnamon rolls for breakfast snack as we visited and talked about the day’s doings. Allen was busy around the yard and house early, and the girls made plans to shop and do the manicure shop. Allen and I headed to Walmart and a couple of other stops to get things we needed for our projects. My project was to wash the coach which was filthy from the Wyoming rains. When I was done I was plumb tuckered out.
During all the busy-ness of the morning, Nancy brought her dad, Seff, from the care home where he lives nearby. We had a nice time visiting with him on the patio, even though he has a hard time talking due to a stroke some years ago. By that time it was time for lunch and Nancy brought out various sandwiches and fruit for all.
Nancy, Seff, Lavonne, Allen, and me. Nancy was so good with her dad, and it was heart warming to see the special connection they have.
After the visit, Nancy drove Seff back to his place, and I headed to the coach for a much needed nap. During this time the kids headed to town and returned with a car load of groceries. After my nap, I helped haul in the groceries. Afterwards, I headed back to the coach to work on the plans for the continued trip on Monday, and to update this blog.
We visited on the patio as afternoon turned to evening and the sunny skies of the day darkened with a coming thunder storm.
In Colorado the weather changes often and one is never bored with the endless sunshine as we usually have back home. The skies darkened during late afternoon and a wonderful, wet thunderstorm provided the evening’s entertainment. It was an awesome storm with flashes of lightning and rolling thunder.
Heavy rain was part of the entertainment, and while the rain came down in sheets, nothing slowed the preparation of dinner; Allen and Nancy’s beautiful patio is completely protected. What a pleasure it was to watch the Colorado thunder storm!
A view from the expansive lawn shows the large, sheltered patio from which we were protected from the storm.
Let it rain! Allen continued the grilling by simply rolling the grill under the patio roof where it was dry and comfy.
Dinner hot from the grill was delicious as Mother Nature provided the entertainment. What a life!
After dinner the rain stopped and we made S’mores for dessert. The marshmallows roasted nicely over the patio fire pit.
We whiled away the evening on the patio ’til it was time for me to head to the coach for the night. I bid my dear Wifey g’night with a warm hug and kiss, told the kids g’night and returned to the coach. It had been a lovely day.
Back at the coach I worked a bit on the blog and photos, then watched a bit more of the AFighter Pilot’s Story documentary before heading to bed about 2230.
Sunday, Day 6, another day at Allen and Nancy’s
I slept well, as usual, and was up and about a bit before 0600. I worked my way through the usual morning chores, and Lavonne was soon at the door to make her morning coffee again. We visited awhile as she enjoyed her brew, then headed back to join the kids on the patio around the fire pit.
Sometime later, Nancy and Allen took off for her company’s rowing practice at a nearby reservoir for a coming charity event. Lavonne did my laundry so I’d have clean clothes for the remaining trip. I headed to the coach and did an hour of house cleaning. It’s a very small house and doesn’t take much to clean it.
The kids were back a bit after noon and we had lunch on the patio. We’d eaten earlier but spent time visiting.
Dinner was planned for Cool River, a lovely and upscale restaurant nearby that we’ve dined at before and enjoyed. We arrived at 1800, and were seated at a table for five. The place is awesome, in the real sense of the overworked word. We were joined by Norma, Nancy’s mom, and rounded out our party of five.
I ordered the mushroom soup as an appetizer and it was very good. Then my roasted game hen was served. I loved it, and it was the first I’d eaten in years. I ordered creme brulee for dessert, and having eaten the burnt sugar top, passed it around for everyone to enjoy. Others ordered salmon and prime rib for dinner, then a slice of key lime pie was also passed around the table.
After the leisurely, delicious dinner, everyone headed back to the kids’ place where we relaxed and visited.
I headed to the coach around 2015 and watched the rest of the WWII documentary A Fighter Pilot’s Story. It was tear jerker, as it has been in the past when I watched it. And now those heroes have almost all passed on.
I hit the sack a bit past 2200 for a good night’s sleep. The next morning I would head for Kansas and places yet unknown.
The story continues on another page titled Beyond Denver! Click here.
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.