Day 1, August 29, home to Gridley via I-5, SR99: 119 miles
I can’t remember a trip that I looked forward to more than this long trip to Denver to visit the kids, then on to… where? Arkansas? Montana? We hadn’t decided. I just wanted to GO! Lavonne would decide in the coming week whether we’d head to Arkansas and visit family again as we did last year or maybe head north to see Montana and country she’s never seen. Either was fine with me as long as we were GONE to distant places.
I counted down the days as I prepared for the trip. I had the coach serviced a week before we planned to leave, both chassis and generator. Diesel service is much more expensive than gas rigs, but they need service every 15000 miles instead of every 5000. We really didn’t need to service the chassis yet but I wanted to be sure it was done right. The big 7.5 KW diesel generator was due for service in just 10 hours or so, and that had to be done. Heck, we could put on 10 hours in one day! Then the day before the trip I had to wash the coach good to satisfy my vanity. I couldn’t possibly head out with a dirty coach! The wash job is a big deal for this 72 year old geezer and after I finished I was done for the day. It’s good I start first thing in the morning on the big wash!Cecil the Diesel at Mello Truck Repair in Modesto for service. She would be good for another 15,000 miles!
When the big day finally arrived, we loaded the coach with enough clothes for three weeks. We loaded on groceries, too, but we’d shop for most of what we needed at the Walmarts where we’d spend our nights.
It was 1030 by the time we were loaded, turned off all the house systems and were ready to hit the road. I was delighted to pull out of our little gated community and head for parts unknown with no particular date to return!A peek at the California Delta as we drove along I-5 near Stockton.
Without crops, much of Kalifornistan is just plain ugly in the summer.
It was a breezy day in Sacramento, as usual, during the summer.
We would spend our first night at my twin sister’s place near Gridley, just a bit over 100 miles north of us. The drive takes us through Sacramento on I-5 and the usual heavy traffic of a big city. Once beyond the metropolis we drove through mostly agricultural country which is much more pleasant. As we entered the Yuba City area, just a few miles from Gridley, I saw diesel selling for $2.46 per which was quite a bargain compared to a Flying J we drove by that wanted $2.85 per. I had planned to fuel up at Winnemucca, Nevada where we’d spend our second night, but I pulled in and pumped on about 39 gallons to fill up. I can’t pass up a bargain.Rice was doing just fine along SR99 north of Sacramento.
Crossing the Feather River on SR99.
Orchards are everywhere in the Yuba City and Gridley areas. Almonds are the main crop, it seems.
We arrived at my sister’s place a bit before 1400. I had an electrician install a 30 amp plug for me there, and was pleased to plug into enough juice to power the air conditioner. The air will work on 20 amp but not both compressors so it doesn’t cool well on a hot day. With 30 amps the air conditioner worked just fine and I was very pleased. Without it we would have had to run the generator to power the air.
Jacks down at my sister’s country home near Gridley, Kalifornistan.
A Gridley summertime sunset.
The Old Folks together for a happy visit. Here I was showing them old family photos as we reminisced about the good ol’ days.
We visited with Gale and John, my twin sis and her husband, for most of the afternoon. It’s always good to see them and catch up with family news. We brought a Papa Murphy pizza with us and baked it for dinner. Naturally, Gale and John had cake and ice cream and I fell off the diet wagon pretty badly. We continued our visit ’til about 1930 when I excused myself to head to the coach for the night to edit photos and write this blog. Dear Wifey joined me a short time later. One of the pleasures of visiting folks with Cecil the Diesel is that we can get out of their hair by heading to our own “home” when we please. Life is good.
After Lavonne joined me she logged on to some of her favored websites and played ‘puter games online. I hit the shower, then settled onto the couch for some TV documentary, poured a couple cool ones and enjoyed the evening aboard. We hit the sack around 2230 and slept very well out there in the countryside.
Tuesday, Day 2, Gridley to Winnemucca via SR70, SR20, I-80: 299 miles
We dawdled around the coach in the morning for an hour or so before heading to the house to continue our visit. John and I drove into town for some Mickey D’s breakfast for he and I. We brought it home and joined the gals who wanted just toast and fruit. After breakfast Gale and I sat in the living room singing some old gospel songs, something she very much enjoys. We sang duets in church in our younger days and she harmonizes very well. We may not sound so melodious these days, but we have a good time.
We enjoyed the morning time together but we had 300 miles to drive and had to get underway. After I powered in the slide, unhooked the electric and raised the jacks, we were ready to go. We bid my dear sis and John goodbye around 0945 and headed for Nevada.What were we getting ourselves into?! This glorified goat trail was just a small part of our drive out of Gridley to SR70, and things improved after we reached SR70 and SR20 which were pretty good roads.
We had no idea of what to expect along our new route, a drive that was entirely new to us ’til we merged onto I-80 near the small town of Yuba Gap at about 5600 feet. The drive out of Gridley was predictable, and we drove through a lot of farmland. As we began climbing into the foothills the landscape was pretty ugly in all its California golden color, which is actually just dead weeds. As the foothills became the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the landscape was again beautiful with all the green conifers. SR20 was very curvy in some areas, and a long mountain drive. The drive reminded us of SR88 but was a lot better road.The drive through the valley toward the foothills and the Sierras was just ugly at times.
The Sierras were beautiful, as always, and SR20 was a beautiful drive with lots of curves, climbs and drops to keep it interesting. Cecil the Diesel hummed right through it all.
Finally on I-80 we topped Donner Summit and drove along Donner Lake which is always a lovely sight.
It was so good to drive through Reno, then have the metropolis behind us. I had two full days of carefree, mostly rural driving ahead, and I love such drives. It’s always a pleasure to be out of Kalifornistan.
Click on any photo above for larger images.
A spread along I-80 in the dry, hot Nevada desert. It looked like a tough life!
We arrived at the Walmart in Winnemucca at 1600 and it was hot! I fired up the generator/air conditioner a few miles before we arrived to get the coach cooled down. We ran the air all afternoon and evening. We did a lot of shopping at Walmart for things we needed for the trip, and spent well over $100. Ol’ Sam Walton was no dummy; he knew RVers make good customers!Jacks down for the night at Winnemucca, Nevada’s Walmart. It was hot but Cecil the Diesel kept us cool and comfy!
We ate dinner aboard, and I allowed myself some peanut butter on toast with honey for dinner. To me that’s a real treat as we never have peanut butter at home because I can’t leave it alone. But we bought a small jar during our shopping. It made for a great meal along with some watermelon.
We spent the evening aboard, as usual, and enjoyed perusing the ‘net, Lavonne on her game site mostly, and me editing photos and writing this blog. A while before bedtime I poured a couple cool ones and sat deep in the comfy couch to watch more of The Century: America’s Time documentary, an old VCR collection about American history during the 20th century.
Once the sun went down the night cooled off nicely. We ran the air ’til 2100 or so when it was just in the 70s outdoors.
Lavonne headed to bed around 2200 and I followed at 2230. It had been a wonderful day of leaving Kalifornistan and traveling the beautiful Nevada desert.
Day 3, Wednesday, Winnemucca, NV to Park City, UT via I-80: 377 miles
The night was quiet and I slept very well. I was up at 0530 and began the morning chores. Lavonne joined me awhile later. After coffee and time on the ‘net, I just had to clean the very dirty windshields which hadn’t been touched since we left home. We pulled out of Winnemucca at 0815 and I looked forward to a lovely, uncrowded drive through Nevada and much of Utah. Lavonne would tolerate it.This stark, lonely range somehow moves me. I guess it’s the wide open feeling and no crowds! This photo was taken from the lot as we pulled out.
Beginning our trek across Nevada and Utah on the morning of Day 3. Nevada looks pretty much like this clear to Utah.I-80 descends into Utah and the great salt flats suddenly and with little warning. This is always quite a sight. The casinos in Wendover beckon Utah gamblers to drive across the 100 miles of salt flats to party and to part with their money. Judging by the large casinos there, the beckoning works well.
The drive across Nevada’s lonesome desert was very pleasant for me, as usual. Dear Wifey tolerated the drive as her attraction to RVing is all about the destination while mine is all about the journey. She had a destination to look forward to this day as our granddaughter, Erica, who lives in Salt Lake City, would meet us at Park City’s Walmart. She and Grandma would go out to dinner.
We stopped at Mickey D’s in Wendover and whipped up lunch in the coach. I bought a large coffee and a small McFlurry to chase away the sleepiness of the long drive, something that works very well for me. We continued our drive east.Cruising through busy Salt Lake City at rush hour. It doesn’t compare to LALA Land and the traffic moved right along without delay.
I planned to fuel up in Park City where I found a station online at $2.40 per for diesel. However, when I double checked during lunch, that price had vanished. I had to fuel up before we parked for the night as the fuel was below a quarter tank and would not fuel the generator. I chose to stop at the Flying J in Tooele, near Salt Lake City, and pump on 35 gallons so I’d have plenty to get to Wyoming on Day 4. I had to pay $2.66 per and felt like I’d been mugged.
We pulled into the Park City Walmart lot at 1700. Lavonne had been in touch with Erica and they’d meet at 1900 or so. We had a couple of hours to settle in and ran the air conditioner ’til sundown. It was good to see Erica again and the two headed for dinner as this Old Man chose solitude and quiet and a frozen dinner over a noisy restaurant. Again.Parked for the night at Park City, Utah’s Walmart lot. When we arrived it was hot, in the low 90s, but at over 6,000 feet, it cooled nicely after sunset.
I spent the evening writing this blog and editing photos. I also watched more of the American history documentary mentioned above. The series has six VHS tapes so it takes awhile to see it all.After the gals returned from their dinner out, we all visited for a while aboard the coach. It’s always a pleasure to visit with Erica!
When the gals came back home around 2200 we sat around visiting for another hour. It’s always good to visit with our dear granddaughter, Erica. After the visit she headed back to Salt Lake City and we headed to bed. A long day awaited us.
Day 4, Thursday, September 1, Park City, Utah to Cheyenne, WY via I-80: 421 miles
We slept well through that cool night up there at over 6000 feet. I was up several times with cramps in my ankles for some reason. Those damn cramps seem to come and go with no rhyme or reason. I planned to spend the following night in bed with Ivory soap bars in my socks – it really seems to work, nutty as it sounds. I actually turned the heater on after we got up around 0600 – but not for long.Somewhere along our eastward drive we saw this silhouette of an elk that some rancher had created for the glassy-eyed drivers along I-80. It startled me for a moment!
The beautiful Coalville area above Park City, Utah.
We continued our eastward trek around 0845 and would drive clear across Wyoming to Cheyenne, about 420 miles. We stopped at a scenic overlook over a reservoir just beyond the beautiful Coalville area for breakfast. We were surprised how low the reservoir was but that’s the norm this time of year after all the irrigation it provides local ranchers.
Soon after breakfast we entered big, empty, windblown Wyoming. It has about half the population of San Jose, CA but is over 500 times larger in area. It is really empty and offers lots of elbow room! When driving across it as we did, one gets an inkling of just how big and open it is. Somewhere out in that vast expanse we found another Dale’s Diner at a rest area and pulled in for a quick lunch.This represents most of Wyoming along I-80; if one wants elbow room, Wyoming is the place to go!
There are some very interesting rock formations in the Green River area.
I still had to fuel up since I added only 35 gallons in Tooele, Ut. We drove to Rawlins, Wyoming to a Walmart store that had a station selling diesel for just $2.27 per. That was a bargain and I can’t understand how the big boys sell diesel for around $2.70. Choice is a good thing. On just that one fill up of about 65 gallons I saved $25. It pays to check the internet for the best prices!There are “fences” such as these all along I-80 in Wyoming. They act as snow traps that create drifts as snow blows, keeping much of the snow off the highways. Snow fence information
At the highest point along all of I-80, over 8,000 feet, this Lincoln monument looks out over the highway at the Summit Rest Area. There is quite a story behind this statue: Monument information
After the fill up we drove another 150 miles to Cheyenne where we pulled into the local Walmart for the night. It had been a long drive and we were ready to be at home. After setting up the coach for the night I took my walk around the store – and it was a huge one! I think three of our local Walmart stores would fit under the roof of that monster.Cecil the Diesel at Cheyenne, Wyoming’s Walmart store.
There was a Panda Express very near the coach, and I couldn’t resist. I waited in their line to order, as is usual for them, and brought a delicious Chinese dinner to the coach. Lavonne remained righteous and made a vegetable sandwich in the coach. I should have done the same! We spent the evening as usual, on the ‘puters and I also watched more documentary. Old documentaries sure beat the fare served up on broadcast TV! At 2230 we called it a day and headed to bed. We looked forward to Friday when we’d meet the kids and spend a few days with them in beautiful Greenwood Village, Colorado.
Friday, Day 5, Cheyenne, WY to The Kids’ place in Greenwood Village, CO via I-25: 120 miles
Around 0600 we awoke to another cool morning and had to run the heater a few minutes to take the chill off the air. We would drive just 120 miles to Allen and Nancy’s place in Greenwood Village, a lovely suburb of Denver. The short drive would see more traffic than all of the prior three days!
But first things first: We had to dump our holding tanks after four days on the road so we’d be ready to resume our travels with empty tanks after the Denver visit. We drove across Cheyenne to their Love’s Travel Center and ponied up $5 to use their RV dump station.
We then drove down I-25 about 35 miles to a rest area where we whipped up toast with PBJ for breakfast. We love PBJ and rarely have it around. While there we decided we should shop for a few items before we settle in with the kids, and should have thought of it before the rest area. So then we drove a couple more miles down the highway to the huge Walmart right on the freeway in Ft. Collins. From Walmart we finally drove through Denver and on to the kids’ place.
We had some rain from Cheyenne and on down I-5 past Ft. Collins, the first real rain we’d seen.
…and the traffic! I-25 was very busy on the Friday preceding Labor Day and we were right in the thick of it most all the way.
Not only was it the Friday before Labor Day, but there was a college football game scheduled at the big Mile High Stadium which sits right on I-25. Add to that a medical emergency on the freeway as emergency vehicles creeped around us, sirens and horns wailing, to get to the left side of the freeway. We crawled along ’til we got past that mess. Afterwards we sailed right along the last 10 miles or so to the kids’ place. What a drive!
We made it! After that crazy traffic through Denver we thought we’d accomplished something so here we pose proudly in the driveway of Allen and Nancy’s beautiful home.
Allen and Nancy were both at work when we arrived at noon. Allen’s “work” was a golf tournament. Since he’s the publisher of Colorado Avid Golfer magazine he can call such pleasures “work”. He returned home around 1530 and Nancy an hour or so later. We enjoyed a wonderful family reunion, catching up with one another’s news. As we chatted the subject of dinner came up and we all decided on Five Guys Hamburgers. Allen and I drove to their nearby location and brought home some very good burgers and fries. It was my first Five Guys burger, ordered with double grilled onions and double mushrooms. It was superb! We don’t have one near our home and that’s probably a good thing.
We whiled away the evening on their lovely patio, and after sunset we sat around the patio firepit just enjoying the company. Around 2030 I headed to the shower, a luxurious one compared to the RV showers I’d had the last several days. Afterwards, I bid them all goodnight and returned to the coach for the night. Lavonne prefers nights in the house and I prefer the coach. Choice is good!
After some time writing this blog I watched more The Century: America’s Time as I enjoyed a couple cool vodka tonics. It had been a long day and I was in bed a bit after 2230. Life is good.
Saturday, Day 6, jacks down at Greenwood Village, CO.
A scourge of old age is muscle cramps and I get my share. As mentioned here before, I put a couple of bars of soap under my sheets near my feet and for some mysterious reason that seems to work. But my sleep was interrupted several times with those god-awful cramps around my ankles. At worst I have to jump out of bed and stand to straighten out my feet and stop the painful cramps. It’s best to avoid them by using those soap bars, but I found them on the floor at the foot of the bed. I’d had it! I put on socks, then stuffed a bar of soap into each sock at my ankles and slept pretty well after that. Only God knows why that works.
At any rate, the cool morning was lovely. I worked through the morning chores, then headed to the house to join the others. They were seated on the patio watching TV. I joined them for a few minutes then decided I had better things to do than listen to the droning TV. Yes, as a matter of fact, I am a pretty good housekeeper!
I had housecleaning to do in the coach, so I got right to work. I vacuumed the carpets, washed the hard floor, cleaned the sinks and shower and toilet. Then I sprayed and scrubbed some spotted areas on the carpet. I was being productive! To this old recliner jockey, that was quite a change and I made sure not to overdo it!
After the housework I joined the family to see what was planned for the day. They would all go shopping and during the excursion would stop to visit Nancy’s dad, Seff, who is a very loved member of the family and who lives at an assisted care facility. Seff suffered a stroke a while back and while he’s the same beloved Seff, he has difficulty communicating and it is very frustrating for him. I wanted to see Seff, but I didn’t want to go shopping so we took two cars. We spent about an hour at Seff’s and enjoyed visiting him. Nancy has made sure he gets all the best care and he seems pretty happy considering his situation. They have a very warm relationship and it’s heartwarming to see how well she cares for him – and how he shows his loving appreciation in return.
After our visit, we walked across the street to a bakery/cafe and had lunch. Nancy’s mom, Norma, joined us. We had a good time visiting and my cream of broccoli soup in a sourdough bowl was delicious. After lunch Allen gave me the keys to his Mercedes so I could drive home as the rest of them went shopping.
The shopping was well worth the effort as everyone got busy to create a very memorable barbecued dinner on the patio. Norma joined us for dinner and we had rib-eye steaks and chicken, barbequed to perfection by Allen. We gathered around the patio firepit to visit and enjoy a grand dessert.
Allen, our master chef at work on the bar-b-q. Wow! What a meal!
We ate well and had a grand family time together……and dessert around the patio firepit!
After dinner and family chat, I headed to the coach for the night. I updated this blog, watched an hour or so of documentary on the TV and enjoyed a couple, maybe three, cool vodka tonics. I went to bed with a couple of bars of Ivory soap in my socks and I slept very well, indeed… without cramps!
Day 7, Sunday, visiting with the kids…
Day 7 was a real day off. Nothing was scheduled except going out for dinner. We were on our own for breakfast and lunch and no big production required anyone to slave away in the kitchen – just as I like it.
During the day Allen worked some in the yard, Nancy went to visit her dad, sometimes we hung out on the patio. It was very low key and I think we all enjoyed it. I didn’t take a photo all day!
I spent much time during the day planning our continued trip. I found that driving east into Kansas would be hot and very windy. We prefer mild and calm, so I looked for better weather. We decided to head north to Nebraska just as we did our trip in June. Our first night would be in Scottsbluff, NE just as before. I planned a route through Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and on to Washington where we’d head south toward home.
When 1730 rolled around they all prepared for dinner out and had a reservation at 1800 at a high brow restaurant. They also planned a visit to some friends for a birthday party. I don’t like restaurants, and I don’t do parties, so as usual I stayed home. I was happy all by myself, avoiding the crowds and the noise and the nonsense. The family didn’t have to put up with my grousing. Everyone was happy! I watched TV, spent time on the computer, mixed a couple cool ones, and was ready to hit the sack about the time the partiers returned. Dear Wifey came into the coach and I bid her goodnight. She returned to her room in the house and I climbed into bed at 2230. It had been a good day.
Our RV adventure continues on Page 2, just 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.