To Denver and Beyond – Sept-Oct 2021

Day 1, Saturday, September 25, Home to Craig’s Castle in Stockton, CA via CA99: 21 miles

I completed my last adventure aboard Big Blue back on August 20th, over five weeks ago. I was more than due for another adventure! We usually head to Denver to visit Allen and Nancy, our son and daughter-in-law about this time of year – actually, we usually head east a bit earlier than late September. My dear Wifey would fly home after the visit, and I planned to continue on alone, bumming around the country for a while.

Big Blue at Mello Truck Repair in Modesto. 

During the weeks between adventures, I had to have Big Blue’s generator repaired. It was suddenly smoking near the end of the last trip, and that repair required new glow plugs in the little Kubota three cylinder diesel engine. That required pulling the entire generator set, removing the head, and installing the new glow plugs. In addition, the driver’s half of the windshield cracked during the prior trip, and had to be replaced. And in even more addition, the chassis was due for service, which is required about every 10,000 miles. All that repair and service was not cheap! Nevertheless, all was done in the interim.

The new windshield was installed just days before departure.

I also prepped Big Blue for the Denver trip the prior week or so before our departure. I cleaned her inside and out, shined the “bling”, which includes the bright aluminum wheels and the flashy mud flap. When the day of departure arrived, I loaded groceries, clothing, supplies, etc. for two to three weeks on the road.

Vanity results in a lot of extra work, but I just gotta have the bling bright and shiny!

In my old age, the loading days become harder and more tiring. But I managed, with a few pauses to rest, to get it all done!

We pulled out of the little gated community where we live, and headed north on CA99 to Stockton and Craig’s Castle. We would enjoy dinner there with Craig, Laura, and Craig’s daughter, Breanne.

Big Blue parked for the night at Craig’s Castle in Stockton. We were on the road again!

We enjoyed a lovely evening with family, visiting ’til sometime around 2100 hours. We then bid them good-night and headed to our home on the driveway. It sure was good to be back aboard Big Blue – I very much enjoy my time on board.

Day 2, Sunday, September 26, Stockton, CA to Gridley, CA via I-5, CA99: 114 miles

We slept well on Craig’s driveway. His neighborhood is a lovely, gated and quiet area. For breakfast, Laura made a donut run to Krispy Kreme as well as to Starbucks. I had THREE donuts, which was an absolutely off-diet feast for  me, but they sure were good! I don’t do the Starbucks coffee thing, but she went there for some delicious pumpkin muffins with crème cheese filling. I certainly do the muffin thing! 

We enjoyed a good visit with Craig, Laura and Breanne. After the donuts and another hour or so of visiting, it was time to bid them all good-bye, and begin the short drive to Gridley where we’d visit with John, my brother-in-law.

(After clicking, click on the ⓘ, then click on
“View full size” for even larger photos. Click again for a huge photo.)

As many readers have no doubt read on this site, John’s wife, Gale, my twin sister, passed away in January. John had cared for her for a very long time as that awful Parkinson’s Disease took its toll on her. He is now selling his home in Gridley and will live with his daughter, Jill, and husband, Craig, in Oregon in the summers. He will spend winters in Arizona with his son, Kevin and his wife, Kelly. It sounds like a very practical plan, but the house must sell before he can begin living his new plan.

We arrived in Gridley at 1230. Lavonne headed into the house to visit John, and after I had the coach set up, I joined them. We had a leisurely visit, catching up with one another’s happenings. It wasn’t long before Lavonne and I headed back to the coach to make lunch, as John had already eaten. We then took naps, as old folks often do.

Big Blue parked for the night at John’s place near Gridley.

We returned to the house before dinner time, and  Lavonne and John prepared some food we had brought from Craig’s. Breanne made a delicious chicken-cheese-enchilada casserole. They zapped that, and also some chicken thighs that Craig had barbecued. John made a salad, and it all made for a good, quick and easy dinner.

A well fed trio of seniors posed for a family photo after dinner. That’s not Tom Selleck on the left, as many readers may mistakenly think, but just your humble writer, in the center is the lovely Lavonne, and on the right, our pretty darn happy brother-in-law, John.

Since John and Lavonne whipped up our good dinner, the least I could do was clean up afterwards, and I did. Then, after an hour or so of visiting, Lavonne and I returned to the coach for the night. We got after the usual evening chores, meaning showers and such.

Apparently, I was dozing at the computer while working on this blog – sometime around 2130 hours or so. It must have been then that my dear Wifey headed for bed. When I discovered she’d gone to  bed, it meant that I was dozing when she came to tell me good-night. That happens often at home and on the road.

I continued editing photos and writing this travelogue ’til around 2230 or so. I had poured a cool one earlier, and enjoyed it along with some silliness on YouTube ’til nearly midnight when I headed to bed.

Day 3, Monday, Sept 27, Gridley, CA to Fernley, NV via CA99, CA70, CA65, I-80: 203 miles

I rolled out of bed around the usual 0630 to find Wifey seated at the dinette enjoying her cup of coffee, and perusing the ‘net. It was all of 65° and she was just fine while I was about to shiver. I turned on the furnace and water heater, then climbed back into bed ’til things warmed up.

Once up and around and after morning chores, I joined her at the dinette for about an hour or so. When we were ready for breakfast, we joined John in the house. He had already eaten breakfast, as he’s an early riser. Lavonne and I made ourselves quick meals of toast and/or cereal and milk. We visited during that time, and when I was done, I headed out to the coach to get her set up for the day’s drive.

When all was ready to go, I went into the house and bid John good-bye with thanks for the nice stay. We then climbed aboard Big Blue and headed for Nevada about 0930.

Click to enlarge and read captions:

Our plans changed for this trip in deference to our advancing age. We used to drive about 400 miles many days on our trips, then cut it back to 300 miles, with the occasional 400 mile day. But lately we’ve found we prefer about 200 to 300 miles in a day, so we’ve changed our usual Denver trip from five days to six. That eliminates most of the one-day drives of over 300 miles.

To that end, our second night, after spending the first night at John’s in Gridley, would be spent in Fernley, Nevada – a 200 mile drive. We have usually driven to Winnemucca, Nevada, a 300 mile drive. We liked the shorter day’s drive.

We stopped for lunch at Donner Summit, which sits at something over 7200 feet. We took our sweet time there as we had only 70 some miles left to Fernley.

More click fun:

(Rant warning for next two paragraphs!)
I was very pleased that I was able to avoid fueling in Kalifornistan after my last trip which was to Minnesota. I fueled up the last day of that trip in Dayton, Nevada on US50. From there I was able to drive home, then drive clear to Fernley, Nevada this day before needing more fuel. As an example, fuel at home now sells between $4.10 and $4.60 per gallon. In contrast, I just added 20 gallons at $3.96 per in Fernley. I needed those 20 gallons to reach Battle Mountain, Nevada where I planned to fill up the 90 gallon tank for just $3.46 per.
The outrageous price for fuel in Kalifornistan makes such planning very worthwhile. Kalifornistan adds over $1.06 in taxes per gallon of diesel – the highest of all 50 states.

We arrived at Fernley’s Walmart lot at 1450 hours, having driven just 203 miles. Some of those miles were pretty tough driving. Climbing to Donner Summit is always a hassle. The traffic up the hill is often very heavy, although not so bad that day. The roads in Kalifornistan beat up Big Blue and rattle our teeth much of the time. But the views as we cross the Sierra Mountains are always lovely, and once in Nevada, the roads are much better – in fact, all the states we’ll drive through, no matter what state, have better roads and highways than our home state. That is worse than pathetic considering the outrageous taxes we pay – it should be criminal.
(Rant over.)

We had a wonderful tail wind much of the drive, and that helps fuel mileage and makes for a quieter drive.

Once settled on the Walmart lot in Fernley, I headed into the store for my daily walk and picked up a few items we needed. While the tail wind was great for our drive, the wind continued in Fernley. It was probably 20 to 30 MPH, and didn’t diminish much ’til almost 2100 hours.

Parked on Fernley’s Walmart lot for the night. And again, very near a sign stating that no overnight parking is allowed. This is not unusual. The city Nazis, assuming control over Walmart’s property, require such signs to be posted. Having never stayed at the Fernley Walmart, we called as we were en route, and were told they do allow overnight RV parking. Walmart doesn’t enforce what is not their rule, and the local constabulary certainly has better things to do than to hassle law abiding citizens who are spending money in their town.

When dinner time rolled around, I zapped a piece of that great chicken that Craig sent along with us. I also zapped a potato and added some country gravy I mixed at home. Such fare makes up one of my favorite dinners. Yep, I was raised on meat and ‘taters and still love ’em.

After dinner, I began writing the day’s travelogue which took a couple of hours. I always edit the day’s photos first, as that helps me recall the drive. At the end of the day, the drive is usually a hodge-podge of thoughts and images, and the photos tend to organize them in my mind as I write. When the travelogue was complete, I published it online.

We enjoyed a nice sunset that night, reflected here in the clouds above. Those green neon looking things in the lower right are electric vehicle charging stations. 

My dear wifey headed to bed about 2200 hours. I continued watching YouTube ’til almost midnight. YouTube has my number. It knows what I like to watch and keeps suggesting new clips for me – and I watch a lot of them. It can be a real entertaining way to pass time.

Day 4, Tuesday, September 28, Fernley, NV to Elko, NV via I-80: 255 miles

I was up around 0630, as usual, and again found my dear Lavonne already seated at the dinette. It was a cool morning again, too, and I turned on the water heater and furnace, then went back to bed ’til it was warm enough for me. I get cold easily, and she is the opposite. Perhaps it’s the heart issues I’ve dealt with that explain my need for more warmth.

Once up and around, our morning unfolded as usual. It was a cool morning at 45°, at least it was cool to us Central Valley types. We made breakfast before the day’s drive, and took our time getting around. It was 0915 when we pulled out of the Walmart lot and continued our trek east.

What a great way to begin the day! This is a brand new section of I-80, with fresh asphalt as smooth as a baby’s bottom – and absolutely no traffic! 

We needed to fuel up and fill the propane tank during our drive. As mentioned in the prior day’s entry, I planned to fuel up in Battle Mountain, Nevada. That worked as planned and the price was the relatively low $3.46 – the best price we’d seen so far. I was pleased.

The propane fill up waited ’til we reached our destination because I kept forgetting to do it. In Elko we pulled into a Conoco station and pumped 19.6 gallons into our net 20 gallon tank. Yes, we really needed propane – more than I knew!


The drive from Fernley to Elko is entirely rural desert. It is a lovely, lightly traveled drive, and I loved it! The day was mostly sunny with some scattered clouds. The eastbound traffic blew by us all day with the speed limit at 80 MPH while we cruised at 58 MPH. We were blessed with a brisk tail wind much of the drive, and we always welcome that push.

Fueling at Battle Mountain at the best price we’d seen so far.

After fueling up in Battle Mountain, we pulled into a Mickey D’s for lunch. It was a spur of the moment decision, as I really needed to watch my eating; I added five pounds during the August trip to Minnesota, and haven’t lost it. I cannot afford to add another five pounds again! Nevertheless, I ordered for the first time, a Deluxe Crispy Chicken Sandwich, and loved it – no matter the calories. We shared an order of fries, and I also enjoyed an Oreo McFlurry for dessert. That McFlurry lasted for miles as we continued the drive. Lavonne enjoyed a caramel sundae. And I promised to behave the rest of the trip – well, as much as a visit with the kids and more bummin’ around the country would permit.

We arrived at the Elko, Nevada Walmart at 1600 hours. It wasn’t the best night to visit Elko with the overnight low forecast to be just 25°. Perhaps we ran into their first cold snap of the season – certainly not something I would do intentionally. But we knew that Big Blue would keep us comfortable.

Jacks down for the night at Elko, Nevada’s Walmart store.

I took  my walk around the store first thing after I set up the coach for the night. Lavonne was napping while I walked. Back at the coach, I edited the day’s photos. Dinner followed, and it was more of those wonderful meatloaf sandwiches that I requested of Lavonne. I rarely have beef, and when I do, I really enjoy it.

And then it was time to begin the day’s blog entry. As the writing was completed around 1930 hours, it was already just 43° outdoors – something I just can’t appreciate. It’s a good thing we had a full propane tank for such a night! Yes, I am a sissy when it comes to cold. I spent the entire evening wearing my heavy terrycloth robe to stay comfortable.

My dear Wifey headed to bed around 2130, and I stayed up to watch more silliness on YouTube. Actually a lot of that content isn’t silly, but heartwarming. There are many videos about animals in every imaginable circumstance, and I’m a real softy for them. I called it a day at my usual midnight, and headed to bed. The following day would be another fine day of driving through wide open country. Well, ’til we reached Salt Lake City, which would be our destination.

Day 5, Wednesday, September 29, Elko, NV to Salt Lake City, UT via I-80: 235 miles

The night in Elko was pretty cool, again, for this softy from the Central Valley. The window gauge showed 30° outside, but Big Blue kept us nice and warm. We awoke about the same time, but after turning up the furnace and the water heater, I headed back to bed for a while. The cool morning didn’t bother my dear Wifey as she is almost the opposite of me in the cold. She’s tough!

We woke up to some pretty fancy neighbors; click to enlarge:

Again, we weren’t in a big hurry to hit the road, but by 0815 we pulled out of Elko. We planned to have breakfast after a few miles, around 0900. The day was, again, bright and sunny and a perfect day to drive through the desert with very little traffic.

What a great way to start the day!

There’s not a lot to report when driving all day through the empty desert. But I sure enjoyed the views, desolate as they were. I enjoyed the thousands of acres of emptiness and the independence one feels on the open road.

We prepared all three meals of the day in the coach. Having a kitchen with all the necessities along on the ride makes road trips a lot less expensive. And having one’s own bath and bedroom along is a big plus, too. Our travel expense is usually just the cost of Big Blue, not to say she’s a cheap ride, but she’s sure a lot cheaper than motels each night, and buying every meal in a restaurant.

As we crossed the state line into Utah, at Wendover, we lost an hour. It’s hard to miss the state line with all the casinos and such there to tempt Utah residents. Wendover is a very small Reno, and it certainly appears that the casinos and restaurants attract a lot of Utah gamblers.

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We planned to drive to Park City, Utah as we left that morning. However, when checking the weather, it was to be pretty cold, with chances of rain and snow. Snow!? Good grief! It wasn’t even October, yet. So we shortened our drive by about 18 miles, choosing instead to stay at the Walmart at the far east end of Salt Lake City where we’ve stayed several times.

It’s a steep drive up I-80 from Salt Lake City to Park City, and the weather can be noticeably colder at Park City’s 7000′ elevation. Salt Lake City is something around 4300 feet.

More click fun:

We arrived at our destination at 1515 hours. It was colder, at just 58°, by far than we’re used to this time of year at home. The overnight low was predicted to be 41° while in Park City it was to be 24°. Our choice was a good one! Yes, I do get preoccupied with cold weather!

When I had the coach set up for the night, I headed into Walmart for my daily walk. My Trail Buddy took a nap. It was a sunny afternoon in Salt Lake City even though it was cool.

Jacks down at Salt Lake City for the night.

We had dinner aboard, as mentioned earlier. After dinner and evening chores, we settled back into the little dinette which serves as our couch, easy chair, dining room, and writing desk. While we have a good sized couch aboard, we rarely use it.

Our evening unfolded as usual. I finally headed to bed at midnight, and slept well – with a warm quilt over us to stay warm. I dreamed of my hot tub back home, and the coming hot tub season. If I lived in Wyoming, I’d have to live in a hot tub!

Day 6, Thursday, Salt Lake City, UT to Laramie, WY via I-80: 382 miles

We awoke to a cool morning, naturally. Lavonne was at the dinette when I rolled out of bed around 0615 and turned on the water heater and turned up the heater – the 64° in the living area didn’t bother her a bit. I went back to bed while the heaters did their things.

We were about to embark on the trip’s longest driving day of something around 380 miles. We didn’t putz around that morning as we wanted to get the long drive under way. No, 380 miles isn’t far for younger folks, but in our late 70s, it’s quite a marathon. Heck, back in my younger days, I drove over a thousand miles in a day’s drive when necessary. But these aren’t my younger days, and such a marathon will never again be necessary!

We began the steep pull up Parley’s grade, or Parley’s Canyon, within a mile of leaving the Walmart lot – hardly enough time to get Big Blue warmed up properly for the long climb.

All went well, but there was quite a lot of traffic around 0830 as we headed uphill. Once over the summit, the views through the Coalville area were beautiful. We continued on to Echo Reservoir where we usually stop for breakfast aboard the coach on these trips.

Click to enlarge and read the full captions.

Echo reservoir provides irrigation for the area, and this time of year it is drawn down pretty low. But by springtime and summer, it will likely be near full and ready for another growing season.

We entered Wyoming and just a couple miles later we pulled into the Wyoming Information Center. We were interested only in the RV dump stations there, and dumped the tanks and loaded fresh water. And the fee was just right – free! I would have a new experience there…

More to click:

Wyoming hosts more pronghorn “antelope” than any other state. Actually, they are not antelope nor are they in the antelope family. The pronghorn is the only surviving member of the Antilocapridae family and it has been in North America for over a million years! They are also the fastest land animal in the western hemisphere. They are hard to see in the scrubby landscapes they like, but I always try to get a good photo of them. This trip I succeeded.


I was bound and determined to fuel up in Laramie, Wyoming where, according to Gas Buddy online, diesel was “just” $3.19 – the lowest price by far I’d seen in months. But I’d be nearly draining the fuel tank to get that far. I arrived at the Maverik station with the fuel gauge showing only about 1/32nd of a tank. As it turned out, I still had 10 gallons onboard. I pumped on just under 80 gallons, filling it to the cap. I was pleased that the price was still “just” $3.19 – sometimes the price goes up overnight. Nearby, also in Laramie, a Sinclair station was selling the stuff for $3.79!

Once filled up, it was just a five mile drive to the local Walmart store where we would spend the night. We pulled in at 1730 hours, and we were bushed from the long drive.

Parked for the night at Laramie, Wyoming’s Walmart lot. It was good to be “home” again.

Once we were set up for the night, we headed into the store for some shopping. I also took my daily walk. I had on a sweatshirt and a very warm winter jacket. It was cold outside (by my sissy standards).

We ate dinner in the coach, although I was tempted by the Subway shop inside Walmart. Instead, I zapped a frozen turkey, dressing, and sweet potato meal, and was very satisfied with that and a corn on the cob.

We spent our evening as usual. After our tiring day, we would certainly appreciate the shortest drive of the trip the following day – just 160 miles or so to Denver. We surely looked forward to a fun weekend with the kids!

Day 7, Friday, October 1, Laramie, WY to Denver, CO via I-80, I-25, E470, I-70, I-225: 166 miles

I was up at 0610 and greeted my dear Wifey as she sat at the dinette in the cold, enjoying her coffee and perusing the ‘net. I turned up the furnace and, for once, stayed up instead of taking a sissy’s retreat back to bed ’til things warmed up.

I fired up the generator for about a half hour to refresh the bank of house batteries a bit after a long, cold night. After morning chores, I also enjoyed the day’s first cup of coffee as I joined her at my laptop to catch up with the outside world.

We wanted to hit the road for the last day of our trip to Denver. A few minutes before 0800, we continued east on I-80 to Cheyenne. There was some very scenic countryside along our drive, and I shot too many photos, as usual.

Soon after we continued east on I-80, we began the long, steep Sherman’s grade up the Laramie Mountains.

Near Sherman Summit, Happy Jack Road, also known as WY210, also winds up in Cheyenne via a two lane, scenic road through the Wyoming countryside. I should take that road someday – but not that day.

2019-6-13p Sherman Summit Hi Spot I-80
Sherman Summit, the highest point along all of I-80.


At Cheyenne, we turned south toward Denver on I-25. When we reached the city of Fort Collins, Colorado along I-25, we stopped at their Walmart store for breakfast aboard the coach. Lavonne made herself some oatmeal.

After I went into the store to buy some groceries that we needed, which included forbidden peanut butter, Lavonne made some toast with peanut butter and honey for me, and another slice with peanut butter and jam. We never have peanut butter around the house, because I can’t leave it alone until it’s gone. But occasionally, on our adventures aboard Big Blue, we’ll allow a small jar of the forbidden food.

As if to demonstrate the peanut butter issue I have, as I wrote this, I remembered the darn peanut butter, and had to make myself a slice of toast with the forbidden food and honey. And a half glass of milk, another food I seldom allow myself. But peanut butter and honey on toast demands milk!

As usual, the traffic got heavier the nearer we got to Denver. When we reached the toll highway, E-470, we took it toward Aurora, where Cherry Creek State Park is located. The traffic was relatively light along the toll road, which is half the reason we take it. If I take E-470 again when I leave (I’m not sure where I’ll head when I begin the bummin’ portion of this adventure), I’ll use the toll road again. And then a month or so later we’ll receive a bill from Colorado for around $20 for the tolls. To us, it’s worth a $20 toll to miss the madding traffic of Denver proper.

When we arrived at Cherry Creek State Park, we drove to the registration building to sign in. We then continued on through the lovely park to our RV space. The spaces are quite far apart and we are not cheek by jowl with other RVs as many RV parks are designed.

Big Blue parked for the weekend on our beautiful, wide open space.

I really don’t like RV parks. I consider them an unnecessary expense when one has a self contained RV (our three nights at the RV park was a bit over $150.) But many RVers seem to find them necessary for overnight parking. To each his own, I suppose.

We always parked on the kids’ driveway ’til our trip last May. Then Allen and Nancy sold their home and bought another where there is no large driveway, and their highbrow HOA doesn’t allow RVs anyway. So now we have to deal with a RV park.

Allen met us after we were set up in the park. He brought along our lunches from Chik-fil-A, a tradition of several years. We all love Chick-fil-A’s sandwiches and they make a quick and convenient meal.

After lunch, we loaded Lavonne’s things into Allen’s car, and they headed home. I stayed at the coach for the day, and would visit them on Saturday and Sunday, while spending nights aboard the coach. I always prefer to stay in the coach on such visits, and Lavonne prefers staying at their house. Choice is good.

I took my daily walk around our section of the RV park after Allen and Lavonne left. I spent a quiet afternoon aboard, and very much enjoyed myself and the lazy afternoon and evening. Much of my time was spent editing photos and writing this blog. I’m one who likes solitude, and I had a very pleasant day.

Another view of our large, uncrowded space. If I must stay in a RV park, this one would be hard to beat.

During the evening I zapped a frozen meal for dinner. I included an ear of corn and a salad, too. I watched Curiosity Stream online, and a documentary of the University of Texas tower shooting of 1966. It was the first mass shooting in a public space. The shooter wounded 43 and killed 16 people.

My evening was quiet and very peaceful. Cherry Creek State Park and its very rural ambiance is a lovely place to camp. Well… that is, if camping means carpeting, a full modern kitchen, air conditioning, a furnace and all the comforts of Big Blue. Without this cozy little home on wheels, I wouldn’t be found in a “camp” ground.

I finally called it a day around midnight. I set the thermostat for 64°, left a night light on in the bathroom, and headed to my queen sized bed – my camping included all the comforts of home. I have to wonder why they call this camping and why an RV park is called a campground

Day 8, Saturday, October 2, at rest in Denver with the kids

I was up a few minutes after 0600 and turned up the heat, then returned to bed ’til the place warmed up to my liking. Once up for the day, I worked through the morning chores. Allen would pick me up around noon, so I had ’til then to just take it easy. It was a lovely way to begin my second week on the road.

It was pill day as well as a day of rest. Some of us old folks have to sort those pills every week or two in our ongoing effort to  keep body and soul together. I like to do it every two weeks as it’s a pretty big job. Note the electric heater that saves propane.

I still didn’t know just where I’d go bummin’ around when it was time to head for home. Figuring that out seemed a good way to spend my morning. I may simply go into Oregon to visit my oldest friend, and high school roommate, Al, in Keizer. And I may yet add a drive through some northern states to my itinerary. But I don’t want to deal with cold weather. Even in mild weather I struggle to keep warm.

Yep. Yet another view of our space to show how well spaced the RVs are from one another in the RV park. 

Allen picked me up at noon, and we drove to their home for the day. We had a grand time with Allen and Nancy, and I greeted my dear Wifey after spending the night apart. We ate both lunch and dinner there, sandwiches for lunch, and ribs for dinner. Naturally, I overate something awful, and I will have to get my discipline back. I simply like to eat too much.

We played Rummikub (rummy cube), a table game of numbers and tiles. I managed to win one game and got humbled pretty badly the rest of the games. But it is an interesting game requiring much strategy – and the luck of the draw.

After a really fun day with the family, Allen drove me back to the coach around 1900. I tended to evening chores, then relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the evening on the laptop, mostly watching YouTube.

I headed to bed at my usual time of midnight, and slept well in the quiet and peaceful “rural” RV park.

Day 9, October 3, Sunday, another day of rest with the kids.

By my sissy standards it was another cool night, but I stayed cozy and warm and slept well. I was up a bit before 0630 and warmed up the place.

I availed myself of the electricity we bought with our space rent. With our two portable electric heaters I kept the coach warm and toasty without burning up our propane. The little heaters kept the coach as warm as I wanted, which would be too warm for most folks. I used them only mornings and evenings as I didn’t want electric heaters running when I was asleep.

I set the propane furnace for about 64° or so in the bedroom at bedtime. We also have the option to run the water heater and the fridge on electricity, and I do just that when plugged in to AC electricity. It’s good to save the propane for dry camping.

It was a busy morning as I got some things done around the coach. I drained some water from the gray tank because I wanted to be sure there was enough room there for one more shower. In a RV shower, when the gray tank fills while showering, you wind up standing in water as the small basin that forms the shower floor simply backs up with water. Been there, done that. It isn’t something I want to do again.

I cleaned the monster windshields, checked the oil in both the main  and generator engines, and generally made ready for my departure the next morning. I also brought this blog up to date. When all was done, I took my daily walk for about 25 minutes.

As I got back to the coach from my walk, Allen arrived to drive me to the house for the day. It was nearly noon, and our timing was just right. I collected the things I needed, such as my camera and sweat shirt, and we headed for their lovely home for the day.

I had counseled myself about my overeating the prior day, and promised myself that I’d be more disciplined – that promise lasted ’til I got to the house. I snacked virtually all day long. I had chips, beer, nuts, etc. at my fingertips all day, and didn’t refuse anything.

Nancy served lunch again, and I had what she called a “sheepherder” taco. It was a large flour tortilla with sliced turkey and ham lunch meats, melted cheese, and lettuce. It was very good. I declined a second one, although I’d have loved another.

We played Rummikub all afternoon again. I won nothing except the highest score of the day – in a game that the lowest score wins. But we had a lot of fun together out on their patio. I whined incessantly about being cold, although it wasn’t cold – it was in the mid 70s. Still, I was cold in spite of wearing two sweat shirts.

When it was time to prepare dinner, Allen fired up the barbecue, and Nancy seasoned a bunch of chicken thighs (with the skin on, as God intended!), which I just love. When it was time to go home, Allen and Nancy presented me with a bag of five big, blackened, juicy thighs. They were certain to be gone by the time I got home!

Nancy and Allen, our hosts, enjoying the good times with family. 

Nancy’s mom, Norma, lives nearby, and arrived just as dinner was being served. We look forward to seeing Norma each visit, but she wasn’t around our last visit in May. It was good to see her. She brought her famous cookies and gave me well over a dozen as a gift. And they likely wouldn’t be around by the time I got home, either!

The moms of the family. That’s my dear Lavonne on the left, and Norma, Nancy’s mom – they’re obviously very good friends.

The family, well fed and happy, after our great dinner of delicious chicken with all the fixins’.

After our lovely visit and feasting, it was about time for me to head back to Big Blue for the night. Norma lives near the park, and it worked out very well for her to drop me off. We loaded some things into her car that my dear Lavonne wanted me to take home aboard the coach. She didn’t want to check baggage at the airport in the morning as she returned home. I hugged Lavonne warmly, and we bid our farewells. My plan would likely find me arriving home the following Sunday while she would be home the next morning.

Back at the coach, I stored Lavonne’s things for the trip home, and began my evening chores. It had been a long day for this old man, and I just wanted to sit once things were done. And I did.

I retired for the night about midnight, after catching up with this blog. I didn’t post photos of the day ’til Monday evening as I had forgotten my camera, and a few other things at Allen and Nancy’s home.

Day 10, Monday, October 4, Denver, CO to Rock Springs, WY via I-225, I-70, I-25, US287, I-80: 357 miles

I slept well, and was up and about around 0630, as usual, and had plenty to do before I pulled out of the RV Park and headed home via Oregon. After morning chores, I prepared the coach for the drive. That included dumping the tanks, adding fresh water, and doing the several things necessary to convert Big Blue from a comfy home to a comfy highway cruiser. 

Nancy dropped by with the several things I had forgotten. I told her as she made the delivery to this forgetful old man that perhaps I needed a babysitter along with me on these trips to help me remember things. I bid her good-bye with many thanks and she left for work.

I pulled out of the RV park about 0930 and headed north to I-80 via a shortcut that is US287. The drive through the Denver area and up I-25 to Fort Collins, CO was typically busy, but lightened somewhat as I continued farther north. Once through Ft. Collins, I turned onto US287 where the traffic was very light by comparison. The sights along that highway are very scenic, and I enjoyed the drive. The highway climbs to over 8,000 feet, then drops down to I-80.

Once on I-80, the drive was typical for that interstate – I was passed all day by most every big rig. I plodded along at my usual 58 MPH, thinking more of good fuel mileage than getting somewhere in a hurry. Much of the commercial I-80 traffic is blasting through Wyoming in a big rush to go to some other state, from some other state.

More click fun:

I arrived at Rock Springs’ Walmart at 1700 hours. Once set up for the night, I headed into the store for my walk and to do some shopping. Every Walmart associate I saw had a mask on, while many of the customers did, also. Different areas apparently have different attitudes about the pandemic. In some stores, I’ll see relatively few masks, in others more or most people wear them. I still have to shake my head in disbelief when I see folks wearing a mask, but leave their noses hanging out – which is essentially not wearing a mask. Don’t they have a clue about the need to wear a mask over mouth and nose?!


Back at the coach, I stashed the groceries, then worked on evening chores a while. For dinner I had a blackened thigh with a baked potato and gravy, and a mandarin orange.  I polished off the last of Norma’s cookies for dessert. They were just so good I couldn’t quit eating them ’til they were gone.

Most of the evening was spent editing photos and catching up on this blog. Afterward, I began watching Curiosity Stream’s documentary about Tom Thumb, the very small person who was a super star in his day. Yes, I seem to be very easily entertained.

I headed to bed at midnight, and planned to drive to Jerome, Idaho the next day. I like this life on the road aboard Big Blue.

Day 11, Tuesday, October 5, Rock Springs, WY to Jerome, ID via I-80, I-84: 353 miles

I awoke about my usual 0600, turned up the heater, and crawled back under the covers ’til the coach was comfy. I am pretty tender. I worked through the morning chores with anticipation of the day’s drive. I would turn onto I-84 from I-80 a few miles into Utah, after dropping down the 1,200 feet from Evanston, WY to almost Coalville, UT – about a 34 mile drive. I’ve driven to Oregon on that route a time or two before, and it would be a change from the usual drive directly home.

Big Blue at Rock Springs Walmart on the morning of Day 11.

I left Rock Springs, WY about 0830, and continued west on I-80. I didn’t get far before my usual breakfast time of about 0900. A few minutes after 0900 I reached Little America, the famous motel and tourist attraction, of sorts, along I-80.

It was opened in 1934, and is a well known stop. It has 140 guest rooms, auto and truck fuel facilities, and a large restaurant. They advertise on what must be hundreds of bill boards along I-80. I have rarely stopped there as it is usually pretty busy, but I pulled in and parked just to zap a sausage, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich, and had a mandarin orange and banana for dessert.

What a great way to start the day – wide open Wyoming and  I-80 almost all mine!

Click to view some strange formations along I-80 near Green River:

I like trains. I shot this photo along I-80 between Evanston, WY and Coalville, UT. I think it turned out pretty cool.

After the breakfast stop, I continued another 100 miles or so on I-80 ’til I reached I-84. That would take me in the direction of Oregon to visit my friend, Al, and his wife, Betty.

Click for some very scenic views along the drive:

The drive was pleasant and sunny and the traffic was light – as it nearly always is along a rural interstate. I stopped at a Maverik station in the town of Farr West, UT, a town I don’t recall although I must have driven through it during trips past. I filled up and continued on.

At a rest area somewhere in Utah, I can’t remember where, I stopped to make lunch. I made a Dagwood sandwich (sort of) with sliced turkey, tomato, onion, and lettuce. Along with a couple pieces of fruit, it made a good lunch. And I continued west.

I-84 stretched out before me like a ribbon. I thought this made for an interesting photo. (Click to enlarge.)

At some point along the drive on I-84, I noticed the voltage gauge was showing a bit less voltage than normal. That meant the chassis electrical system was not charging. I didn’t need that! It occurred to me to start the generator, and that did it – the voltage increased. So… how much would I have to run the generator? I turned it off at one point, and drove along for sometime before a warning came that the voltage was low. So I turned on the generator again and ran it for some time. Rats.

It all boiled down to the fact that I would abort the trip to Oregon, and head for home. I called Mello Truck Repair near home, the folks that do the mechanical work on Big Blue. Joey, the manager, advised that I’d be fine doing as I was doing, just running the generator as necessary.

I wish I would have noticed the issue before turning off I-80, because the jaunt up I-84 to Jerome, Idaho added about 135 miles to the trip home. And so it goes – as I’ve often said, with a motorhome’s many systems onboard – water, propane, electrical, and mechanical – it’s always something! I suppose that is especially true with a 2005 model that has 111,000 miles.

So, the new plan was to just make it home – and I figured I’d be home in two days. I’d drive to Winnemucca, Nevada the next day, and on home from there the next. It could have been worse.

I arrived at Jerome, Idaho’s Walmart a bit before 1700 hours. I took a walk in the store and around the parking lot as soon as I had the coach set up. It was 82° in Jerome when I arrived, and it seemed to stay pretty warm, although breezy, all evening. Since I’d be back on home time the next day, I moved the clocks back an hour, and added that gained hour to my evening.

Big Blue parked for the night at Jerome, Idaho’s Walmart.

For dinner, I zapped another marvelous, blackened chicken thigh made just for me by Allen and Nancy. I also zapped a can of creamed corn and added some fruit. It was a very tasty dinner.

I edited photos and wrote the travelogue during much of the evening. What would I do during the evenings on the road without my blog?!

I had to move to the other side of the lot at one point as a noisy reefer rig pulled in too close to Big Blue. Reefers, for those who may not know, are refrigerated trucks. The refrigerator unit is powered by a diesel engine. By my experience, no  matter what brand, the manufacturers various claims to quietness are bunk. They’re all noisy.

By 2200 hours (back on home time!) I finished the photo editing, writing, and posting. It was time for a cool one, and I especially enjoyed it after the frustrating turn of events.

I headed to bed about midnight and slept well, as usual.

Day 12, Wednesday, October 6, Jerome, UT to Winnemucca, NV via US93, I-80: 305 miles

I slept well, but not as long as I would have liked. I was awake a bit after 0500, and couldn’t go back to sleep. I was thinking of my predicament with the chassis electrics, and was just anxious to get home, I suppose.

I fired up the generator to be sure the chassis batteries were charged enough to start the big Cat engine. I worked through the morning chores, made my morning mug of coffee, and checked that Big Blue was ready to roll.

When I started the engine, with help from the glow plugs on a cool morning, she fired right up. But during the drive, the chassis batteries would drop in voltage all to quickly, and I knew I had to remove the headlight lamps. Remove them?! Yes. The people who designed Big Blue at Fleetwood decreed that I must run with my headlights on at all times. There was no way to turn them off when underway. The headlights draw a lot of current, and when running without an alternator, they draw down the batteries very quickly.

Another great start to the day! I had US93 all to myself! Well… almost. (Click to enlarge.)

Some miles into the morning’s drive, I pulled over on a flat and relatively smooth area off the road. I dug out my shop creeper, and rolled under the front of the coach to remove those lamps. It was quite simple, but not so easy – they didn’t want to budge. Eventually I got ’em out, and continued the drive.

Entering Jackpot, Nevada, a small town on the state line that must draw a lot of Idaho residents to their promise of big winnings. I wonder if those so enticed ever realize that the entire town was built on loser’s money. It seems so obvious!

I learned, by trial and error, that I could run the generator for an hour, and then turn it off for up to two hours. The voltage would drop from nearly 14 volts to a bit under 12 volts over the two hours of driving without the generator running. Once down to about 11.8 volts, the low voltage warning light would come on, and I’d repeat the procedure.


When I pulled into the Winnemucca Walmart lot, the generator was already running. I went into the store for my daily walk and some groceries I needed. When I returned to the coach about 45 minutes or so later, the generator had been running for an hour and a half. Before I turned off the generator, I noted that the batteries were drawing just two amps. They were fully charged! I was good ’til morning, although I’d probably run the generator when I made dinner, and a while before I went to bed. It seemed all was well and I’d make it home the next day.

Big Blue at the Winnemucca, Nevada Walmart for the night. The next day… home!

I did a couple of chores around the coach, such as wash the dirty windshields and take a shower. When I finally made dinner, I was an hour or so later than usual. I zapped one of Allen’s delicious, blackened chicken thighs, then zapped two cups of microwave instant rice that were made to be microwaved. I mixed in some teriyaki sauce, and put in way too much. I took a few bites and threw the rest away – I guess there is such a thing as too much teriyaki. I hate to waste food, but had no alternative. I enjoyed a little plum and a small banana for dessert. It was a good meal, except for the discarded teriyaki rice.

I watched a bit of silliness on YouTube for a while, and headed to bed about midnight. The next day: Home!

Day 13, Thursday, October 7, Winnemucca, NV to home via I-80, CA99: 348 miles

I was up a bit before 0600, and turned up the heat. It was a cool night in Winnemucca. I was pretty anxious to hit the road – I’d be back home that very day. After the frustration of the charging system, I was ready to be home. Still, I looked forward to the day’s drive – at least to Reno. From the outskirts of Reno and all the way home, the drive would be typically heavy Kalifornistanian traffic. And I would drive rougher roads than I’d seen since I left.

Another great beginning of the day; open roads and light traffic – at least ’til Reno.

I pulled out of the Walmart lot at 0700. The sky was a bit threatening, and for much of the drive it looked like it could rain. I hadn’t seen rain since I can’t remember when, and I would have appreciated a good rain storm. I never saw enough rain to use the wipers ’til around Donner Summit, and then not for long. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

In a rather colorless desert, this place stood out with its grand fall colors. (Click to enlarge.)

The drive was uneventful except for continually turning the Onan generator on and off to keep the batteries charged. But that procedure saw me all the way home. I can start the generator from my driving position, so I didn’t have to stop each time. I did enjoy the scenic drive through the Sierras and on down to the valley I have to call home. After days and days of open highways with light traffic, except for the Denver area, the Kalifornistan traffic and lousy roads were a let down. But I knew what I was returning to!

More click fun:

I ate breakfast and lunch aboard, as usual. I stopped for breakfast at a rest area near Fallon, Nevada. I stopped for lunch somewhere north of the city of Lodi, not far from home, where I took an off ramp and simply parked on the side of the road off the freeway. As I wrote this the day after, that drive seemed just a blur in some ways.

One more click!

The valley floor stretched out below – I was getting closer to home.


This mess is on the off ramp I take close to home. The authorities remove it, and it comes back. It is repeated over and over. Welcome to Kalifornistan! Ugh.

I arrived home at 1500 hours, happy to have made it. Although I had to “limp” home with an electrical issue, I was home. I greeted my dear Lavonne with a kiss and a long, warm hug. We have a plaque on the front of our refrigerator at home that reads, “No matter where you may roam, the best part is coming home!” So true. We do share a happy home.

After the warm welcome home, I got busy unloading the coach – with a rest or two during the process, I was done around 1730. I idled Big Blue back to the RV lot, and tucked her into her oversized car port. Dumping her holding tanks and filling the fresh water tank would wait another day.

I reckon Big Blue and I were both glad to be home. She was already scheduled to head to the shop about ten days later for the needed repairs, and be ready for the next call to service. That would probably be just a short a drive to our son, Craig’s, home in Stockton for Thanksgiving. If the repairs get done in time, I might make a trip to Oregon to visit my old buddy, Al, before Thanksgiving.

Life is good with Big Blue – even with a bad alternator!


The trip to Denver and Beyond didn’t go beyond, after all. But the trip was 2,729 miles through six states. We drove Kalifornistan, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado. During the aborted drive to Oregon, I also drove into Idaho before having to head home. The drive covered 13 days.

I was sorely disappointed that I didn’t get to drive to Oregon. I called Al and told him I’d try again later to make the visit. I’ve made an appointment with Mello Truck Repair in Modesto, just south of us, to get the charging issue repaired. The generator still smokes at startup, and that will have to be addressed, too. Again.

It’s always something!

About FishWisher

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.
This entry was posted in Travel: Allen's, Travel: Craig's Castle, Travel: Gale & John, Travel: Interstate Adventure!, Travel: Oregon. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to To Denver and Beyond – Sept-Oct 2021

  1. Sandy Aerts says:

    Hi Dale and Mrs.

    Was curious what Mrs. does while she’s on the passenger side and you’re driving, enjoying empty land and roads? Is she on her computer playing games, or are you talking her ear off, like Jim would do to me, while I’m crocheting. After a certain point, I ask him to please try to be quiet for a total of 5 minutes, which, he can’t do! Just curious.

  2. FishWisher says:

    Hi, Sandy,
    It’s good to hear from you again. Yep, Lavonne spends a lot of time with her tablet playing Scrabble and other word games. She’s unbeatable at Scrabble. We chat some, I often point out things as I drive that she might miss otherwise. We talk some about the usual things married people talk about, and it might be most anything. And she dozes off from time to time, as anyone does on long drives – except, of course, the driver. But neither one of us talk a whole lot – we’ve had 31 years to pretty much cover most topics.
    Thanks for the visit,

    • crash3289/Sandy Aerts says:

      Hi, Dale!
      If I could, I’d give you a high five and 10 thumbs up! Now I need to catch up on reading your blog.

      BTW! I have to tell you this. My youngest daughter and her 2 boys, and husband, all went together to buy me a SMART PHONE, COVER, $30 OF SERVICE, PHONE COVER, and the SCREEN PROCTECTOR for my birthday! I just got it toady and it took me all day to finally get it working. It felt like Christmas morning here this morning after getting it!

      I’ve always heard people say that they could “feel” the love from whatever. By God, I ACTUALLY FELT their love for me today! (Like ALL their arms were wrapped around me! I don’t think I’ll ever let that feeling go! It’s an experience for at least ME.

      Safe travels and say hello to Mrs. for me.

  3. Sandy Aerts says:

    Hi again, Dale!
    These are just comments to things I read catching up on your blog.

    Peanut butter now comes in a bube which is a lot smaller than a “small” jar.

    Peanuts in the shell! My dad was addicted to them and all nuts and he lived to 102! Peanutes are good for you!

    Jim a few years back went through Chicago’s Toll way and couldn’t pay due to no one there taking money! After going through and he came home and told me this, I looked it up. We waited and waited for the bill to show up, and it NEVER did!

    I know of that heater. My dad had one in his enclosed basement office. I wish I had taken it. He had a couple at his cabin, also. They heat up very nicely.

    I lived in a 5th wheel for abt. 6 mos. back in late ’93 & ’94. To save water, it was a wet, soap, rinse shower, with water turned off between wet and soap, or as Jim would put it, a service shower.

    Alrighty, that’s it for now.
    Safe travels!

  4. FishWisher says:

    Sandy –
    We call those quick but good showers RV showers. I take one every night, and it works just fine. When I get home from a trip, I make a point of taking a long, wasteful, wonderful shower to make up for all the RV showers. And I’m looking forward to mine this trip.
    The toll road in Denver has several closed toll stations with several booths for collecting tolls. They’re all closed and sitting idle, and a camera somewhere does all the work. The cameras save the state a lot of money by having no toll collectors. I’m sure some people don’t pay, but the state is still way ahead.

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