Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Grangeville Idaho

Grangeville is located on the Camas Prairie. Lots of farms and ranches. We did not turn off the mammouth fossil site. We passed the Christmas Ranch RV Resort. It looked like a decent place to stop off. The Park is 2-3 miles outside of Grangeville. Grangeville is a nice small town with a nice clean downtown area along Idaho Route 13. US 95 continues on from Grangeville to Lewiston. There is a nice little museum a couple of blocks off the main street but it is only open Thursday-Saturday.

We took Idaho Route 13 north out of Grangeville to Kooskia, heading for Kamiah and the Lewis-Clark RV Resort. Route 13 is mountain driving at its best. Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful. Narrow and winding. Lots of 25 and 35 mph curves. We were glad to finally get to Kooskia. We hurried down US 12 to the campground.

Monday, August 28, 2006

White Bird, Idaho

White Bird is a small town just off of US-93. It was at one time the winter camp of some of Nez Perce Indians. It is here north of the current town site where a band of 70-80 non-reservation Nez Perce Indians battled around 120 mounted soldiers in 1877. The battle ground is part of the Nex Perce National Historical Park. There is a nice walking tour of the battle ground. The battle ground can also be viewed from the White Bird Grade on US 93 at a pull-off. If you are interested in Nez Perce history it is a must see.

We stayed in the Angel's Nook RV Park in White Bird. There are three Passport America parks in the area including Angel's Nook. Angel's Nook is a park literally created in an individual's back yard. It is not very well designed. It is quiet and has no facilities. The laundry is nearby in a motel. It was dirty. What it has going for it is the very nice hosts who helped us get set up and gave us lots of good, practical information from where the only restaurant in White Bird was to be careful when picking huckleberries (watch out for bears and rattlesnakes). Hell's Canyon Jet Tour RV Park looked more than acceptable and the Swiftwater RV Park was everything a small RV park should be. The Swiftwater Park was in a beautiful location next to the Salmon River and was exceptionally clean. We met two other campers, Vernon and Roxie, that we had dinner with at the restaurant. They were from Emmett and Vernon worked for Len who we had visited several days before. The restaurant would probably get a 1/4 star from the Mobil Travel Guide if that. Surly staff, dirty, old Santa picture on the wall, and decent food.

We crossed over the Salmon River on the old US 95 river bridge and visited an orchard that was finishing up its peach harvest. We bought some more peaches, corn, cantaloupe, and apples. Great stuff. Friendly folks. They were raising 4 varieties of peaches. I bought some of each.

To go up the White Bird Grade on US 93 to Grangeville we unhooked the toad. It is probably the steepest grade we have encountered on our trip.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

GPS with Streets and Trips on a Lap Top

We bought DeLorme Street Atlas with GPS with the idea of using it to guide us through our travels this summer. After trying to use it a couple of times on short trips in Arizona I decided that it wasn't as good as Microsoft's Streets and Trips. After learning that I could use the DeLorme GPS unit with S&T by loading DeLorme Serial Emulator program, I tried it. It works well.

I have been planning our daily travels a couple of days in advance and adding them to the trip planner in S&T. I delete the places we have been and use our current location as the starting point. I put the Delorme GPS unit (I call it the hockey puck) on the RV or car dashboard. Once I get S&T up and running I bring up the GPS task pane and perform a scan (click on Configure GPS button) to locate the puck. I then click on the Track position box and Create GPS Trail box. The little car in a circle appears at our current location. Once we start to move the car moves along our route.

When moving around a strange city the GPS really helped to make sure we were on track.

Ponderosa State Park, McCall, Idaho

We pulled into Ponderosa State Park, just outside of McCall, Idaho, at about 3:30 pm on a Friday afternoon looking for a spot with hookups. As former campground hosts we knew what our chances were for getting a spot on Friday afternoon at 3:30pm, but since it was raining we had luckily 2 big rig spots to choose from. We paid $20.80 for a site with 30 amp service and water. We pulled in and set up. Tall pines prevented a good DirecTV signal so I had to set up the tripod in the driveway.

There are about about 100 sites here on 3 loops. The sites are not packed together but aren't far enough apart to offer full privacy. It is heavily treed. Payette Lake is within walking distance of all sites. There are lots of great hiking trails throughout the park. And no nearby train tracks, feed lots, or highways!

Friday, August 25, 2006


We put Emmett on our itinery so Seven could meet in person her long-time on-line bridge buddy, Boring Millie. We were resigned to dry camp somewhere in Emmett, probably in Boring Millie's driveway, and were looking for a place to dump our tanks using the RV Idaho brochure. We decided to stop at the dump station at the Gem County fairgrounds to dump. We were surprised to find that there were 10 nice sites with 50 amp service and water. They were pretty much right next to Idaho Route 16 but the traffice didn't seem all that heavy. That assessment changed the next morning at about 6:30 am when half of Emmett gets up and goes to work in Boise 30 miles away via that little highway next to the campground.

We visited with Boring Millie and her husband for 12 hours, having lunch and dinner with them. A great time. Boring Millie is leaving soon for San Antonio to play bridge with other members of the on-line group. Seven has met 3 of the members now.

Emmett is a town without any industry or any significant attractions. It is a nice little town but in reality it has just become a bedroom community for Boise. Emmett used to be a large fruit growing center but federal regulations acted to shut the industry down and all the fruit trees are now gone and packing plants are boarded up. All the fruit comes from Chile and Mexico now where regulations are not so onerous.

The lumber industry in Emmett have been shut down too. A plant where Boring Millie's husband worked was closed and over 800 employees lost their jobs.

We left town via Idaho Route 52. The drive east over to Idaho Route 55 was beautiful. Route 52 is a somewhat narrow road that follows the Payette River. We turned north on Idaho Route 55 at Horseshoe Bend. Route 55 followed the Payette River up into the mountains. It is a scenic drive first class. We picniced along the roaring river surrounded by towering pines.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Boise Idaho

We pulled off of I-84 and went north on US-20. The camp ground we had picked out in the Boise area was full so we were looking for a place to camp while we were going down US-20 to the Old Idaho Penitentary. We accidently made a wrong turn (it is hard to change lanes quickly in a 36' RV+toad) and went up an exit ramp instead on staying on US-20. I turned to go down Federal Way to find a place to turn around so we could get back on US-20. The first thing we saw was a Jo-Anne's Fabric Store and Karen, of course, had to stop in there to look for bug fabric (she is making a bug quilt for our first grandson). So we pulled around back and found a nice place in the shade to park the rig. This looked like a great place to dry camp so when Karen went into the Jo-Ann's I went into the nearest store and talked to the lady owner/manager about spending the night at her place - not really. She said that she and her husband were RVers and that we could stay as long as we liked. We put the jacks down and took off for the old penitentary. Karen found 5 pieces of bug fabric for the quilt in Jo-Ann's when we got 'home' that night. Next to Jo-Ann's was a day-old bread outlet so I went in and bought some stuff including a box of Famous Amos cookies that I gave to the lady who let us park in her parking lot.

The old penitentary was really neat. They have not tried to restore it. It is aging gracefully. It was closed in 1973 and was at one time Idaho's main penitentary. It has several mini-museum on the grounds as well - a vehicle, a weapons, a tatoo, and an electrical - that are in some of the prison buildings. We toured the cell blocks, laundry, solitary confinement, death row, and gallows. We saw a handwritten invitation to an execution, exhibits of weapons made by prisoners, and stories of prisoners who stayed there. Executions used to be publicly held in each county in Idaho but later were moved to this penitentary where they were held in the rose garden. Finally they were closed to viewing.

We saw the women's ward too. It is very small and some unusual characters were held there at one time for what seem like strange reasons (like adultry) now. The ward had a nice flower and rose garden that the prisoners worked in. One tree grew next to the wall and a lady prisoner climbed it and escaped as did another who used a trellis as a ladder. The prison officials cut the tree down.

The weapons museum consisted of one man's weapon collection. The museum had a lot of old weapons as well as old guns up to WWII. Very informative displays. The tatoo museum consisted of pictures of tatoos, descriptions of the process and the meaning of tatoos in prison, and tatooing equipment that had been used in prisons. Tatooing is illegal in prison and has to be done between rounds. The electrical museum had lots of old interesting distribution equipment and a working analog telephone switching system that you could watch as you dialed a number.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Gooding, Idaho

We left HART RV Park to head on over to Gooding, Idaho on the back roads to check out the Gooding County Fair and Rodeo. We first checked out a really nice little RV park, Big Wood RV Park, north of town just off of Main Street that a guy at HART had told me about. Unfortunately all the spaces were already reserved so we checked out the National Guard parking lot next to the fair grounds. Seven went into NG center and asked if we could park there for a couple of days. "Sure", the young Guardsman said. We set up camp under a huge elm tree next to an irrigation ditch. Pretty nice place to dry camp.

Today was laundry day so we took off back down Main Street in the toad to look for a laundry. We found a nice clean one and unloaded our supplies and dirty stuff. While Seven was doing laundry I set up the computer and began looking for a hotspot. Bingo, one popped right up on J-Wire when I was in the laundry. The spot was right across the street and I went over and asked the store owner if I could use it. It turned out the store was a combo office supply place, ice cream shop, and gift store. The owner was super nice and let me use it for over an hour. I had to buy an ice cream of course.

Gooding seems to be a nice little town. When I tried to cross Main Street cars would stop and let me with friendly waves. The only problem is that when I ask someone a question it takes a couple of beats before I get an answer. Except for the owner of the Cafe Connect ice cream shop who was pretty sharp.

We are running the generator right now to let Seven catch up on Young and the Restless and to cool down the coach. It is about 90 degrees out.

We walked over to the fair grounds to see what was happening. There was a crowd at the goat show ring where 5 little kids were showing their goats. We watched that then checked out the livestock barns. The happy, sleeping show pig buddies in the picture were raised by Caleb Bradshaw of the Rookies 4-H Club. Compared to the facilities at the Pinal County fairgrounds in Arizona the facilities here in Gooding were luxurious. It was like the Missouri State Fair but with fewer animals and smaller barns.

Hagerman, Idaho

We chose to stay at High Adventure River Tours RV Park near Hagerman, Idaho because it is part of the Passport America club. It is nice clean park with all pull throughs. All sites are amply shaded with plenty of grass covered room between each site. The people running the park are friendly and helpful. It is within ear-shot of I-84 but the noise is really not noticeable. The BIG problem is that 500 cow diary somewhere down the road a couple of miles. 500 cows produce a tremendous amount of urine and the smell envelopes the campground like a suffocating fog when the wind is wrong. It did twice during the two days we stayed at HART RV Park. Seven lived north of a cattle lot most of her life and we raised cattle for a couple of years so the smell is not totally intolerable for us. Some people would probably unhook and move on in about 5 minutes. It is a shame. The park only had 5 campers staying there.

From HART RV Park we visited several attractions in the area.

Hagerman Fossil Beds National Park visitor center is worth a visit. The park itself is not if you are pressed for time. There is no charge. If seeing Oregon Trail wheel ruts is on your to-see list be sure to visit the park. There are some excellent wheel ruts visible from the road or from trails. The visitor center is in beautiful downtown Hagerman. Hagerman RV Village north of downtown looks like it is a nice, friendly RV Park. It has free Wi-Fi available and the friendly manager would let us use it even though we were not staying there.

The state fish hatchery off of US-30 looks run down but functional. They have a show tank with rainbow, golden, sturgeon, and other fish species in it. All the tanks are covered with chicken wire because of the flock of white American pelicans hanging out nearby. There were several ponds to fish in.

The US Wildlife Fish Hatchery is near to the state hatchery (you can go out the back way and get there instead of going back out to US-30 down the road a couple of miles then back the US Wildlife Hatchery). The hatchery grows steelhead trout for sports fisherman and to replenish wild stocks. The steelhead is like the salmon in that it migrates back from the ocean to where it had hatched in fresh water. There was a trailer full of technicans and equipment that was clipping the adipose fin from fingerlings. Fisherman can keep steelheads without the fin but have to return those that have them. The operation was almost totally computerized. Friendly techs gave us a first class lesson on steelheads. There is no charge for touring the hatchery.

Malad Gorge State Park is a mile or so from the HART RV Park. In the park there is a tremendous 250' deep gorge that was cut through the basalt that covers this area. The Snake River and Malad River cut the gorge. There is a long footbridge across the gorge where the falls drop into a feature called Devil's Wash Bowl. To see the falls a short walk down to an overlook is necessary. The drive back along the gorge is interesting. Be sure to pick up the informative self-guiding tour brochure. There are nice picnic facilities here. A $4 use fee is required. 1,000s of RVers probably go past this great little park at 75 mph each week because they are hell-bent on getting to the next mini-Disneyland down the road. You also miss seeing snakes in the road if you go too fast. Slow down and enjoy.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Back Roads

We try not to drive the interstates. We want to see the USA so we stay on the 2-lane roads as much as possible. We took I-80 out of Salt Lake City to Wendover then on to Wells, Nevada because there was not a good two-lane alternative. From Wells we took US-93 to Jackpot then on to Twin Falls. From Twin Falls we took US-30 to High Adventure RV Park where we are now.

We see lots of interesting things driving through the small towns. We saw so many things today along US-30 we are going to take the toad back to investigate them further. Driving along the interstate we probably wouldn't have noticed many of the things.

We drove right past our turn off at Justice Grade on US-30 today because we were looking at the great scenery and the turn-off was hidden. We had to drive another couple of miles before we found a place where we could turn the RV+toad around. The Justice Grade was a short, narrow road with a couple of do-able switchbacks that took us out of the Snake River valley to the plateau above the river to our next stop at High Adventure RV Tours campground.

Twin Falls Idaho

We passed from the high plains desert environment of sage and more sage into the bountiful agricultural paradise of south-central Idaho. Irrigation transformed the desert into fields of wheat, corn, alfalfa, and grass. Sprinklers were going in everyother field we passed.

Twin Falls is unremarkable as towns go. The spectacular Snake River gorge on the north side of town makes it a place to see. We tried to visit Shoshone Falls but the road to it was closed and all we got was a peek over an overlook 1/2 miles away. The falls are beautiful as is the park next to them. Great place for a picnic. We went on down the road to Twin Falls. Problem with Twin Falls is that its name is dated. It is no longer twin falls but a single, large fall. The other fall has been converted to a spillway for production of hydroelectric power. Twin Falls must have been a sight to see in its day, but now it is a testimony to man's engineering ability. There is a place to picnic and swim.

We were thinking about dry camping at Lowe's but after checking with the manager we decided not to. He didn't say we couldn't stay but told me that they have perimeter security and any movement within the perimeter sets off alarms. He said that the police would probably pay us a visit. Twin Falls is odd in that it does not have a Wal-Mart. So we could not dry camp there. The town fathers, in their ultimate perverted wisdom, decided to not allow Wal-Mart to have a store there. They did allow Target to build a Super Center, Home Depot and Lowes to build big box stores, and Fred Meyer (Kroger) to have a large Wal-Mart-like operation. Explain that.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Jackpot, Nevada

After running through 12 miles of US-93 road repairs that coated the front end of the Toad with oil and gravel, we pulled into the Spanish Gardens RV Park in Jackpot, Nevada. We were going to check it out before going down the road to the other RV park in Jackpot. The price was right - $13.95. The large cottonwood trees shading many of the sites was also great so we pulled in and set up camp. Spanish Gardens is wedged in between US-93 and a trailer park that houses what could be a good place for a INS raid. The park would be pretty nice if it were 200 yards away from the highway and had fewer permanent residents. A decent, inexpensive place to hookup and spend a night or two. Lots of road noise. We got use to it.

Jackpot has one grocery store, one gas station, a couple of motels, one library, one school, 1 free Wi-Fi hotspot, 2 RV parks, one church, 5 casinos/hotels-motels, and one grumpy woman. The main industry in Jackpot is taking the hard-earned wages from the good folks of Idaho. We liked the Casino 93 and its limited but decent buffet-cafe. $2 limit on craps. $3 BJ. Friendly folks. Cactus Pete's was too busy. Very poor layout and signage therefore hard to get around in the first time or two. It has some nice poker tournaments. Dealers are surly.

The only Wi-Fi hotspot is in the library - conveniently open Tues-Sat. I drove around some of the neighborhoods looking for an open wi-fi network. I hate to do this because invariably a white male sitting in a car looking down at his lap is a big threat to the peace and tranquility in most neighborhoods. I found one and asked the lady at the nearest house if I could use it. The grumpy paranoid woman acted like I had asked her to use her bathroom for a week and it took about 15 minutes for the police cruiser to show up. I showed the officer what I was doing and he nicely asked if I would move on. I did. I was able to check some accounts and fire off a couple of emails before shutting things down.

Water Pump Problems

Our water pump mysteriously quit working. Without that pump dry camping is very difficult so we were really concerned. We hadn't needed for a couple of months since we were always hooked up to a water supply.

I did a lot of investigating. I looked at our pump literature. I called Winnebago and asked them about it. The problem most likely seemed to be a blown inline fuse. Where was that fuse? I checked all the fuses and breakers I knew about. I emptied and crawled into a storage bay to trace the wiring to and from the pump. No luck. I could not see the fuse. It must be hidden in the protective wrap. Winnebago is big on protective wrap for electrical wiring. I had downloaded the drawings of the 12-volt circuits from the Winnebago site and called the drawings up and looked them over to see if I could locate the inline fuse. No luck. Brickwall time.

Then late at night I turned on the computer to look at the drawings one more time with my blurry eyes. As I scanned the drawings I noticed that one switch in the bathroom was labled "Pump Switch". What? We have always wondered what that unlabeled switch was for and would occasionally flip it on and off to see what happened. I thought it was for the bathroom fan and didn't work. So I went into the bathroom and flipped the switch and then went to the control panel to see if the pump would come on. The pump came on.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Wendover is in Utah and the name usually refers to the combined cities of Wendover, Utah and West Wendover, Nevada. A line painted on the main street shows the Utah-Nevada boundry. The two towns, of course, are virtualy indistinguishable except for the fact that West Wendover has 5 casinos lining the main street and Wendover has some dumpy stores and motels. The combined town has 2 of everything - police, city government, etc. Only in America.

We stayed at the State Line RV Park on 1st Street (you figure out where it is - there are no street signs) for two nights. Concrete pads, 30 amp service, water, cable (we did not use) and sewage. Small trees dot the Park. They will produce some shade in maybe 10 years. No pull thrus that I could see. It is clean. I did not see a laundry room or showers. If one parks next to the parking garage, there will be shade after 6pm, but the parking lot lighting will shine down on the RV all night and a bright morning sun will shine in the front window.

The park is on the Utah side of the state line and to get to the Nugget Hotel and Casino in Nevada we have to climb some stairs to get to a parking garage, then walk across the parking garage, then climb another flight of stairs and cross a double driveway to the casino that is in Nevada. The Nugget is a nice little casino: clean with good restaurants and other amendities like a pool that is available for campers to use. Our rate was $16.95 per night, however during Bonneville Speed Week (August 12-17 this year) they charge $30+ a night. The park is totally booked up during Speed Week with advanced reservations, otherwise it is a first-come-first-served park.

There is a Nevada visitor's center that is worth stopping at on the Nevada side of the state line. One of the ladies working there (very tall) was a fountain of knowledge of Wendover and the area. She knew facts about everything from the nearby caves (closed to the public) to brine shrimp production. There are lots of pictures and information available there.

Wendover has been the location for a lot of movies, and served as the training base for the pilots that flew the planes that dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

A good free wi-fi spot is at the Econo Lodge. We could not get a connection outside and had to go inside to take advantage of the free connection. There is seating and one electrical outlet in the snack room. It is not the cleanest or best place in the world to spend time, but it is free.

We checked out the KOA on the Nevada side. It is on a sloping lot, has dirt roads and little shade. It looked as if it was pretty old and delapidated. The swimming pool water was a nice shade of green. We would dry camp rather than stay there or pay $22-$35 a night for a hotel room at one of the casinos if we had to.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Goodbye Redman

We gone. We left Redman to start a new adventure today. Our replacement hosts came at noon and we got unhooked and on the road at 1:00 pm.

We really enjoyed our stay at Redman Campground. Lots and lots of ups and very few downs. The people in Utah are wonderful. Big Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch-Cache National Forest is a special place. A lot of campers were surprised we were leaving since they think of Redman as heaven on earth. It has to be one of premier tent camping campgrounds in the National Forest system. We were fortunate to be able to host there. Our supervisors and the company we worked for - American Land and Leisure - was A-1 all the way.

Now we are on the road to Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and then back home to Arizona. 2 and 1/2 months of traveling at a snail's pace. We really do not have a detailed route in mind right now. RVing = Freedom.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Kennecott's Bingham Canyon Mine

The fact that this huge copper mine is called the Bingham Canyon Mine is sort of joke. Bingham Canyon is gone. The mine swallowed it and the communities that existed in Bingham Canyon some time ago. The mine is very active is getting deeper everyday. We drove out to it on one of our day's off. A $5 entry fee (donated to charity by Kennecott) is required to see it. The visitor center is almost world class in terms of presenting information. It is very informative. There is a lot information about the mine, the processing of copper ore, the mine's history, copper and how and where it is used . I lingered at each display for some time. The visitor center is full of simple but effective displays. Look for a little booklet about Copper Mining Communities and Their People that tells the story of the various communities that once existed in Bingham Canyon. There is also a good gift shop with lots of copper related items.

Going to see a big hole in the ground may not be some people's idea of a good way to spend an afternoon, but we really enjoyed it. The mine is one of the few man-made things that can be seen from space. It is 2.5 miles across. Where there was once a mountain there is now a hole.

We were watching the movie How the West was Won several days ago and there is a shot of the Bingham Canyon Mine at the end of the movie. It is shocking how much deeper the mine is now. The movie was made 40 year ago.

Timpanogos Cave

Timpanogos Cave (there are actually 3 caves - Timpanopos, Hansen and Middle Cave) is loed high up on the steep slopes of American Fork Canyon (Utah Highway 92). When I say 'high up' I mean high up. The cave's entrance is just 1.25 mile hike from the Visitor Center. The problem is that the entrance is 1092 foot climb almost straight up on a trail. It is recommended that you are in very good condition before making the climb. There are outstanding views of the American Fork Canyon along the trail if you have to stop for a rest. We did not make the ascent and took what I call an Old/Fat Guy Tour - we watched a good video about the caves in the Visitor Center. Tickets for the cave tours sell out early so plan accordingly. This is a busy area. Some people who toured the cave said that the caves are fantastic. The ticket price is separate from the entrance fee paid at the entrance station down the canyon. There are some beautiful picnic areas along the American Fork River and a short interpretive trail near the Visitor's Center.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Happiness is a small, red 10 amp fuse

We could not start our RV. It would not even turn over. I called Freightliner engineering yesterday who immediately diagnosed the problem, however, the Freightliner engineer could not specifically tell me where the blown 10 amp fuse was because the box that contains the fuses are in different places in different Winnebago RVs. I crawled under the coach and looked everywhere I could think of. I gave up and called Winnebago again today. The Winnebago customer service rep, at first, didn't have his brain in gear and directed me to a box in the front of the RV that I had looked in 1,000 times. Then a light bulb went off in his brain and he laughed at his silly answer and told me where to look.

I had to raise up the bed then take off the metal plate separating the bed storage compartment from the engine area. Once I did all that, I looked and there was the small box that held the fuse. The fuse box attached to the bed box and cannot be seen from beneath the RV. I replaced the blown fuse and apprehensively went up front one more time. I held my breath as I turned the key to start the RV. It started!! If I drank I would have sat down and had a stiff one. One heck of a big problem solved.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Moose Madness

Everyone who visits Redman Campground wants to see wildlife, moose in particular. We have had several bull mooses, several cows with calves, and yearlings pass through the campground to the delight of campers. We saw the momma moose and her calf for the first time today during a heavy downpour. A beautiful sight.

The picture was taken out of our slideout window. The pair was quite sensitive to car noise and would head off to dense cover when they heard a car approach.