George and Sandy's 2004 Camping Trip

Sandy and I have taken off to go on a trailer camping trip BY OURSELVES. We couldn't leave before June 30 due to commitments at my work. Katie had to leave to go back to school by mid August. This left 6 weeks to fit in a 2-3 week trip. Zack and Katie didn't even want to go. Charlie did. However, between an Anime convention that he wanted to go to, summer school, band camp and school registration, there was no time period that he could go either. So we had to go by ourselves. We were heartbroken.

Katie is 18 so she is acting as the token adult. Richard has the van at Santa Barbara so he could make it home in 2 or 3 hours if necessary. This is an opportunity for the kids to learn something about taking care of themselves. For us, we don't have to listen to "are we there yet?"

Wednesday, June 30, 2004, about 1930 MDT

It's been a long day. We ended up in a campground in Beaver UT. We left the house at 0430 and headed up I-15. Since our first destination is Glacier National Park, we'll take I-15 almost the whole way. It's about a 1300 mile trip, we've budgeted 3 days to get there. Our campground reservation starts on Saturday.

The trip was pretty uneventful except for a little delay in Las Vegas. We stopped in North Las Vegas to make some sandwiches for lunch. When I got out of the truck, I noticed that my keyless remote didn't lock it. Neither did Sandy's. While messing with them, I managed to set the alarm and couldn't reset it. I also couldn't start the truck because the alarm had disabled the starter. We appeared to be stuck.

We called the automobile club and they sent out a tow truck. The driver managed to get the alarm reset by using the key in the door lock. Since I had never used the key, I didn't know that you could reset and bypass the alarm with just the key. The remotes still didn't work though.

We drove back into Las Vegas to a GMC dealer and he managed to reset the remotes. It seems that conventional wisdom holds that something happening at Nellis AFB causes keyless remotes all over town to get hosed. Normal resets don't work. The dealer had some sort of box that he put in the car and then he held the remote right up to the dash and managed to get them to resynchronize. We were on our way again. After 500+ miles, I got tired and we decided to call it a day at Beaver UT.

I also had to mess with a brake light on the trailer that didn't work. Since messing with the bulb in the socket appeared to fix it, corrosion was probably to blame.

The campground is a standard fare RV park. At least it had fairly flat spots and pull through spaces. We didn't get hookups, but it still cost $15.

Sandy is ticked at me right now because I brought the bathroom scale so I can keep track of my weight as I am on a diet. She considered that a cardinal sin. I don't think that she is genuinely pissed, but she is putting on a show anyway.

Thursday, July 1, 2004, about 1800 MDT

It's been another long day. No mechanical problems today, except that at the end of the day, the Yukon was 2 quarts down on oil. I had filled it just before we left so it is really sucking this stuff up. I didn't have any with me (my bad) but a guy in the neighboring site gave me a quart. That will hold us until we can buy some more.

After another 500+ miles of driving, I was pretty tired. We saw a sign for a campground in Dubois Idaho, but it was just a grass patch between a gas station and the freeway. We passed. 20 miles or so up the road was a town called Spencer. There was a campground sign but no obvious campground. The next town was 33 miles up the road.

stoddard creek campgroundJust a mile up the road was a sign that said "Campground." We followed a one lane road up the hill for a mile to the Stoddard Creek Forest Service campground in the Targhee National Forest in central Idaho. This is one of the nicer campgrounds that I have been in and it is certainly worth the $6/night that the Forest Service wants.

sandy at stoddard creek campgroundJust after we got there, the thunder boomers started up. Along with the cool breeze, it made for a very relaxing evening. There is also a railroad line running nearby because we can hear the horns.

Just about sundown, the thunder boomers got real close and it started to rain and then it started to hail. It all came down pretty hard for a short while but it let up in about 15 minutes.

We've got about 300 miles to go to get to Glacier. Our plan is to camp just outside the park somewhere Friday night, then sleep in Saturday morning and then and occupy or reserved campsite at St. Mary's campground for at least 4 days, maybe longer if we want to. This would be after the 4th of July weekend so that getting a site extension should not be difficult.

Friday July 2, 2004, about 1845 MDT

Today was yet another long day of driving, nearly 500 miles again. However, we've made it to the entrance of Glacier National Park. The drive was uneventful, we got on the road about 8 AM and worked our way through much of Montana to get here. Most of I-15 ran through pasture and ranch land with some spots in river valleys or over forested ridges. We got off I-15 just past Great Falls Montana and took highway 89 across featureless farmland and pasture for about 120 miles. This was mostly a 2 lane rural highway but at least the road surface was good and most of it was good for 60 mph. The last 31 miles was twisty mountain driving to get to St. Mary.

Our reservation isn't for tomorrow morning so we are staying in the St. Mary KOA which is about a mile from the park entrance, which is where our campground is as well. The total milage from home is 1482 miles.

st. mary koaWe got one of the last campsites in the place. It may be a muddy corner, but at least it has some trees which most of the others don't. This KOA is pretty steep, $32 for a spot, electricity and water hookups. It doesn't have WiFi but it does have hot tubs. We'll be sleeping in until late in the morning, hitching up and then finding our site inside the park.

Saturday July 3, 2004, about 1330 MDT

We slept in late at the KOA and then moved just 2 miles to the St. Mary campground in Glacier National Park. We didn't get in without trouble though. In the parking lot of the visitor center, I sideswiped another car with the trailer's awning mount and ripped it off the trailer. I also damaged the other vehicle, although not badly. I patched the awing mount back onto the trailer but it will require some more work when we get home.

st mary campgroundThe campsite is fairly nice this one is kind of open, there are others that are more secluded. Sandy is napping now and I am getting ready to eat some lunch. We have four days reserved at this camp and we haven't set an agenda yet as to what we are going to do except relax.

glacierThe campground has some pretty good views of small glaciers on the surrounding mountaintops. This is one example. There are about 50 glaciers in the park, from the map, most are small such as these.

Saturday July 3, 2004, about 1800 MDT

We spent all day in the campground, Sandy was napping much of the time, I spent some time exploring. The St. Mary river flows right by the campground, eventually, it flows to the Hudson Bay. There is another continental divide here. The part we are in is a wedge that goes up into Canada.

Fishing in the river doesn't require a fishing license. I've seen many people go down there, none come back with any fish. The campground host gave me a handout with fishing regulations. It's pretty normal, 5 fish total per day with restrictions on some types of fish. Someday this stay, I'll fish the river too.

Actually, I was thinking of fishing this afternoon. However, about the time that I was going to gather up my gear, it got real windy and a foggy veil drifted down from the mountains to the south heading this way. I figured that it was getting ready to rain and I was right. In 5 minutes, it was raining hard. This kept up on and off for a few hours. So I retreated to the trailer, hooked up the scanner to run from an inverter and started scanning 10 year old photos. At least this kept me out of trouble.

Sunday July 4, 2004, about 1340 MDT

Our plan for today was to drive the Going to the Sun road through the park. The view from the highway and overlooks is supposed to be spectacular. However, today, the view is nil. The whole park is socked in and its been raining all day. Right now, it's raining hard.

We took a short excursion out to the boat tour dock on St. Mary Lake but it isn't the right day to go boating. We also went into St. Mary to go through the gift shops. Sandy was researching gifts. After that, it was back to the trailer to wait out the storm. I'll spend part of the afternoon scanning more photos, there are at least 1000 more to go.

Monday July 5, 2004, about 1930 MDT

We didn't expect to see any fireworks this year because we were in a National Park. However, small scale stuff was going off quite a lot at about sundown. After we went to bed, we started hearing some really big stuff close by. Apparently, the KOA about half a mile away, was hosting a really big show. Some of the mortars were huge, much bigger than the stuff that gets shot off around LA. The balls on some were so large that they intercepted the ground before going out. It must have been exciting close up. I just watched out the trailer window.

Today, it dawned with a fairly clear blue sky so we elected to do the "Going To The Sun" road trip today. However, after charging all three computers and a cell phone from the truck battery the night before, the truck battery was flat. I jumped the truck from the spare RV battery that I bought for the trip and off we went.

It's about 50 miles one way to the other side of the park, crossing over Logan pass and down the other side. It took us over 7 hours to make the round trip considering the photo stops, the gift stores at Apgar (the other side) and traffic delays (over 2 hours total, 90 min of that at one time) due to road construction. What follows are selected from the 200 or so photos that we both took during the trip, ordered more or less in order from east to west.

st mary lakeThis is a view looking more or less west over a part of St. Mary Lake. The lake is nearly 10 miles long so this photo is only a small piece of it.

jackson glacierJackson glacier has the most snow on it of any that we saw, but it is only a shadow of its former self.

george and glacierThis is your's truly with some glacier on a mountain in the background.

sandy and glacierMy better half.

mountain goatThis mountain goat was just resting right behind the Logan Pass Visitor Center. Actually, there were three of them there about 10 feet from the trail.

hanging valleyHanging valleys are formed by a glacier literally falling over the edge and joining with another glacier below. This one is just west of Logan Pass.

cascadeThere were hundreds of cascades like this one right next to the road. In one place, there were so many together that they formed what is called "Weeping Wall" because an entire road cut wall was seeping water over a width more than a hundred feet.

split rock rapidThe river draining the valley west of Logan Pass runs past these split rocks and makes a very nice rapid. If it weren't for the tree fallen across the river, that would make a very exciting raft ride.

Tuesday July 6, 2004, about 1245 MDT

I had avoided recharging our computers and stuff from the trailer domestic batteries because I didn't want to flatten them. However, charging from the truck battery clearly wasn't a good plan either so I devices a method to charge this stuff from the spare battery and to allow the spare battery to recharge from the truck whenever we were driving. See Camping Power Management Tips for the gory details. This worked out really well. Even if I flattened the spare battery, we would still have domestic power AND be able to easily start the truck.

Our plan for today was to make a final pass at the gift shops in St. Mary and then go on a boat tour of St. Mary Lake. We did the gift store bit and finally bought a newspaper as we had been out of touch for nearly a week. It seems that news radio is nearly non-existent in Utah, Idaho and Montana. It's all talk, sports and music. It looks like from the Great Falls Tribune that not much has happened since we left. No news is good news.

Sandy cancelled the boat ride because of the wind. It is really blowing hard with very hard gusts and it is probably worse out on that big lake. So the alternate plan is to hang around the trailer, write, scan photos and nap for the rest of the afternoon. We'll pack up and leave in the morning headed south again, probably ending up in a KOA in Dillon Montana. Dillon is a half day drive from Craters of the Moon National Monument, our next probable stop.

Tuesday July 6, 2004, about 2100 MDT

The boat ride would have been a poor plan after all. At mid afternoon, the wind came up with a vengeance and it rained off and on all afternoon and evening so our plan held. I scanned about 200 photos, Sandy read and actually did a little writing.

Wednesday July 7, 2004, about 1700 MDT

dillon koaWe did indeed leave early and we made it to Dillon Montana just a few minutes ago. The drive down was uneventful except that it rained most of the way. It is clear and pleasant here, probably about 75F, and just a little breezy. This KOA is pretty nice as KOA's go although there are mosquitos. We spotted a cyber cafe in town but it was closed when we went back there.

Wednesday July 7, 2004, about 2130 MDT

While Sandy was doing our laundry, she noticed that there was an open phone in the KOA laundry room which people were using to make calling card calls. I was able to dial in to my ISP on a local number and send an email to my kids. However that was about all I could do because the connection to my ISP kept dropping and when it was there, I didn't seem to be getting an IP address. We'll try again later.

The plan for tomorrow is to explore the ghost town of Bannack which is about 20 miles west of here and then go another 20 miles or so north on a gravel road to where Sandy can dig for minerals at a place called Crystal Park.

Thursday July 8, 2004, about 1830 MDT

crystal parkToday we went to Crystal Park first. This is a National Forest rock hound reserve where they actually encourage visitor to dig up the place in search of crystallized minerals. They charge $5 per car per day but they allow you to dig pretty much anywhere except a few places that are marked as unsafe. We found a hole that somebody else had started and dug for about an hour while sorting through the tailings. We collected about two pounds of small quartz crystals and a little pyrite. We may go back there again later.

bannackOn the way back to town, we stopped by the Bannack State Park. This is a preserved abandoned town. Bannack started in 1862 when some prospectors panned Grasshopper Creek (which they named even though Lewis and Clark had been there before and named it Willard Creek) because of the large quantities of grasshoppers there. They found substantial gold in the creek and the rest followed a standard story. A wild mining town sprang up around the first mining claim made in the Montana Territory. Because of the gold digs, Bannack became the first territorial capital of the Montana Territory in 1864. By 1940, the place was washed up, stripped of gold and everybody moved out. The town was preserved as a museum in 1954 when the mining property was put up for bankruptcy action and purchased and donated to the State of Montana.

hotel and saloonToday, Bannack is a preserved ghost town operated by the State of Montana. For $3 a head, you can walk in and around most of the buildings. This photo is of the Meade Hotel (the courthouse in earlier times) and Skinner's Saloon (one of the meanest places anywhere in the state).

I'll be placing more pictures and stories from Bannack on another web page when I get around to writing it.

After we returned to Dillon from Bannack, we stopped at the Internet Cafe near the KOA. Actually, it provided internet access only, no cafe services. However, a fast WiFi connection it did provide and both Sandy and I got on line to get our email and read the news. I also uploaded the first part of this web page.

As we were coming down the mountain from Crystal Park, we spotted a campground that wasn't very far up a good dirt road. The campground is on a creek that feeds the Grasshopper Creek and is very nice. We decided to move there for a couple of days starting tomorrow.

Friday July 9, 2004, about 1345 MDT

This morning, we ran around town on errands. We got materials to make a sieve box to take back to Crystal Park, probably tomorrow. I also got a Montana fishing license (2 days for $24) and we exchanged an empty propane bottle with an old style valve for a new one. Then we headed back up Grasshopper Valley to the Grasshopper Creek Forest Service campground in the Beaverhead National Forest.

grasshopper creek campgroundAbout noon, we arrived at the campground, and a nice one it is. Most of the sites are long enough for a trailer or RV, our site is especially long. Most are also in forest as this one is. The elevation here is about 7500 feet and it is cool but very nice during the day. I'll bet it'll be somewhat cooler overnight.

The one downside of the place is that there are real mosquitos here. The ones in Dillon and Glacier weren't aggressive at all and when they did bite, they would hardly raise a welt. The ones here are a different breed. The attacked me as soon as I got out of truck and many of them died for their sin. However, some of them got through my socks and my ankles itch like crazy now.

grasshopper creekThe campground is named for Grasshopper Creek which runs right down one side. This is the same creek that works its way down Grasshopper Valley to the gold strike at Bannack. The campground host said that there are fish in the creek and they bite at almost anything. I fished it for about an hour and got nada. I didn't even see a hint of a fish. My fishing license is good for 2 days, I'll try again later.

Friday July 9, 2004, about 1600 MDT

I started assembling the sieve box but I didn't finish because a thunderstorm came up. It got dark very suddenly, then the thunder started to roll, then a few drops fell. I put away the project just as it started to rain pretty hard. So it was back to scanning old photos, this time it was our trip to ride the Durango and Silverton Railway in July of 1993. Inside half an hour, the rain had stopped and the sun came back out. Such is life in the mountains. I went back outside and finished the sieve.

Friday July 9, 2004, about 1930 MDT

1st troutWe had just finished dinner and I was considering what to do with the rest of the evening. I decided to go fishing. Earlier in the day I had tried several hundreds of yards of the creek using Powerbait and got nothing. The campground host had recommended cheese for bait but I used powerbait instead. This time, I stuck on a wad of Baby Bon Bel and went to the nearest part of the stream which I had spend quite a bit of time at earlier. I let the bait trickle downstream and over small cascade into a pool below where the bait would float to the undercut of the bank. I wasn't there 2 minutes before I hooked this little guy.

george cookingEven though I had just eaten, it was time for dinner again. Since I didn't want to stink up the trailer frying a fish (Sandy would be much less than pleased) I started a small fire in the fire pit and fried him outside. He was small but he was sure good. This fish had been eating bugs because his meat was pink and very tasty. Hatchery fish usually have white meat and don't taste as good as fish that haven't been eating corn meal.

I was the evening and the mosquitos were out in force. However, this was not enough to keep me away from my 2nd dinner.

Saturday July 10, 2004, about 1430 MDT

I did another round of fishing this morning but came up dry. I guess that the fish just weren't hungry.

After lunch, we drove the 6 miles or so back to Crystal Park to dig for more crystals. The sky was pretty dark when we got there and this time the mosquitos were out in force and we didn't have any bug repellant with us. Anyway, we dug for about an hour and found lots of small crystals. Then I felt some raindrops. After a few more, we packed up and headed back to the truck. By the time that we got there, it was raining. We decided to wait the storm out in the truck to see if we could dig some more, but it just rained harder and harder. We concluded that our digs would be a mud hole by the time we got back so we elected to return the 5 miles or so back to our campsite.

Sunday July 11, 2004, about 1740 MDT

Today we left Grasshopper (and the mosquitos) and headed south to Craters of the Moon. The drive was uneventful except for a nagging banging sound at certain times. It turned out to be no big deal, but I'm surprised that it hasn't happened before. There is a rubber flap inside each rear wheel wheel on the Yukon. When the wind blows sideways under the truck just right, one or the other of them starts to flap.

campsiteAs I write this at the campsite, the wind is blowing so hard that its kicking the trailer around. It has not let up since we got here. The still air temperature is about 80F, but with the wind, it feels much cooler.

mapThis is the layout of Craters of the Moon. The Visitor Center and campground are right next to highway 93 and there is a one-way loop road around the interesting sites. We did the loop once and stopped at about half of the sites. We'll do the rest tomorrow.

inferno coneOn our drive around the place and I climbed this cone, the photo is from our campsite. It's only about a 160 foot climb, but the average grade is 15% and parts of the trail are much steeper. Sandy made it only about 1/3 the way up. There, the wind was blowing so hard that I had to lean into it. I estimate the wind speed at 50 to 60 mph.

sandy in a lava fieldThe lava here is a mix of 'a'a (chunky and sharp) and pahoehoe (rope lava) depending on the temperature that it was ejected from the vent. The 'a'a kind is really treacherous to walk on. It'll tear your shoes up in a hurry.

dewdrop caveThere are several lava tubes that visitors can crawl through. Dewdrop cave is the smallest one of the bunch. I had to climb over some really sharp rocks and through a very low passage to get inside this small cave. Since i didn't have a camera with a flash with me, I only got nightshot video of the inside.

dewdrop caveAs you can see from this photo of the entrance, it is a a short, but rough climb into the cave. Once inside, it's isn't too bad but without good hiking boots, you could turn an ankle here is a short second.

boy scout caveBoy Scout cave is much bigger. The entrance is in the middle. The way to the right (on the map) is so low (maybe 2 ft) that I didn't even thing of trying it. The other way was generally tall enough to walk upright in. The entrance was even more difficult that Dewdrop cave. At the end of the cave, there is a pool that is usually frozen, but it was melted today. However, there was a section of ice along the cave wall near the end. The ice on the floor was melting and so that section was really slippery. Sandy didn't go in and I didn't take her camera so I don't have any photos of the inside, just some nightshot video.

Monday July 12, 2004, about 1850 MDT

About sunset last night the wind died down to a breeze and it became very pleasant. There had been no bugs around at all because the wind just kept them hiding. However, some gnats (non-biting) came out and gathered by the hundreds around each source of light. We stayed up late (2300 or so) to watch the stars come out as the sky was clear and there was a 360 degree view. We could see the Milky Way. Just after sundown, I also spotted a satellite that traversed from overhead until it vanished over the eastern horizon. It was really bright so it had to be something big, maybe the International Space Station or some other large low earth orbit satellite. Aircraft move at about the same apparent rate, but the strobes and sometimes the colored navigation lights give them away. Satellites are bright and steady.

We just got back from the rest of the cave "tour." I had climbed into Boy Scout and Dewdrop Caves yesterday, Sandy stayed out. Today we both went into Indian Tunnel and Beauty Cave.

indian tunnel

Indian Tunnel is the largest of the caves. Since there are several roof collapses along the way, there is enough light to traverse the whole cave without artificial light. However, the going is still rough. The collapses are just big rock piles that must be clambered over and many of the rocks are sharp and unsteady. One must go slowly and carefully least one turn an ankle.

indian tunnel entranceThe entrance to Indian Tunnel is typical of all of the caves, it is a collapse.

indian tunnelFor the most part, the cave is very large, maybe 30 feet wide and 20 feet high. However, near the end, it gets smaller. This is looking out to the last collapse where the exit is.

sandy exiting indian tunnelThe exit is a collapse of a very small lava tube. Sandy is literally climbing out of a hole in the rock to the surface.

beauty caveBeauty Cave is the clearest of the lava tubes. Once down the rocky entrance, the floor is nearly flat and the ceiling is at least 10 feet high. The cave extends maybe 50 yards until it is roped off due to an unstable ceiling. It was too dark in the cave to take stills. My video camera doesn't have a flash and Sandy's still camera wouldn't even take a flash picture because there wasn't enough light for it to autofocus.

beauty_cave_entrance.jpgSandy originally didn't want to go into Beauty Cave, but since the entrance was more open that the rest of them, I talked here into going all the way down. After we returned to the trailer, we rested through the heat of the afternoon. By about 1630, we went out to finish the nature walks at Devil's Orchard and a nature walk loop trail. It is hotter than yesterday, it was still 91F by 1800 and there was only a little breeze. After we got back from the walks, Sandy walked across a lava field to the Visitor Center to buy a pin. Then it was dinner and relaxing for the rest of the evening.

Tomorrow, the plan is to travel to northern Utah to see the museum at Hill AFB and some other museum nearby. We'll find a place to stay around Ogden and then travel south Wednesday headed generally toward Cedar Breaks.

Tuesday July 13, 2004, about 2100 MDT

We did get to Ogden Utah today. The trip was uneventful (as all good travel days are).

UP big blowWe stopped at the Ogden Railroad Museum which is located at the old depot in downtown Ogden. There were several indoor displays, a model railroad, and several outdoor displays, mostly of UP gear as this is UP country. This is a UP "Big Blow" gas turbine loco. Its a 3 unit set, the lead unit has most of the housekeeping equipment and a diesel engine for moving the thing around when the main turbine isn't running. The 2nd unit is the turbine power plant itself. The 3rd unit is the tender need to provide the enormous quantity of fuel that the turbine used. Even though it burned a lot of fuel, the stuff it burned was the cheapest kind so that the fuel cost wasn't too high. In the end, high maintenance and fuel costs did these beasts in.

a-10 warthogThe next stop was at the Hill AFB museum. We got there about 1500 and just as we walked in, they announced that they were closing at 1530 due to a pending power outage. Apparently Utah Power and Light has these guys as a sheddable load. It was over 90F when we got there and the A/C units were running all over Ogden. I snapped as many pictures as I could before they turned out the lights. This is an A-10 Thunderbolt II (a.k.a. the Warthog). Most other kinds of AF fighters were there too plus a bunch of transport equipment outside.

Ogden RV ParkSince we didn't get to see all of it, we'll go back in the morning to catch the rest. In the meantime, we went back north 5 miles to the Century RV park at Exit 346 (the same one as for the Ogden Railroad Museum) to stay the night. This is a nice place. It has lots of trees, but it is also right next to the freeway. It also had a local dial up line so that we could get on the internet and check our email.

Wednesday July 14, 2004, about 2030 MDT

We executed our plan today with little difficulty. Sandy actually WANTED to stop at McDonald's for breakfast so we did. We both had sausage egg about heartburn. We then went by an RV store at exit 341 (the same one as Hill AFB) and I bought some small stuff. Then I visited Hill AFB again to get photos of the stuff that I couldn't see yesterday. I shot a whole 64 Meg memory stick of megapixel stills, about 120 shots. We then drove down I-15 south to Draper Utah, the location of a Camping World store where we bought various other RV related stuff.

cove fortWe headed south from there to Cove Fort. This is a restored fortification near the junction of I-15 and I-70. The Mormons built this fort in 1867 to provide protection for travelers and the telegraph line between Beaver and Fillmore. Cove Fort was about a one day stagecoach ride from either place. There wasn't enough water here to support a community, so one family essentially built and ran the place at the behest of the Mormon Church.

On the short drive from I-15 to the fort, there were literally thousands of large black bugs on the road. I must have squashed a goodly number of them. They are Mormon crickets, a normal to large cricket but black in color.

cove fortThe lady on the right is our private tour guide, Sister Willis. She works here as a missionary for the Church of the Later Day Saints 6 months a year. Sandy did an excellent job of running interference for me so that I could take pictures instead of listing to the religious pitch. The fort consisted of 12 rooms, 6 along each of the north and south walls. The south rooms were "business" rooms consisting of the Stagecoach office, a telegraph office, a kitchen, a domestic room and the master bedroom for the Bryant's who ran the place. The north rooms were guest rooms for travelers or bedrooms for the children that lived there.

It was threating rain the whole time that we were there and just as the tour ended, it started to rain. As we drove about a mile south, it rained with a vengeance. The rain was so hard that I could hardly see AND it washed off the cow pies that had splattered all over the front of the trailer when we were in Montana. Just as we arrived in Beaver, the rain abruptly stopped and we pulled up for the evening at the same campground (an almost the same site) as we were in the first night out.

Thursday July 15, 2004, about 1330 MDT

breaks viewIt's Sandy's 52nd birthday today and we made it to Cedar Breaks National Monument. This place is so named because of the "break" or cliff and the cedars that grow here. This is an erosion zone similar to Bryce Canyon, but it is higher, 10,350 feet in elevation.

Just as we got to the campground at about 1145, it started to rain. By the time that we unhitched and drove back to the Visitor Center to pay or entrance fee of $6, it began to rain really hard. We walked out to the break to the Visitor Center and by that time it was hailing and the lightening and thunder were quite impressive. I had to take this picture through the rain and the window of the visitor center so it isn't really clear. When we got back to the campground, it was pouring rain and the place was covered in hail so this afternoon is a time for reading, scanning more photos and generally drying out.

cedar breaks mapThis is one of the nicest places that we've been yet. I've driven past Cedar Breaks on I-15 and never knew what was here. The road up from Parawan is the most direct route southbound, but it has 13.5% grades so we elected to take south entry from Cedar City. It was longer, but it had only 8.5% grades. Our plan is to stay here today and tomorrow and then head home Saturday morning.

cedar breaks campsiteby 1400, the rain had let up enough so that I could go outside and take the obligatory campsite photo. Except for the rain, this place is really nice. Hopefully, the rain will let up enough to let us hike around tomorrow. Sandy has an altitude headache right now and she is sleeping it off.

Thursday July 15, 2004, about 2000 MDT

More than six hours have passed and it's finally stopped raining....almost. A ranger came by and knocked on our door to tell us that this evening's campfire is at the Visitor Center instead of the rained out campground ampitheatre. We've elected to go.

Sandy spent the afternoon sleeping and reading. I spent it scanning 35 mm prints into iPhoto and I'm about scanned out for today. I figure that I've scanned over a thousand photos already this trip, most of the ones that I brought with me. There are thousands more at home, all neatly filed in card files....

Friday July 16, 2004, about 1200 MDT

cedar breaksThis morning it dawned bright and clear so we went out to see the sights. This is a clear picture of Cedar Breaks taken from Supreme Point, right next to the Visitor Center.

cedar breaksThere is an unlimited amount of detail available if one cares to look for it. We also started to hike the Spectra Point trail (about a mile) along the rim, but it was so muddy from yesterday's rain that we turned back after the mud caked on our shoes and started squishing out to the side.

Instead we elected to drive the rim road and catch the views from the overlooks. About 1100, we returned to the trailer for lunch. Our trip out turned out to be really good timing because by 1145 it had started to rain and hail again. This at almost exactly the same time that it started to rain yesterday. Right now, it's raining hard but the hail accumulation is not nearly as much as yesterday.

Friday July 16, 2004, about 1600 MDT

The rain stopped about an hour ago so we drove back to the visitor center to see if we could find some cell phone coverage. Sandy's old phone worked so we called home. Her new GSM phone couldn't find service.

Directly east of the campground is a large meadow with thousands of dead spruce on the other side. The spruce bark beetle has done a real job here. The bugs aren't too bad either. I've run across a few mosquitos, but they aren't very aggressive nor very fast so that they are easy to nail. The other ordinary types of flies, gnats and moths are around, but not in great numbers. I figured that being next to a meadow would result in more bugs, but not in this case.

Friday July 16, 2004, about 2000 MDT

About 1500, another storm blew through, again with heavy rain and hail. We also had some VERY close lightening strikes, one close enough to set off the alarm in the Yukon. By sundown, the sky was fairly clear again.

This is our last night out. Tomorrow morning we set out for the 500 mile trip home.

Friday July 17, 2004, about 1730 MDT

Well, the trip is over. We are home, the trailer is parked and partially unloaded and Sandy is reading her mail. I still have to finish unloading the trailer and the truck, take a shower and read my mail.

The trip was uneventful, it got to 107F in the Mojave but the heat caused no problems. The overall trip distance was 3480 miles, quite a bit for 18 days. Glacier was a little further away that I thought but it was nice.

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© 2004 George Schreyer
Created June 30, 2004
Last Updated July 17, 2004