A Travellerspoint blog

July 2015

Setting Up Camp for a Family

semi-overcast 80 °F

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Blogs have not been published for a while because there was no cell phone service or internet in the mountains. We were off the grid almost completely. We did have our inverter in the truck so that phones could stay charged for quick photos and the computer charged to write when there were quiet moments like our 1st morning early.

I feel a little badly because I told my supervisor from Boston that I’d be able to handle any follow-up work while on vacation, except for the time in Canada. Well, since Canada we had little service and then no service. I do not know what I was thinking when I told him that but I suppose I’ll deal with any issues once we leave the mountains.

We made an error also when we left Fresno in that we did not completely think thru our conditions for dry camping. We did not drain our holding tanks completely and did not fill up our fresh water tank to the top. Also, one of our propane tanks was empty, but we just started our 2nd tank. We were in too big of a hurry to get out of the heat. There wasn't a dump or any services within an hour drive.

For now we are going back to the ways of our early days of camping. Using the water from the campsite faucet and washing dishes in the big sink behind the campground bathroom. We also fill a big pot with water at the campground faucet then heat it on the stove.

We could not find a group site so took the campsite next to ours for our son Justin and his group. We thought that we’d just put the 2 tables together from the 2 sites. We put up our screened room in a level place with the fold-up picnic table for a play area for kids.

Justin found us and all was fine.
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Posted by Miss Chris 12:44 Archived in USA Tagged nature travel driving camping national_park rv outdoors grandkids kings_canyon Comments (0)

A Not So Fun Vacation Day

Hot summer drive

sunny 112 °F

It was a 15-hour drive from Craters of the Moon down and over to Kings Canyon in the west side of the Sierras. We’d planned to stop in Reno and take our granddaughter to breakfast at the Excalibur. Oops! Excalibur is in Las Vegas, we realized when we got into Reno. IMG_20150721_100156277.jpg

We had to drive down the Central Valley, it was hot! Not what we were used to, but what we had left for the past few weeks. Ugh, we were not in the best of moods but we had to go this route to get to where we needed to be.

We’d planned to meet our son, Justin and his boys, his wife, and her daughter, in Cedar Grove, the last campground in Kings Canyon. The plan was that we’d all arrive on Wed am at the latest. We decided that we’d arrive on Tues night rather than trying to rush on Wed.

We had to stop at Costco as we were out of food. We also needed to do laundry. We’d run low on clothes back in some town, who knows where, so stopped and bought more. Now it was desperation time again and we hated to buy even more clothes.

We were not completely happy campers when we went into Costco. Then Costco was not set up at all like ours. They didn’t have some of the products that we see in ours and we really needed. More foul! Then I got really ill from some gluten, don’t know what I’d eaten the day before, but there it was. But fortunately, I was in Costco when the gluten issue hit and not on a 2-lane road with no shoulder.

We left Costco and went to the grocery store next door, bought what we needed and got on the road. We decided that it was too hot, we were getting too grumpy and we would deal with laundry in Kings Canyon.

We were in Kings Canyon by 9p.m. but, Cedar Grove was another hour back into the mountains. But it didn’t matter how far Cedar Grove was, we were going to plant ourselves in a campsite and be done.

It had rained just before we got into Cedar Grove, and although thunderstorms were forecast for that night we only had clear skies with a gazillion stars. We found a campsite with a long drive, perfect for our RV and long truck, parked and set up camp. Good to be back in the cool weather again.

Posted by Miss Chris 10:28 Archived in USA Tagged travel ruins camping national_park outdoors family_travel kings_canyon grandkids_travel Comments (0)

A Side Trip to Craters of the Moon

A visit to a moonscape

Google Maps said it would be an 8-hour drive to Craters National Park. That was well and good but not quite accurate here. Add on a few hours and get a late start and we are good to get there after dark.

The road was nearly all 2-lane and immediately after leaving Glacier, curvy. Maybe an hour drive after Glacier we hit road work, where the pavement had been removed so that it was sometimes gravel and sometimes dirt. A very slow go. After many miles of road construction, the roads were still 2-lane but very smooth.

The glaciers were visible for a couple of hours and I’d love to return to Glacier on this road. The views were so beautiful in the rear view mirrors. But hopefully, the roads construction will be completed.

We arrived in Arco, the closest city to Craters, at dark about 10pm. The KOA was ready for us and we were ready to eat dinner and sleep. By the way, the KOA did not appear to have any dumps at the campsites but the price was right, only $29 per night with a free breakfast.
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Craters of the Moon consists of cinder cones, splatter cones, caves, lava tubes and lava flows, some as recent as 2,000 years ago. The volcanic activity here, however, did not occur from a cone or mountain, like Mt. St. Helens, but rather, from fissures under the surface. We found hardened lava flows much like the ones we’ve seen on TV in Hawaii, but here the lava came from cracks in the surface of the ground. The lava is thin on top so that it will break when stepped on.
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There are cinder cones throughout the park and chunks of lava that blew out. Plants have started growing on the older flows.

There are several hikes to take on paved walkways, some only ½ mile long with little elevation change. Interpretive signs tell the story of the area.
The hike, The North Crater Flow, is closest to the visitor’s center and located on lava flows that mostly look like long fat spaghetti noodles. There is one area of a’a’ lava which consists of lava chunks. The 2nd hike that we took, Devils Orchard, went thru an older flow where the plants and trees have started to come back.
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Unfortunately, we were only able to take the 2 easiest hikes as we did not have much time to spend. But there was much to learn on the 2 hikes and it was a very interesting side trip.
|http://www.nps.gov/crmo/index.htm]]

Posted by Miss Chris 16:49 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Running Around Glacier National Park

Trying to pack it all in.

sunny 75 °F

Our night started out with a bang, lots of banging. It was about 11:30pm, I was posting photos of our trip on Facebook. It 1st sounded like someone was trying to break into the RV then a banging on the truck. I turned on the light above the door and looked out the side window. There was a huge bear in the bed of our truck hitting on the tool box then he/she tried to move the ice chest.IMG_201507..2454196_HDR.jpgIMG_20150718_154846277.jpgIMG_201507..5612700_HDR.jpgIMG_20150718_094512715.jpg

I yelled for Dale, why, I have no idea. He woke up and came down without his glasses. By that time, Twinkle came by me and started growling. Some protector she is. The bear quickly left. A neighbor camper came out of his RV with his flashlight. I was thinking “there is a huge bear out here, not some noisy neighbor”.

In the morning we found bear prints on the sides of the truck and hood, slobber and dirt on the truck where he/she’d looked in the windows, scratches on the hood and windshield, a door and on the RV.

The morning was bright and sunny, such a welcome change from the days of rain. We were so glad to be able to hike and picnic without the fear of rain.

We started our morning with breakfast at the Many Glacier Hotel. The hotel has been partly refurbished back to its 1920’s glory. More changes have yet to be made. The lobby reminded us of the hotel in Yellowstone, however. the Yellowstone hotel is a little grander, as we remember it anyway.

After breakfast we found a trail off of the path to our truck and took it a ways back, Zaya skipping and running in front while I brought up the rear while shooting photos. We lost the trail in the forested area and returned back to our truck.

We picked up Twinkle and went back to St Mary’s Visitor Center so Zaya could get her special patch and her Jr. Ranger badge. We then started on Going to the Sun, looking for the perfect hiking spot.
Zaya didn’t want to do a hike to the St Mary waterfalls so we drove looking for a place with an inviting trail. We found one that followed a stream. We found a picnic spot along the stream and unpacked our lunch. We’d brought wine but then just wanted water; don’t know what was wrong with us! We were mostly alone except for the occasional hiker walking by.

Winds were picking up and one particularly high gust blew over my tripod with the camera right onto a rock. Unfortunately, I lost my polarizing lens, it completely shattered, but it seems that the rest of the heavy duty camera survived. That has yet to be determined, but it appears to be ok.

With food in our belly and a beaten up camera, we started up the trail right up the hill. We stopped to read a large sign that told us we were in Grizzly Country. A little wake-up. But we had no worries as Zaya talked and sang nearly the entire hike. We didn’t walk all the way up to the top, but we got in a good walk on a beautiful afternoon.

We drove back to our campsite just a little sad that we had to leave but looking forward to the next leg.

Posted by Miss Chris 12:22 Archived in USA Tagged nature hiking travel picnic bears outdoors grandkids glacier_national_park many_glacier Comments (0)

Glacier; The Road to Apgar

Going to the Sun, except it was raining

rain 50 °F

IMG_20150717_151351654.jpgIMG_20150717_145056161.jpgIMG_20150717_134233498.jpgGlacier National Park is a place I’ve wanted to visit for some time now. Unfortunately, because of our truck break down, we had days cut off of our visit. Fortunately, we can drive there again, it isn’t the end of the world.

We arrived in Glacier late afternoon and stopped immediately at the St Mary’s Visitor’s Center. This visitor center is on the North East entrance. We picked up Jr. Ranger books to complete. We were told to return to that visitor center for the swearing in between 12:30-2 in order to receive a special patch only given at that center.

There is road work going on in the park and we were told that we could not pull the RV thru the entire park. We could only drive into Rising Sun then turn around. That was better than nothing and we did want to see the park right away.

After driving the 7 miles and back, we thought we’d drop the RV. We found that both nearby campgrounds were packed full, but each told us about a campground 7 miles away, Chewing Blackbones. We went to the Chewing Blackbones, located on Blackfeet land. We found that we were one of only a few campers, but the campground was clean and very secure, not to mention reasonable; $50 for full hookups.

After a night of rain, the skies cleared a bit for a beautiful sunrise. The plan was to take a picnic lunch with us, maybe do a little hiking but drive the entire Going to the Sun road. We saw that Apgar, on the SW corner, had a Visitors Center where there were pelts, skulls, and other things on display to touch. Also, there were kids’ ranger programs which Zaya needed to complete her Jr. Ranger.

The Road to the Sun is amazing with beautiful mountain peaks, wildflowers, lakes, glaciers, weeping wall, lots of waterfalls and a few wild animals. We stopped and saw a bear on the hill, then stopped for the circus on the top at the top at Logan Pass. The Pass has a visitor center but it was freezing cold, raining and jam packed, so packed that we could not even walk thru. I told Zaya, “let’s get out of here”. We used the restroom and moved on down the road.

The road down to Apgar is steep and narrow, so narrow that we were nervous. There is a complete drop off, down to the river way, way down on one side, and a jagged rock wall on the inside. Perfect road for the Ferrari or Jag but for the big honking truck; well we had to watch it.

We reached Lake McDonald and a picnic area close to Apgar. It wasn’t raining just a few sprinkles off and on. We had a fun picnic and shot photos of the lake. We could see the storm moving in.

Apgar is another stop in the park. The Visitor Center is about ¼ mile away from the Apgar Village. The Village has a Nature Center which is what we were interested in, run by the National Park Service.

We arrived at the Nature Center in time for a ranger talk, this time about Watersheds. Zaya made a watershed by crumbling a piece of paper then folding it up. She unfolded the paper and put it on a clipboard, taping down the sides but leaving the center high like a topo map. With a highlight pen, she colored the peaks then the ranger sprayed water on top. Where the water ran the colors showed the watersheds.

Inside the nature center, various animal skins are on display for touching. Bird eggs can be held, skulls and horns compared. They range from bears to coyotes, fox, bighorn sheep and elk. Zaya loved walking the elk hoof across the floor. She also tried on the head of the bear for size and then compared her little hand to the huge grizzly bear paw.

When the center was closing we enjoyed a bowl of Huckleberry Ice Cream. We tasted the berries that the bears were eating. A little like a blueberry but different.

Posted by Miss Chris 07:26 Archived in USA Tagged nature travel driving rv grandkids glacier_national_park agpar lake_mcdonald Comments (0)

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