Top Campgrounds for July 2015 – July 2016

Would we have enough campgrounds to keep posting this year? We lived “free” for 8 months while volunteering. Yes, we actually had 15 candidates. Since we are not using our Verizon phones in northern Utah we almost forgot about posting our top campground stays for this past year. The iPhone battery was dead so after charging I got into notes and here are the results:

campgrounds, blog, RV

Top 10 CG 7/2015-7/2016

Hall of Fame (campgrounds we returned to and still find terrific):

Cochiti CG, NM – USACE facility

These are not in order of preference but simply represent the order in which we stayed.

1. Mossyrock CG, WA – utility run facility near Mt. St. Helens with W/E

2.  Prineville Reservoir SP, OR – state park on lake with W/E

3. Palo Duro Canyon SP, TX – state park near Amarillo with W/E

4. Lavon Lake, TX – USACE park near Dallas with W/E

5. Alley Creek Park, TX – USACE park at Lake Of the Pines with W/E

6. Cagle Recreation Area, TX – USFS park near Houston with FHU

7. Cranes Mill at Canyon Lake, TX – USACE park in the Hill country with W/E

8. Seminole Canyon SP, TX – state park near Del Rio with W/E

9. Hueco Tanks SP, TX – state park near El Paso with W/E

10. James M. Robb Colorado River SP (Fruita section), CO – state park near Grand Junction with FHU

You Can’t Brand A Wet Calf

ranch, cattle

Waiting For The Cattle

Shortly after starting work at Flaming Gorge NRA a brochure circulated announcing the 6th annual calf branding exhibition at historic Swett Ranch. Sweet Ranch is located in the Ashley National Forest and is open for both self guided and docent tours. The Swett family homesteaded in the Uinta Basin from 1909-1970. Many of their descendants still live in the Vernal, Utah area. Three generations graze cattle on National Forest land each summer. In order to graze cattle in Ashley NF they must be branded and the brand registered with the state of Utah. The flyer said in case of rain the event would be cancelled as “The cowboys won’t melt but you can’t brand a wet calf.”

roundup, cattle,

Round ‘Em Up

We were working that day but two of the other volunteers who had been here before took a few extra hours so we could attend the branding. Thanks Judy and Fred! The branding took about 2 hours. Teams of two first roped the calf, a third got it on the side and tied the feet and the fourth did the branding. Two women gave injections. If the calf was a bull, he became a steer.  The only part that bothered me was the smell of hair burning and yes, skin too. The smell stayed in my nostrils for a couple of hours. We noted some cows could have cared less when they were separated from their calves while others followed closely and checked their offspring thoroughly upon release.

roping calf, cowboy, branding

Roping The Calf



This Won't Hurt

This Won’t Hurt

Branding Time

Branding Time

cow, calf, ranch

A Concerned Mother


Our favorite part was watching the youngsters “help” while dressed in their best western wear. One four year old had a swagger and strut that made us laugh.

The Next Generation

The Next Generation

child, Utah, ranch

Cowboy With Attitude

Another day we hiked the 2.5 miles from Greendale Overlook to Swett Ranch enjoying scenery and wildflowers along the way. Fellow volunteers George and Diane gave us an in depth tour. Oscar Swett built the first one room cabin in 1909. He married Emma and they raised 16 children here. A two room cabin and the ranch home were built to accommodate  their growing family. Oscar farmed and ranched here. He was very thrifty and repurposed many things such as the 1917 Hudson windshield used as a workshop window. Here are a few pictures from the historic homestead.

Three Swett Homes

Three Swett Homes

Horse Barn

Cow Barn

Laundry On The Porch

Laundry On The Porch