Where Next? #8

San Juan Island, Mt. Young

From The Top Of Mt. Young On San juan Island

It looks as if Lady Luck has smiled on us again. We were to have left San Juan Island right after Labor Day. Now we will be staying until the end of September. Usually the park closes the English Camp Visitors Center at that time. Over the past few years however visitation to the park has remained high through September and keeping the site open is viable. We are thrilled!

This will mean our trip from Washington to Texas will be over a five week period. That’s quick for us and long for most everyone else. We need to stop for RV maintenance (so what’s new?), wanted to see relatives/friends and a few more national park sites along the way. Top on the RV work list is replacing our stove. The last repair only lasted 6 months so we are buying a better quality unit. Just like buying a home with builder grade appliances and replacing them after a few years.

Our route goes from Washington through central Oregon to the Mt. Shasta area of California and on to Mono Lake. Then comes Great Basin National Park, Los Alamos to say hi to a friend from North Carolina and down to El Paso and Guadalupe National Park. The third and final leg will bring us to the Dallas area for a visit with relatives and friends, Waco Petroglyph National Monument and Austin and lastly the Texas gulf coast for a 41/2 months stay at Laguna Atascosa NWR.

We hope you’ll continue to travel with us.

San Juan Island, Laguna Atascosa, Washington, Texas, RV, travel

Our Route From San Juan Island To Laguna Atascosa NWR

Just Add Water

Lake Mead NRA, Boulder Dam, Boulder Beach CG, kayaking, photography, RV, camping, Nevada

Lake Mead Panorama Showing Low Water Line

What do you get when you take a desert, a river and tons of cement? You have Boulder Dam. By just adding water to a beautiful desert landscape you make it possible for one of America’s biggest playgrounds to exist. Without water from Lake Mead courtesy of Boulder Dam, Las Vegas would not exist. During our four days here we were aware of how much the lake level has fallen (15 feet or more) and this is a huge lake. You’d think that there would be moratorium on building so development won’t outstrip resources. Alas no, new homes and businesses are popping up all over.

We’d planned to stay a week at Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Then we learned that a friend’s sister was married to the museum director at Manzanar NHS. Our original plans were to head that way after seeing Death Valley NP. We wanted to visit with them however they’d be away on vacation at that time. So we cut our time back to four days and would head to Lone Pine and still be able to keep our reservations at Death Valley.

The campgrounds at Lake Mead NRA are all dry camping but the sites are paved. Even though they don’t take reservations we easily found a beautiful drive through spot for less than $10/day with the Senior Interagency Pass. Every once in a while we spy an unusual RV. Here we found the “Gypsy House” from Canada. The owners had built it and have lots of folks drop in for a look. It serves them as a hard sided tent with totes for storage.

Homemade Gypsy Wagon

Homemade Gypsy Wagon

We were able to get out on the water in our kayaks for the first time in several months. Eight miles later we were pooped! We paddled from near our campsite over to Boulder Dam. Quite impressive from the water looking up. We’d hoped to do the tour but with our time cut short we had to push that to “when we come back”.

View From Chari's Kayak

View From Chari’s Kayak

The remaining days were much too windy for paddling so we toured the Visitor Center, took Opal on a long walk and drove about 80 miles to the far end of the lake. This area is about 100 miles from the Grand Canyon and retains much the same coloration. Absolutely beautiful at sundown.

Steve And Opal On A Hike

Steve And Opal On A Hike

On A Clear Day ...

On A Clear Day …

Sunset At Lake Mead

Sunset At Lake Mead

















Our time went by too quickly to catch up with a friend from North Carolina or to get to see a Cirque de Soleil performance. Next time for sure. We did have breakfast at a Diners, Drive-ins and Dives spot in Boulder City called The Coffee Cup. Another night we met Terry and Alice, RVers who had volunteered at San Juan Island NHP last summer. They were volunteering at a rifle club near Las Vegas and we had previously chatted online through an Escapees website. We did add Nevada to our states we have camped in map. By the time we reach the San Juan Islands we will have the western states filled in. Now we head off for California.

London Bridge Isn’t Falling Down

Lake Havasu City

View Of Lake Havasu City From The London Bridge

So far our Spring travels through Arizona had been full of mishaps. So as we headed to Lake Havasu City on the AZ/CA border would it be third time is the charm or three strikes and you’re out? We are glad to report that all was well and we had a fabulous week. Our campsite at Lake Havasu State Park was one of the best we’ve ever had. The weather was glorious and you can see why this is another snowbird Mecca. You are immediately identified as a visitor if you say Lake Havasu as the residents simply slip over the the second A and say Hav-su.

London Bridge, Arizona, history

1831 London Bridge At Lake Havasu City

The icon of the area is the London Bridge which was moved here from London during the early days of development at Lake Havasu and opened in 1971. The developer needed a bridge from shore to an island resort. Hearing the London Bridge was for sale he purchased it, built an inner structure of steel then moved the exterior blocks to Arizona and rebuilt it. Each solid granite stone was numbered, transported and reinstalled. Some numbers are still visible. I had the bridge tour on my list of things to do. I thought it would be very touristy and trivial but being a “good hubby” I agreed to go. The tours are given only a few times each week and last about 90 minutes. It starts with a bit of history. Here we learned that there have been several London Bridges over the centuries. The children’s song “London Bridge Is Falling Down” refers to when the Vikings came up the Thames and rammed the bridge causing it to fall into the river. Then we walked around and over the bridge while our British tour guide gave a very good talk. We learned that the lamps on the bridge were fabricated from Napoleon’s cannon after his defeat by the British. There is even a spot where two American G. I.’s carved their initials during WWII. Much to my surprise the tour was excellent and well worth taking. Told you so!

Architectural Drawing Showing Numbered Blocks For Demolition And Reconstruction

Architectural Drawing Showing Numbered Blocks For Demolition And Reconstruction

Old Drawing Of London Bridge Opening In 1851

Old Drawing Of London Bridge Opening In 1831

Walking Across London Bridge

Walking Across London Bridge

From Guns To Lamposts

From Guns To Lamposts

Picture From The London Bridge Visitor Center...What Fool Would Be Out Here?

Picture From The London Bridge Visitor Center…What Fool Would Be Out Here?

We did also enjoyed the local community theatre production of Sweeney Todd, local ice cream and did some shopping as we’d be heading into sparsely populated areas in the near future.

We visited the Bill Williams NWR and planned to return for a kayak trip but then got busy with other things and never returned. A good reason to return if we need to have an excuse. The refuge is located with the Visitor Center on the lake side and wonderful wilderness trails across the road in a desert area. What a contrast!

Bill Williams NWR

Bill Williams NWR

Six months ago Chari had reconnected with her second cousin, Kathy, who lives near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Although they have been e-mailing they have not seen each other in forty years. Kathy and her daughter, Emily, were spending a long weekend in Las Vegas which was about three hours away. We decided to meet halfway in Laughlin, NV. Kathy has become the Manchester family genealogist and has discovered lots of interesting history. I never knew I had an ancestor from Switzerland or that there was a family farm in New York only 100 miles from where I grew up! We met for brunch and had a great time.

Desertscape Walk

Desertscape Walk

Kelso, Mohave Desert Preserve

Kelso Depot At Mohave Desert Preserve

Another day Steve and I went for one of our “day trips” of 150 miles or so to visit the Mohave Desert Preserve NPS site. We were enchanted by the desert landscape and spoke with the ranger in charge of volunteers about the possibility of working here during the winter of 2017. We’ll stay in touch. We only had time for a quick visit but did watch the park movie which shows the varied areas of the park. Kelso Depot is an old train station (1924) from the days when the town of Kelso was a thriving community. Kelso was where trains headed west stopped to pick up their “helper” engines to climb the steep terrain of the Providence Mountains and reload with water for the steam engines. The depot was also used by Union Pacific RR workers as a dormitory and recreation facility. Kelso faded away after WWII when the more powerful diesel engines became commonplace and was closed in 1985. The depot was saved from demolition and became the NPS Visitor Center in 2005. During WWII Kelso was also the home of workers from the nearby Vulcan Mine (iron ore). Between the RR workers and the miners Kelso had many drunken residents who wound up spending a day or two in the town’s jail. The jail had been moved to the backyard garden of some Barstow residents after the depot closed but was returned and donated when NPS took over.


The Kelso Jail

Kelso Post

Kelso PostOffice

Rt. 66

Opal And Steve On Rt. 66

Another day of exploring took us to one of the best preserved sections along former Route 66 between Kingman and Seligman in Arizona. As we approached the town of Oatman, which had been touted as a picturesque town on 66, we found several creosote bushes with decorations left from Christmas. A local custom we presumed. We arrived in Oatman and parked in the city lot. You need to pick your way carefully through town as one of the “attractions” are the “wild” burros. The burros are used to being fed hay cubes you can buy and are not shy nor are they reluctant to leave the remains. Step carefully! When we arrived a show for all the tourist buses had the one and only street blocked so we checked out some shops. Only one description is needed for this place: Tourist Trap!!! When the road finally opened we continued along Rt. 66 and did find some real wild burros, great scenery, Yucca plants in bloom and an interesting remnant of days past called Rock Spring. It was a former gas station along Rt. 66 now a convenience store and museum. There was a lot of interesting memorabilia here. It has retained a lot of its character because, much to the owners dismay, the tour buses can’t negotiate the tight turns between Oatman and Rock Springs.

Rt. 66, Arizona

Leftover From Christmas

Tourist Feeding Burro In Oatman

Tourist Feeding Burro In Oatman






Yucca In Bloom

Yucca In Bloom




Roadside Humor On 66


















Wild Burros On Rt. 66

Wild Burros On Rt. 66

Rock Springs Drawing

Rock Springs Drawing

Cars From The Past On A Road From The Past

Cars From The Past On A Road From The Past

A Pegasus On 66

A Pegasus On 66









Rock Springs Gas Pumps

Rock Springs Gas Pumps











Rt. 66 Memories

Rt. 66 Memories

Time to leave Arizona for this trip. Next stop is Lake Mead National Recreation Area which is only three hours away.

Our Top Ten Campgrounds For July 2014- July 2015

Now that we are spending about 50% of our time volunteering we didn’t know if we’d have enough great places to recommend for another Top Ten post. Fortunately that was no problem. So here are our choices as we moved from Montana, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon and Washington. Again, this list in no particular rating order and is for folks like ourselves who travel via large RV. If dry camping was involved it is noted. Otherwise there was at least water and electric hookups. Some of the other campgrounds we used would be suitable for smaller units but proved challenging for us. We started with a list of 16 campgrounds we really enjoyed. After listing our 10 favorites we mention the runners up.


 1) Bullards Beach State Park near Bandon-by-the-Sea, OR

 2) Le Page USCAE Park on the John Day River/ Columbia River, near Rufus, Oregon

 3) Lake Havasu State Park, Lake Havasu, AZ

 4) Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Cottonwood, AZ

 5) Farragut State Park, north of Coeur d’Alene, ID

 6) Hells Gate State Park, Lewiston, ID

 7) Riana USACE Campground, Abiquiu, New Mexico

 8) Curecanti National Recreation Area, Elk Creek CG Loop D, near Gunnison, CO

 9) McDowell Mountain Regional Park, near Fort McDowell, AZ

10) Angostura Lake State Recreation Area, Hat Creek CG,  near Hot Springs, SD

Sometimes it was very difficult to choose so here are the wonderful runners up:

Fort Worden State Park, Port Townsend, WA

Lake Cochiti USACE, Cochiti Lake, NM

East Canyon State Park, Morgan, UT

Big Creek Flathead National Forest CG, Columbia Falls, MT *** dry camping***

Langhor CG in Hyalite Canyon, Gallatin USNF, Bozeman, MT *** dry camping ***

Boulder Beach, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Boulder City, NV *** dry camping ***

Furnace Creek CG, Death Valley NP, CA *** dry camping ***

Codorniz USACE Recreation Area, east of Merced, CA




Where Next #7?

After a wonderful time at Petrified Forest National Park it’s time to hit the road again. Full time RVers can’t stay still long. When the need to get moving strikes we call it a case of “hitch itch”. So where do we go from here? We’ll be driving more than 2200 miles over the next three and a half months.

Google Earth, RV, travel

Our Route February-May 2015

It is too early to begin heading north so we will spend February in Arizona seeing the Verde Valley/Sedona area, Tucson and Lake Havasu. Then on to Las Vegas and the Lake Mead Recreation Area for a visit with a kayaking friend from North Carolina.  We plan to see one of several Cirque de Soleil shows playing in LV.  On to Death Valley NP and three weeks in the central valley of California. Using this area as our base we will explore Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Parks, Fresno and perhaps Monterrey. By the end of March we hope to finally camp along the Pacific coast. April will see us exploring the Oregon coast, Portland and the lower Columbia River region. By early May we should arrive in the Seattle area to spend time with relatives. Meandering along the Olympic Peninsula to Port Townsend we will take a ferry to Whidbey Island. At Anacortes we catch the ferry over to San Juan Island for our next volunteer stint at San Juan Island National Historic Park from late May until after Labor Day.

After traveling through Nevada, California, Oregon and Washington we will only have seven states we have not yet visited with the RV. Our map is filling up! So come along and see what lies ahead for the DreamChaser and the three of us.