Where Next ? #9

Soon it will be time to pack up and move on from Hot Springs, Arkansas. We have had a wonderful time here. The winter was a mild one with an early Spring. We hope to get a post written about our volunteering at Hot Springs National Park and the city which goes by the same name officially.

So where will we be heading next? Back west for the Summer of 2017 to Salmon, Idaho where we will be working for the City of Salmon and the U. S. Forest Service at the Sacajawea Interpretation Center. Along the way we will make stops in Nashville for a Photoshop workshop from Jim Zuckerman, see 7 more national park sites, see the Budweiser Clydesdale ranch, visit with friends and family and explore new areas of our beautiful country.

So pack your virtual suitcase and travel with us!

Hot Springs, Arkansas to Salmon, Idaho April-May 2017

Hot Springs, Arkansas to Salmon, Idaho April-May 2017

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.

TOP TEN CAMPGROUNDS USED

 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

 

HAPPY CAMPING!!!!

 

A Hop Over To Coeur d’Alene

Sorry for the delay in posting but our travels through Idaho, Utah and Colorado have put us in poor cell areas much of the time. When we did have good signal, it seemed we were also very busy being out and about. Hopefully we will now begin catching up. With our readers, patience is always a virtue! Thanks for sticking with us.

We hated to leave Glacier NP but after eighteen days of dry camping we were both looking forward to having hookups and long showers. On our way out we stopped in Whitefish, Montana to have the smashed side view mirror replaced. It came to just under our insurance deductible…Ka-ching! On to Coeur d’Alene in the Idaho panhandle.

Google Earth, Glacier NP, Coeur d'Alene, Farragut SP

Glacier NP to Coeur d’Alene

While we’ve been in eastern Idaho three times, neither of us had been in other parts of the state. I’d picked a state park at the southern end of Lake Coeur d’Alene called Heyburn. Reservations were made on Reserve America for a drive through site 55 feet long with water and electric. When we arrived, we had an unpleasant surprise. Yes, it was a drive through. Yes, it was long enough. However, the turn to get in was too sharp and on either side were big trees. The curve of the drive through was also too sharp for a large trailer. Steve tried to back in but there was a large rock just where he needed to put the truck so the angle of the trailer was right. If he backed in where the truck would fit, the trailer wheels were on a downhill slope. After six tries Steve said ” Let’s cancel reservations and go to Walmart.” We hadn’t filled our tank with water since we thought we’d have services plus we needed to dump. We located the dump site. Also set up with a sharp turn and narrow for a large trailer. I took a deep breath and hoped we’d make it through without any damage. We did. There was a Walmart close to where we needed to take our generators for repair the next day. We joined about ten other RVs, rented a Redbox movie and spent the night.

One good outcome of it all was finding a Diners, Drive-ins and Dives place called Capone’s. The original restaurant was in downtown Coeur d’Alene. Now there are three sites. We enjoyed our individual pizzas very much. ” I was raised in New York and haven’t found good pizza very many places. I told Chari, if we lived here, we’d eat at Capone’s a lot just like we did at Hawthorne’s our favorite pizza place in Charlotte.) “

The next day Steve ran our generators down to a Honda repair shop while Chari looked for another place to stay. We thought Farragut SP about 20 miles north sounded good but based on our experience we wanted to check it out before making reservations. First we needed to see about the slow leak we had in a trailer tire. Bad news there. The leak was a small puncture in the tire sidewall. Plus the spare tire was down to secondary rubber and by law the technician couldn’t put that on. So we bought two new tires. Ka-ching!

On to Farragut SP which is on beautiful Lake Pend Orielle (pronounced Pon Der A). We checked on availability and they had two sites left that would accommodate us. This is a lovely park with paved sites, water and electric hookups and gray water disposal drains throughout the camping loops. We were home! We’d been lucky to get a site as the coming weekend was their annual celebration for anyone who had served at Farragut Naval Training station during WWII. Prior to being a state park this area had been a major Navy basic training facility for recruits from the western states. Steve had an uncle who might have been one of the 293,000 + men who trained here. After setting up we just relaxed with a drink and dinner by a campfire.

Old Mission State Park, Idaho

Old Mission State Park

The following day we checked to see what time the generators would be ready. They’d run into some problems but thought the repairs would be completed by late that afternoon. My stack of brochures came in handy for some sightseeing ideas. We headed for another state park called Old Mission State Park which has the oldest building in Idaho. It is a National Historic Landmark. The Coeur d’Alene Indian tribe sought out Catholic priests who they heard had “powerful medicine” by sending representatives to St. Louis, Father DeSmet was the first to respond but was followed by others in the mid 1800s. The church that stands today was built by Indian labor using the wattle and daub method and did not use any nails. Features such as the handcut tin chandelier feature the creativity and artistry of the builders. Next door is a parish house furnished as it was in the early 1900s. Like many building the church went through a period of decline and was almost torn down before the state assumed ownership and two restorations were done. There is also a wonderful museum exhibit at the Visitor Center which is worth the additional $5 to view.

Front Of Old Mission

Front Of Old Mission

church, American Indian, mission

Church Interior With Handmade Chandelier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

architecture, National Historic Landmark

Ceiling Detail At Old Mission SP

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parrish House Office

Parrish House Office

 

 

 

 

Parish House Sanctuary

Parish House Sanctuary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we took a scenic drive around Lake Coeur d’Alene and along the White Pine Scenic Byway. We looked at a National Forest Campground for future visits. A few sites are workable but Farragut SP would be our first choice. We also noted locations of some kayak pit-ins. By then it was time to pick up the generators. They were still working on them when we arrived. We talked to the mechanic as he finished up and learned of a local restaurant called The Porch which is known for its gumbo. It was late and we were hungry. Sounded good. First we had to pay for the generators…another $500! So much for paying off the credit card this month. We never would have found the restaurant on our own. Definitely one of the “locals go here” spots. The gumbo was very spicy but good. We’d come back any time we visit.

The Porch Restaurant

The Porch Restaurant

We gave ourselves an “at home” day which is something we rarely do unless the weather is bad. We had been on the go for three weeks and our energy was lagging. With our “batteries” recharged we headed to the park museum called The Brig. Normally the museum is closed after Labor Day but it was open for the veterans reunion. Within months of the Pearl Harbor attack and the USA’s entrance into WWII new bases were built quickly. One interesting fact was that Farragut was built at the same time as the San Diego Naval Base. Architectural plans were accidentally switched so that the California base was built with pitched roofs and the Idaho base was built with flat roofs. Bet the recruits had fun shoveling snow off of those roofs! The museum provides information on the home front during the war, recruitment and training and impact on the community.

museum, Idaho

Seaman Statue At The Brig Museum

Navy, WWII

Museum Is Housed In The Old Base Brig

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farragut Naval Base

Map Of Farragut Naval Base

 

 

 

Recruiting Labor For Base Construction

Recruiting Labor For Base Construction 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four days gave us just a taste for the area. We will definitely make a return visit.

This Land Is Our Land

Grand Teton, national park, Wyoming

A Day At Grand Teton NP

We were delayed two days in leaving Red Rock Lakes NWR due to unusually heavy rain for August. The roads once again became muddy. We spent Friday visiting a friend from North Carolina who spends summer in Jackson, WY. While neither the weather or wildlife were cooperative, we had a good time. We’ve never spent extended time in the area but plan to do so in the future.

Idaho. dry camping

The DreamChaser On Our Lot

By Saturday the roads were dry. We’d planned to leave for Ashton, Idaho via Red Rock Pass however the road had turned into a washboard. So we took the longer “smoother” route to I 15 and Rexburg, ID then north to Ashton. We pulled up onto our property at Twin Rivers Ranch without a problem. We’ll spend two nights here dry camping. Sitting outside enjoying the view of Snake River Butte makes us toy with the idea of building a cabin here.

After dinner we went for a walk down the road. Opal was free to roam as there is very seldom traffic here. We found a new wildflower I (Chari) have yet to identify. All of a sudden Opal took off into the woods. We didn’t think much of it until we heard her yelp. As she reappeared she was spitting out large amounts of frothy saliva and rubbing her face into the ground. I (Steve) knew what happened. She’d found a skunk. It didn’t take but a few seconds for our noses to confirm it. With just a small can of tomato juice on hand we did an emergency treatment. (Opal) How do you get away from the smell? I kept moving but it followed me. My folks never smelled that bad before. I wonder what they got into? Then they decided they should say inside and I should stay outside… in the dark no less! Well, put my paw down and let them know THAT was totally unacceptable! Softies that they are, I was allowed in but not in the bedroom. Score: Opal 0, Skunk 2 for the summer of 2014.

Steve At Twin Rivers Ranch

Steve At Twin Rivers Ranch

We went up to the top of Snake River Butte to take some photos. In the following panorama you can see Henry’s Fork of the Snake River on the left, our trailer in the middle (white rectangle) and our nearest neighbor with the red roof on the right. Then we drove over to Upper and Lower Mesa Falls which are about 5 miles away. These are large waterfalls just upriver from our property. The subdivision is called Twin Rivers because it overlooks where the Warm River and Henry’s Fork merge. The National Forest Service has a Visitor Center and campground with electricity at Upper Mesa Falls. Here is my best shot of the day. Then we went to Warm Springs where we saw two river otters playing in the water. They were too far away for really good pics but so much fun to watch!

Looking Down On Twin Rivers Ranch From Snake Butte

Looking Down On Twin Rivers Ranch From Snake Butte

Upper Mesa Falls 4

otters, wildlife, Warm Springs

Otters At Play

 

We ended the day and our stay with a campfire watching the sunset and a mule deer cross the property. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Lower Mesa Falls Panorama

Lower Mesa Falls Panorama

Where Next #6

With less than two weeks left at Red Rock Lakes NWR we drew up a plan for our next two and a half months of travel en route to Petrified Forest National Park. We are continuing to make seeing more National Park sites a priority. Our route will take us to or near 12-15 more parks. We’re getting close to our goal of having visited 33% of the NPS sites by the end of 2014. Will we make it? You’ll just have to follow along and find out.

For easiest viewing, click on the picture of our route to enlarge.

travel, RV living, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, National Parks

RV Travels For August-November 2014

Wildflowers of Southwestern Montana

A Sea Of Shooting Stars

A Sea Of Shooting Stars

I’m in heaven with all of the beautiful wildflowers blooming at Red Rock Lakes NWR and nearby Gallatin and Targhee National Forests. This past winter Montana received 120% of the average snowfall providing much needed moisture for wildflowers. They have responded with fabulous displays. Even the weeds are beautiful! 

Since arriving here in early June we’ve seen twenty different types. Most are new to us and identifying them has required research through five wildflower books and an iPad app called Yellowstone/Teton Wildflowers. The manager at Red Rock Lakes NWR was kind enough to loan us some of his personal books. For the ones we haven’t identified we’ll take a cue from a friend of ours who simply refers to plants as “yellow stuff”, “red stuff”, “blue stuff” etc. Even the weeds are beautiful!

This is a time when pictures are worth a thousand words. Hope you enjoy seeing them as much as we did prowling through the fields to get the photos. If you enjoy this post, watch for another one about a Ranger led tour we will take the second week of July to the Gravelly Range Road. Even the locals call it spectacular.

wildflowers, Montana

Shooting Stars

White Mule's Ear

White Mule’s Ear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sugar Bowl

Sugar Bowl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue Penstemon

Blue Penstemon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mountain Goldenpea

Mountain Goldenpea

 

Willow Blossoms Blowing In The Wind

Willow Blossoms Blowing In The Wind

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sticky Geranium

Sticky Geranium

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meadow Death Camas

Meadow Death Camas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue Pussytoes

Blue Pussytoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yellow Paintbrush From Top

Yellow Paintbrush From Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Long Plumed Avens aka Prairie Smoke

Long Plumed Avens aka Prairie Smoke

 

 

 

 

 

Lupine

Lupine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serviceberry

Serviceberry

 

 

 

cactus, wildflower, Montana

Prickly Pear Cactus Blossom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pink Lupine And Strawberry

Pink Lupine And Strawberry

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balsamroot Group

Balsamroot Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

butterfly

Butterfly On Spurge