drivingmissmurphy


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Off to Sedona!

We packed up and headed out early in the morning, hoping to beat the winds (they blew all day and night anyway) and drop off our 2” hitchhiker somewhere along the way…

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Bullhead City to sedona

There’s an incredibly long (12 miles) 6% climb out of Bullhead City and we were sure many vehicles must overheat on the way up. Even so, it took some time before we noticed that someone has very conveniently left large jugs of water every half-kilometer or so up that long hot climb.

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Since we had climbed about 3000 feet, the desert eased to forests. As we got closer to Williams (we visited it in our March 2016 blog) we noticed a forest fire!

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It turned out to be a prescribed burn by the Forestry Service. A quick lunch in the last Route 66 town to be bypassed by the interstate and then we headed south to meet our Maxx Trails friends at “our tree” in the desert south of Sedona.

Once again, we wakened to the delightful sights and sounds of balloons landing at our doorstep.

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We couldn’t wait to head off on one of two hikes we’d planned with our Maxx Trails friends. Once again, we were awestruck by the incredible beauty of this place – the red rocks, weathered and rounded, deep greens of the piñon pine and juniper trees, and the contrasts of prickly cactus with spiky agave, deep blue skies and red dust of the trail beneath our feet.

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Most trails are marked.

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Ocotillo Cactus

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Speaking of red dust, Murphy gamely prances along on all our hikes even though she must be taking 48 steps to one of ours, and she soaks it up like a sponge!

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Next, a hike to The Devil’s Arch!

So stay tuned….

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Man, it was WINDY!

We left Twin Falls bright and early, knowing that we had a long day ahead of us as we sped south on Hwy 93, which stretches from Waterton Lakes National Park in southern Alberta all the way down into Mexico. The Nevada stretch from the Idaho border to near Las Vegas is billed as the second-loneliest road in America, and for good reason. There’s little traffic, even less sign of human activity, and features extremely repetitive scenery. The photos capture the mood for the first half of the road.

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Twin Falls to Pioche

Our destination for the night was a small, one-time mining town called Pioche, where we stayed at a city-owned free RV park, an experience we definitely want to repeat someday as the town looks to be transforming itself into a trendy, artsy place. Pioche was also the beginning of the Designated State Scenic Highway portion of Hwy 93 and the trip the following day was definitely more interesting. Some long grades, but scenic valleys, pine forests and sunny blue skies made the trip more interesting than the first leg of the journey.

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We also came across our first Joshua Trees, a sign that we are back in the Mohave Desert.

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While many wonder what we find so interesting about the desert, it’s probably the contrast to what we’ve known most of our lives, and also the contrasts that we find there. Imagine, we’re in an arid land, and spot in the distance this huge lake glimmering in the desert sunshine.

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Wait a minute! A lake out here? As we get closer, we discover the truth…

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A sea of solar panels busy making electricity out of sunshine!

While enjoying the scenery along the southern portion, we were also noting the many interesting state and national parks that we passed. While we knew we wouldn’t be stopping in this time, we wondered what the country was like so we could decide to make a more leisurely exploration someday. We will!

Pioche to Bullhead City

We hurried off to Bullhead City for a few nights to recharge batteries (both the trailer’s and ours), do some laundry and wait for the temperatures to drop a bit to the southeast. Bullhead City was unbelievably windy, with sustained winds of 40 km/hr and gusts up to 90, and it continued non-stop the whole time we were there. We were very happy to finally climb out of the Colorado River Valley to slightly cooler temperatures and much calmer conditions on our way to one of our top destinations, Sedona.

Stay tuned…


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What a surprise!

We were amazed as we crossed the Snake River, because this was definitely not a normal prairie river crossing! The next morning we left home to do some touring of some Twin Falls sights before heading to the Craters of the Moon National Monument (park) northeast of the city. Our first stop was a view of the bridge and river valley that so surprised us the afternoon before. We had travelled through flat prairie farmland on our way in…

7316But this is the bridge that was passed over, and the river valley below.

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7308Murphy found what we thought was a replica of the bridge…

7313But it turned out to be a nifty and very appropriate bicycle stand.

7314We were first introduced to the volcanism of the western states in Bend, Oregon, last year and found the lava landscapes fascinating. So, after enjoying the Snake River scenery, we set off for the lava fields in the Craters of the Moon national Park. Unfortunately, Navigator is still learning to work with Amy, our new GPS, so named because it is supposed to aim us in the right direction.

We experienced a great lesson as the two learned to get along, since Amy (our new and improved Samantha GPS) led us on a 60 mile journey to the east end of the park. We knew something was amiss as she turned us down country, then gravel roads, before finally directing us to a dirt track.

Twin Falls to Craters of the Moon - Oct 19-2017

 

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7319Since we had gone so far, we committed to see it through to her final destination, which turned out to be a trailhead.

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7327That huge mound is made of small cinders, very different from the lava we saw in Bend.

7326This park also had vent cones.

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7334Life is tenacious, but it’s still hard to survive in such conditions

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7344A great day, even though we travelled twice as far and for longer than we had planned. Next, we start down America’s 2nd Loneliest Highway.

Stay tuned…


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Life on the road…

So far, we’ve been putting in the hours on the road, staying ahead of the Pacific weather system that is currently battering BC and the Northwest states – again! We crossed the border on Monday and made it to Vantage, Washington, on the Columbia River. The Riverstone RV Park provided a site with full hookups and a great location, since we were off early the next morning to the Tri-Cities in the southeast corner of the state, where we had planned to stay.

We took a new route, Highways 243 and 240, which amazed us as we passed mile after mile of apple orchards and vineyards sheltering in the valley. That turned into a long stretch of desolate dry grassland that turned out to be the Hanford Site, operated by the US Department of Energy. If that tickles a memory for you, like it did for Chauffeur, it’s a decommissioned nuclear production site that now serves as a storage facility for nuclear waste. It was in the news last May because a tunnel collapsed on one of the rail car storage tanks and officials feared a possible leak. We were so busy trying to remember the significance of the area that we forgot to take pictures, but trust us, it’s boring!

However, the wind was definitely not and we battled strong crosswinds until we hit the Interstate and turned east. Chauffeur began to relax enough that we decided to cruise through our planned stop in Pendleton, Oregon, and continued on the Walmart in Island City. Once again, we arose early again made it all the way south to Twin Falls, just north of the state border with Nevada.

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Our route took us away from Ponderosa Pines to prairies, but we had to climb and descend several surprising grades to get here.

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We think this is our first Interstate where the grade was so steep the engineers put in switchbacks!

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2925As we got closer to Twin Falls, we were reminded more and more of southern Alberta, with prairies stretching off to the horizon, broken only by streams that slowly eroded into broad river valleys.

So it was a complete shock when we crossed the Perrine Bridge over the Snake River on our way to our campsite at the Twin Falls County Fair Grounds just outside the city.

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So what was shocking? Stay tuned…

 


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On The Road Again, finally!

It is that time again when we hit the road in search of warmer climes.  Well, not really, as we know we are heading back to Yuma for the winter and specifically, Cocopah RV and Golf Resort.

We were sad to leave Bear Creek Park but have to admit that is was somewhat surreal as the park has been closed since the Tuesday after the Thanksgiving weekend.  We were all alone.

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After dropping the car off at son #1’s house, we headed for Osoyoos for two nights.  We will be heading across the border on Monday, October 16th and heading south.

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South on Highway 97 heading towards Summerland.  Yes, that IS snow on the mountains!

Kelowna to Osoyoos

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Our campsite and Nk’mip Campground in Osoyoos.

Stay tuned…


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Once again, the nightmare of a wildfire descended on the central Okanagan, reminding us of the horrendous 2003 wildfire that forced the evacuation of almost 28,000 people and destroyed 239 homes. This time though, the fire was very literally around the bend from us in Trader’s Cove, a small neighbourhood just north of us, overlooking the log booming grounds right beside the park. The fire was just behind a ridge, but just meters from houses.

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This time though, we took advantage of our location and retirement lifestyle to grab our chairs and become onlookers as the aerial battle began.

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At first, it was just a helicopter bucketing water from the lake and dropping it near the fire-fighters on the ground.

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It didn’t take long for the small water-bombers to show up.

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7249Watching the three fly down to skim the water and then zoom up to drop their loads was a fascinating show, as these pilots follow each other in quick succession. Look how close they get to each other!

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We know the homeowners were unsettled, but the speed and intensity of the firefighting response must have been comforting. Eventually, the bombers pulled back, but the helicopter continued for some time, and the on-the-ground crew stayed on overnight. No homes were lost, and the news reported that the fire was caused by an unattended campfire, left by someone who was rough-camping up the hill. They left their tent and possessions behind and as far as we know, they never did identify themselves, likely because of the criminal charges and the cost of the firefight that they would have to face.

Stay tuned…


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Many of our friends have heard us express dismay at the lack of decent RV parks in the Okanagan. Thus, we began our search for a place to park our home this summer back in January, and finally managed to secure a spot at a new park in West Kelowna, Raven’s Nest RV Park, which was just being built last fall as we left. When we rolled in, we were a bit disappointed that the whole ‘park’ was nothing but paved roads, gravel and a framed but unfinished washroom/laundry facility. The sites are actually quite narrow and the majority of tenants appear to be lower-income and living in RVs that have become permanent homes.

We sighed, and set up our site, since there are actually no affordable alternatives in the central Okanagan, due to the short, very lucrative, tourist season. For example, our two neighbours, including the small motorhome, are set up permanently.

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2910We did our best to make the most of what we had, but it was still cramped.

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After two months in the gravel pit (as we called it), we were visiting our good friends of Maxx Trails fame in their new location as Park Hosts at Bear Creek Provincial Park. They walked us down to another site that they said was open, since the Relief Park Host who had been there, had moved on. With their encouragement, we applied for the job and to our delight, were invited to live in one of the most beautiful campgrounds in the Okanagan! We moved the following day!

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What a difference! Green trees, a lake and burbling creek, lots of trails, shade from the hot Okanagan sun… and full hookups, all for performing 30 volunteer hours per week picking up litter (which we always do anyway) and sorting the returnable beverage containers.

We are in heaven! Watch for more posts as we enjoy the park, the wildlife and the lake.

Stay tuned…