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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Zion & Bryce Canyon National Parks

We pause in our trip south for a week at St. George RV Park just south of Leeds, UT and north of St. George, UT with an address in Hurricane, UT (go figure how they give these places addresses!).  This is an Encore park that accepts RPI (Resort Parks International) memberships at $10 per night.  In addition, we paid another $3 per night for 50 amp service plus tax on the kit and caboodle of 11.5%.  Still, a week for $101.47 is not bad.   Our first assigned spot was too narrow for us to open our slides with a tree on one side and a post on the other.  The park was very accommodating in moving us to a slightly wider spot that worked.  That being said, we were parked bow to stern with the coach on either side resulting in a narrow corridor for two coach’s utilities and a shared porch on the other side.  The park does have a few amenities: pool, mini-golf, laundry, and showers.  We found it to be good accommodations for our trips into St. George for shopping (Costco, outlet mall, tons of restaurants, etc. etc. …  St. George is a good-sized town), and to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks for sightseeing.  There is some highway noise (the park is just off Interstate 15) but we had a nice view from our coach window of some red cliffs and would stay here again.  Just be aware that it has tight accommodations and is not really conducive to “camping”.  On the Wildride Scale of 1-10 (1 = lousy and 10 = magnificent) we would give this park a solid 6.

View from the Park

Lake in State Park around the corner from Park

As mentioned above we spent most of our time visiting two national parks:  Zion and Bryce Canyon.  Zion is a short twenty-minute drive from the RV Park so we decided to tackle it first.  Wikipedia notes that Zion is “a prominent feature of the 229-square-mile (590 km2) park is Zion Canyon, which is 15 miles (24 km) long and up to half a mile (800 m) deep, cut through the reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone by the North Fork of the Virgin River. The lowest elevation is 3,666 ft (1,117 m) at Coalpits Wash and the highest elevation is 8,726 ft (2,660 m) at Horse Ranch Mountain. Located at the junction of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and Mojave Desert regions, the park's unique geography and variety of life zones allow for unusual plant and animal diversity. Numerous plant species as well as 289 species of birds, 75 mammals (including 19 species of bat), and 32 reptiles inhabit the park's four life zones: desert, riparian, woodland, and coniferous forest. Zion National Park includes mountains, canyons, buttes, mesas, monoliths, rivers, slot canyons, and natural arches.”

The park provides a shuttle bus through ion Canyon with 8 stops that allow passenger to get on and off at their leisure.  The bus travels through the bottom of the canyon, so unlike Grand Canyon or Bryce Canyon, the view is from the bottom up rather than the top down.  Here are a few of our pictures.

Shuttle Buses go up the Canyon

Human History Museum

Formations in back of the Human History Museum

The Three Patriarchs

View from Zion Lodge

At the far end of the canyon

The Virgin River runs through

Back at the Visitors' Center

Wildlife in the Park is large and small

Bryce Canyon National Park was a 2-½ hour drive from our RV Park (5 hours round trip).  We got an early start on the day and started driving.  It was worth the windshield time!  Don’t miss this one.  We liked it better than Zion.  The drive to the park takes you through the Red Canyon.

Formations in Red Canyon

Formations in Red Canyon

Wikipedia has this to say about Bryce: “The major feature of the park is Bryce Canyon which, despite its name, is not a canyon but a collection of giant natural amphitheaters along the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Bryce is distinctive due to geological structures called hoodoos, formed by frost weathering and stream erosion of the river and lakebed sedimentary rocks. The red, orange, and white colors of the rocks provide spectacular views for park visitors. Bryce sits at a much higher elevation than nearby Zion National Park. The rim at Bryce varies from 8,000 to 9,000 feet (2,400 to 2,700 m).”

Since Bryce sits at a higher elevation is was quite a bit cooler than Zion.  In addition, they had stopped their shuttle runs at the end of September so we took our car from view site to view site.  It takes about 3 hours to see the formations without taking any of the hikes.  We took a few easy ones so spent a bit longer.  Here are a few pictures.

Until Next Time … Keep Doing What You Love!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Time to Head South

We have really enjoyed our time on the Pacific coast this summer.  The temperatures have been mild (60s and 70s) while the rest of the states have been scorching.  But it is starting to show signs, subtle to be sure, but there nevertheless, of colder weather.  This year we decided to hold off as long as possible and then do a bit of driving on our way to sunny skies.

Our route took us from Blaine, WA to Easton, WA.  If you look closely on the map along Interstate 90 you will find Easton, snuggled in the Cascade Range.  We stayed at Lake Easton RV resort using our ROD (Resorts of Distinction) membership.  This was not a resort by any stretch (it seems that RV parks with the word “Resort” in their names are far from it … something like trailer parks called “Estates”), but it was adequate for the one night we stayed.  We parked and ventured out to the small quaint town of Roslyn, WA.  It has a small main street with a few restaurants and the Coal Miners Memorial, which speaks to the town’s history as a mining town.  We opted for pizza at the Village Pizza: a nice place, but a bit pricey ($25 for a large 17” combo and two waters … including the tip).  That being said, the pizza was delicious!  We would return and have another.  In the end, the price turned out to be reasonable as we got three meals out of the pizza and couple of snacks.  Here are a couple of pictures.

Pizza shop in Roslyn, WA

Our next stop was La Grande, Oregon as we cut the corner of Oregon on our way south through Idaho.  We stayed at Eagle’s Hot Lake RV Park in La Grande.  It is a very nice park with pull-troughs, 50 amp service, grass porches, and friendly service.  There is a small store with ice cream, necessities, a laundry room and lounge.  We got into this park around 3:30 p.m. (late for us) fixed dinner and went to bed as we were off again in the morning.  The park offers a Good Sam discount for a rate of $27 a night.  We would stay again as the park is only four miles off the freeway  … close enough for easy access … far enough away for no freeway noise.  We got a good night’s sleep (sorry no pictures) and drove on.

We arrived in Glenns Ferry, Idaho the next day and were welcomed to Carmilla Vineyards and RV Park.  This is a boutique park across from a vineyard and restaurant and sitting on the 4th hole of a nice little golf course.  We stayed here three days to rest up and enjoy the amenities.  The cost is $22 per night …  there are no discounts.  Our dinner at the restaurant was wonderful.  Lynda had the rib eye steak and I had a nice cut of prime rib (yummy), baked potato, salad, and a couple glasses of wine completed the meal …  The price was commensurate with the meal and service, but we were ready for a treat.  On Sunday we went over again for the Sunday brunch.  After our evening meal we were expecting a bit more than we received.  While the price was reasonable, $12.99 each, the meal was disappointing.   We consoled ourselves by driving into town and having ice cream at The Fudge Factory (very nice!).   Here are a few pictures.

Carmela Vineyard

Sitting on the 4th hole

Sand trap along the Snake River

We travelled south again on Monday to Garland, Utah.  The colors are beginning to change in Utah (see picture below).  For those of you who haven’t been here and have only seen the Utah Travel Department commercials. … Utah is a desert!  There are a few mountains and high spots, but let me assure you that the majority of the state is desert.  We stayed at Camperworld Hot Springs Resort in Garland.  This is a nice park with a pool, two hot springs, and a nearby public golf course.  Parking is in tiers and we were on the top tier.  The large back-in sites are easy to get in and out of with a nice view of the valley and 50 amp service.  We used our RPI membership for this park ($10 per night) and would definitely stay here again.  The only downside to our stay was the infestation of Box Elder bugs (also known as pumpkin bugs or halloweenee bugs because they are black and orange and show up in October).

The colors change in the desert

Desert Views from our park

From our campsite in Garland we took a day trip to Golden Spike National Historic site where on “May 10, 1869 the Union and Central Pacific Railroads joined their rails at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory and forged the destiny of a nation. Golden Spike National Historic Site shares the stories of the people and settings that define the completion of the first Transcontinental Railroad.” (quotation from the Golden Spike home page).  It is definitely worth the trip if you are in the area.  The Visitor’s Center has a nice display of life building the railroad and a number of films that you can watch.  In addition, full sized working replicas of the original locomotives are on display.  We had a great time.  Here are some pictures.

Heading south again we stopped for another weekend in Delta, Utah.  We stayed at the Antelope Valley RV Park.  The park is right off of highway 50 so there is a little truck noise early in the morning, but other than that it is a nice place for a few days stay.  Nice gravel pads, pull through sites, 50 amp, concrete entries, and a bit of grass.  We stayed here using our RPI (Resort Parks International) membership at $10 per night (including the 50 amp and a pretty good free WiFi).

While in Delta we decided to take a long day trip to The Great Basin National Park across the border in Nevada.  This is a national park that is off the beaten path but well worth the visit.   The star of the park is the Lehman Caves which are magnificent (see pictures below), but we also took the road toward Wheeler Peak and were there for the fall Aspen colors … Wow!!  Here are pictures of the park.

Bristle Cone Pine -- Trees are very long lived ...  4200 years has been recorded

Fall Colors on the way to Mr. Wheeler

Fall Colors on the way to Mount Wheeler

We are still headed south and will tell you where in our next post.
Until then … Keeping doing what you love!