Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon & Zion National Parks

Published: July 21st 2008
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Our 2008 vacation we are planning to head out west again to see as many of the Utah National Parks as we can. After leaving Baton Rouge around 10 am on Saturday, May 10th, we want to go through Little Rock, AR to visit Viki and Bill. They are some long time friends that moved back to Arkansas years ago. We get up there to see them when we can and they come south to Louisiana whenever they can. We haven’t made it there since 2000. This will be the first time they have seen our RV.

We took Hwy. 65 north out of Louisiana in order to enjoy the scenery and adjust to a slower pace. We had a nice, but slow at times, trip into Arkansas and took I-530 toward Little Rock. Viki and Bill live south of the city so we are able to avoid any traffic tie ups and make it to their home around 5:30. They were glad to see us and very gracious in offering to let us hook up and stay the night and what a good thing we did as the weather got really bad about an hour after we were set up.

After the storms let up around 7:00 pm, the four of us piled into Bill's new truck and went to town to eat. Bill recommended a local steakhouse and we treated them to supper, with all of us having a very nice time. It is so great to see old friends. We had an interesting time riding out the tornado watches with them and appreciated the hospitality.

We left them on Sunday, Mother's Day, May 11th, and continued north taking I-40 back to Hwy. 65 toward Missouri. Just a few miles north of Little Rock, I think it was Conway, we saw so much tornado damage from storms the week before. There was a lovely Baptist Church that was demolished and several slabs where homes once stood. It was heartbreaking. We continued driving through the devastation and I said a prayer for the people in this community.

We drove for 7 hours or so and ended up staying the night in a Wal-Mart parking lot somewhere just inside of Sedalia, Missouri I believe. Wal-Mart is wonderful. We are likewise wonderful to Wal-Mart. Like others, I am sure that we pay salaries for numerous employees and have probably spent enough to pay for an entire store. We always keep our Rand McNally atlas available which lists all of the Wal-Marts around the country. Isn't that thoughtful of them?

On Monday, May 12th we again traveled about 7 hours stopping periodically at rest areas. We enjoy reading the historical information sometimes posted around the buildings. We had planned to catch I-70 just south of Marshall, Missouri and start toward the west.

Missouri and Kansas are pretty but nothing we saw was spectacular. We enjoyed the colors of the fields of crops along the interstate. While the terrain changed the further west we got, the windier it got too. We ended up staying at another Wal-Mart in Salina, KS where we withstood winds of 50 MPH according to the local weather that we were able to pick up with our antenna. We could confirm that as the RV shook violently the entire night.

Before it got too late we did manage to fight the winds to make it into the Wal-Mart to stock up on a few items we realized we had left. As the winds continued, we tried to sleep when we could, waking throughout the night. I imagined the wind blowing us over and wished we weren't parked so close to that gigantic light pole...

We blew out of Salina Tuesday, May 13th and continued west toward Denver. We made very good time on I-70 despite the wind, however upon stopping at the Colorado Welcome Center, we were advised by the lady at the Welcome Center to leave I-70 and take Hwy. 50. She said there was a snowstorm forecasted for the Denver area.

After a short discussion out of her hearing range, of course, we decided not to take her advice and we would stay on the I-70 instead of getting off onto some unfamiliar two lane road with mountains. Having never driven in snow, it would probably be better to stay on a 4-lane interstate with exits, than a road through nowhere.

There was a pretty tree in the lobby decorated with lots of hand made flowers. Of course I had to take a picture of it. I suppose they decorate for the appropriate season. This still officially being Spring, a flower tree was in order. I wonder if it just
Tree at Colorado Welcome CenterTree at Colorado Welcome CenterTree at Colorado Welcome Center

The person at the desk says there may be snow!
a pain to take down so they found a way to display it year round.

It was early enough in the afternoon for us to make it to Denver with little or no traffic and with no weather related problems other than a little light rain. Although we could see snow capped mountains in the distance we never dreamed we would get close enough to touch the snow. It was so beautiful. But just like years before the snow was way out of reach. Just west of Denver however, the temperature started to drop and we suddenly started to notice snowflakes hitting the windshield so we immediately began looking for any campground sign!!!

After a few miles we saw a sign for Chief Hosa Campground and pulled in just as the snow started to really fall. I jumped out at the office and ran up to the window. The lady in the office asked, "Honey, where is your coat?" I hadn't really noticed yet that it WAS cold. I excitedly explained we were from South Louisiana and had never been around that much snow. She and her husband laughed.

There was a small herd
Chief Hosa CampgroundChief Hosa CampgroundChief Hosa Campground

There were elk grazing at the entrance
of Elk grazing just inside the campground as we were getting checked in and I managed to get a picture without them really noticing. After we hooked up the RV and put warmer clothes on, we went out to see the snow! It was AWESOME! We hiked a long way up a road leading into a state park then back down and around to a lodge that must have been closed for the summer months. It was a really nice looking place that has a great view of the snow capped mountains. By then the snow had stopped was rapidly starting to melt. But before heading back inside for the evening, we quickly built an LSU snowman. I also made a snowball and put it in our freezer. Our kind of souvenir!

The next morning Wednesday, May 14th, we left Chief Hosa Campground excited to be getting closer to Utah. We know we are almost to Arches National Park. At this point as you get closer to Utah, the interstate starts to change grades more and more. It is still a very nice drive.

Our trusty atlas shows that the highway to Arches National Park is

Our LSU snowman
very close to where we exit I-70 and we soon saw a sign for a campground named Archview Resort. They advertise WiFi and cable TV with a store stocked with all kinds of camping related items including snacks and groceries. Sounds right up our alley. While we secured a site for the night, there was a cute bunny playing in the campground by the office. There is also a colorful rose bush that I could not resist taking a picture of. We can instantly tell they are big on ATVs and 4-wheelers out here and there are many dirt roads and trails for them to ride. As far as us, we need to get some rest because in the morning we are going to Arches. So after supper and some late night TV, we retire for the night.

Thursday, May 15th, we left Archview Resort after deciding to secure another site for tonight. We know that we'll be tired after hiking through Arches and it is a good location central to Canyonlands as well. It is a little on the pricey side but we are in tourist land and prices are bound to be higher than your average campgrounds.

For the past ten years or so, it seems like every year when we discuss vacation, I am drawn to the west. People are friendly and there is so much wide open area. Living in the suburbs of Baton Rouge, we no longer have the luxury of the wide open land. While we are high in the mountains, it seems as though we can touch the clouds. We certainly don't have even the smallest of hills here in South Louisiana. No chance of getting any where near a cloud.

When we arrived at Arches, we started to make our way as far south as you can go. That is where the visitor's Center is. We looked around inside and got an idea of what our agenda would be for the day. There were so many people here and we were disappointed to find that the shuttles were not operating yet. Too early in the season. They are due to start up in about a week. Were are told Canyonlands is not running their shuttles yet either. Oh well, have RV~will drive.

We planned our next stop at The Three Gossips and Sheep Rock. The sheep was easy enough to spot before really looking at the map. While there a man struck up a conversation with us telling us some things to see and do. It seems we give off a "talk to us" vibe and I am never shy about starting a conversation either. We meet and talk to a lot of nice people that way. We saw Balanced Rock and then went toward the Windows Section and hiked a mile or two seeing the North and South Windows Arches, Turret Arch and Double Arch which are all fairly close together and all equally awesome! Still windy and a tiny bit cool early on, but I keep my lightweight, long sleeved shirt to throw on for the hikes. Arches National Park was truly amazing. It still seems so windy out west this year, more so than I remember in recent years.

When we were finished with our morning hiking it was hot so we had some lunch in the comfort of our air conditioned RV before heading back north toward Delicate Arch. I thought that was the one that we always see when they talk about Arches NP but turns out the one I was thinking of is Landscape Arch. On our way toward Landscape Arch, we passed a cool looking ranch called Wolfe Ranch and made it to Delicate Arch parking area. It was about a 3 mile hike to Delicate Arch but we brought water along and had no problems. We spotted a number of different desert flowers. I love to take pictures of the flowers (and I did).

Then we headed further north toward the end of the park to the famous Landscape Arch. We saw the Firey Furnace Viewpoint and the Salt Valley Overlook. Landscape Arch was definitely the best arch in my opinion. Back in 1991, some tourists witnessed a large portion of it break off and fall. It looks like the next break will collapse the entire arch so we wanted to be able to see it before that happens.

It was less than a 2 mile hike to that arch but was the nicest because the winds were blocked for a good bit of the hike. Still hot now but we brought water along. We were amazed at the ages of some of the people hiking these places. We hope that will be us in another 20 years.

By that time it was getting late so we headed back to the RV and drove back to our campground. The site we were assigned for tonight is a premium site because all of the others were previously reserved, but it gave us an unbelievable view of the Arches NP in the distance. We could actually see the Windows Arches from our back window. For just about $4.00 more, we had a much larger site with an awesome view. We were thinking early to mid May is still early in the vacation season but evidently not, so we were lucky to get a site at all.

After supper we took off walking to check out a trail we had seen on the way in to the campground, but turns out it is an ATV trail so instead we decided to go over to the campground store for some chocolate and just hang out in the RV. We walked outside a couple of times but it was just too windy to stay outdoors for long. The stars were so beautiful that we would have enjoyed being able to sit out and drink a couple of beers. We just don't have those stars in the city back home. But we had to be content to gaze at them through the windows from inside.

The next day, Friday, May 16th, we left Archview Resort and headed toward Canyonlands National Park. It is not a far drive, just far enough to enjoy the views and we were there in no time. We decided to drive all the way as far as we could in the upper portion of Canyonlands, to the Grand View Point Overlook and the sights were amazing. We continued on toward Mesa Arch and we were so happy the winds seem to have calmed a bit today.

We hiked a short way to Mesa Arch and then on to Upheaval Dome which is either a salt dome that collapsed or where a meteor hit. No one knows for certain but seeing it seems to be that more likely than not, it was a salt dome collapse. I prefer to think meteor, just because it seems more dramatic. Then we hiked about 1 mile up to and on top of Whale Rock. That was my favorite so far here at Canyonlands. The ascent was only about a hundred feet but most of that was over slick rock.

It was relatively easy to hike and interestingly along the way there were huge paw prints in the rocks and we assume it must be ancient dinosaur tracks. We figure the rock must have been sand mounds at one time, which hardened over time. That part just blew me away. If you ever go to Canyonlands, do not miss Whale Rock. While on top of the Rock enjoying the view, we saw so many cars stop, people would get out, snap a picture and then drive on. They really don't know what they’ve missed. We hiked back down and I took some pictures of lizards along the trail.

I had unrealistic ideas of somehow making it to The Needles and The Maze sections of Canyonlands but they are so remote, and we don't think we can make it in an RV. We would have to rent a jeep or some other off road vehicle. Time just won't allow that if we want to see Bryce and Zion.

We ended up leaving out of Canyonlands around 4:00 pm so we could find a campground for the night. It stays light out here until around 9 pm and I hoped to find a campground with a decent internet connection. I really need to upload our photos to Snapfish before some crazy unforeseen catastrophe causes me to lose our pictures. I definitely have to have our pictures of the snow in Denver.

We saw a billboard for KOA about 30 miles from where we need to turn to head south to Bryce Canyon so we exited the interstate. We don't stay in a lot of KOA's because they tend to be more expensive than the mom and pop campgrounds we often find. After exiting the interstate we saw a sign for a family steakhouse, so we decided to stop and eat, that way we could take our time hooking up and settling in for the night.

The food was good (hamburgers and fries) and the service was ok. We pulled in to the campground around 7:00 pm and got a site for the night. This place was virtually empty and our assigned space is nice. We have a neighbor two sites down and one a row or two over. The lawns here at Richfield KOA are immaculate which we really appreciate. The lawn areas must be some type of drought resistant Bermuda and it looks as if they cut the stuff with scissors. I mean absolutely gorgeous despite the dry conditions around us. We set up our bar-b-que pit and Randy grilled steaks while I microwaved some potatoes and pork and beans. We sipped a couple of mini Coors Lights and enjoyed the evening. Not quite as windy this evening but still blowing.

Later as we prepare for our showers, Randy pushed the hot water heater switch to heat our water for showers. Since he unstopped our shower drain, we both prefer our shower to campground showers. Randy tells me the switch isn't lighting and he'll have to figure out what has happened. The only thing I knew was that it worked perfectly the night before and nothing different had been done other than topping off our propane before we left Archview. Randy checked everything, fuses, connections, whether it would operate on generator as opposed to shore power, but nothing worked. Reluctantly we gathered our toiletries and clothes and
KOA Richfield, UTKOA Richfield, UTKOA Richfield, UT

This place was beautiful!
headed to the KOA showers. They were very nice but it took me a while to get the water just right. Too cold~now too hot...Randy said his was great. Maybe it's just a "woman thing".

After our showers we went over everything again on the hot water heater reading and racking our brains trying to solve our problem. We found the furnace worked and the oven worked, just not our hot water heater switch. We read and re-read over every piece of info we have and nothing helped. We decided we would have to stay and try to find a repair place to look at it tomorrow. We need to continue to be self-contained just in case we can't find a campground one night. Being that tomorrow is Saturday we don't know where to look.

Saturday, May 17th, still from the Richfield, Utah KOA we got up, we re-read all the troubleshooting stuff, AGAIN, and still nothing worked. I looked on Google for Atwood Water Heaters and naturally they are closed today, but I called and left a message. All of the things I researched on the RV forums, seemed to lead us to believe that it had to be an electrical thing and nothing we could re-set or replace ourselves. Randy looked at the advertisements in the KOA info sheet they give you when you check in, and saw a place advertising 24-7 repair service for RV’s and other vehicles. We called Red Truck & Auto Repair but got a machine and left a message.

Meanwhile while waiting for someone to call back, we decide it is a good time to do some laundry. The message on Red Truck & Auto Repair’s recording says they will call back shortly...but after doing the washing and drying, we still had not heard back from them so Randy said he was going to call the other place listed in the booklet, Jorgensen's. They answered promptly and listened while I explained our problem. The young man said to bring our RV right on over and they would take a look. He gave great directions.

We found them about a mile away and were warmly greeted and asked how they could be of help. As we were telling the 1st guy about our problem, another guy walked up and the man we were talking with said
Couldn't get enough Couldn't get enough Couldn't get enough

We hiked to several different Arches but the wind finally got the best of us and we called it a day.
that the other guy would check it out and he would be right back to get our info. We told the 2nd guy what was going on and then the 1st guy game back to get our name and vehicle info and then he walked back to where the 2nd guy was, spoke to him a second or two and walked back and told us our circuit board was blown. He didn't say it but we figure we got a spike of electricity when we hooked in last night. Meanwhile the 2nd guy had already tested the circuit board and was holding a replacement in his hand.

It would cost us around $170.00 but they had the board in stock and could put it on right then. It took him about 30 seconds to plug the new one back in and fired the heater up! The service department waived their 30 minute minimum labor charge (THANK YOU Jorgensen's!!!) and we were on our way for less than $200.00! We thanked them profusely and headed to find a surge protector so that won't happen again.

Despite looking all over Richfield we cannot find the surge protector so we head back to the KOA after stopping at McDonald's for a quick burger, fries and a ice cold Coke! We made it back to the campground and have hooked up again, and so far we still have a functioning hot water heater. The service technician did tell us that our new circuit board has a fuse so if it happens again, we can change out a 2 amp fuse instead of replacing the board. I wonder why they didn't have that technology in 1995 when this was built?

So once again all is good and we are self contained and will head to Bryce Canyon tomorrow to do some serious hiking. So far we have only logged 9 miles in Arches and Canyonlands combined. We are saving our energy for Bryce Canyon!

Being so early in the afternoon we were beginning to get bored. Upon checking in at the KOA, we saw they have the mini golf out front so I began to try to talk Randy into playing. He agreed and off we went. I started out doing well and then Randy did well and I think he beat me by 3 or 4

This was taken standing directly under the arch

Now going back to the RV so I can try to upload pictures to Snapfish. Hopefully our connection holds out. It has been a rather low connection. Life is GREAT and we have hot water! Showers in our RV tonight. We are very blessed.

We were up early on Sunday, May 18th, and ready to leave KOA of Richfield, so excited to be headed to Bryce Canyon. This is the National Park that we really want to see. However, when we went to crank the RV, it wouldn't start. We had noticed it was slow to start yesterday but decided it was because we had left the outside light on the whole day we were hiking at Canyonlands. Now we know that was not the case. I headed to the office to see if someone might be around and could give us a jump while Randy cleaned and tightened on our battery terminals. The place is now empty except for us.

The nice lady in the office told me to go find her husband and he would be glad to give us a jump. He was over in one of the cabins cleaning and preparing for new tenants, and said he would go get his truck and be right around. Nice people everywhere out west.

Despite trying for quite a while to jump it off, the thing would not start. So, we were back to the information sheet that we used to find our hot water heater repair people, and tried calling the only other mechanic listed which was Mike's Automotive Repair. They list a 24 hr emergency number. As it was Sunday, we crossed our fingers and I called. A man answered and I explained our problem. He said he was about 20 minutes from the KOA and he would come right over and take a look. Those sheets sure come in handy not only for the tv channel guides and rules for the campground, but also very helpful stuff. Again, nice people everywhere.

Sure enough, about 20 minutes later a truck pulls in and a man gets out and introduces himself as Mike. He and Randy talk their man to man mechanic talk, and then they try to start it. Mike crawls under and asks for a small hammer in his truck. I grabbed it for him and
Paunsagaunt Wildlife Museum Paunsagaunt Wildlife Museum Paunsagaunt Wildlife Museum

just before Bryce Canyon. Well worth the few $$ to get in. You can spend hours looking & learning.
he taps underneath and tells Randy to try starting it and VAROOM~it fires right up....STARTER IS OUT...Sooooo, we follow Mike to his shop and lucky for us and convenient for him, his shop is right behind a Checkers Auto Parts which has our starter in stock. We hang out in the parking area of his deserted shop (It's Sunday) while Mike works away in his garage. He has that starter installed within the hour and once again, thanks to the kindness of strangers doing what they do best, we are on the way to Bryce Canyon.

As we headed south towards Bryce, the scenery began to change to the red rocks and then the rocks began to look like rock people. Despite being about an hour behind schedule, we decided to stop at this neat looking museum that Randy noticed and had Butterflies mentioned on their sign. It was only a few miles from the Bryce Canyon area where we plan to find a campground.

Randy knows I love butterflies, and we have visited several butterfly habitats, the nicest being in Canada, so we whipped into the place. The sign says we are at Paunsagaunt Wildlife Museum. They exhibit more than 300 animals from around the world in their natural habitat. Of course, unbeknownst to us from the sign, they are all stuffed.

There were 2 floors of bugs and butterflies mixed in amongst the animals, that were so beautiful. Who knew bugs could be so colorful? The exhibits are so cleverly designed that I wasn't too very sad that all the animals were dead. However I much prefer shooting the wildlife with the camera as opposed to a gun or bow. I know others differ in opinions but that is just how I feel.

We met Robert, who said he and his wife Teri own and operate this awesome place. He was a most pleasant man and was really proud of the collection they have put together for the people to view. There is a lovely gift shop as you enter, then you pay your small fee to tour the museum. Robert and Teri have moved from Las Vegas to open this museum and what a wonderful job they have done. We spent way more time than we had actually planned on, but it was just amazing to see the collection of things they have in their museum. There were several newspaper articles in one section on the top floor, that told all about how Robert and Teri started their museum. Also displayed were various Native American items, including some beaded pieces that were simply gorgeous! What hardworking and great people Robert and Teri are to share this place with us!

After pulling back onto the highway toward Bryce Canyon, we saw a sign for Ruby's RV Park & Campground and we pulled in around 6:00 pm and just in time to secure one of the last pull thru sites available. Ruby's is a fairly large place but the sites very cramped and very unlevel. After we got to our site, we watched some guy with a pull-behind circle the campground three times trying to back into his site. His site backed up to the lake, so one wrong move and SPLASH...(He made it). We were thrilled to be close to Bryce so we can head out early in the morning. Rather than cook, we would check out the restaurant at Ruby's Inn.

We were seated promptly and Randy went to check out the buffet. I am a lot more picky than he is but I figured I could at least fill up on salad if nothing else appealed to me. We both agreed at the end of the meal that despite being pretty pricey, it wasn't the worst place we've eaten, but certainly not the best either.

We walked back toward the campground through the parking lot of the motel. They must have 5,000 rooms total. We noticed there is a cool Old Town across from the restaurant and motel so we took a few minutes to walk over and look around.

There was a large rock shop and we love rocks so of course we went in to look around. We wandered out back where they have all of the larger rocks and stone and looked around there. Whew, it got hot quickly and before long we headed back indoors. We enjoy looking at all of the crystals and gems that hide inside ugly dark rocks. It is so amazing to think you could step over one while hiking and never know it.

After an hour or so, we started back to the campsite and prepared for our showers. I thought Randy was joking when he said the hot water heater wasn't lighting. We had just had it repaired and it worked great the night before. We looked at everything and finally decided something had blown another fuse and we would only have to replace it. We both decided it was too late to try and find the campground showers so we both went without showers that night. We would find a 2 amp fuse somewhere tomorrow, replace the blown one and try to get the problem traced down when we get home.

On Monday, May 19th, after a quick breakfast, we headed down the road toward Bryce Canyon. I found out the night before last at the KOA, that the part I brought to download pictures from the camera to the laptop, is the wrong part. I do this every year. I looked online and found a electronics store in the little town close to Bryce. So we went in to town and buy a cord and more digital camera batteries to reduce the time I am spending charging our others. A young man waited on us as soon as we walked in and he had our part and batteries in minutes flat! And service with a smile. We bought another memory card just to be certain I don't overload the one we have and he tested it in our camera to be sure it worked. It did and off we went. We were both excited to see Bryce Canyon. Randy and his family had driven the road to Bryce but had never gone into the Park or hiked any of the trails. I have never been here period so all I had to go by was pictures. My expectations were high and neither of us were disappointed.

When we got to the entrance to Bryce Canyon we planned to head straight south to the end of the park and make our way back to the north. We drove down to Sunset Point which appears to be one of the last parts that RV’s can travel to. We parked and packed our water for the hike. We chose the Queen's Garden/Navajo Combination Loop which says it is about 3 miles and then hike back on the rim to the original stating point. It was a nice hike but very hot. A guy on the trail asked if we had enough water
Queen VictoriaQueen VictoriaQueen Victoria

It was so bright outside that this picture turned out funny
and didn't seem convinced when we said we did. We hiked down to Queen's Garden and the rock that looks like Queen Victoria in really awesome! There were several friendly chipmunks hanging around the one or two shade trees that were at the end of that trail. Several families were having lunch and snacks and resting for the walk back. Randy and I chose to continue on the Navajo Loop as did a few others.

The Hoodoos were so beautiful it is hard to describe. The pictures really don't do justice to the sights your eyes see. We stopped a few times to rest under a tree and keep hydrated but other than that, we just walked and enjoyed the trails. When we got back to the top there was a guy taking a picture of his wife or girlfriend so I offered to take one of both of them. He reciprocated and so we have another picture of both of us!

We hiked back along the rim until we got back to Sunset Point where the RV was parked and went in to turn up the AC! After that, we drove on to see the last of our Bryce Canyon tour, which is Fairyland Loop. We were told by someone to make sure we saw that area because it is just inside the National Park but outside the Visitor's Center so people tend to miss it. We had also missed it on the way in but saw it as we passed. It was only about a mile to the lookout and we got some great pictures. There was a young deer we saw on the way back out to the main highway and he just watched me as I took his picture.

It was early afternoon by then so we want to head for Zion and find a place there so we can set up camp for a few days and hike the 14 mile trail we saw in the brochure. Along the way we stopped at several stores trying to find the 2 amp fuse we needed for our hot water heater, to no avail.

We wished we had time to see Capitol Reef but knew it wasn't in the plan this year. It just seems so wrong to have 5 National Parks so close but yet so far. The mountain roads just aren't like traveling on flat road and it takes more time to drive them. We were ecstatic to pull off a 3 week vacation this year but 4 weeks would be cutting it too close. Our daughter is starting medical school August 11th, and we have to get back home to help her find a place and get settled in. She has a 3 week trip to Europe planned with 2 of her college buddies as soon as we get back home. This is her first real vacation as an adult because she always worked during spring break in high school and college.

We went through several tunnels and admired the beautiful scenery when we saw the sign for Zion National Park. I snapped a picture from the RV and we continued on toward the visitor's center. Suddenly, on Randy's side, I saw BUFFALO! At first I thought they were cows because it seemed like cows and deer were all the large animals we are seeing this trip. Randy turned and sure enough, he confirmed there was a small herd of buffalo grazing on the hills. We pulled over and I tried to get pictures but they were so
Unexpected SurpriseUnexpected SurpriseUnexpected Surprise

We thought these were cows and suddenly realized they were buffalo
far off and I think in the excitement of the moment, I forgot to zoom!

We continued on and saw the sign for the fee area to pay to go in. We had purchased the passport so we now have free entry to all the National Parks and several other National monuments for one year. It was $80.00 but Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce and Zion would be close to that amount, so why not just get the pass and hope we can make it to more National Parks before next May 21st . When we pulled up to the guard shack, we handed him the pass but he informs us we will have to pay an extra $15.00 because our RV is too wide and tall to make the tunnel without them having to "escort" us. I had read about this is the brochure for Zion but had determined that our RV was small enough to fit without any problems. WRONG~according to the Ranger.

So we paid the $15.00 and proceeded on toward the infamous tunnel. Sure enough, about 2 miles down there was a tunnel and a guard shack with a guard. She put out the orange cone down for us to stop and we handed her our pass for our escort. It was then we learned that it isn't actually an escort, but that they have to clear the tunnel from the other side, and then stop them in order for us to proceed down the middle. There is no actual escort.

As she is explaining this to Randy, I suddenly feel the RV missing and I could swear it was killing. I told Randy, "the RV is killing" and he said "no, it's just running quiet" and then-it did die, just as she is telling us it is clear to go. Randy told her that our RV just killed and we would need to try to pull over into the lot on the opposite side of the road where hikers park to hike a nearby trail. Luckily it started, but was missing badly. It killed twice before he could maneuver into the other lane and back up enough to get in to the lot. The Ranger had to back the vehicles behind us so we would have enough room.

After just barely making it off the roadway, we killed again. Not in a parking spot but nevertheless, off the road. We started saying we were so lucky it didn't kill IN the tunnel instead of where it did. A different ranger, a man, came over to see what was going on. We told him and Randy said he thinks it's the fuel pump because it did that to us 2 years ago in Tucamcari, New Mexico when it was so hot and we had to climb up and down all those high mountains. We told him we were going to sit for a while and let it cool off. He went on back toward the guard shack to assist the lady Ranger while we let the RV cool some.

After about 20 minutes, Randy tried to crank it and move it closer into an actual parking spot but after moving just a few feet, it killed. Suddenly, no power steering, no brakes, no nothing. We stopped a foot or so from the edge of a huge drop off. Now it is time to worry. We can't even go a few feet much less through a mile and a half tunnel if we were lucky enough to even get it running for more than
unforeseen troublesunforeseen troublesunforeseen troubles

Nothing major-fuel pump. Replaced it at Ramsay's Repair in Kanab, UT
30 seconds. If we broke down in the tunnel, there would be no way for anyone to make it around us, and both sides would be blocked. Randy decides to go talk to the Ranger again and see what he suggests. After talking a few minutes, he returns to tell me that the next town is not too far past the tunnel but several miles of winding, steep roads and if the power goes, no telling what would happen. So at this point we start considering a tow truck.

We walked back to the Ranger and told him we would need to contact a tow company since there was absolutely no cell phone service where we were. He asked if we had AAA and we said no, just cash. Suddenly, one of us remembered we had taken out Emergency Road Service through State Farm the month before our trip. With our RV getting up in age, we figured it was a good investment. Funny how we almost did not even remember having purchased tow coverage!

So we give the Ranger our insurance card and he calls for his dispatcher to get State Farm on the line. They ok our tow insurance and the dispatcher calls for a tow truck. We were told that they had to come from a town called Kanab which was about an hour away. We waited in the RV for about half an hour then tried to maneuver the RV into a space that would be easier for the tow truck to hook it up. It killed again and Randy barely managed to get it backed out of the way.

And that’s where it sat. We went and sat across the street by the guard shack and continued our chat with the male Ranger. He was very nice and had some interesting stories to share. He used to be a cross country truck driver and had been through a lot of places including Louisiana. He knew about crawfish and our good ole southern cooking.

Then, sure enough, about an hour on the dot, we see a tow truck in line to get up to the parking area where we were. A guy hops out and introduces himself as Nick Ramsay. We have a friend named Nick so I felt better (a little...) Nick is the owner of Ramsay Towing and in no time he had our Four Winds hooked up and ready for the hour ride to Kanab. Nick talked and we talked, just sharing stories of traveling. He was a super nice guy. He told us he has a shop in Kanab and he will get the RV checked out first thing in the morning. Meanwhile, he said we could hook up at "Ramsay Campground" and stay in our RV for the night. Thank goodness for his generosity because we knew no one or no where to stay in Kanab.

This was my first ride in a tow truck and I was so worried our RV would come off and fall down a mountain or something. Nick was a great driver but I still worried. He stopped after the first long climb up one mountain to check his straps and hook-ups and reported to us that all was well. We got to his shop around 6:30 pm and Nick pulled out his extension cord to hook us up. He said we would be safe as the Sheriff's Department, City Police and State Troopers offices were all right there in our area.

As he was leaving we noticed a McDonald’s several blocks away so we decided to hike the few blocks and get Big Macs rather than cook. It was maybe 4 or 5 blocks and with the high winds that continued, it was quite a walk. We ate wonderful, hot, fresh hamburgers and hot fresh fries as well. We never get food that fresh and hot at our local McDonald’s. By the time we finished eating it was dark so we walked back to the RV. We saw a Radio Shack that may have our 2 amp fuse since none of the convenience stores along the way have sold anything that small. Sign says they open at 9:00 am and Nick opens at 8:00. Maybe we will get lucky and they will have our fuse.

Since we were right smack in the middle of town, I thought I would try to see if there were any wireless internet connections close and guess what? There was! HELLO-wireless connection says "Internet-courtesy of Larry". How kind of Larry. I was able to upload a lot of our pictures to Snapfish and IM Kim and let her know where we were. When I typed in that we were broke down and at a repair facility, she typed back a question mark and sad face so I called her on the cell phone to let her know we really were OK.

After an exhausting day we turned in after Letterman (pretty good TV reception) so we could be up and ready for 8 am. I set the cell phone alarm for 7 and personally, I slept pretty good. We awoke to the cell phone alarm at 7 and prepared to move to the work shop for 8.

On Tuesday, May 20th, from Ramsay RV Park, :-) while watching the morning shows, we start seeing movement right about 8 am. The night before, Nick had told us he had an early appointment away from the shop but he had called his son Jake, and he would get us taken care of first thing. We walked around outside for a while until saw the young man with Jake on his shirt pocket. He told us they would get the fuel pump tested right away and let us know what they find.

We waited out front of Ramsay's and watched people begin to trickle out from houses and motels along the street. Ramsay's had an electric sign in the front of his store that gives store info and time, temp, etc. and we watched as the temperature rise from 80 degrees at 8 am to 96 by 9 am! We were amazed at the climb, but the body said it wasn't lying.

Jake came around front and said that they could replace the filter but that it could be the pump itself. It was testing ok right then but we decided not to take any more chances. We had already replaced the fuel filter two years ago in Tucamcari so chances were that it WAS the fuel pump. After giving Jake the OK to change both, we started back toward McDonald’s for a biscuit and orange juice. We couldn't stay in the RV while they were working on removing the gasoline tank so it gave me a great excuse to have my favorite~McDonald’s again.

Our still windy, and now very hot walk was worth it. We ate slowly and continued to people watch as we ate. We sat outside so we wouldn't tie up a table inside for too long. McDonald’s always has the nicest landscaping and this location was no exception. I fed a couple of pieces of biscuit to some birds that were looking for breakfast, then we headed back to Ramsay's. We sat back out front for a while until the heat was most unpleasant and we went inside. On the walls were pictures and more pictures of all kinds of crazy accidents where Ramsay's Towing assisted in pulling, wenching, cutting and towing all types of vehicles; cars, trucks, motorcycles, 18-wheelers, from deep ravines, off sides of mountains and even out of creeks. Check out their website for pictures at:

Meanwhile Nick had made it back from his appointment and noticed us looking at the photos, he commented that none of the pictures on his wall involved fatalities, which I was glad to hear. What a hard job that must be and dangerous too. They seem very professional and hard working people. I guess about 1 pm, they came and told us we were ready to go. They had tested and everything was great. We paid a very reasonable bill for a fuel filter and pump and headed out of Kanab, UT.

After a lengthy discussion weighing pros and cons of traveling back to Zion National Park, we both agreed that we do not want to risk any more mechanical problems, and we still need a 2 amp fuse, so we reluctantly decide to head south, out of the mountains and will take I-40 east. We were damned tired of the wind by then. It seems we are spending more time on repairs, though mostly small ones, and we weren't seeing as much as we could. Our 1995 Four Winds, despite being in really great shape, was beginning to show it's age. Mountains can really be stressful on vehicles even when they are properly maintained.

We had heard about a "mini Grand Canyon" in Amarillo so we thought we could make up for the hiking we missed in Zion and not have so much wind and the mountains less strenuous. We remember there was an AWESOME RV PARK in Amarillo that we stayed at last year on our way back to Baton Rouge to get Landan, one of our grandsons. We had seen their sign on the interstate for the RV park last June and we were tired and decided to stop. When we had pulled off the main road to the entrance we figured we were way out of our league. This place was huge, immaculate, and gorgeous! No way we were going to be able to afford this, even for one night.

As we looked at the office, which is a beautiful large building itself, we figured it couldn't hurt to ask. After all, it was almost deserted. So we went in and were greeted kindly by a gentleman about our age. One of us said something like, "we are tired and traveling through, but probably can't afford this place", and the guy asked if we could afford $25.00 and we said absolutely, so we had a campground (RESORT!!).

This place was fine and he had selected us a spot way back by ourselves. They have WiFi, cable, free laundry, an exercise room, a huge activity/clubhouse and several other bath houses around the complex. They have 2 hot tubs and a beautiful pool. We could not figure out how they make money at $25.00 a pop.

I do remember we had a fierce storm that night and the RV shook violently for several hours until the storm passed and we left the next morning to continue
After one of our hikesAfter one of our hikesAfter one of our hikes

We were hot! This was after the Queen's Garden/Navajo Loop trail
toward Baton Rouge. We both wanted to make sure that we stayed there a couple of days this trip to relax from all the previous days and repairs.

We take Hwy 89 toward Page, Arizona and I know we will be passing by the Grand Canyon. I can feel it calling us...We had such an amazing trip last Summer at the South Rim, where we hiked down to the bottom on the South Kaibab Trail and back up the Bright Angel Trail. We spent the night at the campground at the bottom and hiked out the next day-with NO SLEEP, but that's another story. It is our first travelblog named Grand Canyon Adventure.

We continued south on Hwy 89 until Flagstaff where we caught I-40. We passed through Winslow, Arizona as we do most vacations and STILL didn't catch the exit to stop at the "corner in Winslow, Arizona" for a photo. We had to get out of this wind. In Joseph City we saw a Love's Travel Stop and we stopped to see if they had our fuse. The clerk helped us locate a pack of fuses and finally there was one 2 amp fuse! YES! Of course we had to buy the whole pack to get the 2 amp but we'll just add it to our collection of miscellaneous fuses. We were both very happy now and piled back into the RV making it as far as Holbrook, AZ where we found a super nice place, OK RV Park on Roadrunner Road. The lady in the office was very kind and gave us a great site for the night. We used our Good Sam discount here and it was $27.00 for the night including WiFi and cable.

Things have really gone up and we sure never counted on these campgrounds charging so much for their sites. But we know that just like everyone else, they are affected by the rising price of fuel and electricity. This being said, it is a very nice place, more like a resort. We just hate paying that kind of money just to stay overnight.

We got hooked up and rushed to put in our new fuse and voila'----no light. No light, no hot water so obviously it wasn't the fuse after all. The one we removed certainly didn't look blown either. Disappointed, we packed up our shower stuff and made our way through the wind to the bath house and had WONDERFUL SHOWERS.

After showering and eating, we were able to catch Letterman, then Ferguson and get a good night of rest. I will call Jorgenson's tomorrow and tell them the water heater is not functioning and the fuse is not the problem, and see what they advise.

The next morning, Wednesday, May 21st, we awoke and prepared to continue head east toward another of our favorite RV parks. Enchanted Trails (ET) in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have stayed there a couple of nights at a time on our last two trips out west. It has got to be one of the best in the country. There are several teardrop trailers that I believe must belong to the owners. They are there every time we go and in the same spots. They have matching cars and are absolutely adorable. Way too small for us, but really cute. They have a nice laundry, game room, snack machines, and a really nice pool too but it is always to windy to swim. We fought and I mean fought the wind mile after mile to Albuquerque.

Conveniently located is a Camping World right next door and Jorgenson's says to let them take a look at the hot water heater problem. There is also a nice casino that has a Hungry Cowboy Buffet and Randy likes the place. We always remember it being better than it actually is, but I can always fill up on salad and rolls if all else fails. We see a sign that says Wednesday is two for one buffets and we are starving. Sometimes we just drive straight through lunch, occasionally snacking on chips or nuts, and make up for it with our evening meal. We did this today in hopes of making it out of this freaking wind as soon as possible. I drive some but it is unbelievably hard. Trucks are weaving around and especially the ones that must have been empty. We watch ed time and time again as their trailers come closer and closer to us. They push us, unintentionally of course, and we fight to keep as straight as possible. Some gusts feel like they will push us over. We are so tired when we finally make it to the outskirts of Albuquerque where
What made this?  This is in rockWhat made this?  This is in rockWhat made this? This is in rock

And there were lots more
the casino is located. The exit for the casino will take you to the service road that follows I-40 and straight to Enchanted Trails, It is about 6 miles between the two exits, but since we need Camping World, and it is almost 3 PM, we decide to stay on the interstate and exit at the next one and come back just a short way to Camping World.

The wind continues to blow and seems much stronger as we turned back west toward Camping World. We pull in to their parking lot and shut off the engine and take a breath. Now we have to go OUTSIDE which is a chore because the door keeps wanting to fly off. I decide I'll be smart and just go out the cab door but once I finally manage to open the it, the work order and receipt for our hot water heater, that I need to show Camping World, flies out of my hand and blows across the parking lot.

Luckily after blowing that several hundred yards, it lodges against the chain link fence at the far end of the parking lot. I grab it and turn back toward the RV just in time to see Randy standing at the back of the RV holding some long white strip. I am wondering why he is picking up this trim off the parking lot but when I got close to him to be heard over the wind I asked, "what are you doing" and he proceeds to show me that this trim belongs to us. It is our stripping along the roof and it has blown off! The only part left attached was from the roof to the bottom where the ladder is. We look at each other and all we could do was LAUGH! After all we have been through, this was the kicker. We just laughed and laughed for a minute or two and didn't know what else to do but tie it onto the ladder and run inside for shelter from the horrendous winds.

Once inside, after gaining our composure, I see three or four people standing around. I figured they must have witnessed the entire incident and all Randy and I could do was laugh again. We stood there just inside the front door not believing what we just went through with that wind. We determined that when we turned back Westward, the winds just took and ripped the stripping off. The vehicles behind us on the service road to Camping World, must've thought it pretty funny seeing us from behind...with our stripping flapping fifteen feet behind us.

So we now face still having the hot water heater switch repaired and NOW having to repair the stripping that came off. This stripping was not new but it should have been considering State Farm paid Fun Time RV in Baton Rouge a lot of money to replace our roof that was damaged last August during a severe thunderstorm. I feel that they should have used new stripping and the glue would probably have held, even with the high winds.

We stood there right smack in the middle of the Service Department and the RV Sales and kept debating whether to go on with the original plan of repair, or bite the bullet and look for the new one we have been wanting. We planned to wait until closer to full-timing before buying our new ond but they have a huge selection of Four Winds on the front of their lot and that is just what we are looking for.

After 10 minutes or so of discussion, we went on to the Service Department to get the repairs underway, after all if we did decide to seriously consider a new one, we would need the best price on a trade in and ours is in very good condition.

We see one man working at the row of desks in the service department so we walk over toward him. After completing his telephone call, he took our information and set us up for service for 8am on Thursday. We were planning to stay at Enchanted Trails for the night anyway, but we were hoping it would be with our own hot water, now it was not going to happen like that. Oh well, ET has wonderful showers.

After leaving the service department we headed back toward the main door at the entrance to Camping World and RV Sales and started the discussion of the "new RV" and as we were standing there, probably still looking dazed, a lady spoke up about how she witnessed our arrival earlier and how stuff like that happens when you RV and that she liked our attitudes (laughing our butts off instead of crying). I smiled and asked how many people also saw our little episode, and the lady smiled back and said "about four of us", and then laughed again. The lady's husband appeared from around the corner and proceeded to point to an older model RV in the parking lot a row or two over from ours, that is missing it's DOOR. Yes, their door flew off when they opened it here at CW. Thank goodness we went out our cab doors which was a chore anyway to open against that wind. Otherwise, with our luck, they would have had 2 units to repair doors on.

A moment or two later, a man standing behind the counter as you enter the building, kind of jokingly said to let him show us some new RV's and so we took him up on it. After all, it couldn't hurt to look, especially when they had all those beautiful Four Winds out front. So we hopped in the golf cart as the man introduced himself as Walt. He drove us around to the front row of the dealership which fronts the service road. He

Our new Jayco Grey Hawk Sport
asked us about our likes and dislikes and we told him the main requirement was that the new RV has to have a bed in the rear and preferably a walk around.

We started off with the first unit, then the second, and so on down the row of 20 or so RV's but none of the Four Winds seemed to meet our needs. They all were either much too long, (as we had settled on no more than 30'), or they had slides, (we decided for us, no slides~too much more $ for the few feet of extra room that we don't need) or they had this wood grain console, or one with a dinette and captain's chair (we want the dinette and the couch).

So we looked and looked until we finally agreed to look at some of the other models just to see what they offer. We went in and out of each and every single RV on that Class C lot and by then it was getting pretty late in the evening. In fact it was past 7 pm and time to call it a day. Another day we missed lunch and never
Rainbow over Camping World & RV SalesRainbow over Camping World & RV SalesRainbow over Camping World & RV Sales

After we bought our RV. The most brillant Rainbow I have ever seen.
made it to the Hungry Cowboy Buffet. The CW Service dept. gave us an 8 am appt for our RV to be repaired so we headed over to Enchanted Trails for the night.

The resort office had closed but we found a wonderful, level site and while Randy hooked up, I went to the office to make our night drop and then made it back through the wind to the RV. After a long day checking out RV's we were very tired, so we ate, showered at ET and hit the sack as soon after Letterman was over. We did catch the monologue of Craig Ferguson. He is pretty funny. Where we live in Baton Rouge, we have to wait until 12:30 am for that show because our local CBS channel chooses to put re-runs of Friends on after Letterman. So, we never stay up late enough to catch Craig Ferguson at home. Maybe it is because of the taping and them being on the west coast and us in Central Time Zone.

Thursday morning, May 22nd , at 7 am, the cell phone alarm sounds and that gives us just enough time to drink coffee, eat a quick breakfast and unhook to make it next door for 8 am. Having arrived with 10 minutes to spare, we checked in with the service department and waited for Walt to get there. He was actually supposed to be off today but came in to try to complete the mission of finding a new RV for us.

We started over again, looking at one unit after the other. I must say Walt must be the most patient man (other than Randy) because we probably went through most of the same ones we saw Wednesday. After a couple of hours of looking, we went back inside to look at some of the models in their brochures. As we were comparing specifications on several models we were joined by a guy named Joseph who asked if we had looked at the Jayco units. We told him that we had declined Walt's invitation to check those because we were so sure we wanted a Four Winds. Joseph asked us to just go take a look and that they had one 2007 on the lot and it did not have slides. Since it was their last 2007, they would be willing to really make us an offer we could not refuse.

We headed back to the golf cart rode back out to the lot where the Jayco units were located and began to look at this 2007. While it did have the Queen bed in the rear, it did NOT have the wood panel console, it does have the couch and the dinette, lots of underneath outside storage...but no window in the rear. We really like the windows after all when you are traveling, it's all about the views. After extensive examination of inside and outside, we like pretty much EVERYTHING else except the no back window. Walt and Joseph say it is a almost a twin to the Chateau Sport which is a Thor brand (same manufacturer of Four Winds) that we are very fond of. After the test drive, we were sold. Now for the hard part...

We went inside to the finance office to talk some numbers and after them agreeing to throw in the cover, a flat panel TV for the bedroom and a rear camera (no window in back), we agree that we are buying a NEW RV!! Now comes the realization that we are thousands of miles away from home and our bank. We start the process of calling our local bank and securing the financing to buy the new RV. Our banker, Angela tells us the money will be transferred to the dealership's account within 2 hours or so. That means we will return to Enchanted Trails for the night, and take ownership of our new RV Friday morning.

Sometime during the evening, Randy realizes that he never got his driver's license back from when they copied it for the sale. We just hoped someone had it safely in a desk or something. Again the alarm is set for 7 am and it was sure hard trying to sleep, but before you know, it was time to get up and get next door to Albuquerque RV.

On Friday, May 23rd, when we got to Albuquerque RV it was right at 8 am and everyone greeted us as we noticed Randy's name on the sign indicating he was the proud owner of one of their prized RV's! I meant to take a picture of the sign but we asked the girl at the reception area about his license and from then on, everyone who was already there was looking for his license. They looked on Walt's desk, at the sales office desk and in the copier but no luck. We just hoped Walt had it. So we walked around to see if we could see our RV but ours must have already been in the back being cleaned and readied for us. Randy noticed another GreyHawk they had brought in to their inside showroom but it wasn't the same as ours.

Just then, Walt walks up and had Randy's license! Thank goodness because I sure did not want to drive all the miles we had left to go, all by myself. Too much WIND. We go over to wait for the sales manager to finish with the couple before us, then we go in for the final paperwork. Joseph tells us our bank has wired the money and everything is in order. Signatures and signatures later, we are off to get the walk-around done. A kind gentleman whose name I forget, was to show us all the things that we need to know, which luckily isn't too much since we already are kind of familiar with most of the things, like electric hookup, water hookup, TV antenna, and things like that. Mainly the water hookup is more up to date and that took a little while to show us how to fill from city, from campground, and something else that I am sure Randy remembers...

The man showed us more things on the inside such as the range, microwave, controls for the tanks, generator stuff and other odds and ends necessary to know in order to enjoy our new RV. There were a few things that we asked them to do which was clean a big spot that was right in the entry on the carpet and a couple of places I noticed on the outside that weren't caulked. They cheerfully took care of the minor details.

Now it is time for the part I am dreading, Randy thinks it won't be bad but we have to MOVE. Out of the old and in to the new. Walt dove right in to help despite us telling him that this was way over and beyond the line of duty. It took longer than I expected and way longer than Randy expected and we were finally finished. Whew! I haven't moved in 30 years and now I remember why. Walt was just wonderful and we really appreciated his help. He has a great attitude and is a general pleasure to be around. If he were from Louisiana, we would probably be friends now. We have invited him to come visit anytime he is in the area. He took a couple of pictures of us in our new RV and treated us to a night at Enchanted Trails and off we went.

The skies were turning dark and we knew we were about to get a storm so we hurried back next door to our campsite. As luck would have it, someone took our site we had for the past 2 nights but the man in the office gave us another 2 sites down. After we got to our site and went to hook up, Randy noticed a leak from the water fill up area. Being how it was getting on 5 pm by now and it was Memorial Day weekend, we know we better hurry back to the service dept. and take care of that right away. Water is too precious to waste and we need that fixed. Despite them being all ready to go home for they long holiday weekend, they take it in and find that a washer was missing and an easy fix. We thanked them for their dedication to their job and were once again on the way back to ET.

After hooking up again (this time no leaks) at Enchanted Trails, we go inside to check things out more carefully. It begins to rain and we are immediately able to tell there are no visible leaks. That is always a good thing. After the rain storm we look outside and right over our RV store there is the most beautiful Rainbow I think I have ever seen! And I have seen a lot of Rainbows! We took some awesome pictures and figured that was a good sign that we had made the right decision to trade ours for a new one. We just loved our first one so much. Then we look around and see all of our "stuff" everywhere. We really didn't have time to arrange stuff when we moved, we just literally threw everything on the bed and floors and couch and anywhere else we could find. Now despite being
Hail on the ground at Oasis RV ResortHail on the ground at Oasis RV ResortHail on the ground at Oasis RV Resort

Finally able to venture outdoors between storms
exhausted, we had to put things away. I would have loved to have laid down on that new bed and taken a loooong nap but we had to get to work.

Once things were put away somewhat, we had a renewed energy and were like kids looking around and trying things and figuring out better places for our stuff. There was so much outside storage that we did not have before and we are going to have so much room inside. Things went very well that night and with the foam mattress we had for the old RV, the bed was fairly comfortable. It was very different being in a new RV but we would force ourselves to get used to it. Seriously, we aren't crazy about the colors outside or inside but maybe with some thought, time and money we can brighten it up some.

May 24th, We slept in on Saturday morning and since things had gone so well the night before we felt comfortable enough to plan to leave these hellacious winds. We did not want to lose our new door and it was horrible having to be stuck inside~even in the new RV.

Late morning we were unhooked and ready to hit the road. We are figuring to head east and toward Amarillo. We have heard that there is a mini Grand Canyon there and we did not get our long hike in because of the fuel pump incident. We are determined to use our new tent and bed rolls. We will not get caught without a bed mat after last year's Grand Canyon hike. The winds continued and Randy did all of the driving. I am still wanting to get used to the extra 8 feet of RV and without wind. We made it almost to Amarillo and started looking for billboards advertising RV Express. Somehow, I forgot the brochure with the exit number and phone number. We saw lots of places on billboards but none for ours.

We did see several for Oasis RV Resort and figured they had come in and taken over the area. That made me more determined to find RV Express, after all they were top rate and the price couldn't be beat for the services they offer. It was starting to get later in the afternoon and we were beginning to think we wouldn't find it but we KNEW it was right off the interstate and could be seen easily. We then saw the exit for the Oasis place and suddenly saw that THIS WAS the RV Express-with a different name! Since we had already passed the exit we had to continue east and get off at the next exit. As we passed along the frontage road we saw the old Cadillacs that are in a field and buried about halfway down while standing up on the rear. People are out there and a lot of them seem to like to "tag" or write their names with spray paint. They can write anywhere and from the road it looked really cool. We remembered seeing them before when we traveled I-40 but never had time to stop. This year we would. We figured we could hike over tomorrow and take some pictures.

So we pull in to Oasis RV Resort and are hoping that things are the same as last year (not too expensive). The same guy from last year greeted us kindly and I blurted out that they must have changed their name as we were looking for RV Express and almost missed them. He said too many people thought they were a repair shop or something so they did change the name. New name-same great place AND same good price. $25 including a huge paved site (and LEVEL), cable, WiFi, free laundry and everything else I mentioned before.

We hooked up and we were kinda bummed that with all those acres and acres of sites, that they seemed to be keeping us all in one area which was right close to the large clubhouse. We had a tremendously large motor home on our right but no one on the left. We are not anti social but we do like to have space to enjoy the scenery and that is hard when there is a huge bus next door blocking the view. Oh well, we are here and it is still great.

After getting set up in our site (with no hitches) we whipped up something quick and easy to eat and we went to check out the pool and hot tub. After almost 2 weeks, we still had not even stepped foot in a pool or hot tub so we were due. Last year while passing through for the night, the
Getting out of Amarillo, TXGetting out of Amarillo, TXGetting out of Amarillo, TX

on the road to anywhere but Amarillo...
pool, hot tub and clubhouse looked really nice.

After deciding to get a load or two of clothes washed and dried, we gathered the laundry and walked over the couple of rows to the clubhouse and everything looked very dark. We saw the laundry room around the side but the door was locked. However upon trying the door to the clubhouse, it was open. We went in and soon found that you can access the laundry room from the clubhouse. What a nice setup. After putting our laundry on to wash, we walked around to check out the pool and hot tub. There was a pool and hot tub on one side and a hot tub and some bathhouses on the opposite side of the laundry room. When we looked more closely at the one off by itself, we realized why. That one for some reason had so much debris in it that we finally decided that it was in a wind zone and could never be kept clean. The winds had continued here in Amarillo so we could understand trying to keep a pool clean. But on the other side, the pool and the hot tub were pristine.
Lakeside Lakeside Lakeside

No wind here!!
We set a goal to be in that hot tub and pool by tomorrow.

While waiting for our laundry to finish up, a young man walked in and introduced himself as Matthew. He told us that he and his family live there at Oasis and are grounds keepers and pretty much help run the place. He was telling us about other places they have lived and he was just an awesome young man. He asked if there was anything he could do to make our stay more enjoyable and not to hesitate to ask.

We were shocked to see such a nice set up. Plenty of room and a huge theater screen that rolls down for them to show movies. There is a food service area that is equipped with popcorn, snowballs, pizza and other snacks that can be bought during the busy times. Right now, there are less than fifty RV's so I suppose that's not enough people to open that up. After all, we were the only ones even walking around. After chatting with Matthew for a while our clothes were ready and we bundled them up and headed back to the RV where we had
Vintage Truck Vintage Truck Vintage Truck

This was on a trailer being pulled by an RV parked next to us.
a pleasant night with a wonderful internet connection and awesome picture on our new TV.

Sunday, May 25th, after breakfast, we dressed in our swimsuits and grabbed the remainder of the laundry and headed for the clubhouse. We could not believe we were the only ones that seemed to be interested in these inviting bodies of water. After sticking my foot in the hot tub, I realized that with the wind this thing was cold. I knew I remembered Matthew saying they were heated so we couldn't figure out why it was so cool. We managed to slowly enter the "warm" water and no sooner got out of my mouth "I wish Matthew was here right now. He would heat this thing up", than there was Matthew! Randy and I looked at each other like we were in the Twighlight Zone and told him we were just wishing he were there to turn on the heat to this tub. He disappeared in to the room off the side of the bathhouses, and after a minute or two he was back. "Wind blew the pilot light out again" he informed us. How lucky for us that he happened by. We thanked him and we chatted again as he dipped the few leaves out of the pool. The hot tub immediately started warming up and felt great!

After Matthew took off to tend to his daily things, Randy went to check out the pool. I told you the hot tub had heated up quickly! He said that it wasn’t too bad (meaning it is not too cold), so I inched out of the warm hot tub into the cool wind and ran over to the pool. After sticking one foot in the pool, I knew the hot tub was more for me. Soon after Randy re-joined me in the hot tub. We soaked in the wonderful warm water and stayed a couple of hours. We noticed several RV’s leave and several pull in.

Around 1:00 pm a few people starting trickling toward the pool. It was a gorgeous day but the wind really can make it miserable. Once we sat up above the line of the tub, the wind would make you really cold. Some where around 2:00 we decided to go back to the RV and cook our crawfish etouffee. We had carted those two pounds of crawfish all over the country and had not had the opportunity to settle down long enough to prepare it. Today was to be the day. We had been almost 2 weeks without any seafood so we were having withdrawals. We cooked the etouffee and the rice and settled in for a glorious meal. When we finished up, I did our few dishes and then Randy said he was going to walk to the dumpster a hundred yards or so away and dump the garbage from supper so it wouldn't smell like crawfish in here all night. As he opened the door, the wind was so strong he barely pulled the door closed and said that he'd better wait because it was starting to rain. It was then we both noticed at the same time that the sky was kind of a green color.

That happened last year when we experienced severe weather and sure enough the rain began to get louder, and louder and louder. As I was looking out of the window by the couch, I noticed a small white marble looking ball hit the pavement. My brain suddenly realized that this was hail. I hollered to Randy that
Hiking in TNHiking in TNHiking in TN

On our way up a trail to the highest point in TN
it was hailing and he was looking out of the bedroom window and was seeing it too. Suddenly, the rain got louder and we realized it was hailing~a lot! I grabbed our camera to take some pictures without even thinking that this hailstorm was about to wreck our 2 day old RV.

Then it got even louder than I could have imagined, it sounded like baseballs being thrown against the RV at a high rate of speed. It was scary as hell. We saw people start running for the clubhouse but there was no way we were going out there in that. Rain began pouring in the bedroom as the hail broke our back vent. Then the front vent and we were really freaking out. The wind was blowing us back and forth and you could hardly see outside anymore. Randy screamed at me to get away from the window but I wanted to know if a tornado was headed our way so I kinda moved back a bit. After what seemed like an eternity, the winds subsided and the hail stopped. As we opened the door, for the first time in almost 2 weeks, the wind had died
Highest Point in TNHighest Point in TNHighest Point in TN

Are those storm clouds?????
down some.

We went outside and saw people begin to migrate outdoors and everyone was screaming and freaking out. Hell, I wanted to freak too, our 2 day old RV was leaking and we had to do something. I ran in and grabbed our trusty Duct Tape (DON'T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT) and Randy climbed up top. He had to be careful because there was hailstones, and still enough wind to knock him off the slippery roof. He hollered down that we had 2 vents with huge holes and nothing else looked damaged. He duct taped them while I walked around the rest of the vehicle.

On our left, the family that had rolled in early afternoon, was unhooking and throwing everything into their vehicles. I asked the guy where they were going and he said "There is another round on the way and we are getting out of here". And before Randy even made it back down from the roof, they peeled out of there. I was in shock. I asked Randy if we should leave too and he said where in the hell are we gonna go? Good question-but somewhere away from this. We continued to look around while the skies darkened again and luckily saw no other significant damage. We watched the family head off down the road and as I snapped a couple more pictures, Randy told me to look at the Rainbow. There was a beautiful Rainbow right over the dark skies that were heading our way.

We went inside to see what the Weather Channel was reporting but the satellite signal was gone; we stood there watching out of the window as more people were running for the clubhouse, ones like us who didn’t make it the first time, and we decided that was the thing to do. We hated leaving our RV, but we have good insurance. I certainly did not want to be rolling around this giant RV resort in a tornado so we grabbed our cell phones and ran. It had starting raining hard again and we ran inside the clubhouse/shelter.

There were so many people in there when we hadn't realized were that many RV's even in the whole resort. Lots of men, women, children with dogs and stuffed animals, while many of the people stood staring out of the windows. Everyone was asking about each other's damage and we joined in the conversation telling them we were in a brand new RV and had some minor damage. There was a guy that was next to us on the right and he had only had his a short time and this was their 2nd time out in it. He didn't think he had much damage but they were some that came to the clubhouse the first round. They had watched us and others surveying and repairing damage on our roofs while listening on the weather radio to the information about the next round.

Then the rain came down harder and harder until you could barely see the first row of vehicles that were not that far away. We all waited and held our breath, but no more hail that we could hear. After again what seemed like an eternity, we slowly made our way outside. As we walked out we could see all the hail lying on the ground and I could not believe the size. This was from almost half an hour or more ago, but then realized why. It was COLD! The temps must have dropped 20 degrees or more and the hail was not melting very quickly. I decided to grab a couple of hail stones to add to our snowball in the freezer. Kim and the rest of our people will never believe this! So we hurried back to our RV because I was freezing. I still had on shorts and flip flops and we were still wet from fleeing to the shelter. Now I know why Matthew had warned us about the horn that he said they would sound if a tornado is reported on the ground. While unbeknownst to us, this is typical Amarillo weather but usually at it's worst a little later in the season. This was still May.

When we got back to our RV, Randy reports there is water pouring into the shower and he will have to go back up top and see what is going on. After he made the second climb back up to the roof, he reports there is a cracked vent over the shower that he didn't see before. It's right on the side close to the edge. He taped it up and climbed back down and we went back inside to see if the Satellite signal had been restored~and it had. We watched the Weather Channel to see what else may be in store but aside from reporting what we had already been through, there was nothing more to come. PRAISE THE LORD. We dried up the areas wet from the broken vents and settled in for the evening. Watch Letterman, Ferguson and went to bed.

Monday, May 26th, we got up as early as we could, and got the hell out of Amarillo, Texas. My second favorite RV place may be a only a memory from now on. I don't know if I ever want to go back. I suppose last year we were just lucky that the rainstorm never turned to hail. We would forego the mini Grand Canyon and get away from all this wind and stormy weather.

We drove until late in the afternoon and stopped at a small RV camp named the Round-Up in Prague, OK. We noticed a nice restaurant/store next door and that is where we need to go to pay for our site. They told us to go pick one out and come tell them our number. There were several open, in fact the only ones taken looked like people who lived there full-time. As we pulled around we saw there was a small lake right in the back and we chose the site closest to the water. The first thing we had really noticed was that the wind was almost totally gone.

Oklahoma was relatively wind-free (at least right now). We got hooked up and we went up to the roof to really take a good look at the damage to our vents and whatever else that may have been missed for fear of losing a life. Sure enough, I see the 2 nice sized holes in the front and rear vents and the one over the shower really looks bad. They will have to totally remove and then re-caulk the entire shower area and how lucky would we have to be for that not to leak once that was done? Don't see that happening, but as I looked closer, I could see that although it was cracked, the piece was still over the hole which made me think I could possibly "Mighty Putty" it...

I ran in to get the stuff, I had only tried it a couple of times, and pulled off a chunk and started to ball it up to activate it. When I got back up on the roof, we carefully applied it over the cracked part and sealed it well. We'll pray that it will harden and we won't have to deal with insurance claims and all that mess. How much can two vent covers be? Maybe not enough to warrant having to file a claim. We had already had a rock hit the windshield less than a hundred miles out of Albuquerque. This was not a good sign. We will monitor the Mighty Putty area and see if that will do the trick. If not, when we bring it in for warranty work back in Louisiana, we'll get it checked out well.

Once finished with the chore of “repairing” the new RV, we took some pictures of the geese that are around the lake. A couple of them came close so I went inside to retrieve some bread to throw to them. We talked about being so glad to be away from all of the wind and try to decide what to do with the last 5 days of our vacation. There is one place that we both love to go and we have only been to parts of it and that is the Natchez Trace. If we continue east on I-40 we can be at a point where we can hit the Trace in Tennessee. So that is the plan.

We were up on Tuesday, May 27th, and continued east toward Tennessee and the Natchez Trace. Drove all the way to West Memphis, AR until we stopped at a little RV park named River's Edge. Sounded nice to us. When we first pulled in there were dark clouds and we knew the rain had followed us to Arkansas. We rushed in to the motel where we had to register for the campground and got wet running back to our RV. We pulled into our site and waited for the rain to stop so we could hook up.

Never saw a river but had a cool old truck parked next to us that was on a trailer being hauled by an RV from Illinois. Maybe they just bought it or something, who knows? I took a picture of it because it was really beautiful. We wanted to eat now after starving all day, small price to pay for losing the wind, but now not wanting to cook and clean. There is a café across the busy highway so once it stopped raining, we hightailed it down the road and across the highway for a meal. They had a buffet that sounded good to Randy, but I ordered a BLT. I had been craving one for a while. It was very good with more bacon than Waffle House ever saw (where I usually get them) and Randy was good with his buffet.

Hiked back to the campground in a hurry because it looked like it may rain again...and it did. But not too much. Watched our late night shows and turned in so we can get an early start tomorrow. Within an hour of leaving in the morning, we'll be on the Natchez Trace.

Wednesday, May 28th, We awoke to clear skies and the sounds of millions of 18-wheelers. I had forgotten there is a truck stop directly across the highway. They are all pulling out one right after the other. Luckily we can take a right entering the highway or we might have had to sit there a long time trying to turn left. We drove on with no complications and made it to the Trace. There are only a limited number of places to camp on the Natchez Trace with several of them being State Parks. We would hike all of the Points of Interest and Tishomingo State Park just inside the MS state line, for the night. One thing we have found over the past 2½ years of having our RV, is that Mississippi has awesome State Parks. Now don't get me wrong, one thing Louisiana has is nice State Parks, but somehow Mississippi really just goes all out. Tishomingo State Park was certainly no exception and we enjoyed our night there. We wouldn't mind staying a couple of days but we need to start heading south now.

The next morning, Thursday, May 29th, we drove the short distance back to the Trace and continued south. Just like yesterday, we will hike and see the points of interest and make it to Davis Lake by night. This was also a very nice MS campground.

On Friday, May 30th, we continued south and repeated the two previous days. Small hikes, nice sights, interesting facts about the history of the Natchez Trace. We highly recommend this drive to anyone. It is a pleasant 50 mph drive through meadows, farmlands, and tons of history of how merchants brought their goods down from the north, and then after selling everything including the wood from their boats, they would walk back north until time to do it all over again. Some of these hikes were hard enough, and we are doing this for FUN.

I cannot imagine having to do this as a means of transportation. Lives were lost all the time and hard times were had by most. That night we set our sights on the Natchez State Park for our final night of vacation 2008. We are finally able to catch a signal on our Altell phones, which has been largely non existent for several days. We have a daughter who is moving to New Orleans for medical school, and each an elderly mom, so being in touch is important. The only places we knew we would have signal issues were in the National Parks. And sure enough, we did. We thought by now we'd be in touch with everyone and able to let them know we were on schedule and would be back in Baton Rouge on Saturday afternoon. No such luck~I did see several people walking up and down the roadway trying to catch a signal but I don't think anyone did.

We watched our late shows on the final night of vacation in our new RV. I always get nervous before vacation and almost dread leaving our families, my cats, dog, and racoons (they feed on our back porch at night on cat food), but then I hate for vacation to end. But with Kim moving and leaving for her trip to Europe on June 20th, we need to get back.

On Saturday morning, May 31st, as we are dumping the holding tanks, somehow Kim rings on the cell phone. She tells me they have been moving all of her stuff from her apartment back to our house. She will have to store everything there until she gets back from Europe in three weeks and gets her place in New Orleans. I can only imagine what our home looks like with all her stuff inside.

Randy and I had talked about taking our time headed back and stopping at D'John's in St. Francisville for their awesome seafood buffet. It starts at 5 on Friday and Saturday nights. It is the best in the world! So we head off down the Trace to do some last hikes and see the French Camp. We stopped here a couple of times but it was on Sunday and they were closed.

Today they would be open and we can see the museums and all of the interesting buildings they have. We tried hiking a few of the trails we had done before, but now the mosquitos were trying to drain our blood. Since we have done all of these many times before when the kids were small, we decided to skip the majority of them and make more time for the French Camp. We still had to stop at a couple of places including the Grand Village of the Natchez Indian State Historic Site in Natchez, MS. This place was a surprise because they had a lot of history and things that were excavated from surrounding areas; things like jars and arrowheads and dishes-really everything from ancient cookware to ancient tools. Then there was a trail on which they displayed different trees and plants and it continued off through a field to a trail which went into the woods.

Even though it was hot, the woods looked inviting and we decided to give it a shot. We walked and walked, saw small waterfalls, and nearly lost the trail several times. In several spots the mosquitos were so bad we had to almost run. So what happens when you hastily hike through the woods? You sweat. And we had not brought water so we kept up a fast pace. We went what seemed like miles and emerged in a large field. There were no markers, no signs, nothing to show which way to head. All we could do was go straight across and hope for some luck. Without luck no telling what would have happened but as we made it across that field, we saw a small opening and then we saw a teepee and several large mounds. We were back on track.

We saw a direct route to the exit but would have had to leave the marked trail and trek across the nice grass so we did the best we could to stay on the trail but did cheat a little. Took a quick picture or two of the teepee and stepped inside for only a moment. It felt more like an oven in there than a place to live. IT WAS HOT. By then we could see our RV and we had left the AC running so we did some almost running and made it back to the RV and some cold water and air. Randy said he had always wanted to go to the Mississippi Craft Center but we found it had been moved to the city and we decided not to stray too far off course. So we were off the Trace and headed for Hwy. 61 south toward Baton Rouge. It was still too early to hang around and wait for 5 o’clock, so I called Kim and told her we were headed home and would stop by her apartment to pick up the dog. She said she had a few things that we might could fit into the RV to bring back to the house for her.

When we got to her apartment, we found chaos. She had boxes everywhere and didn't look like there was any way she could be out by tonight. Plus she had to work at 6am at the hospital. We hauled boxes and bikes, and TV's and so much other stuff until we were dripping wet. Welcome back to Louisiana humidity.

After loading the RV and our truck she had borrowed from the house, we made our way back to I-12 and toward home. Kim loved the new RV but it looked like it did after we had finished moving from the old one to this one. There was stuff EVERYWHERE. Oh well, no time to worry about that now. There's always tomorrow...

Thanks for spending your time reading our travelblog. We plan to head Northeast toward the Sky Line Drive when it cools down some.


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