Sunday, October 4, 2015

From the Cascades to the Rockies

The day we left Eugene for eastern Oregon, the skies were filled with smoke from multiple raging fires and the temperatures were soaring. We had been moseying around familiar territory for so long, neither of us remembered to check the mountain directory. We had driven to Bend only once before, years ago, so it was not at all familiar to us. It just dawned on me as I waited for Steven to fill Scoopy with diesel that I might ought to take a look at the grades along our chosen route. Boy, it's a good thing, too. The mountain guide simply said, "Don't do it.", so we re-routed on the fly. 

Although our stay in Bend was brief, Steven found a nearby lake to photograph and spent one morning capturing the dramatic fog.

Not smoke, this is morning fog at Sparks Lake near Bend.

Another view of Sparks Lake at sunrise.

We stayed in Bend long enough to get some shopping done then headed for Crystal Crane Hot Springs for a couple of days of relaxation. Every day we soaked and it was glorious. Because of the smoke, the sunrises and sunsets at the hot springs were gorgeous. 

I double noodled it so my face wouldn't get wet.


Scoopy and Toadie bathe in the last rays of the sunset.

When we arrived in Winnemucca, NV after a long, hot slog, smoke wafting in from the California fires was thick enough to obscure the sun and surrounding mountains. We didn't venture outside much during our three day stay, but we were both perfectly happy just puttering around inside Scoopy. 

If you look close enough you can barely make out the shape of the mountains on the horizon.

By the time we left, the skies had cleared somewhat. We departed just before sunrise, as there were five passes to cross before reaching our next overnight stop, the Elks Lodge in Provo, UT. It was the first time I have ever used Scoopy's headlights to drive. I don't like to drive in the dark, but it was worth getting up early considering the climbs we had ahead of us. We stopped for lunch at the rest stop at the edge of the Bonneville Salt Flats. We would have loved to explore, but it was just too hot. 

Toadie wanted to drive onto the Bonneville Salt Flats for a selfie. :)

Epic roads as we dipped in and out of Utah on our way to Colorado.

It was a very long travel day, but we made it over the passes just fine. Our stay in Provo was just for one night, as we were on a mission to reach Colorado where we would find friends to hang out with and cooler temperatures to enjoy. We made one more stop in Green River, UT for three days before arriving at the Uncompahgre RV Park in Olathe, CO where we were warmly greeted with a few ears of the famous Olathe sweet corn just harvested. What a cute little park! Our friends Philip and Valinda were staying here for the summer and recommended it. It was a lovely and unexpected oasis, and there was tons of great sightseeing and day trips to take. 

The first signs of fall when we arrived at Uncompahgre RV Park.

At the top of the list was Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and the cute town of Ouray. We drove the Million Dollar Highway into Silverton, which was beautiful. I decided if I had to drive Scoopy over this road, I could, but I'd do everything possible to avoid it. :) Steven and Valinda took multiple photography trips and captured some amazing shots. 

Sunrise at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

Dramatic moon at Black Canyon.

Sunset at Black Canyon.

We enjoyed our stay in Olathe, and after a week we headed up into the mountains to Gunnison, elevation 7700 ft. Here we found cooler temps, good friends Paul and Mary, and a group of Facebook friends we had yet to meet in person. We arrived just as the leaves began to turn, but were there just a tad too soon to see the fall colors in all their glory. I managed a few 10,000 step days including an early morning hike with the Witwer's to the Dillion Pinnacles, as well as a couple of day trips to nearby places. Gunnison turned out to be a very relaxing stop. We would have loved to stay longer than just a week, but Scoopy had an appointment in Grand Junction to take care of a few minor repairs, so we had to go. 

On the trail to Dillon Pinnacles with Mary and Paul.

Mary contemplates the beautiful view near Dillon Pinnacles.

Every evening in Gunnison would bring a new thunderstorm!

Mary and I encountered these sheep on one of our walks. Cute!

Epic selfie with the Jello gang at over 12,000 feet on our way to Tin Cup.

Our trip to Tin Cup was fit only for a Jeep!

It was a beautiful day for our drive on the Million Dollar Highway.

This memorial is reason enough not to drive Scoopy on Red Mountain Pass. 

Below us is Ouray, a cute little mountain town.

Breathtaking views at Taylor Reservoir.

The People's Fair at Crested Butte.

Another selfie of the Jello Gang!
(back: Larry, Paul - middle: Dave, Mary, Kim, Christi - front: Nancy, Kathy, Linda and Steven)

One of the weirder aspects of our lifestyle is getting repairs done. Not only do we have to find a competent repair person or facility (kind of a crapshoot) we literally become homeless as soon as Scoopy is in their hands. That means we have to find something to do. In cooler temps, a hike or sightseeing of some sort is usually a good option, but in triple digits, it's not. We decided it was time for a few new clothing items, so off we went. We ended up spending a couple of hours at Starbucks, where we started talking about our immediate travel plans.  Following the repairs were to heading to Bryce National Park in Utah, but as it turns out, neither one of us were excited about it. Once we were out of the mountains, the temperatures had soared and the elevation at Bryce offered little comfort. It took us about two minutes to change our minds and decide to return to the mountains to boondock and play with our solar at a campground on the Blue Mesa Reservoir about 12 miles outside Gunnison. This plan was so brilliant, we were giddy with excitement. 

Our special accommodations outside the gate.

Humphrey RV has a very unique waiting area!

We spent the night outside the gates of Humphrey RV so that they could finish up a couple of items on our list the following morning. I have read of many people spending the night at a repair facility, but usually it's inside the gates, and they lock you in. Humphrey's puts you out next to the road and locks you out. :)  Frankly, we didn't care. We were so flippin' happy about our plans, we just celebrated, and we had a very enjoyable evening. By 11:00 a.m. the next morning, we were on our way.

Up next: Solar power and our huge learning curve!