Friday, May 25, 2018

RV-Dreams Rally, Snow Canyon & Zion National Park

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According to Dr. Google and the guy in the ER, I would likely be passing a kidney stone in the next 24-48 hours or so. Given that uncertainty, driving a big rig across the Mohave Desert seemed like maybe not the smartest thing to do, but we live for adventure so off we went with Bill & Kelly in the lead.

Borrego Springs - Rockhouse Trail
One of the many cinder cones we saw along the way to Pahrump.

We were headed to Pahrump, NV to attend our second RV-Dreams Rally, this one a reunion for those who had attended a previous rally. Since we had just attended the Boondocking Rally, we qualified!

Our plan was to arrive a day early and set up at the Pahrump Elks Lodge. As luck would have it, it was Taco Tuesday and we wasted no time filling our bellies! The next morning we packed up and headed for the Wine Ridge Resort & Cottages to set up for five days of reunion shenanigans.

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Pahrump Elks Lodge. Home of Taco Tuesday!

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Arriving at Wine Ridge Resort & Cottages.

We already knew a lot of the folks attending, and it was so nice to meet others. In particular, the Class of 2014 had a great showing and we took the opportunity to gather and take group photos.

Borrego Springs - Rockhouse Trail
The Class of 2014 gang. So many friends, so much fun!

The whole event was fairly chill, which is just the way we like it. There was a couple of catered dinners, a potluck and then final dinner/dance, which is always a highlight. At least for the girls, the guys didn't seem to want to participate much, but that didn't stop those of us who wanted to move a little!

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Borrego Springs - Rockhouse Trail  Borrego Springs - Rockhouse Trail

Borrego Springs - Rockhouse Trail  Borrego Springs - Rockhouse Trail

Borrego Springs - Rockhouse Trail

Borrego Springs - Rockhouse Trail

Borrego Springs - Rockhouse Trail  Borrego Springs - Rockhouse Trail
It’s not hard to see how much fun everyone had at the reunion with food, drinks and good company!

We had a great time and on the last day, we said our goodbyes and headed off toward Utah. It's hard to say goodbye sometimes, but we usually have so much ahead of us to look forward to, and future plans to see folks again, that we're raring to get our wheels rolling!

And no, I did not pass that damn kidney stone! And -- SPOILER ALERT – as I write this, it’s now the end of May and I have not seen hide nor hair of that stone! I did follow up with my doctor and she told me to get on with my life. She also loaded me up with every conceivable RX I might need should the stone reappear. So with that, I'm moving on. :)

We left Pahrump and headed for the Elks Lodge in St. George, UT, about 180 miles away. We drove right through Las Vegas and neither one of us was tempted to stay and visit. Vegas really isn't our cup of tea.

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Click on the image above to see a short video of some of the beautiful views on the way to St. George.

We had heard that the Elks Lodge in St. George is a popular one, but we've never arrived to a completely full lot, until today. Though full, we were not turned away and simply boondocked in a spot with a pretty wonderful view. We were just fine with that and stayed there two nights before moving into a spot with electric for two more.

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The Elks Lodge in St. George.

We had stayed in St. George a couple of years ago but just for an overnight. This time we wanted to explore Snow Canyon State Park as well as make it our base camp for a visit to Zion National park.

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Breathtaking views in Snow Canyon State Park.

Zion, like most national parks, is a photographer's dream. Though I am usually the one planning our travels and sightseeing,  in cases such as this, Steven takes over. As is his want, the hike he choose required a 4:00 a.m. wake up and a hike along a treacherous goat path in the dark. Oh well, off we go!

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We arrived in Zion National Park pretty early to view the sunrise.

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Sunrise at Canyon Overlook in Zion National Park. It was worth the moderate hike to get there.

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Despite Steven’s fancy equipment, Linda managed to capture the best shot of a mountain goat with her iPhone.

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Adult and young mountain goat along the Canyon Overlook trail in Zion National Park.

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Linda on the Canyon Overlook trail.

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The crowds start early in Zion’s Visitor Center. The only way to see this section of the park is by bus or on foot.

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We had such beautiful weather to wander around and explore Zion.

NEXT UP:  Page, AZ

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Indio & 911 in 29 Palms

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It was tempting to be sad about having only five days in Borrego Springs, but considering all the rallies and planned travels, we were lucky to get there at all. So, having crammed as much as we possibly could into a short period of time, we were off to the Elks Lodge in Indio.

Like Borrego Springs, we have made several stops here and it's one of our faves. There are fruit trees all over the property and though we were a bit late in the season, we managed to get a few grapefruit and lemons.

IMG_4306  Borrego Springs - Rockhouse Trail
Indio Elks Lodge is surrounded by palm trees.

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Steven picks a few of the abundant lemons at the Elks Lodge in Indio.

Indio is always our stopover for provisioning, it seems we're usually heading off into either a remote location or an expensive one. Not that Indio is cheap, but it has all our favorites - Costco, Trader Joe's, etc. Also, it's a great place to meet up with friends who are passing through, as was the case with Clarke and Elaine Hockwald. They had spent the last few months working in Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon and were finally making their way back to their family in SoCal. Indio turned out to be the perfect stopover, which made us very happy! We had not seen them since the last time we were in Borrego Springs, which in our book was way too long!

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With Clarke, Elaine, Kelly and Bill at the Indio Elks Lodge.

Since there was shopping to be done, the girls headed out to go to the fun places, while the guys went to the boring Harbor Freight and Lowes. I mean really, there's no comparison, right? Kelly, Elaine and I found the most wonderful Thai restaurant for lunch and the guys had Mexican. In the end, we all had a great time and that's all that counts!

When we stayed at the Indio Lodge in 2015, Steven and I headed out looking for a good hamburger. He pulled up Yelp on his phone and said there was a place in Desert Palm called Billy Qs that had burgers, so off we went. Only when we got there, no one was eating burgers. They were eating pizza. We followed suit, and went back again the next day. Then a few months later, we went again, this time with Clarke and Elaine. I simply couldn't wait to go there again! So off we went, again with Clarke, Elaine, Bill and Kelly! I think they all agreed that Billy Q's has some mighty fine pizza. If you're ever in the area, do yourself a favor and go there!

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Eating at Billy Q’s. We can’t say enough good things about this place!

Clarke and Elaine are from Southern California and through the years have spent a great deal of time in the Palm Springs area. So while they encouraged the rest of us to take the tram up to the Mt. San Jacinto State Park, they did not want to repeat something they had done many times before. So it was just Bill, Kelly, Steven and me taking the making the trip up the mountain.

Riding the tram to the top to was awesome. It's a big tram that holds about 50 people. Maybe 30, I can't remember. But it was a lot! Kelly and I managed to snag a spot by the window but even then you have to hang on to your stuff, because the darn thing rotates. You can't hold on because it rotates, and if you set your backpack down where it touches the wall, it will rotate right away from you. So while you're enjoying the gorgeous scenery, you're also trying to keep track of your stuff and kind of hang on, even though you have to move your hands every few seconds.

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The tram ride up to the top of Mount San Jacinto was so much fun and fantastic views!

It’s so worth the effort! The views from the lodge overlooking Palm Springs all the way to the Coachella Valley were just gorgeous!

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The views of Coachella Valley from the top were just amazing!

We decided to do the a hike, just over one mile, with several lookouts in every direction. But first, we had to make our way down the steep ramp onto the trail. Since it had snowed and frozen overnight, the paths were like ice rinks. We held on to the railing for dear life and still kind of skated our way down. Having made it safely, we decided lunch was in order before carrying on any further. We found a picnic table and enjoyed our spread, then hit the trail.

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Fueling up for the upcoming trail hike.

There are five main overlooks along this trail and it is not well marked at all. You just kind of follow what looks like a trail, and if that disappears you look for humans and follow them. The first view was really spectacular, but as we sat there, the fog rolled in and it was the last view we saw. That didn't stop us from making the hike to every single lookout, we did, but we just didn't see anything. Still, it was a great hike!

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Borrego Springs - Rockhouse Trail  Borrego Springs - Rockhouse Trail

Borrego Springs - Rockhouse Trail  Borrego Springs - Rockhouse Trail

Borrego Springs - Rockhouse Trail

Borrego Springs - Rockhouse Trail
Occasional views emerged out of the fog but the hike was great and we enjoyed frolicking in the snow!

That evening the Elks Lodge was having dinner and dancing, the latter of which appealed to Kelly. The rest of us just wanted to sit in the bar and visit, which we did. And bless her heart, Kelly just chair-danced because no one would go out on the dance floor with her. Jeez, that girl loves to dance!

The next morning Clarke and Elaine dropped by to say goodbye. It was so nice to meet up with them again after so long. They are workcamping in Maine this summer and we wish them safe travels and a happy summer.

A couple of hours later, we pulled out followed by Bill in Copper pulling Queenie and Kelly in her Honda. We had a whopping 65 mile trip to make to the Elks Lodge in Twentynine Palms. Our purpose there was to visit with Bill and Kelly's Goddaughter who lives there with her husband and two adorable little girls. 

Since we had planned to stay two nights at the Elks Lodge, we decided that Steven and I would stay home and relax and give Kelly & Bill a night to visit alone. We'd go the next day for dinner. They decided to leave the front door of their rig open so Callie Kitty could have some fresh air. My only job was to peek out my blinds every now and again and make sure all was going well. Bill wanted to leave us a key just in case we decided to go somewhere, but we assured him we were not leaving. "I'll just leave it here anyway," he said. And thank goodness he did!

Soon after they left, Steven decided to take a nap, and I had settled in on the sofa with my computer. The air conditioner was blowing and I was looking forward to a little down time. But I was having a hard time getting comfortable and as time went on, I realized I was in pain. You know, it takes a while to figure out what's going on. I thought maybe I had strained a muscle on our hike. But nothing I did would alleviate the pain I was feeling on my right side and it seemed to be getting worse.

So I did what any of you would do, I summoned Dr. Google. I typed in, "pain on right side". Dr. Google replied, "Appendix." Yep, that had to be it. As I was reading the symptoms and what to expect, it said that the pain would worsen quickly and that very soon I would throw up. Great. I googled the nearest hospital thinking Steven could drive me there and went and woke him up. Then I threw up violently, like, I had no idea my body could expel anything with such force. I knew then the only way I was going to get to the hospital was by ambulance. So, Steven made a call to 911.

The EMS came right away, but because of a shortage of available ambulances, it took a while for one to come get me. Once it arrived, I insisted on walking to it and getting in by myself. Yes, I was in pain, but not so much that I didn't see the ridiculousness of them trying to get me onto a gurney and out the door of Scoopy. I wasn't crippled.

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EMS guys be like “Let’s get a gurney” and Linda be all, like, “Hold my beer.” Steven followed behind.

I was in the ER a total of four hours, and in that time I had a abdomen scan that showed it was not my appendix, but rather a 4mm kidney stone. Ugh. In the two years before we went fulltime, I was a surgery scheduler for a female-only urology practice. I've talked to many, many women suffering with stones. In the office, we all used to talk about how much we hoped we never got a kidney stone. But I guess it was my turn.

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Hooked up for four hours at the hospital.

They sent me home with a strainer and a script for some pain pills. I used the former for several weeks and finally got bored of it. I still have the pills, just in case. I don't know if that stone is still rattling around inside me, or if it somehow passed unnoticed, but I've had no issues since our stay in Twentynine Palms.

NEXT UP:  RV-Dreams Reunion Rally