Thursday, August 30, 2007

Paradise Gone awry

Jackrabbits everywhere, exotic partridges, beautiful rock formations—that was our first experience of Kodachrome State Park, where we are supposed to volunteer for six weeks.  That, and heat.  We expected 90 degree days, but we also expected full hookups and 50 amp electric—meaning air conditioning. 


        It has really been quite a week.  We arrived on Sunday and found that the park staff was still working on a third park host site for us—even though they had known since at least February that we were coming and for at least three weeks the exact date of our arrival.  They offered us a site with no hookups if we had a generator, or a site where we could use regular household electric from a long extension cord.  We chose to use our generator.  The site was private and had great views, but we don't have air conditioning with our 2000-watt generator. When we returned from work our third day here, the trailer was 95 degrees inside while the outside temperature was 91.  We decided to go to a nearby KOA campground the next day, returning only if our electric site was ready on Wednesday. 


        After we set up at the KOA, we discovered our refrigerator wasn't working.  We were 40 miles from the nearest real grocery store, over 100 miles from a Wal-Mart and decent-sized town, over 260 miles from Salt Lake City and Las Vegas.  The KOA referred us to a man who came and checked out the refrigerator.  He determined it needed a new circuit board.  A week later we are still waiting to hear if he can get one.  We are using a borrowed small refrigerator that sits outside, an ice chest sitting in our living room and the Visitor Center refrigerator and freezer. 


        Needless to say, they did finish our site—sort of.  We do have full hookups.  But after two downpours today, our site was first a lake then a sea of mud. 


        Oh yes, one more thing--what duct tape doesn't fix, a bungee cord does.  The latch on the screen door broke.  Obviously, we can't tape it shut.  So a small bungee cord hooked the door to a shelf, so the cats don't escape.  Then John found a spring to repair it a little better.  We are waiting for a new part from our dealer, who reports he is waiting for the part from Keystone.  And yet another problem, the awning mechanism locked.  John had to take it apart.  It took the two of us at least a half an hour to put it back together. 


        We have no idea how long it will take to repair the refrigerator or get our site fixed.  Hopefully, the next week will be better.  We have looked forward to coming here for months and it is really beautiful.  We would like to enjoy it.


        I'm doing all I can to keep John from bolting.

Get a sneak peek of the all-new

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Cedar Breaks

A yellow-bellied marmot and an immense bristlecone pine were highlights of our hike to Spectra Point at Cedar Breaks National Monument. At 10,350 ft, just being able to complete a three-mile hike was an accomplishment.

The marmot was at the viewpoint with its young. When we got too close, the animal played dead while the babies got away. Finally, it became curious and turned to look at us.

Bristlecone pine trees are extremely hardy and live many years. One at Spectra Point has lived more than 1,600 years and in other southwestern states, 4,500-year-old specimens have been discovered. The tree I photographed is certainly impressive, whether or not it is 1,600 years old.

The rock formations at Cedar Breaks in southwestern Utah are beautiful and similar to those found at Bryce Canyon and other places on the Colorado Plateau. We had visited Cedar Breaks for an hour or so, two years ago, but we wanted to spend more time there. So we decided to camp for one or two days, depending on how the altitude affected us. The campground is quiet and most sites look out over huge meadows. There are no hookups, but the water is good, and at $7 a night for seniors, who can complain?

When we were talking to the camp hosts, Ron and Paula, they said they went two months without grocery shopping. She makes her own yoghurt using powdered milk and bakes her own bread in a bread-maker. They fill their bathtub with long-lasting fruits and vegetables and forgo ice cubes till they whittle down the food in the freezer. Many of their ideas didn’t appeal to me, but since I eat yoghurt everyday at breakfast, I’ll have to give that one a try.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Into Utah

(This should have been posted in early August. Somehow, it got lost in cyberspace)

Utah is possibly our favorite state to visit and we will be here for two months. The drive west along I-70 is flat and boring for a while, but the farther west and south you go, the more interesting and beautiful it becomes. The hills grow in size and the rock formations progress from gray to pink to red. By the time we reached Capitol Reef National Park, all of these colors are present—sometimes in different views and sometimes all in one canyon.

We have had two great hikes. The first was over four miles on the Old Wagon Road trail, which has an altitude gain of 1,580 feet. It is a steady uphill climb for at least two miles, and we felt it. But the country is so spectacular, we were glad to be there. The contrast of dark green pine and juniper trees against the red rocks and soil is beautiful. The second hike was 3 ½ miles through Cohab Canyon to overlook the old settlement of Fruita. Capital Reef preserves both the natural beauty of the area and the historic Mormon Settlement of Fruita. Those farmers planted extensive orchards, which are still growing. It is peach harvest time and visitors are allowed to pick their own fruit. There are over 3,000 fruit trees in the park, many 80 to 100 years old. It was fun to pick our own afternoon snack.

Many of the tourists here are from countries around the world. The beauty of our National Parks, especially the major parks in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Montana and Wyoming, are major destinations for these tourists. Many of them rent RVs from Cruise America or RoadBearRV to see these far-flung parks. It was fun to see German and French speaking visitors picking peaches at the same time we were in the orchard.

The Fremont Indians, who traveled through this area between AD 700 and 1250, left petroglyphs on the rock walls of the park. We were able to get close enough to view some of them on a boardwalk built next to the cliff.