Monthly Archives: October 2017

With Friends Again — Parks & Lake Havasu, AZ; October 9-13, 2017

We returned from the Valley of Fire to Las Vegas, where we spent a few days preparing to be gone from Barb’s dad for another year.  Then we drove straight to the home of friends Bill and Colleen, some 20 miles west of Flagstaff, located in the beautiful boonies about 8 miles north of the one-horse town of Parks.  There we met Bill’s brother Matt and his wife Joan.  Matt was there to help Bill modify his garage to accomodate Bill & Colleen’s new-to-them Allegro 36 Bus.  When we arrived they had already pushed out an extension to accommodate the length of the bus, and they were just about to begin raising the height of the front door.  The brothers are both accomplished mechanics and builders, so my role was confined to fetching tools and giving an occasional hand when a little extra muscle was needed.

Bill’s friends Bruce & Jan Dodge had left their pontoon boat with Bill, and so after the door modification was brought to a point that it could be left for a while, the six of us proceeded down to Islander RV Resort, a ritzy campground at Lake Havasu, AZ.  When we called for a reservation, we were asked the year of manufacture of our RV.  When we responded with 2004, we were told that they only accept RVs that are less than 10 years old, but that we could request special permission if we sent pictures of the RV so that the manager could consider the request.  We sent a package of pictures of the exterior, and were granted admission.

Bill towed the pontoon boat behind their powerful diesel-powered RV, we towed our Chevy Tracker behind our much-less-powerful gas-powered Allegro, and Matt towed their fifth-wheel camper.  The RV office and the campsites were indeed several cuts above the average campground, and the attendants were likewise especially polished and professional.  A very nice place to spend some time.


From Wikipedia:

Lake Havasu is a large reservoir behind Parker Dam on the Colorado River, on the border between California and Arizona. Lake Havasu City sits on the lake’s eastern shore. The concrete arch dam was built by the United States Bureau of Reclamation between 1934 and 1938. The lake’s primary purpose is to store water for pumping into two aqueducts.

The London Bridge crosses a narrow channel that leads from Lake Havasu on the Colorado River to Thompson Bay (also on the river). It was bought for US $2.5 million from the City of London when the bridge was replaced in 1968. The bridge was disassembled, and the marked stones were shipped to Lake Havasu City and reassembled for another US $7 million. Since its inauguration on October 5, 1971, it has attracted thousands of visitors each year.

Lake Havasu City is an active destination for a wide range of people. During the spring months, the community is joined by university students during Spring Break. The city is also home to the International World Jet Ski Final Races, multiple professional fishing tournaments, custom boat regattas, the Western Winter Blast pyrotechnics convention, Havasu 95 Speedway, the Chilln-n-Swilln Beer Festival annual charity event, the Havasu Triathlon, the Havasu Half Marathon, and the Havasu Island Hot Air Balloon Fest & Fair.  In the winter months, the community is joined by snowbirds from colder regions of the country and Canada. 

We spent two lovely days on the Lake, and then returned to Parks to finish the modification of the garage. When we had done as much as we could do (lacking only an on-order additional panel needed for the longer door to fit the higher opening, the six of us took the pontoon boat (and our campers) up to Lake Powell. But that is the subject of the next post.

Camping on Our Own — Valley of Fire, October 1-7, 2017

At the recommendation of son Jeff, we left Las Vegas on October 1 and drove the approximately 55 miles northeast through the Mojave Desert to The Valley of Fire State Park. It is the oldest Nevada State Park and was dedicated in 1935.  It covers an area of approximately 35,000 acres and was named for the magnificent red sandstone formations that were formed from great shifting sand dunes during the age of the dinosaurs more than 150 million years ago (Mesozoic Era).  These brilliant sandstone formations can appear to be on fire when reflecting the sun’s rays.  Other important rock formations include limestone, shale, and conglomerates.

We had a marvelous time driving to the various named sites and then hiking about. The last day we went on a ranger-led hike to the Atlatl petroglyphs.  We had been there earlier in the week, but thought it might be interesting to get more information.   We were amazed at how many petroglyphs were in the immediate area that we had not noticed.

 Jeff came out and visited us for a few hours one afternoon in his new Jeep Wrangler.  

Next time you are in Vegas, take some time off from the glitter and gloss and spend some time in this beautiful patch of nature.

With Family & Friends — Las Vegas & Bismarck, Sept. 15-28, 2017

Bill & Colleen accompanied us to Las Vegas, where we both took spots in Sam’s Town KOA. Barb’s sisters Audrey and Mary were in town, as was Barb’s son Jeff. We all gathered to do some bowling in the extensive lanes at Sam’s Town Casino. The family celebrated the birthday of Cliff, father of Barb & Mary & Audrey. Jeff had asked Cliff what he wanted for his birthday, so when we gathered for cake, Jeff presented him with a (model) Mercedes. Later in the week we  RV-ers helped Audrey pack up a truck in preparation for her move to Kansas City.  We also partook of a number of Vegas’ attractions, but no significant gambling. We had some inexpensive meals at various casinos. We saw a movie. (Dunkirk) We spent some time walking the gaudy casinos on   the strip. We visited the Springs Preserve, much of which contained displays targeted towards youngsters, but that also contained an excellent Nevada State Museum. And we attended the Cirque du Soleil tribute to Michael Jackson. Pretty good tribute, but not really in the awesome tradition of the other Cirque du Soleil programs we have seen that featured such an intriguing combination of bizarre costumes and amazing physicality.

After Bill & Colleen returned to Parks, AZ, Barb and I focused on our parents. I flew to Bismarck to see Mom (and Sis Zona), and Barb focused on helping her father get more comfortable with his new iPhone and, more importantly, get hearing tests and then hearing aids. We both had good visits.

When I returned on Sept. 28, we caught our breath and then took our RV out to The Valley of Fire. But that will be the subject of our NEXT post.

South toward Las Vegas — September 4-14, 2017

We were joined in our trip from Hood River southward by Bill and Colleen, and later for a time by Tom and Leslie.

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

We spent a number of days in the vicinity of the National Monument, which has three separate units, two of which we visited.  Our first was to Painted Hills, where besides enjoying the colorful hills we were surprised to encounter a couple that were carrying the bottom portion of a mannequin.

Painted Hills Unit

Sheep Rock Unit

The second unit was Sheep Rock, where we made a number of stops.  We visited the impressive  Thomas Condon Paleontology Center, visited the Cant Ranch complex, an interpretive site showing an early 20th-century livestock ranch, and took a number of hikes.

Kam Wah Chung

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
The Kam Wah Chung & Co. Museum, also known as Kam Wah Chung Company Building, is a state park and a National Historic Landmark that preserves early Chinese culture in the city of John Day in Oregon. Built in the 1870s, possibly as a trading post, along a wagon road later known as The Dalles Military Road, it later became the center of the Chinese community in John Day as a store and apothecary run by Ing Hay (known also as “Doc Hay”) and Lung On, Chinese immigrants from Guangdong.

The building remained abandoned after Ing Hay died in 1952. He asked that the building be deeded to the city of John Day with the provision it be turned into a museum. His wish, and the ownership of the building, were forgotten until 1967. While surveying for a new park the city discovered its ownership of the building and began to restore it as it was in the 1940s.

Today the Kam Wah Chung & Co. Museum contains one of the most extensive collections of materials from the century-long influx of Chinese immigrants in the American West. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and designated a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior in 2005.

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is a National Wildlife Refuge located roughly 30 miles (48 km) south of the city of Burns in Oregon’s Harney Basin. Administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the refuge was created in 1908 by order of President Theodore Roosevelt to protect habitat for diverse waterfowl and migratory birds, and grew to encompass 187,757 acres of public lands. A popular site for birding, fishing, hunting and hiking, the refuge gained widespread attention in early 2016 after its headquarters complex was occupied by armed anti-government protesters.

Steens Mountain

Steens Mountain is in the southeastern part of Oregon, and is a large fault-block mountain. It stretches some 50 miles north to south, and rises from alongside the Alvord Desert at elevation of about 4,200 feet to a summit elevation of 9,733 feet. It is sometimes confused with a mountain range but is properly a single mountain.

Steens Mountain is the largest fault-block mountain in North America. Pressure under the Earth’s surface thrust the block upward approximately 20 million years ago, resulting in a steep eastern face with a more gentle slope on the western side of the mountain. During the Ice Age, glaciers carved several deep U-shaped gorges into the peak and created depressions where Lily, Fish, and Wildhorse lakes now stand.

Diamond Craters

Diamond Craters is a 27-square-mile volcanic field in SE Oregon, 40 miles southeast of the town of Burns. It consists of cinder cones, maars (explosion craters) and lava flows.  Diamond Craters were named after the Diamond Ranch.  In 1982, the area was designated an Outstanding Natural Area.

 California Trail Interpretive Center

Located off I-80 near Elko, Nevada, the California Trail Interpretive Center tells the story of the 250,000 people who, between 1841 and 1869, sold their belongings, packed wagons, and set out for California on a 2,000 mile trek; some seeking land, some gold, others seeking adventure, and some for unknown reasons.

This extensive and impressive center should not be missed.  We took no photos inside, but snapped a few of the external (but temporary) exhibit.

Nevada Northern Railway Museum

In Ely, Nevada, we found the Nevada Northern Railway Museum is a railroad museum operated by a historic foundation dedicated to the preservation of the Nevada Northern Railway.

Museum activities include restoration and operation of historic railroad equipment, steam-powered excursions throughout the year, winter photo shoots, locomotive rentals, hand car races, lectures, an annual railroad history symposium, changing exhibits, and other events and activities.

Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park

The charcoal ovens are associated with the silver mining ghost town of Ward, Nevada, established in 1876. The charcoal ovens are two miles to the south of the townsite. Six large ovens remain in excellent repair, 30 feet high, 27 feet in diameter, with walls 2 feet thick at the base. The ovens were in operation from 1876 through 1879. They were built of quartz latite welded tuff by itinerant Italian masons who specialized in the ovens, who were known as carbonari. The charcoal ovens prepared charcoal from locally harvested timber for use in the smelters at Ward, using 30 to 60 bushels of charcoal per ton of ore, for 16,000 bushels a day. The Ward ovens are the best-preserved of their kind in Nevada. They were listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.

We arrived in Las Vegas on September 15. But this post is already too long, so we’ll talk about Las Vegas on our next post.