Relaxation at Home

Sunday May 21st 2017

It rained most of the night. A steady rain started around 10PM and was still making noise on the roof when I woke briefly at 4AM, but had stopped by 6:30. The day was mostly sunny with a high temperature in the upper 60s.

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These critters live across the highway. This morning they were talking up a storm.

Today was a day to chill. This morning over breakfast I watched all of the weekend campers and travelers leave the campground. By noon the sites across from me were all empty. One of my two immediate neighbors had also departed. Around 1PM the sites started to fill up with new travelers. This evening most of the sites around me are full, but the back of the campground is empty.

While watching TV today I spent time considering my travel plans. I know in general terms my plans into the fall. I don’t know what I’m doing after October until I get back to Florida in March. In the end of October I expect to be north of Phoenix in the Verde Valley. I have been assuming I’d stay in Arizona through January, but today I started thinking about Texas.

I am now investigating the Big Bend National Park area in November, San Antonio in December and the Gulf Coast over to Houston in January. Temperatures will clearly be cooler than Arizona or Florida, but if it is a normal winter very possible. I don’t have to commit to any specific direction for another couple of months. In the mean time I’ll keep researching. The San Antonio River walk at Christmas time sounds like a must see.

Overall I think staying home and thinking was a good way to spend the day. If anything it has opened my thoughts to new travel possibilities.

Looking for Balanced Rock

Saturday May 20th 2017

I went in search of another south central Idaho natural attraction today. My goal was to visit the Balanced Rock park. I knew it was to the southwest of my location so I set off in that direction. It’s no fun when you know where your going. I assumed I’d see road signs once I got in the right area. I never saw any direction signs. Instead, I had a pleasant drive through farm land and farm towns. I have google directions now, so I’ll go to the park another day.

I drove through the same area that the emigrants to Oregon passed through in the mid 1800s on the Oregon trail. The first route west for wagon trains was along the south shore of the Snake River. They didn’t have the means to get the wagons across the river. The rolling landscape of the Snake River Plateau provided a better path than the mountains to the south and north. However, I did see one historical marker that indicated a route along the slopes of the northern mountains was used during conflicts with the natives on the main route and the route to California used during the gold rush years branched off to the south over the mountains in the Twin Falls area.

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This is what the land must have looked like in the time of the Oregon Emigrants. A combination of grass and sage brush without the fence.

On the way back from my excursion I stopped at the Perrine Bridge to watch the BASE jumpers. The activity in the area was much greater than during the week. Down in the river I could see kayakers, paddle boarders, fisherman and general boat cursing. At the top of the canyon near the bridge several jumpers were in various stages of preparation for jumps. I sat on one of the benches and watched the activity for about an hour. During that time I saw three BASE jumps.

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Kayaks in the Snake River 450 feet below the top of the canyon rim.

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Paddle boarder in the Snake River.

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BASE Jumper leaving the bridge rail.

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Chute fully open.

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Gliding over the river.

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Barely clearing the trees.

One of the jumpers was a young woman. She was getting a lot of coaching from one of the other jumpers. She stood on the bridge, outside the rail, for a good minute or two before jumping. When she landed safely near the target she was jumping around in glee. Some of the other jumpers came over for a High-Five. I imagine it was her first jump. The guy who was coaching her jumped next. He landed in the bushes to the jeers of the other jumpers.

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Young woman on her first (?) jump.

Back at the campground I have new neighbors on one side. The RV park is mostly full tonight. It has a combination of weekenders and travelers. The weekenders are the ones partying and the travelers are sleeping.

Shoshone Falls

Friday May 19th 2017

Today I set out to visit the Shoshone Falls on the Snake River. I knew it was about two miles up river from the Perrine bridge, but I needed road signs to narrow down the search. Since I didn’t see any signs on US 93 after it crossed the bridge, I took the first road east on the south side of the river. That road had a couple of small signs announcing the distance to the falls.

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Shoshone Falls complete with rainbow.

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Looking west, down river, from the Shoshone Falls area.

The falls viewing area is located in a city park about two thirds of the way down the canyon wall. The road hugs the cliff down to a parking area and the nice green lawns of the park. There was a big tour bus in the parking area. I’m glad I didn’t meet it on the way down the cliff. It would have used both lanes on some of the tight curves on the road.

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Falls still have a high flow rate.

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Another rainbow.

The Shoshone Falls are known as the Niagara of the west. They are 212 feet high about 45 feet higher than Niagara Falls and nearly 1000 feet wide. It doesn’t look higher than Niagara Falls, but the viewing area is many feet above the falls so the angel diminishes the impact of the height. The volume of water going over the falls this year is at a twenty year high. The large amount of run off has allowed the river flow managers to keep the high flow rate. On Wednesday of this week they started cutting back on the flow to allow water for irrigation in the valley. Dams up river are holding back and diverting water into irrigation canals. Ultimately the water flow will be down to just enough to support the hydroelectric plant.

There was plenty of water going over the falls today. The roar of the water could be heard from the viewing areas and plenty of mist was rising from the river. When the sun was out several rainbows were visible. Everybody had a camera from little kids to senior citizens. By far the most common was cell phone cameras, but one gentleman had an SLR on a tripod aimed at falls. I suspect he was taking timed exposures of the water flow.

When I left the falls I turned east to see if the park was more accessible and marked from the other direction. It didn’t seem to be. I ended up heading east away from my RV home on Interstate 84. I probably went fifty miles through farm lands before I decided to reverse course and return to home. I don’t think the crops are all potatoes, but I did finally identify one field that I am pretty sure was planted with potatoes. These were far enough into the growing season that they looked vaguely familiar.

Springs Back

Thursday May 18th 2017

The crappy weather of the last couple of days is over. Today was in the low 60 with mostly sunshine here in the valley near Twin Falls. To the north near the mountains it was cooler and cloudier, but still a big improvement from yesterday.

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The sky over the valley was clear. The clouds hung in over the mountains.

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Clouds above the snow cap mountains.

Since the weather is projected to improve daily for the rest of my stay in this area, it wasn’t necessary to force the outside activities in the cooler weather. I chose to drive around the area some more today. The direction I chose was north toward the mountains. They’re further away than I thought. I ended up in Arco ID about 120 miles from my current RV park. Arco also happens to be where I’ve booked my next stay. What started as “Let’s check the route north” turned into a full blown dry run of the next week’s travel.

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This area of the country had a particularly wet winter. When I was in Reno NV last week they were talking about the high amount of snow pack in the Sierra Mountains and the rivers were running at the highest levels since the mid 1990s. Here in southern Idaho a similar story is being told. The amount of snow in the mountains is very high and rivers are running at all time high flow levels. There has been some minor flooding and more is feared. The temperature is forecast to reach the mid 80s next week.

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The high peaks in the mountain ranges are all still snow covered. It is very pretty to see the green lower slops transition into white snow tops. It is possible that some of the highest peaks will remain snow covered this summer. That is not the norm for this area.

This evening is the first day since I arrived here that ended in full sunshine. The lack of clouds have allowed the full impact of the late sunset to be visible. As of 9:15PM there is still enough daylight to walk around outside with out the need for a flashlight. The official sunset for this area was just before 9PM.

What happened to Spring

Wednesday May 17th 2017

Today’s weather was more appropriate for March than May. The rain stopped with the passing of the cold front overnight. In its place we have cold temperatures and strong winds. It barely cleared 40 degrees today and the wind was blown continuously. An occasional shower resulted in wind blown dampness. It was miserable outside.

To break up the day, I went for a drive with a stop for a few food items. This areas has rolling terrain. It isn’t hilly, but it isn’t flat either. It is primarily grass lands with scattered groups of trees used for ranch land and farming. As usual I have no idea what kind of crops were being grown. Fields were in different states of cultivation from fully covered in green growth to bare dirt. The one thing they all had in common was massive irrigation systems.

The most common irrigation system was the pivot style that creates circular cultivated fields when viewed from thirty thousand feet in an airplane. There were also long lateral sprinkler arrays that traveled down the length of the fields under there own power. A variation on those seemed to be designed to be rolled across the field possibly by human power. I imagine irrigation systems are very important during the growing season, but why were many of them running today after about 12 hours of rain.

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A reminder of what spring is supposed to look like.

The campground is much closer to full tonight than it has been. One reason is that most of yesterday’s arrivals didn’t leave in this mornings winds. I think only about two rigs left this morning. New campers having been arriving all afternoon. The weather is forecast to be better tomorrow. It may even make it to 60 degrees. I suspect there will be many early departures in the morning.

Weather Watching

Tuesday May 16th 2017

The day started cloudy and cool. It got progressively worse as the day went by. Tonight it is a full rain storm with heavier weather approaching. The overnight low for this area is forecast to be a degree or two above freezing.

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View of the Snake River Canyon depth from under the Perrine bridge.

It takes a little more attention to understand the TV weather forecasts in this area. All of the TV stations have very large viewing areas. Each station seems to have many rebroadcast transmitters. I think the stations I’m watching are actually located in Boise over 100 miles from here. The weather forecasts cover north central Nevada, south central Idaho, southwestern Idaho, western Idaho, central Idaho, southeastern Oregon and a few other areas. They talk through the forecast for each area by local names that aren’t necessarily on the map. This area is called the Magic Valley for some reason.

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Looking to the east from the Perrine bridge. The bump on the rim near the left of the picture is the Evel Kneivel jump ramp on the south rim.

The gloomy conditions this morning set the tone for my day. I didn’t leave the campground all day. I watch the pool repair crew sandblast the empty pool. They’re preparing it for a new coat of gunite, before they fill it. The pool is scheduled to open by Memorial day weekend. The sandblasting provided an interesting background noise. It was so constant that I didn’t hear the lawn mowers until they arrived at my site. Watching the guy scoot around on the mower was another few minutes diversion.

The pictures in this blog entry are from yesterday. I’m not happy with the color quality and sharpness of the pictures from my Canon PowerShot ELPH 360HS camera. I did some experimenting with cleaning them up with software, but I don’t see a big improvement. The color quality and brightness from my cell phone are much better. The camera’s advantage is that it has an optical zoom of 12X. If I don’t find a way to post process the pictures, I may need to buy a new camera.

Snake River Canyon

Monday May 15th 2017

Today was a cool sunny day. The high temperature was just over 60 degrees, about 10 degrees lower than the seasonal expectation. After three straight travel days, I was not ready for a lot of tourist activity today, but cooler temperatures and rain are forecast for the next three days. I needed to take advantage of the sunny day.

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I. B. Perrine Bridge over the Snake River in Twin Falls Idaho

Late in the morning I drove back to the I. B. Perrine bridge across the Snake River. I crossed it coming north yesterday. From the road approaching the bridge it is very unremarkable. The ground is level on both sides of the canyon holding the river so on approach the need for a bridge is hidden. It is only once you are on the bridge that the canyon is revealed. The river is not visible from a vechile crossing the bridge. It is too far below.

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View to the East from the Perrine Bridge area. The Evel Knievel launch ramp is in the south bank in the middle of this picture.

There are parking lots on both sides of the bridge to view the canyon and a visitors center on the southwest side. The bridge is a truss arch span 1500 feet long and 486 feet above the river. I walked under it on each side of the canyon and I walked out to the center of the bridge. It shakes and vibrates as each truck passes across. It wasn’t the most comfortable experience out on the shaky bridge 486 feet above the water, but the view was well worth it. To the west the canyon floor has a golf course on both sides of the river. To the east waterfalls and the dirt launching ramp for Evel Knievel’s unsuccessful attempt to jump across the Snake River Canyon on a steam powered Skycycle rocket can be seen in the distance.

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Waterfall on the south rim of the canyon.

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Statue “The Twins” on the rim southeast of the bridge.

The other thing the bridge is know for is BASE jumping. It is one of the only places in the United States that it is legal to parachute jump from the structure. While I was there several jumpers took the leap. How they can do it is beyond my understanding. I found it very difficult to watch as they stood on the bridge railing before jumping.

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BASE Jumper preparing to jump

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Over the edge with the parachute starting to deploy

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Parachute open and sailing toward the river below. 

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Is he going to land in the water?

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Landing near a target painted on the floor of the canyon beside the river.

Another major storm front is moving in off the Pacific Ocean. It will bring rain to this area tomorrow through Thursday. Some areas at altitude North, South, East and West of here have winter storm warnings in effect. The Elko NV area that I was in over the weekend may get as much as two feet of snow. I’m glad I’m not still in that area. The Sun Valley area to the north of here is expecting about 10 inches of snow. I don’t think I will be traveling too far away from this area of the Magic Valley over the next couple of days.

Travel Day to Twin Falls Idaho

Sunday May 14th 2017

The noisy departure of one of my neighbors got me started early this morning. I was up and preparing breakfast by 7:30. It was way earlier than I needed to be up. I only had 120 miles to my next destination.

I tried to prepare for travel slowly, but I was on the road north from Wells NV at 9:30. I had a straight run north on US 93. The road had a single lane in each direction except for the big climb out of the valley which added another climbing lane. I needed it, running at the 70mph speed limit was two fast for me.

The first section of road was through an area labeled as a “Deer Migration Crossing”. There were elaborate structures and high fences to keep motorists and deer apart. I say two bridges for the deer to cross and several tunnels under the road just for the animals to cross. I didn’t see any deer. I did see reference to hunting, so I wonder if the area is designated recreation land.

As I went north the ground cover changed. It started as gravel with low bushes and transitioned to grass with low bushes. Shortly after crossing into Idaho, the bushes disappeared and good cattle grazing land appear. It changed to cultivated farm land as I got nearer to Twin Falls. Somewhere along the way I also lost over two thousand feet in altitude even though I thought I was climbing.

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Site 24 at the Twin Falls/Jerome KOA.

I am at the KOA just north west of Twin Falls Idaho in the town of Jerome. I plan to be here for ten days to checkout the southern Idaho attractions. The campground is in a good location, but the sites are a little close to each other. My site is about fifty feet from US 93, so it won’t be quiet. The trees in this area are in full foliage. The one beside my RV blocks my satellite dish so I’m using the campgrounds cable TV hookup. I’ll have to live without a couple of stations I have started to frequent. It isn’t worth moving to get a chance at a better satellite shot.

I also moved back into the Mountain time zone. The sun is setting later by the clock in this area. It is now 8:30 MST and dusk is arriving.

Snow Squalls

Saturday May 13th 2017

This morning around six thirty my old nemesis the wind woke me up. I looked outside to find snow falling. It wasn’t accumulating. The ground temperature was sufficiently above freezing that it melted on or before contact. When I got up at 8am the ground was wet, but the only evidence of snow was more white on the nearby mountains. The sun was breaking through white puffy clouds.

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More snow on the sides of the mountains out my front window this morning.

I had two possible places in mind to stop tonight. One was in Wells NV about 175 miles east on Interstate 80 and the other was at Jackpot NV on the Idaho line 45 miles north of Wells. Neither was a long travel distance so I planned to leave around eleven. Mother nature had other ideas. Around 9:30 black clouds were approaching from the west, but my escape path to the east was still sunny. I completed my packing and got underway at ten in a sleet storm.

I drove out of the storm about 5 miles west. I had partly sunny sky for the next 125 miles. The road passes across long areas of flat ranch land then negotiates a ridge line. Most of the ridges were handled by climbing over the mountains through some form of pass. The highest was about 6200 feet. One short ridge was cleared by way of a tunnel through it. Each successive flat area was a few hundred feet higher in altitude. I can never tell where the exit from the flat valley will be. Usually you have half an hour of watching the far wall of rock get closer to figure out how you’re going to get over it.

Crossing the last flat area I couldn’t see the mountains in the distance. They were blocked by low gray clouds. It was clear looking to the left and right, but straight ahead it was a wall of gray. As the road climbed out of the valley the road became wet, then light showers were encountered. Visibility kept getting worst. Crossing another flat area it became snow. Like this morning it was not accumulating on the road. Thankfully, there wasn’t much traffic because visibility was down to a couple of hundred feet. My windshield wipers kept the front view clear, but slush started to build up outside the wipers path.

I was pretty sure I was dealing with an altitude driven squall, but I still wanted to get off the road. After ten or fifteen miles of crap driving I reached the exit for my first RV park alternative in Wells NV. I pulled into the park a little after 1PM. My fight with mother nature was over for the day, but I still had a few issues to deal with.

When I stopped at the campground office, I lowered my power drivers window to talk with the women from the office. The window got stuck in the down position. I thought I’d had it fixed last fall. It took a few minutes to get the window up after I’d parked. In the mean time, the snow blew in. I also had difficulty getting, my leveling jacks down and the slide rooms out. This happens when the emergency brake interlock is not reporting the brake applied correctly. A few more minutes of playing with things and I got that working too.

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Site 24 at Angel Lake RV Park in Wells NV.

By about 2:30 the sun was out and all signs of the snow were gone. It still never got higher than the mid forties temperature wise. Tomorrow I head north for Twin Falls Idaho. I plan to stay in that area for ten days.

Very Windy Travel Day

Friday May 12th 2017

About six thirty this morning the sound of rain on the roof woke me. This is not a sound I want to hear on a travel day. It turned out to only last a few minutes, but enough to kick me into gear.

The weather forecast on the morning TV news called for the front to pass followed by clearing and less wind. I liked the less wind part so started to slowly get ready to travel. The sun was out and the gusts had diminished by the time I raised the jacks and hit the road at ten. What I hadn’t taken into account was that the front was moving east at a slower speed than I was heading east on Interstate 80.

Shortly after I passed east of Fernley NV, the last significant population center for a hundred miles, I encountered strong winds. The people in charge of road signs were nice enough to put up a sign that said Warning Sever Winds possible Next 14 miles. It was too late to do anything about it other than keep going. There weren’t any exits or pull offs for more than 14 miles. Besides, I didn’t know enough to take action. There was a triple tow FedX truck about a quarter to half a mile in front of me. I watched it behave like a snake going down the road at times. The front and rear went to the left and the middle went to the right, then the other way. I just got pushed out of my lane every time a gust came up. There was only a little traffic on the road, so I had room to maintain control. The wind was also causing things outside the rig to flop or whistle that have never been known to in the past. This was the worst wind I’ve encountered driving the motorhome.

The problems with the wind lasted for more than the advertised fourteen miles, maybe fifty or so miles. The sun was out in the windy area. It stabilized at manageable level when the sky darkened. I had caught up with the cold front. It never really rained on me. In a couple of areas the road was wet, but for the most part the precipitation was not reaching the ground.

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Site 63 at the Winnimucca KOA

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Mountain view out my front window.

I stopped for the night in Winnamucca NV, at the northern most point on Interstate 80 in Nevada. It is a little less than half way across the state. I traveled for a little over three hours with one stop to fill the gas tank. It got extra windy here after I was setup, but now as night sets in it is almost calm outside. Tomorrow I will move east again. Hopefully, I will not catch up with the front again.