Trip Around Some Mountains

Monday July 31st 2017

This morning over breakfast I watched my neighbor pack up his carefully setup camp to move on. All of the work he put into setting up his camp yesterday was repeated this morning to put everything away. I understand getting a few things out that you need, but planting a bunch of little flags with a solar light and a string of LED lights is going too far for a one night camp. Everybody has their own ideas and priorities.


Through the window picture of the area behind one set of mountains.

Today I decided to see what’s on the other side of the mountains that are behind the campground. There are two ways to get behind the mountains. I could go north 25 miles to US 50 east or go south 30 miles to Interstate 70 east. In addition to my general curiosity, I also want to scout out the route I will take on Thursday when I move to my next destination. I decided to make a loop; out on US 50 and back on Interstate 70. It’s about one hundred and fifty miles.

US 50 had a gradual climb up about 1000 feet to about 6000 total feet. It then had a long occasionally steep descent into the town of Salina on Interstate 70. As I descended into Salina the terrain changed. More red rocks and striations were visible on the mountain sides. The valley floors were still cattle land with a few planted fields. On the way back, Interstate 70 had a significant climb to over 7000 feet with an accompanying descent.


Through the window shot of clouds gathering over the top of the mountains.

My conclusion is that there isn’t anything more interesting on the other side of the mountain than my current side. On Thursday I will follow the same route to Salina before going east on Interstate 70 instead of west. Using the US 50 route is a little shorter and seems to have less up hill and down hill issues. The one hundred and ten mile stretch on Interstate 70 to Green River is longest section of Interstate without services in the country. It will be an interesting drive.

Back at the campground this afternoon, I watched the new arrivals come in and setup. None of them setup as elaborate a camp as last nights neighbor. Even the folks in a tent trailer that cooked and ate outside didn’t setup as much of a camp. There’s always something to trigger my curiosity.

Touring and Cooking

Sunday July 30th 2017

I got a slow start this morning. Watching TV until well after midnight will do that. It was a bright sunny day this morning with a few high clouds over the mountains this afternoon. It got into the mid 90s, but overall it was a beautiful day.


Clouds over the mountains this afternoon.

I explored the community of Fillmore UT today. For a while in the 1850s the territorial government was based in this town. The oldest existing government building in the state is the old Territorial State house located in town. I stopped at the state park that houses the building, but it was closed. Everything in town seems to be closed on Sunday. The only places that seemed to be open were the gas stations near the interstate.

In the cities the big box stores were open on Sunday, but the independent and smaller franchise stores were closed. I assume it is the religious heritage of the state that causes this. Stores being closed on Sunday doesn’t bother me, but tourist places like the Territorial State House State Park and museums are another story. After driving from one side of the town and back again without seeing many people I took the hint and returned to my RV home for the rest of the day.


Pork Loin Roast I cooked for dinner.

I took the opportunity this afternoon to cook the Pork Loin Roast I bought on my provisioning run in Salt Lake City before heading down here. It made for a good Sunday dinner and will provide leftovers for various meals during the week. The convection part of the microwave/convection oven has proven to be quite versatile. What I can prepare is restricted more by size than capability. For example, a turkey wouldn’t really fit inside the oven, but I’m sure I could cook a whole chicken.


Lots of clouds to the north this evening.

This afternoon I got new neighbors at the campground. A motorhome, bigger than mine, pulled into the site beside me. It’s towed car stuck out into the road behind the rig. The driver didn’t bother to disconnect the car. He just put a couple of reflective triangles out as a warning to others. He then proceeded to hook up to the utilities, setup a gas grill, put up a couple of tiki torches, create a little flag garden with solar light and prepared a campfire to be enjoyed later. After that I didn’t see anybody for hours. They were inside in air conditioned comfort. When you don’t disconnect the car you are usually planning to leave in the morning. When you setup lots of stuff on your site you are usually planning to stay awhile. I can’t begin to guess what these folks are going to do.

Cleaning Day

Saturday July 29th 2017

This blog entry isn’t very exciting, because my day turned out to be mundane. During breakfast this morning I noticed that my hand was covered in dusty dirt. Further investigation showed my credenza had a fine coat of dust. The good news is that the off white color of the counter doesn’t show dirt well. The bad news is that somewhere over the last few weeks I must have left the windows open in a dust storm. My touring day turned into a cleaning day.


View of the mountains behind the campground

After breakfast I got started on cleaning. I hit the counter tops with soapy water and the woodwork with furniture polish. The floors got vacuumed with my built in vacuum cleaner. I considered that a questionable option when I bought the RV, but it has proven useful. Unfortunately, the tile floor really needs to be wet mopped, but I don’t have a mop. I used a sponge on a couple of areas with issues until I can buy a mop. My light beige fake leather upholstery also needed to be cleaned. Warm water with a little liquid dish soap seemed to work OK for those. The rig still isn’t perfect, but it’s a lot better than it was this morning.


Interesting cloud patterns over the mountains behind the campground. Is that a cloud scorpion or shrimp in the center?

This campground is on the Paiute ATV trail. The trail is rated as one of the best ATV trails in the country. The trail’s main loop is over 275 miles long and has side trails totaling over 1000 miles. I counted twelve ATVs in the campground. Most of the ATVs are two person side by side rides. They all headed out on the trail this morning and returned this afternoon. I saw reflections on the side of the mountain behind the campground that was probably an ATV or two going up and over the mountain. The majority of the trail is on the east and south side of the mountains behind the campground.

This campground has been close to full both nights I’ve been here. Most of the people are only here for a night or two. It was only about a third full from 11am-3pm when it started to fill up again.


Travel Day to Fillmore Utah

Friday July 28th 2017

Today was a travel day. I slowly packed and prepared to leave. My goal was to depart between eleven and twelve. I got on the road around 11:30. Traffic was heavy but moving. I do think it is ever light on I-15 through the Utah population centers.

I had one hundred and fifty miles to travel. It took an hour to get out of the population center which runs from about 70 miles south of Salt Lake City to a location about the same distance north of the city. The road south was four to six lanes of concrete all the way. The road surface was fine, but in some areas the sections of concrete weren’t even. It wasn’t difficult to launch the RV up on the shocks then back down. It made for a real bouncy ride in some areas.

Once I got south of the population center the road surface turned to pavement and the area opened into broad valleys used for cattle. The road also started to climb in altitude. It wasn’t long before I was passing signs indicating directions to “chain up” areas. Chains aren’t necessary this time of year, but you still see many tractor trailers with chains hanging from racks under the trailer. They’ll be ready when the snow starts to fly again.


Site 6 at the Fillmore Utah KOA.

I arrived in Fillmore Utah at two in the afternoon. I’ll be staying at the Fillmore KOA for six nights. This is a nice campground with reasonable separation between sites. The campground has an access to one of the bigger ATV trails in the area. A number of Toy Hauler RVs have been arriving for the weekend with ATVs in the back. It maybe noise at times with all the ATV motors, but I don’t expect any problems.


My co-pilot for the last year is taking a vacation for a while.

On today’s journey I had a new co-pilot. My co-pilots on the Rambling Road Trip sit on the dash and watch the road ahead. They also serve as a decoration. The last year or so my co-pilot was a little polar bear. He’s moved to the back of the rig for a rest so my new co-pilot is a little old bison. He beat out the black bear for the honor.   Unfortunately, neither of them are good at conversation.


My new co-pilot.

Tomorrow I’ll check out the area and figure out a plan of action for the next few days. There may not be a lot to do in town, but I will range out from here for fifty to a hundred miles.

Last Day in Salt Lake City

Thursday July 27th 2017

My plans for the day took a major change at breakfast. I didn’t have anything to accompany my breakfast coffee. I was out of bread for toast and low on milk for cereal. I needed to stock up on supplies. The urgency was increased since I was moving out of heavily populated areas tomorrow for at least a couple of weeks. The bottom line is that getting food and other provisions on board was the priority for the day.

I located a Walmart Supercenter about four or five miles away. The distance depended on the route I followed. I determined a route straight south then straight east would be the easiest. I don’t have a dedicated GPS for the car. My cell phone and Google Maps fill the gap when I get desperate. Today I needed a GPS. The street in this area are in a grid with Temple Square as the center point of the grid. The streets are number with a directional indicator of north, south, east and west from the center represented by the square. The only problem is they also use names for some streets in place of the numeric number, but not for the entire length of the street. What all this means is when I missed my turn to the east, I attempted to recover by going to the next major east bound road. I would have been fine if the road I was looking for hadn’t transitioned back to its numeric name by the time I got back to it. I was almost back at my campsite when I stopped in a parking lot to use my cell phone as a GPS. Overall the trip to the store took more than twice the travel distance than it should have.

This was an interesting Walmart. To have enough parking, they had to create an additional level above the ground level. The parking choices were open parking, covered parking or top level open parking. Not expecting this anomaly created a little bit of confusion when I arrived. I probably parked twice as far away as I needed. It was only after I was parked in the open that I realized how to deal with the whole upper deck. The ramp was hidden around a corner of the building. Inside it was your typical Walmart.


One of the flower beds at the campground. A few strategically placed artificial flowers add the color.

By the time I had all my provisions for the next couple of weeks it was too late to travel north to the Hill AFB museum. The area north of Salt Lake City to the Idaho border will have to wait for another visit to this area. Tomorrow I move about one hundred and fifty miles south. I spent the rest of the day relaxing and starting to put stuff away.

Temple Square

Wednesday July 26th 2017

The day began with an early morning thunderstorm. About 4:30 a heavy thunderstorm hit the area. It lasted around two hours and dropped over an inch of rain. The noise on the roof of the RV woke me up for a few minutes, but I got back to sleep until seven thirty or so. The day was mostly sunny with temperatures in the 80s. This evening another round of thunderstorms is passing through the area.


Fountain with statues and gardens in the Temple Square compound.

My touring focus for the day was the core of Salt Lake City. I visited Temple Square and the surrounding area. It has changed a lot since the turn of the century when I was last in the area. Most of the changes date back to the improvements put in place for the winter Olympics in 2002. I drove the two and half miles from my campground to the Temple Square area. I had scoped out the location of a parking area on Google Maps before I left. The only problem was the road for the parking facility was closed for construction. Thus, the search for a place to park began. The signage for parking is not very good. I found several parking lots after I had passed by the entrances and one big lot that was full. After I circled the block and headed back toward the square, I found an entrance to an underground lot. It turned out to be the parking for the City Creek Center shopping mall. I got lucky. The lot was in a good location at a good price.


View across a reflecting pool of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Temple in Salt Lake City Utah.

The City Creek Center shopping mall is an upscale indoor outdoor mall. It has the curious feature of a retractable roof. While I was there the glass roof moved back over the tops of the stores to open the walkways to the outside. It is located across the street from the west side of Temple Square. So it was a very good base for touring the square.


Mormon Temple

The Temple Square holds the Mormon Temple at the center. It is surrounded by other buildings, gardens, fountains and statues. The other buildings include visitor centers, the Tabernacle, and some historical buildings. Throughout the grounds are many people willing to answer any questions you might have along with an enthusiastic explanation of the religion.


One of the flower beds in the Temple Square compound.

I toured the entire grounds looking at the buildings, statues and gardens. Overall, it’s a very nice area with lots of green space and good splashes of color from the flower gardens. The brass statues represent the history of the religion and serve to break up the gardens and water features. The flower beds contain a mixture of different plants form petunias to hydrangeas with many colors represented. There are not large groupings of any single variety or color of plant. This seems to allow the flower beds to blend in with the surroundings rather be the focal point.


Outside of the Tabernacle.


Inside of the Tabernacle with a few people listening to the organ music.

The only building I went into was the Tabernacle. Someone was playing the organ and it filled the hall with music. I found it too loud to remain inside long, but it demonstrated the good acoustics of the hall.


One curious road sign in downtown Salt Lake City. I didn’t see any Falcons.

I was back at my RV by mid afternoon. This gave me time to get a few chores like laundry completed. Tomorrow I may travel north of Salt Lake City to the museum at Hill Air Force Base.

Now we return to our regularly scheduled blogging…

Tuesday July 25th 2017

After a short hiatus from daily blogging to attend a family reunion in North Carolina I’m picking up where I left off in Salt Lake City Utah. Now is also a good time to restate why I put the effort into this blog. It serves several purposes. First it provides a record of my adventures (or lack thereof) to reinforce my memories. Second it keeps my friends and relatives informed on my whereabouts and activities. Hopefully it makes up some of the gap created by my lack of initiative in maintaining communications channels. Third it provides an example of what a solo traveler in an RV does day to day. In preparing for this lifestyle I read many blogs. This is my attempt to give a little back to future full time RVers. Finally, writing this blog provides a measure of structure to my day. Knowing I need to write a blog entry each evening gives me something to consider during the day. The need for an interesting topic to write about has been known to get me out of the RV after a couple of days of talking about the weather.


Sunset along the river in North Carolina

The family reunion in North Carolina was fun and it was good to see and talk to everybody. I flew non-stop on Delta from Salt Lake City to Raleigh NC on Thursday and back on Monday. The flights were full but uneventful. An uneventful flight is always good. All the drama about airplane travel in the news doesn’t need to happen on my flights.

I returned to find all new neighbors at the RV park. All I had to do was turn the water back on and get the rig cooled down to the comfortable level. It was the end of the Pioneer Day Holiday Weekend in Utah. The campground appeared to be full last night, but many people left this morning. It is not as full tonight.

I expected to get right back into sight seeing in the Salt Lake City area this morning, but the weather put a delay on that plan. The monsoon weather is in full swing here. There were thunderstorms overnight and the rain continued most of the morning. The rest of the day was off and on showers. I should have taken advantage of the cooler temperatures and ignored the rain. I will do that tomorrow if the rainy weather continues. Today I hung out in my RV home and got caught up on a few things.

Monsoon Season?

Wednesday July 19th 2017

The weather changed dramatically overnight. Yesterday was hot, sunny and relatively dry. Today was cloudy, humid and almost as hot. We are experiencing the start of monsoon season according to the TV weather talkers. There has been one brief shower here, but other areas of Utah have had sever thunderstorms and flash floods. The next twenty four to forty eight hours are forecast to be this monsoon pattern before returning to the hot and dry weather.


One of the flower beds scattered throughout the campground.

My focus for the day was getting familiar with the area and running a few errands. I now know the area to the south is industrial and warehouses for a few miles before turning into a retail area. It is a bit of a maze of streets and cross streets. I actually resorted to asking Google maps on my phone to get me home after I concluded I was momentarily lost. The trigger was thinking I was headed north and seeing the car’s compass say I was headed south.

To the east of my campsite is the downtown Salt Lake City area. I didn’t drive into the city yet. I’ll reserve that for a day when I can spend some time walking around the city center. I have been to the Temple Square area before. I was in Salt Lake City on a business trip around the turn of the century. The winter Olympics a few years after my visit probably changed a lot of things in that area.

I also swung through the airport area on my scouting trip this morning. I found one big construction zone and lots of people walking across the road “knowing” the cars would stop for them. The airport wasn’t what I was expecting. I’ve changed planes in Salt Lake City a couple of times and used it as my destination once. In my memory I thought it was a bigger more modern appearing airport. Most of the construction seemed to be on infrastructure like roads and parking not on new terminals.

Writing the previous paragraph caused me to do a web search for improvement to the Salt Lake City airport. I found a page that describes a 1.8 billion dollar improvement program for the airport. By 2022 the terminals, garages and infrastructure will all be replaced with new facilities. That is the on-going construction I observed. So I guess I’m not the only one that isn’t impressed with the current airport.

The campground was full last night and again tonight. During the day there was a lot of turnover. Many of tonight’s guests look like they are staying longer than overnight. This is a holiday weekend in Utah. Monday is Pioneer Day celebrating the arrival of the first Mormon settlers in the valley. There are parades, fireworks and rodeos over the long weekend.

Travel Day to Salt Lake City

Tuesday July 18th 2017

Today started hot and got hotter. Judging by the occasional cycling of the AC, I don’t think it got below the mid 70s overnight. There were no clouds in the sky this morning. Working outside to get ready to travel was uncomfortable.

I had less than 50 miles to travel from Provo to Salt Lake City so I didn’t want to rush. Check out time was 2PM and check in time at the new place was 1PM. So, I had plenty of flexibility as long as I didn’t rush. I finally departed the Utah Lake State park at about 12:30. Traffic on I-15 north was heavy. I tried to stay in the furthest right lane that didn’t keep disappearing down the exit ramp all the way north. The road surface is not the best I’ve encountered, but by no means the worst. Just about every bridge wanted to launch the RV into the air. Never the less I arrived in one piece after about an hour on the road.

This campground is located about 2.5 miles from Temple Square and 4 miles from the Salt Lake City Airport. Despite being in a very urban area it is set in many mature trees. This is the first campground I’ve been in this month with shade. I’m going to need the shade. It reached 100 degrees in Salt Lake City again today. It was still one hundred degrees at 7PM tonight. The trees and the urban setting seem to keep any breeze from being felt in the campground. A thunderstorm went through around 4PM dropping a couple of teaspoons of water and dropping the temperature by 5 degrees or so while it was passing. Half an hour later there was no indication that a storm had even occurred.


Site 56 at the Salt Lake City KOA.

After getting setup the first thing on the agenda was getting the laundry washed and dried. I was starting to get into some of the shirts I don’t usually wear from the bottom of the draw. The good thing about light summer clothes is they don’t take up as much space in the laundry hamper. Still, I had plenty of things to wash. It’s a good thing the laundry was big. A mother of four kids under ten (I’d guess) had eight washers and four dryers in play. All while she was chasing the kids between the laundry room, the near by playground and the pool. I got my loads completed and got back home while she was still at it.