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.

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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.

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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.

A Day of Changing Plans

Monday July 17th 2017

Today was a day filled with changes in plans. When I got up this morning I decided to return to Provo Canyon to check out the sights without all the weekenders clogging the parking lots. That plan held until I started to leave the campground. A low tire pressure warning light started the days plan changes.

I’ve been watching the passenger rear tire for awhile. The first time I added air to the tire it held for around a month. I added more air, still not sure if I had a problem or not. Two weeks later I needed to add air again. At that time it was obvious that I had to find a tire shop, but I was in the middle of nowhere. The slow leak kept getting faster. I put air in the tire on Saturday after about a week. The good thing was I’m now in an area with plenty of tire stores. I got the compressor out and put enough air in the tire to get to a tire shop.

I had read good things about a major west coast tire chain called Les Schwab Tires. I found a Les Schwab in downtown Provo. They took the car right in. Forty Five minutes or less later I had the car back with the tire repaired. They took a nail out and put a repair in. The nice part is as a visitor to the area they didn’t charge me for the service. That kind of positive service will bring me back to Les Schwab Tires if I have a need for tires on this coast in the future.

The next change in plan happened when I stopped in a shopping area with a Walmart Neighborhood Market. I needed a few groceries and I often wondered what one of these food stores were like. So I went grocery shopping instead of sight seeing. Why was I surprised that it was only a grocery store with Walmart house brands? That’s what it was supposed to be and that is what it was.

I brought the groceries home and planned to go get back to the sightseeing plan, but the final change in plan came into play. A thunderstorm was approaching from the southwest. A sever storm warning was announced for the area just north of my destination. Being overly cautious I stayed home and walked around the park one last time.

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Geese grazing on the grass.

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Young geese swimming in the shallows while the adults keep watch.

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More geese fly in.

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Swimming to shore after a water landing.

Today the predominant birds were geese. These big birds have been leaving their calling cards all over the parking lots, but I haven’t seen many on previous walks. Today they were flying, standing and swimming all over the marina. I was startled by how close to them I got. I was within ten feet of a group of adult birds before I knew it. They were aware of me but didn’t seem to mind. The young ones were much further away.

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One last picture of the mountains to the east.

Tomorrow I move north to Salt Lake City for ten days. It’s a very short trip, but the checkout time here isn’t until 2PM so I’ll take my time packing in the morning.

Searching for Bird Identities

Sunday July 16th 2017

Today turned out to be another lazy day. A couple of the places I thought about going to are not open on Sunday. Major stores and such are open, but smaller places and attractions might not be in this state. The uncertainty kept me home. Even here at the park the day use area seemed to have fewer people out and about than yesterday.

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A pair of Western Grebes or Clark’s Grebes.

During one of my walks around the park today I caught a performance by a pair of the mysterious water fowl that gave me a better idea of their identity. A pair of birds with long white necks and black heads swam up to each other did a little dosey-doe then proceeded to walk on the water in unison followed by a dive. The performance and a picture fueled my internet search that narrowed their identity down to either a Western or Clark’s Grebe. I found a video of a similar performance on the internet. Click the link to see internet video I found. The walking on water part starts at about 53 seconds in. It was interesting to see the birds do their thing. I wonder how rare it is to witness such a performance.

I’m happy to say I used the gas grill again today. Twice in less than a week is great considering I don’t remember the last time I used it. I grilled another pork chop for dinner today.

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Mountain to the east after the thunderstorm passed through here.

The clouds moved in this afternoon preventing the sun from really heating up the RV. It didn’t cool off outside, but the sun didn’t increase the inside temperature beyond what the AC could handle. In the early evening an actual thunderstorm moved into the area. It got dark and the wind blew hard then a couple of minutes of heavy rain passed through. The sun returned shortly after the rain and the wind went away after a few minutes. The outside temperature went down about ten degrees into the high 80s. I really don’t understand storms in this area of the country.

 

Driving up into the Mountains

Saturday July 15th 2017

After a couple of days of slightly more moderate heat the high heat returned today. Salt Lake City had triple digit temperatures, but here in Provo, 40 or so miles south, it only reached 98. I found out how a lot of people deal with the heat, they go up into the mountains.

I took a drive this morning into Provo Canyon and up to the Deer Creek Reservoir Recreation area. The road follows the Provo River through the canyon and steadily climbs to east side of the Wasatch mountains. There are a number of park areas and turn outs along the way. Everyone of them had a backup of cars trying to find a place to park. I continued on past the full parking lots with many other people. Many of the vehicles were pulling boats on trailers. The Deer Creek Reservoir was the destination for many of the boats. As I drove along the shore I could see a water traffic jamb of boats on the lake. There was a continuous rotation of boats pulling skiers and tubers around the perimiter of the lake in a clockwise pattern. I don’t know if they were being directed into this pattern or if it’s some sort of local rule, but it seem to be a way to accommodate the high volume of boats on the water.

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Provo River near the mouth into Utah Lake.

st2From the Deer Creek Reservoir area I continued north through the town of Heber City. I got “lost” briefly in Heber City. The road signs were very poor and for some reason when route US 189 merged with route US 40 they dropped the reference to US 189 even though they are both on the map. In general, there are very few direction signs save for an occasional distance to a named town in this area. From Heber City the road really starts to climb toward the Jordanelle Reservoir. There were more boats with skiers and such in the Jordanelle Reservoir. I had looked into staying at the Jordanelle State Park, but there weren’t any open sites. Now that I see the area, I suspect all of the people in the Salt Lake Valley compete for the sites on the side of the reservoir in the cooler mountain temperatures.

After the Jordanelle Reservoir the road continues to climb up to the Park City and Deer Valley areas. I was in steady traffic. Seeing the sights and finding a place to park proved difficult. I was at the Interstate 80 intersection before I knew it. I will come back to see Park City and Deer Valley on a week day. It wasn’t worth the hassle the traffic presented. The trip back on Interstate 80 was a long down hill run. Park City is at around 7000 feet and the Salt Lake Valley is around 4400 feet in altitude.

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Clouds building over the mountains and Provo Canyon

Back at my campsite on Utah Lake this afternoon the temperature was ten to fifteen degrees warmer than it was in the mountains. The way my RV is oriented the sun hits the front windshield around 3PM in the afternoon. The solar gain on the large glass surface can’t be avoided. I have the shades down, but it still gets hot in the rig with only one AC running. If I had enough power to run both air conditioners I’d be fine.

Tomorrow the heat continues. In fact it’s supposed to be a couple degrees warmer. I’m not sure what’s on my agenda yet, but keeping cool is one thing.

A Day to Relax

Friday July 14th 2017

The day started off refreshingly cool. It got down into the sixties overnight. It was a calm partly cloudy day that approached one hundred degrees at the peak of the day. It was comfortable outside most of the day as long as you stayed out of the direct sun.

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Ducks heading up stream.

I sat outside in the shade this morning to enjoy my breakfast coffee. That simple act set the pattern for an enjoyable lazy day at camp. Yesterday’s thoughts of continuing to explore the area never became an action. I spent most of the day reading and watching TV interspersed with moving my chair around to stay in the shade.

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Ducks in the river with a mountain on the south west side of Utah Lake in the background.

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Three more ducks in the river.

The Provo Utah airport is near the state park. The approach for the longest runway is almost over my campsite. It is primarily a general aviation airport with lots of private planes, helicopters and business jets. A couple of times today a Allegiant Air commercial 737 came in for a landing. I haven’t seen anything take off in this direction. With the exception of the helicopters, they aren’t too noisy and make an interesting diversion to watch.

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Looking back at the marina from the outer area of the sheltered harbor.

This afternoon I walked across the park to the Provo River area. I sat in the shade and watched the ducks search for their lunch. There were many pairs of ducks swimming and diving in the slow current of the river. The different sizes and color patterns of the ducks point out just how few varieties I know. Even with a little internet searching, I’m not sure what kind of ducks I was watching.

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Weather building over the mountains to the east as the afternoon progressed.

Continuing with my outdoor living theme for the day, I got the gas grill out of the basement storage for the first time in several weeks. It hasn’t been as long as my bicycle since I last used it, but I’m not in as much of a hurry to replace my old grill as I was at the start of my Rambling Road Trip. I’ll keep using this one until it completely rusts out. I grilled a nice thick porkchop and some potatoes for supper.