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.

Utah Lake

Thursday July 13th 2017

Today started as a calm day in the seventies and climbed to the low nineties. Late this afternoon thunderstorms to the east brought strong winds to the Utah Lake area.

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Paddle board camp class in the marina.

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Rock break waters shelter the marina.

I spent some time this morning walking around the Utah Lake State Park. I suspect that the Blue Green Algae bloom in the lake is keeping visitors away from the park. The rental slips in the marina were mostly full, but the transient area and the parking lots were mostly empty. A few people were participating in what looked like a paddle board class in the marina. They were playing in the water right beside the warning signs to stay out of the water because of the algae bloom. If they don’t swallow any lake water or have open wounds, I suppose they will be OK. I don’t think I would want to risk sickness to learn how to paddle a board while balanced on top.

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Looking back to the south east from one of the breakwaters.

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The campground is located on the shore of Utah Lake in this area.

The marina is in an area of the lake sectioned off by big breakwaters. It is located beside where the Provo River empties into the lake. Most of the rental spots in the marina are occupied by sailboats. The 12 mile wide by 24 miles long lake is only 9 feet in depth on average. The size is probably what makes it good for sailboats. Utah Lake is advertised as the third largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. Interestingly, I’ve been to the two lakes that lead it in size this summer. Flathead lake in Montana near Glacier National Park is the biggest lake west of the Mississippi and Lake Tahoe on the Nevada California line comes in second.

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Lots of these diving ducks in the marina. I haven’t seen one close enough to begin the process of identification.

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Mom duck and her kids.

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The flower of the day.

This afternoon I went in search of groceries. I found a gas station to allow me to wander around the area and a Walmart a couple of exits north on Interstate 15 in the city of Orem. Not really thinking, I bought Ice Cream. To keep it from melting I came straight back to camp from the grocery store. Checking out the area will have to wait until tomorrow.

Travel Day to Provo Utah

Wednesday July 12th 2017

Today was a travel day from West Wendover NV to Provo UT. I slow rolled my departure preparations until I 10:45. It was just fifteen minutes before check out time when I pulled out of the RV park. The guy waiting to “clean” the site was hovering down the row of empty sites waiting for me to leave. With only 160 miles to travel, I didn’t want to get to my destination before the 2pm check out time.

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Site A13 at the Utah Lake State Park.

My trip had two distinct parts. The first one hundred and ten miles was through open territory. Sitting high in the motorhome it was possible to see more of the salt flats. Crossing the flats in a car it is not possible to see the surface of the salt flats beyond the raised berms for the road and train tracks. In the motorhome the white expanse of the salt flat seems endless. The downside is the additional white surfaces increased the glare. Even with sunglasses it was bright. Nearer to Salt Lake City, I had a similarly improved view of the Great Salt Lake. The higher vantage point made the lake look a little more impressive.

Once I reached Salt Lake City the nature of the trip changed completely. Instead of light traffic in open spaces, it became heavy traffic in the concrete jungle of the Salt Lake City metropolitan area. The last forty miles was on Interstate 15 with four or more lanes in each direction interspersed with both right and left exits along with an HOV lane. The scenery was only a bunch of shops and businesses, but I didn’t have time to look at it. I had plenty of traffic to navigate.

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View in front of my RV home of Utah Lake and through the haze the mountains to the north beyond.

I arrived at the Utah Lake State Park in Provo Utah around 2PM. I setup in the hot sun of the heat of the day. The clouds moved in for a while later in the afternoon, but the bright sunshine has returned as sunset approaches. The campground isn’t full which is apparently normal for the middle of the week in July. The marina and day use area is not as busy as normal because the lake is experiencing a Blue-Green Algae Bloom. Signs have been posted warning people to stay out of the water. The algae won’t impact my stay. I’ll be here until Tuesday the 18th.

Last day in the Wendovers.

Tuesday July 11th 2017

Today was my last full day in Wendover. In many ways it was a clone of yesterday. The weather was the same 98 degree heat and my activity level was as sedate as yesterday.

I did spend sometime getting ready to travel tomorrow. I mounted the bicycle rack on the back of my SUV and loaded my bike. Whenever I stop for more than a couple of nights, I take the bicycle and rack off the car and lock them up. It only takes about fifteen minutes to load or unload them and it is easier to maneuver the vehicle and access the back without the bike and rack sticking out of the hitch receiver.

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Rock hill side that overlooks West Wendover NV.

Thinking about the bike, I can’t remember the last time I rode it. The last significant rides I can remember were in the spring of last year. Since then I road it around the campground a few times in Florida, but not out on the bike trails. The bike has logged a lot of miles on the back of the SUV. I either have to make an effort to ride the bike or get rid of it. I almost road the bike on the closed Going to the Sun road at Glacier National Park, but I ran out of time. One thing for sure is I have to get the oil can and WD-40 out and work on a cleaning up some of the muck and rust that the bicycle has picked up on its journey.

Another thing different today than yesterday is my neighbors. Last night the campground didn’t fill up as much as it has been, but tonight travelers seem to be steadily arriving. There doesn’t seem to be any real pattern to what nights it will be heavily populated and what nights it will be sparsely populated. Either way, I’m sure the campground is meeting expenses.

I have about 160 miles to travel tomorrow. I will probably have to stop at a rest area along the way to kill time. Checkout here is at 11AM and check in at the Utah Lake State Park is 3PM. In fact the checkout time at the Utah Lake State park is 2PM, so that is the earliest I should show up. Time will tell.

Ready to Move on

Monday July 10th 2017

After two days of triple digit temperatures today’s 98 felt cool. It was cloudy overnight keeping the temperature from cooling way down. It was in the low 70s at sunrise this morning, but the clouds parted with the rising sun and the temperture climbed steadily.

mn2I have one more full day in West Wendover NV before I move on to the Provo UT area. It won’t be too soon. I came to this area because I needed a place to stay over the Fourth of July holiday and it looked like there were a few interesting things in the area. Campsites in the tourist areas and areas with recreation opportunities were book for the entire holiday week. I should have moved on yesterday at the end of the holiday week. I’ve run out of interesting things to do in this area.

mn1Today was another day watching TV, reading and spending a couple of hours in one of the casinos. There is nothing wrong with slow days. I enjoy doing nothing, but I am in a bit of a rut. If there was grass, a few shade trees to sit under and maybe some wildlife to watch I’d could do the lazy day thing for many more days. Unfortunately, there is nothing pretty or relaxing about this area. I’m in a gravel parking lot with lots of dust and a few trees. On the positive side it’s not particularly noisy except when a train goes by. Most of the RVs stay here for a night or two. I have been here ten nights now and will be here for a total of twelve nights. That’s much to long for this area.

My next stop will be at the Utah Lake State Park in Provo UT for six nights. The location should have a lot more interesting things to do. The campground may not be much different than this park. Gravel lots for camping are the norm in desert areas. I also heard on the news that Utah Lake currently has an algae bloom in the area of the state park.

Crossing the Salt Flats

Sunday July 9th 2017

I was out of the RV earlier than normal this morning. I went to the nearby McDonalds for breakfast. All of the tourists in town seem to have had the same idea. The place was a mob scene. It was also a “newfangled” store that had eliminated all but one cashier position in favor of the self service kiosks. In this instance I prefer to deal with a human.

After breakfast I got on Interstate 80 heading east. My goal was to find out what was on the other side of the salt flats. The basic answer is “not much”. Once you’ve completed the 40 mile drive across the flat white expanse, the road starts to climb over a ridge line. The mountains are mostly rocks with a few grassy areas. I traveled for another 40 plus miles before I reached the southern shore of the Great Salt Lake and the first real signs of civilization. I’m not sure what I expected of the lake, but it wasn’t anything spectacular. It was just lots of water with some white stuff that I assume was salt on the edges.

Soon after I passed the Great Salt Lake, I arrived at the Salt Lake City airport and then the actual city. The transition from nothing to built up area is very quick. Since I’ll be staying in the area at the end of the month, I turned around and headed back toward Wendover. I’ll have time to tour the city when I’m staying near the airport.

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Blossoms near the ground on a pink rose bush at the RV park.

On the way back to Wendover I had time to think about the original travelers to the west. When I was in the Twin Falls Idaho area, I learned that the Oregon trail went across southern Idaho on the south side of the Snake River. That area would have been open desert with lots of sage brush on gently rolling terrain in the mid 1800s. The first emigrants to California at the start of the gold rush angled southwest off the Oregon trail in the Twin Falls Idaho area. All of this avoided the Great Salt Lake and the salt flats to the west of the lake. It’s hard to imagine the type of character an explorer would need to find a route through the mountains, deserts and areas like the salt flats. The idea of starting out across the salt flat on foot knowing the water on the flat was undrinkable takes a particular kind of guts. I’ve read that at the peak of the gold rush emigrants were crossing the salt flats, so somebody must have blazed the trail.

The next group of people to wonder about are the surveyors that laid out the railroads across the area and later the roads. They manage to find ways through the mountains with minimum grades. This often requires the route to wander miles north or south of the main east west path they are negotiating. It’s the surveyors that solve the riddle created as you travel across the flat of a valley toward a solid wall of mountains. They determine which way the road will turn to find the pass through the mountains.

Back in Wendover this afternoon I stopped at a casino to make my daily donation. However, I was luckier than the casino today. I left with a little more money than I started with. My next stop was at the Smith’s grocery store for a rotisserie chicken for dinner back at the RV.

Another Lazy Day in the Summer Heat

Saturday July 8th 2017

Guess what? It was hot again today. The mercury reached the triple digits again. These high temperatures are ten degrees above normal for the area. It’s worse south of here. Las Vegas and Phoenix are experiencing record daily highs and record number of consecutive days in a heat wave.

I pretty much used the heat as an excuse not to do anything today. Most of June was very busy touring in the National Parks. So far July has been a more sedate month. I will be back in National Park touring mode in August and September. I will be visiting the parks in southern Utah starting with Arches and Canyon Lands in early August. Right now, those areas are hotter than here. I’ll continue on with Capitol Reef NP, Bryce NP and Zion NP in Utah. I haven’t decided yet how to visit the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Reservations in the Grand Canyon NP campground for RVs are not available until late October, so I’m considering other options.

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The roses in the campground enjoy the heat with their irrigation water.

I went out for a couple of hours this afternoon. Primarily for lunch at Arby’s. Preparing food with limited power and the need too keep the AC on is a challenge. To run the microwave or worse the convection oven, I need to turn off the AC so I don’t blow a breaker. Thinking about things that can be prepared on the stove alone is the challenge. The other option is to grill outside, but standing in the hot sun to watch the grill is also an issue.

Late this afternoon it clouded over and I experienced a little bit of a “Dry Thunderstorm”. It was very windy, I heard thunder and I may have felt moisture on my skin, but I didn’t see any evidence of rain. The clouds cleared and the hot wind continued into the evening.