The Grand Tetons… Western States Tour Part 3

Teton National Park is home to some of the most stunning alpine scenery in the United States plus its teeming with wildlife and offers hiking galore. This trifecta of goodness made it a standout on the Western States Tour for the crew on the Road House. That and how it gots it’s name makes me giggling like a third grader.

While the Shoshone people who are believed to have lived in and around the range for as long as 10,000 years called the range “Teewinot,” which translates to “many pinnacles”, it’s also believed by some that the voyagers native to France who stumbled upon this eye popping scenery saw something else when they discovered the range. “Les trois tétons” became the name for the mountains, and, it stuck. Some people argue that the Grand Tetons were named for the Teton Sioux Native Americans who lived in the area, and that’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for how they got their name, however, that’s not what makes me giggle.

What I discovered is that “les trois tétons” translates from French to “the three teats” which led me to this story for how the Tetons got their name and got me giggling. The story goes like this: A group of French explorers came across the mountain range one day while trudging across the frozen tundra of western Wyoming. Naturally, they were experiencing quite the opposite of what life in France would have been like for them at the time and found themselves suffering a great deal in their efforts to explore the new world for previously untapped resources, possibilities, and opportunities. As they lurched across the wilderness day after day, covered in heavy furs and carrying heavy sacks full of provisions, with no place to lay their heads at night except the cold hard ground and no shelter except for their tents, they no doubt were thinking about the various comforts that they used to enjoy back home.

Comforts such as warm homes, filling and enjoyable meals, and the company of a woman had eluded them for a long time, and no doubt they were thinking quite a lot about those comforts and how much they missed them. So, when the mountain peaks that are now called the Tetons came into view, it’s only natural that their first thought was breasts. Thus the Tetons were christened by grizzled, worn out explorers from France whose first thought upon seeing the majesty of that beautiful mountain range was “Boobs!” The Grand Teton is the tallest of the three peaks and its name is literally translated from French to “the big tit.” Given this translation, one would conclude that the Grand Teton is the D cup of the formation, while the Middle Teton and the South Teton are the C cups – LOL!!! The French explorers who found the Teton mountain range have done a huge favor to all of us who enjoy third grade humor – Thanks Guys!!!

So for almost almost a week, we enjoyed the majestic boobs of Wyoming, saw loads of wildlife, hiked and of course had some great meals in Jackson. I scored a great camp site at the Gros Ventre Campground which is perfectly situated 12 miles from the town of Jackson and 11 miles from the south entrance to the park and the visitors center. Our site was spacious, had electricity and water and MOOSE. Well, not our own personal moose but every morning we had moose wandering through and behind our coach. Moose were not advertised as an amenity but they seem to be regulars at the campground. The sites at the Gros Ventre are huge, have a fire pit, picnic table and a ton of wood that the park staff thoughtfully piled up around the sites. We did our part to help clear the area with our ginormous fires at night. There was not a sewer hookup but there was a dump station right at the entrance/exit that we used before hitting the road again.

By the way, Gros Ventre translates from french to “big belly” – seriously! Yep, I am giggling as I get an image of what grizzled french explorers find attractive.

I love how easy and compact this NP is … it’s just 39 miles from the Moose Junction entrance to the top of the park. Hwy 191 actually runs through The Grand Teton National Park and is the connector to the south entrance of Yellowstone NP. Hypothetically, one can drive through the park on 191 and not pay an entrance fee. So if your short on time or just a cheapskate, that’s an option. Not one I’d recommend as there is so much more to see and do in the park along the scenic Teton Park Road.

We spent our first half day in the park getting the lay of the land by driving the loop. We packed a picnic lunch almost everyday as the lodges weren’t open yet making the food options inside the park limited. We did find an amazing wine shop inside the park on Teton Park Road. Dornan’s had a incredible selection of wines from all over the world.

Luckily for us Jackson Lake Lodge opened the day before we left so we were able to see the inside of this beautiful lodge and have lunch in the dining room. Breathtaking” does not begin to describe the view at Jackson Lake Lodge. The 60-foot floor to ceiling windows frame pristine Jackson Lake and the majestic Teton Range. For some, this view alone is the main reason to visit. I literally felt like I was looking out onto a vast savannah much like the ones I experienced in Botswana Africa. My pictures are not doing it justice.

If you are visiting the park but not traveling in an not RV, I would totally suggest you make the Jackson Lake Lodge your base camp in the park.  It is actually quite large, with 385 rooms some of which are stunning suites, main lodge hotel rooms, and quaint cottages. The lodge also includes a variety of dining options, outdoor excursions, meeting space, retail shops, a swimming pool, and an exhibit featuring Native American artifacts and Western art. A complimentary guest shuttle is also available to Colter Bay, Jenny Lake, and the town of Jackson. Dang, I just sold myself, definitely have to come back again and stay in the Lodge!

So about all that wildlife…The highlight of our time in Grand Teton NP was seeing so many animals. Specifically, bear mama 399 and her four cubs. 399 is a legend in the park and is probably the most photographed bear ever! Our wonderful friends the Ellers, who we visited while we were staying in Sun Valley Idaho gave us so many tips about what to see and do as they lived near the Tetons for years. I would have likely not known about Bear 399 if they hadn’t told me a bit of her story. Generally passive in nature, 399 has raised her broods by roadsides in view of groups of curious humans, including some who have exercised poor judgment by moving closer to take photographs of her and her cubs. The theory is that she does this to protect her offspring from aggressive male grizzlies who have been know to kill clubs to bring the female back in estrus. 399 is so beloved and has a huge international fan club including the renown Biologist and chimp expert Jane Goodall AND 399 has her own Wikipedia page (click on the 399 link above to read all about her)! This 25 year old gal emerged out of hibernation this year with FOUR cubs and we we luckily enough to see her, fairly up close as well. Yep, that made me uneasy and we eventually retreated back to our car when she and the kiddos tried to cross the road. They caused quite a bear jam the day we saw her and the park rangers somehow magically appear out of nowhere to stop traffic and keep all the camera carrying idiots who insist on getting too close from getting mauled. We have never experienced a bear jam and I have to say that people can be such asshats. Early on when we saw her and the kiddos, there weren’t many people there yet but holy shite within 10 minutes literally hundreds of cars appeared and people swarmed the road. We were so disgusted by how stupid some people were and how they swarmed so close to the bears. When the cubs got frantic trying to follow Mom across the road we went back to our car and tried to leave. Those same idiots had parked in the middle of the road to get closer and blocked everyone else from leaving. ARGHHH, the poor rangers were literally yelling at people to stand back and give the bears some room … uh, I may have yelled at a stupid, fat guy chasing behind the bears with his giant camera in hand. I though 399 showed considerable restraint, that dude would have fed the whole family! Spoiler alert, the photo of her standing with all four cubs around her is not mine… I borrowed it from an article written about 399 by the Guardian which BTW, is worth reading!

While seeing 399 and her cubs was definitely one of the the wildlife viewing highlights, we also saw so many other critters…moose, elk, deer, bison, coyotes, fox, badger, marmot, mountain goats, eagles, ospreys, ducks, geese and loads of other birds. Another great tip from our friends was to check out the road behind the elk refuge for mountain goats. Bam, saw them up close as well as a coyote being followed by a badger. Now that was odd!

The elks had all migrated from their winter home at the refuge but we did see them at Elk Flats – go figure! We also met a really neat couple while we were hanging out photographing the goats, Phil and Hope and hope to meet up with them again when we are in Mesa AZ in October.

The park is also home to big herds of bison and again we got to see them up close just off Hwy 191 near the Triangle X Ranch. They were on both sides of the road and at one point a big group of them ran from one area to another, crossing the road right in front of where we had pulled over. Like many of the animals we saw, the bison were shedding their heavy winter coast and looked a bit scrappy. We sat for quite a while just observing them, rolling in the dust and grazing. There were also so many birds around the herd…some of the birds were on the bisons backs catching a free lunch of insects that they attract. The bison created their own small ”bison jam“ but people seemed more respectful and less crazy than at the ”bear jam”. I didn’t even have to yell at anyone nor did we get to see anyone get gored…that was a bit disappointing.

For some reason, we are both taken with moose. They are such unusually looking creatures and seem like gentle giants. Did you know that they can keep their head completely underwater, often for more than a minute at a time? So why do they need to stick their heads underwater?? Well, apparently the aquatic veggies give them minerals they need, which they store in the summer for the hard winter ahead. Of course we were thrilled to see a moose right off the Gros Ventre Road the first day we were driving to our campground. Double thrilled to see moose just behind our coach the next morning but the funniest moose sighting we call “moose in a hot tub”! We spotted this dude, soaking in the Kelly Warms Spring Creek just off the Gros Ventre Road past Kelly. We were headed out to check out the Upper and Lower Slide Lakes area and there he was. I loved how happy he looked, poor dude looks so scrappy but his smile looked so happy, that warm water must have felt great. Another unplanned sighting!

Moose are solitary creatures so the ones we did see were often alone with the exception of the two young ones we saw near our campground everyday. I felt so lucky to have seen so many of them. We watched a female in a creek off the Snake River by Jackson Lake Dam. She was munching on willow and seemed to care very little about the people staring at her. It was so cool to see her sticking her head under water and pulling up big mouthfuls of creek grass.

Everyday was an opportunity for a new adventure and to see more critters. As much as we enjoy hiking, we spent more time exploring and less time on the trails in the Tetons. Honestly, it probably why we did see so much wildlife. There is also a picture in the next slide show of a old, rare, black boxer too.

Our days were really full and there was at least one planned and sometimes an unplanned adventure everyday…We really enjoyed hiking the Jenny Lake trail from the boat ramp area to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. This is one of the most popular trails in the park as you get spectacular views of Jenny Lake and Jackson Hole from Inspiration Point, as well as a 100ft cascading waterfall. The hike was about 3.3 miles total, mostly flat. Once on the west side of the lake, the trail gently sloped up 200ft in elevation towards Hidden Falls which was all snow packed. This gorgeous 100ft cascade fed by snowmelt was in its glory. We then went further up the trail another 0.5 mile to Inspiration Point. What a view and luckily the trail up which is steep, narrow and has a drop off one side was clear of snow and ice. I get a bit wiggy on these kinds of trails, maybe the fear of dying, so I hugged the rock wall and probably swore a little bit which belive it or not is very calming! Another great reason to go early in the season is there weren’t too many people and the snow melt makes for some spectacular waterfalls and raging rivers. This is a great picnic lunch spot. We also saw Mr. Marmot sunning himself on a rock on this hike. He looks quite please to be basking in the warm sun! The trail is actually a 7 mile loop around the lake but we opted to take the scenic boat ride back across the lake after the hike and lunch which was the perfect way to end that adventure.

Another fun adventure we had with Bentie was the drive to Lower Slide Lake. This area is outside of the park in the Bridger Teton National Forest. Its was a gorgeous drive, much of which was on a well graded gravel road and the bonus was seeing the moose in the hot tub. From the Gros Ventre Campground, its about 10 miles one way to Lower Slide Lake which is as far as we went. This area has some fascinating geological history as the Upper and Lower Slide Lakes were created when the massive the Gros Ventre landslide occured in 1925 and dammed the Gros Ventre River River. This massive slide on Sheep Mountain, hurling down the slope at 50 mph, a mile-wide carried, 50,000,000 cubic yards of debris down the mountain and then another 300 feet up the opposite slope. From the view point and info center high above Lower Slide Lake, you can still see when the slide ravaged the mountain and all the debris it left behind. There is also a rustic campground at Lower Slide Lake if you are up for the long drive in on a gravel forest service road!

The lake was once much larger, however part of the rock dam failed less than two years later, on May 18, 1927, causing deadly flooding downstream. The lake waters have natural and stocked fish including lake and Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat trout, and mountain whitefish.

Since we’ve been to Jackson and Jackson Hole Ski Mountain before we choose to spend most of our time on this trip in the park exploring. That said, we did have a great lunch and a follow up dinner a few days later at Hatch Taqueria and Tequila’s in Jackson. The food and Hatcharita’s were sooo good… I was particularly drawn back for the Spicy Hatch made with Tanteo Jalapeño Tequila and may have had several. We also found a pickle ball court in Jackson – WHAT!!!

Being early in the season meant less tourist and no lines to get into the park. I am not sure the Grand Teton National Park is as popular was its sister park Yellowstone but I suspect it gets a fair amount of over flow from Yellowstone during the crazy summer months.

Speaking of tourists, the western vibe town of Jackson and the area around Jackson Hole can be crowded and crazy with people in the summer. Apparently, this is not a new phenomenon. Tourists started coming to Jackson Hole not long after the first cattle ranches were settled. Some of the ranchers supplemented their income by catering to “dudes,” eastern tenderfoots yearning to experience a little slice of the Old West in the shadow of the stunning Tetons. The tourists began to raise the first concerns about preserving the natural beauty of the region. The vast acres of Yellowstone Park, America’s first national park founded in 1872, were just north of Jackson Hole. Surely, they asked, the spectacular Grand Tetons deserved similar protection.

In 1916, Horace M. Albright, the director of the National Park Service, was the first to seriously suggest that the region be incorporated into Yellowstone. The ranchers and businesses catering to tourists, however, strongly resisted the suggestion that they be pushed off their lands to make a “museum” of the Old West for eastern tourists.

Finally, after more than a decade of political maneuvering, Grand Teton National Park was created in 1929. As a concession to the ranchers and tourist operators, the park only encompassed the mountains and a narrow strip at their base. Jackson Hole itself was excluded from the park and designated merely as a scenic preserve. Albright, though, had persuaded the wealthy John D. Rockefeller to begin buying up land in the Jackson Hole area for possible future incorporation into the park. This semisecret, private means of enlarging the park inspired further resentment among the residents, and some complained that it was a typical example of how “eastern money interests” were dictating the future of the West.

By the late 1940s, however, local opposition to the inclusion of the Rockefeller lands in the park had diminished, in part because of the growing economic importance of tourism. In 1949, Rockefeller donated his land holdings in Jackson Hole to the federal government that then incorporated them into the national park. Today, Grand Teton National Park encompasses 309,993 acres. Working ranches still exist in Jackson Hole, but the local economy is increasingly dependent on services provided to tourists and the wealthy owners of vacation homes.

A big thanks to the vision of Albright and help of Rockefeller, the hours they spend scheming to preserve and create The Grand Teton National Park for us to all enjoy now. There is a short little walking path near the grand Jackson Lake Lodge that leads to Lunch Tree Hill that is only a great place to have a picnic and enjoy the amazing views but very historically significant in Albright’s efforts to see this area preserved.

Honestly, we could have stayed a couple of weeks and not run out of things to see and do. Spring was arriving during our stay but the mountains still had loads of snow on them. This made the scenery absolutely stunning but this also made many of the back country hiking trails inaccessible. Coming in the spring also gave us an opportunity to see loads of wildlife and some youngins. I loved being in the Tetons in the Spring and would definitely come back again in the fall to see a different perspective and hike some of the back country trails. This has turned into a very long post but I have are a few more pictures of places we visited to share below. Next stop on the Western States tour is Cody Wyoming so stay tuned for part four!!!

A Great Week in Torrey Utah

Utah is one of my favorite states from the scenic point of view. Five amazing National Parks, lush green valleys, vast plains and beautiful mountains. We finally made it to Capitol Reef National Park for more than a day and this was our last Utah NP to explore. CRNP did not fail to deliver and for hikers this national park provides some outstanding and strenuous hikes with amazing vistas. 

Chimney Rock in Capitol Reef National Park

We love traveling during the shoulder seasons despite the sometimes unpredictable weather. The last time we planned to visit CRNP in spring 2017 it snowed… heavily, so a quick change of plans were in order and we headed to sunny Lake Powell instead.  Despite Wallys emergency dental surgery in Arizona, this year the stars aligned and we made it there with no detours. 

Our hiking buddies Laurie and Tom Miller joined us for the week. They recently bought a Winnebago View RV so they too have now joined the ranks of us land-yacht owners! We have boating history as we met these two awesome humans at our marina in Anacortes many moons ago. We share a love of travel and exploring the world so many great adventures have ensued since!

The Thousand Lakes RV Park in Torrey Utah was our base camp for CRNP exploration. The red rock views from our site were amazing and the RV park itself was great. They have all the amenities you would expect plus a very quaint restaurant that served some mean BBQ and steaks. I recommend this RV Park over the other one in Torrey as many of the sites there back right up onto the road at a major intersection.. okay, its major for Torrey! The sites were all gravel and are decent sized plus they are set back off the road further so road noise in minimal.

Spoiler alert… there are no lakes in Torrey or near the RV park…With a name like thousand lakes, ones gotta assume right?  Well, after some pondering and and lots of joking about the lack of lakes, I figured it out. The nearby mountain range to the north of Torrey is the Thousand Lake Mountains… yep, there are lakes in them there mountains!

Torrey itself is a small town in a remote part of Utah but with the CRNP entrance just 5 miles away, the town definitely caters to visitors. All the essential services plus a few nice restaurants and eateries. We spent the week not only exploring the park but some eatery exploration as well. The Wild Rabbit Café is a great lunch or breakfast stop. With a great menu and coffee roasted on site, it became a quick habit to stop in the afternoon for a cold brew coffee after hiking in the park. We had a wonderful anniversary dinner at Hunt and Gather. Game and local mountain trout are featured on the menu so we definitely partook. They also had a very nice vintage of champagne on the wine list so of course that was ordered too! 

Another fun spot to eat is Paizlee’s Grass Fed Beef. It’s a bit odd, not really a meat market or a true restaurant but you can get both there. They have a very limited menu and two tables inside… its like they want you to come in but not really stay! While we were there having breakfast, our host (a fine looking young man in tight jeans and a cowboy hat) delivered a lot of take out to the curb. I am only guessing its take out, heck for all I know it it a front for nefarious drug activity! LOL… seriously, the small one butt kitchen cranked out a delicious Huervos Ranchero Tacos with coffee for a mere $9.99!

Our biggest dining adventure was out of town, in nearby Bickenell. Curry Pizza, yep you read that right! Come on people, with a name like that you have to try it. We had to convince Tom but once he heard from our waitress at Hunt Gather that it was good and Guy Fieri from the Food Network had been there, well that changed everything! The pizza was good but what I really wished we was that we had time to try was the Indian Food. It smelled incredible and the family who run the place are Indian of course – good combo!

Now, about Capitol Reef NP… Honestly it didn’t fail to deliver on incredible hiking and beautiful vistas. In between all that eating, we hiked or did scenic drives. Driving into the park, you immediately get a sense of how special this area is. The geology is fascinating and Mother Nature worked hard to create this marvelous canvas of color. The Navajo called it the land of the Sleeping Rainbow but some of these amazing, colorful formations are over 270 million years in the making. Click on the link above for a more in-depth geology lesson on CRNP. 

Or favorite hike hands down was Cohab Canyon –  From the Fruita trailhead, we climbed the steep Cohab Canyon trail switchbacks for about 25-30 minutes to where it tops out and drops into Cohab Canyon. The saddle here offers amazing views of Boulder Mountain, Fruita, and other areas west of the park.

Now that you have that grunt behind you, the trail now begins descending the very colorful and featured Cohab Canyon. The Wives, a series of short technical slot canyons come in on the right-hand side. Wandering up some of the side, slot canyons was a fun diversion.

15 or so minutes from the saddle, as Cohab Canyon becomes wide and open, is a trail junction. Left (north) makes a nice side trip to an overlook of Highway 24 and the Fruita area (20 minutes round trip) while right becomes the Frying Pan Trail and eventually reaches Cassidy Arch. We opted to climb some more, because the first grunt wasn’t enough – LOL.  It was worth the extra climb as the views up on the plateau were incredible. This hike is an out and back so from there we did the route in reverse back to the Fruita trailhead.

Other notable hikes were  Chimney Rock – amazing views and fun wandering along the ridge top. The Grand Wash is a great hike which features the pioneer registry on the canyon walls. We also met up with some beautiful Big Horn Sheep there. Hickman Arch is a beautiful hike to a natural stone arch and has pretty valley views as well.

There are also some great scenic drives from Torrey – Hwy 12 is simply spectacular and is a great car drive. It’s a bit hairy for large RV but doable if you have a low pucker factor! We choose to do it as a day drive in Tom’s Jeep and stopped at the Escalante River to check out the 100 Hands Petroglyphs. We may have gotten a bit lost and hiked a few miles the wrong direction but we finally found the trailhead just a few hundred feet from where we parked – LOL. It was worth the grunt up the hill, long past lunch time, in the hot sun. The petroglyphs were quite beautiful but sadly there has been some vandalism. I honestly can’t understand what makes people do this kind of crap… it’s a piece of history we can all enjoy from a distance….ARGHH!

Good news… we found the only open restaurant in Escalante and had a kick ass burger so the day ended well for everyone! Well, except our little pal the snow man!

Our week in Torrey exploring the CFNP just flew by… I can’t recommend this area enough and I am so glad we had such nice weather for exploring. The US is truly an amazing place to explore. Onward we roll, next stop Sun Valley Idaho.

The New and Improved Road House

Despite having all the time in the world to write during this weird pandemic I seem to be writing less. Call it writers block or perhaps feeling like I’ve got nothing interesting to write about, either or both maybe? While I was puzzling about what to write about the other day, it dawned on me that I promised to fill you in on the new Road House… yep, over a year ago… August 5th, 2019 to be exact…. okay, well over a year ago.

So the upside to this very tardy post is we have had plenty of time to travel in the new Road House and collect our thoughts on what we love about this coach and what we actually miss about the other coach.

Tada…here she is!!!

The new Road House is a 2013 43 ft Entegra DEQ, Class A Diesel Pusher with a 450HP Cummins engine and 4 slide outs. Similar to the original Road House but 5 ft longer, 10 years newer and a bigger engine – 120 hp more. She is definitely a plus size gal!

Woo-Hoo a king size bed!!!!

Like the Monaco, the Entegra coach is also a class A diesel pusher. What’s a Class A you might wonder or a diesel pusher… well, constructed on either a commercial truck chassis, a specially designed motor vehicle chassis, or a commercial bus chassis, a Class A motorhome resembles a bus in design and has a flat or vertical front end and large windows.

The Entegra is built on a Spartan Chassis which is considered to be the top of the line in big-ass RV’s. According to the Spartan website “Everything Rides on the Ride Chassis”. Guess that is considered catchy marketing in the truck world! They also claim that “At the bottom of it all is the Spartan chassis, American-made from the finest materials and engineered to give your luxury RV a safe, smooth, and reliable ride. Spartan makes steering, traversing changing terrain, and parking as easy and welcoming as a friendly campground”. So, I can tell you for sure, that’s not a false claim. The first time we test drove an Entegra, with this fancy pants chassis, Wally was grinning ear to ear. Quiet, smooth and it handled no differently than our car. Well, maybe you do need to plan on braking a bit sooner when your ride is 46K lbs! Plus, this coach has a passive tag axle which the Monaco did not. The tag axle is basically a third axle having single wheels at each side that resides behind the dual wheeled drive axle. It gives more stability in the ride and helps the big-ass coach to turn easier in tight conditions. Again, this made Wally grin from ear to ear.

A diesel pusher motorhome is typically a Class A that is powered by a diesel engine mounted in the rear of the RV. Why is all that important?? Because this style of coach is made to last with a high end truck chassis and motor. The Entegra weighs in at 46,600 lbs which is 16,600 lbs heavier than the Monaco and the diesel pusher Cummins engine has high torque for climbing hills and pulling our tow vehicle. This also means a quiet ride as the engine is in the back. All a matter of preference but we opted for this model in both coach’s and went for a older model Entegra with low mileage to get all the amenities we wanted but not have huge depreciation the minute we left the lot.

In 1989, the addition of slideouts dramatically changed the RV industry because they allow a wider living area, provided that the vehicle remains completely stationary during their extension outwards. Nope, its bad form to drive down the road with your slides out. The Monaco had 2 slides on the drivers side and the Entegra has four slides, two on each side. One could argue that it is two more motorized things to go wrong but the trade off is more interior living space. LOL, we probably got an additional 160 square in the new coach.

As an avid cook, I love the spacious kitchen and additional pantry space.

A full size, residential refrigerator is also nice!!!

Like the Monaco, the Entegra is a used, older coach with low miles. We are not typically buy new people. Sure we have splurged and bought new car’s on occasion before we retired but large luxury coaches are expensive – $500K to $950K plus expensive. Not only are they expensive but honestly, everyone we know who has bought new has ended up in the shop more than we ever have… getting things fixed under warranty. Yikes, hope I didn’t just jinx us!!! Great having a warranty but not so great having major things go wrong. If you are a weekend warrior or only use your coach occasionally maybe this isn’t such an issue. Since our coach is our home 8 months out of the year, this is not ideal and we don’t want to be frequent flyers at the repair facility. Not only do you have the warranty honeymoon period with a new coach but you also have serious depreciation the minute you drive a new coach off the lot. Sadly, most anything that is motorized never appreciates. So for us, buying an older, low mileage coach meant we were able to get most all the bells and whistles without the massive price tag of a new coach – aka, we could afford it and not drain the retirement savings account!

We are the second owners of new Road House (kept the same name) and found her sitting on a consignment lot in Poulsbo Washington. Her previously owner, who purchased her new had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and she had a big scrape down the passenger side. Could be why he wasn’t driving her anymore – very sad. The coach only had 14K miles and most of the appliances still had the original stickers on them. Honestly, the entire deal was a complete pain in the arse and took over 4 months to finalize (not fans of Poulsbo RV). The upside was that we had time, negotiated the price down and got the unsightly scape fixed. We did have a complete independent engine, chassis, interior and exterior inspections done. We also bought an extended warranty that has comprehensive coverage on all of the above so we felt very confident all was well when we finally rolled out of the dealership from hell.

We have enjoyed this mobile lifestyle so much, that we decided an upgrade was in order. The Monaco was a great coach – no regrets. I actually felt bad for selling it… I know, coaches are inanimate objects so that sound irrational but she got us where we wanted to go with very little problems. There wasn’t one thing wrong with her… so why did we want an even bigger big-ass coach??

Creature comforts… that really is the bottom line! The Entegra feels like a home inside… albeit a small studio apartment. The kitchen is bigger, there is a king sized bed, we have an L shaped couch that we can both stretch out on. We also have a dishwasher and stackable washer/dyer as opposed to the all in washer/dryer unit we installed on the Monaco. I love the residential sized refrigerator with an icemaker. The downside of that unit is that it vents into the coach. In cooler weather that’s actually nice but in a warmer climate, well not so much. I also hate the freezer layout but it does have more capacity than the Monaco. Hey, this fishing family needs freezer storage for all the crab we catch!!! The list goes on and on…

A complete list of all the bells and whistles

We love the on demand hot water system, the porcelain tile floors with a heating option, the fireplace, the outdoor TV and stereo system and all the newer technology . Honestly, we love just about everything about the coach.

Adding splashes of color around our brown abode!

There are a few things however that we liked better on the Monaco. The Entegra has frameless windows which asthechically look great but they allow much less air in as only a small portion of the window actually opens upward. The Monaco had the older style framed windows which slid open and allowed way more air flow in the coach.

The lighter exterior color on the Monaco, the ability to get more air inside and the three interior Maxx Power Fans meant we rarely had to turn on the AC when the weather heats up. Not sure why the Entegra only has one fan??? The kitchen fan over the cooktop does vent outside but it isn’t nearly as powerful as the Maxx Fan so we are going to have another one installed. The Monaco was a bit brighter inside…more windows and lighter interior colors. There is a lot of brown in the Entegra but fortunately I like brown!!! There are models with lighter colored interiors but with pets I was worried that light upholstery would show all the dog slobber and pet hair.

The other options we love are the full access pull out drawers in the basement. Like the Monaco, the storage under the Entegra coach is great. We have plenty of room for big things like our Traegar BBQ, The Uni Pizza Oven and the portable refrigerator/freezer.

When we bought the Entegra, the prior owner left a treasure trove of “stuff” in the lower storage areas. Honestly, how many chairs does a dude need? Sadly, there were so many duplicates of things I wonder if the treasure trove was a result of his Alzheimer’s. I also found a huge black garbage bag in the rear clothes closet full of spices and food from 2003 – Eww, Gross. I am here to tell you that decade old mayo isn’t a pretty sight. Not sure why the consignment lot didn’t toss that entire bag? Otherwise the coach was so clean… the convention oven and stove top had never been used. Boy, I sure put an end to that quick!

All this stuff was inside the lower storage compartments.

Wally likes driving the Entegra way more… it rides and drives like a luxury car, quiet and smooth. With the additional horse power the Entegra cruises effortlessly up and down steep mountain passes and really doesn’t burn much more fuel than the Monaco did. At 9+ MPG and an 88 gallon fuel tank, we have a decent fuel range too.

Overall we are thrilled with our upgraded home on wheels. While Covid has slowed down our travels a bit, 2021 and 2022 are going to be big travel years for us. This spring our plans are taking us through Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. If the Canadian/US border opens, we plan to be in Alaska for 2 months and then on to the Beach House for 3 months. The fall will see the Road House rolling south and east with a 2 month stay in Texas on the inter-coastal water way, then on to Alabama and Louisiana. Most of the winter will be spent in Florida, then in the spring we hope to cruise to the Carolinas, Tennessee and Kentucky before heading back to Anacortes Washington for the summer. Fingers crossed!!

Farewell 2020… You Won’t Be Missed!!!

We are close to saying farewell to the year 2020, a year in which many people will not look back on fondly. It’s been called a shit show by many and rightfully so. Many people suffer great losses, many people lost their jobs, many people’s relationships suffered, many people lost their homes, many people suffered great physical illness, many people lost a loved one… heartache abounded. I feel fortunate that all I really lost was my mind at times! I feel incredible grateful to be in this place in my journey when the pandemic hit. My heart goes out to everyone out there who have suffered big losses in 2020.

Our mobile lifestyle has actually been very conducive to saying healthy, staying sane and sheltering in place. My biggest frustration has been the unknown… well, that and so many people who haven’t taken this pandemic seriously. People who don’t have the decency to wear a mask, people who refuse to be unconvinced by simply being careful for the sake of others. For us and our lifestyle, the unknown, trip planning, knowing where and when to travel have been a constant consideration. Because we travel in our home on wheels or our home on the water we have been able to be very careful and hopefully not cause any duress to others. That said, we have had to have plan A and Plan B most of 2020. My magic 8 ball wasn’t very helpful either. Questions about COVID and travel planning were usually met with either a non-commital or negative answer – GO FIGURE!!!

● It is certain.
● It is decidedly so.
● Without a doubt.
● Yes – definitely.
● You may rely on it.
● As I see it, yes.
● Most likely.
● Outlook good.
● Yes.
● Signs point to yes.
● Reply hazy, try again.
● Ask again later.
● Better not tell you now.
● Cannot predict now.
● Concentrate and ask again.
● Don’t count on it.
● My reply is no.
● My sources say no.
● Outlook not so good.
● Very doubtful.
A standard Magic 8 Ball is capable of 10 affirmative answers (●), 5 non-committal answers (●), and 5 negative answers

We definitely didn’t travel as much in 2020 despite being in our rolling home. We spent the first four months of 2020 hunkered down in Palm Springs, three weeks in Bend Oregon, four months on the boat in the San Juan Islands, five weeks in Arizona and here we are back Palm Springs under another stay at home order. That said, I still feeling really grateful to be healthy and mostly sane.

We returned to our lot at the Outdoor Resort Palm Springs in late November after a difficult time in Arizona getting my mother moved into a memory care community. Somehow the timing actually worked out, we found a great community for her and I can breathe a huge sigh of relief knowing she is safe and actually thriving there.

Not long after our return to California, the Governor issued another stay at home order. Again, our lifestyle in Palm Springs is conducive to doing this and staying sane. We have sunshine almost everyday, warm temps and literally an adult playground that sits on 137 beautifully landscaped acres with 27 holes of executive golf, 13 Pickleball courts, 10 Tennis courts, 10 hot tubs and 8 swimming pools. It’s easy to socially distance here, sitting out in the evening by our firepit with a glass of wine with another couple feels safe.

I know it sounds dreamy but like most of you I am ready for the 2020 shit show to come to a conclusion. I asked the magic 8 ball if 2021 was going to be a better year for the world and I was told that “signs point to yes”…hmm, do you think a scientist had any input on this answer???

Fingers crossed and in the meantime, I am going to try and reflect on the struggles that are real out there in the world, be grateful for each healthy day and for all of the wonderful people in my life.

Happy New Year…Wishing you all the best and two doses of vaccine in 2021!!!

Sedona Arizona Again!!!

The last time I wrote about Sedona was two years ago and I still think it is just as magical. The annual southern migration led us there again and it’s a darn good thing we made the reservation at Rancho Sedona RV Park two years in advance because it was booked solid the entire three weeks we were there.

After our 5 day pedal to the metal road trip from Portland Oregon, it was good to put the jacks down and stay a while. It was also really spend time with our fellow full time RV friends Joe and Sharon. It was a different time, as they lost their beautiful boxer boy Cooper last year so our boxer boy Bentley tried hard to fill the empty void. He was so excited to see them and was not shy about barging right into their coach anytime!! Cooper was a sweet boy who sure did like to hike too. Bentley is not that into it, so the last time we met up with Joe, Sharon and Cooper, Bentley loaned Cooper is hiking booties…. we sure miss that sweet boy.

On our last stay we did a lot of touring around the area … there is so much to see and do in Sedona. This stay we spent more time locally, hiking almost everyday and just living like a local! Of course we had to hit some of our favorite restaurants that had patio seating.

Like our last stay, I got to spend my birthday in the land of red rocks. Wally and I had a delicious brunch on the zen patio at the Casa Sedona Inn. Bloody Mary’s, fresh corn muffins and huevos rancheros followed by locally roasted coffee had this gal almost purring!!! Not only is the dining 5 Star at the inn, Casa Sedona was voted # 6 in the US – most romantic places.

After our leisurely brunch, we headed out to do some birding and take a long walk at the Sedona Wetlands Preserve. The preserve is actually 27 acres in a effluent management area located south of the Sedona Wastewater Treatment Facility.  I know, sounds gross at first but honestly you would have no idea as you were walking around the numerous reed lined ponds.

The ponds range from very shallow to approximately 4 feet deep to accommodate a wide range of habitat. We saw loads of scat around the ponds so I know there are more than birds hanging out there. Wetland and upland plants are located within shallow water areas and above the water line to provide habitat, attract wildlife, and control erosion. Several islands are constructed within the ponds to provide safe habitat and breeding areas for birds and other wildlife.

According to the website “In addition to effluent management goals, the wetlands also provide habitat for numerous wetland species and serve as a public park with educational and recreational opportunities including bird watching and pedestrian trail walking”. Well, they might want to actually put up some signage on 89A because if you don’t know it’s there you will drive right on by.

We did not go at the optimum birding time but still saw plenty of feathery friends and a few turtles too! Guess they don’t care about effluent management!!! Our sightings included Cedar Waxwing, Phainapepala, Scrub Jay, Barn Swallow, White Striped Sparrow, American Tree Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, American Coots, Northern Flicker, and loads of Mallards.

We also took a scenic drive along the Red Rock Loop Road and stopped to gawk at the stunning vistas along the way. Sedona is undeniably one of the most beautiful locations in the state of Arizona. The towering red sandstone rock formations that surround the town are especially stunning during the golden hours around sunset.

The Birthday fun continued, after our birding adventure we joined Joe and Sharon for happy hour with their daughter and son-in-law who were visiting from Texas. RVing is great for social distancing… we sat outside with the warm afternoon sun on our backs and a cocktail in hand!

It was a great day and I truly appreciate all my friends, near and far who reached out to wish me a Happy Birthday!

Our next two weeks flew by, hiking … more friends visiting and general relaxing in this beautiful zen country. Sedona is just one photo opportunity after another.

Sedona’s population today is around 10,000 but that number is insignificant when compared to the three million tourists that flock to the area each year. Suffice to say, because of the large amount of tourism, Sedona is off our list of possible places to live long term but we will still enjoy visiting again.

The Start of the Southern Migration

It’s time…the weather is changing…fall will quickly turn into winter in the PNW and so we begin our southern migration. Eventually we will end up in Palm Springs California at the Outdoor Resort where we own a lot. But the trip in between will be filled with visiting family and friends.

We left Anacortes with heavy fog bidding us farewell. Our destination, Portland Oregon where we planned to spend 5 nights at Pheasant Ridge RV Park in Wilsonville. Those five days were spent catching up with our long time Portland friends and family. We were well fed…really well fed!!! That’s one common thread with all our friends…they are all amazing cooks, one actually being a Cordon Blue trained chef and they all like good food and wine. We managed to get in a few good walks to try and counter balance all the eating.

Goodbye fog…

Hello Oregon!!!

Our next five days would be back to back driving – something we normally don’t like to do but we were on a mission to get to Sedona where we would be staying for three weeks. Now, that’s civilized!!! We were super excited to be meeting up with fellow RV full timer friends Sharon and Joe there. The route we chose to Sedona would be remote state roads or highways through eastern Oregon and Nevada allowing us to avoid major interstates as long as possible. Interstates in generally suck… One would think they would be the cats meow, well paved and well traveled. Not always and the well traveled part is sometimes no fun in a big ass coach. Back roads can be a risk too but with all the internet rver info, I can totally figure out which roads to avoid. That said, I am here to tell you google maps is not always your friend in an RV. Fastest route, well that’s great except when it sends you down switchbacks with a 15% grade. Nope, don’t trust it and ALWAYS double check the route it recommends.

Leaving Portland, we headed over Mt. Hood on Hwy 26 and it was raining so no great views of the beautiful mountain. This road is great for big rigs, even with the big pass to climb. Thanks to our auxiliary braking system and cruise control, Wally’s driving stress is minimal. Hee-Hee, easy for me to say from my comfy reclining passenger seat. Hey, my job is to plan our route, navigate, look for sightseeing opportunities and good restaurants. I honestly tell myself that me driving would most likely be more stressful for Wally than him driving. That’s my story and I am sticking to it!!!

Love my reclining navigators seat!!!

Our a first night was spent near Burns Oregon…got in late, didn’t even unhitch the car or level the coach as we planned an early departure the next morning. I try to keep our drive days under 300 miles and this leg of our drive was the longest at 305 miles.

The second day was a beautiful drive with little to no traffic to Winnemuca Nevada where we stayed at the New Frontier RV Park. This RV park was in a great location and had large, level pull through sites – perfect for our one night stay. Again, we didn’t unhitch the car or level the coach.  As it turned out, a friend I know from Palm Springs was also on the way to Winnemucca and was also staying at the same RV place. Small world right? Sue is an amazing photographer and I have been enjoying her Facebook posts over the summer. Of course, we had to meet for happy hour!! 

On the road again early the next morning, our third stop was in Ely Nevada where we stayed at the Ely KOA. Again convenient and very okay for one night. Good thing we wanted to unhitch the car that night because the pull through site was just long enough for the coach but would have never worked with the car attached.

I was desperate for some exercise by then and had found a state park nearby to explore, so after a late lunch, off we went to the Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park. I was intrigued by the charcoal ovens and wanted to take a look.

The 700-acre state park is a designated historic area and protects beehive-shaped charcoal ovens constructed in the latter half of the 19th century. Bonus points for having some flat hiking trails, a stream and cows to keep us company! Only saw one other couple there while we were exploring.

Our fourth day, again started early and was our last day on the awesome Nevada State Roads. The remote back roads gave way to the interstate near Las Vegas where we found ourselves back in traffic. EWWW DAVID!!!  Our destination for the night was Boulder City, where we stayed at the Lake Mead RV Village. I popped for a lake view site and it was worth the few extra dollars. This was the only stop along the way that I actually wished we had a few more days to explore. 

Lake Mead is huge but we only saw a small amount of it on this quick stopover.

Hoover Dam was closed to tourism but we had a great time at Hemenway Park in Boulder City. It was a Trip Advisor recommendation and boasted Big Horn Sheep that made frequent appearances. I was skeptical as we pulled in as it was in a fairly developed area but was quickly delighted to see a big herd of smelly sheep grazing happily on the luscious green park grass. Seriously, these sheep are no dummies…the area just outside the Park looked dry and barren. Not only were there sheep but sheep with a view. SCORE!!!

We also took a drive to the tiny historical downtown Boulder City where we enjoyed all the old neon signs and found an awesome brewpub with outdoor patio seating. The Road House tour guide had also scoped out a highly rated BBQ joint where we got take out and enjoyed a simple meal back at the RV Village overlooking the lake. Overall, the highlight so far of our pedal to the metal road trip.

The next morning we were up early again (okay don’t go getting all impressed… 7 am isn’t that early to some folks). For what ever reason, Sucia Kitty went on strike and hid under the couch. Apparently she doesn’t appreciate moving everyday either or getting up early!!! I had to use a broom to get her out… (not appreciated either) but managed to get her in her travel crate without much fuss. She is a bit of a timid kitty, so we always put her in a spacious travel crate with a litter pan when we are on the road. She is usually quite content to be in there and often just puts herself in it on mornings when she knows we are traveling. 

Our last leg of the trip was honestly the most stressful, kitty under the couch, a weird (am I going to Heaven) tunnel just out of the Lake Mead area, heavy traffic with road construction in Las Vegas, CRAPPY roads on I17 in AZ and more crappy traffic and road construction in Sedona. The final fun part was navigating five roundabouts in Sedona with the last one pushing us into some super tight areas where I almost had to get out and move the road construction signs. Traffic was backed up and we crawled along on 89a but finally made it to Rancho Sedona where we would put down the jacks, level up the coach and unhitch the car for three weeks – YAY!!!

Am I seeing the light????

Off to a weird, winding start just outside Lake Mead!!

We were all worn slick (a favorite Oklahoma saying I learned from my friend Joe) when we arrived at the Rancho Sedona RV Park but after lunch we rallied and later had a wonderful dinner and evening, sitting outside under the stars catching up with Joe and Sharon. Seems the Sedona vortex can heal even the most stressful drive days!!! 

Yep, worn slick!!!

It Was A Long Week…

Our plan to stay a week in Bend morphed into three weeks… For no other reason than we just like it here! Plus, the weather up north in Anacortes still seem drippy so why not just stay put. Hiking, biking, and exploring the area have kept us busy. The Crown Villa RV Resort has been the perfect location with its easy access to the Old Mill District and Downtown. Great location, huge sites with brick pavers, patio sets and a storage shed certainly set this RV park apart from others we have stayed at. The other nice feature is that there is literally a grassy park behind all the RV sites and loads of mature ponderosa pine trees. Our only disappointment was that the pickleball court was closed due to COVID but I suspect it will be re-opening soon.

We have spent a lot of our time here in Bend just enjoying the outdoor life. Hiking, biking, walking and exploring the area have kept us plenty busy. There are no shortage of hiking trails nearby and we have especially enjoyed the extensive Deschutes River Trail system. Hiking along water – bonus points!!! Dillion Falls was one of our favorite hikes and the falls are just beautiful.

The bird watching on our hikes has been fun too. Colorful Western Tanagers, Black Headed Grosbeaks, copious amounts of Red Winged Black Birds, Finches of all kinds, Woodpeckers, loads of LBB’s, Nuthatches, Bald Eagles, Turkey Vultures, Ospreys and Hawks but our best sighting was a Great Blue Heron contemplating how to fish the turbulent waters at Dillon Falls. Herons take a bit of effort to take flight and seriously, one false move and this dude would have been swept into the water and over the falls.

Yesterday (Friday), we took a walk through Drake Park and Downtown Bend. Shops, bars and restaurants are starting to re-open but there wasn’t much foot traffic for the beginning of a long weekend. Much as I would like to plop myself down in a restaurant with white table clothes and gleaming stemware, a cold tap beer on a mostly deserted pub patio was a daring step out. Man, did it feel good to sit outside by a big fire table , overlooking Drake Park with a cold brew, sun on my back, yep…it felt normal.

While we aren’t partaking of newly opened restaurants yet that doesn’t mean we haven’t been eating well. There is a great produce stand just a few miles away and I even braved a trip to Trader Joe’s. The line was kinda long to get in as they were only letting 20 people in the store at a time, masks mandatory. So it was a thirty minute wait but once inside it was really nice not to be elbow to elbow like it always was pre-COVID. Not sure why the gal in front of me needed to bring her kids but at least they had masks on.

We have had a wide range of meals and I made a batch of triple chocolate brownies with toasted coconut which we have been feasting on for the last week. Tomorrow night the Uuni Pizza Oven is getting fired up…there is homemade pizza dough rising as I type.

We have a few more days to enjoy Bend before the Road House rolls on Tuesday. Tomorrow we are headed out to Tumalo State Park to take a hike and look for a family of owls that someone told us about. Hope you are all sane, healthy and enjoying a bit of normal…what ever that is!!!

Goodbye 2019…Hello 2020…

WOW, the third anniversary of Our38ftlife was December 12th and this is our fourth winter on the road. Change seems to be constant and this last year brought a new coach, a golf cart and now a lot remodel in Palm Springs. Life is good and we are still really loving this new chapter of our lives. 

We names it the Out House…LOL!!!

So technically, we aren’t really on the road right now and have settled into our winter digs in Palm Springs. While some may not consider us “full timers”, we don’t live in a house, we travel/live in a 43 foot motor coach and a boat. Our first two winters, we moved around a lot, mostly in the SW and California but found that to be exhausting. We are part of the group of folks who like to sit longer in one place and not move every few days. That is a lifestyle choice for sure and when you undertake this lifestyle you don’t know what you don’t know!

Footings for the outdoor kitchen area


We also didn’t realize that we would miss that sense of community that you have when you are in a S&B house. However, the great thing our current chapter is that we are the authors so we can change the direction of the plot anytime!

My friend Kristin and I hanging out with Barbara Eden.
She was so charming and looks amazing at 88 years young!


We had a better idea after our second year how we liked to “full time”. Summer on the boat with part of that time hanging around Anacortes Washington. Fall traveling in the coach with short hops of less than 250 miles and a few days to a week in each place. Winter in one place in the coach – for now thats the Outdoor Resort Resort Palm Springs. Spring we travel again for a couple of months, again short hops with stays up to a week. This next summer we are going to mix it up and travel to Alaska in the coach.

Hoping to see some wild mountain goats in Alaska!!


Yep, 2020 will be an interesting summer as we caravan to Alaska with a RV group. The trip officially starts in Great Fall Montana and will end in Prince George BC. We will cover over 5,700 miles in 63 days seeing the Calgary Stampede to Denali National Park and so much in between. We have never done a RV tour with a group but we have three other couples we know who are going as well so I have a feeling we will have a ball! 

That will mean less time on the Beach House as we want to spend time in Wyoming and Colorado in the fall. The New Road House is going to get some miles put on her for sure!

Water time is always a good time.



For now, we are 6 weeks into our winter stay in Palm Springs and have been enjoying catching up with friends here at the Outdoor Resort and in Palm Springs. Comedy shows, concerts, checking out new restaurants, a trip to AZ in the coach, pickleball, copious happy hours and a lot remodel. Yep, we haven’t been bored, that’s for sure!

Hosting a lot crawl Happy Hour!!!
A mini balloon festival right on our golf course!!!



The 38ftlife Crew wishes you much happiness, joy and good health in the New Year.

The Southern Migration

The Road House rolled out of Ancortes Washington under bright, clear skies headed for Portland Oregon. The water in Padilla Bay sparkled as we rounded the corner on Hwy 20. I will miss the Beach House and all of our friends in Ancortes but it was exciting to finally hit the road in our new coach.

Our winter destination was Palm Springs but we planned to take a month to get there. Sure we could dead head, put the petal to the metal and get there in 4-5 days but why? Highways and byways can be a lot more fun for exploring rather than staying on the major interstates like I5. 

Our first and longest stop was Portland. We haven’t done a stop over there since May of 2018 and then we only stayed 5 nights. Pheasant Ridge RV Resort was our home for the two week visit and we found the location in Wilsonville to be better than expected despite the horrific traffic that has entangled the city of Portland. This pretty little 45 acre resort is not only incredibly dog friendly (the doggies have their own laundry room) but has great amenities which include paved full hookup, pull-thru and back-in sites, onsite grocery, L.P. gas, indoor pool and spa, Wi-Fi (wireless Internet access throughout park) and much more.

The fall colors in Portland were spectacular… the city was ablaze with deep golds, reds and brilliant oranges. It was great catching up with longtime friends and our dance ticket was full every day. Late nights and bountiful bottles of wine left me in need of some serious sleep-in time. Not only that but 5 of those nights I spent in Austin with a friend I haven’t seen in 8 years….more on that later!

I spent my birthday with our good friend Deb and my favorite husband! We couldn’t have had a more perfect day together… picnic lunch, hiking the Trail of 11 Falls at Silver Falls State Park, a gorgeous sunset and a fabulous dinner together. Blackened Hangar Steak, Chanterelle Mushroom Barley Risotto made with duck bone broth (thank you Sharon Harmon), Arugula Pomegranate Salad and a amazing Almond Cake for dessert. Thanks Deb for taking a day off work to hang with us and make my birthday so special!

From Portland, we headed to Eugene for two nights to spend time with dear friends and our god daughter Lucie who has just turned 21!!! It was family and alumni weekend at the University of Oregon so the town was abuzz. We were treated to a pre-game party and great seats in a box for the Ducks vs Cougars game – Thanks Brent and Wendy for a fun weekend!

Next stop was Medford for one night where we honestly just did laundry, went for a walk and ran some errands. I will say the Southern Oregon RV Park at the expo is a great stopover. Just three years old, the landscape has really matured since our first visit and the access to the 20 mile bike/running/walking trail between Medford and Ashland is a bonus.

Our plan was originally to go to Bend Oregon, spend a few days then head towards south on Hwy 97 and catch Hwy 395 which follows the Sierra Nevada’s. The stopover in Eugene, kinda put Bend off the itinerary as we had a deadline to be in Palm Springs by the 6th. Crapola, why would we have a deadline – we are retired right? Well, tickets to see comedian Wayne Brady with friends in Palm Springs were on the calendar so there ya go!

Weather was a concern on the Hwy 395 route as it is getting close to snow season but all the fires in Southern California definitely had us wanting to avoid I5 and the LA basin. As luck would have it, Mother Nature has been withholding rain so the route down the Sierra Nevada’s looked just fine. Not sure how lucky this was/is for Southern Cal – rain is much needed for sure. 

Our next planned stop was in Shingletown California as it was close to Lassen Volcanic National Park which has been on our list of places to see and hike. I didn’t make any reservations once we left Eugene as I  just didn’t know if the weather would hold. Turns out that was probably a good thing. The KOA we had planned to stay in had no electricity due to the massive PG&E shutdowns. High winds were expected again and the worries of lines sparking fires led to power being turned off all across parts of California. 

We can survive with out power as we have a generator but knowing how damn cold it was going to be at night, we decided that while we could run the generator to charge up the batteries neither of us wanted to have it running off and on all night to power our furnace. Thankfully, the Premier RV Resort in Redding had open sites and they aren’t part of the PG&E grid so power wasn’t an issue there. Also, we could still make our day trip to Lassen National Park from there. 

Redding is a nice town with loads of outdoor activities, good restaurants and plenty of services. Unfortunately, the rampant homeless/opioid issues are holding the city hostage according to some locals we talked to. This seems to be the number one issue we see and hear about in our travels. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be any easy solutions.

Lassen Volcanic National Park was spectacular albeit a bit windy but that didn’t detour us from our day trip. It was a picture perfect day for the scenic 30 mile drive through the park. We had planned to renew our annual National Park Pass at the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center  but when we arrived it was open but there was no power so no monies could be accepted. The rangers gave us some maps and said “just renew your pass at the next park you visit”. SCORE…so technically admission was free but unfortunately the visitors center audio and media shows weren’t operating and the museum and discovery center at the other end of the park were closed too.

Oh well, despite the wind we really wanted to do some hiking and one trail that caught our attention was Bumpass Hell.

Yep, that really was the trail name and it turned out to be the highlight of the day. Bumpass Hell Basin is the largest hydrothermal area in the park and marks the principal area of upflow of steams and discharge from the Lassen hydrothermal system. The temperature of high-velocity steam jetting from Big Boiler, the largest fumarole in the park, has been measured as high as 322°F, making it one of the hottest fumaroles in the world. A board walk that takes you through boiling, hissing, steaming pots of sulfuric mud…oh, hell yeah we wanted to see that.  

Distance wise the the trail was a easy 3 miles round trip but personally I was muttering “kickass hell” under my breath for parts of the hike that had elevation gain … my ocean level body wasn’t used to hiking at over 7,000 feet. The unworldly basin much like parts of Yellowstone National Park was worth the grunt in the wind…glad I had a hat and gloves. 

Picnicking on a windy, 40 degree day isn’t for the faint of heart but we found a sunny area out of the wind where we could enjoy our lunch. Bentley had accompanied us on the driving tour but like all National Parks he was relegated to parking lots …well, and this picnic area. Honestly, we maybe saw a dozen people all day so who was going to tattle if he was laying in the sun by our picnic table. 

Awesome day trip from Redding and only 144 miles round trip. I would love to go back and hike some more of the back country but really if you only have a day – do the driving tour and the Kickass Hell, Oops I meant the Bumpass Hell hike.

From Redding we headed east on Hwy 44 toward Susanville California where we picked up Hwy 395. There were some steep grades – 9% was the steepest but the new Road House handled them with ease. With six gears in the heavy duty Allision Transmission and the two stage Jake brake, windy hilly highways don’t bother my driver a bit! We were mostly driving on beautiful two lane highway with hardly another car on the road.

EEK…that was a bit tight!

Our next stop for three nights was the Carson City area. We ended up at a small, “boutique” RV park near Dayton that had full hooks ups so we could catch up in laundry. Small and cramped must be there definition of boutique but at least it was really quiet at night. Next time we do this route, I will definitely try to get into the Washoe State Park Campground. Situated on the edge of Washoe Lake, with hiking trails and a great wetlands area this campground is a winner.

After being on the road all day, we decided dinner out was in order and we really enjoyed the San Marco’s Grill in Carson City. Great Mexican food, not your typical big plate of bland beans and rice plus the margaritas were da’bomb!

After a good sleep in and lazy morning, Virginia City was our first stop for the day. Like many cities and towns in Nevada, Virginia City was a mining boomtown that developed virtually overnight as a result of miners rushing to the Comstock Lode silver strike of 1859. The riches of the Comstock Lode inspired men to hunt for silver mines throughout Nevada and other parts of the American West.

Once a booming town of 25,000, prospectors from all over the world funneled their millions back into the town by building mansions, hospitals, churches, opera houses and schools. They imported furniture, fashions and entertainment from Europe and the Orient.

With more than 100 mines in the Comstock area, seven million tons of silver ore were produced – equating to more than $600 million in both silver and gold in today’s money. Among many things, this money helped to build San Francisco to what it is today as well as finance the Union in the Civil War.

Today mining for silver is a thing of the past in Virginia City but the town is well preserved and well worth an afternoon of exploration. I will say that we were lucky as it is off season and I suspect that Virginia City could be a zoo in the summer months. 

After a very sad lunch at the Red Dog Saloon (highly rated but seriously crappy food), we continued on our loop back toward Carson City. Washoe State Park was on the agenda for a good walk in the wetlands preservation area. We knew it was too late in the season to see many of the migratory birds that fly through but we thought we would recon and check out Washoe State Park anyway.

I was surprised to learn that the number of recorded bird species visiting, breeding, or living in the state of Nevada is a whopping 488. During the spring and fall, hundreds of thousands of those birds following the north-to-south path from Alaska to Patagonia—the Pacific Flyway—can be seen throughout the Silver State. However, Nevada is rarely on a birder’s bucket list. In fact, according to the Great Basin Bird Observatory, a nonprofit science-based organization, Nevada is one of the most under-birded areas in the country. 

The Washoe wetlands are also an Audubon-designated Important Bird Area (IBA). This classification is used to “identify, monitor, and protect the most important places for birds” according to Audubon’s website. Dangola, guess we need to come back through here in the spring.

Another reason for the stop in Carson City was the close proximity to Lake Tahoe. No snow, meant all the roads around the lake were open. This gorgeous freshwater lake is the largest alpine lake in North American. Lying at 6,225 ft, it straddles the state line between California and Nevada, west of Carson City. Casino’s dot the Nevada side and there are two major ski areas. 

The lake was formed about two million years ago as part of the Lake Tahoe Basin, with the modern extent being shaped during the ice ages. It is known for the clarity of its water, cobalt in color and the panorama of surrounding mountains on all sides. More than 75% of the lake’s watershed is national forest land, so camping and hiking opportunities abound in this area. Since we were visiting in off season, most of the campgrounds were closed despite the fact there was no new snow. 

We spent the day driving the 72 mile loop around the lake and also took a side trip to Truckee, the Donner Pass Memorial and Donner Lake. Post card perfect weather made this a spectacular day to be on a drive. Bentley frolicked in the Truckee River and at Donner Lake…he would have been happy to spend the whole day there.

We did a short hike to Upper Kings Falls near Emerald Bay and had a great lunch at the Fire Sign Café near Tahoe City. The only disappointment was that the Heaven Valley Gondola was closed  – WAHHH, the views would have been amazing. We did however really enjoy a stopover at Sand Harbor (no dogs allowed, how rude). There is a great walking path and beautiful rock boulder formations at this end of the lake. 

There are no shortage of things to do or see in Lake Tahoe and if you are a casino lover, well you might never make it outside to see anything.

Our three days in the Carson City area flew by and soon it was time to hit the road again. Our next stopover was Mammoth Lakes and the drive between Cason City and Mammoth was spectacular. Late fall colors, beautiful blue lakes and towering mountains make this portion of the drive my favorite. Only one crazy deer almost ended its life by bounding out in front of our 48,000 lbs coach. Luckily, it saw us and changed course at the last minute. CARDIO BLAST for both of us and I bet the deer might have dropped a load of pellets too!

Mammoth Mountain RV Park was our home for the two day stopover. After a frustrating time initially trying to get parked in the treed campground, we eventually got settled into the spacious site under the towering pine trees. Again, since it was off season we were lucky to find any place to stay but the upside was this “resort” was virtually empty. The sites are much like being in a state or national park, except there are full hook ups and a big price tag. At $75 per night, I would say they think highly of the place. No off season rates here or any discounts like most RV parks or resorts. Oh well, the area was worth the visit and in addition to all the scenic beauty, Mammoth has great restaurants.

Our splurge meal was at the Mammoth Rock Brasserie…a well rated restaurant situated over the bowling alley. There were plenty of great restaurant choices but the menu caught my eye as did the funky location with the spectacular views of the Sherwin Range and Mammoth Mountain. The website noted that they did NOT offer a children’s menu and expected any children in the restaurant to be well behaved, to stay in their seats and to keep their voices to a normal speaking level. If a child is being loud or disruptive, they expect parents to instruct their children to act appropriately. AMEN to that I say.

We booked an early dinner reservation to take advantage of the views and were not disappointed. A gin martini and Ahi Poke tower to start. Our entrees were delicious and the wine list was first class. The restaurant was on the second floor of a newish, modern mountain building which you would never know housed a bowling alley and fine dining restaurant when you pull into the parking lot. I am also happy to report that there wasn’t a child to be seen or heard…guess all the other patrons took the website warning to heart!!!

After another well deserved sleep in day, we spent the day hiking at Convict Lake and touring the surrounding alpine lakes. There are a plethora of places to hike in this region but Convict Lake struck our fancy because the trail is a 3 mile loop around the lake, is relatively flat (no kickass hell here) which was important since the elevation was 8,438 feet. Plus it has cool history and spectacular views of the mountains. If you are an angler, bring a rod and reel as this lake is stocked with trout. As a matter of fact, bring your fishing gear and a kayak…so many places to use both around this basin. Curious how Convict Lake got its name? Click on the hyperlink and read on!

This trail can be really busy in peak season but on our sunny Sunday hike we saw far more people fishing than hiking. After a pleasant, easy hike complete with bald eagle sightings and fish jumping in the lake, we headed further up into the mountains to check out Lake Mary and Lake George. There is a great bike path and plenty of options to get off road or golf in this area as well. Of course, there is a the ski mountain…and we had a Good giggle recalling a weekend we spent in Mammoth with friends Eric and Carol many moons ago. We went to ski and ski we did but what we really remember is the Spanish Coffee induced clogging and craziness that happened one evening. I am pretty sure we didn’t ski the next day…or did we??? 

The Mammoth Lakes Basin is so diverse that it really deserves a longer stop over. One could tour Yosemite National Park from here but we opted not to try to do just a day drive to this massive national park. A return trip in the late spring to this area might just be on the agenda. 

Our last stop on the souther migration was merely a place to park and sleep. Mammoth Lake to Palm Springs is about 345 miles, totally doable but makes for a long day. We didn’t want to roll in after dark and have to get set up so we opted to spend the night in nowhere Ridgecrest CA. 

So many scenic vistas on this drive down Hwy 395.

$22.50 got us a self registration, full hookup and pull thought site with easy access off Hwy 395. After a tour of Ridgecrest we were in total agreement that this wasn’t a town to put on our “future paces to live someday” list. The Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake is the reason this nowhere desert town exists. 

China Lake is the United States Navy’s largest single landholding, representing 85% of the Navy’s land for weapons and armaments research, development, acquisition, testing and evaluation use and 38% of the Navy’s land holdings worldwide. In total, its two ranges and main site cover more than 1,100,000 acres, an area larger than the state of Rhode Island. Well, that explains why a newish city of 27,000 plus people is thriving out in the middle of nowhere. 

The last 150 miles of our southern migration was uneventful desert driving on mostly two lane Hwy 395. The last stretch merged onto to Hwy 15 in Victorville where we dropped down into the San Bernadino Valley. Did I say uneventful..well yes, uneventful, until the front shade came unscrewed on the passenger side and dropped down obscuring the windshield. Of course that happen right as we were merging onto busy Hwy 15 but thankfully before were were headed down Cajon Pass. As luck would have it, we were able to safely pull over and engineer a temporary fix with gorilla tape and a mop handle.

We rolled into The Outdoor Resort Palm Springs in the early afternoon. Home again, home again!!!

What a awesome road trip in the new Road House, Hwy 395 is a great alternative to I5. We will definitely travel this route again and that my friends is no BS!

Let the Good Times Roll…

Our three week cruise in the Canadian Gulf Islands couldn’t have been better from a weather perspective. Lots of sunshine and very little rain make for a happy crew. We buddy boated with friends during most of the cruise and that was a blast too.

Our plans to head to Desolation Sound in BC were derailed when we finally got word that our new (to us) 2013 Entegra Aspire 42 DEQ coach was finally going to close. This deal had been 2 months in the waiting due to some issues on the sellers end and had been a source of frustration to us since June. That said, waiting wasn’t the big issue, it was the lack of communication from the dealer who had the coach on consignment. We held off leaving on the boat but finally decided that Fed-ex could get us documents somehow and maybe if we just took off it would finally happen.

Well damned if it didn’t!!! We finally got word the deal was ready to move forward just a day or two before we were going to make the crossing into the hinterlands of Desolation Sound. After some debate about how and where we could get the documents delivered (NO DOCUSIGN = LAME) we decided that returning to the US, signing the closing docs and taking possession of the coach was going to make us feel more settled. Plus, we were REALLY excited to get behind the wheel of our new rolling home, get her to Anacortes and start moving in.

We enjoyed visiting some anchorages that we hadn’t been to in years, some old favorites and some new places on the way back to the US. Pirates Cove is now on the list of favorites after a long hiatus.

I love the treasure chest…I think my glasses were a great addition!

A new favorite just over the Canadian border…Beaumont Marine Park. Great hiking, crabbing and fishing plus a mooring buoy field and amazing sunsets!!!

A deserted beach just waiting to be explored.
Exploring in the whaler…so much fun!!!

Another favorite we enjoyed was Sidney …great walking, shopping and restaurants. We had a great dinner at Sabhai Thai and a delicious lunch at Fish on Fifth. A day trip to Sidney Spit was very much enjoyed by Bentley who loves to frolick and play on the beach!!!

We ended the three week cruise with another night on a mooring buoy in Fossil Bay at Sucia Island. Crabbing was very good there so we came back to Anacortes with a full bucket of delicious crustaceans. I think they enjoyed the cruise back too!

Back on land, we quickly got possession of the coach which was in Poulsbo WA, got it settled into the storage lot in Anacortes and started moving all our stuff back in. We had boxed up and stored everything in the old coach so we could take it to consignment (not at the same dealer for sure). Holy Crapola, it sure is harder to move back in than it was to move out. I kept wondering out loud how we got all that stuff on the Cheetah. The new coach is five feet longer which in theory means there should be more storage …right? Not sure about that yet as it is all different storage inside and its like a puzzle figuring out where everything should go.

Yike…what a disaster!!!
So none of this was ours…it was all in the storage bays! 2 trips to the dumpsters, three trips to goodwill and a few things sold to make room for our stuff!

So you might be wondering why we “suddenly” decided to get a new coach…what was wrong with the other one and why this coach in particular. So honestly, there isn’t one thing that is wrong with the Cheetah…she has been a great starter coach for us. Our 2 month 101 road trip, in which we had a ball exploring the California, Oregon and Washington coast, re-enforced to us that we really love this lifestyle and hope to keep on exploring the US via coach and boat for many more years to come.
So that said, we just decided an upgrade to our home was in order.

So…TADA…behold the new Road House!!! Isn’t she pretty…

After spending three winters in the Cheetah Safari, we knew exactly the upgrades we wanted so that helped us narrow our choice to three models of coaches. The layouts were all similar but after driving the Entegra we were hooked. Entegra builds all of its coaches on a Spartan Chassis which is a totally different design than the Cheetah. Founded in 1975, Spartan has been a leading innovator in the industry. They engineer and build their chassis to feel like a luxury vehicle. Their innovations include the independent front suspension and the rear tag axle. These two features alone contribute so much to the ride and handling of the coach. Without them, you would experience harsher bumps, louder vibrations and significant drifting on the road. The rear tag axle was a huge selling point on a coach this size. What is a tag axle you might be wondering? A tag axle is a third axle located behind the rear drive axle of a motor home. It is a non-drive axle with one or two tires on each side. The main purpose of a tag axle is to increase the support of the chassis at the rear of the vehicle, allowing for greater carrying capacity and shock resistance. Since there is less overhang behind the rear axle, it makes for a more stable ride and an easier drive. Additionally, the tag helps stabilize the coach in strong cross winds plus when a huge tractor trailer rig passes us we do not even feel the effects of it.

We love the interior design of the Entegra which is significantly more spacious than the Cheetah as it has four slide outs and taller ceilings. The main living space has a L shaped couch we can both lay on, a gas fireplace and a stressless reclining chair which I have a feeling we will both be battling for.

In the kitchen, upgrades include a full size residential refrigerator and more counter space thanks to the pull out cabinet that makes the counter L shaped. There are so many accent lights inside the coach and I am still finding new ones.

Time to start personalizing our new home …adding some splashes of color!

In the back of the coach is the bathroom with two sinks and a bedroom with a king bed – YAY. No step up to the bed, which I grew to dislike very much. Since the bed sits lower, there is less storage underneath it – which is a bummer for sure. This coach also has a compact stacked washer and dryer as opposed to our all in one Splendide unit that we installed on the Cheetah. I liked the all in one just fine and the extra storage in the Cheetah where the dryer is now on the Aspire will be sorely missed.

Other upgrades – hydronic heated floors, a heat pump with three rooftop units for cooling and heating, side radiator, on demand hot water heater, loads of electronic upgrades, outdoor TV, heated storage bays underneath the coach with heavy duty pull out trays… the list goes on and on.

Like the Cheetah, we opted to purchase another gently used coach with very low miles. The prior owners bought it new, had all the bells and whistles added and sadly, due to health issues didn’t really get to enjoy it much. The interior still had original tags on some of the furniture, stickers on the fireplace and shades. In the kitchen, it was obvious that the convection microwave oven had never been used nor had the propane cooktop. Buying a good used coach means someone else takes the big hit on the depreciation and hopefully has worked out all the new coach glitches.

That said, we fully expect to have a few things to repair and know that we will need to replace the tires within a year. Low miles on RV tires doesn’t mean anything. With RV’s, it’s the age of the tires as large RV tires age out due to UV. The average life of a RV tire is five to seven years. If you drive a car every day, you’ll probably wear out the tread in less than five. RVs spend most of their time sitting still. So your tires will probably need to be replaced before the tread wears out. Maybe it’s cracks from the sun or maybe it’s sitting too long with too little air in them. When your RV tires hit five year in age, it’s time to think about replacing them. It’s even more important with the kind of weight and load that an RV puts on them. The Entegra is a big girl, weighing in at a whopping 46,600 lbs so she needs the best tires you can get to keep her safely rolling down the road. We anticipated spending a bloody fortune on new tires so that was factored in when we negotiated the price of the coach.

Despite the hassles with the dealership, we are thrilled with our new home and can’t wait to get on the road again. The sun is calling to us and like birds we will be starting our annual southern migration in early October. Most likely we will make a stopover in Portland Oregon to see friends and if the weather holds, we may hop over to Eastern Oregon and then drive down the Sierra Nevada/California route to Palm Springs. As a tribute to recently passed Ric Ocasek, we will be rocking out to the Cars …“Let the Good Times Roll” as we glide down the highways and byways in the new Road House.