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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Views from a SoCal RVer

After returning from a 3,000 mile motor home trip last year, my husband and I started reminiscing about our trip.

Utah is a visual kaleidoscope - the scenery ranges from stark to magnificent. We made a stop at Zion
National Park and were blown away by what we were able to see -  refreshing river walk, rare hanging gardens, brave wildlife (a squirrel that sat unperturbed as we hiked right next to it and a bird that landed on my knee - and we didn’t feed either one), weeping walls and a shuttle system that ran like clockwork. Our next stop was Salt Lake City where most of our time revolved around an Irish feis my granddaughter was participating in.  SLC is diversified as well. The cityscape ranges from religions archtecture to a KOA, where you might forget you are in an urban setting if you leave through the back gate and walk along the river.
We had one overnight in Rawlins, Wyoming, so didn’t get a chance to make many observations other than everyone we met was nice. We did make time to check out the Wyoming State Prison before we left. Our tour guide was young and enthusiastic, telling us many interesting stories about the prison. Archie enjoyed the tour, too. 
We arrived at our South Dakota destination in time to set-up and make dinner. We’d been there before but we discovered some new things:
> If you really want to get up close to the Black Hills, rent an ATV - another Archie-included activity.
> People get friendly really fast riding in the back of a horse drawn wagon and even friendlier when, while eating outside, it starts to rain with a little thunder and lightning thrown in to add to the excitement.
 > If you really want to see wildlife, go to a drive-thru park where the animals can’t hide. I learned three things there: 1) wolves look a lot like some mixed-breed dogs I‘ve seen so I need to be careful of strays I might see on a hike, 2) bears are very curious animals - an inquisitive one held us hostage on the “bear” road while he inspected our front tow hitch and used it for a back scratch, and 3) coyotes are better looking when they eat well.
> There are fascinating things to see underground - caves are fun to walk through, especially when your guide tells good stories.
> Try looking at things from a different angle, like a chairlift, for a different perspective on the landscape.
Check your pulse if you don’t feel patriotic at Mt. Rushmore. We’d seen the moving lighting ceremony before but this time we walked the presidential trail (seeing the monument up close and at different angles) and visited the exhibits. (I still can’t believe they were able to do such intricate work back then.)
> The Iron Mountain and Needles Highways are a marvel and kind of scary with their tiny tunnels (no RV’s for sure) and present pleasant visual surprises as you drive around corners.
> If you drive through Custer State Park, be sure to take carrots for the wild donkeys; we didn’t and those donkeys really seemed disappointed when they stuck their heads inside our car window.
> People will take unbelievable chances to get close to wildlife.
> Clouds can get mighty scary looking, especially if you’re from SoCal where we just don’t get that much sky action.

Next stop, Thermopolis, Wyoming. We drove the Red Feather Highway to get there, scenic and scary - I mean steep. We discovered the hot springs - just like bath water but after being home a week and several washings, I could still smell sulfur on my bathing suit.

Then it was on to Yellowstone - an area of contrasts. One minute there are lush forests, lakes, and water flowing down the side of the mountain. Next there are trees that look like match sticks (forest fire), steam coming straight up from the ground and bubbling mud pots. We spent a few days in this spectacular park. Some spots look like hell is trying to escape from the middle of the earth. Then there are colors so vibrant they don’t look real while the next spot looks as desolate as a moonscape. There were powerful waterfalls and tranquil lakes. Can all of this and Old Faithful all be in one park? Yep, and lots of bison and elk, too. There is a lot to see and too much ground to cover. We put it on our list for a return trip.


After Yellowstone, it was time to head for home. We spent just one night in Provo, Utah, and a couple in Las Vegas visiting relatives where it was so hot, when we opened the door for Archie to go out, we got blasted by hot air. Archie stopped in his tracks, made a U-turn and headed under the table.
What did we learn on this trip?
    > Grandkids make everything more fun (including breakfast) and remind you how awesome every day things can be, like butterflies and other insects.
    > I've come to the conclusion that most people on the road are friendly because it was not unusual for me to return to the RV to find my husband “chatting” with someone who had been a complete stranger before I left.
    > There is a lot to see in the USA and some of the most spectacular views are on the way to where you are going - something you miss if you aren’t traveling via the roads.

1 comment:

  1. What a great post! And super photos. Wish I'd been on this trip, but then you wouldn't have had so much fun.