Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ is mostly what has been happening the last few days.  That, and watching the weather reports to see what is coming, and what is behind us.  After a night at Sunny Gulch, Hailey and I knew that we had an almost 9000’ pass to cross in the morning – and it had been raining much of the night.

And this time of year at this elevation, rain down low always means snow higher up.  Sure enough, as we got rolling with a hot coffee in hand, we could see that the snow level was a mere 200’ above us.


A thorough search of the Idaho road reports showed no closures, but the weather maps showed snow throughout, and as we approached the area of the pass it certainly did not look inviting.PA269996

A good sign was seeing no snow plows on the grade up to the pass, and as it turned out the worst condition was just a bit of wet pavement and some snow on the shoulder at the summit. Whew!  With a long sigh of relief, and a hearty sip of coffee, we began the long descent towards Sun Valley. 


With the Allison transmission doing it’s thing, the brakes were barely touched on the way down.PA269998PA260008

Hailey was fairly impressed by the fact that a town had been named after her – as we rolled in to Hailey, Idaho!


She roused herself from her nap and decided that she had better ‘freshen up’ a bit, in case she was recognized by any of her ‘subjects’!


Meanwhile, her ‘driver’ decided it might be time to risk taking on water and ‘summer-izing’ the rig again. (It is a bit of a pain, having to winterize the trailer both in the spring on the way home and in the fall prior to departure.)  With that in mind, the ‘RV dumps’ app located an excellent site just off the main highway in Hailey’s town, and we took on a load of water.  It’s beginning to feel a lot like summer, err winter (!) again!

Last year we headed straight south from here, down through Twin Falls, Jackpot, and eventually Ely, Nevada, but this year it was time to explore a new route. 

We turned the wheel toward Craters of the Moon NM, and looked at a couple of possible camps along the way from, but the road into one was so overgrown with brush that we would have risked tearing off rainspouts or vents along the way, so backed out of that one, literally.  Strangely, the very strong winds were from behind us!  Has that ever happened before?  There was a nice, scenic little campground at C of M, but most sites were small and more designed for tents, and they were somewhat exposed to the wind as lava beds don’t block much wind.  So, we carried on through Arco, where we were tempted by the fair grounds, but ended up instead at a windy rest stop in the middle of nowhere.  Imagine our shock, dismay, angst, fear, and horror and disgust to see the windshield in the morning!


I had to rummage around behind the seat and finally found this wooden handled tool with a sort of brush on one end, and a scraper type thing on the other.  When no one was watching, I got out shivering and scraped the windshield.

From Idaho Falls, highway 26 led us east, and eventually to another primitive BLM site on the Snake river, called Wolf Flats.  We were the only ones there of course, and the wind calmed down enough to enjoy a small campfire on the river bank with some damp poplar I cut up.

Now for a bit of Snowbird advice!

You know you have not gone far enough south when:

- you are wearing a toque when sitting by the camp fire.

- the marker posts along the highway are 10’ tall

-when every yard you pass contains either snow machines or a snowplow on the front of an old 4x4

- signs on the highway say that riding a snow machine on the shoulder is not permitted

- the geese flying by are wearing down coats

- RV antifreeze is on sale at every Walmart

- trees don’t have leaves

- all the fences you see along the highway – are snow fences

- avalanche danger is rated as ‘considerable’

- snow tire and ‘chain-up’ signs predominate

- you haven’t seen a hummingbird in over a week

- rabbits are white

- your heated seats turn on automatically every morning

- you see a polar bear.  This means that you turned the wrong way leaving Edmonton!

After sifting through the possibilities leaving Wolf Flats in the Idaho Falls area, the route east into Wyoming was chosen. After a scenic drive along the Palisades reservoir, Alpine, Wy was just across the line.  During a brief stop here there were some eagles repeatedly diving at a spot in shallow water along the shoreline.  They were too far away to see what was attracting them, but it must have been fish, but possibly a diving duck.  Another very scenic section led towards Jackson, on the south side of Yellowstone NP.  It was sunny and nice out, but with the cool temperatures, a Yellowstone tour would have to wait for another time.  Another turn south (heeding my own advice above) headed us down towards Rock Springs on the interstate.  The stunning scenery of the Yellowstone area was soon transformed into much more muted, high-plains scenery and a definite shortage of trees.  On southward, the scenery picked up again, and so did the high elevation route, mostly close to 8000’. 

A few antelope were now showing up along the roadside, but usually there was no opportunities for photos.  That is, until this one fairly large herd decided to attempt a crossing right in front of us!



OK, time to dig out the long lens …


Flaming gorge sounded like a good possibility for our next destination.  I think RV Sue was there a month or so ago, and it looked like it held promise.  As dusk approached, we turned off down the road to Antelope Flats, where we experienced some washboard gravel road that Baja Mexico would be proud of.  As expected the campground was closed and locked up, but more importantly the route out to Sue’s boondocking spot was also gated!  And at an elevation of over 6000’ it was not going to be that warm either, but a convenient lake-view  spot was just going to have to do for a night.  Update: Just checked and found the RV Sue came in on Jug Hollow road to get out to the point.  Shucks, missed that one.  Should have checked while I was there, not 100 miles down the road!

I guess we will just have to keep on keepin’ on southbound, till we find some of that weather that Al has been talking about on the Bayfield Bunch.  Also have to keep an eye in the rear view mirror in case Wandering Willy the stealth-blogger is catching up, or for John & Brenda in case they have loaded up a herd of horses for their trip south.  Another update:  A certain rooster on eastern daylight time tells me that J&B are back in the south, but haven’t updated the blog yet!

Meanwhile, out on the windy west coast, Hailey’s friends Taggart, Polly and Rand have started their migration southwards from the sea spray and lighthouses, to the warm, dry desert.  They travel with Nina & Paul, who some of you may have heard of!

No doubt, all of our paths will cross at some point during the fabulous months ahead!  I have to get back to the hard work of taking it easy now.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Alberta, BC, Montana, and Idaho–we’re on the move!

Well, finally all the ducks were in a row, the T’s were dotted and the I’s were crossed, Hailey had her shots and didn’t draw anyone’s blood, the new satellite system was up and running, and the temperatures were beginning to drop.  So there was no more reason to stick around at home and wait for the weather to get worse.

We are on the road south!!  After debating the various routes south, we headed out taking it one turn at a time.


The first stop was 36’ down the road to barricade the driveway to the ‘sticks n bricks’ place with, well, a stick and some bricks.  This is required to keep the snow plow guy from moving all the gravel off the driveway over the winter.IMG_1508IMG_1509

Then it was off down the open roads, ever southward. 


The first day was rather short, following the eastern slopes, noting that most of the higher ground already was sporting a seasonal dusting of snow.  After a casual, early afternoon departure, a stop was in order at Chain Lakes Provincial Park.  Part of the campground was still open, and there appeared to be a few hunters staying there.

In the morning we continued on, swinging west across the continental divide in the Crowsnest Pass.


On the way there, the highway crosses the huge Franks Slide area.


The border crossing at Roosville was a bit busier than the route I took last year, but still it was only a 10 minute wait, and no hassles at all.


Once across the line, Hailey resumed her favourite traveling positionPA249974PA260010

and we wound our way through quaint Montana towns, and the occasional construction project.


We cruised southbound through Whitefish, Kalispell, Polson, and Missoula Montana, before pulling in for another night near a wildlife refuge along highway 93.

In the morning, after topping off the fuel tank, it was a long climb to the continental divide at Lost Trail pass (7014’).  There is a ski area of the same name there, but the roads were bare and there was not yet any snow on the ski runs.  Then it was a long coast down to Salmon Idaho.PA259987

In Salmon there was a sign warning of wildlife crossing right in the town! Of course, I saw a few animals crossing in the backs of trucks, and one hanging at a ‘pizza & RV park’ near North Fork.  It was clearly fishing season on the Salmon river, as every section of the river was occupied by anglers on the bank, or those floating down in various boats.  There were also hunter checks set up along the highway.PA259988

We left highway 93 for a while at Challis, and continued along the ‘Salmon river scenic byway’ – the same route we took last year.  There was more road construction and detours along the way, but the delays (for us) were minor.


With another even higher pass approaching, the fuel was again topped off in Stanley, and with some snow forecast, we took a chance and stopped again for the night near Sunny Gulch.  Not sure why, but all the trees in this campground were individually marked with small aluminum tags on their bases.


Next, an exciting day for Hailey!  (?)


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Earthquake hits Banff!; Coyotes avoid Hailey

A new plan this year!  I have actually had really good luck the last few years either avoiding gas pumps in the US that want a zip code, or I have usually been successful with the ‘00000’ code.  But in an attempt to avoid the surcharges plus exchange on credit card purchases, I decided to open a US bank acct and try using a debit card attached to it.  It all sounded so easy on my TD Bank website.  Just ‘click here’ and you’ll have a US acct.  NOT!  There were many hoops to jump through, and many ‘chicken and egg’ situations to deal with.  “You cannot access your account online till there is cash in the account”, but I can’t transfer money into it till I have access!!  Just waiting for the debit card to arrive in the mail, but even now, I will not be able to transfer funds with a click of the mouse, I will have to phone them and go through the song and dance over and over again.


Weather has been lovely around home most of the time, so the urge to migrate has not yet reached a turning point.

The rig has been winterized as a precaution, as frost at night is becoming a regular occurrence.


Don & Donna came down for a quick visit on Thanksgiving weekend, but they likely won’t be able to join me on a beach in Nevada till sometime in the spring ;-(

Visited some other friends recently in the Rocky Mountain foothills, and took the opportunity to get the helicopter airborne for some photos of their place.


We went for a short ride along the river …IMG_1489

then watched the horses enjoy a good roll.IMG_1494IMG_1495

Went for a drive out to the east boundary of Banff National Park, and a short hike into the park.


Speaking of Banff, they had a 2.7 earthquake hit a few days ago, but all reports indicate that the town will survive!

Back at home, Hailey was hunting high,




and in between,


keeping the local wildlife wild.

The coyotes had to keep a sharp eye out to avoid her attacks!


Many of the leaves have fallen, but there is still some good colour remaining in some areas.


The birds are finally finding my feeder popular.


I tried to sneak up on some geese …


Glad to see that the Bayfield Bunch have completed another successful voyage back to their place in Congress, AZ.  Hope to see them somewhere on the road this winter.IMG_5989

Haven’t seen John & Brenda’s tail lights headed south yet, but I suspect they’ll be loading horses and heading out soon.


Ready to hook up and head out – at the first sign of bad weather!