Gladlee of Guernsey

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America 2012  Page 2 - September/October


5th -9th September - Malibu Creek State Park - We arrived at LAX after an uneventful flight from Richmond via Dallas on the 5th September. L & S picked us up as planned and ferried us to Malibu Creek State Park where Harvey was parked.

The Handover - Malibu Creek State Park Mash Filming location

We spent a couple of days together for a 'seamless' handover and even managed a day out to Santa Barbara. L & S duly departed on the Saturday having been ferried to LAX by us. Lots of luggage after 18 months looking after Harvey but apparently no problems at check in for them. The following day we decided that a walk to Century Lake was in order so as to get our "hiking legs" working again. It was to have been about a 3 mile hike. Having then missed the lake!! we decided to carry on to see the "4077 Mash" site. This was where much of the outdoor filming was done for the long running TV series. A nice hike and a few relics left over on the site but not really that much of interest. So what started as a nice 3 mile hike finished as a weary 5 mile hike. Still - no aches and pains the following day so we must be doing OK.

Band-Tailed Pigeon - a new spot for Julie Gopher - how did Linda spot this?

10th September - Red Rock Canyon State Park

We left the Malibu Creek site on Monday morning and returned the hire car before being "on the road again" as they say in RV'ing terms. Not really sure where we are to finish up - usually something comes up. The only plan was to head up the US395 road east of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

A lonely Harvey at Red Rock Canyon SP Some of the formations

This time what turned up was Red Rock Canyon State Park. We had thought this park had closed due to the California budget cuts but no - it was open for business. Sort of. Apart from half a dozen people making an amateur film it turned out we were the only people there. The film crew left and we were on our own. What a place. We could have been moved to Cappadocia in Turkey - the geology was exactly the same. We think that during the summer this place isn't used very much due to the heat (110F). Certainly the animals were very friendly. The chipmunks and the Cactus Wrens came to take some bread from us and finished up just one or two feet away. We also managed to find a sleeping Road Runner - yes just as in Wiley Coyote from the cartoons - "meep meep".

Chipmunk at Red Rock Tame Cactus Wren on Julie's rucksack

11th September - Fossil Falls - BLM (Bureau of Land Management) Campground

Another move the following day and again no firm plans where to stop. We come across the sign for Fossil Falls Campground and think "what the hell". US$ 6 for the night confirms our plans. This is a volcanic area and all the rock formations are Basalt - formed apparently 400,000 years ago when the volcano's in the area were active. Not too much here but we find a short hike to the Falls which it seems have not had water over them for a considerable time, (actually about 3,000 years) as the Owens River had found a new route and bypassed them.

Harvey at Fossil Falls Campground Another Chipmunk

12th September - Independence Creek Inyo County Park

The next day we manage to find the small town of Independence which has a County campground not too far from the main road. Our thoughts are that we can walk down to the local bar that evening and down a few beers. Sometimes our thoughts just can't make things happen. No bar, no restaurant, just a couple of small motels and a shut down and for sale hotel - which would have been the place with the bar. 

Relaxing at Independence County Park Plane just about to refuel

As you might see from the above photograph there are quite a few military areas around here. Looking up at the screaming noise we see the air tanker about to re-fuel two fighter jets. Julie's super lens does the trick and we can (just) see the re-fuelling line.

13th - 15th September - Upper Grey's Meadow

Upper Grey's Meadow showing Harvey View from our walk

A long day's travel today. 6 miles and 2300 feet in altitude. We are now camped at 6,200 feet and have some great views over the valley. On one side we have the Sierra Nevada's and on the other side of the valley are the mountains to the west of Death Valley. So; we have no shops, no phone, no bar but we do have beer, rum and wine, food in the fridge and freezer and we do have some magnificent wildlife including our very first Golden Eagle - and another first - the Grey Flycatcher - which really doesn't quite live up to the Golden Eagle in terms of magnificence!!

New spots - Golden Eagle and Grey Flycatcher

16th September - Tinnemaha Inyo County Park

We did 26 miles today stopping off for a few hours in Bishop to shop, refuel, and catch up with emails. The campsite was basically a dirt patch where you can stay for $10 a night - one to forget but served it's purpose for us as a cheap overnight stop.

Magnificent Grey Squirrel with huge tail Julie fixing drinks

17th - 18th September - Pleasant Valley Inyo County Park

Another long day with just under 30 miles under the belt?? Another Inyo County Park but this time a quite nice one. On the banks of the Owen River, nice and quiet with the only problem being the midges that came out at night and somehow managed to force their way into the RV. The temperatures have now started dropping at night to about 45F.

View of the Owens River with mountains behind

Our first bike ride took place here and we managed to find the reservoir which was dammed at the top of the river. Apparently a water source for Los Angeles although more than 200 miles away from it. The following day proved how long it had been since our last bike ride - some very sore places in delicate locations!!!

19th - 20th September - Convict Lake (US Forestry Service) Campground

Julie on our hike above Convict Lake Ron BBQing our evening meal

A whole 38 miles today up to just short of Mammoth Lakes and a site called Convict Lake. We never did find out why the name but the beauty of the place was just outstanding. We are camped at just short of 8,000 feet and during our stay one of our hikes takes us to about 9,500 feet before being beaten by a rockslide - and a lack of air. Without doubt this is one of the most beautiful sites we have stayed in for quite a while.

Convict Lake at 7,983 feet

21st September - Glass Creek (Inyo National Forest Campground)

After a brief call into Mammoth Lakes - just off the main highway - we move on to Glass Creek. We had done Mammoth as it was the largest town in the area - a ski resort - and we felt it would certainly allow us access to internet and e-mail. And it did. A quick call into the bank to get some cash and we are on our way to our first FREE campsite. For some reason the US Forestry Service allow Glass Creek to be used free of charge - there are lots of longer term campers there!!  One of the strange things at this site is that while doing some short hikes we realise that the ground and all the rocks around are actually pumice. You could pick up a cubic foot of rock and it weighed a few ounces.

Near our campsite at Glass Creek

22nd September - Pine Cliff Resort, June Lake

We have luxury today. For the first time this trip we are in a private campground which means we have mains electricity, water, laundry, showers etc. It's not special but the local residents are friendly and we get lots of work done and all the computers and stuff fully charged ready to head into Nevada tomorrow.

June Lake

We can't walk around as much as we did at Convict Lake but it is still nice. We did see quite a lot of wildlife about including White-Tailed deer and a new bird spot in the Pygmy Nuthatch.

Friendly White-Tailed Deer Pygmy Nuthatch

23rd - 24th September - Sportsman's Beach, Walker Lake, Nevada

Reluctantly we turned off the 395 which had served us all the way through California. We stopped off briefly at Mono Lake where there were lots of birds including the American Avocet, always nice to see. We then crossed the state line into Nevada and stopped off at Hawthorne for petrol, caught up on internet and shopped in Safeway before continuing to the campsite on the shores of Walker Lake.

American Avocets on Mono Lake Sportsman's Beach Campground, Walker Lake

We decided to stop two nights as the cost was only $6 per night. Our first day in Nevada and the wind picked up in the afternoon and continued very strong through the night. Although we got lots of buffeting about we were sure of one thing - the anchor wasn't going to drag!!! There were thousands of Coots on the lake and a few ducks and grebes  (and two pelicans). A little bit dreary but at $6 per night - no complaints.

25th September - Lahontan State Recreation Area

Our first State Park in Nevada to see what the prices are like ($15 compared to California $35+). This place was advertised in our campground books as being on the banks of the Carson River reservoir. We get a little suspicious when we crossed the bridge over the river and the river was seriously lacking in the one thing that makes a river - water. A really nice campsite but as can be seen from the below photo there was not a lot of water.

Ron at Lahontan SRA - with a very empty reservoir

26th September - Wal*Mart - Fallon

So, our first overnight at a Walmart for this trip. They have actually been in very short supply since leaving Malibu - as in this is the first we have seen. It will also be the last we see until we are in the southern part of Utah. We get all our shopping up to date, especially the non food items, find a bar for tonight's sundowners and possibly a burger and fries to go with it.

As a foot note - last time we were RV'ing we had a rough plan that never came good which was to cross the USA on the US Highway 50. We are now on the US50. It is also called a number of other things including "The Loneliest Road, The Lincoln Highway and the Pioneers Road". We stay with this road now for about 300 miles or so. Keep reading.

27th September - Bob Scott US Forestry Service Campground, Nr Austin

A truly long day for us with 118 miles on the clock. We drive through the "town" of Austin which actually appears on the USA National map. We blinked and nearly missed it. An old silver mining town with a few buildings, no petrol/gas station (good job we filled up in Fallon) and really not much else except for a steep hill out of it. The Bob Scott campground does us just fine for $10 and by luck we manage to park right next to the dump which according to the books doesn't exist. Also no problem filling up with fresh water here.

28th September - Hickison Petroglyphs BLM Campground, Nr Austin

Just a short 18 mile trip today to this "free" site. As always we find a hike to the "overlook" which finishes up at about 7,500 feet. The thing with this site is the Petroglyphs or Wall Paintings which apparently are some 10,000 years old. (Except for some explorer who stuck his initials amongst some of the paintings in 1885). A basic site but toilets provided even though the chipmunks/squirrels seem to have taken over a few of them.

29th - 30th September - Illipah Resevoir BLM Campground, Nr Ely

Harvey at Illipah Lake White-Crowned Sparrow The Lake

Our second free site in as many days but this time back to the water theme again. A really nice site not far off the main road (yes still Highway 50) and to this reservoir full of trout. And Coots - thousands of Coots. Oh yes; lets not forget the flies. Millions of mosquito type flies which even the local bird population are not too keen on. See the middle photo above and look closely. Still, as this is free we do spend a couple of days here.

1st - 2nd October - Cave Lake State Park, Nr Ely

Cave Lake from our hike A bit closer

Our first true Nevada State Park. We find a great site in the campground near to the lake and during the afternoon check out the various trails for a hike the following day. We of course choose the most difficult. Don't ask!!! We set off at about 10.30 and take lunch with us. By mid-day we are still going upwards and think that we have not yet reached half way on the 5 mile hike. Eventually we think we are at the top as we find a bench seat and stunning views of the lake far below us. Back to the trail and we find we are still going upwards. Eventually we get there and the view is amazing. We guess we have climbed from 7,300 feet (campsite level) to at least 9,500 and yes - the air (not hair) is thin up here.  The good part was that everything now was downhill. Nothing better than sandwiches after a long, strenuous hike. The word strenuous is the Park Rangers description not ours by the way. And yes we are still on Highway 50.

3rd - 4th October - Great Basin National Park - Lower Lehman Campground

Our campsite at Great Basin NP Lehman Caves

Still in Nevada and now at one of only two of the National Parks in Nevada. We are really not sure what to expect and both sort of expect to finish up in a park in the middle of the desert. However, having dropped to 5,000 feet prior to arriving we then motor up the hill to 7,300 feet where the campsite is located. Of course another hike and yes - uphill again. The nicest thing here is that there are the Lehman Caves within the Park and we have of course to visit them. Well worth the $8 to get in. In all the commercial caves we have been in these were definitely the strangest. There is of course pathway through but it is still very much "mind your head" while going through. And the formations were second to none. Really special way to end the visit to the park.

5th  - 6th October - Antelope Valley RV Park, Delta, Utah

We have moved to another new state: Utah. (And one hour time difference - now 7 hours from UK time.) We are however still on Highway 50 and will remain so for about another 50 miles. We have come into a private RV park so that we can again catch up with laundry and all the internet stuff we have to do; Banking, e-mails, website, campsite reservations etc. Not much else to say about it except that it is very close to a railway line. The trains are about a mile long and it seems most of them run at night!!!!!

7th October - Maple Grove, North of Richfield

The campsite with the Maple Grove Beautiful Fall colours

While heading south towards Richfield the mountains on our right hand side are full of red leafed trees but they are a long way off so we can't really make anything out. We then pass a sign on the highway (No not the 50 - we have now said goodbye to that road) that says "Maple Grove Campground" which not only tells us that the red is the Autumn colour of the Maple trees but that there is a campground that we knew nothing about. Not in any of our multitude of campground finding books. So - a slight detour of 4 miles puts us in this incredible campground. The place is full of people and it is in the middle of nowhere. This apparently is THE week to see the Maple trees in all their glory. Were we lucky or what. Not only that but Julie manages to find that very elusive bird the American Dipper which basically stands in fast flowing streams/creeks with water flowing over its head while it searches for food. By the way - the water is mountain stream water and is cold with a capital "C".

Mountain stream and ..... the American Dipper

8th October - Piute State Park

The next day we head on to Richfield and do our shopping at Walmart before heading on to one of Utah's great State Parks. This one we are not too sure about as the camping is designated as "Primitive". Well, it was cheap, it was on the banks of a reservoir so there were lots of birds but other than that it was pretty basic and we were alone there for the night.

Harvey at Piute State Park Fall colours of the Aspen Tree

9th October - Otter Creek State Park

Pelicans and Cormorants by the lake Our campsite

Another day another Utah State Park. This one a bit more formal and we have actually reserved a beachside spot on the Otter Creek Reservoir. Lots of bird life around including Pelicans, Cormorants, Grebes (3 types), Coots etc etc. Also Mule Deer come to the waterside in the evening to drink and graze. Again, nothing too special but pleasant enough place for us. We do try to do our good deed and report to one of the Rangers that a Grebe is tangled in fishing line and has a hook through its face. Very nice guy immediately goes down and rescues the Grebe and takes it off for some attention. It later seems that he has taken it to his house and when he returns it to the water his wife and twin sons are with him to finalise the good deed. Unfortunately good deeds don't always work out and twenty minutes after the Grebe was returned to the water we saw its final death throes before the gulls took over. Guess that's just nature.

10th - 11th October Kodachrome State Park

Kodachrome State Park    

Another day another Utah State Park. This one though is very special. The name Kodachrome was given to the place in 1949 by a National Geographic Expedition because of the varying colours around the park. There is also a unique feature here in the "Chimneys" that abound all over the place. They are natural formations but are not found anywhere else in the world. The hiking is also good here and we pretty much do all their designated trails in the two days we spend there. The afternoon of our final day though does give us something new - it rains. It also gets very cold and we are now faced with a not very nice forecast for the next day or so. Snow is forecast and we know that we have to climb 2000 feet up a fairly steep road to get to our next stop. We plan for the worst though and find some options in case we can't make it up the hill.

12th - 14th Bryce Canyon National Park

View looking north The Hoodoos

Well, we have no problem making it up the hill and we get into Bryce with no problem. We had anticipated the campsites being crowded so arrive nice and early. And find two empty campsites. We guess that with night time temperatures forecast to be below freezing everyone has gone home. We therefore think we are very lucky. It then starts to SNOW. Yes it is the 12th October and it is snowing outside. There is ice and snow on our windscreen. Of course we are camping at 8,000 feet! We are a bit taken aback but are not going to be beaten. At 4.00 o'clock we head off for the Ranger Programme - outdoors - and spend two hours being told all about the geology, wildlife, previous human habitation etc. by a very nice National Park Ranger. Oh yes - and we are COLD!!!! despite layering up and wearing woolly hats and gloves. First night here the overnight temperature is just about on freezing. Second night here it must have dipped below freezing - clear sky with no clouds to keep the heat in. So - take a look at the pictures and decide if it was all worthwhile. This is a truly amazing place. Look it up on the internet. Read all about it but most of all - take a look at all the photographs we took. For more photos just click on the link HERE

15th -17th October - Zion National Park

Zion National Park By the Virgin River

After 3 amazing days in Bryce we move on to another of the great US National Parks - Zion. We had pre-booked our site here and unlike Bryce it was a good thing - the campgrounds are full. There is an old adage about "what a difference a day makes" - well we are now down at 4,000 feet and it is warm. Yes even at night we are only down to about 12 deg C. As I read on a T Shirt today - it's all down to attitude - sorry altitude.

18th October - Cedar Pockets Campsite - Arizona (Just)

A stop for the night just a few hundred meters off the Interstate. We had been looking for a small campsite after Zion and before Vegas and just came across this place. Just where the Interstate (Motorway) crosses the top corner of Arizona this was a gem. Right on the banks of the Virgin River, quiet and cheap.

19th - 20th October - Las Vegas KOA campground at Circus Circus - Nevada

Las Vegas and Caesars Palace Las Vegas at night

Well!!!! Here we are. Our campsite is right on the Strip at Circus Circus and we are raring to go. A first "sortie" to check things out and set up the rules of our competition - 20 dollars each to see who comes out on top. Yeah - big spenders. After checking out Circus Circus we head off down the strip to see what's about. First afternoon we get as far as Treasure Island and decide that's probably far enough. At this stage Ron is down 5 dollars and Julie is up 5 dollars. We eat at one of the restaurants in Circus Circus and head back to Harvey to plan the following day. An easy morning followed by brunch at Denny's. For those who have been to Denny's we both had the Grand Slam All Day Breakfast and neither of us could finish it. In the evening we time our outing to see the free shows put on by some of the Casinos. First is Treasure Island who put on a "Sirens Vs Pirates" show. Then on to the Mirage for the eruption of the volcano. A quick check out of Caesars Palace before crossing to the other side of the Strip for our walk back. The Venetian, Casino Royale, Harrah's and eventually back to Circus Circus. At the end of the day Ron is 76 dollars up and Julie is 8 dollars up. Ron's 76 dollars included 10 dollars generously donated by one of the ATM/Payout machines in Casino Royale. (The system is if you win on the slots you get a bar coded chit which you put into the ATM/Payout machine to get your money.) Ron put one in for 5 dollars and got 15 dollars back. Also the very last slot play of the trip (in Circus Circus) paid out 44 dollars - not bad for a 1 cent machine - odds of 4400 to 1.

21st - 22nd October - Cottonwood Cove, Lake Mojave - Nevada

We have come back to civilisation after the madness of Vegas and are camped on the Colorado River with no one else in the campsite. There are other people around in the Resort area as there is a Hobbi Cat sailing competition on during the week but it turns out to be too windy even for these guys.

23rd - 24th October - Katherine's Landing, Lake Mojave (near Davis Dam) - Arizona

A little further south but still on the Colorado River. Actually this whole area of Lake Mohave was created by the Davis Dam and is part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. There are marinas, boats, chandleries etc and we feel right at home amongst them all. Julie is also in heaven here - she has her hummingbird feeder out and they come right in for the sugar water treat. First hummingbirds for quite a while.

Lovely scenery at Telephone Cove - Julie even managed a swim

25th October - Middle of nowhere - BLM

We seem to be quite literally in the middle of nowhere. Whilst driving along south of Lake Havasu City heading for one of two State Parks in the area we see a few RV's parked a mile or so off the road. A quick turn round and we find out it is a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) primitive site. So, anything for a free night! One point to note is that for anyone who has ever heard the story about the guy from Arizona who bought London Bridge thinking it was Tower Bridge, well, London Bridge is in Lake Havasu City. We saw it while driving by with a whole "Little Britain" grown up right around it.

Harvey on the BLM site somewhere near Lake Havasu City

26th - 27th October - Buckskin Mountain State Park

After our free night we head a few miles further south to the first of the State Parks - Cattail Cove - take a look and decide that a slab of tarmac with RV's parked on it could probably be bettered at the next site. We therefore move onto Buckskin Mountain State Park and book in for a couple of nights. Although small it is in an amazing location. Right on a bend in the Colorado River, lots of grassy areas, a bit busy but nicely so. Also a couple of good walks from here so we thoroughly enjoy our two days there.

The Campsite on the bend of the Colorado River

28th - 30th October - Crossroads Campground - BLM - California (we think)

Today we not really sure where we are going to finish up. We are hoping to cross the Colorado and get into one of two BLM sites but we are not sure if they even exist anymore. Our back up plan is the Walmart car park in the very small town of Parker (Arizona). We do a little shopping there and then head across the Colorado to what we think is California though we don't come across any signs. Head north a few miles along a riverside road and hope to find a campground. Looking at all the Mobile Home Resorts and the developments in the area we are not very hopeful that a cheap campground exists in between them. BUT.... Lo and behold - Crossroads Campground - the very one we hoped to find was still there. We drive in along the short rough road, see the sign that says US$ 5 per night, find a site right next to the river and think how lucky we are. We are literally six feet from the river, in the shade of some big trees and there are only four other RV's on the whole site. We find a really nice hike following the wild Burro (big donkeys) trails which is also geologically interesting. It is definitely a volcanic area but we also find some old Indian (sorry - Native American Indian) stone age tools.

Just by the Colorado River The Burros

The reason for us wondering about Arizona or California is that there is one hour difference in time. We decide to stay with Arizona time for our three days here but when we leave we do then see the signs for California and re-set the clocks accordingly.


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