A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: DillyLynn

Utah Rocks!

Arches, Canyons, Petroglyphs and Dinosaur Bones

Hello, Everyone! I have finally finished this very long post about our travels in Utah. We've been moving so often it's been hard to find the time to write. And lately, we've been camping out of cell range, so it's sometimes impossible to upload this blog.

We've had a great summer exploring Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Currently we're camping in Estes Park, CO at the entrance to Rock Mountain National Park. I'm already working on my next article, so it won't be such a long time before you hear from me again. Anyway, I hope you enjoy hearing about our travels through Utah.

For years I've heard about how beautiful Utah is, and I've seen pictures, of course. But there is nothing quite like being here. The colorful rock walls and arches seem "other-worldly". We had a great time exploring the "Trail of the Ancients".

This story begins while we were camped just outside of Moab, UT.

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Arches National Park - Friday, 4/28/17

It was a beautiful day, but too windy to fly. We decided to go into Moab for lunch and tour Arches afterward. Our friend Jim (Sky) King was with us. The park was not crowded this time of year so it was a perfect time to visit. Ours was mostly an auto tour, plus a few easy, level, short hikes.

This is one of the first scenic overlooks you reach after entering the park. This collective formation is called Park Avenue and there's a short path that goes through the valley to meet the road on the other side. Note the stairs in the foreground.

I think this was my favorite stop in Arches. Wish my knees would have let me take the hike, but we enjoyed the view nonetheless.

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This formation is called Balanced Rock for obvious reasons.

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All the formations are so HUGE! It's impossible to judge size without a reference, so I'm including this shot of Mike & Jim next to one of the formations:

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This is called Turret Arch. I half-expected to see Fred Flintstone any minute. :D

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This formation is called the North Window and South Window.

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We were lucky that it wasn't crowded here. I was able to capture the North Window with just Mike (arms wide) and Jim in the shot.

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This is Wolfe Ranch Cabin, an old homestead settled in 1888. Can you imagine living in a place like this?

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This is just a random far-away ridge. It looked bright orange in the distance.

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This is the Delicate Arch formation. There is a 1-mile trail up to it, but we weren't up for the hike. I was happy to be able to enjoy it from afar. If you look closely, you can barely see tiny people to the left of the arch.

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Dead Horse Point State Park - Tuesday, 5/2/17

Dead Horse Point State Park was a beautiful place to have lunch. This scenery was some of my favorite in Southern Utah.

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The light blue pools you see here are the solar evaporation ponds of a potash refinery. The bright blue dye is added to speed up evaporation. Potash is used as a plant fertilizer.

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A panoramic view from Dead Horse Point State Park:

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This is the same tower from two different points of view:

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Trail of the Ancients

Evidence of prehistoric Native Americans is found all over the Four Corners region. We spent the month of May exploring cave dwellings and petroglyphs of our ancestral Pueblo people from Monument Valley to Mesa Verde National Park. Rock art can be seen along the walls of the Colorado River and its tributaries. You can drive right to one of these petroglyph sites on UT Highway 279.

Petroglyph Panel Along Colorado River/UT 279 - Wednesday, 5/3/17

Even though I'd seen many photos of ancient artwork, it was thrilling to see it with my own eyes. I learned that pictographs refer to painted artwork and petroglyphs are pecked or chiseled into the rock. Look closely. Each of these photos contains many individual figures. They were very high on this wall, so difficult to photograph.

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Mill Canyon Dinosaur Bone Trail & Track Site - Wednesday, 5/3/17

As a child, I was fascinated by dinosaur bones. At Mill Canyon we had a chance to see some giant lizard footprints preserved in a prehistoric algae crust and some dinosaur bones preserved within a rock wall. The dinosaur tracks were just recently discovered in 2009. It was thrilling for me to see. Can you imagine the size of the lizards that left these footprints?

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It was a hot, dusty hike to see the dinosaur tracks and I thought well worth the effort.

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Next we drove up Mill Canyon to the Dinosaur Bone Trail. This hike was a little more difficult than the one to the Dino Tracks. Thank goodness for hiking poles!

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It was fascinating to be able to see the bones so clearly within the canyon wall. Here is part of a humerus (upper arm):

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These two photos are of vertebrae, or bones of the neck or back.

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This is part of the shoulder blade and some ribs of a dinosaur. Can you see one of the ribs protruding from the rock?

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This cavity is the void left from an ancient tree trunk. You can actually see the rings of the tree in the petrified wood left behind!

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This photo shows the Twin Sisters at the end of Mill Canyon. It was a beautiful place. Hard to believe that it was once a very wet environment.

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Also located here are the ruins of an old rest stop known as Halfway Station. In the late 1800s, it served as a rest stop for people making the 35-mile, 8-hour trek from Moab to the railroad station at Thompson, UT.

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Canyonlands National Park - Island In The Sky - Thursday, 5/4/17

The next morning we drove to Canyonlands National Park. This national park is divided into 3 separate areas: Island in the Sky, Needles, and Maze. This day we visited the Island in the Sky. The Green and Colorado Rivers carved these canyons into the terrain. You can see one of the rivers in these photos.

See the White Rim around the top of the canyons? There is a 100-mile road around this rim which is very popular with mountain-bike riders and 4-wheel-drive campers. The views must be fantastic from down there. We weren't quite that adventurous, and enjoyed the views from up top.

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We took the very short and easy hike to see Mesa Arch. It turned out to be a view that I recognized from other photos. I've decided it's one of my favorite arches. A kind Frenchman volunteered to take a photo of us here.

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This photo is of me framing the following photo:

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I think this is the money shot!

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On Monday, May 8, we headed south from Moab planning to stay in a dispersed camping area we found near Blanding, UT. When we arrived at the turnoff, we made the mistake of not scouting the campsite first with our car before taking the rig down a one-lane dirt road. We'll never do THAT again!

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The red dirt became deep, loose sand and we almost got stuck several times! Luckily, we came upon a wide-enough spot in the road where we could detach our tow car and turn the rig around. Lesson learned. Now, we ALWAYS scout for new campsites with our car first before committing to drive the RV in. :P

It was getting late and we just wanted to find a place to sleep. We drove back to Blanding and were able to sharpen our urban boondocking skills.

To be successful at urban boondocking, you need to arrive at your night spot in late evening and move to your day spot early in the morning. We found a level night spot behind an abandoned restaurant and spent 3 quiet nights there. Early each morning, we'd move our rig to a side street to have breakfast and plan our outing for the day.

Blanding was in a great location from which to explore Natural Bridges and Bear's Ears National Monuments.

Mule Canyon Ruins - Wednesday, 5/10/17

One day, we took a drive to Natural Bridges National Monument. On the way, we came across the Mule Canyon Ruins. These ruins were so well preserved and close to UT-95 that it was selected for development as an interpretive rest stop. This was the first of many ancestral ruins we were to see on the Trail of the Ancients and every bit as interesting as some of the preserved pit houses we saw at Mesa Verde National Park. Here we had the place all to ourselves!

This ancestral site includes a restored below-ground kiva and the remains of an L-shaped block of 12 rooms. The kiva would have had a mud-covered roof with an opening and ladder for access from above.. The rooms may have housed 2 or 3 families which were connected to the ceremonial kiva by an underground tunnel.

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The first of these photos shows the kiva's fireplace and the second shows the opposite side of the kiva. The vertical rock in front of the fireplace was used to deflect the heat around the kiva.

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Natural Bridges National Monument - Wednesday, 5/10/17

After our tour of Mule Canyon Ruins, we continued toward Natural Bridges National Monument. Bridge View Drive is a short, very scenic loop. There are three main bridges in this national monument. The first of these is Sipapu Bridge. The bridge is difficult to see in this photo, but it is just to the left of the rock formation near the center of the photo. You can see green trees growing beneath it.

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This is the Kachina Bridge. The following photo includes a panoramic view of the canyon in which it was formed. Spectacular!

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And this is the Owachomo Bridge, right in the center of this photo.

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On the way back from Natural Bridges, we had to document this part of the road. The notch cut in this massive ridge for UT-95 was impressive. Driving between the thick towering rock walls was slightly intimidating. Watch out for Falling Rock!

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Bears Ears National Monument - Wednesday, 5/10/17

The Bears Ears National Monument is enormous. It surrounds Natural Bridges National Monument and Valley Of The Gods, is adjacent to Canyonlands National Park on two sides and extends from Moab to Mexican Hat, UT. Its most identifying feature, and the inspiration for its name, are the twin buttes you see here.

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I didn't think the buttes looked very much like bears ears at all. I learned that they are supposed to represent Changing-Bear-Maiden's ears which had been cut off by her Navajo brothers so she could change into another form. Oh, okay...

The Bears Ears have been important landmarks for centuries in the Four Corners region. They can be seen from as far east as Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado and as far south as Monument Valley Tribal Park in Arizona. Locals are divided about whether Bears Ears should remain a National Monument, though. Some Blanding residents were displaying "#RescindBearsEars" and "#NoMonument" banners while we were there.

Sand Island Campground with Petroglyphs- Thursday, 5/11/17

We headed south from Blanding on Thursday, 5/11. We got as far as Mexican Hat, scouting several BLM campsites along the way. The dispersed campsites we explored were either unacceptable or inaccessible to our 30 ft. rig. We didn't want to go further south, so we decided to turn back toward Blanding. Just west of Bluff, UT, we found our next front yard at Sand Island Campground.

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Sand Island Boat Launch and Campground is on the San Juan River. It's a very popular launch for river rafters and is a great place to camp. The sites are large and private. The petroglyph panel was particularly interesting to us. The entire red wall you see here was covered in ancient artwork. It was neat to be able to walk from our campsite to explore the panel.

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Hovenweep National Monument - Saturday, 5/13/17

While we were staying at Sand Island, we took a day trip to visit the Puebloan ruins at Hovenweep National Monument. Thank you for the recommendation, Sue! We thoroughly enjoyed seeing these ruins and it was a great time of the year to visit. The park was not crowded, temperatures were mild and spring in the desert was in full bloom.

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These buildings were constructed more than 700 years ago. Across the canyon you can see the Twin Towers and Rimrock House on the rim. Below the rim there is an Eroded Boulder House with a bright roof. The structure in the foreground of this photo is described as a Unit Type House, probably used as a family dwelling.

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These next two photos were taken from the Tower Point, looking down Little Ruin Canyon. You can see the Eroded Boulder House, Twin Towers and Rim Rock House from a different perspective. The Twin Towers are aligned perfectly and look like one tower instead of two. Just below the Towers, the Eroded Boulder House looks like a mushroom.

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This photo shows the Square Tower in the canyon, Hovenweep House on the rim across the canyon and Hovenweep Castle in the foreground.

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Here's a couple more photos of Hovenweep Castle, the largest of all the structures:

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Spring in the desert; what a great time to be here!

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Monument Valley - Sunday, 5/21/17

We couldn't leave this area without taking the drive to Monument Valley. I couldn't decide which of these photos I liked best...

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Mike & I had been to a PPG fly-in at Monument Valley in October 2010. I found an old photo of our campsite then. It was fun reminiscing about camping in our van. We stopped and had lunch there again.

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Mesa Verde National Park - Monday, 5/22/17

On Monday, we moved to Moreland Campground inside Mesa Verde National Park, home of the famous Ancestral Pueblo cliff dwellings. The campground was almost empty and the campsites are huge! We were able to choose any campsite we wanted. We scouted around and were able to find one of the only sites with cell service. I'm always in a better mood with internet access. :) By Memorial Day weekend, the campground was packed.

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We were lucky to be able to explore the park during the week before the massive Memorial Day crowds arrived. We took our first short drive just before sunset and the views took our breath away. This massive ridge is called The Knife Edge.

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The first cliff dwelling we saw was the Square Tower House. Residents accessed these dwellings via hand-and-toe holds carved into the cliff face and ropes and ladders.

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Here are the preserved remains of a pit house and several pueblo dwellings.

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These images are two halves of the same ridge. These ruins are called the Fire Temple. Experts suspect these structures were used for ceremonial purposes.

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This is the famous Cliff Palace. Incredible to see in person.

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This is the Spruce Tree House.

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Once you learn what to look for, you begin to spot small ruins under many other canyon ledges.These ruins are near the Spruce Tree House. They were not labeled, and it would have been easy to miss them.

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This is Cedar Tree Tower.

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These next photos are of Far View Community. This was once one of the most densely populated areas of Mesa Verde. Experts estimate these buildings were constructed around 800 AD, centuries before the famous cliff dwellings were built.

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Back To Sand Island Campground - Wednesday, 5/31/17

Many of the more popular ruins at Mesa Verde had been swept clean and restored. We were more interested in seeing ancestral ruins that had not been altered. We heard there were several unimproved ruins near Sand Island Campground, so we returned to Bluff, UT for a few days. This time we were lucky enough to get a primo campsite right on San Juan River at Sand Island.

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During one of our excursions, I spotted a cave dwelling just west of Bluff on the north side of UT-162. The next day, we packed a picnic lunch and set out to visit it.

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Spring was turning into summer and temperatures had begun to rise in Southern Utah. One day the river breeze just wasn't enough to cool us down and we were thankful our generator had been serviced in Reno. Imagine our disappointment and frustration when the generator did NOT start, again!

What could be wrong with it? The generator had been running perfectly when we left Reno.

Mike deduced the problem could be a bad fuel pump. He called around and found the part we needed at a Cummins dealer in Salt Lake City. The next day was Friday and the Cummins dealer was closed on the weekend. If we wanted to be able to have air conditioning without being plugged in, we had no choice but to make the 7-hour drive to SLC on Friday.

Salt Lake City - Friday, 6/2/17

We arrived at the Cummins dealer after a long day of driving and picked up the new fuel pump. As we were leaving the parking lot, we heard a strange clunk from the rear of the RV. Our tow bar had broken! So glad there was no traffic and no one got hurt! Luckily we were in a large city and the local RV superstore had the exact replacement we needed in stock.

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I hadn't expected to be in Salt Lake City and hadn't researched any places to camp, so we stayed at Camping World the first night and Cracker Barrel the second night.

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It was hot and uncomfortable without air conditioning, so we checked into the Pony Express RV Resort and enjoyed having full hookups while Mike worked on our generator.The Pony Express RV Resort is centrally located in SLC. The pool & facilities are nice and clean. Compared to other RV parks in the area, this is definitely the nicest one.

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Our good friends Jerry & Becky stayed next to us for a few days on their way up to Montana. They gave us the grand tour of their new-to-them Monaco Cayman named Nautilus. We had a good time catching up. It was a treat to meet "on the road".

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Mike installed the new fuel pump in the generator and.... it still would not run. What the heck?!

Mike finally found the answer online in the Lazy Daze Owners forum. He found an air leak in the fuel line from the gas tank to the generator. After that short fuel line was replaced, the generator ran like a top! Hallelujah!

We took advantage of being in a big city to have some preventive maintenance done on Sara. On Wednesday morning, it was finally time to head north!

Crystal Hot Springs - Wednesday, 6/14/17

It was a relief to leave the big city behind. Our last stop in stop in Utah was at a cute little campground in Honeyville. Crystal Hot Springs is a mineral-hot-spring water park with 3 hot tubs, a soaker pool, an Olympic pool, two water slides and a campground. The campsites are in a beautiful, park-like setting.

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There is a cold spring that surfaces here less than 50 ft. from the mineral hot spring. Both springs feed the pools and hot tubs. We took advantage of the hot tubs and that mineral water does feel incredible! We would definitely stay here again.

And that, my friends, is the end of this episode. Next time I'll tell you about our adventures in Idaho. Neither Mike nor I had ever been to Idaho and we were amazed by the beauty surrounding us there!

Here's a map showing our route through Utah:


If you're interested in following along with us, please subscribe to Our Permanent Vacation by clicking this "Subscribe" link. Until next time!

Posted by DillyLynn 06:58 Archived in USA Comments (6)

The Lonely Road To Moab

We Survived "The Loneliest Road In America"


View Utah Rocks! & The Lonely Road To Moab on DillyLynn's travel map.

We had mixed feelings about leaving Dayton, NV. We were ready for new surroundings, but still a little sad to leave such a friendly place. We drove to Reno on Wednesday 4/19 to have our generator serviced. We had to wait for a part to be delivered, so we ended up staying in the Atlantis Casino parking lot for 2 nights.

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We were headed to Moab, UT to meet up with some PowerParaglidinG friends from Idaho and New Mexico. We could have continued northeast from Reno on Interstate 80 through Salt Lake City, but we chose a more direct backroad to Moab across the middle of Nevada on Route 50.

The Nevada portion of US Route 50 was named "The Loneliest Road in America" by Life magazine in July 1986. The name originates from large desolate areas traversed by the route, with few or no signs of civilization. We found that description to be completely accurate. The route was constructed over an historic corridor, first used for the Pony Express and Central Overland Route. We saw the remnants of several Pony Express way stations along the highway.

The first leg of our journey from Reno was desolate and beautiful. Our first stop would be in the Toiyabe Mountain Range. Thank goodness we were able to cross this range below the snow line!

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We rolled into the cute little mining town of Austin, NV on the afternoon of Friday 4/21. It would have been fun to explore Austin for a day or two, but we had people to meet in Moab, so we needed to keep moving. We asked a local where we might be able to stay overnight and he recommended the city park. It was a great place to stop for the night. Mike even threw a couple of horseshoes for fun.

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The next night I planned to stay at a BLM campground just east of Ely, NV. The Sacramento Pass Recreation Area is the nicest free campground I've ever seen; with covered picnic tables, bbq grills, pit toilets, trash pickup, even a fishing pond! I couldn't believe we had the campground all to ourselves, especially on a Saturday night! This place must be packed during the summer.

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We crossed the Nevada/Utah border on Sunday morning, headed for Salina, UT. It was interesting to see how the landscape changed. The vegetation gradually became different, and so did the terrain. I snapped a few photos of how rocky it was becoming.

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I had no idea where we would sleep that night, but I knew we could stay at a truck stop in Salina if we couldn't find anyplace else. Luckily, we came across the Blackhawk Arena. The parking lot was open and mostly deserted. Security drove by and didn't ask us to leave, so we were set for the night. We were sure glad to have the arena as shelter from the windstorm that blew through shortly after we arrived.

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The terrain around Interstate 70 from Salina to Moab is some of the most stunning I've ever seen. We just had to stop at a couple of vista points to take in the scenery:

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The terrain turned more red as we approached Moab:

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Our campsite was located in a BLM dispersed camping area off Highway 313,; the same road that leads to Dead Horse Point State Park and Canyonlands National Park. We arrived on Monday 4/24 in plenty of time to stop at the scenic overlooks on the way to camp:

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We saw this type of rock formation everywhere. I found it so interesting that these are calcified ancient sand dunes!

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Our friend Steve had sent us the GPS coordinates of the BLM campsite where we were to meet. Mike & I found it easily and it was a beautiful spot! We were the first of our PPG group to arrive, but we weren't alone for long. The campsite was in a beautiful location amidst the red canyons and mesas. We arranged our RVs into a communal circle, much like the wagon trains of old.

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Unfortunately it was extremely windy during the first week we were there, so we had to find other things to do besides fly. One day, we all took an ATV ride to a special place for a picnic lunch. One of the couples had an extra ATV and generously loaned it to me & Mike for the day. Ours was the red ATV in this photo.

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It was a lot of fun zooming through the countryside in the ATV. I can definitely see the appeal of off-roading. Here's a spot where we took a short break:

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We arrived at our lunch destination and had to hike through a short tunnel to get to our picnic spot. The view on the other side made a great backdrop for lunch.

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I felt a little like a mountain goat here. The "trail" was really narrow.

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Even though Mike wasn't able to fly as much as he wanted to, we thoroughly enjoyed becoming better friends with those we already knew and making good friends with people new to the group. Several people could be with us for only one week. Those of us who stayed an extra day were rewarded with good weather to fly. Here's a short video of Mike's first launch. Thanks for the video, Kirk!

Because there is so much to see around Moab, Mike & I decided to stay another week. After our PPG friends left on Monday 5/1, we moved to a more sheltered campsite in the same area. The first photo shows both our old campsite and where we moved to.

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Here we were within just a few miles of Arches National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, Canyonlands National Park, petroglyph panels and dinosaur tracks. To see those photos, read my next post, Utah Rocks!

Here's a map showing our route to Moab, UT:


If you're interested in following along with us, please subscribe to Our Permanent Vacation by clicking this "Subscribe" link. Until next time!

Posted by DillyLynn 15:38 Archived in USA Comments (12)

Time Travel Through Nevada

Las Vegas to Virginia City

Fair warning, Friends & Family! This post is a long one with lots of photos. It covers our 2-month excursion through Nevada, and gets you all caught up to where we are today. I hope you enjoy it...

From Lake Havasu City, we drove north to Las Vegas on Monday 2/20. We stayed in Las Vegas for a week and a half, from 2/20 - 3/3. Originally, we were headed to the Henderson Elks Lodge, but didn't like the neighborhood when we got there. So, the first 4 nights we parked in the trucker/RV area at South Point Casino.

On Tuesday, I had the great pleasure of introducing Mike to my Uncle Craig, Aunt Pat and Cousin Jai. We all really enjoyed seeing each other again.

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One morning at South Point, we woke to find two of the longest tractor-trailor combos we've ever seen, parked on either side of us. One trucker was delivering a brand new rock crusher.

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It was amazing to watch that rig pull away. Compare it to the regular-sized tractor/trailer in the background for scale...

We needed to wash clothes and dump our tanks, so we moved to Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort for the weekend. The Oasis is really the only RV park for a Class C motorhome on the south side of town. It's a nice place to stay; just a little more crowded than we like.

The Oasis has more than 650 sites and the campground was almost completely full. We were lucky to get a space; they told us they are usually booked solid during March and October. I was uninspired to photograph this campsite. It was just a place to wash clothes and park for the weekend.

One of the highlights of our Vegas visit was going to see "O" at the Bellagio. I never saw that show the whole time I lived in Vegas because the tickets were expensive and never discounted for locals. When Mike asked if there was anything I wanted to do this trip, the time had finally come to see "O"!

It felt good to be "back in Vegas" again. The Bellagio was as beautiful as ever. Its Conservatory was all decorated for Chinese New Year:

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We saw the Sunday 2/26 performance of "O'. It was a great show and well worth the price of admission. We thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Some friends of ours invited us to park in their neighborhood for a few days, so we moved from Oasis RV Resort on Monday 2/27. It had been several years since we'd seen Bob & Mimi and we really enjoyed catching up with them.

Because our parking spot was well-shaded and we didn't want to run our generator in their neighborhood, our batteries became depleted over the next 3 days. We desperately needed sun on our solar panels. So we said our goodbyes on Thursday 3/2 and moved to the Cracker Barrel parking lot near the Silverton Casino to soak up some sun.

During our last day in Vegas, I visited my accountant and got my taxes done (Yay!). Mike & I also took advantage of some last minute shopping before we hit the road. The next morning, we left Las Vegas and headed north in search of a new home base.

What? No, we're not giving up on RV life already...

Since we don't live in California anymore, we needed to choose another state to "belong" to. It's called "establishing a domicile state". I'll write a separate post to explain how we did it, step-by-step. For now, just know that we needed a receipt for one month's rent from somewhere in Nevada...

Pahrump?

The first stop on our Nevada tour was Pahrump. It had been more than 10 years since I'd been to Pahrump - it's grown into quite a nice little town! We spent Friday night there in the Gold Town Casino parking lot. The weather was so nice we wanted to stay in Pahrump a little longer, so we set out to find a new campsite on Saturday morning.

We found the Pahrump Elks Lodge, but their parking lot wasn't very level. We looked at a couple of unremarkable RV parks, and then we found the Escapees Co-Op of Nevada Inc Pair-A-Dice Park. This is the ultimate full-timer's RV park!

Pair-A-Dice Park has everything a full-time RVer could want; a community of like-minded individuals, an air conditioned clubhouse with a library, crafts room, exercise equipment, TV room, game area, dining room and commercial kitchen, a fully-equipped workshop with every tool imaginable, and an area where you can service and wash your vehicles. Each site includes a small storage shed/living structure and is owned by a member of the Escapee's RV club. Pride of ownership is apparent everywhere. The permanent residents were very friendly & welcoming.

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With access to water, plenty of sunshine and a dump station, we elected to boondock there from Saturday 3/4 - Monday 3/13. Our solar panels, charger/inverter and battery bank did their jobs and we lived comfortably off-grid in Pair-A-Dice.

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One of the day trips we took from Pahrump was to Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. This is the largest remaining oasis in the Mohave Desert very near Death Valley National Park. Here more than 10,000 gallons per minute flow from underground springs year round! This refuge is home to more than 25 species found no where else in the world. It was amazing to see so much water in the middle of the desert!

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We intended to spend some time in Death Valley National Park, but by the time we were ready to leave Pahrump, it was too hot in Death Valley, so we continued north instead. We'll visit Death Valley some other time.

If we had been able to stay for a month at Pair-A-Dice Park, we definitely would have. But they didn't have a space we could rent for that long, so we had to keep looking. We said goodbye to Pair-A-Dice Park on Monday 3/13 and headed north on Highway 95.

We drove through miles and miles of desert as far as the eye could see. We finally reached Goldfield, once the largest town in Nevada. Now, it's barely more than a ghost town in the middle of nowhere. Here is where we really began to feel like we were going back in time.

Remnants of mining operations were scattered near town and historic old buildings lined main street. We would have stopped here for the night if it had looked more inviting. But Goldfield seemed just a little too sleepy for us. So we continued north on Highway 95. The further we went, the higher in elevation we were. We had left the 80 degree days behind.

Tonopah?

We arrived in the cute central Nevada town of Tonopah a little while later. This town was established in 1900 when one of the richest silver strikes in history was discovered here. This silver discovery saved Nevada from bankruptcy and gave the state it's nickname, "The Silver State". Many old buildings had been restored and evidence of its mining history were everywhere.

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As we made our way through town, we noticed several places that allowed free overnight parking. We had reserved a campsite at Tonopah RV Park, but we didn't need a dump station and had plenty of water, so we decided to boondock for the night instead. It was Monday, 3/13.

We were delighted to find an Elks Lodge in Tonopah! Within seconds of pulling in to the small parking lot, Brother Elk Bruce appeared and gave us a tour of the Lodge. Although there is no official campground there, Bruce gave us permission to park in an adjacent lot for as long as we wanted to. This was in a much better location for a walking tour of downtown.

It was funny to be camping within sight of a Tesla charging station in the middle of the desert. It certainly seemed out-of-place amid the old buildings and abandoned miner's shacks. You can barely see our RV in the distance..

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Bruce was a wealth of knowledge about Tonopah. One of the sights he recommended seeing was the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Facility just north of town. That afternoon, we took a drive to find it. The facility looked like something out of a science fiction movie. We weren't allowed past the gate, but there was an information station just outside the fence.

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This method of energy production is not trouble-free, though. We overheard a conversation between two locals that tank corrosion is a continuous problem, as might be expected when using liquid salt.

Our new friend Bruce highly recommended the self-guided walking tour of the Tonopah Historic Mining Park on the northside of town. The next morning, we took his advice and spent a few hours roaming the park. It was very interesting to see how the miners lived and worked in the early days. We thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon here.

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We still wanted to explore the Mitzpah Hotel and some of the other buildings downtown, so we decided to spend a couple more nights in Tonopah. As we walked along Main Street, we learned that Tonopah considers itself the "Home of the Stealth". The Stealth Fighter (Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk) was based at the Tonopah Test Range Airport and was a common site in the Tonopah skies while it was still a classified aircraft.

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The Mitzpah Hotel has been beautifully restored and renovated. It's a member of Historic Hotels of America. The bank vault in the lounge is evidence of the banking office that once occupied the hotel lobby. The antique furnishings were beautiful and, of course, no Nevada hotel would be complete without some one-armed bandits.

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Supposedly, the hotel houses a ghost named "the Lady in Red". Legend has it that she is the ghost of a prostitute who was beaten and murdered on the fifth floor of the hotel. Apparently, the hotel staff hides a mannequin dressed in red inside various guest rooms and offers a discount if you find it. One guest told us the mannequin scared the bejesus out of her when she opened the closet door in her room. :D

We were pleasantly surprised by Tonopah. We might have stayed longer, but we were at 6000 ft. elevation and a storm was coming. Temperatures were predicted to be below freezing, so we decided to continue north on Highway 95 toward Reno on Thursday, 3/16.

Hawthorne? Yerington?

I had identified a couple of rural Nevada towns that might be suitable as our new home base. I'd never been north of Pahrump, so had to rely on what I could see through Google Earth and Wikipedia. I was looking for an acceptable campsite that we could rent for a month.

There was an outside possibility that Mina might work, but the "RV park" there was a joke. We continued on.

I had high hopes for Hawthorne, but once we got there, we couldn't leave that area fast enough. Hawthorne is home to the "World's Largest Army Depot" and is surrounded by thousands of ammunition storage bunkers. It was creepy. We didn't like the vibe in that town at all.

Another town I thought might work was Yerington, which was almost perfect. But the only RV park in town turned out to be very depressing. We couldn't see ourselves being happy there for a month. We ended up boondocking on a side street Thursday night.

The next morning, we had a look at the map and considered our options. I felt certain we find an acceptable RV park somewhere in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area. Mike did some research and found an RV park in Dayton, NV that might work, so he called and made a reservation for Friday, 3/17.

Dayton!

Dayton RV Park turned out to be exactly what we were looking for! It's a very small, well maintained and cheerful RV park. Cute as can be. There is one very good grocery store just a mile or two from the RV park. For everything else, there's Carson City. The Nevada state capital is just 10 miles away. And if you can't find what you need in Carson City, Reno is just 45 miles away.

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Dayton is where gold was first discovered in Nevada in 1849. Old Town Dayton is full of historic old buildings dating back to the early 1900s.

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Our overnight stay turned into a week at Dayton RV Park, and we began to explore our surroundings. We made the short trip to Carson City and saw our first herd of wild horses! It was incredible to see them roaming freely and living off the land.

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On the first day of Spring (3/20), we went to Virginia City. It was a quiet Monday morning and we had the place almost all to ourselves. What a trip back in time that was! I grew up watching Ben Cartwright and his boys visit "Virginia City". It was a surreal experience to be there myself.

Virginia City was a mining boomtown that sprang up almost overnight in 1859 after the discovery of the Comstock Lode of silver ore. Many of the original buildings are still standing today. It was a lot of fun walking around this old western town.

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One day we took a trip over the Sierra Mountains to see Lake Tahoe. It was about a 45 minute drive from Dayton. Snow was still on the ground in the shady spots, but the road was clear. Mike couldn't stop himself from taking a minute to play in the snow,

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It was still cold on the lakeshore, too. I can imagine how nice it is there in the summer. On our way back, we had a beautiful view of Eagle Valley and Carson City.

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There was still snow in the higher elevations surrounding Dayton. Daytime temperatures in the valley were generally in the mid-60s, though. It was very pleasant between storms. I don't know if the weather has been normal for this time of year, but storms have been blowing through here on a weekly basis. And when I say "blowing", I mean winds of up to 25 mph! We were shocked to wake up one morning to a snow storm!

Luckily, the storm was short and the snow didn't stick.

As our first week in Dayton was coming to an end, we asked the RV Park manager if we could stay for a month. We were in luck and obtained a rental agreement for a month; our first step to establishing Nevada residency!

We've been living at Dayton RV Park for more than a month now. I'm happy to announce that we have officially become Nevada residents! Now that our business here is taken care of, we're free to move about the country! We're both ready for a new front yard.

Here's a map showing our journey through Nevada:


Our next destination is Moab, UT. We're going there to meet a few friends for some Powered ParaglidinG fun. It'll be exciting to explore Utah for a while! Can't wait to tell you all about it.

My next post will be a step-by-step guide for nomads about "How To Establish Nevada As Your Domicile State". If you're interested in following along with us, please subscribe to Our Permanent Vacation by clicking this "Subscribe" link. That's all for now!

Posted by DillyLynn 17:00 Comments (10)

Flying @ Salton Sea and Fireworks!

From Yuma to Lake Havasu City, Arizona


View Time Travel In Nevada & Flying With Friends & Fireworks & Journey To Quartzsite on DillyLynn's travel map.

After we left Blue Sky Ranch RV Park in Yuma, AZ, we drove a few miles north on Highway 95 to the small BLM lot next to the VFW Hall. We made camp there overnight on Sunday 1/29 so we wouldn't be driving with the weekend traffic. Yes, the mountains really were that orange at sunset!

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The next day, we headed back toward California on Interstate 8. We knew about some BLM land around Ogilby Road in Southern CA, and wanted to check it out. You can legally camp on BLM land up to 14 days for free, but sometimes it takes a while to find a level spot...

Can you see how Mike backed up into a wash to lower the rear of the RV? He's becoming quite the expert at leveling our rig. We really enjoyed this site once we got settled. Seemed a shame to leave such a perfectly level site, but Mike was jonesing to fly. So the next morning we headed for the Salton Sea.

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We arrived at the Salton Sea for the annual PPG (Power Paraglider) Fly-in/Gathering on 1/31. The PPG Gathering has been held at West Shores Marina & RV Park for several years now. This time of year, conditions around the Salton Sea are perfect for powered flight. Temperatures are warm and the sea has a calming effect on the wind. Sport pilots of every type from all across the country look forward to this fly-in every year.

We are always glad to see our friends when we go to the Salton Sea Gathering. It was especially nice to see some familiar faces after being on the road for almost 3 1/2 months. The weather was perfect and everyone got their fill of flying. Here are some photos of the flight line on Saturday, at its most crowded:

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The Salton Sea Gathering officially ended on Sunday 2/5. Many had to return home and the campground emptied out.

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Several of us were lucky enough to stay a little longer. Mike & I stayed until 2/13 and he flew to his heart's content.

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Look at all the grass growing through the gravel. I have never seen so much grass here before! The copious amount of rain in California this year has really helped alleviate the drought.

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I was excited to head north toward Lake Havasu City, AZ on Monday 1/13. We were going there to watch the Winter Blast Pyrotechnics Show beginning on Thursday. I love fireworks and there was a fireworks show scheduled every night for 4 nights! I was really looking forward to it.

We had a few days to get to Lake Havasu City, so we took our time. Along the way, we spent one night on some BLM land near the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge. The front yard du jour included a weathered wooden corral and old windmill.

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And of course, windmills are for climbing...

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We continued north on Valentine's Day Tuesday and spent a free night on some land near the Colorado River and Bluewater Resort & Casino in Parker, AZ. Parker is a great place to re-fuel and re-supply. I'm surprised I didn't take any photos of that campsite. You didn't miss anything, though. There wasn't really much to see except a gravel parking lot anyway.

We arrived at Elks Lodge #2399 in Lake Havasu City on Wednesday 2/15. This is a terraced, gravel-covered campground with very roomy and fairly level sites. The electrical & water pedestals looked brand new. It was a very nice place to camp in Lake Havasu City. We would definitely stay here again.

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We enjoyed exploring Lake Havasu City later that afternoon. Lighthouse replicas were scattered along the path around the lake. I can just imagine how busy Lake Havasu must get when the weather warms up!

On Thursday, we scouted out a great spot to watch the fireworks from the BLM land near the grandstand. We had a perfect, unobstructed view. Hundreds of people were camping there for the pyrotechnics show. (We initially thought we would be camping here, too. By the time we made it to Lake Havasu, there wasn't a level spot to be found. Thank goodness there was an Elks Lodge nearby!)

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We saw the fireworks shows on Thursday and Sunday. Unfortunately, a storm blew through on Friday and Saturday. It was just too cold and wet to be outside, so we stayed home. On Sunday, the conditions were perfect for fireworks, and I could hardly wait for nightfall! We packed our chairs, some drinks and a picnic dinner, got there before sunset and waited for the show to begin.

Sunday night's show was fit for a king. Fireworks began before sunset; so early, you could hardly see them in the sky. After hours of fireworks, the finale was a full 30 minutes of non-stop action! It was magnificent! If I had known how well my iPhone would capture the fireworks, I would have taken more video. This is a very short sample of the fireworks we saw:

Here's a map showng this leg of our journey:

That does it for this episode. Next time, I'll tell y'all about our Time Travel Through Nevada. If you're interested in following along with us, please subscribe to Our Permanent Vacation by clicking this "Subscribe" link.

Posted by DillyLynn 10:18 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Journey To Quartzsite

From Ehrenberg to Yuma


View Flying With Friends & Fireworks & Journey To Quartzsite & Living in The Coachella Valley on DillyLynn's travel map.

There is a gem of an RV park in Ehrenberg, AZ. While almost every other RV park nearby looks depressing and run-down, River Breeze RV Resort features paved streets, trees and even grass! There's a small playground and park next to a private boat ramp on the Colorado River. All the sites are well-kept and the staff is friendly and helpful. We liked it so much, we stayed here from 12/14/16 - 1/10/17, almost a month! It was a very quiet New Year's Eve.
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Ehrenberg turned out to be perfectly positioned for a number of day trips. Groceries, supplies and services are available just across the river in Blythe, and Quartzsite is just 20 miles away. We even drove up to Parker, AZ one day and had lunch at the casino there. It was fun to be in a casino environment again!

From our "base camp" in Ehrenberg, we made several excursions into Quartzsite, AZ. The highlight of one of our visits to Quartzsite was to learn about Hi Jolly.
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It's hilarious to me that soldiers of the day transformed the Syrian fellow's name from Haiji Ali to Hi Jolly. Can you imagine if that happened today?

Hi Jolly's tomb is one of the main tourist attractions in Quartzsite. In fact, the AZ Department of Transportation just spent almost $367,000 for signage to point the way to his pyramid tomb.

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Quartzsite holds several large events each January which draw thousands of RVers each winter. Some people like to attend the Rock & Gem show. We wanted to be there for the Big Tent show, and to meet up with other full-time RVers.

We moved from Ehrenberg to Quartzsite on 1/10/17 and set up camp at Roger's 1/2 Acre Lazy Daze Homeless Camp: an informal gathering of other Lazy Daze owners. It was quite a treat to see so many other Lazy Daze rigs. The people we met there were friendly and welcoming.

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We also wanted to meet more campers who like to boondock or dry camp. We found the Escapees Boondocker camp on Plomosa Road. They are a great bunch of like-minded travelers, so we joined the Escapees and look forward to meeting up with them again in the near future.

There is a carnival atmosphere in Quartzsite this time of year. Vendors come from all over to sell their wares to the Snowbirds who winter in the Great Southwest.
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The Big Tent finally opened on Saturday, January 21. The 3 aisles inside were lined with vendors for everything from Sham-Wows to LED lights to work-camping opportunities. We got a show discount on our Escapee membership, and were able to find the few things we expected to buy in Quartzsite.
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Overall, we were underwhelmed by the Quartzsite experience. The town was too crowded and it was hard to find a real deal. We found better prices in Yuma on a lot of things. Going to Quartzsite for the Big Tent show had been on our itinerary ever since we began planning our RV adventures. I'm glad we finally got to see it and I was just as happy to leave. Two weeks in Quartzsite is enough!

On Thursday 1/26 we headed south on Hwy 95 toward Yuma, AZ. It was a beautiful day to travel and the scenery was magnificent. We stopped to have lunch at the Yuma Proving Ground. Their display was impressive.

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In Yuma, we stayed 3 nights (1/26-29) at Blue Sky Ranch RV Park, an older campground formerly called Arizona Sands.
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The sites are VERY narrow and not designed to accommodate slide-outs. We came back from running errands one day to find a slide-out and sewer hose intruding into our campsite. We expected to park our car here. Luckily, the park wasn't full and we were allowed to park our car on the other side of our rig.
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That's not the only complaint we have about Blue Sky Ranch. Some amenities and landscaping have been added and/or improved. Yet there are signs of deferred maintenance. Several washing machines were out-of-order...
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...and faulty wire repair seems to be a low priority. The electric pedestal at our site was incorrectly wired, as were several of the pedestals near ours. One neighbor said this had been a known problem for some time and the only time the wiring is repaired is when someone complains. During the time we were there, the only pedestals that were repaired were ours and that of another camper who complained.

There are plenty of other RV parks in Yuma. I would not recommend staying at Blue Sky Ranch. We were glad to leave.

We didn't really want to travel far on a Sunday because there's always more traffic when everyone is trying to get back home from the weekend. So, we decided to camp on a BLM parcel just north of Yuma for a night. That's where I'll pick up the story next time when I write about Flying @ The Salton Sea & Fireworks!

If you're interested in following along with us, please subscribe to Our Permanent Vacation by clicking this "Subscribe" link.

Posted by DillyLynn 08:41 Archived in USA Comments (2)

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