Category Archives: Utah

The Road to West Yellowstone

We’re at the Buffalo Crossing RV Park in West Yellowstone, Montana. Here’s how we got here.

We pulled out of the Salt Lake City KOA on Tuesday. I stopped at the Pilot/Flying J Travel Center and topped off our tank with 52 gallons of diesel fuel. From there, we hit I-215 and merged onto I-15 which took us past the Great Salt Lake all the way to Idaho Falls, Idaho. We took a break at the welcome center after we entered Idaho. We picked up a free Idaho road map there. I like our GPS, but I still like to have paper maps as well.  We had crosswind from the west most of the day on the 215-mile drive.

Northern Utah was wide open and the traffic was light. The speed limit in rural northern Utah was 80 miles per hour! Donna didn’t see the first speed limit sign and didn’t believe it when I told her it was 80 mph. A little while later, she saw a sign and snapped a photo.

Speed limit on I-15 in northern Utah

Speed limit on I-15 in northern Utah

We weren’t traveling anywhere near 80 mph. I stayed in the right lane with the cruise control set to 62 mph. I posted about tire pressure and tire failures before. Another cause of tire failure is excess speed.

Most trailers, including cargo trailers, travel trailers and fifth wheel trailers, are equipped with tires designated as “ST” type tires (Special Trailer). ST tires have higher load ratings than passenger car (P type) or light truck (LT type) tires. However, ST tires are rated at a maximum speed of 65 mph. Many people do not realize this and tow at speeds that exceed the tire’s rating. This can cause the tire to overheat. Over time, an overheated tire will fail. It may take hundreds of miles, but it will fail. Most people will blame the tire for the failure because they don’t understand the design limitation.

Our cargo trailer is equipped with load range C, ST type tires. I may exceed 65 mph momentarily to complete an overtaking maneuver on the highway, but I don’t drive at sustained speeds over 65 mph. The tires on our coach have a H load rating and a maximum speed rating of 75 mph.

We often see vehicles pulling trailers blow past us at speeds in excess of 70 mph. We also see boat, cargo, and RV trailers on the side of the highway with tires blown out. Tire Rack® has an excellent article about trailer tire load and speed ratings here.

On Tuesday afternoon, we pulled in to the WalMart parking lot in Idaho Falls. Donna phoned ahead and secured permission for overnight parking. We found a level spot on the southwest side of the lot. Donna shopped for groceries. I bought some real beer, not the 3.2 stuff they have in Utah. While Donna was shopping, I returned to the coach. The wind was blowing at 25 – 30 mph from the west. The coach became engulfed in a dust storm. Dust came in an open window and every crack or crevice it could find. I moved the coach to another spot, out of the direct path of dust blowing from a field.

Yesterday, while Donna slept in, I had breakfast at the Subway shop in WalMart. Donna was still recovering from her trip to Phoenix and needed a few hours of extra sleep. We pulled out of WalMart a little past 10am. We merged onto US20 and drove through farm land.

North of Ashton, Idaho, we quickly gained 1,000 feet of elevation and entered the Caribou – Targhee National Forest. Road construction slowed us down through a couple of sections in the national forest. We could see the Teton Mountains to the east, in Wyoming, at times. It was beautiful country. The leaves on the aspen trees were a pretty shade of green against the darker evergreen trees.

We pulled into West Yellowstone just past noon yesterday. For a town with 1,300 residents, it’s a hopping place. Tourism fuels the economy. There are hotels, restaurants, two grocery stores and bars. Of course it also has the obligatory tourist traps with collectibles and T-shirts. The Chamber of Commerce has a large parking lot with bus and RV parking. Tour buses stop there throughout the day.

When we drove up to the chamber parking lot, we were confused by the Buffalo Crossing RV Park sign in front and the RV parking. We pulled in and parked. We didn’t see an office for the RV park. We saw the RV park with RVs in it to the south, but we couldn’t access the park from the lot we were in.

We pulled back out on the road and drove past the IMAX cinema and found the RV park entrance. There wasn’t any signage. All afternoon, after we set up, we saw other RVs make the same mistake as us. They need to put up a sign at the actual entrance.

View from the drivers side of our coach as we set up

View from the driver’s side of our coach as we set up

It was raining off and on as we were getting settled in. The temperature was in the 40s. Later, around 5pm the sun came out as the skies cleared. It warmed up to the 60s as predicted. This morning we have blue skies and abundant sunshine. Donna and I are going into Yellowstone National Park on the scooter and plan to do some hiking there.

Bernoulli’s Principle and Your RV

When we checked in at the Salt Lake City KOA, we were warned about high water pressure. They told us that the water pressure can run up to 120 psi here. Our escort told me a couple of horror stories of hoses blowing up like balloons and plumbing leaking inside of coaches.

It’s not unusual for municipal water companies to run high pressure through the main water supply lines. Sometimes it can be as high as 200 psi! They need high pressure to supply high rise buildings or other elevated  dwellings. Building codes require inline water pressure regulators to prevent lines from bursting, causing damage and potential for injury.

WalMart, RV Stores and some RV parks sell cheap brass restrictors that they call regulators. This is very misleading and somewhat dishonest in my view. I noticed our neighbor hooking one up when he pulled in today and I thought I should post something about it.

Our neighbors "regulator"

Our neighbor’s “regulator”

Back in 1738, a fellow named Daniel Bernoulli published a treatise called Hydrodynamica. In this publication, he gave us Bernoulli’s Principle.

Without going into fluid dynamics equations, I’ll give a simplified explanation of why these restrictors should not be called regulators. Bernoulli tells us that when a fluid flows through a restriction, velocity of the fluid increases. When velocity increases, pressure decreases.

The brass restrictor in the photo above provides restriction in the water supply to the RV in question. When a faucet or shower valve is open and water is flowing into the RV, the restrictor causes the velocity of the water to increase as it flows through the restriction and the water pressure drops. So far, so good, right?

I see two problems with this set-up. First, the restriction reduces the amount of water coming into the coach. The flow rate may not keep up with the demand at a shower head, for example. This is an inconvenience.

The second issue is more than an inconvenience – it’s a recipe for disaster. When the faucets and shower valves are closed, water no longer flows through the restrictor. No flow, no Bernoulli Principle. Pressure will equalize on both sides of the restrictor. Now you have unregulated static water pressure. Whatever the pressure is on the input side of the restrictor is equal to the pressure on the output side. The plumbing inside the RV is at full main pressure until water starts to flow again. Not a comforting thought as you lock up your RV and head out for the day.

What’s needed is a proper pressure regulator, such as a Watts regulator (also called a water pressure reducing valve). This is what’s used on residential plumbing. The Watts regulator is a true regulator. The pressure will remain at the specified setting, regardless of flow. It also doesn’t restrict the volume of water. The 3/4″ Watts regulator that I use can flow over 30 gallons per minute with the pressure cranked down to 25 psi! I keep mine set at 45 psi.

3/4" Watts pressure regulator

3/4″ Watts pressure regulator

The drawback to the Watts set-up is cost. You can get the restrictor type for about $12, but remember, it doesn’t protect your plumbing when the water isn’t flowing. I think I spent about $80 for a residential watts regulator and fittings (I posted about it here). To me, it’s worth it, because I know I won’t have my plumbing blown out by excessive pressure.

While Donna was out bicycling yesterday, I brought the ladders out. I used the smaller ladder to debug and clean the windshield. The Brillo Bug Scrubber has become a new favorite product. It cleans bugs off glass effortlessly.

I used the big ladder to climb onto the roof. I lubed the gears on the TV antenna (it was getting almost impossible to crank up and down) and checked the holding tank vents. The way the vent covers are attached and caulked into place, I couldn’t inspect visually. I probed the vent tubes with a long plastic zip-tie and didn’t find any obstructions.

When Donna returned, we emptied the contents of the refrigerator and freezer into coolers and turned off the unit to defrost it. RV refrigeration isn’t frost-free. We have to perform this task every few months. Donna says it’s a great excuse to clean the refrigerator.

I prepped the trailer for travel. Everything is set, I only need to load and tie down the scooter this morning.

Last evening, Donna prepared blackened Baja fish tacos for dinner – one of our favorite dishes. They were so good!

Blackened Baja fish tacos

Blackened Baja fish tacos

After dinner, we took a walk through the park. We talked with a couple that are on their first extended RV trip. They’re new to RVing and are having a blast. I’m starting to feel like an old hand when I talk to people who are just starting out and have many questions that I’m able to answer.

We saw a couple of interesting rigs. The first was a fifth-wheel trailer and what made it interesting was its size. It couldn’t have been more than 20 feet in length. It’s the smallest fifth-wheel I’ve seen. I bet it’s really maneuverable.

Compact fifth wheel rig

Compact fifth-wheel rig

Then we came across something totally unique. It was an old Mercedes Benz truck chassis converted to an RV. We met the owners and talked with them briefly. They’re from Austria. They started their adventure in Buenos Aires, Argentina and have made their way to the US. Their trip will take them to Alaska. Once they reach Alaska, they’re undecided on what to do or where to go next. I didn’t get their names. Between their rudimentary English and my pidgin German, we barely communicated.

Mercedes Benz truck chassis

Mercedes Benz truck chassis

Mercedes Benz RV conversion

Mercedes Benz RV conversion

We’re moving out this morning. We plan to stop overnight in Idaho, somewhere between Pocatello and Idaho Falls. Tomorrow, we’ll set up in West Yellowstone, Montana. I may not post for a day or two, depending on Internet access and time available.

 

 

A Beautiful Day

Donna sent me a text message at 12:49pm yesterday, telling me she boarded the light rail at the airport. I walked out to the rail stop on the corner of Redwood and North Temple to meet her. She had a great trip to the NAPO conference in Phoenix, but she was exhausted by the long days and short nights while she was there.

We talked for awhile and caught up on each other’s activities. I told Donna that playing guitar every day while she was away really helped. I even remembered how to play a few songs I haven’t played in over a year.

I watched the Moto GP race while Donna unpacked. It was an epic race. I won’t spoil the outcome. We decided to have take-out for dinner. Donna phoned in an order to a Chinese restaurant called East Sea. It’s about five blocks away from here. I rode the scooter and picked up our dinner, which we enjoyed outside at the picnic table.

After dinner, we took a walk through the RV park. I noticed a guy with a travel trailer at the dump station. His trailer tires looked low. I don’t like to interrupt anyone’s routine when they are setting up or dumping tanks, but I felt like I should mention the low tires. The guy said he would make a stop when he left the park to fill the tires.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll repeat it again. Low tire pressure is the number one cause of tire failure. When tires are under-inflated, the sidewalls are subject to excess flexing which causes heat to build up. The overheated tire can lead to tread separation or sidewall failure – this means a blowout.

When it looked like the guy was finishing up at the dump station, I walked over and told him he could stop at my site on the way out. I offered to fill his tires with our Porter-Cable portable compressor.

He stopped by. I checked his trailer tires and found them inflated to 30 psi. This is very low, they should have been inflated to 50 psi. Driving down the highway at 30 psi surely would have caused a tire failure. We’ve seen numerous trailers on the side of the highway with blow-outs during our travels. I can’t help but think that many of these were avoidable, with proper tire maintenance.

Today is Monday and I have work to do. Sometimes it’s hard for me to keep track of the days. Clarke Hockwald (What’sNewell) calls Monday first Saturday. Tuesday is second Saturday and so on until Friday become fifth Saturday. Saturday is just Saturday and Sunday is Sunday to mark the week. This is too complicated for me to keep up with. I have enough trouble without numbering the days.

I’ll begin preparation for travel today. I need to go up on the roof and check our plumbing vents. The gray water tank drained a little slowly when I dumped it yesterday. There might be an obstruction in the vent. Then I’ll check the tire pressures and adjust if necessary. The windshield and mirrors need to be cleaned. We had a few raindrops the other day, just enough to mess up the mirrors. Then I’ll start loading the trailer.

The weather yesterday was near perfect with the temperature in the mid 70s, light wind and clear skies. I think it was the best weather day we’ve had in Salt Lake City. Today, the heat will return as the forecast calls for a  high temperature of 89 degrees.

Tomorrow, we’ll pull out of here. First stop will be the Pilot/Flying J fuel station I checked out on Saturday. Then we’ll head north on I-15. There are three Super WalMarts between Pocatello and Idaho Falls, Idaho. We’ll probably choose one them for an overnight stay and restock our food supplies while we’re there. On Wednesday, we’ll check in at the Buffalo Crossing RV Park in West Yellowstone, Montana. This park is a few hundred yards from the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park. We plan to stay there for three nights and make a couple of day trips into the park.

Riding with the Wind

I’ve been running both air conditioners non-stop the last two days. It’s been unusually warm, with the temperature reaching the upper 80s. There’s also humidity as scattered thunderstorms form in the late afternoon. We’ve only had a few stray rain drops here in the park, but I heard thunder and saw rainfall in the area. Yesterday, a nearby storm cell created wind gusts that rocked the coach for several minutes.

Today, the forecast calls for a more seasonable high of 77 degrees. I have windows and the door open this morning. Maybe I can give the air conditioners a break.

Yesterday, I rode the scooter out of the park, five miles north on Redwood Road. I wanted to check out the Pilot/Flying J fuel station. I’d like to to fuel up the coach when we leave here on Tuesday. I was told there was road construction by the station, so I wanted to check the area before driving the coach there. After checking it out on the scooter, I don’t think it will be a problem to stop there for fuel.

I’ve been using an app from the folks at Technomadia, called State Lines. It gives me useful information on various laws and taxes in each state. One of the things I look at, are fuel taxes. If I know we’ll be driving through a state with high fuel taxes, I’ll fuel up ahead of time. Here, in Utah, the tax on diesel fuel is 48.9 cents per gallon. When we reach Montana it will be 52.9 cents. When we head west from Montana I’ll buy fuel in Idaho where the tax is 49.4 cents per gallon. If I wait until we reach Washington, I’ll pay 61.9 cents per gallon in taxes! This app helps me to plan fuel stops.

After I reconnoitered the fuel stop, I went out on my mountain bike. I rode the Jordan River Trail again. I had a tail wind on the ride north. Along the way, I saw a group of people canoeing the river. I don’t know if it was an organized tour or just friends and family. There were about a dozen canoes together.

Canoes on the Jordan River

Canoes on the Jordan River

Canoeing down river looked fun. I wondered if they were going to pull out downriver or if they planned to paddle back upstream.

When I reached the moto-cross track, I was surprised at the lack of activity. No one was out on the track. Then I saw why. They must have read my last post about the dust being kicked up! There were two water trucks spraying water on the track to keep the dust down. The motorcyclists were taking a break as the track was being prepared.

Water truck in the center of the photo

Water truck in the center of the photo

After enjoying the tailwind on the ride down the river, I expected to battle the wind on the way back. I was pleasantly surprised. The wind died down for most of the ride back. The lack of wind made the ride easier, but it also meant swarms of gnats formed along the river. I rode through countless flying insects. I tried not to breathe through my mouth as they bounced off of my face. About a half mile from the park, the wind picked up again.

Later, after I showered and washed a load of laundry, I took a stroll through the RV park. The evening air was beginning to cool. The late afternoon was hot and muggy. I met a couple of guys from Canada. They were on their way back after buying a truck in Arizona. Not just any old truck, but a 1964 Chevy K10. The truck was in excellent condition.

1964 Chevy K10

1964 Chevy K10

It had a custom cap on the back and an auxiliary fuel tank. The guy that bought the truck told me he had a 1964 C10 at home and found the K10 online. The C10 is a rear-wheel drive truck while the K10 features four-wheel drive.

This morning, I’m taking advantage of the  great wifi here at the KOA. I’m downloading the European coverage of the Moto-GP qualifying and race at Mugello, Italy. I’m looking forward to Donna’s return this afternoon.

Our plan is to pull out of here on Tuesday. Our next destination is West Yellowstone. We’ll stay there a few days and explore Yellowstone National Park.

 

 

 

Jordan River Trail

Salt Lake City is a bicycle-friendly place. In addition to designated bike lanes on many of the roads, the city also has a series of paved paths. Some of these paths are multi-use, meaning that some sections are shared with pedestrians or inline skaters.

To the east and north of the city, the Bonneville Shoreline Trail provides a hiking and mountain biking path, currently over 100 miles long. It’s too far from here for me to take the mountain bike on it.

Yesterday, I rolled out of the park on my mountain bike. I rode up the street to a small park, called Cottonwood Park. I found the Jordan River Trail there. This is the multi-use path that Donna rode on Tuesday. Once I was on the path, I came to the narrow, wooden bridge that Donna told me about. It’s just wide enough for a single rider to cross.

Bridge on the Jordan River Trail

Bridge on the Jordan River Trail

As the name implies, the Jordan River Trail runs alongside the Jordan River. As I traveled north, the path mostly stayed on the levee on the east side of the river. It crossed over wooden bridges to the west side in a few sections.

The banks of the river have trees and lush vegetation. It was pleasant riding in the shade of the trees. There were a lot of birds on the trail and in the trees – robins, doves, magpies, finches and mallards in the river. I saw a large turtle sunning himself on a log in the river.

Jordan River Trail on the east bank

Jordan River Trail on the east bank

The trail crossed the river as it ran through the Rose Park Golf Course, then it crossed back again on a wide, wooden bridge.

Along the way, the path crosses a few city streets. Most of the crosswalks are controlled. You stop and push a button on a post and within seconds, the traffic is stopped by stop lights. The traffic is held for about 15 seconds, allowing you to cross safely.

North of the golf course, I came up to a boardwalk over a wetland area. The boardwalk had a sign restricting its use to vehicles under 10,000 pounds and no horses. The boardwalk was well-maintained and easy to cross on my mountain bike. I imagine it would be a little bumpy on a road bike. The boardwalk curved to the right after a quarter of a mile and rejoined pavement.

Boardwalk section on the Jordan River Trail

Boardwalk section on the Jordan River Trail

Another mile or so up the trail, I saw a sign indicating that I was entering the Chevron Section. I’m not sure what the significance of this is. As I rode along, I heard what sounded like off-road machinery. I continued onward and came upon a moto-cross track.

The Jordan River Off-Highway Vehicle State Recreation Area was on the west side of the river. There were several riders circulating on the motocross track. I stopped briefly to watch them fly over the jumps and slide through the turns. The track could’ve used a visit from a water truck – they were kicking up a lot of dust.

Moto-cross by  the river

Moto-cross by the river

Flying Moto-crosser

Flying Moto-crosser

I rode on until the trail became the Legacy Parkway Trail and turned around. The ride back was easier as the wind was in my favor. It seemed like the ride north was on a slight incline, but it must have been the wind. The Jordan River flows to the north along here, so an incline doesn’t make sense. The round trip ride took me about an hour and twenty minutes.

I had visitors last evening. Brett Miller and his wife, Cheri Alguire, came to the park. I last saw them when they visited us at Mission Bay RV Resort in San Diego (see this post). We’ve kept in touch as they prepared to hit the road as full-time RVers. They actually completed the move into their 5th-wheel RV on Monday, but had to leave it at the RV park in southern California on Tuesday to attend a conference here at the Salt Palace.

We drove downtown in their new Ford crew cab to a restaurant called Sala Thai. I love Thai cuisine. We ate family style and ordered pad tai with chicken,  drunken noodles with pork and pad phed with seafood. Served with a bottle of Singha beer, it was delicious. Brett and Cheri unexpectedly picked up the tab! Thanks again!

Brett, Cheri and me at Sala Thai

Brett, Cheri and me at Sala Thai

The warm weather returns today. The weather guessers are calling for a high of 88 degrees. I think I’ll leave the mountain bike in the trailer today. Maybe I’ll take the scooter downtown and kick around.

 

Coffee Snob

I’m really particular about the coffee I drink. I prefer the bold flavor of dark roasted coffee, such as Italian roast or French roast. One of my favorite coffee beans is harrar, from Ethiopia. It’s been several years since I’ve had harrar though – it’s hard to find.

We converted from grinding our own beans and using a drip coffee maker to the Keurig K-Cup® system a few years ago. Donna did some work for the marketing firm that was promoting the product. They sent us a Keurig coffee maker. Over time, they sent us a few different machines.

We have one in our motorhome. It’s very convenient. It’s clean, doesn’t take much space and it’s a fast way to make a cup of coffee. We usually stock up on K-Cups® at Costco. We buy Kirkland Signature® French roast.

Last week, while we were in Heber City, our K-Cup® supply was dwindling. Heber City doesn’t have a Costco. There is a WalMart there. While shopping at the WalMart, Donna bought some K-Cups® in case we ran out. The selection at WalMart was limited. Donna bought Folgers Gourmet Black Silk® dark roast coffee. Sounds pretty good, right?

My idea of dark roast coffee and Folgers definition do not match. Their coffee is acidic, like most light-roasted coffee. When coffee beans are roasted, many of the starches are converted to sugar. Dark roasting at temperatures near 400 degrees fahrenheit, carmelizes these sugars, giving a sweet, smooth flavor. The dark roasting process also causes the bean to expand, decreasing its density. The result is a lower caffeine content in the brew.

Yesterday, the only coffee we had on board was the Folgers. Two cups of that had me jittery. It’s not dark roast. The caffeine content was higher than I’m used to. For me, this stuff wasn’t enjoyable.

I was on a mission yesterday to find dark roast K-Cups®. I looked up Costco and found one about five miles from here. I mapped out the route and rode the scooter there. The Kirkland Signature French roast comes in boxes of 100 cups. I bought two boxes.

The boxes are too big to fit under the seat of the scooter. In anticipation of this, I brought along a plastic bag. I emptied one of the boxes into the plastic bag. Now I could fit 100 K-Cups® under the seat. The other box went into a cloth shopping bag that I hung between my knees. Good to go. This morning, I’m enjoying good coffee!

I took a different route back to the KOA from Costco. I wanted to explore. The route I took wasn’t interesting though – it was mostly industrial. At one point, I was stopped at a railroad crossing. The train was so long and moving so slowly, I shut off the scooter engine and waited. After five minutes, the freight cars on the train began bumping and jolting with loud banging sounds. The train was coming to a stop. I couldn’t see either end of the train.

There were several parallel train tracks at this crossing. A pair of diesel-electric engines sped down one of the tracks in the same direction of the train. A few minutes later the freight cars jolted again. The train started moving back in the direction it came from!

I thought this would be a long wait. The train began to pick up speed. As I looked down the track, I realized what was happening. When they stopped the train, they must have switched to another track. They disconnected cars and split the train. The engines I saw coming by were now connected to the back half of the train, pushing it back the way it came. They were clear of the crossing after a couple of minutes. The logistics of train transport boggles my mind.

Yesterday, the temperature topped out at 92 degrees. We had partly cloudy skies and I heard the rumble of thunder in the distance. It didn’t rain at the KOA, but the wind picked up in the afternoon. I moved Donna’s plants inside and put away the table cloth, before the wind relocated everything.

I practiced guitar inside the coach. I plan to play guitar every day while Donna is away. I’ve been lax about practicing.

Today, they’re calling for partly cloudy skies and cooler temperatures. The high should be in the upper 70s. I have tentative plans to meet up with our friends, Brett Miller and Cheri Alguire for dinner. They’re here for a convention and they’re about to begin the full-time RV lifestyle.

Happy Birthdays

Yesterday was a day of birthdays. It was the birthday for two girls that are near and dear to my heart and I love them both. It was Donna’s birthday and also the birthday of my youngest daughter, Shauna. It also happens to be the birthday of my  friend in Germany, Stefan Hermann.

I don’t think Shauna was able to celebrate her birthday too much. She arrived in Washington, D. C. on Sunday and had her first day as an intern at the Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday. She’s currently a law student at Cal Western School of Law. She finished the school year number 4 in her class of 220 students. The internship will be a feather in her cap when she graduates next year.

Donna started her birthday with a bicycle ride. She rode the bike path along the Jordan River north on the Legacy Trail. She turned around at Bountiful Pond. The ride covered about 27 miles. She spent most of the afternoon packing and preparing for her trip to Phoenix. She’s going to a conference for the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), where she will present a session on book promotion, called Do’s and Don’ts of Successful Book Promotion. She will return on Sunday.

To celebrate Donna’s birthday, we went out to eat at a restaurant that her sister, Sheila, told her about. It’s an Italian restaurant downtown, near Temple Square, called Cucina Toscana. We walked out to North Temple and caught the light rail at the corner across from the KOA RV park. The light rail cost five dollars for a round trip ticket. The rail cars were clean and comfortable. The ride downtown took eight minutes.

Toast to Donna

Toast to Donna

Cucina Toscana is an upscale restaurant with traditional Italian food. Donna ordered the linguini nere con frutti di mare, which is squid ink pasta, shrimp, calamari, mussels and lobster in wine reduction sauce.

Linguini nere con frutti di mare

Linguini nere con frutti di mare

I had the vitello in saltimbocca, which is veal scallopine topped with aged prosciutto and fresh mozzarella.

Vitello in Saltimbocca

Vitello in Saltimbocca

We both enjoyed our choices. The meals were cooked to perfection and the service was top-notch. In honor of Donna’s birthday, our server brought us a plate of tiramisu for dessert.

Happy birthday to Donna

Happy birthday to Donna

After dinner, we strolled back to the rail stop in front of the Energy Solutions Arena, which is home to the Utah Jazz NBA team. We had a few minutes before our train would arrive. I saw what appeared to be an historic building across the street. I walked over for a closer look. It was the Devereaux House.

Devereaux House

Devereaux House

Rather than rehash the history behind this place, I’ll just add photos of the placards that were placed in front of the house. Click on the photo to enlarge and read the placard if you’re interested.

 

5_27DvrxPlcrd1 5_27DvrxPlcrd2

This morning, I’ll walk Donna to the light rail. I’ll be on my own for the next four nights. The temperature is forecast to reach 93 degrees today, it’s already 80 degrees at 10am. I’ll have both air conditioners running all day.

 

Salt Lake City

On Sunday, I enjoyed the Monaco Grand Prix on Dish Network while Donna went out for a bike ride. She battled windy conditions, but enjoyed her ride. In the afternoon, I cleaned the windows, checked tire pressures and packed the trailer in anticipation of Monday’s 50-mile drive.

Monday morning, Donna did her usual job of securing things inside the coach, while I dumped and flushed the holding tanks. While I was disconnecting hoses and power, Donna drove the rental car back to the Heber City airport. I saw a pair of airplanes, flying in formation overhead. They had smoke generators on, I was expecting to see some kind of show, but they only made a couple of passes before landing. It was hard to tell what they were, but the radial engines and long silhouettes seemed like Yak 52s. I forgot to mention the plane that flew above us on Saturday. It was a Pitts biplane practicing aerobatics. Fun to watch!

I learned something about the HWH hydraulic system that operates our jacks and slide-out mechanisms. A guy posted an old service bulletin on the IRV2 forum regarding complaints of false “Jacks Down” alarms while driving. I’ve had this happen a couple of times. It’s operator error. The bulletin advises not to turn off the HWH control panel when the lights indicate jacks are stored. If you turn off the panel, the solenoids close the hydraulic valves. Fluid may still be trapped in the jack rams. The fluid can heat up and expand while driving, moving the ram and triggering the alarm. You’re supposed to leave the panel turned on. It will shut down automatically three to six minutes after the “Jacks Stored” light comes on, allowing all of the fluid to drain from the ram. Good information! I thanked the person posting the service bulletin as it applied to my coach.

Once I had the jacks up and slides in, I did my walk-around inspection while the engine warmed up. I drove over by the airport where Donna was waiting to be picked up. We drove through a residential area. When we reached US40, I was disoriented. I turned right on US40 and quickly realized we were heading southeast, the wrong direction. I glanced at the seven-inch screen on our Rand-McNally RVND7720 GPS and saw an easy way to correct our heading. A couple of 90-degree turns later, we were on our way.

Once we were out of Heber City, US40 begins a long climb. We pulled the grade at 50 – 55mph in the right lane, but had to swing into the center lane of the three-lane highway to maintain momentum past slow-moving trucks. Some heavily loaded tractor trailer rigs could only manage 30 – 35 mph up the grade. We drove past the Jordanelle Reservoir near Park City, then descended to the Junction of I-80 at Silver Creek.

It was another long grade up I-80, finally topping out at 7,025 feet above sea level before we began the descent into Salt Lake City, which is at an elevation 4,226 feet. Nally (our GPS) directed us to the Salt Lake City KOA, near the airport. It seems a little strange to have a large KOA campground in the heart of the city. It’s a matter of convenience for us. We’re right by the airport, with light rail service stopping next to the KOA. Donna has a flight to Phoenix tomorrow morning for a conference. She can take the rail to the airport. The KOA is nicely laid out and well-maintained, as most KOA parks are. We’re packed in tight though.

Site 1012

Site 1012

Salt Lake City is laid out on a grid. Temple Square is the center of the grid. The street numbers indicate the four quadrants from the grid – northwest, northeast, southwest, southeast. We’re located at 1400 West North Temple Street, 14 blocks west of Temple Square. The first street to the north of Temple Square is North Temple. The first to the west is West Temple. The first to the south is South Temple.  A pattern is emerging, but the first street to east is Main Street. From there, each street is numbered with the numbers increasing by 100 for each block. Street blocks in Salt Lake City are larger than in most metropolitan areas. Here, there are seven blocks to the mile instead of the usual 10 blocks per mile.

Salt Lake City is bicycle-friendly, with many bike paths. From here, we can ride on a path along the Jordan River north to Farmington, Utah. There are paths to the west going to the Great Salt Lake. Donna studied the bike path map this morning and took off on her bike. She’s getting more confident in her orienteering skills. Traveling to new places and learning new routes has helped her sense of direction.

Last night, we grilled bacon wrapped tenderloins and veggies. Donna baked a potato to serve with it. The grilled zucchini, mushrooms and onions were so tasty.

Bacon wrapped tenderloin, grilled veggies and baked potato

Bacon wrapped tenderloin, grilled veggies and baked potato

Sadly, my supply of good beer ran out with the last bottle of Dubhe Imperial Black IPA. Ironically, I bought this beer at Cost Plus in Arizona, but it’s brewed by Uinta Brewery right here in Salt Lake City.

Dubhe Imperial Black IPA

Dubhe Imperial Black IPA

There are 10 state-run stores in the greater Salt Lake City area that sell full strength beer, wine and liquor. Grocery stores and markets can only sell watered down beer. I’m in luck though – there’s a state store within walking distance of the KOA.

Today is Donna’s birthday. We’ll celebrate this evening with dinner at her choice of restaurant. We’ll take the light rail, so no need to worry about being within stumbling distance of the park.

Crawfish to Crater

Yesterday, Donna made the two-mile mile trek to rent a car at the Heber City Airport. It wasn’t raining by the time she left at 10:15. We wanted the car so we could go to the Crawfish Festival at the Homestead Resort near Midway, Utah. The weather guessers called for an 80% chance of thundershowers in the afternoon, so we didn’t want to ride the scooter to the event.

Before we left for the festival, I tuned in the Formula One qualifying at Monaco. Monaco is a special race. The course runs through the streets of the principality and is steeped in racing history. The track is so tight and twisty, the drivers have to be very precise. If you don’t qualify on the front two rows, you’re just racing for points, because you won’t be likely to win. Overtaking at Monaco is very difficult.

Around 2:45pm, we drove up highway 113 through Midway and found the Homestead Resort. Going to a crawfish festival in the shadow of the Wasatch Range in Utah seemed a little bit strange to me. They had tents, a stage, serving and dining tables all set up on a large grass lawn, next to the crater. I’ll tell you more about the crater later.

People enjoying the food and music outdoors

People enjoying the food and music outdoors

We found a table under cover. It hadn’t rained yet, but we didn’t want to chance sitting at a table without cover. There was a man, sitting alone at the table and he welcomed us to join him. His name was Jeff Bradley. He’s from Boulder, Colorado. Jeff told us he was staying at the resort with his wife, Marta, while she completed her SCUBA certification. He said many people come here to complete the deep-water dive portion of the certification in the crater. Marta would join us later, after her session was finished for the day.

The Homestead Crater is often mistaken for a caldera. It’s a dome 55 feet high and 400 feet across the base. This dome was formed by a geothermal hot spring over the course of 10,000 years. As the hot, mineral-rich water bubbled up through the surface of the earth, it left mineral deposits. Over time, these deposits piled up like an ant hill and created the dome, formed of travertine. Inside the dome, there is a pool of warm water, 65 feet deep. The water temperature stays at 90-96 degrees year ’round, as 135,000 gallons of water flows through the pool inside every day.

Originally, the pool could only be accessed by rappelling down through opening at the top of the 55-foot dome. In the 1990s, a tunnel 110 feet long was blasted through the north side of the dome. A wooden deck was built and the pool was opened to the public 1996.

SCUBA certification has a deep-water requirement. In many areas, people dive in lakes to obtain certification. However, many lakes are frozen or very cold for most of the year. That’s why the 90-degree water of the crater is so appealing for SCUBA certification. People also come just to soak in the warm, mineral-laden water.

Donna and I walked in the tunnel to the deck to look at the pool.

People floating in the Crater pool

People floating in the crater pool

Donna at the top of the Crater

Donna at the top of the Homestead Crater

View to the northwest from the top of the dome

View to the northwest from the top of the dome

We enjoyed a beer while we talked with Jeff. Beer is a sore subject in Utah. Jeff is used to the micro-brew scene in Boulder. In Utah, there are micro-breweries, but the strange alcohol laws require watered down brew to be served in most places. The beer was what we used to call 3.2 beer. Beer in the US used to state the alcohol content as a percentage of weight (ABW). Nowadays, alcohol content is stated as a percentage of volume (ABV). The Utah beer is 4% ABV, which is equivalent to 3.2% ABW.

A band started playing on the stage as Donna went to fill a couple of plates of food for us.

Bandstand at Homestead Resort

Bandstand at Homestead Resort

Gumbo and crawfish

Gumbo and crawfish

While we ate, we found out that Jeff is an author. He wrote travel books about his home state of Tennessee. Currently he is a fundraising writer. He and Donna talked about publishing and the state of the industry. Jeff was also interested in hearing about our nomadic lifestyle.

Another couple, Dean and Becky joined our table. They live in Salt Lake City, but also have a house on the ridge above Midway. Dean is originally from Anchorage, Alaska. We exchanged a few Alaskan stories. I used to travel there a couple of times a year for business and fishing in the ’90s. Dean plans to retire next year. He wants to buy an RV, probably a travel trailer, to make trips to Alaska. Dean and Becky are going on a trip to Peru 10 days from now. It sounds like a real adventure. They’ve hired a guide and will climb Machu Picchu.

Becky is a school teacher. Her friend and fellow teacher, Carmen, joined us with her son, Michael. She is from Louisiana and knew how to handle the crawfish. Basically, we pulled the tails off and peeled them. There isn’t much meat there, but it’s fun and they were tasty.

Jeff is hidden behind Donna, Dean, Becky, Carmine and her son Mike sit across the table

Jeff is hidden behind Donna, Dean, Becky, Carmen and her son Michael sit across the table

We quickly filled a bucket with crawfish shells

We quickly filled a bucket with crawfish shells

Carmen is a member of a club for Louisianans living in Utah. I wasn’t expecting to hear that! While we were eating, another Louisianan stopped by our table. I didn’t get his name, but he graduated from high school with Carmen. Small world. No one could answer the question – why a crawfish festival in Midway, Utah? We found out this was the third annual event though.

After a couple of hours, the party was going strong. Donna and I went for a walk. We saw a canoe filled with live crawfish crawling around. By the way, Jeff and I both agreed that these were called crawdads when we were kids.

A boatload of live crawfish

A boatload of live crawfish

They also had BBQ chicken thighs and andouille sausage on the grill and pots of seafood gumbo and chicken gumbo.

Grilling chicken and sausage

Grilling chicken and sausage

Crawfish ready to serve

Crawfish ready to serve

The threat of rain never materialized. By 5pm, the sun was shining and it warmed up nicely.

Donna and I climbed the steep stairway to the top of the crater. The view was great. The pictures from the top of the crater are at the beginning of this post. On the way the back down the steps, I took a picture of the serving tent.

Food tent at the festival

Food tent at the festival

I’m posting this late today, because I watched the Formula One race from Monaco this morning while Donna was out for her bike ride.

Tomorrow we’re moving to the KOA in Salt Lake City. Dean and Becky gave us a few tips on restaurants and entertainment in the area.

*Here’s a link for more information about the Homestead Crater.

Rain, Rain

I’ll open today’s post by giving thanks to all those who have served our country. My thoughts go out to those who have sacrificed in the name of freedom.

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned Donna’s bike ride on Thursday. She told me how quiet the roads were and how she enjoyed riding through the countryside with the snow-covered Wasatch mountains as a backdrop. Here are a couple of photos she took while she was out.

Wild flowers, cattle and irrigation

Wild flowers, horses, cattle and irrigation

Pond, geese and grass

Pond, geese and grass

Yesterday, after posting to the blog, I went out for a walk. I walked up 6th street to highway 113, then I walked east to Main Street. The housing in this area is an interesting mix. There are newer looking duplexes on 6th, then older homes on the streets east of there. Some of the houses are obviously rental units with unkempt yards, while others are nicely maintained.

The corner of 6th and hwy 113

The corner of 600 West and hwy 113

On highway 113, I saw this old mansion for sale. The sign said it had 21 rooms and nine bathrooms! It also boasted of upgraded electrical installation and modern heating. The asking price was $749,000.

For sale - 21 rooms with nine baths

For sale – 21 rooms with nine baths

I spent about an hour strolling through the town. The sky was overcast all morning. By 2pm, a light rain started to fall. The rain was intermittent and light, so we decided to walk down to the old Heber train station. We bought tickets for the Wild West Days train ride.

The train took us south, out through the countryside. The rain made it impossible to capture an image through the windows – besides, I forgot my Samsung Galaxy back in our coach. As we rolled along, we saw huge houses on horse farms. We rolled along in the old train over the Provo River and made a stop on the tracks at a point marked “Charleston.”

The engineer unhooked the locomotive and switched it to an adjacent track. He drove past the passenger cars and switched it back onto the main track. Once on the main track, he hooked up to the train cars again, on the opposite end, to pull us back to the station. The train robbery entertainment was geared towards the kids on board. Most of the passengers were young families with children. It was an entertaining ride and we enjoyed the scenery. But it wasn’t worth the $15 ticket price.

We walked back to our coach in the rain. Of course, as soon as we got inside it stopped raining. It was only a brief break in the precipitation though. I had the TV on and watched two documentaries about the late Formula One driver, Ayrton Senna. Later, Donna and I watched two more episodes from the first season of Lost.

Cloudy sunset over the Wasatch range

Cloudy sunset over the Wasatch range

This morning we woke to the sound of rain on our roof. Donna bought tickets for a Crawfish Festival in a town nearby called Midway. She’s picking up a rental car this morning. The forecast calls for more rain this afternoon, making the scooter impractical for transportation to the festival.