Week 311-312 - Taxi, Taxi - 08-05-2012

Taxi? Taxi?

Ellen's Aunt Glo lives near Denver, Colorado.  For quite a while Glo has wanted to come for a visit to California.  The problem is, she can't fly or drive.  So it would take some creative thinking to figure out how to make the trip.

A taxi? Probably a little too pricey.  Ellen's sister Janice comes to the rescue.  Janice asked us to drive the Mothership from Paradise, California; pick up Aunt Glo in Colorado and bring her back home!  Wow, now that's a Big Adventure.  Gee, the problem is the cost of the fuel. At 2,800 miles round trip, it was more than we could afford.  Janice again comes up with the solution.  Each of Ellen's siblings: Larry, Carla, Janice and Art would kick in 25% of the fuel costs.  Okay, we're in. Before we started, we reviewed Craig's 2-2-2 Rule.  Craig (an RV mentor we met in 2006) says that if you want to always enjoy your travels and never wear out, then Never travel more than 200 miles in one day; always get to your destination by 2:00 p.m. and always spend at least 2 days.  Let's do the math. 1200 miles to Denver in 6 days is 200 miles a day. Good, rule one will work.  Get there by 2 p.m. each day; that might be possible.  Stay at least two days at each stop, NOT!  Anyway, we decide to make it a fast trip to Colorado and then enjoy our normal slower pace coming back.  We had 19 days to for whole trip, so that should work.  We left Paradise and started on a Glorious mission.

Arriving in Denver, Glo was certainly surprised and delighted.

We grabbed her bags, she said her goodbyes and we were off on Glo's Big Adventure to California.  We always love to find new roads, so the trip back was 1,500 miles and we started off through Southwest Colorado where we have never been.

Here is our tour route.

Day 1: 130 miles. Paradise to Grass Vally to Sierra City, CA on highway 49.  This was our one side trip on the way to Denver. We have taken the Mothership on highway 49 from Grass Valley south to it's end at Oakhurst, CA.  We just had to finish the rest of 49 which goes from Grass Valley to Vinton, CA.

The section of 49 from Grass Valley to Sierra City is a great road.  There are a few twists and turns but the majority is an easy ride in the Mothership.

Dinner at the Mountain Creek Restaurant in Sierra City was great.  Dogs are welcome and little birds came by for a visit.

Sierra Skies RV Park was right on the Yuba River.  They had a few big sites, but they were taken.  We did manage to squeeze into this site.  The city streets weren't much wider.

Day 2: 399 miles! Oops, broke rule one.  We finished the rest of Hwy 49 to Vinton, passed through Fallon, Nevada, got drenched for a few minutes and flew past Austin, NV.  Being used to the deserts of southern Nevada, it was a surprise to find mountains and trees in the section near Austin.

More rain as we head to and reach Ely, NV.  We camped next to the Elks (red roof building). The lot actually belongs to the Hotel Nevada and is open to RVs and trucks.

Ely is full of buildings with large murals and statues on the streets.

Day 3: 337 miles. Highway 50 is a great road. We first picked it up at Reno, NV and took it all the way to Green River, Utah.

Along the way in Utah, there are numerous rest and view areas. What is a rest area in Utah, would be a national monument in many other states.

We stayed in Shady Acres RV Park in Green River. The sites are very long, it was priced right and has some very unique features. They have a gas station, market and deli, RV and car wash. The park gives you a coupon for a buy-one-get-one Blimpie deli sandwich and drink.  A great stopping place, but hey, we gotta go!

Day 5: 50 miles! We have to admit that Craig's rules were getting to us and we needed a break.  We have been to Moab and Arches National Park before, but we never stayed in Moab.  The Colorado River runs by Moab and while it is usually a bit clearer, the heavy rains turned it "Colorado" (Spanish for colored red). 

We landed at Portal RV Park. We intended to visit the town as we had only seen it at night before. However, the pool, scenery and rest, lured us away.  Note the large building at the park.  This is a "casita".  We are used to casitas at high-end RV resorts. Normally, they are small "sheds" used for storage or perhaps laundry.  This one is, well, just a bit larger.  It is 4,000 square feet and rents for $395.00 a night.

Day 5: 180 miles. A normal day of travel and we took the winding highway UT-128 from Moab to Rifle, Colorado.

Rifle is a nice town on the Colorado River. When you drive up Flavert Blvd, there is no doubt where the Elks Lodge is!

The lodge is small but very well maintained.  There is only dry camping but the view of the adjacent valley is beautiful. We stayed here in September 2011 and are pretty sure that when we walked into the lodge this time, the same people were sitting in the same seats.  They were delightful hosts. And they had an outdoor cable TV area that we had access to all evening, nice!

Day 6: 226 miles. Our final push to Denver.  The road from Rifle to the east makes for a very nice trip. You parallel the Colorado River for quite a ways and you cross over the Rocky Mountains, past Vail and Frisco and a lot of nice ski towns. Then you plunge down the Front Range into the Denver area. While our mission was to Grab Glo and Go, we had to spend a few hours with relatives and friends. Our first stop was to meet Pete's nephew Eric.  We sadly had only time for lunch but it is always a pleasure to catch up on his family.

After lunch, we had an emergency RV repair and then spent the night at Jeff's house. Jeff was Pete's college roommate. We had time to break bread with Jeff, Linda, Beth and Jackie. But now it is time to secure "the package".

Meet Aunt Glo.  Within minutes of getting to her house, we were on the way.  She was excited like a kid at Christmas and we were so blessed to have means to make this trip happen.  What a blessing to have the motorhome and siblings to support us.

Day 7: 178 miles. Heading south down the I-25 we passed Colorado Springs, Castle Rock, Pueblo and turned west at Walsenberg.  Our first camping night with Glo was at Lathrop State Park.

Thankfully the park has 50 amps of power as since we left Utah, the daily temperatures were in the mid-90s.

Day 8: 233 miles. Walsenberg to Durango is a very scenic. 

You drive once again through the Rocky Mountains, although not quite as high as the elevation up north.

We settled in at Durango Riverside RV Park, just north of Durango on the Animas River.  This 3.5 rated park is nice but is the most expensive park we have ever stayed at ($79.00 per night).

Nevertheless, we have a nice time and Glo got a chance to catch up on her Facebook.

Day 9: 232 miles. Leaving Durango, the terrain changes dramatically. Gone are the mountains, trees and rivers. Hello, unusual rock formations.  We stopped off at Four Corners on the way to Gallup, New Mexico.

In Gallup, the RV park we like the best is USA RV Park.  We have been there three times and each time they have added lots of new features. New this time is the outdoor chess set, the kid's play area and waterfall in the distance. One of the best parts of this park is the daily (during the summer) BBQ under the new and very large covering. Note the swimming pool  with the bottom painted as a flag.

The sites in this park are completely level and well manicured.

Day 10: 218 miles. Out of New Mexico and onto Williams, Arizona.  Williams is on Route 66 and makes the most of it. A cute little own town section has lots of restaurants and entertainment.  We dined at Cruisers Cafe 66. The meal was reasonable and the cafe and store are filled with 60's memorabilia including the 1966 Chevrolet Impala mounted on the wall.

Sheet metal walls always add nice ambiance to any diner!

Day 11: 165 miles. Wow, just a normal day of driving. Mandy looks back at the driver and asks "are you really going to try to take this 13 foot motorhome through that 10 foot tunnel? Finally, we have slowed to a normal daily pace.  Our stops would be 130 miles or less per day for the final three days of the trip. Still breaking the two-day stay rule, but at least not driving a crazy amount of miles. But, everything changed in Bullhead City.  Being in the mid-to-high 90's, we traveled with the generator on and both airs running. This made for a pleasant trip. Alas, by Bullhead the rear air conditioner stopped working! Yikes, the outside temp was over 100.  We visited an RV repair center and for a nominal fee they told us we needed a new unit which they did not have.

There is no way without the rear air that we could cool the Mothership enough to sleep. Plan B: Get a hotel room at Don Laughlin's Riverside Resort and Casino.  We enjoyed the cool room and the penny slots.  Glo did so well on her $5.00 investment that we spent a few hours in the casino.  Back at the motorhome, Pete loaned a screwdriver to Chris who was robbing parts off the red car.  He claimed both cars were his and since we did not see his picture at the Post Office we didn't report him.

The view from our room overlooking the Colorado River below Davis Dam.  A little cleaner than the river was at Moab!

Day 12: A major plan change.  At sunrise, Pete ventured out to the motorhome to check email.  The sun was barely visible and it was 99 degrees.  Our stops near Barstow and in Bakersfield were not much cooler.

So 420 miles later we basked in the 85 degree coolness of Paso Robles.  Glo gets a warm welcome from the girls.  What a great trip. It is such a pleasure to be part of a family that cares so much for Aunt Glo to send her a taxi!

The heat and excitement were too much for Glo as she dreams about all the fun we had.

Mandy also ponders the great moments of this adventure.

So was Craig right about the 2-2-2 rule?  Absolutely! This 12-should-have-been-42 day trip was exhausting. And you would never want to do this on a regular basis. You would burn out on RVing. However, the joy of being sent to get Glo and the fun we had after she joined us made this trip a very special one.

Whew, home now to rent our house and we won't be moving anywhere for a few weeks. Thanks Glo for allowing us to be your chauffeurs, love, Pete, Ellen and Mandy the Dreamer.

"We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps." Proverbs 16:9

Photos from Aug 2012

The Full Time Motorhome Living Guide

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