grandson mason

grandson mason

grandson jaxson

grandson jaxson

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

11-31OCT12 - Houma, LA (via beaumont, tx)

Thursday morning, 11OCT, we hit the road for Houma, LA. We are not sure the reason but the entire length of I-10 from Kerrville to Beaumont, TX, was nothing but state troopers? We drove further than normal & stopped at Gulf Coast Resort RV outside Beaumont where we stayed during our Katrina evacuation. It is a very nice RV park & they make you waffles in the shape of Texas for breakfast.

By early Friday afternoon we were back at Rebecca & Raymond’s & set up camp in their driveway. After recovering from our drive we headed to a local festival Saturday evening called Voice of the Wetland’s (VOW), where we also met up with son Joe & girl friend, Tasha. This is a fairly new festival in Houma to raise money for wetland restoration; the music is great & free, & the food as always in south Louisiana is great (but not free). Sunday afternoon Dan, Rebecca & grandson Jaxson headed back to VOW to check out the petting zoo. The night was a great dinner at our son Joe’s prepared by him & Tasha, before he headed offshore once again for two weeks.

The rest of the month was spent not doing much other than enjoying our grandson, Jaxson J Pitre. But on 27OCT, Saturday, we did head into New Orleans for a walkabout. Unfortunately that night Corrie has a very bad case of food poisoning; & then just after midnight Rebecca had to go to emergency room with complications from a 23OCT out-patient surgery she had undergone. This left Dan to look after Jaxson; which should have been easy since Jaxson was asleep. But Jaxson who was recovering from a stomach bug, awoke at 2AM & refused to go back to sleep. Dan then had several hours of late night bonding with his grandson including technicolor vomiting. Then later Sunday morning Dan started to get symptoms of food poisoning.

Monday Rebecca was home from hospital & it appears everyone is on the mend?  Halloween day, Wednesday, we all began prepping for an impromptu Halloween party at Rebecca & Raymond's.  Since Joe had just returned from offshore, he & Tasha came by to help pass out candy & witness Jaxson's first Halloween.  Corrie & Rebecca did a great job decorating the driveway, & Joe & Tasha brought way to much candy; but by the end of the evening all the candy was gone & Jaxson appeared to have a good time!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

06-10OCT12 - Kerrville, TX (via albuquerque, nm, & pecos, tx)

Saturday morning, 06OCT, it was back on the road enroute Kerrville, TX, to visit Dan’s sister Sharon & husband Tim. If you have followed our BLOG you already know we try to visit them in the fall & spring as we travel across Texas on I-10. We made great time until Shiprock, NM, where we ran into a major traffic jam because of the Northern Navajo Nation Fair. Not only was everyone looking for parking, but the Saturday morning parade had just ended & apparently uses US 64 & US 491 as the parade route (not very good planning in our opinion!). Upon arrival in Albuquerque we find out there are no RV spots anywhere near Albuquerque because of annual hot air balloon festival. So we dry camped at the Santa Ana Star Casino, where Corrie did extremely well on the penny slots.

Sunday morning we awoke to hundreds of hot air balloons taking off & filling the Albuquerque skies! It was quite the sight, but it made driving on I-25 south hazardous as people literally stopped in the middle of the freeway to gawk. As we climbed out of the valley on I-40 east, the outside temperature dropped to 32 degrees & the RV was pretty cold until Roswell, NM.

As we entered Texas we once again saw the evidence of extensive oil/gas exploration like we witnessed in ND last June; in addition, since the Texas speed limits on two lanes are often 75mph we were almost run off the road several times by oilfield semis who are apparently paid by the load (ie the faster they drive, the more they make). We learned even the locals are fed-up with their dangerous driving. Once again we stayed in the Escapees Club RV park in Pecos, TX; its not the best RV park, but your choices are few in this part of Texas.

Monday morning we started the final leg of our drive to Dan’s sister’s, Sharon & husband Tim’s, in Kerrville, TX. During a stop for lunch Dan noticed that the right front tire was wearing excessively on the outside edge. It was obvious that the tire would not last until Houma, LA. Upon arrival in Kerrville we headed to Tim & Sharon’s for a nice visit & dinner.

Tuesday, 09OCT, Dan went to the only tire dealer in town that can handle semis or RVs, to address tire issue & make an appointment. Later that evening, Sharon & Tim came by the RV for dinner & more reminiscing. First thing Wednesday morning we drove to A&A tire for an alignment & two new front tires. We are not sure why but most RVs have Michelin tires (some have Goodyear) & the tire sizes are not compatible with semi tires. We think the only reason for this is to charge more for so called “RV tires”. Dan did some internet research & found equivalent semi tires & saved $300. While the RV was at the tire dealer Dan & Gumbo hung out at Sharon & Tim’s, while Corrie headed to a mall near San Antonio. That evening after getting the RV back, we all got-together for one more dinner at a local cafĂ©.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

29SEP-05OCT12 - Moab, UT (last 2 stops on the grand circle tour)

Saturday, 29SEP, it was an early drive to Moab, UT; which will be our base to explore Arches National Park & Canyonlands National Park, the last two stops on our grand circle tour of National Parks in Utah. After parking the RV we headed to the Visitor Center at Arches National Park, where we viewed the park service film that covered both Arches & Canyonlands National Parks. We also found out about the free Ranger led activities for the next day. Today was a national free entry day into all National Parks, so we decided not to do any sightseeing in Arches until tomorrow, Sunday; hoping the crowds lighten-up. So we headed back to town to for groceries & to get more area info at the excellent city run tourist office in Moab.

Sunday morning we drove into Arches National Park & headed to Devils Garden at the very end of the dead end scenic road thru the middle of the park. While there we hiked a few shorts trail to view arches in the area. Then it was off to the Windows Section of the park for the 11AM Ranger led walk. These free park events are always worth the effort to attend. This time was even better than most; because our group was small (8 people), the Ranger asked if we wanted a longer tour & a little more challenging walk? Everyone said yes, so we got to hike on a trail that is not closed to the public, but is not advertised or obviously marked. Another great good deal from our National Park Service!

After the tour we headed back up the dead end scenic road to visit all the view points & to do some short hikes that we had skipped in the morning. One of the best view points was Sand Dune Arch. This is a very easy, short, hike thru a slot canyon (ie shaded from the sun) to a nice arch, where Dan could do some easy rock climbing to get on top of it.

Monday morning, 01OCT, we headed back to Arches National Park to do drive some of the 4-wheel roads in the park. So we took the Salt Valley Rd to view Tower Arch, but when we got to the parking area we discovered that it was over a 3 mile hike roundtrip to view the arch. So we decided to drive to the other side of the arch, where the hike was only a half mile roundtrip. Up to this point we have found that when the park maps say 4-wheel vehicle required, that the warnings were on the conservative side & we have never had any problems. This time was different, within a mile we hit a rock patch that Dan walked first & decided it far exceeded his beginner’s abilities, & our truck’s tires were more for gravel roads then steep, slippery, rocks.

So we backtracked out of the Arches National Park, stopping at a few arches we hadn’t seen the day before. We then decided to head to Canyonlands National Park rather then waiting until Tuesday, which was our original plan. Canyonlands is centered around the canyons created by the Green River, Colorado River, & their confluence. The park is divided into three distinct districts that are not connected & must be visited separately – “Island in the Sky”, “The Needles”, & “The Maze”. We drove to the closest – Island in the Sky; first stop as always was to the Visitor Center & to watch the video & get info. Since our time was now limited, the Ranger suggested we drive to Grand View Point Overlook & hike to the end of the trail. The view at the end of the hike was fantastic. But the hike finished us for the day. So it was back to the RV to recover; followed by dinner & a walkabout in Moab.

One of the things we had on our Moab to do list (or on Dan’s to do list) was go on a Ranger led tour of the Fiery Canyon in Arches National Park. Unfortunately this $20 tour is limited to 25 people a day & is booked six weeks in advance. So we decided Dan would pay for a commercial tour & Corrie would take the day off. Very early Tuesday morning, 02OCT, Dan met up with the group (6 people) & headed to the Fiery Furnaces in Arches National Park. Although much more expensive than the park service tour, it was well worth the money! First of all the tour gets there first thing in the morning & usually you have the Fiery Furnace to yourselves for the first hour or so (he didn’t see any other groups all day). The tour is 1-1/2 hours longer, & if you are adventurous the guide will let do some “canyoneering”. Canyoneering is where you use all of your body (arms, legs, belly, butt, etc) without any climbing equipment to access portions of the rocks not accessible by any trail. Often there are no foot or hand holds & you are literally wedged between two walls of a slot canyon by the force of friction only! Rejoining Corrie at lunch time it was back to the RV for some much needed rest.

Wednesday morning it was back to the Island in the Sky “district” of Canyonlands National Park to finish the exploration we started on Monday. Note - it is called Island in the Sky because it is almost completely surrounded by canyons & can only be accessed by a forty foot wide strip of land called The Neck. Upon entering the park we drove straight to Upheaval Dome where we hiked to the overlook. Then we backtracked our route catching the overlooks we had passed on the way in. Right before reaching the park gate we turned onto the Shafer Trail Road; which immediately turned into a very serious series of switchbacks descending to the White Rim Road.

The White Rim Road circles the entire outer edge of Island in the Sky, it is 100 miles long & it is recommended you take at least 2 days to drive it! Amazingly we met a Coastie on a four day bike ride of the White Rim & stopped to talk, right in the middle of the Shafer Trail Rd. We only drove a part of the White Rim to Gooseneck Overlook, where a short hike takes you to a fantastic view of the Colorado River & canyon. Then we switched over to the Potash Rd back to Moab. The first 15 miles of the Potash took over an hour, the second 15 miles took 20 minutes. It is called the Potash Rd because in the middle of it are gigantic drying ponds producing potash. At the end we passed by DOE superfund site dealing with the radioactive mill tailings & other contaminated materials from a uranium ore processing facility.

First thing Thursday morning it was back to Canyonlands National Park to explore The Needles district. Even though The Needles is only 12 miles from the Island in the Sky district as the crow flies, it takes over 100 miles of driving oneway to go between the two! Even starting from Moab, it was 74 miles oneway. As always we stopped at the Visitor Center for information; & learned there was no video for this portion of the park & no Ranger led activities.

We spent the next three hours exploring the various overlooks while driving the scenic roads, & hiked the Cave Spring Trail, Pothole Point Trail & the Roadside Ruin Trail (all very easy). Two interesting sights were an abandoned “cowboy” camp on the cave spring trail & a Puebloan granary on the roadside ruin trail. Note – we did not attempt The Maze district of the park because it is only accessible by extreme 4-wheel roads, or hiking for days, or rafting down the Colorado River. That night it was dinner & gelato at Moab Brewery (supposedly Utah’s only micro-brewery), highly recommended!

Our last day (Friday 05OCT) in Moab we decided to relax in the morning & not get started until almost noon. We had reservations for a half day raft trip down the Colorado River run by Canyon Voyages Adventure. There are several outfits that offer the same service, but this one provides lunch. When we made our reservation the lady told us there was no more room in the raft & we could paddle along in one of their inflatable kayaks, or take later tour without lunch. The lady also said that we would probably be able to “trade” seats with other people in the raft. Since the other tours cost the same & provided no food, we opted for the kayak & the food.

This is not a white water expedition thru level 3, 4, or 5 cataracts; but leisurely float down the river in what they call the Fisher Towers section with a couple of level 1 rapids. It was a great day & after the first one third of the trip someone did trade with us & we were in the raft the rest of the way. The only drawback to the kayak is you can’t really take pictures along the way; otherwise we would have stayed in it. In addition, lunch was pretty good; consisting of cold cuts, cheese, fresh veggies & fruits, potato salad, pasta salad, & cookies. Another commercial tour we highly recommend!

Tomorrow, after an action packed week in Moab, we get back on the road heading east & south to Louisiana. We are really glad we decided to spend at least a week in Moab, but could have easily spent several weeks!