Week 1 - NM, CO, WY, and ID

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Today is the start of our big adventure.Steve and I wake up early and start throwing things madly into the Aliner and the back of the pickup. Every time we travel we promise ourselves that we won't wait until the last minute - but we never keep our promise.

I set the trip meter at zero miles and we pull out of our driveway at 8:00am, heading for Albuquerque and a doctor's appointment. Then we went to Meyer's RV to get the refrigerator checked and to de-winterize (?)/ unwinterize (??) the Aligner for our trip and check out the refrigerator, which keeps shutting itself off. When we bought our RV in November, they had one of each model Aliner on the lot. Now, there is not an Aliner to be seen. Being my normal, nosey self I ask why they don't have Aliner's any more. "We sold them all." Yeah for them!!

We spent the rest of the day and some time on Thursday morning with the Hermanson's: Aaron, Ellen and their two kids. Ellen is Steve's cousin on the Walton side of the family and we will be visiting her parents later on our trip. The son was only a baby the last time we visited and now he has a two year old sister. My, how time flies! We only live 150 miles apart - "only" in New Mexico terms - and we come to Albuquerque around once a month, so I don't know why we have been such strangers.

At first the kids hid from us, but eventually we ended up on the floor playing Cootie. The picture shows the kids showing off their day of the week socks.

After our good visit with the Hermanson's we left late in the afternoon and headed north on Interstate 25. We ate Mexican food in Las Vegas, figuring it would be hard to find rellanos and green chili the farther north we go.

After dinner we found ourselves a camp site at Storrie Lake State Park. The water in the reservoir was low, as expected for just about anywhere in New Mexico, but the campgrounds were neat and well maintained. There were a lot of people in larger RVs over in the full hookup part of the camp grounds, but we were pretty much alone in the basic sites and we had a good view of what there was of the lake.

Somewhat near us was a fisherman, who came up from the lake, climbed into the camper shell on his pickup, and he must have gone right to sleep, since we never saw him again. He was probably out again the next morning at first light.

While setting up, we noticed big clouds rolling in from the northeast. We didn't think much of it, since our storms down in the Sacramento mountains have had lightning, but no rain. About sundown a big storm started as the clouds got darker and darker and then crashes and rain, lightning and hail all pounding on the Aliner. It was so loud we had to stuff kleenex in our ears to sleep. It was wonderful! Our whole state needs rain so badly to break this drought and cut down on the fire danger.

The next morning I added ear plugs to the shopping list.

We avoided the freeway for a while on Friday morning, but eventually had to get back on I25. We crossed into Colorado and were zooming along minding our own business when the traier started going crazy - we had a blown tire!

The lady from AAA was very good about helping us figure out where we were and we were checked on by a very nice Colorado state trooper. The young man who changed the tire for us was also very helpful and we were lucky the Aliner has a full sized spare.

Our next stop was at Lake Pueblo, a major recreational area with tons of boats, campers, and humongous Class A RVs. My favorite was a group of bikers who came in and started unloading tents from their saddle bags. One amazing biker pulled a small trailer that opened up into a tent - it was pretty cool. I went over to ask if they had a "church key" and no one knew what I was talking about. But when I held up my beer bottle, they figured it out. I thanked them for saving a lady in distress, and went back to add bottle opener to the shopping list.
Flaming Gorge sits in the southwest corner of Wyoming with the dam and many campgrounds in Utah. As you come down the road from interstate 80 south of Rock Springs, WY, everything looks flat and barren. Eventually a large gash in the earth opens up and the road starts to drop into the canyon. The river has been dammed to make a reservoir and generate power and the south end is popular with boaters and fishermen. The volunteers at the Visitor Center were very helpful, and pointed us to a quiet, wooded campsite with excellent drinking water.

The picture of the fissure was taken at the edge of the Red Canyon viewing area. During the winter, water gets into the cracks and freezes, breaking thew rock along natural fracture lines. If you look carefully, you can see a glympse of the river.

The geologic Loop at Flaming Gorge - be sure to take it clockwise for the best views. The road is narrow and steep (10% grade in places), so we left the Aliner at camp and did a day trip. The first half of the loop follows a stream and is mixed pine and Aspen. The types of sedementary rock change with the altitude and leave a clear geologic record of the creation of this amazing area.
The northern half of the loop is higher and dryer. Volcanic rock has been eroded into stark shapes, and the trees are dwarfed by the dryness of this local ecosystem. I imagine the canyons make interesting wind shadows, creating wetter and dryer areas almost randomly.
Over the ages, the rock has been tilted and twisted with new layers stacked on top of older rock like a gifted baker would build a layer cake. Then the wind and rain has eroded away the softer rock to create amazing landscapes in a wide variety of colors. In this last part of the loop, pinnacles have been eroded to stand out like lone sentries on the edges of the canyon.
Alaska Next week

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Last Updated: 07/04/2013
K. A. Shearer 2013

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