Updated August, 2000
We began the month of June still in Kanab. Marv Shaffer had found that I was a former rock-hound and invited me to go with him to check out a petrified log he had found at Smithsonian Butte. Thursday morning we packed up some lunch and water bottles and headed out.
We drove south through Fredonia then west on AZ389. Once we crossed back into Utah, he took a dirt road north and we wound around in the back-country until he pulled off next to a canyon below a large mountain he called Smithsonian Butte. I got out my walking stick, backpack, and water bottle and we headed off to look for rocks.
The sides of the canyon were the red and grey unconsolidated shales of the Painted Desert, and as we slid our way down the slopes we found several pieces of selenite crystal. At the bottom we walked along among pieces of sandstone and petrified wood. There was nothing of cutting quality, but there were several large picturesque pieces, most too heavy to carry back up the slope.
One reason for choosing this place was that collecting samples was still allowed. The area residents are all up in arms because the Escalante National Monument has just been established by President Clinton, and collecting rocks is no longer allowed over a very large area of southern Utah.
The rock collecting trip was an interesting experience and I had a great time. But I found that climbing up and down cliffs is not really in my bag anymore. I did pick up and carry out some nice samples for our rock garden in Jojoba Hills.
Friday the 2nd we packed up and headed back on our 203 mile trip to Las Vegas. We went south through Fredonia to catch AZ389 west to Hurricane. It was a smooth drive, and the slope down into Hurricane was steep but not a problem. To the west of Hurricane is a steeply faulted area that is quite picturesque. Then we were onto Interstate-15 and headed west. We followed the freeway through the town of St. George and then into the Virgin River Canyon. After a few miles we came out of the canyon into the more level lands. From then on it was just a mild summer's drive towards Las Vegas with the temperature hovering near 100 degrees.
The Virgin River left us at the border and headed south towards the Colorado. We were back into the desert lands of southern Nevada. We followed I-15 into Las Vegas and then caught I-515 around to Boulder Highway. It was only a mile from there back to the TTN Park from where we had departed sixteen days before.
After cleaning up we left the dogs in the trailer and drove over to the Luxor for supper and relaxation. It was a rude awakening to have all those people around us again.
Saturday morning Deb packed up and headed back to Sacramento with Bandit. I worked on the Smoke Signals Newsletter and finally got it off via email to Jojoba Hills. Alice and I celebrated that evening by going to the Rio and pigging out on sushi and sashimi at the Mask. If you like that style of food, I heartily recommend it. They also have a great wine selection. Luckily, that night the casino paid for the meal.
Deb and I had talked a lot on the trip about how to publish my Memphis earthquake book. One of the ideas we had kicked around was to produce an annotated version in HTML for viewing on the web, or at least in web format from a CD. Sunday morning, I started on a conversion project to convert what I had written to that format. Some of the fruits of that labor are on this website in the section on writing.
Monday morning we stowed everything back into Little Al and headed back along I-15 for 298 miles to Jojoba Hills SKP Resort. The trip was uneventful, just long. Alice fell asleep several times along the way. It was both good and bad to be getting back to the same old same old stuff.
When we returned we had eight days to get ready for our big trip of the summer to the north. We cleaned Little Al and prepared it for the summer storage. Then we pulled it down to the storage yard. I worked some more on the yard. My back survived and I finished installation of the railroad ties and did some leveling of the DG on the lot. I cut all the small plant sprigs so the lot would be clean when we left.
We took everything out of the trailer and the shed and resorted it, determining what we would leave and what we would carry with us. All the canned goods came along, all the heavy equipment stayed. We made arrangements for mail, entered the lot into the rental pool, canceled the phone services, had our last swim, stowed the hoses, lifted the jacks, and said our good-byes to everyone. We would see them in the fall.
Finally, we were ready for the big trip north.
Wednesday morning, the 14th, we headed out for the 153 mile drive to Soledad Canyon TTN Park. It took a while for me to readjust to pulling the big trailer, but after twenty or thirty miles it felt natural again. We passed San Bernadino on I-15 without blowing a tire and I breathed a sigh of relief. I noticed the pull up to Cajon Pass was slower than when I pulled Little Al, but we made it okay. Then the drive across the high desert to Palmdale went without a hitch. I am beginning to get used to those roads I travel a lot.
We made it to Soledad early enough to go for a swim. Then it was to bed to rest up for the long drive the next day.
I decided to go north by way of I-5 rather than over the Tehachapis. It was a different drive, and a couple of times the traffic became a bit heavy, but we made everything okay. It is a bit more stressful going through the fringe of LA to the north.
It was 410 miles from Soledad Canyon into Lake Minden TTN Park. We were both tired when we parked and set up camp. It was also rather warm in the Sacramento Valley, and the weather reports indicated it was getting warmer.
On Friday we went into Sacramento for our scheduled appointment with the dentist. Alice and I had our teeth cleaned, then we met Deb for lunch.
We had made plans for our son Mike to bring his wife Gail and the kids to stay with us over the weekend at Lake Minden. There was a conflict, so they did not come up until Sunday. Deb drove up from Sacramento and we had an enjoyable visit with family. Wolf got another chance to chase the remote control cars around the racetrack.
After the family all left we reviewed our plans and decided going up I-5 was not a good idea. The weather forecast was for hotter and hotter weather up the valley. We decided to head to the coast to keep cool.
On our way out, we drove by Nicolaus and picked up our mail. Then we headed back down I-80 to catch CA12 across the top of the bay to US101. The road winds a bit through the hills, but it is not bad. Once we reached US101 we followed that highway to the north, finally finding some cooler air just past Cloverdale.
We had made no reservations, planning to find some place to camp fairly early in the afternoon when we reached the Weott area. Then we came to a full stop in the middle of a traffic jam on 101. No one was going anywhere except turning around and going back. There had been a fatal accident up the road (about 2.5 miles further we found out later) and the road was closed. We sat there for over two hours. When we finally made it through the sun was starting to disappear over the hills to the west and we started looking for the first good camp ground to pull off.
We finally saw a sign advertising the Benbow Resort on the Eel River. I remembered seeing it with its golf course in years past, so I took the exit to check if they had space for our rig. Luckilly they did and we found ourselves a nice place to park with plenty of grass all around. It had been a 260 miles day and I was really tired. But it was nice and cool.
The next morning we were moderately fast getting up and soon were on the road headed up the coast. I was aiming for Crescent City, 170 miles away. We saw no good places to pull off with our 34-foot trailer, so there was no good opportunity for viewing redwoods, except for those we saw from the highway.
Along the drive Alice and I talked about writing a mystery centered in the little town of Weott. That would provide an excuse to come back through this area, park the trailer, and take more time to go around and see the sights.
The drive through Eureka was a relief from the up and down hills and tree-lined highway canyons. Then it was back into the trees with occasional breaks where we could see the beach.
Once we reached Crescent City, we found an RV Park (more like a large parking lot), did some grocery shopping, and then had dinner at the nearby fish restaurant. The food was good but not spectacular. Wolf did enjoy his run on the long flat beach that had been the cause of much of the city's problem back in 1964. That was when the Alaskan earthquake produced a tidal wave that swept up the beach and covered much of the city.
The next day it was more of US101. We drove 181 miles to the South Jetty TTN Park in Florence, Oregon. The roads continued to alternate between long flat stretches and windy hills, all surrounded by tall trees. It was a cool, pleasant drive, but I was tiring of tree canyons and winding roads. It would be much better to drive US101 at a very leisurely pace.
At South Jetty we parked in a cave. The rig was completely surrounded by dirt walls and vegetation -- the camping site was dug into the side of a hill. At least the wind was no problem. I was beginning to hate green canyons.
The next morning we went to the lodge for breakfast. It was a welcome change from our normal cereal, milk, and banana. Wolf tried to chase a couple of the domestic rabbits that hop all around the park.
We headed north for more of US101. Finally, when I reached OR22 I was sick and tired of the coast. So we headed at an angle inland towards Portland and I-5. Once we were back on the major highway it was pretty much a straight shot into Chehalis TTN Park. That leg of the trip was 248 miles.
We found a spot in Section G where we could get TV reception. We had been there before and knew the ropes. The site had no sewer, but we kept our eyes on sites around us and moved a couple of days later when a sewered site became available.
We camped in Chehalis for five nights. We drove up to Spanaway a couple of times to visit with JC and Krista. I did some surfing for the RV Companion Links article and handled my email. After checking over their back yard, I agreed we would bring our rig up the following Tuesday.
I did some more work on the earthquake model for the book and finally got it to the form I wanted. I was still converting the bulk of the novel to the HTML format.
On Tuesday we drove the 75 miles up to Spanaway and parked in JC's back yard. I wrapped up my RV Companion article and submitted it. Then JC and I made plans for he and Krista coming to visit us while we were in Canada sometime in August.
Kirsta's mother was visiting and we all had a good time comparing notes about our respective children. Alice spent time helping Krista and Rose get ready for Ashlae's wedding. I spent time talking to JC about the whole situation. I am just glad my kids are all grown and we no longer have to go through the process of seeing them out of the nest.
At the end of June we were all preparing for the big wedding the next day.