Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Palisades Reservoir

On Sunday morning we packed up the camper and drove 55 miles to a Forest Service campground at the base of the dam on Palisades Reservoir.  We are about 15 miles from the Wyoming border right alongside the Snake River.  The water management folks have been letting water out of the reservoir at a greater rate than normal, which causes the Snake River to be higher and faster than normal.  The snow pack up in the Tetons is much higher than usual and the weather has been cooler than normal.  The concern is that a sudden warming spell will melt the snow at a faster rate than normal which would create flooding conditions if there wasn’t enough room in the reservoir for the extra water.  Here is a picture of our campground taken from the road at the top of the dam.


We got here Sunday afternoon and set up in an electric site at the far end of the campground.  That is us all by ourselves in the top center of the picture (the little white dot). 

Rates for Senior Citizens here are $8.00 a night.  (There are advantages to old age Smile.)   We could have set up in one of the “boondock” sites closer to the water and in the trees, but I wanted to try out my new DirectTV setup and needed a steady flow of electricity.  I got the dish mounted on the tripod stand and connected the cable to the cable TV connection on the camper.  I set the dish in the general direction of the satellite and hoped for the best.  Aiming the dish requires the efforts of two persons, one to watch some numbers on the TV screen and the other to fine tune the dish aiming.  After several tries, we got no numbers indicating the presence of a satellite.  So I brought the cable through the front door and hooked it directly into the receiver.  Viola!  We got numbers.  So I started testing cables in the audio visual cabinet.  It turns out the cable wired into the camper was not carrying the signal, even though it worked great in the last campground when we hooked up to the campground cable system.  So after a lot of close inspection of the bowels of the camper by removing several cover panels in the basement , I found a way to feed the cable through to the AV cabinet.  A little final adjusting and we had satellite TV.  So here we are in a great campground by a scenic river with electricity, satellite TV, and (thanks to my Verizon air card) internet access.  Life is good.

On Monday I had a work assignment about 40 miles away at a rural lodge and cabins.  It took me a little over an hour to get that done and then back to the campground for lunch with my sweetie.  After lunch, we took the pooches on a day trip to a nearby wilderness campground intended for smaller campers than ours.  We went on a short hike with the dogs and came back to the campground to prepare dinner. 

It started raining Monday evening and has been raining pretty steady ever since until now, which is about noon on Tuesday.  I am glad we got the TV thing going, because cabin fever would set in quick if I was shut inside and didn’t have some form of entertainment.  When we check to see if the puppies want to go for a walk, they go to the doorway of the camper, look out at the rain and turn around and curl up on the floor (Sammy) and on the couch (Annie).  Smart dogs!  It is supposed to clear up tomorrow.  Maybe I can get in a little fishing.  We are headed home on Thursday.  The next trip is scheduled for June 12th.  Catch up with you then.

Monday, May 9, 2011

First journey, second phase.

I left off describing our first camping event of the season on Wednesday evening.  Thursday morning we awakened to discover the water hose had frozen and water from the RV Park was not flowing.  A simple fix is to turn on the on board water pump and use water from the camper fresh water tank.  Peter D. came over about 7:00 am with an electric hair dryer in hand to thaw out the water pipe and hose, but it they had just thawed a few minutes earlier and everything was working as it should.  My water hose did not burst, so no harm done.

I drove 30 miles to my appointment with a resort operation that caters to the tour bus trade.  It is an old farm operation from the early 1900’s.  Now they have accommodations for up to 52 persons to spend the night.  They also offer a 30 minute horseback ride around the property.  Many of their guests are Europeans and Asians that have never been on a horse, so it is quite a novelty to them.  A taste of the Old West, so to speak.

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Thursday afternoon it was time to fill the tank, replenish the larder from Wal-Mart and get some ice cream from the local Dairy Queen.  We took the dogs for a good walk and settled in for a quiet evening of cable television after a dinner of grilled pork chops and scalloped potatoes.

Friday we pulled the rig back to the City Park in Columbus.  My brother, Jon and his wife Dawn, had arrived the day before and set up their tent trailer.  We took an adjacent pull through site and got all set up.  It started raining very lightly, but we had a fire going and got a chance to sit around the campfire and visit.  Jon had prepared our evening meal of lasagna and garlic bread.  Rosie made a salad and we had a mini-watermelon for dessert.  We forced Jon and Dawn to watch the slide show of our RV adventure from 2010.  They did not seem to mind too much.

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It rained fairly steady all night.  I kind of enjoy the sound of rain on the roof; as long as it is not a downpour and there is no lightening and thunder included.  After a quiet breakfast, we hooked up the trailer, said our goodbyes and headed for home.  No snow on the trip home like there was on the first day out.  We took the same route, but the weather had warmed up about 10 degrees.  We stopped at Subway in West Yellowstone for a sandwich.  The puppies got a little bit of my chicken for a special treat for waiting so patiently in the truck.

We arrived home about 3:00.  It was also raining in Idaho Falls.  We emptied the refrigerator and most of the dry foods.  Sunday we cleaned everything out, dumped the tanks and took the rig back to the storage lot.  Our next trip should be on May 23rd to Palisades Dam about 60 miles from home.  Back at you next time.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

First Journey 2011

It has been a really long winter.  All of us, Rosie, the pooches and I, have tired of the Idaho winter hibernation routine.  The last week in April, I retrieved the 5th wheel from the storage lot and started the dewinterization process.  I won’t bore you with all the details, but there is a fair amount of effort in getting this rig ready to roll.

There was an opportunity to do some insurance inspection work in Billings, MT and Sheridan, WY.  So we thought why not make a camping trip out of it.  The good news is that I can earn enough money to pay for the trip.  The bad news is that I have to work on a camping trip.  I can live with the “good news” part of that equation. 

After some scheduling with the companies I have to visit, we pulled out of Idaho Falls on May 1st and headed for Columbus, MT.  There is a City Park in Columbus with free (donations are solicited and we made a donation) camping along the Yellowstone River.  The Park is huge with the river to the south and a golf course to the north.  We got set up under a big old tree next to a quiet water part of the river.  Very few other campers in the park at this time of year.

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We relaxed after our arrival on Sunday.  On Monday, my brother Jon, and his wife Dawn, came out to visit from their home in Billings.  We had a nice lunch of bratwurst, potato salad and baked beans.  I left at 1:30 for my appointment at the Billings Athletic Club (this is the closest I ever get to physical fitness places Smile).  I got back to the site about 5:00 o’clock.  I had to stop at Verizon to get a new air card modem as my old one quit working.  We walked the puppies and settled in for a quiet evening.  The Park does not have any hookups so no TV, etc. for entertainment.  Tuesday morning we awoke to a nice sunrise and I was able to get a couple of pictures of a male duck swimming nearby.  Note that I took these pictures through the window from the comfort of the camper.

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We made a short run to Sheridan and arrived at Peter D’s RV Park about noon.  Pete’s wife was on duty and gave us a great site at the end of the park.   As you will see in the picture, this is a pretty average park on the way it is laid out.  Sites are pretty close together and there are no shady trees.  However they do have full hookups including cable TV, so we felt we were back in civilization again.  Later in the afternoon we met the owner Peter D.  He is a character.  The facilities here are spotlessly clean and Peter makes every attempt to have only happy campers in his park. 

We made a quick trip to Wal-Mart and Radio Shack.  I needed a special part to hook up our new DirectTV system for RV’ers.  I set up the dish on the tripod and used my new compass to find the right direction at which to aim the dish.  After fiddling around for about 20 minutes I found the satellite and up came a glorious picture on our new Sony Bravia 32” flat screen.  WOW!.  Of course, we already had the RV Park cable hook up so once I was satisfied the DirectTV system was working, I took it all apart and put it back in the storage basement of the camper.  This will be great when we are in State Parks where there are electrical hookups, but no cable.  Here is a picture of the park and a picture of Annie snoozing on the couch (with her eyes wide open so she does not miss anything).

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Wednesday morning I traveled many miles of gravel roads to find my next inspection site, a Dude Ranch out in the middle of nowhere.  People actually pay $1,500 to $1,900 a week per person to come out here and work on a 25,000 acre ranch.  Seems like it should be the other way around.  But the Lodge building is new and very nice.

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Business from my web site has also been brisk this week.  Today, I got my first customer from Canada.  That was interesting.  So that is all for now.  Need to pour a little Schnapps into a cup of hot chocolate and chill out.