Wednesday, September 30, 2015

into Nevada

After a good night's sleep at the Provo Elks Lodge we drove up to Salt Lake City on I-15 and out on I-80 west, heading for Nevada.  We waved to friends Jack and Marilyn as we flew by on the interstate.    We were to spend a few days with them in Salt Lake City - before our unscheduled repair job altered our plans..

  The scenery is bleak in some places and mesmerizing in others.    So many exits with signs saying "no services" services or anything else as far as the eye can see!

I didn't take many pictures on the road, Beluga's windshield was pocked with dead bugs making for unpleasant shots.   Well, I was compelled to take a few so please ignore the splotches and splats when you notice them.

Pilot Peak at over 10,000 feet

Morton Salt stockpiles growing

Bonneville Salt Flats

in some spots the salt flats were covered by a shallow layer of water
making intriguing reflections

a very bad picture of salt crystals on a tiny stick

We are at a bare bones campground in Wells, Nevada.  The owner's are very friendly, the electric is good and it will be easy to get on the road in the morning.
 Beluga took one of the few remaining spots and our arriving next door neighbors provided a good postprandial show.

 The brand new Dodge pick-up truck attached to an also brand new fifth wheel trailer were pulled into the site by a huge tow truck.     After much discussion, the wrecker detached the pick-up and drove away.    As it was leaving, another huge truck, flatbed this time, pulled up and they are now in the process of loading the pick-up onto it.     Poor people, no one wants to end their day like that, we feel their pain.    I can't imagine being stranded here in Wells with no wheels...

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

On the road again

We're finally back on the road again and it feels good.    Tonight's stop is the Elks Lodge in Provo, Utah.    We're backed into one of their 5 sites and have been provided with a full, 50 amp hookup including a nice view of the mountains.

Today's drive on I-70 west to Route 6 to I-15 into Provo was an uneventful but beautiful one.

I'm starting to get a few pictures from Jesse and Erin's wedding.   Here are some that our friend, JoAnn, took.

Bob, a friend of Erin's family and her childhood cross country ski coach, officiates
while attendants look on with interest

Jesse's best "man", his dear 13 year old Ruby.
She's been with him through thick and thin

the reading of their very personal vows

the sharing of rings

The deed is done
Pure Joy.....

I have a few more from Lisa that I'll show you tomorrow.

Monday, September 28, 2015

One last day

We had another gentle day, pleasant and needed, but not exciting.   Sometimes exciting is overrated.     We didn't get out of Beluga in any meaningful way until late in the afternoon.    We followed F Road from our campground until it led us to the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway.    Since it was late in the day we decided to just meander along and enjoy the ride until we felt like turning around.

We drove along the Colorado River and then turned off onto route 65 toward Mesa.    The road ran beside Plateau Creek in a deep and fairly wide canyon with dramatic, sheer cliffs rising up on either side.

It was evident that Cliff Swallows found this environment to their liking.   They were clustered together in mini cities at regular intervals under overhanging rock shelves.

Their nests make me think of Muppet characters or Star Wars creatures.

We drove as far as Powderhorn Ski area before turning around and heading home.     The scenery was beautiful, far away and close up.  

The aspens were still beautiful, even though a fungus caused by an unusually wet spring has caused the leaves to spot and drop prematurely.

Aspens line a run at Powderhorn

We break camp tomorrow morning, heading west to eventually join John and Pam of and to meet  Jodee and Bill of for the first time.     We're anxious to get on the road again, but are certain that we'll be back in the Grand Junction area in the future.  

Sunday, September 27, 2015

BCA, at last!

Today was a lovely, low key day....just what the doctor ordered.   We had a good restful sleep, second cup outside in the morning sunshine and a yummy lunch using up the last of Jesse's homegrown tomatoes.

Sasha got to nestle down in the soft green grass and Lewis got to play ball.  The frazzling last few days are in the rear view mirror, hardly remembered.

I spent a bit of time planning our route from here to Carson City and Dave used the campground laundry to wash all those "floor saver" towels from the repair.

After lunch we drove around the area, getting the lay of the land a bit.   In Palisade we drove through orchards of peach, pear and apple trees and past vineyards shrouded in bird netting.   They looked as if they were getting ready for Halloween!

We followed a sign to Riverbend Park, on the banks of the Colorado River and walked in the cool water.

The park also has a pretty nice looking disc golf course.   Dave thinks we have discs in one of Beluga's basement compartments.....perhaps our next time through we'll come back here.

We stopped at a roadside farm market and bought the season's first apples and a stunning Dahlia variety named Ketchup and Mustard!

On our way home we saw something in the distance that we hoped wasn't the beginning of a forest fire on Grand Mesa......

The sunset view from our window tonight was simply beautiful.     Tomorrow we'll wander a little further afield, perhaps to Grand Mesa or Colorado National Monument.   We're only here one more day and there is much to see and do.    We're in slow and easy mode now so we look forward to coming back in the future.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

a long story

So.....the simple, quick fix to Beluga's new "sound" turned out to be fairly simple, but not quick, nor easy for that matter.    By the end (11 p.m.) of our first day at the Kenworth truck repair shop the troublesome "sound" was correctly diagnosed as an exhaust manifold problem.    I say correctly because our in-house mechanic, Mr. David, agreed with this diagnosis.   He agreed that it was a fairly simple and straightforward problem to fix.   In order for the Kenworth mechanics to access the said exhaust manifold, Mr. David emptied our under bed storage, disassembled the bed and took up the floor boards.

In marched the two truck mechanics looking as if they had just finished a long shift in a coal mine.   They were black and filthy.   They were very friendly, professional and competent looking, but they were covered with grease and god knows what else.    After their first pass through Beluga's light colored and clean interior Mr. David sprang into action and covered our carpet and off white leather furniture with every available towel and scrap of plastic he could find.

Gritty electric cords snaked through Beluga, from front to back.   Tools spread out over the floor where Mr. David's towels didn't reach.....oh my, oh my.  

My freshly laundered bed clothes fluttered in the wind from an industrial strength shop fan.   My closet open and gaping.

A relatively benign and easily fixed problem became a little more difficult when the technician informed us they had no parts to fix this situation.    It was too late to overnight them......The earliest they would be in Grand Junction would be Monday, the latest Wednesday.     No, we couldn't stay in Beluga while we waited, regulations forbid anyone living inside the repair bays.   Hmmmmm.

So, we'll just get a pet friendly hotel room in the area and wait, right?  Another seemingly easy task that became very difficult.   Every place I called had no vacancies until Monday night.     Evidently  the Grand Valley Kennel Club's 50th anniversary 4 day dog show was in town.....

are we there yet?

Finally a lovely front desk manager at the LaQuinta took pity on us and found a room for the night.    Just that night, however.     Our sweet dogs had been in the jeep, with a few quick "get busy" breaks  for 12 hours at that point.    Such good dogs, such troopers they are.

3rd cutting and the Palisades colored by the setting sun

The only realistic alternative to sleeping in the jeep for the weekend was for us to drive from Grand Junction to Denver (a mere 520 miles round trip), pick up the needed parts, turn right around and drive back to Grand Junction.   Simple.
 Our mechanic, Kevin, assured us that if we did that he would put them in and we'd have Beluga back in our hands at the end of the day.

So, after a brief but sound night's sleep at LaQuinta (thanks Gabrielle) we loaded up the dogs in the jeep and off we went.    The ride was as beautiful going as coming.   We marveled, once again, at the beauty of the Palisades, Glen Canyon, the Great Hogback, Battlement Mountain, the Colorado River, the electric yellow of the Aspens and the blue blue sky.

 We won't talk about the periodic traffic jams that these beautiful fall colors caused along the way, or the squeeze down of lanes caused by road construction near the Eisenhower Tunnel, or the mass of Denverites (is that a word?) trying to get to the mountains for the weekend...

beauty everywhere you look,
even reflected in van windows ahead of you....

Luckily our crack Mechanic, Mr. David, is also a skilled negotiator because the woman in parts at Wagner Caterpillar Dealer in Denver was not inclined to give us the will call parts.      She said that they did not hand over valuable parts to the general public.    I won't go into it, but Mr. David came out with said parts and we headed back over the mountains to Kevin and Beluga.

We believe that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.   Instead of lemonade we had gin and tonics on our beach chairs under a shady tree between repair garage's parking lot and the road.   The dogs appreciated the cool grass and we were able to flag down a passing Domino's pizza delivery man.   Pizza by the roadside at dusk, does life get any better?

Kevin was true to his word and  Beluga was repaired to our satisfaction and pulled out of the repair bay at 1:30 a.m.  

  Dave and I were completely exhausted as we drove to a nearby rv park and tried to set up quietly.    I won't bore you with the embarrassing details of my complete mental breakdown when trying to find our site in the dark.   Needless to say Beluga's usually competent navigator was not......

We're staying at the pleasant RV Ranch in Grand Junction for a few days to recuperate from the busy Boulder wedding festivities and these crazy last days.


(Speaking of the wedding, I took no pictures at either the pre or post parties nor the Wedding itself.   I was busy enjoying myself and my family and friends.  As people send me photos, I'll show them to you)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Change of Plans

We had a pleasant drive through the mountains to our first night's stop, Rifle Gap State park.     The Aspen's brilliant yellow is magnificent.    The pictures I took as we flew by on I-70 don't do them justice, but I'll show you anyway.

Our site at Rifle Gap was lovely.   No shade trees, but a wonderful view of the water from our "patio.

Even though there are other campers in the area, we're peaceful and quiet with just the sound of the wind joining us for cocktail hour.

No TV, internet or cell service so we had a quiet dinner and a few episodes of Downton Abbey before heading to an early sleep.

We left fairly early (for us, that is) and enjoyed the Great Hogback's reflection in the calm reservoir.

This concludes the bucolic portion of today's blog.

As we pulled into Rifle Gap yesterday afternoon we noticed that Beluga's engine was making a different sound.   One we hadn't heard before.    No problems with power or braking, just a - sound.    

Rather than heading up to Vernal,  through many miles of nothingness with an undiagnosed sound, we decided to abort our plans to spend a long weekend at Steinaker State Park exploring the Flaming Gorge.   Wow, that was a long sentence!      

We are now working Plan B.     We're in Grand Junction, Colorado in the parking lot of a Caterpillar engine shop awaiting what we hope will be a quick fix.   Please cross whatever you're able to cross for that outcome.    Best laid plans and all that!