Waiting for the return of good weather…

LOCATION:  Rock Springs, Wyoming
CAMPGROUND:  3rd night at KOA Rock Springs/Green River
WEATHER:  Still wintry.  Overcast all day.  A bit of “wintry mix”.  High 46.  Low 27

We awoke to another gloomy day.  We watched a parade of RVs leaving quite early – then another pack coming in around 3:00.  Since we are along Interstate 80, I think a lot of people just use this as a convenient overnight stay.  The roads are ok now to drive on.  This is the view (ugly) from our front window…

I did another quick load of laundry and did some route planning on the computer.  Lunch was a hot bowl of ramen. 

Then, in the afternoon, suffering from cabin fever, we drove to the historic downtown district.  We stumbled upon their weekly farmers’ market.  We really didn’t need much, but bought some fresh corn, summer squash, and roasted poblano peppers.  A vendor was roasting poblanos and Hatch peppers in a gigantic bin over a fire. Their smell oozed so pleasantly through the market. 



Another stall sold baked goods.  These looked pretty.

We bought one of these quiches for tomorrow’s breakfast.  We always like to support local markets.

Then, what do we spy?  A brewery!  We had a beer in their cozy, warm tap room and chatted with a local guy.  He said he has lived here his entire life (50  years) and has never seen a snowstorm like the one we drove through on Tuesday, especially in early September.

DINNER:  I wanted to use up some of the veg we bought at the market, and also wanted to use the oven again to warm the trailer up.  I made this twist on quesadillas……I sauteed onions and mushrooms, then added cooked, diced (leftover) chicken and one of the roasted poblanos.   To that, I sprinkled quite a bit of cumin, chili pepper, and cayenne.  Meanwhile, I mixed up some cream cheese with some cilantro paste.  I would normally use fresh cilantro, but it is hard to come by here.  I toasted 2 tortillas lightly, then cut them in pieces and laid them in a Pyrex baking dish.  Then, I lathered on the cream cheese/cilantro paste.  Then, a layer of the chicken/veg mix.. Another layer of tortillas finished it up with a few bits of cheddar cheese.  At the table, I served it with salsa.  The side dish was corn on the cob.  I cooked it using my favorite corn-on-the-cob technique:  I lathered the ear with butter, salt, pepper, and parmesan.  Wrapped in aluminum foil and baked about 15 minutes.  Ole!

This is the cilantro paste I keep on hand while we are traveling….

BOOK:  “The Island of Sea Women” by Lisa See.  With this lousy weather, I am reading a lot!  This historical fiction is about the Jeju (Korea) abalone divers and their hardships, especially during the Korean War.  4 stars out of 5

Hunkered down during the cold

LOCATION:  Rock Springs, Wyoming
CAMPGROUND:  Rock Springs/Green River KOA
WEATHER:  Dreary with more snow overnight.  High 40; low 27

We spent most of the day hunkered down in the Airstream.  It was interesting to watch a lot of RVs leave the KOA in the early AM – after they had sought shelter here for the night.  The winds have calmed down and I think the roads are fairly cleared. We are lucky to be flexible.  There isn’t any place around here with nice weather until Friday or so, so we might as well shelter here in the meantime. 

Joy got a bit of a dusting overnight…

We are using a combination of electric heat-pump (in the warmer part of the day) and propane furnace overnight.  We are using our fresh water instead of using a hose to the water supply (which could easily freeze) – so everything is good.

At some point, we need to refill our propane tank, but I don’t think we will be doing that today as the KOA tanks are covered with snow…

Around noon, the weather warmed up enough so that George could unhook us. We drove downtown to explore and to have a nice lunch in a brewpub.  Handy!

I found a beauty shop and got a much-needed hair trim.

DINNER:  Once again, I used the oven to cook dinner.  It provides comfy warmth.  Sort of a German theme – leftover ribs that I chopped up and baked with homemade sauerkraut that we had purchased at a Harvest Host site, along with toasted homemade sourdough bread from that same Harvest Host farm.  We paired it with an Ockotberfest beer from Missoula, Montana.

Uffda!

Scared we were going to die!

LOCATION:  Rock Springs, Wyoming in SW part of state
CAMPGROUND:  KOA Rock Springs/Green River.  No vacancy for full hook-ups, so we got a site with water and electricity only.  Dump station.  Very nice bathrooms.  As with most KOAs, we are cheek to jowl with neighbors, and no picnic table or firepit.  $42/night.  4 stars out of 5
WEATHER:  AAARRRGGGHHH!  Snow, ice, fierce winds.  High 40.  Low 25
DRIVE:  4 hours

We had a nice sleep at the Pinedale golf course, thanks to Harvest Hosts.  It sleeted during the night, but we awoke to sunshine and views  of the now snow-capped mountains. 

Our destination today was another Harvest Host farm about 3 hours away. To get around the mountain range,  we first had to go about 2 hours south, then turn northeast and go another hour.  We started out and immediately noticed really strong  cross-winds.  I was driving and had a hard time keeping the truck and Joy on the highway. The temperature kept dropping until it hovered around 31/32 for the rest of the afternoon.  Cars coming up from the south were covered with snow, giving us a bit of concern.  We said, “Wow, if we start getting ice, these winds could make this very bad”……and we did!

Once we made the turn to go northeast, we encountered the Road Closed sign.  We had no other option than to continue going south.  Rock Springs was about 45 miles farther.  We switched drivers as I was too scared to drive any longer.  The weather forecast was that it was going to get worse, so we had to move forward. 

This was the Stop sign at the junction where we had to change routes…our first sign of trouble

Kudos to George – he did very well driving even though I gasped and shouted quite a bit.

It kept getting worse and worse, and the snowplow hadn’t arrived yet.  We were sliding around the highway on the ice.  The winds just knocked us around. 

Then, at the top of one of the passes, at about 8000 feet, we ran into a total white-out.  We almost ran into a front-end collision that had just happened, as we could not see more than a foot in front of us.

I am no stranger to winter driving conditions, having driven a lot in Minnesota and Iowa.  But, this was different……Towing a trailer in the fierce winds was a game-changer.  Also, there was no shoulder where we could pull over.  There was a wimpy guard rail protecting us from the sheer drop-off on the side.

I kept telling George to get closer to the center line, thinking that we would fall over the side, but he was worried about another car approaching us and hitting us. 

We poked along at about 30 mph and finally made some headway.  It cleared a bit as we started descending and YAY –  here comes the snow plow!

The KOA had a spot for us and we parked, without unhooking as the hitch is frozen, and it is just too miserable to be outside.

We plugged in the electricity and turned on the heat pump, but it took a while to get Joy warmed up.

We were just SO very grateful that we had survived that ordeal. 

As the afternoon passed, I watched RV after RV limp in to find a port in the storm.  We weren’t the only ones by far that had run into trouble.

This is the bleak view from the front window at the dining room table….

The wind continued to gust all afternoon and evening.  The Airstream did a lot of rocking and rolling.  Whenever one of us went outside, it took both of us to hold the door so that it wouldn’t blow off its hinges. 

We decided to stay here hunkered down for 3 nights.  We have electricity (heat), water, TV, and cell service.  I cancelled our two Harvest Host farm reservations and a commercial park in a supposedly cute town called Ten Sleep.  We will stay in this area until we head east toward Fort Collins, CO on the weekend. 

DINNER:  I made up a new recipe that turned out well, using a lot of bits I had in the refrigerator — a sort of Indian curry.  First, I sauteed onion, mushrooms, and the rest of some roasted red peppers I had on hand.  To that, I added cooked, diced chicken, and spices – curry powder, turmeric, cumin, and cayenne.  I baked a potato in the microwave, and chopped it up.  In a Pyrex casserole dish, I layered the potatoes, and then the chicken/veg mix.   The oven warmed the trailer up nicely.  When the dish was almost done (really just warmed up), I toasted some naan and served with Greek yogurt.  We paired this was an IPA, which seemed appropriate.

Interesting factoid about IPA (India Pale Ale)…..Back in the days of sailing ships from England to India, the sailors had a problem with their beer going bad on the long journey.  They discovered that adding a lot of hops to the beer preserved it better and also covered the bad taste with a strong hoppy flavor.  Thus….we now have very hoppy, bitter IPAs to enjoy! 

Eastward-bound

LOCATION:  Pinedale, Wyoming in southwest part of state
CAMPGROUND:  Another Harvest Host site — Rendezvous Meadows Golf Course.  In their parking lot, on the far side next to a stream.  Very nice clubhouse with excellent restaurant and friendly people.  Another 5 stars out of 5!
WEATHER:  Warm and sunny before the bad weather.  High 78
DRIVE:  3 hours

We took our time at the Alpine RV park with one last shower and one last load of laundry, then we headed east.  It was another scenic highway, following the Hoback River.  Very nice.  Another episode of almost running out of gas, though.  You would think we would learn!

We arrived in Pinedale in mid-afternoon, and with no rush to get to the golf course, stopped at their downtown brewpub.  It was hopping – all young people, in excellent physical condition, basking in the sun after their morning hikes. Funny story….  George wandered away and I couldn’t find him.  As I was searching among the crowd, one young man pointed George out to me.  It was pretty obvious that he was the one I was looking for, since he and I were the only old fogies there!

We found our golf course – very pretty.  We are at 7200 feet here in the Wind River Mountain Range. 

George went in to watch golf at the clubhouse while I read in the late afternoon, then we went in for dinner.  I wasn’t expecting much, but the food was outstanding.  I noticed they had a grow-light set up for growing herbs, so I ordered bruschetta and watched the chef pluck the basil for it. 

George ordered a reuben sandwich and said it was the best one he has ever eaten.

We had a view of the golf course and watched a herd of pronghorns (antelope) zip back and forth between the greens.  Beautiful!

This photo popped up as a Facebook memory today.  Four years ago, our daughter Alexis and her S.O. joined us in England for a long-boat ride on the Oxford Canal.  Great memories!

Tonight a cold front is coming in and temperatures are supposed to plummet – highs around 30 tomorrow with snow and a “wintry mix”. 

A Sunday hike and a beer!

LOCATION:  Alpine, Wyoming
CAMPGROUND:  Wapiti Village RV Park
WEATHER:  Cold in morning and overnight. Hot – to 90 in the afternoon

George cooked his customary Sunday morning breakfast, but this time he substituted a grain blend instead of grits (since he couldn’t find any here).  It tasted like farina, which I don’t like.  I guess he will be eating the rest of the package by himself.

Then we were off for our morning hike.  We found a recommended trail online (we use alltrails.com).  It looked daunting – an elevation rise from 6000 to 9000 feet, but we thought we would give it a try.  Wrong!   It soon turned super steep – straight up.  At one point, George had to push my rear end from behind so I could keep going.  Then, I had to crawl.  To make matters worse, the narrow, rocky trail was tilted toward a sheer drop-off.  I said that this was no fun and we turned around. 

At the bottom, we found another trail, this one with a more sensible incline.  It seems like overnight the fall colors have started to pop.  I noticed lots of trees starting to turn.

This trail followed a bubbling stream.  At one point, we had to ford it to cross over to the other side.

I made it without getting my shoes wet!

George got thirsty and sipped from the stream.  He said it was cold and clear.

We didn’t make it to the top as the trail sort of petered out.  So – back to the brewery for a late lunch.  We ordered their super-sized pretzel.  It came with some melted cheese sauce and fiery mustard.  Really tasty!

We talked to some locals who recommended that we go to a town called Pinedale.  This sounded intriguing as we had been re-thinking our route.  We had originally planned to go back north on the Idaho side of the Tetons and then cross back over to the Grand Teton National Pass over the 13,000 foot Teton Pass.  However, rain which will turn to ice and snow up there, and cold temps – in the 20s are predicted. 

So, when we got back to the RV park, I arranged for us to stay tomorrow night at the Pinedale Golf Course – free – through Harvest Hosts. 

Since it is supposed to get really cold tonight and tomorrow, George did the prep work for our departure – filled our fresh water tank, dumped the  grey and black tanks, and inflated the tires.  We are set for more dry-camping!

He then got another great fire going for cooking dinner.

DINNER:  YUM!!  What a treat with products from the Harvest Hosts farms where we have been staying. We grilled lamb burgers (lamb from farm #1)  in our iron skillet over the fire.  I placed the burgers on toasted sour dough bread (bread from farm #2) and topped them with feta cheese.  For a side, I sauteed onions and mushrooms, and at the last minute, to avoid overcooking, added snow peas (from farm #2).  All a real treat!

Back to civilization

LOCATION:  Alpine, Wyoming, about 50 miles south of Jackson
CAMPGROUND:  Wapiti Village RV Park.  Like most commercial parks – full hook-ups, nice bathroom with showers, laundry, and wifi.  Unlike most RV parks, it kindly provides campfire rings and picnic tables.  Some trees.  $50/night.  Seems like a lot but is a bargain around here.  The KOA in Jackson is about $130/night.  4 stars out of 5.
WEATHER:  Same as last few days – cold in AM warming to 90 in the afternoon
DRIVE:  1/2 hour

We slept really well at the Harvest Host farm.  Our Joy is very happy here. 

We took a walk around the pasture for some exercise, then headed north, only about 20 miles to Alpine.  We will spend the 2 next two nights at a commercial park. It is time to do laundry, get our battery charged up, and prepare for the next string of dry-camping nights.

Consequently, I spent most of the afternoon doing laundry while George did some tinkering on the Airstream. 

Then, happy hour!  We haven’t visited a brewery for awhile, so it was a treat to visit the one here in Alpine.

It was really hopping.  All the Wyoming restaurants seem to offer only outdoor dining, so the patio was full.  There were a lot of young people – I think they were quenching their thirst after a day rafting.

As an added treat, a guitarist sang.

Back at the campground, George got a fire going. We cooked dinner in an iron skillet right on the fire, as there was no grate. 

DINNER:  Bay scallops sauteed in butter and garlic, with mushrooms.  Side was a Greek orzo salad with some of the fantastic sourdough bread we bought yesterday at the Harvest Host farm.

BOOK:  “Next Year in Havana”  by Chanel Cleeton.  It is #1 of a trilogy of books about Cuba that an online travel-lovers book club recommended.  4 stars out of 5

Then, a special treat.  We get one TV channel here, and it is PBS.  How lucky!  We watched two old BBC comedies, then the Canadian show “Red Green”  What a fun way to end the day!

Fun on the Farm

LOCATION:  Freedom, Idaho.  About 60 miles south of Jackson, Wyoming
CAMPGROUND:  Another Harvest Host location called K Lazy M Ranch.  A small farm with mules, vegetables, beehives, fruit, and hayfields.  In the Star Valley.  Lovely and perfectly quiet.  5 stars out of 5!
WEATHER:  Same pattern – cold (40s) in the early morning, warming to 92
DRIVE:  1 hour

Without electricity, we haven’t turned on any heat lately.  So it is pretty chilly when we get up in the mornings.  We jump into long pants and layers of shirts, sweatshirts, and jackets.  As the day warms up, we start to peel off layers until we are in shorts and t-shirts.  I just love weather like this!

We hung around our beautiful campground until we had to check out at noon.  The host had someone lined up to snag our spot as soon as we left.  Since we had such a short drive today, we stopped at a pullout on the lake for a leisurely picnic lunch and a book.

Dispersed camping along the river and lake and in the forrests is very popular here.  You can just park your RV on any public land.  This group had made a circle, like conastoga wagons, right on the beach. 

This Harvest Host farm is lovely.  The farmer welcomed us and we easily got parked, thanks to their helpful signage…

He showed us his beehives that they use to make honey. 

We are right next to his 7 mules.  He told us that he takes them to his second farm, close to Jackson, in the winter and uses them as pack mules when he takes tourists out on trips.  From the elk and bighorn sheep skulls on the barn, we assume that the tourist trips are for hunters.

The farmer’s wife must be at their second farm, but she had encouraged us to check out her little farm shed.   We bought homemade sourdough bread, her homemade kraut, grass-fed beef hamburger,  and snow peas. 

She won a barn quilt contest, using the same pattern that her 80-year-old mother had made years ago.

The afternoon became quite warm, so we sat in Joy’s shadow, reading and enjoying the view.    Very relaxing.

DINNER:  Not wanting to cook much due to the heat, I made an Italian easy dish – pasta with cannelini beans with some parmesan and cream cheese.  Side was a huge arugula and perfectly ripe tomato salad. 

Hiking with Heather and moose-spotting!

LOCATION:  Near Alpine, Wyoming.  50 miles south of Jackson
CAMPGROUND:  2nd night at Blowout National Forest Service Campground
WEATHER:  Beautiful.  Another cool morning, followed by brilliant, sunny afternoon.

We drove up to meet our friend Heather who is staying near Jackson at a KOA  – in one of their “kozy kabins”.  Really cute.  We picked her up and drove to the Grand Tetons National Park, another 30 miles or so. 

We were afraid that there would be a lot of people, but it wasn’t too bad.  We tried to park at one ofr the trailheads, but the parking lot was full.  So, we found another “hidden” parking space that was actually better situated for our hike.

We took off on a trail called Hidden Falls.  Right at the beginning, we had to choose which fork to take – the mountain or lake one.  We selected the mountain trail.  It took us about 3 miles up and over a mountain.  The views of Lake Jenny below were fabulous….

The falls themselves were pretty good.  You can get there by hiking like we did or taking a boat across the lake from the visitor center, which is the more popular option.  Consequently, there were a lot of people at the falls so we didn’t stick around there long.   

While we were there, George spotted some rock climbers at the jagged peak of this mountain…

We took the easier lake trail option back to the truck.  The trail followed the lake, with lovely views.

By this time, we were pretty tired, hungry, and George’s toe hurt.  We recuperated with lunch and a rest.

George continued to rest, while Heather and I took off for another short hike – this time on Moose Pond Trail.  It did not disappoint…..we saw a moose cow eating along the shore of the marshy pond…

And then the jackpot – a big bull moose eating away.  We took about a thousand photos!

Back at the car, a total of about 7 miles hiking, it was “beer-thirty” – time to go to one of Jackson’s breweries.  We found one, but there was a long line just to get in to the place.  We nixed that plan and went to Heather’s kabin to chill for awhile. 

We said goodbye to Heather and headed back to our campground.  George made another great fire and we enjoyed the beautiful sunset.

DINNER:  A new invention that I will make again.  Sort of a flatbread pizza.  First, we put the iron skillet on the campfire and heated some some leftover chicken pieces with some sun-dried tomatoes.  Meanwhile, I had made a mix of cream cheese and pesto, and spread that on a piece of naan flatbread.  We put the chicken/tomato mix on top of the naan and put the naan back in the iron skillet.  I topped the naan with some roasted red peppers, spices, and mozarella.  Dinner was done when the cheese melted.  We sprinkled red onion bits on at the table.  I will repeat this recipe sometime – could do a lot of variations.

BOOK:  “Cold is the Grave” by Peter Robinson.  This is another in the British detective series I enjoy as it takes places in the North Yorkshire Dales, where we did a housesit once.  4 stars out of 5.

Lovely day with a lovely friend…

LOCATION:  Outside of Alpine, Wyoming, south of Jackson
CAMPGROUND:  Blowout Campground, part of National Forest Service.  On Palisades Reservoir.  Our site has water views.  Nice bathroom.  Like most NFS campgrounds, no services.  We snagged the best site.  $6/night with Senior Pass.  Definitely 5 stars out of 5!
WEATHER:  Beautiful.  Cool in AM (40), warming to 80
DRIVE:  1 hour

We are zigzagging around southeastern Idaho and southwestern Wyoming staying at different places for different experiences.  We are in the foothills of the Tetons, and the scenery is magnificent.

We awoke at our Harvest Host farm and got a very early (for us – 8:00 AM) start.  We wanted to get to this Blowout Campground to grab a “first come, first served” campsite.  Since Labor Day weekend is coming up, I was a bit worried about getting a place.  We had canceled our reservation for another NFS campground that we looked at the other day.  We discovered it is  8 miles up and back a windy, steep road and did not offer any views.  We were in luck. Not only were there sights available, but we were able to get the best one in the campground.

One of the joys of traveling is meeting up with friends along the way.  Our friend Heather from Michigan is traveling in Wyoming and Montana for a few weeks, and we got together today.  She drove down from Jackson to our campground.

We took a drive along the reservoir..  The shiny blue water is beautiful.

We explored down some backroads, a bit scary driving but interesting scenery.  We found a stream where the kokanee salmon were swimming upriver.  They are bright red and are mightily trying to fight the current.

Then, we  took a hike on the Palisades Creek Trail.  On the first bridge, I put down my hand on the rail, and got a splinter.  It is so nice to have Nurse George along to remove it.

The views along the hike were great, and it was lovely to listen to the creek bubbling along.

At one point, strong George had to hold up a rock to let us pass through!

After the invigorating hike, we returned to the campsite for dinner.  George and Heather made a nice fire

This is the view from our campsite.  Joy is happy here!

DINNER:  Tacos.  We grilled shirmp, bell pepper, onions, mushrooms, and fish and served with warmed tortillas.  All cooked on the campfire.  Side was beans and rice.  Ole! 

Old McDonald Had a Farm….

LOCATION:  Afton, Wyoming – 50 miles south of Jackson
CAMPGROUND:  Another Harvest Host site – Shumway Farms.  A small, family farm with a farm store.  Room for 3 RVs.  We are surrounded by cows.  Love it!  5 stars out of 5
WEATHER:  Cold (30) in AM warming to 68 and very sunny
DRIVE:  1 hour south

It was foggy when we got up and couldn’t even see the mountains near us.  The sun quickly burned off the fog and it became a brilliant, sunshiny day. 

We followed the Snake River and Palisades Reservoir, and stopped for a picnic lunch overlooking the river.  Beautiful views!

We didn’t have far to go today so took our time.  We stopped in the town of Afton which boasts the “world’s largest elk horn arch” in their little downtown.

We found the farm south of town and got set up.  This is the view from our trailer’s doorway with our neighbor (a cow):

Two pet calves quickly started following us around and wanted to check out Joy.

Some of the cows are dairy; some are beef.  The owners have a farm store where they sell full-fat ice cream, raw milk, Icelandic skyr yogurt, cheese, lamb, and beef.  We bought some of everything!  They do quite a business.  I counted 10 cars coming in to shop just in a few hours.

We walked around the farmyard..  This rooster will wake us up in the morning, I’m sure…

These babies are still in their pens

They also raise lambs, who were too busy eating to pose for the camera…

Farmer George helped feed one of the cows.

The farm is nestled in the Star Valley.  A beautiful location.

There is one other RV here.  It is a mother from New York City and her two little daughters.  She told George they are traveling around the USA for a year while she is home-schooling the girls.  How wonderful for them!

DINNER:  Chili and salad.  I jazzed up a can of chili by adding some sauteed onions, mushrooms, and leftover grilled steak bits.  Perfectly ripe tomato from the farmers’ market made the salad special.