This Time Last Year

Discussion in 'Let me tell you about my trip' started by PopUpSteve, Aug 28, 2018.

  1. PopUpSteve

    PopUpSteve Administrator

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    This time last year (08/28/2017) I was at my furthest point West on my X-Country trip. Traveling down the ET Highway to Rachel NV.

    A bit out of my way but I wanted to stop at The Little A’Le’Inn. When I got there for lunch I was told the kitchen was closed for its twice yearly cleaning (the health inspector must be on a schedule), so no lunch.

    Had to continue West a bit more before turning East (I hate backtracking). At one point I pulled over to take some photos and there was no sound to be heard, not even the wind. Just big beautiful emptiness. No wander the Government hides all their downed UFOs out here.

    I got to Ely NV and knew I couldn't go any farther. So I Spent the night at the local KOA.

    A long day on some very long lonely roads. But beautiful scenery.

    Map Link

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  2. Shaman1

    Shaman1 Well-Known Member

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    Nice. How long did you take for the trip?
     
  3. PopUpSteve

    PopUpSteve Administrator

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    A little over 3 weeks. Started off traveling to Kentucky to see the eclipse and kept going.
     
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  4. ill.plainsman

    ill.plainsman happy, happy

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    How did you survive Nevada without an A/C unit on top.? We have been out there in October And don't want to do that again. August, WOW!
     
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  5. PopUpSteve

    PopUpSteve Administrator

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    Training! I didn’t use AC all summer except at work. It was 108° when I setup at Lake Mead the day before. I did use bunkend fans and an O2Cool fan.

    Thank goodness I had my PopUp Gizmos!

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  6. PopUpSteve

    PopUpSteve Administrator

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    This time last year (08/29/2017), I was on my second day in Nevada. Looking back, I really had been optimistic thinking I could make it through in one day (620 miles) after being on the road for 12 days and experiencing two of the hottest days let, in the last two.

    Stopped at a spot where the Pony Express trail crossed my route. I discovered that the road I was on was part of the old Lincoln Highway which was kind of funny because I live right off the Lincoln Highway (route 30) some 2,500 miles east.

    On to the Bonneville Salt Flats where I now hold the land speed record for a Honda Ridgeline, with a kayak & ski box, and pulling a Somerset E2 PopUp Camper. It’s a very specific record grouping.

    My next stop would really be considered out of the way. I traveled 10 miles (round trip) down an old gravel road to see original path of the Transcontinental Rail Road. Now 10 miles may not sound like much of a detour until you take into account that you’re only go 5 miles per hour.

    Another long day and running a day late. Should have been in Yellowstone this night for a two-night stay. Instead I found a nice little campground in Snowville UT called Earp & James Hitching Post.

    Map Link

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  7. PopUpSteve

    PopUpSteve Administrator

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    This time last year (08/30/2017), I was on the road to Yellowstone NP traveling up through Eastern Idaho. Before leaving the CG, I noticed that the lower panel where the fridge control are located was separating from the sidewall a bit. I’d check that later.

    Although on the Western side of the Grand Tetons now, I was a bit too far off to truly take in the beauty of the mountains from across the plains. And before you know it, I’m in the forests and canyons approaching West Yellowstone. But somewhere in between, I had a run in with the law!

    One of my pet peeves on this trip was signage, or lack thereof. I had passed a water truck on the side of the road and a minute later I’ve got a police car pulling me over. Of course I say the customary “Is there a problem officer?”, to which I get “Didn’t you see the sign for the inspection station back there?”. Well yes, I saw a sign that said just that “Inspection Station” and nothing else. I thought maybe it was for 18-wheelers or something. “NO”, he informed me, “It’s a WATER CRAFT INSPECTION STATION”! “OK” I said, “sorry, can I turn around and go back?”. “YES BUT I’LL FOLLOW YOU!”

    Now I know he’s just doing his job and it’s probably one of those “short straw” assignments. But the office was at Def-Con-2 for no reason. We turned around (always fun on a one lane road when towing) and about halfway back to the inspection station, he peals-off to chase another guy with kayaks.

    At the inspection station, the guy asks me where I’ve been kayaking over the last month and of course, The Tennessee River is on his list, so they have to spray down the kayak with lukewarm water, no chemicals, no detergents, just lukewarm water. I understand and appreciate the need for these stations, they are there to try to stop the spread of invasive water species. I’m all for it! I don’t want to contaminate somebodies favorite kayaking spot just like I want my local lakes kept clean. But, as I said to the guys hosing down my kayak with lukewarm water, “I’d be surprised if anything is still alive on the kayak after traveling through 108 degree temps for the last two day, and could you hose-down the truck while you’re at it?”. They laughed, gave me a certificate, and sent me on my way. Never did see the police officer again.

    Anyway, I get to the park entrance and amazingly, there was no wait to get into the park, which is something I hear travelers to Yellowstone often warn about. I stopped at a few of the vistas on my way to Grant Village CG, but I didn’t want to get caught up in the big tourist spots like Old Faithful, I’ve been there before. Just as I got within 100 yards of the road into the CG, traffic stopped and stayed stopped for over 30 minutes. They were paving the road and had the traffic alternating in either direction. How frustrating to be so close to the turn-off. If I hadn’t been towing the camper, I would have made a break for the entrance. Finally, the traffic started moving again I was the first in line at the registration office for my campsite. Did my basic “20 minute” one day setup and was able to relax for once since it was only 3pm.

    Later I walked around the CG and went down to the lake which was far too choppy to go kayaking as a storm looked to be happening off in the distance. I went to the camp store to restock a few things and to get a Yellowstone sticker for my ski-box (very important). I decided to have dinner at one of the restaurants, then go back to my campsite and enjoy my campfire for once. My propane campfire is not normally part of my standard one day setup, but tonight I could relax.

    I hit the sack around 8:30 so I get an early start, again. My next day, I would be heading up into the Beartooth Mountains, only 116 miles away. But most of that 116 miles would be tourist filled, 35 mph speed limit roads. So I “turned-off” the campfire (funny to say it that way) and got in bed. Around 2am that little voice in my head (my co-pilot) wakes me with one word, “Refrigerator”. Crap, I had the refrigerator the batteries (charging from the TV on the road) and Yellowstone and up in the Beartooth I’m boondocking. So I grab my flashlight, head outside, open the street-side panel, and turnoff the fridge. Back to bed and I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

    Map Link

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  8. PopUpSteve

    PopUpSteve Administrator

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    This time last year (08/31/2017), up and on to the Beartooth.

    The next morning while breaking camp, the ladies who were tenting on the site directly behind me came over. I apologized if I had awoken them at 2am while dealing with the fridge, but they said they never heard me. They did however asked me how, the night before, I was able to put my campfire out so quickly? They were already in their tent, could see the flickering of the fire and then nothing. I hadn’t put the campfire away yet so I grabbed a stick-lighter, walked over to the fire pit and proceeded to “turn-on” my campfire. “WOW, that’s cool” they said and I gave them the standard “propane campfire” sales pitch. If only I could carry a few new ones with me.

    Packed up and fueled up, I left Grant Village and headed North. Now Yellowstone NP is big, over 6 times bigger than the State of Rhode Island I think. One thing that makes it seem even bigger is the speed limit. At 35 and 45 mph it takes a while to traverse. Add to that watching for wildlife and tourists, and you can shave another 10 mph off those numbers. On the plus side, at those speeds you can enjoy the scenery.

    My route took me alone the Western shores of Yellowstone Lake, past Fishing Bridge, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and up to Tower Junction where I picked up route 212. Route 212 takes you out through what’s known as the “Silver Gate” of Yellowstone NP and up into the Beartooth Mountains. This is one of the most beautiful drives in the country. From the Westward approach, it’s a nice easy assent into the mountains. My plan was to find a campground near the summit so I could enjoy the wilderness for a day. And if I couldn’t find a campsite, get over the pass and across Montana/Wyoming as far as I could get before nightfall. Fortunately, after not finding anything at the first campground, I hit pay dirt at Island Lake CG.

    Island Lake is located not too far West from the top of the pass and only a mile or so East from the Top of the World Store. This campground is by far the most beautiful place I’ve ever camped. Words really can not sufficiently describe this place so I’ll let the photos below tell the story.

    The camp fee was, if I recall, $7. And when I went to the drop box to pay, I struck up a conversation with the camp host. He told me how he and his wife got there on July 1st, when the CG was scheduled to open, but they had to wait several days because there was still six feet of snow in most of the sites. Also, he and his wife, like myself, were wearing bear spray & bear bells like old west gunslingers. I setup camp and put any food items into the site’s bear box. Before I could get down to the lake a sleet storm came through (remember, this August 31st) and although it only lasted 10 minutes, the damp chill it brought put an end to thoughts of kayaking.

    The rest of the day and early evening I just relaxed and walked around the area taking photos. The temps were dropping toward freezing, luckily I was prepared and broke-out my winter coat. Hard to believe that only a few days before I was setting up in 108° heat at Lake Mead and now it was in the thirties. Sat by the campfire for a bit, enjoying the wilderness and then to bed. Another early day in the morning.

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    Last edited: Aug 31, 2018
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  9. PopUpSteve

    PopUpSteve Administrator

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  10. jumpoff

    jumpoff I'm in a camping state of mind

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    You write with great detail..you must have taken many notes in a journal. Very interesting stuff, please continue again.
     
  11. PopUpSteve

    PopUpSteve Administrator

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    Thanks. No, just from memory and of course the photos help. I wish I had started posting these back at the one year mark for the start of my trip, 8/17/2017.

    It's funny the stuff you remember once you start writing it down. Like I had totally forgotten about the Water Craft Inspection Station incident until I started thinking about what had happened on that day. [LOL]

    All these photos are just from my iPhone. I need to breakout and go through all my GoPro video and photos. I had three GoPros mounted to the truck and camper. Got some great shots from those.
     
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  12. nineoaks2004

    nineoaks2004 Every meal is a picnic and every Day is a holiday

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    Looks and sounds like you had a really great adventure during this trip. The Scenery was gorgeous. I really enjoyed the beautiful photos thanks for sharing them
     
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  13. PopUpSteve

    PopUpSteve Administrator

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    This time last year (09/01/2017), over the pass and heading East.

    Up about 5:30 and started breaking camp around 6am. Went to lower the lid on the camper and no power to the lift system. I checked the voltage on the batteries and that looked OK so it was either a breaker or the power lift mechanically failed. Of course, the breaker/fuse panel is located under the dinette and I really don’t feel like unpacking the camper. So I pull the connector on the power lift and crank down the lid the old fashion way, by hand.

    Note: If you have a power lift and need to crank up/down by hand, check your camper’s manual to see if you need to disconnect the power lift from the battery first. Now why manufacturers don’t put a weather resistant switch next to where the remote plugs in, I have no idea. It would make situations like this a lot easier because to disconnect power, you have to crawl under the back of the camper to reach the connector. One more reason to carry a trap. Also, for this trip I obtained backups of a lot of gear. Like a second crank, second stabilizer jack crank, remote for the power lift, and many other items. I keep one set in the camper and one set in the truck. Better to have and not need than to need and not have.

    Anyway, I figured I could fix this at my next campsite if it’s just a breaker or fuse, otherwise it will have to wait until after I get home. I finished buttoning-up the camper and readied the road. I did take a few more phots before leaving this beautiful place, I will be back.

    I made a quick stop at the Top of the World Store to get another sticker for the ski-box and a sandwich for lunch later. Made my way East to the Beartooth Pass at 10,947 ft. All along the road and on the mountain peaks snow could still be seen from the previous Winter. In fact, at one point there was a guy walking up to the road-side carrying skis! The views from up there were spectacular, dark blue skies, clear blue mountain lakes, and clean air.

    Now for the trek back down the mountain. I made a stop at Rock Creek Vista Point to enjoy the view from the top one more time and then started down. I’m glad a ascended from the West because from the East would have been a lot more taxing on the truck. As it was, I did have to put the truck in a lower gear a few times on the way down, something I don’t believe I had done anywhere else during this trip. Still, it’s not like you’re going straight down. Like the ascent, the decent is a series of switch-backs, only these are a bit steeper. Look on Google Maps, route 212 between Rock Creek Vista Point (9,000 ft) and Red Lodge (5,568 ft).

    Now out of the mountains it’s relatively flat & straight headed for Billings MT. About halfway to Billings and I get a surprise in my sideview mirror. Remember the fridge control access panel that was separating from the sidewall, well I didn’t. I look and it’s flapping in the wind, not just the panel but the whole frame. I have to find a clear place to pull over so I can fix this before it comes off. I say a “clear place” because the area is bone dry and if I pull off into some tall grass, the hot trans of the truck could set the area on fire. I finally spot a clearing for a farm road and at that same moment, the panel and frame fly off into the middle of the road. By the time I come to a complete stop the assembly is about 100 yards back. Hussle back and retrieve it before somebody runs it or me over. Turns out that after several thousand miles, two of the screw holding the frame in place had come out. This is why I carry Gorilla Tape, and luckily, I have it in black so it’ll match the sidewall of the camper! I later replaced all the access panel frame screws with bolts.

    I got back on the road for my next “scheduled” stop of the day, Pompeys Pillar. This is a rock formation along the Yellowstone River where, on their return journey, William Clark and others from the Corps of Discovery stopped. Clark engraving his name and the date into the stone, naming the formation after Sacagawea's child Jean Baptiste Charbonneau or 'Pomp'. From here I traveled onto Little Big Horn and started towards Devils Tower. But the roads be long in Montana and I’ve be traveling now for two weeks, so this night I would be making camp at a motel for a nice hot shower and a night in a real bed.

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  14. PopUpSteve

    PopUpSteve Administrator

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    I went back through these posts and added a link to a map (Google Map) for that day's travels.
     
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  15. nineoaks2004

    nineoaks2004 Every meal is a picnic and every Day is a holiday

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    Your adventure has unlimited beautiful scenery thanks for sharing.
    BTW did you get the lift fixed ?
     
  16. PopUpSteve

    PopUpSteve Administrator

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    This time last year (09/02/2017), the Devil made me do it.

    After a restful indoor night’s sleep and a nice long hot shower, I was ready to hit the road again. I took a few extra minutes doing my daily vehicle check. For one thing, the truck and camper were sitting on the street all night so I wanted to make sure nobody messed with them over night. Tires, oil, hitch all checked out. Time to fuel up and be on my way.

    Only two hour to Devil’s Tower and I had planned to spend at least that same amount of time, if not more, at this stop. I got there about 10am and for the first time, had to wait in line at the gate. By the time I got to the visitor’s center, the place was packed, well it was Labor Day weekend. There are two places to park a RV or a vehicle with a trailer. Either leave it down near the entrance gate or on the side or the road near the visitor’s center which is what I did. Went to the gift shop and got my sticker, which I always get first. It’s kind of like Apollo 11, the first thing they did was get a Lunar sample in case they had to quickly take off. And then I just looked up with the masses at this incredible artifact of nature. If you’ve never been there, put it on your list, if you have been, then you know what I mean. This guy taking picture next to me says “Wow, that’s really something”. To which I reply “Yup, hard to believe they built this just for that movie”, and I walk away. He must have thought I was a nut. You got to have fun with stranger sometimes.

    On the way up I had noticed a dirt trail off the main road which I assumed was a fire road. On the way down I saw a sign saying it was a scenic view road. So when I found a parking lot at the bottom of the hill, I turned around and went back to explore the trail. The road was a well maintained gravel road which went back to a small parking lot with only three cars in it. When I got out of the truck I was greeted with the best view of Devil’s Tower in the park. Got some really great photos from this spot. At the visitors center, you’re right at the base of the tower, here, you can see not only the tower but open land around it.

    Stopped at the general store just outside the main gate to top-off the tank and have lunch. I was running a day behind at this point so I decided to skip Mt Rushmore (had seen it before anyway) and head for Fort Abraham Lincoln SP near Bismarck ND where my next camp site was located.

    Since I had to re-map my route, I just ask Google Maps to get me to Bismarck ND and started off. BIG MISTAKE! Now there was nothing wrong with the route Google had selected, but if I had just looked at the whole route instead of blindly following the voice directions, I would have been better prepared for this trek across the Great Plains. Several hours later of back roads, stepping up from South to North Dakota and I finally reached I-94. I fuel up again and start down the Interstate. At this point I’m tired, big rigs are passing me like I’m sitting still and I needed a break. So after an hour I pull into a rest area to catch 40 winks. Three hours later I wake up and it’s dark out so I decided to just stay put for the night.

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  17. nineoaks2004

    nineoaks2004 Every meal is a picnic and every Day is a holiday

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    I can describe the picture of the Dome with only one word WOW!!!!!! You have surely hit the jackpot on that trip. Thanks for sharing all of these pictures and travel log Good luck and Keep on Camping
     
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  18. PopUpSteve

    PopUpSteve Administrator

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    This time last year (09/03/2017), traveling back in time.

    Not the best night’s sleep but there’s nothing like an Interstate Rest Stop shave in the morning! Between the sun-shade on the windshield, a blackout mask, and six little friends at the ready, it wasn’t all that bad. I definitely wouldn’t make a habit of staying at “Camp Interstate” but it comes in handy when you just can’t drive another mile. At least I could get back on my way quick enough.

    Next stop was Fort Mandan. I’ll have to go back to the first part of my trip to explain something. One of my passions is American History, in particular the epic journey of Lewis & Clark and the Corp of Discovery. I had already been down the Natchez Trace to the grave of Meriwether Lewis. Took a side trip to St. Louis to see the arch and from where they started up the Missouri. And stopped at Pompeys Pillar where William Clark left his mark on the land. There are so many other sites I would like to visit but those will have to wait for another trip. Today, my next and final Lewis & Clark related stop for this trip would be Fort Mandan. This is where the Corp of Discovery spent their first Winter before traveling off the map to the Pacific Ocean.

    Because of my roadside accommodations the night before, I was able to arrive at Fort Mandan just before 9am. As I pulled up, there was a gentleman in period garb getting some gear out of his car. Turns out he’s a Meriwether Lewis re-enactor there for the holiday weekend to present the history of the expedition while at the fort. He’s also the spitting image of Lewis. While talking, he was checking out my camper and said how he and his wife were thinking of purchasing one. “Boy, did you meet the right guy to talk to!” I told him about the Portal and PopUp Camping. I’m a great salesman when I know the subject matter but I’m so bad with names. So if you’re reading this “Capt. Lewis”, Thanks for the history lesson and I hope you got yourself a camper.

    Although the Fort is not at it’s original location, which sadly is lost to history, it is a faithful reconstruction based on the know styles of that time and the journals of the expedition. There is also the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center not too far from the fort which time did not permit me to visit.

    Back on the road and headed to Minnesota to visit with my sister and brother in-law. They have a nice lake-front place where I could spend the night and get a home-cooked meal.

    Map Link

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    Lewis' dog Seaman (not to scale)
     
  19. nineoaks2004

    nineoaks2004 Every meal is a picnic and every Day is a holiday

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    Love the photos and trip log, keep then coming. I will hate to see the end of your trip.
     
  20. PopUpSteve

    PopUpSteve Administrator

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    This time last year (09/04/2017), Off to find the “Source”.

    The evening before I was treated to a tour of the lake on my Brother in-law’s pontoon boat after dinner. What a nice relaxing way to spend an evening. Of course I couldn’t put up the camper so I was honored with using the foldout bed for the night. The next morning my brother in-law was kind enough to help me locate the problem with my power lift. We plugged into AC and still no joy. So I manually cranked up the lid enough to pull the bunkends out and access the breakers & fuses. Hard to tell what’s what in there since the panel was labeled upside-down so I just reset all the breakers and pulled all the fuses, checking them (all were fine) and putting them back. Whatever the problem, this fixed it and I closed up the camper.

    I said my goodbyes and got on my way. During this trip I was able to visit my brothers, in Texas and New Mexico. I met up with my sister at Lake Mead, where she had driven to from Southern California. After which she continued on in her RV to see our brother and his wife in New Mexico, where I had just been. And now my other sister and her husband in Minnesota. I had purposely routed my trip so I could see everyone and I’m glad I did.

    I started off for Itasca State Park and the head-waters of the Mississippi. Somewhere along the way I missed a turn and had no signal on my iPhone to re-map, this is why you should always carry a paper road map, which I hadn’t. Add to that the fact that turning around the truck and camper combo on a narrow country road is always so much fun. I finally got some bars and found my way to the park.

    The parking lot was another one that had almost no RC/trailer parking but I managed to grab one of the few. No sooner had I gotten out of the truck then I heard what sounded like a shotgun blast. I found out that it was a tire of another PopUp Camper. Don’t know why but it looked to be an old small Coleman, like a Columbia.

    It had just started to drizzle when I arrived but not enough to stop me from going down to the lake. It was amazing to walk over this little creek which only two weeks before I had driven over some 2,000 miles downstream.

    Too early for lunch so I got back on the road. No other stops scheduled for the day, just needed to make it as far East as I could before night, which was to the other side of Duluth and into Wisconsin. I found a little, no thrills, private campground to stay the night and recharge.

    Map Link

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    Last edited: Sep 4, 2018

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