Travel Days and Boondocking Stays

Seems hard to believe that just a couple weeks ago I was sitting poolside working on my tan in sublimely warm and sunny New Orleans. Now here we are in Ferndale, Washington 2,800 miles away and I’m working on my laptop bundled under the covers at 6:00 in the morning. No, I’m still not a morning person, but this is about the only time we get half-way decent internet service. Yes, that’s a big bummer. 🙁

But, I wanted to share a few pics from our whirlwind travel days. So before I lose my window of opportunity here, let me see how many I can download. 🙂

So long for now mighty Mississippi River … and humidity!

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We’re headed through the high dessert for a few days. 🙂

I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve passed the Continental Divide signs. But this is the first time I’ve had my phone close enough to snap a picture. Not very good quality, but I got it! LoL

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There’s just something about freight trains rumbling along the tracks I just love.

Freight trains in New Mexico.

Freight trains in New Mexico.

Sunset in Shiprock, New Mexico

Sunset in Shiprock, New Mexico

Sunset Shiprock, NM

Sunset Shiprock, NM

We made a quick stop at the Four Corners Monument. I think I had built myself up a little too much for this stop. It was cool, no doubt. But it seemed a little run down and dirty. I’m guessing maybe it was due to being off season?

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4 Corners Monument

4 Corners Monument

It wasn’t very crowded, but I still wasn’t able to get a picture without people or random feet in it.

Four Corners Monument

Four Corners Monument

From there we went on to Moab, Utah. The scenery on the way was stunning as ever.

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Beehive Rock, Utah

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(For anyone keeping score on the time, it’s been 3.5 hours since I started this post. Uggg)

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We spent the night at Klondike Bluff, a BLM area about 16 miles north of Moab on Hwy 191. It’s a trail head parking area as well, so there was a bit a traffic around sunset. It’s a perfect spot for an overnight stay. Dinner with a view of the snowy mountains in the background. There are so many opportunities for outdoor activities there and it’s so gorgeous! We will definitely plan a trip when we can enjoy the area for a few days.

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When we headed out of Moab on Monday morning we started to get a little nervous about some of the steeper grades ahead. So, in an effort to minimize any serious damage to our beloved F150 (with nearly 260,000 miles on her) we rented a truck in Provo, UT to do the heavy hauling for the rest of the way.

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As you can, I got the light load. Nothing but the bikes left in our truck. Thankfully the trip went smoothly for the final 900 miles of our journey. 🙂 How about that Provo sky though, huh? So pretty there!

This is the first time I’ve ever been behind the camper so it was a different perspective for me. Now I have an entire album of the rear end of our rig.  LoL

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Finally, hitting Seattle was sort of like coming home … if there is such a thing for full-timers. It was a perfectly sunny day and traffic was a breeze.

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I know home is where we park it and technically South Dakota is “home” now. But I really love how the Pacific Northwest feels, if that makes any sense at all. It’s such an odd thing for me to wrap my head around because I’m a total beach lover. 🙂

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Well, this is the second day now that I’ve been working on this little post and I’m about out of patience so I’ll stop here. I think a little trip to see if we can find a park with better Verizon service may be in order on Sunday. I’m going crazy not being readily connected at all times! Yikes, I think I may be addicted. Ya think?!?

Thanks for stopping by.

~Cheers~

 

Oh by the way!

Here are the addresses for our  boondocking spots  – (With temps in the teens for our last two nights on the road we stayed in hotels 🙂 )

Night 1 – Camping World in Katy, Texas. Easy access to spaces,safe area, a bit of road noise but not too bad.  (27905 Katy Fwy, Katy, TX 77494)

Night 2 – Walmart, Clovis, New Mexico – Friendly manager, minimal parking lot traffic, just a few big rigs, safe area. (3728 N Prince St, Clovis, NM 88101)

Night 3 – Walmart, Farmington, New Mexico – The manager was very nice, no big rigs the night of our stay, just a handful of other RVs, safe area. With the exception of some kids riding through at about midnight blaring their horns for fun, it was very quiet. (4600 E. Main Street, 87402)

Night 4 – Klondike Bluffs North Parking Area – BLM Trail Head – 16 miles north of Moab on Hwy 191.

 

Giles French Park – A Boondocking Review

If you read the review I wrote on Rufus Landing you know we only traveled a short distance to our next boondocking spot – GIles French Park is another Recreation Area run by the Army Corps of Engineers.

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This park is a no fee, 14 day limit, dry camping environment open to RVs and tents located on the Columbia River, just down river of the John Day Dam. You can get to the park by Exit 109 off I-84.

We didn’t realize when we pulled into the Rufus Landing Recreation Area three days prior that Giles French Park was here, even though it was on the same road. Had we gone right instead of left at the fork in the road we probably would have ended up here for the entire time.

Most of the spots in Giles French are paved, although there are some gravel places to set up on as well. We moved our rig on a Saturday so we ended up in a gravel spot. But It was a perfect boondocking location right next to the Columbia River.

We spent four nights in this spot …

Giles French Park, Rufus Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus Oregon

The campsite was fairly flat and only needed a couple leveling blocks to get level.There aren’t any designated parking places, but for the most part campers are parked parallel to the river. This helps a great deal with the wind that usually whips through the area.

The park really emptied out by Monday. Here are a couple pics of more parking options …

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

As you can see in the pic above, there are dumpsters in the park which is convenient. There is also a restroom building with running water at the very easterly end of the park. (Just before the gated off access to the John Day Dam.) It’s not new by any stretch of the imagination, but it was clean, heated and the water was very hot. There’s also an outlet located next to the hand dryer which might come in handy if you don’t have power in your rig or tent.

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The Giles French area was much quieter than Rufus Landing. We really couldn’t hear the traffic on I-84 at all. However, you can still hear the trains, so something to keep in mind if you’re a light sleeper.

I-84 above Giles French Park. The train tracks are raised and between the campsites and the highway.

I-84 above Giles French Park. The train tracks are raised and between the campsites and the highway.

One more look …

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This part of the river is a fishing mecca for anglers looking to get their quota of salmon and steelhead trout. While the leisure fishing boat traffic is much lower than down by Rufus Landing …

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Anglers off the shore at Rufus Landing, Oregon

There are more fisherman casting off from the shore in Giles French Park. There are several fishing platforms along the river’s edge. I believe you have to be a recognized tribal member in the area to use the platforms so check into that if you’re considering throwing in a line. 🙂

Fishing platforms along the Columbia River.

Fishing platforms along the Columbia River.

Seeing as we’re not Native American, or fishermen for that matter, we didn’t do any fishing from the platform in front of our campsite. But it did make for a picturesque view for our Cinco de Mayo celebration 🙂

Enjoying the early May sunshine along the Columbia River in Oregon.

Enjoying the early May sunshine along the Columbia River in Oregon.

The entire area is actually very picturesque. Whether you’re looking toward the dam …

John Day Dam, Rufus, Oregon

John Day Dam, Rufus, Oregon

Or looking toward the interstate and train tracks …

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Or watching the sun set on another relaxing day …

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If you are in the Rufus, Oregon area (about 48 miles east of Hood River, OR)  and you’re looking for a place to spend one night (or two weeks!), Giles French Park, operated by the Army Corps of Engineers is a great option. Take Exit 109 off I-84, head toward the river and go right at the fork. 🙂

*Side Note* – The park does not have a dump station or water available. However, there is a Shell Gas station/convenience store located at Exit 109 that is set up for dumping and water refilling. The price listed on the sign indicates the fee is $6, but when I went in to pay they charged me $10. Still not a bad price I guess. They refill propane tanks as well.

That’s all for now. 🙂

~Cheers~

Rufus Landing Recreation Area – A Boondocking Review

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If you’re traveling along Interstate 84, about 48 miles east of Hood River, Oregon, there’s a great boondocking option if you’re looking for one. The Army Corps of Engineers has a nice little Recreation Area just off Exit 109  for stays of up to 14 days.

The scenery was certainly a change from the lush San Juan Islands we had just left, but it beautiful just the same. Not a bad view from my desk …

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We set up at the very end of the recreation area, staying to left once the paved road ends. We had intended to only spend one night but ended up staying for three. (We only moved a bit, but I’ll write more about that in a different review.)

20140430_174612There weren’t very many other campers during the week, but a few more rolled in on the weekend. Parking is pretty much haphazard as long as you stay in the designated areas.

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And there were rigs of every shape and size …

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On a side note, we did encounter a great deal of wind coming out of the west. That would explain why there’s a wind farm on the Washington side! 🙂  One day was really windy and had the camper rocking a bit. (Steady 25 mph with gusts up to 35 mph) Since we didn’t have our slide out anyway we just rode it out. We probably would have been a little better off if our rig had been parked parallel to the river as opposed to perpendicular. But it all worked out fine.

There is horseshoe-shaped island called Gerking Canyon not too far off shore. The easterly tip of it seems to be a good spot for fishing as there were always a few boats anchored out there with lines in the water.

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In addition to the anglers, there’s a  decent amount of barge traffic on the river as well.

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The barge traffic was very quiet. We could just barely hear the hum of the tug engines as they made their way up and down the river.

On the other hand, I-84 does run along Rufus Landing, and yes you can hear the traffic quite clearly. It didn’t bother us at all and seemed to really ease up during the nighttime hours.

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That’s I-84 to give you an idea of how far away it was from out spot. We were probably about as close to the highway as you can get in this area. lol No, that wasn’t our intention but it was the most secluded spot we could find that was so close to the water.

That large pile of stones did a great job of buffering the road noise.

This pic may give you a better idea …

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That’s the pile of stones in the background working as a buffer … and that’s Mr. G. working as a buffer. (Better a buffer than a fluffer, Ha! I’ll be here all week folks. Don’t forget to tip your server!) Anyhooo … He waxed the entire H.O.W. by hand. He was a little sore that night!

The only negative I think you might find if you’re looking for someplace really quiet is the locomotive noise – and by that I mean T-R-A-I-N-S. I know there are some people out there that really get cranky when they get all settled in and realize there are tracks nearby. Heads up – there are tracks on both sides of the river here and the trains seem to pass about every 30 minutes to an hour.

Trains to the south of us …

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Trains to the north of us…

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Honestly, we’re used to hearing trains so the tracks didn’t bother us. Truth be told we think a train whistle in the distance is kind of romantic. But, there are no crossings nearby so they aren’t sounding their horns at all here. Like I said though, you can certainly hear them rumbling by – frequently. So if you’re someone who wakes up at the sound coming from the tracks and says “F@%&*ng Trains!” you might want to pass this place over. Just sayin’.;-)

In our opinion, sunsets like these trump the minor transportation noise – hands down.

20140430_19162420140430_202215 Here’s a satellite view via Google maps. The red arrow is the location of our rig and the direction we were facing.

Google Maps image

Google Maps image

The area is open to tent camping as well as RVs and there is a pit toilet building located on the grounds should you need one. They were pretty clean and well maintained.

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If you decide to check out this boondocking spot, Rufus Landing Recreation Area is off Exit 109 on I-84. Follow Rockbeach Lane west all the way to the end, then keep going until you reach the water Oh and hey, say “Hello” to the geese for us!

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~Cheers~

Stonehenge – Maryhill, Washington

Did you know there is a full-scale replica of Stonehenge situated above the Columbia River in Maryhill, Washington? I had no idea. You just never know what you’re going to come across when you don’t actually plan out the day’s adventure … just letting the good ole back roads lead the way. 🙂

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Stonehenge, Maryhill, WA

Samuel Hill, a local entrepreneur and early advocate of building the good roads in Washington I mentioned earlier, commissioned the Maryhill Stonehenge in the early 20th century. Dedicated on July 4, 1918, the monument was the first in the United States to honor the dead of World War I; especially the soldiers from Klickitat County where the monument sits.

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Apparently Mr. Hill, a Quaker pacifist, was misinformed about the intent and use of the original Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England. He believed the original stone structure was used as a site for human sacrifice. Hence the inscription on the dedication plaque on the altar.

The inscription on the altar at Maryhill, Stonehenge

The inscription on the altar at Maryhill Stonehenge

The dedication plaque on this Washington Stonehenge is inscribed:

“In memory of the soldiers of Klickitat County who gave their lives in defense of their country. This monument is erected in the hope that others inspired by the example of their valor and their heroism may share in that love of liberty and burn with that fire of patriotism which death can alone quench.”

Here are a few various shots from in and around the monument …

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The view of the Columbia River from the monument is spectacular …

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We’ve been having a great time finding the “free things” to do on this boondocking excursion. Who says you have to spend a lot of dough to have a good time? 🙂

Have you done any free sightseeing lately? We’d love to hear about it, drop us a line in the comment section below. Thanks!

~Cheers~

Do You Poo?

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Don’t worry, this post isn’t about your gastrointestinal regularity. Yeeesh! The poo I’m referring to is shampoo. When we first hit the road with hopes of spending as much time boondocking as we possibly could, we looked into ways to save on water and power consumption – and of course be more eco-conscious.

Showers are the biggest use of water we have. Naturally mine end up being about three times as long as Mr. G’s because I wash and condition my hair. I knew I’d need to make adjustments. The obvious thing to do, not washing and conditioning my hair as much, seemed a little too hard to swallow.

Then I read A post Nina over at Wheeling It wrote (April of 2012) and it really got me thinking. Maybe the no poo thing could work. Honestly, I’m still on the fence about it. But Nina’s got some great tips if you’re considering giving the entire no shampoo idea a go. Like I said, I haven’t quite gotten to the point where I’m ready for that yet. But I’m thinking in the future when we can do more (and longer stretches) of boondocking it might be a bit of a necessity.

I am far from a girly girl – trust me. I’ve only worn make-up a handful of times and that was for weddings (Not all mine – ha! ;-)) and it was done professionally at salons. However, mostly due to horrific bed-head in the morning, I am a wash and blow dry every day kind of gal. At least I was when we hit the road. Yes, that’s changed a bit. I’ve let my hair grow out over the past two years. So now most days you’ll find me sporting a ponytail or with my locks twisted up in a clip.  Easy schmeezy. 🙂

Heck, I’ve even gotten into the habit of only doing the hair routine every other day and I almost never blow dry anymore. But I continue to use both shampoo and conditioner when I do. So, I’m still looking for a way to cut down on the water consumption that will still leave my hair resembling something that belongs on a human head … and not in a cow pasture.

One of the things I did manage to do on our last boondocking adventure (Besides washing my hair only every four days 😮 ) was to use shampoo only – no conditioner. This was a step in the right direction as I only used half as much water. But, after two weeks my hair felt like hay. 🙁

The other day I came across  this article written by Dana Oliver at The Huffington Post. The piece offers ideas for going without shampooing for days at a time as well as notes on other experimentation they’ve done in the name of beauty and healthy hair. One of their latest endeavors involves “Cleansing Conditioners”. Hmmm … the two words put together sound like an oxymoron to me. But, if I can use a product that cleans and conditions at the same time (using less water) and isn’t harsh on my hair – I’m in!

I’m thinking I want to give one of the products mentioned in the HP article a try. I can pretty much guarantee it won’t be one of the ones costing more than $15. But I can see shelling out $10 if it works.

I’ll let you know how it goes. 🙂

Have you ever tried a Cleansing Conditioner? Or maybe you’re Poo Free and loving it? Or tried going Sans Poo and hated it?  I’d love to hear from you!

~Cheers~