Destination: Victor, Idaho

 

Destination:  Victor, Idaho  August 2017

We have wonderful  friends, Laurie and Allan that live part-time in the Teton Valley in Victor, Idaho.   They have a beautiful home and property that has an incredible views of the Grand Tetons.  This year what started out as an idea to rent a RV and drive up to visit them morphed into purchasing a truck camper. We had always talked about waiting until we retire to purchase a weekend toy, but after Sam’s triple by-pass this past winter, we asked each other what are we waiting for?  We planned to stop and see the sites on the way up.  Nine days, Eight nights would test our desire to live in a studio apartment on the back of a truck.  We spent months deciding on our route and where we would stop each night.

BIA unofficial detour IR 5058Just a few hours into our trip we came to a road block – the highway was closed and we were told that it could be a lengthy closure.   We found an alternate route to get back to the highway and keep us moving toward Utah.

You know you’re in Utah when you see Church Rock viewed from US 191 in Southern Utah.

By the first night it became clear that we had overestimated how far we would get that night.  We used a handy app on our phone that provided campgrounds that were in the vicinity of our location.  Important to mention that when you don’t have cell service – the app will not work.  Good thing we actually had paper maps.   We stayed at Devil’s Campground South of Monticello, Utah managed by the Forest Service.  Camp Host Mike was fantastic and gave us advice on the most secluded campsites.  The campground was very convenient just off US 191.

Foxy at Devils Canyon CG

We experienced a rainstorm in the middle of the night at the Devil’s Campground.  I loved the sound of the rain on the top of the camper and I slept like a baby.  We learned a valuable lesson to not leave our camp chairs out during the night.  We had grand plans to drink our morning coffee sitting in our camp chairs and watch the sunrise but were met with puddles of water in the seats.

One of the highlights of the trip was the petroglyphs in Nine-Mile Canyon.  Don’t let the name fool you – it is actually an all day drive if you stop to enjoy the scenery.  We only saw a handful of people on this day.  It is a very nice paved road – no problem for our truck camper.  You can choose to turn around and return on the paved road or take a dirt road that leads up to Vernon, Utah.  We of course took the dirt road.  It is rare that Sam will turn around – we always move forward as a rule.

 

 

9 Mile Petrogyph

Several times in our wanderings around the Southwest we have come across places that feel majestic and have that feeling of holy.    God’s Country comes to mind – you breath a little easier, and a sense of peace comes to you.  These places convey how big and powerful the world is and where we fit in the puzzle.  This spot in Nine Mile Canyon had that feeling, and it seemed others felt that way too.  From the petroglyphs that covered the walls to the cross we found.  Not sure if someone was buried here or possibly ashes were spread.  Regardless, we knew this would be a place that we talk about for years.

 

Antelope Hanging Out Near the Road- Nine Mile Canyon

Second night we camped at Steinaker State Park near Vernal, Utah.  Before we drove out to the park we ended up eating dinner in town, because we were not sure how far out of town the lake was and not sure if we were going to get a spot.  We learned our lesson to just cook at the camp ground.  The restaurant was expensive and it didn’t hold a candle to Sam’s cooking.  First time with a “full” hook-up, and I have to admit that it was pretty nice, because we were able to take showers and I could blow dry my hair.   The campsites were close together, but the campers were all respectful of each other and kept noise to a minimum.

Camp site at Steinaker State Park.   We really learned to appreciate the campgrounds at the State Parks.

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Finally made it to Idaho.  We set up camp in Laurie’s vegetable garden.  They had water hookup and we really enjoyed the cool weather.  They have a beautiful home and private guest room, but we were enjoying our camper so much we stayed the night in the garden.  The camper was a bit cold in the morning so we turned on the heater – and set off the alarm in the camper.  We had not had an opportunity to test the heater in Arizona (no need to, when it is 115 degrees).

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View of the Tetons from Laurie’s vegetable garden.  Sam and I were sitting in our camper drinking coffee and saw the sun peeking over the mountains.  We both looked at eachother and I ran for the camera so Sam could catch this shot.  The smoke from fires in Wyoming and Montana resulted in this incredible sunrise.

Next stop  was Buffalo Campground in Island Park, Idaho.  This campground is just 25 miles from Yellowstone National Park.  This is a favorite campground of Laurie and Allan, and we could see why.  We stayed two nights in this campground and had an incredible time.

Buffalo River Just a Few Steps from the Campsites

Sam made getting into the hammock looks so easy.  I had a bit of trouble getting in and out of it, but we don’t speak of it.

Quake Lake – Notice the Slide Area on the Side of the Mountain.
Allan, Laurie and Sam
Picnic near Quake Lake.

We visited the Madison River Canyon where an earthquake struck in 1959.  The earthquake caused a massive slide that cut off the river and Quake Lake was formed within days. Many people who were camping and recreating on the lake and downstream along the river  were caught in the disaster and died.  One side of the lake lifted up and the other side went into the lake, which you can still see cabins that were once on the lake now sitting in the middle of a field.  The visitor center is well worth the stop.  I read a great book after coming home- The 1959 Yellowstone Earthquake by Larry Morris.  Incredible stories of what occured, stories of the very ordinary people caught in this horrible disaster and how they helped each other.  Very much worth the read.  I asked my parents if they remembered this event, but neither remembered it.  I have to remind myself this was before “social media”.  My mother would have been 17 or 18 and getting ready to marry my dad.

We made it through the traffic in Salt Lake City – (I kept my head down and crocheted the whole time).  Last night in the Camper and we stopped at Yuba Lake State Park for the night.  Another State Park – great spot with beautiful trees and cool grass to walk in our barefeet.  Sam grilled a great meal – salmon and asparagus.   One constant at every campground was the sound of children playing and laughing.  We can never get tired of hearing it.  While we were staying in the Buffalo Campground I met a little boy whose name coincidentally enough was Sam; and he told me in the usual banter of a 3 year old that he dreamed the night before that he was running and running.  At that point he started to run back to his own camp with pure joy on his face.   We may not be able to run like a 3 year old anymore but we can remember and enjoy the memory.

The trip sealed the deal – we are hooked.  Next step is setting up the jeep to be pulled behind the truck.  Then the real fun begins.

Destination: Kehl’s Campground on the Mogollon Rim, Northern Arizona.

This was to be our maiden voyage with our Arctic Fox 990 Truck Camper.  We loaded our two dogs into the back seat of our Ford one ton truck and headed out.  Stocking a truck camper for the first time is like filling a studio apartment.  We had talked about it for weeks, talked about what we would need, strategized and generally exhausted the topic.  Regardless, we made 3 stops on the way out of town – Walgreens for a first aid kit, Walmart for blankets and of course Starbucks.   We would only be gone overnight but were stocked with enough food and wine to last a week.

Kehl’s Campground is off Forest Road 300 off SR 87

Forest Road 300 was slightly muddy with a recent monsoon, but wide enough for our truck camper

 

 

Kehl’s Campground is a beautiful place on the Mogollon Rim.  The cool pines are a welcome escape from the Phoenix heat.  The campground is named for the spring near by.  The campground had picnic tables and a fire ring, but no hook-ups.  We were on our own, as much as you can be in a truck camper with a bathroom, refrigerator, stove, microwave, queen size bed and a dinette.  OK, admittedly we were not roughing it.
Kehl’s Campground
The girls seemed to love the trip, new smells and cooler weather.  It’s a dog’s life!
Rare Sighting of Sam Sitting Down
Sam was enjoying a rare event of relaxation for him.  The day was overcast but never rained while we were at the campground.

 

 

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Magic Pan
We never go anywhere without our  “magic pan”.  We use a 9×9 cake pan and cook various types of veggies right on the grill.  We have cooked asparagus, potatoes, broccolini, butternut squash and all come out tasting incredible – thus the name “magic pan”
First Dinner
First dinner in the truck camper was seared tuna and grilled broccolini and mushrooms. As usual Sam spoiled us with his grilling skills.  Sam is challenged to cook for just two people, he usually cooks for a party of 8.  Makes for good leftovers.
June Bug
We had large visitors after the sun went down.  As we were walking the girls around the campground after dark before we got them in the camper for the night and Sam was buzzed by something loud and large.  When we got back to the light of the camper we saw many of these and he knew what had buzzed him.  Beautiful June beatles, but disconcerting when they fly into you in the dark.
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First Camping Experience
This was Bella and Missy’s first overnight in the camper.  Both are self proclaimed indoor princesses, but they really seemed to enjoy the cooler weather and the smells of the outdoors – so different from the concrete sidewalks of their Goodyear neighborhood.  They were exhausted!
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The view from the Mogollon Rim as we were driving out the next morning.  We enjoyed Kehl’s Campground – quiet and a great place to get away for a few days.  This will be a go to when the Phoenix heat hits 115 degrees.