Arches National Park- Canyon Lands and The Needles

Leaving the Swell we headed for Horse Thief BLM Campground, a beautiful drive 20 miles from Moab heading towards Canyonlands National park on Hwy 313, eight miles off of Hwy 191. The campground is very beautiful, campsites are nestled in amongst pinon pines and Utah juniper with panoramic views of the upper high dessert.

Sites are large and very private and just $10.00 a night. Amenities are again very clean pit toilets’, fire ring and a camp table. Just 8 miles up the road was Dead Horse S.P. and Canyon Lands N.P. and the Island In The Sky Section. Mountain Biking is abundant and the bike trails are everywhere and amazing. Jeep and side by sides are everywhere, but all trail riding and back road jeeping requires a permit.

We decided to bike from Moab to the Arches visitors center on our Blix Electric Bikes, the bike trail is paved and so much fun. Speed limit was 20 miles per hour, to funny because you could go a lot faster down some of those hills and we might have. It was so much fun we continued down the bike trail all the way to Hwy 313, In all we biked 21 miles and found about 8 geo caches ALONG THE WAY.

Arches N.P. requires you to make reservations to visit during the day time. BUT, if you enter the park at 5pm, you dont need reservations. So that’s what we did and worked well for us, less people and parking was great. Arches is so far in our travels a mind blowing experience of amazing wonders. This is our second time to visit, never gets old.

We spent a day in Canyon Land – The Needles and hiked to Indian ruins and lots of petroglyph’s. Very unique landscape and much different from Arches.

We tried out the Plant Based food in Moab and what a treat. It happened to be our 27th anniversary so we went a little crazy finding the best food ever. We first tried Quesadilla Mobilla and ordered the Vegetarian Quesadilla, no words can describe how good these were and I will be making these at home from now on -YUM. Oh no we aren’t finished, we were advised to try the Rainbowls Food Truck and order The Gold Knob Nachos made with plant based walnut taco meat with cashew cheese sauce, incredible. We were so happy we found such excellent Plant Based food. The finale was The Garage, a hip ice cream store we had visited on our last visit. The owner offered to make us both affogatos with their signature coffee, no words again so darn good. What a great Day! After all of that indulging we headed out to hike some trails and find some geo caches.

NEXT: Due to a weather anomaly (THATS WHAT THE RANGER TOLD US) we headed from the dessert to Blanding, Utah and luckily got a RV site at Blue Mountain RV and Trading Post. The wind advisory was 29 to 60 miles an hour and 20 degrees at night. We tucked in and stayed pretty warm, but our RV was litterly rocking all night long with 40 to 50 miles an hour wind gusts, it was scary.

CHEERS JEFF AND LIZ

NEXT HOVENWEEP NATIONAL MONUMENT

The San Rafael Swell Utah – BLM camping

Its April 1, 2022 and we are fully loaded, probably overloaded if you know us headed to our first BLM experience at the Swell. We have given ourselves two days to reach the Swell. Stopping at a truck stop in Winnemucca, Nevada for our fist night and our second night at Rowley’s Red Barn in Santaquin, UT. This was a Harvest Host location and a lot of fun with great ice cream. We woke up early to snow capped mountain views and hurriedly headed to The Bonneville Salt Flats. First impressions, Flat, Vast and super white. Encompassing approx. 40 square miles and 7 miles long, you can drive on the flats as far as you can see. Very unique, you got to visit just once.

The drive from Nevada into Utah is definitely a high dessert experience, rolling hills, sage brush and sand dunes, surrounded by snow topped glacier carved mountains. Its mile after mile of sand and sage yet with this said there is a peaceful beauty. We headed down route 10 to Castle Dale and headed East into the San Rafael Swell. We stayed in a BLM campground named N. Swinging bridge. Amenities were a actual clean pit toilet that didn’t smell and cleaned daily , a picnic table and a fire ring. NO water is available in the whole area and we were twenty eight miles from a paved road. At $3.50 a night not bad, we were very prepared for this and only one other camper in the campground, very peaceful.

The next 2 days we spent exploring petroglyph’s and pictograph’s, hiking through slot canyons and even a dinosaur foot print. The views and the rock formations were incredible. the roads are ruff, wash boarded and dusty. We especially loved the Little Grand Canyon view point.

Next Stop Arches National park

Cheers for Jeff and Liz

PS: Not everything is perfect on the road. We had to buy a new battery for our Honda CRV that we tow, but luckily we were in Santaquin and not in the middle of Swell. Otherwise all systems are working great.

SHAKE DOWN AT THE METOLIOUS RIVER

We have returned to our absolute favorite camping spot at Camp Sherman, Oregon. Nestled along the glorious banks of the Metolious River. This visit is a shake down trip to work out any bugs, possible problems and to make sure we have plenty of supplies and very important kitchen gadgets we (me) think I cannot live without. If you read our last blog you know we sold the Artic fox trailer and Tundra Truck and purchased a 2018 Winnebago Navon.  Our next adventure is Utah, visiting the Big 5 and any other National Park or parks or Indian Dwellings that are along our path.

The weather here in Bend has been a bit chilly -28 degrees at night, good time to make sure heater, refrigerator, hot water, Micro and slide out all work. First night no HOT water, actually no HOT water until we returned home 3 days later.  Ok good thing we were shaking down!

Next day I decided to make bread to see if the solar panels could handle that much power usage. The solar was plenty to mix, rise and bake the bread, the problem was a misty rain came in that afternoon and our solar didn’t get a chance to build it self back  up. The next day was the same, misty cold drizzle, the good part the generator helped us and we were fine for heat and lights. Oh by the way the bread turned out amazing.

Friday the sun finally is out and we have solar and a Ranger at our door advising us they are going to dynamite some trees along the river just down from us so BEWARE. Well let me tell you he should have advised us to wear earplugs, it was the loudest bang we have ever heard or felt, boom it shook us a good one. Later we walked down the river to see the damage, it was extensive..

Except for the hot water all systems are a go, we will spend the next two days exploring the trails and hunting mushrooms, one of our favorite things to do.

Stay tuned for our Utah Big 5 Adventure

Cheers Jeff and Liz

PS: Update on Truma Hot Water Heater- a bi pass valve was turned the wrong direction, simple fix ,der.

Florence Oregon – 2021 Road Trip Adventure

Our oldest daughter is getting married on June 26, 2021. So what do we do, we make a RV adventure trip out of it. Well we have to drive from Bend, Oregon to Central California right, so why not RV our way to the wedding. We packed our trailer and decided our first stop would be Florence, Oregon, yes right on the beautiful Oregon coast. What I didn’t tell you was that we left 28 days before the wedding so we could explore our way down the Oregon coast to Napa Valley and then to Waterford, California. Hey its a wedding, so lets make it fun, right.

Why not make a travel adventure out of an upcoming family wedding? This idea spurred us into loading up the trailer, and leaving three weeks earlier than the official wedding date. Hey, y’all! This is an adventure and it is time to start having fun again! So, we left home on May 31, 2021 and headed to our first shake down stop in Florence, Oregon for five whole glorious days…….

We are camped at the Elk’s camp ground, just outside Florence, about a mile out of town. Note – must be a member to use their facilities. The camp ground itself is very clean, quiet, and well maintained. The camp hosts are super friendly and helpful. Sites are multi sizes, lots of pull-thru sites and back-in sites for larger rigs. At $25.00 a night its pretty reasonable and includes water, electric and a state of the art dump station. The restrooms are extremely clean, including very nice showers with lots of hot water. Bonus! Each site is separated by greenery and oversized shrubbery, which makes for lots of privacy. I would say its has a very geriatric vibe. Honestly our grand children would be bored here, not much to do for kiddos but the beach is only 1 mile away, so that’s a plus.

Speaking of beach’s, if tide pools are your thing, this is the place. From Seaside, Oregon towards the California border at Brookings there are 27 Oregon Coast Rocky Intertidal Sites to explore. Oh, what fun! I’ll name you a few of our favorites:

Yachats State Recreation Site

Cape Perpetua

Strawberry Hill

Our very favorite is Bob Creek – lots of agates, star fish, crab and sea anemones. Also great for whale watching!

Walking the streets of Florence and the fun shops is a must and I would highly suggest having lunch or dinner at Homegrown for a delightful experience. Everything is made fresh, homemade, local, and organic…so delicious! We ordered the fish tacos and a chia seed burger with a side of the best clam chowder we have ever had, hands down.

Our next stop is Alfred A. Loeb State Park.

Stay tuned for more adventures…

Cheers from Just Around The Bend – Jeff and Liz

CHANNEL ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK – CALIFORNIA

Our life goal is to visit as many National Parks as we can. National Parks draw you in with splendid beauty, history and protected wildlife. We chose Santa Cruz Island as the park rangers advised it had lots of hiking, animal life and spectacular cliff edge views.

Channel Islands National Park comprises 5 ecologically rich islands off the Southern California coast. Anacapa Island has trails to a 1932 lighthouse and clifftop Inspiration Point. Santa Cruz Island’s many sea caves include the vast Painted Cave. Santa Rosa Island features rare Torrey pines. Thousands of seals gather at San Miguel Island’s Point Bennett. Southernmost Santa Barbara Island draws nesting seabirds.

We began by pre purchasing our tickets the day before through Island Packers Cruises – 805-642-1393 – info@islandpackers.com. You are required to call for reservations and they fill up fast. Super friendly and very helpful people, from making reservations to boarding the boat. At $52.00 a person for round trip tickets it was a bargain, Highly recommend.

So the very early morning began our trip. Up at 5 am packed a lunch, snacks and water bottles for a full day. Water is available at several camping sites but no food, snacks or vending machines available. This is a very remote and protected island twelve miles from the mainland. The catamaran ride from Island Packers dock to the island was spectacular. Smooth sailing, lots of dolphins diving out of the water following our boat on either side. As we approached the island I felt like I was in a Jurassic Park movie. The dock was safe but rustic and no building in site just beautiful hills blooming wildflowers and the deepest green terrain I have ever witnessed. Just approaching the dock was breathtaking, wow what would the rest of the island be like.

We opted to join a 2 hour ranger walk to get a real feel of the island. Highly recommend as he directed us to trails and viewing of wild island foxes, explained the abundance of wild flowers and the protected island scrub jay, also where to view the world largest sea caves. After the tour we set out on our own following the trail map the ranger provided us. The trails were well marked and led to pristine beaches, views of rugged mountains, pure paradise. We decided to stop and have lunch on a cliff overlooking a sea lion rookery and sea caves. Hard to eat when the Ravens wouldn’t stop begging us for food, but rules are do not feed the animals, the birds just dont know the rules. As we continued our hike we periodically came upon small gray foxes as large as house cats and were not frightened by us all which gave us great photo opportunities. The island fox is only found on 6 of the 8 Channel Islands and found nowhere else on earth. They would walk up to you within feet without any fear and they are adorable.

No cell coverage allows for shear peacefulness of this island with only the sound of the rhythmic waves, salty breezes and over 2000 species of plants and animals made us want to stay for longer. We had a full day of hiking over 6 miles and it was now time to head back to the dock. What a wonderful day and we would definitely do this again, possibly a different island next time.

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CHEERS FROM JUST AROUND THE BEND

Gilbert Ray Campground Arizona

Sometimes on our snow bird explorations we find a hidden gem and Gilbert Ray Campground ticks all of the boxes.

Bordering Saguaro National Park and a mier mile from Old Tucson Movie Studio Theme Park is Tucson Mountain Park which included in that park is Gilbert Ray Campground. Located 13 miles from Tucson, Gilbert Ray has 130 RV sites with individual electric hook-ups and 5 designated tent sites.. Water is available and a RV dump station. NO shower facilities. RESERVATIONS ARE NOT ACCEPTED.

The fees are $20.00 a night and a maximum stay of 7 days only. The trick to getting a spot as this is a very popular campground with no reservations accepted is to get there early in the morning, I’d say 7am, yes I said 7 am is best. Its worth it as you will definitely want to stay longer as there is so much to see and do in the surrounding area.

Some of the sites are pretty small, but as you check in they ask the size of your RV and select an appropriate size site for you. No favoritism here you get what they choose.

Tucson Mountain Park has a lot of maintained trails and vista pullouts for spectacular views of the Sonoran desert with plenty of pullouts for vehicles. This particular year was abundant with rainfall and the cactus were blooming profusely. In all of the years we have explored the desert we have never seen so much beauty.

Next Stop The Channel Islands Please Join Us On Our Journey

JUST AROUND THE BEND JEFF AND LIZ

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OLD TUCSON ARIZONA

OLD TUCSON is a theme park and historical film location in Pima County, Arizona. Over 400 movies and television shows were filmed at this location. if you are a fan of old western shows and movies you will probably recognize a lot of the backdrops. Located a mier mile from Gilbert Ray Campground and 4 miles from Saguaro National Park. General Admission is $19.95 and $10.95 for children (4-11) years old. A very large parking lot with plenty of RV room and free. Hours depend on the time of year, check their website as it changes often. Oldtucson.com. Old Tucson is very pet friendly as long as you keep your pet on a leash and your pet is friendly. NOTE: There is water placed for your pets comfort as it can get very hot and beware there is gun fire during part of the days events during stunt and cowboy shows.

Step back in time and plan on spending the entire day as we did enjoying numerous shows, gun fights, saloon musicals, living history and film history tour presentations. Don’t forget to take the train ride and plenty of rides for the kiddos to keep the whole family entertained. A western themed zipline is a very popular attraction located in the middle of the park which is an additional $20.00 a ride or 3 rides for $45.00.

The quality of the performances, whether it was singing, dancing or gunfighting was very, very professional. PERSONAL NOTE: Jeff was very happy as there was excellent BBQ and Good Ice Cream.

Our next adventure in the Tucson Area is The Historic Presidio District

Cheers From Just Around The Bend

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DEAD HORSE RANCH STATE PARK ARIZONA

Another fabulous State Park that is kept in great shape. Clean restrooms that are literally heated, free hot showers and clean, clean, clean. Sites are swept and tables are washed off as soon as it is vacated. The upper loops are $5.00 a night cheaper with great views of the Verde Valley. Quail loop campground was $35.00 a night, the upper loops $30.00 with spectacular views and less trees which make a difference in the warmer weather. Well that’s what the Ranger said anyway. . There are extensive trail systems for hiking, biking and horseback riding. You are miles from Sedona, Jerome, Cottonwood, Flagstaff and Clarksville. There is so much to see and do in the surrounding areas this campground makes for a great base camp.

The first day we visited Tuzigoot National Monument – Indian Ruins and Petroglyphs including a spectacular museum.

Montezuma’s Well WAS NEXT ON OUR LIST-more spectacular Indian ruins

Sedona Valley scenic byway was a beautiful drive with views and snow on the ground.

ALL ABOARD A FUN AND INTERACTIVE TRAIN RIDE

Like I said 2 weeks was probably not enough to see it all but we gave it a good try. In addition we visited Jerome and had a fabulous meal in a bordello called THE BORDELLO OF JEROME . The gyros were highly recommended and fantastic. The cook and owner made everything from scratch including the tzatziki sauce, pita bread and amazing feta crumbles, The lamb/beef mixture was non greasy and fantastic. We also roamed the streets of Cottonwood with lovely eclectic shops and a great BBQ restaurant called HOG WILD BBQ, I know the name is wild, ha but the food was outstanding.

Out next adventure takes us to Gilbert Ray Campground near Tucson AZ – see ya there CHEERS JEFF AND LIZ

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GRAPEVINE CANYON – LAUGHLIN NEVADA

This is one of those local hidden gems that no one tells you about and lucky we found it exploring around Laughlin, Nevada. About a mile off of the main highway on a dusty gravel road named Christmas Tree Road is a protected petroglyph site that beats any petroglyph site we have visited yet in our travels. The parking lot is well marked with a very clean restroom before the trailhead begins. From the parking lot is a easy 1/2 mile walk to the beginning of the cliffs, with plenty of beautiful scenery along the way.

Of course being the Thompsons we packed a lunch and plenty of water and probably spent a good half of a day exploring . The trail meanders around the rocks and petroglyphs for about 2 1/2 miles if you want to walk to the end. It’s a ruff go after the first mile with lots of rock climbing and literally sliding down cliffs but great fun for the young. This is a must adventure if you are in the area.

CHEERS FROM JUST AROUND THE BEND

OUR NEXT DESTINATION IS DEAD HORSE RANCH STATE PARK IN ARIZONA

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LAKE MEAD AND BOULDER CITY ARIZONA AND NEVADA

Boulder City was not what we expected. I thought dry, hot desert, nothing to explore, BORING, well that was not the case. I didn’t realize that a mire 4 miles from Boulder City was Hoover Dam and the expansion bridge which went across The Colorado river was incredible. After the Highway bypass was finished the cities staff went to work revitalizing the town and they did a great job. New bike paths, parks, and a nostalgic downtown with original neon signs. Boulder is one of the few Nevada cities that gambling and prostitution is illegal. This puts a relaxed persona on the town. There was a art and wine tour with live music downtown when we were visiting in February. The park on the way down to Lake Mead has resident Mountain Sheep hanging out in the park for great photo opportunities. We stayed 2 nights at the Elks Lodge RV park with Full hookups for members only. We moved over to Boulder Campground which is part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area ran by the National Park Service.The very scenic sites were 10 dollars a night for senior pass holders and 20 dollars for young folks. There is 2 more campgrounds on the Nevada side and more on the Arizona side of the Lake. There is also some dispersed sites on the lake for free BLM camping. A plus to the campground is a 38 mile paved bike loop which goes along the lake, up towards Henderson and loops back to Boulder City. We had fun in the city and the Hoover dam was fascinating. We were reminded of the Selma Hayek movie Fools Rush In. Boulder won our hearts with great people and a fun nostalgic town. We will be back.

Until our next Adventure CHEERS FROM JEFF AND lIZ AT JUSTAROUNDTHEBEND.BLOG

You are probably wondering where are these Nomads headed to next – Well its to DEAD HORSE RANCH STATE PARK SEE YOU THERE!!!!

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