As Modern Nomads our travels generally have direction or purpose. Sometimes they don’t. One of the main reasons we nomad is to visit our grown children who live spread out across the country. Of course, our daughter lives in Alaska which is why we spend our summers there. Two of our adult children live in Colorado which is why we try to stay there as much as possible. Also, we have a storage unit there as well. Our other son lives in Las Vegas. Hence we hopped, skipped and jumped from Payette Ranch in McCall to Las Vegas to Colorado.
Apart from the significant weather change patterns of cooler autumn to much warmer Nevada to frigid in northern Colorado to snow again. We had no major adventures except traveling from quiet two-lane roads onto freeways and interstates which are never fun with a rig the size of a semi.
We traveled down Idaho through Sandpoint where we had once planned to move, but position my husband wanted with Coldwater Creek never materialized – even after an interview. We went through Coeur d’Alene, Moscow and Riggins, the Salmon River rafting capital of the world. As entered the Ponderosa area near McCall, it felt like coming ‘home.’ The town with all its trimmings had a familiarity that brought us great peace after traveling nearly three weeks straight from Alaska.
This ranch is owned by my husband’s family. For many years we took our children to the lake house on Payette Lake where we all enjoyed boats, water skiing and bike riding. We had hoped our relatives would be there as we traveled through, but they had closed the house for the winter. They offered us much-needed respite at the ranch where we could plan the next arms and legs of our travel plans, get some work done on our truck, as well as enjoy the bike trails around the area.
Apart from numerous cows and two ranch hands, we were the only other people on the ranch. In the evenings we could hear coyotes howling at the moon. With the house nearby, we used the shower/bathroom, laundry facilities and the dishwasher! What a vacation from the norm.
Several years ago I bought a new mountain bike in Boulder, Colorado. Because my husband wasn’t with me, I was ‘taken’ and given a bike with a too large frame. I have hated riding it mostly because I felt out of control and I would fall. While in McCall I wondered if we could trade in my old, very unused one, for a new one. We did! My old one is on consignment and I love my new one. One of our day’s in McCall we decided to ride around Payette Lake like we did every summer. Unfortunately, there was too much road work so we took a trail that got us lost on never ending paths. My new bike got a really good first workout.
Enjoying the autumn warmth of McCall, we cringed when we heard snow was coming. We had wanted to stay a full week, but needed to pack up before bad weather. Saying good-bye to McCall and the Ranch was difficult, but we had to move south like the snowbirds we really aren’t – we do like snow and snow activities.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Neither of us had ever really been to Las Vegas. When our two oldest children were 2 and 4, we drove through the city, but didn’t stop. We toured Hoover Dam and camped by Lake Mead on our way to southern California, but found no desire to gamble or be part of ‘sin city.’ When my son moved to Vegas, we knew we had to visit him and see his new life: house, car, job, From rain in McCall that did turn to snow, we traveled south to where powdered snow on small hills evaporated into desert flat sun and heat. I was happy that I had upgraded some of my wardrobe from spring, fall and winter to some summer items. The temperature truly did rise.
We stayed at the Las Vegas RV Resort on Nellis Blvd. near several big casinos off the Strip. The resort was south and east of Vegas while my son’s home was north and west in Summerlin. We found out quickly that the drive would be short and rather direct. We spent the week doing normal activities – grocery shopping at Whole Foods and Sprouts, going to an RV show (and that will be the subject of another blog), having dinners with our son and his girlfriend, visiting Bass Pro (boo) and just enjoying the relaxation of glamping in a gated community with a pool and every other amenity.
Because we will return to Las Vegas and this resort in the spring for 6-8 weeks, we decided we didn’t need to do a lot on the Strip this time. Next time we’ll book a show, do a zip line, visit Venice, the volcano and go up the Eiffel Tower along with hikes in nearby state and national parks. I look forward to going up the Eiffel Tower because I neglected to do this when I was in Paris in high school. I still have dreams I’m trying to get to the top by DRIVING a car! This time we got a taste of the Strip in a one-hour excursion of the highlights.
Highlights of the Strip
The final leg of our journey from Alaska ended in Colorado. As we traveled from Vegas, the weather began to get cooler and cooler. From the high 80s at the resort, the temps went into the 70s in Moab, Utah. Crossing the Continental Divide and the Eisenhower Tunnel, the temps dropped into the 60s and then the 50s. We drove through the metro-Denver area north to Fort Collins/Wellington area and the wind chill brought the temps into the 40s. During the evening, we had rain, hail, thunder and lightning, and then snow. When we woke up, the temperature outside was 17. Of course, we were cozy warm in our little home.
Like Las Vegas, we had only visited the area of Moab when we went to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park when our children were young. Between Vegas and Denver it seemed Moab would be a great place to vaca for a few days and ride our bikes – more breaking in of my new bike and me.
The campground filled with jeeps, 4-wheelers, bikes and all other manner of outdoor activity equipment. Though a wonderful place to stay to do activities, the sites were a little close. One trailer pulled in from one direction; another from the other. This put the two doors facing each other. Between the trailers was a concrete slap with two tables. The first evening when we came home from hiking, our neighbors were having a cookout with numerous friends. They were all sitting at the table right outside of our door. I asked them if they needed more light to which they all responded ‘yes’. I went inside and turned on our awning lights! Yeah, the closest we have ever camped to neighbors. Good thing they were all old like us because they had an early night.
Our first evening in Moab, we went into Arches National Park and took a short hike to Landscape Arch. This arch is the fifth longest in the world and is slowly breaking down. Since 1995 several slabs of rock have fallen so the trail beneath the arch is closed to hiking. With the evening light many of the arches by the roadway appeared to be on fire. We saw deer, ravens and numerous nationalities of people hiking the same trail. As we drove on the main arches road, we passed the Fiery Furnace, Balanced Rock and Skyline Arch.
The next day we decided to ride our bikes. I am not one for intense and difficult mountain biking. I prefer easier rides so I can enjoy myself. In all honesty, I hate sweating and I hate hills. My husband did a more difficult trail called the Lazy Eazy and then I joined him for the Bar M Loop. These trails have sensational views while riding on mostly ‘slick rock’. Of course, being the unseasoned mountain biker that I am I thought the rock was slick. It’s not. It’s only slick for cows. Mountain bike tires hug the rock making for good traction. I felt like I rode for 10 miles, but I think it was only 3 or 4. I need more riding exercise and less heat.
In the Moab area, we noticed some heavy trucks doing work near the Colorado River which passes through Moab. A little Google research and we learned that there had been a uranium mine located by the river called the Moab Tailings Pile. Once the uranium was processed the remaining slurry was collected in an unlined pond next to the river (anyone ever watch “Erin Brockovich?”) The leakage of ammonia from the slurry into the river put toxins in the water that had a serious effect on fish. Since about 2005, all of the radioactive tailings have been in the process of being moved into lined holes via ‘dirty’ and ‘clean’ trucks.
After our little biking excursion, we found an ice cream shop and walked along the street souvenir shopping. Because we live in a small space, I generally look for magnets. We also bought a couple of very, very inexpensive books to give family as gifts. Again, we heard the weather was going to turn cold so we left a day early for colorful Colorado thankful that the park put us in our site early.
The Colorado Connection
We spent a few days with our daughter in northern Colorado. We saw her new apartment and met her roommates. We had drinks at the Sunset Lounge while listening to jazz music. We went miniature golfing and had a grand ole time nearly getting knocked out by some pre-teens driving their balls instead of putting them. Of course, I didn’t win, but neither did she.
From northern Colorado we headed to Aurora to camp in our ole stomping ground from last winter: Cherry Creek State Park. We booked two weeks so we could celebrate Sukkot, The Feast of Tabernacles, with family and … friends from Roeh Israel. We also took time to plan and prepare for the next part of our nomad life – heading to Pennsylvania to visit my family.