A Travellerspoint blog

August 2018

Recapping Arrr US Adventure

View 2018 on mrb430's travel map.

As I write this, it's our last "Sunday Funday" in the US for the next six months and we're spending it in Nashville, Tennessee. Can't believe this chapter is coming to a close.

Recap on Our Last Few Days

Earlier this week, we traveled from Utah down to Las Vegas and spent three amazing nights at the Wynn resort. The trip down was amazing. We passed close enough to the Grand Canyon to see it's outer edges and we traveled the Virgin River Gorge that took us from 6,000 feet down to 2,000 in about 10 miles.

Las Vegas
Vegas was fun but I don't really have anything new to add to all that you already know about it. I will say it was a little like going to Disney World; my favorite part was hanging out in the pools! Ha!

As a treat for my birthday, we flew out here to Nashville to see Keith Urban in concert. As we suspected, seeing his show in Nashville was awesome fun. It was a "who's behind door number one" kind of night. We got to see him do songs with Kelsey Ballerina, who was the opening act, Shy Carter, Kassi Ashton, Larkin Poe (a sister act from Atlanta that had an amazing jam session with Keith), Carrie Underwood, and wait for it - the Tennessee State University marching band! Oh and there was the selfie with Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon and a couple fans just for fun. He definitely maintains his second place standing in our top performers list. Top three: Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley.

The End of this Phase
The last leg of our trip is tomorrow as we fly back to Vegas to get Ruby and drive down to Chula Vista, CA for a stopover before hitting Baja. We've gotten so used to driving travel, slow travel, that flying here and back has been a bit surreal. It's hot and humid! We've gotten so used to the dry mountain/desert air that this is really weird! We're looking forward to getting back and starting our drive South through the Baja.

Trip Stats


Almost five months since our retirement day, we've driven 15,000+ miles through 21 states and three time zones. We've stayed in 35 different locations. That's 35 different beds in everything from cabins, to motels, to hotels, to resorts, to townhouses, to apartments, to condos. We averaged 3.5 nights per location, not including the month in Fort Collins, and burned about 900 gallons of gas!

We've had three oil changes, too many washes to count, and only one flat tire.

The Best and The Worst

We've met amazing people and learned so much about the similarities and differences between us all across this amazing country. And we were fortunate enough to share some of our travels with our family, Courtney, Morgan, Dorothy, Wayne, and Carl, as well as a few of my cousins, aunts, and uncles. The month we spent with my parents in Fort Collins was wonderful despite being the place we laid Cadeau to rest.

We loved Florida, Memphis, Sioux Falls, and Wyoming. Jet skiing on Florida's west coast was tons of fun. The races in Bonneville were magical. The wildflowers through South Dakota and Wyoming blew our minds. And it would take ten minutes to list all the wildlife we've seen from the birds in Florida to the big creatures of the West. Each one made for a magical moment.

We absolutely fell in love with taking Ruby on the backroads. Whether the dusty, lonely roads of Wyoming or the rock-crawling trails of Colorado, we got to see amazing sites and visit lakes and mountains few get to see. So glad with our choice in mode of transport.

And we had a great time becoming hockey fans during the Caps epic Stanley Cup win and soccer fans during the World Cup.

There wasn't much we didn't like except being cold or traveling too fast.

So we have a big thank you to Cadeau for staying with us long enough to get us on the road here in the US. Spending her last four months with her full time traveling was truly a gift. She is missed but I am happy knowing that she would not have enjoyed our travels after Fort Collins and she did truly enjoy them up until then.

So here we come Mexico. Arrr international travels begin.

Posted by mrb430 13:03 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Adventures in Utah and Reflections of Life on the Road

Camping, Not so much!

From Durango we headed up to Farmington, Utah to pick up our camping trailer - home for the next eight days (or so we thought). First surprise - there was NOTHING in the camper but what it was built with and toilet paper. Yikes, how did I not think of this. So off to Walmart we went to buy everything from sheets and pillows to cookware to a rug and chairs.

Okay, all set. Our first stop was a beautiful reservoir in Huntsville. This is where we learned to communicate in backing up the trailer. Saying turn right from behind the truck really doesn't help, does it? Do I mean turn the wheels right, turn the truck right, or turn the trailer right? You see the issue. But we got in on the pad and set up. Thanks for those helpful videos folks! You might have mentioned the side hold makes a perfect bartending area but Scott figured that out all on his own.

Sunrise the next morning was beautiful but it was time to go to the salt flats.

So we packed up and headed to Bonneville for the races.

Here we camped on BLM land, which means you pick a spot, any spot, and set up camp.

Needless to say no water here but there were beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

There were also windstorms that blew sand and forced us into Ruby to ride it out. I was sure the trailer was either going to be pushed off it's blocks and roll down the hill or just tip right over. It was awesome in it's fury. It also covered everything in a layer of fine dust that permeated every crack and cranny.

Since we were dry camping and there were no facilities other than portable toilets, which out here go by the quaint name of Honey Buckets (really?), we decided to try out the trailer shower.

You thought I was kidding? Anyway, knowing we had no way to get more water in the tanks, we were very sparing in our water use. Not ideal - you've seen my hair right? Scott could only stand up by sticking his head up into the skylight! But we managed. Oh and not knowing how long our propane would last and needing it for the refrigerator, we didn't use the hot water heater. Not a big issue since day time temps were in the high 90's and the water tanks were heated up by that.

So I reached back into my memory of camping from years ago and heated hot water to put into the sink to wash up at nights, used solo cups for tooth brushing, and peed in the honey pots as much as possible. Cuz, yeah, you don't want to fill the black water tank either! So much to worry about!

But we made it through, actually enjoying the cool evenings and the amazing views, and on we went to our next stop, the Loop Campground at the Deseret Peak complex south of Salt Lake City. Here was Scott's optimistic FaceBook post once we got set up.

We gathered firewood and had a nice evening by the fire. When we went to bed, we realized that the drop in temperature we had enjoyed during the day meant it was going to be cold at night - mid to low 50's. So let's go back to the fact there was nothing in the trailer, including no blankets! And preparing for going south, we ditched most of our warm clothes in Fort Collins. We had one fleece blanket - the kind that zips into a sleeping bag that I always have in the back of the truck for emergencies, between us. We did find some sweat pants and long sleeves in the Beast but we were cold! Yes, the trailer has heat. But, that requires - say it with me - propane. So no go.

We are the Rain Makers

Oh, and it rained the second night! I must digress here to talk about our apparent rain-making capabilities. We have been blessed with great weather on this trip - mostly. But there were times we wondered if we didn't have some special rain making capability. It becomes apparent when we show up somewhere and some local says "It's been really dry here this [spring, summer, year]". Inevitably, it will rain immediately following those words being spoken to us. We spent a day hiding in our tiny house in Custer, SD (the rain is so welcome the locals said), got socked in with rain, cold, and clouds in Banff for a few days (so unusual the locals said), we arrived in Fort Collins to a few days of rain (boy do we need this the locals said, hasn't rained in weeks), and we camped in a desert mountain canyon that clearly hadn't seen rain in weeks, and it rained the second night we were there. Really - it rained on us in the DESERT in AUGUST! I'm sure the locals would have said "that rain really cleaned the dust up!" It's not enough to bother us usually just one of those things that makes you go "hmmm".

Anyway, we lasted one more night, a night spent in sweats, fleece and rain gear around the fire and fully dressed in bed (remember we headed south to escape this fate), before I woke up and, after building a morning fire to warm up, said to Scott "If I said I wanted to ditch the trailer and go to a hotel, would you say yes?" If you know Scott, you know his reply was an instantaneous "I'd say that would be fine". So we made it six nights and we have never been so happy to check into a La Quinta in our lives. Hot showers, comfy beds, blankets, and pillows. Apparently these are some of our favorite things! We're glad we tried it but we are also really glad we didn't plan on camping for this US adventure!

Speed Week at Bonneville Salt Flats

All that being said, camping was the perfect way to enjoy the racing at Speed Week. We were close to the track, had a place to come back to and get out of the sun, grab a bite to eat and regroup. And it was warm, okay it was hot and dusty, but it was different and beautiful in a desolate and "how does anything survive here" kind of way. And Scott's brother Carl joined us again so we enjoyed being with him.

The Runs

We soon learned the flow of the day at the races. To set a new speed record, a vehicle must break the record one day and then repeat breaking it the second day. Qualifying runs, the first, happen any time of day but typically the return run, the record setting run on the second day, happens first thing in the morning. And by that I mean before 8:00 am. These are the really exciting runs so we got ourselves up early, poured coffee into our cups and ourselves into Ruby and hit the track by about 7:00 am. The salt is beautiful in the mornings.

And it's cool. By 10:00 or 11:00, the temperature escalates about 30 degrees, from lows in the high sixties to the upper nineties. And the reflections off the salt makes it even more intense.

You all recall my observations on dry heat but all the same. Nevertheless, watching cars go by down the salt at speeds exceeding 400 mph is awesome and fascinating. There is just every kind of vehicle imaginable here.

This is Speed Demon - it went 452 mph and was in second place to Turbinator that went 463 mph. These are the streamliners - fastest "cars" at the track.

The Pits

Huh? Looking back at these headings it doesn't sound like so good. The Runs, The Pits, ha! Makes you think of those Honey Buckets again. But I digress, again. After the return runs, it's off to the pits to see what's up and who's doing what.

This was Carbinator - never had a successful run but really cool streamliner.

People come from all over the world to race. There were a few teams from New Zealand like this one. There was also a team from the Isle of Man.

These are called lakesters and the old school ones are made out of military fuel drop tanks.

This was Big Red, a beautiful Camaro that is the fastest 1969 Camaro in the world. They set a record at 258 mph.

This streamliner was crazy cool. It had just been finished so didn't run but was there for a preview for next year. It reminded me of a shark or some other sleek fish.

I do have to mention they race motorcycles here, too. Including tiny 50 cc bikes that go over 90 mph!

The slowest record set at the meet was by a 100 cc motorcycle named Carpe Diem LSR at 39.12 mph. It's all just about setting the record in your class - be that super fast or just super fast for your type of vehicle.

The Classics

Then there are all the folks that bring out their classic cars to tool around.

And this was one of our favorites set ups for race watching. In case you can't read it the side says "Jackass School District", "Free Tuition".

We had a blast and so glad we decided to check this off Scott's bucket list. Definitely a must do item for any race fan.

So now we're chilling in Midvale, Utah. The La Quinta has a nice indoor/outdoor pool. It's warm. It has maid service. And it's in the middle of nowhere but we're happy. Need to chill, do some last minute shopping, get the remaining salt off Ruby and the dust off the truck bag, and it's on to Las Vegas! After four and a half months, we finally have this travel thing figured out. Biggest lesson learned - make sure your partner has the same daily rhythms you do, is flexible and willing to try anything once, and has the patience of a saint. Second biggest lesson learned - don't do anything you don't want to do just cuz you think you should or you're too lazy to figure out a plan B!

Remember to subscribe to updates on the blog and follow us on Instagram @arrradventures for real-time updates.

Posted by mrb430 09:24 Comments (0)

Kickin' up the Dust in Durango - Part 2

View 2018 on mrb430's travel map.

Before we pick up the story, I have a rant and an observation. First the rant, VERIZON CELL SERVICE SUCKS WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI!

Not kidding. We have both been loyal Verizon cell users for years but coming west has been an eye opener. Ruby has AT&T for her wifi and they kick Verizon's a$$ out here. We often have NO SERVICE on the phones and 3-4 bars in the truck. Now some of that may be her antenna but seriously?! Verizon needs to step up their game. And this isn't just in the mountains. It was in Fort Collins!

And the observation...dry heat really is different. After years of pooh-poohing people claiming 100 degrees in Utah was just not as hot as 100 degrees in Florida, I must eat crow. I think the real issue is that you don't sweat out here (I mean, I know you do but it evaporates instantly) so a.) your body may cool more efficiently, and b.) you don't feel a sticky mess. You do feel dusty, however! I'm gaining an appreciation, which is good because I'm fairly sure this is how Mexico will be!

Okay on to Arrradventures!

Colorful Colorado Backroads

We headed up to do a series of roads that started at Animas Flats Ghost Town and then went up California Gulch, over California Pass (12,930 feet), over Hurricane Pass (12,407), and down Corkscrew Gulch. The latter goes up and over and then down between the red mountains. Just incredible beauty. Scott's brother Carl joined us and it was nice to share it with him.

I tried something a little different. This first video is a series of photos and short videos, sort of a "slide show".

Check it out. There were just too many great shots to choose just a few but here's a teaser.

And this is a short video of what it was like to drive the shelf road down Corkscrew Gulch with, as promised, more Joe Walsh.

It begins to capture the heart-stopping nature of the shelf you drive down and the curves. The most amazing thing about it is that it is an actual county road, CR20. They basically keep the road carved out of the side of the mountain, remove any slide debris, and fix washouts. Again, this is off-roading Mecca!

Eric's Awesome "Let's Go See Cool Shit" ATV Tour

And last but not least, Scott and I took an ATV tour on our last day. When we showed up, the guide asked if we'd been out at all yet. When we told him where we had been he had to think fast because he was planning on taking us on the exact tour we did the day before to California and Hurricane Pass. In the end, he took us to spots he liked, visited, and thought were cool but didn't usually take tours. We saw some amazing places and drove roads we never would have found on our own. It was awesome! We told him he needed to use it again and name it the "Let's Go See Cool Shit" ATV Tour.

First we headed up toward two lakes. At the first, we ran into this guy taking photos for the historical society on a vintage camera. He was definitely suited to the work and dressed the part.

The second lake was really beautiful.

We went up to Buffalo Boy Mine's Headhouse. This was a typical mine in these mountains where the mines were up high and they brought the ore down on trams like these.

This head house loaded the trams.

Visiting all of these mines and ghost towns gets you thinking about the men and women that worked these mines, ran the boarding houses, and built the towns. They lived in the harshest of conditions and endured hardships unimaginable to us. I've mentioned before how we think about those that came and settled the West often but it strikes you especially here because the things they built remain and you can imagine easier what they must have gone through. Imagine maintaining these rails, or building that head house at 12,550 feet!

Finally we headed out Cunningham Gulch, which had a stunning view looking back. From here you could also see an old boarding house that was way up on the side of the mountain. The men and supplies reached it by riding in the tram buckets!

We also stuck our heads into a mine opening and saw what it must have been like, in a very minor way, to work inside them.

Check out this video for the down and DUSTY!

If you're ever in Silverton, make sure to look Eric up at San Juan Backcountry Tours and tell him we say hey!

Next up, Bonneville Salt Flats Speed Week! Remember to follow us on Instagram @arrradventures for more real-time updates and photos.

Posted by mrb430 13:47 Archived in USA Tagged mountains colorado off-roading Comments (0)

Kickin up the Dust in Durango, Part 1

View 2018 on mrb430's travel map.

First things first, I have a favor to ask you dear readers. I'd love some feedback on the blog. Too many or too few photos? Do you watch and/or like the videos? Do they play okay for you? I'd love to hear from you. You can just use the comment feature to give me some input.

And on to the stuff you came for...

As I may have mentioned, so far on this trip Wyoming has been our favorite place. Especially the high, dry north-central basin but also the Tetons. Well, the San Juan Mountains gave it a run for its money. If we had known, we would have planned to spend two weeks there instead of three nights! It is an off-roading Mecca and for good reason. From Ourey, through Silverton, and down to Durango, the towns are chock-a-block with 4x4s, ATVs, motorcycles, side-by-sides, mountain bikes, and every variation of machine to climb and traverse the hundreds of roads and trails available. Oddly, or maybe not so much, very few hikers are to be seen.

And the trails! They range from dirt/gravel county roads to ruts just big enough for an ATVs but they all inevitably climb up into gulches and over mountains passes and they are almost all ROCKY! The ability to relatively easily get to 12,000+ feet is amazing. It feels like being on the top of the world.

Passes and Gulches and Mines Galore

Yankee Girl Trail
One of the really cool things about this area is all of the historic mines and mining equipment that is still standing. Happening upon them out on the trails is really fun. Some are just ruins and some have been "restored". And there is evidence everywhere of where they were even if there aren't buildings anymore. You can see the slopes of tailings that spilled out of the mining process on almost every mountain, sometimes two to three tiers as they moved up the seams in the mountains. It's weird because in a way they "ruined" the land but for us it was really interesting and beautiful.

The first trail we took went by numerous mines, including the famous Yankee Girl Mine, which has been restored. There's something about the weathered old wood that just seems "natural" here.

The colors of the tailings are so rich from the ore it's just like waterfalls of golden and red rock down the sides of the slopes.

The US Basin
The next trail we took went up to the US Basin, a high mountain basin above 12,000 feet. The views were just amazing.

Remember the Red Mountains from the last post? Well here they are again.

Take a look at this video to see some of the road.

Narrow Gauge Railway

We also took the narrow gauge railway from Durango to Silverton. It follows the Animas River all the way up through the very narrow gorge it has created. Quite a feat of engineering. It's steam powered, which is interesting if you're a history buff. For me it meant smoke and black soot everywhere. I actually can't believe there aren't OSHA issues with people working on it. Nevertheless, it made for some amazing scenery and, thanks to Scott's brother Carl for suggesting it, we got to enjoy it. I've neglected to mention so far that Carl joined us in Durango, which was a treat, and he's meeting up with us here in Bonneville.

Here's a ten second video that gives you the idea - make sure you have the sound on. I'm not sure if it's intentional or not but the color of the train is the color of the iodized rocks along the river and that blue reminds me of the glacial lakes we saw in Canada.

This whole area really shows why they call it Colorful Colorado.

Next up Part 2 featuring the second half of that awesome Joe Walsh song, more amazing views, and an ATV adventure. Remember to follow us on Instagram @arrradventures for more real-time updates and photos.

Posted by mrb430 19:27 Archived in USA Tagged mountains colorado off-roading Comments (2)

Crossing Colorado in Search of the Desert West

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As I post this we are on our way to the Bonneville Salt Flats for Speed Week. Bucket List item - check!

I'm a bit behind on the blog so first a little catching up. Before we left Fort Collins, we were able to fit in a few extras.

I-76 Dirt Track Speedway
Scott FINALLY got to the races! We headed out to this little quarter mile dirt track one night and saw the Saturday night races. There were six classes, a few crashes, and lots of noise and dust. Of course that's my perspective. From Scott's point of view it was a great local "bull ring" with lots of action under the lights.

Larimer County Fair
We also fit in another fair and rodeo. It wasn't "The Daddy of 'Em All" (aka Cheyenne Frontier Days) but it was fun. And we got to share it with my parents. It was a fun day and night. I'm sure the highlight for Scott was touring the 4H barns (not)! I think it's interesting, though and and he was nice enough to do it with me.

Here's a really short clip you will enjoy. It's mostly a bloopers roll.

And I can't close out this chapter without a word about fishing. I gave up some time ago on fresh water fishing but Scott had a few more goes at it. He and Steve even got up at 6:00 a.m. in the pouring rain one day to head out and try. In the end, NOT ONE FISH has been caught since Florida. Well, I did catch one little guy in a lake somewhere but, really, ONE?! When we got to the fair we finally found somewhere we should have been able to catch some trout but, alas, it was only for the 12 and under crowd.

So the trout win this round and the poles are packed until Mexico. Salt water here we come!


I-70 West

When we decided to take the route to Durango out I-70 and then south, I had no idea how beautiful I-70 was going to be. This has to be the most beautiful interstate anywhere. It follows the Colorado River most of the way cutting through the high, narrow canyons in the Rockies where the highway is built double-decker to fit into the canyon, over the Continental Divide, and down into the broader river valley on the western slope where the canyon and the land start to look like Utah and the Grand Canyon, then finally into the desert terrain that leads upon to the Monument.

Colorado National Monument

We took that route so we could drive the scenic drive through the Colorado National Monument. I am SOOO glad we did. Since we aren't going to the canyon lands and National Parks in Utah this trip, it gave us a glimpse of those red rocks, needles, canyons, and high plateaus we would have missed. This is an awesome and lightly-visited place - a great combination.

Million Dollar Highway

The highway from Ourey, Colorado to Durango is called the Million Dollar Highway. It follows canyons and crosses pass after pass hanging high up on the cliffs above the rivers below then plunges down when it approaches the towns. Quite a ride and a beautiful road.


This was my favorite mountain - Engineer.

And these are the red mountains. So colored because of the iron ore. Much more of these guys in the next post so stay tuned.

Next up all the fun we had off-roading in Durango and then the SALT!

Make sure to subscribe for updates and for more real time adventures follow us on Instagram @Arrradventures.

Posted by mrb430 10:47 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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