A Few of Ellen’s Photos from Echo Island
Tee Pee Moon
Anderson Pot Pie
Our hot point convection oven had given us conniptions in the past. We’d turn it on, put food in, and it would shut off in two minutes! I tried everything I could think of to no avail. I even read the manual. This evening we’d try convection on the pot pies. Google to the rescue! I found a video of a woman cooking raspberry scones in her hot point convection oven. She did exactly what I had done; exactly! Except she waited until the oven reached temperature, then she put the food. Opening and closing the door triggers “step two” for the oven. Once the door is closed, the oven accepts a cook time! That’s news to me. We set the timer and cooked the chicken pot pie.
When Ellen bought the pie, she was told that any Anderson’s supermarket has them. The pie was as good as expected and they’re easy to prepare now that we know how to use the convection oven. When we (Ellen) doesn’t want to cook, we’ll pull out a chicken pie.
Echo Island RV Resort, Coalville Utah
On long distance drives, we look for an RV campground a few hours before sunset or when we get tired. Ellen found Echo Island in Coalville on AllStays, a smartphone app. They had a site for us. In fact they had many sites open.
This RV Park was envisioned as a destination resort. Members paid a membership fee and could use the park “free” based on their membership class. It has modern tiled sowers and bathrooms, hot tub and swimming pools, a half basketball court, horseshoes, 160 RV sites, tent sites, cabins, and four Tee Pees. It has a fishing hole and a creek that runs through the property. Fishing is said to be good here. For a family looking to get away for a week, this could be a great place to go. Their website emphasizes family activities in the park.
Two years ago the LLC declared bankruptcy and Echo Island was purchased by its current owner. Some of the original club members are grand fathered in. There are a few fifth wheels that look to be unoccupied. We walked the grounds, which are extensive for an RV park. There is no “draw” here; little here or nearby to explore.
We were surprised that the restrooms and showers were closed. Last night we refilled our fresh water tank to 2/3 and stowed the hose. We had moderate rain overnight, The temperature dropped to 28 F this morning, not cold by our “new standards”. The sun is up. Temperature and barometric pressure are rising. I thought today would be cloudy. For now we have glorious sunshine and clear blue skies!
I’m sure we will drive through high passes that had snowfall overnight. We have a choice of taking WY-89 or I-80. 89 is a more direct route to Escalante and Bryce, though I-80 will be clear of snow and ice. I cannot say that of 89. We’ll probably take i-80 then cut over to 89 later. It’s the longer, safer route. Li’l Beast has done just fine in snow and ice. Even so, there is no reason to go looking for less than optimal driving conditions.
We’ve agreed to save The Grand Canyon for another trip. We would have to back-track. We’ve done that often enough. More significantly, we could feel rushed. Like Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon is huge. A few days here, a few more days there; that could easily become two weeks or more. Should we go to the canyon, our travels could bump up against November commitments.
Long term travel in a Small Motorhome
You had better be best friends for long term motor home camping in cold weather. In warm weather, you can enjoy the great outdoors. In freezing weather, you’re confined inside. That can be warm and cozy, or a tight quarters nightmare.
We chose a Winnebago because they have a long track record and a reputation for building reliable motor homes. They listen to their customer base and “fix” things that could be improved. We chose a View because it is built on a Mercedes Diesel Sprinter platform. We chose a 24 J for its large living space with its push-out.
The 24J is perfect for a couple, or a very small family. It can sleep six, though I cannot imagine traveling with four children or four adults. For the two of us, it is perfect. There is enough room that we’re not constantly bumping into each other mornings and evenings when were indoors. With the temperatures often below freezing in fall travel, we are indoors for hours. We read, talk about yesterday, today, and tomorrow’s plans. We review our photos. We post on the web. We also have the TV on tuned to off air HD, cable when it’s available, or a satellite DirecTV channel.
Ellen cooks and cleans up. She thinks I make a mess and throw water “all over the place” when I do dishes. She’s a great cook. We carry prepared food for those times she just wants to relax. Paper plates ( not great for the environment ) help with cleanup on those days.
On a typical evening we’re exhausted from the day’s activities, we relax after dinner, and hop in bed around 11:30 give or take. We don’t watch the clock or plan to hit the sack at a particular time. It just works out that way. Unless we’ have plans, we do not set a morning alarm. We get up when we get up, usually between 7:30 and 8:00.
At night the heater is set to 55, regardless of projected overnight temperatures. We sleep on and electric pad that we set to 4 to preheat. Most nights a 2 setting is perfect. If temperatures is expected below 20, we’ll set it to 3. We drove Li’l Beast home from Connecticut in January 2015 in a cold winter storm. Sleeping we felt cold creeping in from below the mattress. We tried an electric blanket. That didn’t work out. Ellen found an electric heater pad that solved the problem. We’ve used it ever since.
We’re now comfortable not winterizing in freezing weather provided daytime temperatures rise well above freezing. We prefer to shut everything off when we travel and don’t’ want to risk frozen pipes. Evenings we turn on the black and gray water tank heater, put a light bulb in the outside water cubby, and set the heater to 55. The heater has a small duct that feed into our fresh water tank. With the electric pad, we don’t need the heater but set it to keep our fresh water tank above 32 F. The View’s propane heater and insulation can keep the interior warm in near 0 F temperatures. The heater is very efficient. Running it as we do in very cold weather, we use about 10% of our propane on a cold day. In Gardiner, Montana, we purchased a small electric space heater. I first thought it would go in the outside water cubby,, but it is too big and way too powerful. We use it inside to augment the propane heater. It’s amazing, we use it daily.
The black and gray tank heater is what makes it possible for us to camp in freezing weather. We have to be plugged into power to use it. I’m guessing here, I think that heater would drain our batteries in about four hours. Then we’d be SOL. For us, the key to freezing weather camping is having an electric hook-up.
Regards recycling, we learned that Montana does not recycle. Yes, you will find recycling bins at resorts that separate out glass, paper, aluminum. Those are there to keep the environmentally aware visitors happy. All those bins arrive at land fill in Montana. One day that may change.
Foreboding Skies, but perfectly clear Over the Pass
8% Grades are Common in Utah
Clearer Skies and a Hint of Fall Color
We have a pre-flight check list we go over before driving off. Toward the bottom are: ensure fridge is running on 12 volts and walk around the RV. Last night I noticed a abandoned 40 ft. quality yellow extension cord hanging on a power post with no camper in sight. Someone drove off and left that cord! I’ve learned to always do a walk around. You never know what you may have forgotten to stow. I’ve nearly left a rubber mallet, my water filter, and a sewer connector. When we pulled in the push-out, we heard a karumph followed by the sound of breaking glass. WTF? Rain on the push-out awning had frozen solid. It was breaking free and falling to the ground making an awful racket.
Always Walk around Your RV Before You Drive Off
Our near final check: Is the refrigerator running on 12 volts? Oh Crap, it didn’t switch over. “It’s the fuse”, I thought. I’ve seen this before. To get to the fuse I had to take off the fridge’s controller board’s cover, remove the controller board, and unplug some of the connectors. Yup, the 20 amp fuse was blown. I installed a fuse extension that brings the fuse outside the housing. I bought one anticipating another blown fuse. This little gizwatchie makes fuse replacement easy. I installed a fuse and tried to power the fridge. I’ve learned not to reassemble everything before testing. The fridge would not power on. The display was dead. I checked the refrigerator breaker. It hadn’t tripped, but another 20 amp fuse was blown too. Cool, I replaced that. Still the fridge display was blank, it would not power on. In my overconfidence, I had not shut of power to the fridge while making my “repair”. I probably shorted something that killed the fridge controller board. What a rookie mistake.
I called some repair shops in Salt Lake. “We’re booked for a week and a half. Can you wait?”, was a common answer. A week and a half in Salt Lake City? Hell No! I did get a call back from a mobile repair guy, but we’d driven about one hundred miles past Salt Lake. We’ll use ice in tubs in the fridge and freezer to keep our food fresh. A little adversity will not dampen our spirits or stop the adventure!
MY concern that we hit ice or snow was unfounded. The roads were all clear with not a hint of water on them.
We’re headed south, but where should we go first: Bryce, Escalante,, The Grand Staircase, Capitol Reef National Park? We took I-15 to avoid Salt Lake. At Scipio we took 50 east to Salina. We stopped at Barretts Foodtown in Salina for supplies and ice for our fridge, then continued on to highway 24 toward Loa and Capitol Reef National Park. The road off 70 to 24 is bizarre. The turnoff is to a “rest stop”, but the frontage road that runs along 70 for a few miles eventually feeds into 24! How really strange. There could be a more direct route, but that’s the path our Rand McNally GPS preferred.
The Only Wildlife We Saw Enroute
Often on the Road
An thousands of them
Nearing Capitol Reef
Rt 24 winds through ranch lands with abundant free range cattle. It rises and falls through rolling hills covered with fir trees then drops into a wide valley with near mountains to the left becoming red rock cliffs as we drove along. We encountered numerous black Angus roadside with a number of them standing on the road. 24 is a comfortable slow drive with speeds of 55 to 40 and 30 “in town”.
When we hit 70, Ellen called around for RV campgrounds. The first was full. The manager gave us phone numbers for two others. The second Ellen called had a single dry site available. Nope, that’s not for us! Ellen called the third. “We’re full, you should call the dry campsite you mentioned!” Ellen called the second campground back and said we’ll take the dry campsite if it’s available. “It’s still available”, Leslie said. “What is your name, and email? I’ll hold the site for you.” Ellen managed to get her name out before we drove out of cell coverage. We tried reaching Leslie a few times on rt 24. When we neared Fremont and with good connectivity, I pulled over. Ellen called again and got through. “Of course I held the site for you. We may even have an electric hook-up available. We have a guest who could be leaving tonight.” we gave her the “usual’ info to hold the site. “I won’t charge your card until we know which site you’ll get.” Spirits uplifted, we drove on toward Capital Reef. This is only the second time we’ve had trouble finding a site off season. The last time was in northern New Hampshire in October; RV parks were closing.
Sand Creek RV Park
We arrived at Sand Creek RV Park just as another Sprinter based motorhome arrived behind us. We were slow to decamp from Li’l Beast. A woman from the other camper walked into the office well ahead of us. Though she was seated at the desk, Leslie waved us in and the woman said, “you arrived first”. I have no idea what was said between the two of them before we walked in. Leslie said, “I was able to get the electric site for you this evening.” We were ecstatic. The woman who arrived behind us took the last site, dry camping.
Leslie lives here and was happy to share her favorite places in the area. She said, “It’s fall break for kids. The campgrounds are full today and tomorrow. You should have no problem getting a site Sunday or next week. Our sites for tomorrow will fill quickly” We took her hint and paid for two nights right away.
The last time Ellen spoke with Leslie on the phone when she learned the dry site was reserved for us Ellen said, “I’m so happy I could kiss you.” Well, she actually did kiss Leslie. I smiled and said, “I thought that was my job, but then I might have some difficulty with you all.” That got a laugh from all three women.
Before settling in, we took a brief walk around the campground. The sun was setting; it was growing cool. We had missed sunset today.
With our freezer’s status questionable, we’re convection cooking a frozen Michel Angelo’s eggplant lasagna. Our little electric heater is warming our toes. Though Sand Creek RV Park is nothing to look at, It’s location is great. Most of all I appreciate Leslie’s handling of our “situation”.
Warm and Comfy Once Again