Smooth Running, Part 1.

On The Road Again

with a nod to Willie Nelson.


On the Road, Utah

Ellen and I are off to revel in fall in New England.  We plan to enjoy our drive out, but not be seduced by the beauty, history, fishing, or adventure along the way.  We skipped a free morning balloon ride in Eureka NV. We skipped driving the loop through Arches National Park and  Moab, Utah. We skipped staying overnight on the river at Green River State Park.  Where we find local color, we stop, but not for long.  We’ll save a tour of the West and South West for “tomorrow”.

I-80 or I-70

While preparing for our trip, I’d read RV’ers concerned about driving I-70.  I-70 has significantly more grades and twisties than does I-80.  I-80 may be faster getting to Colorado Springs too.   What swayed us were the number of comments about the beauty of driving I-70 through Utah and Colorado.   I’m so glad we took I-70.  The grades thus far were steep, but not a significant challenge for Li’l Beast.  Today we’re camped at Parachute, Colorado. We have a few hundred miles and the continental divide left to go.  I may yet change my tune.

I-80 San Francisco to  Truckee

The drive to Truckee was a breeze.  I planned to arrive around 3 Pm to have time to re-pack some and toy with our new Wineguard TV antenna. I spend the evening at the Coachland RV Park.  It was comfortable though the sites are close together.  Site #5 had a clear view to the south through some pine trees.  Satellite reception was perfect.  My neighbor was grumpy in the morning as he packed to leave.  Only later did I realized I had the outside speakers on the entire evening.  Ooops!

The Pony Express RV Campground

Ellen joined me late afternoon the next day and we pushed East to Austin Nevada.  Austin is a very friendly, but extremely tiny town in the middle of nowhere, literally.  It’s a great place to disappear.  We stopped for diesel at dusk.  AllStays  (our trusty iPhone app) did not find a single full hookup park in the vicinity, nor any parks with a good rating. The gas station attendant (at only gas station in town) recommended we drive to a flat spot just out of town before the grade and just dry camp.  Just out of town to our right we saw a large flat clearing. We turned, drove across a heavily rutted gravel road with Li’l Beast rock’in and roll’in and pulled into the Pony Express RV Campground!  It was marked with a crude, hand painted sign.  It is visually the  least appealing campsite we’ve visited, but it has full hookups!  While certainly not a five star RV Park, we enjoyed our quiet evening.  The park is right on highway 50, which you’d expect would be noisy.  Highway 50 is “the loneliest highway in the world”;  there was no traffic and no noise that evening.  Beware the badly rutted entry into the “campground”.

Eureka, Nevada

The next day we blasted through Nevada’s wasteland and into Utah’s eastern wasteland. That sounds good, but we actually stopped at Eureka Nevada for breakfast and chatted with some locals.  Cindy who was wearing a T-shirt that said “pi-symbol”RATE on the front and sported one of Maxwell’s equations with the statement “every good problem requires a solution”.  We asked and Cindy mentioned two places for breakfast, one in town that was typical and “the Mennonites” which we’d have to drive to at the end of town.  We walked and saw nothing “Mennonitesque”.  We did walk past The Pony Espresso Deli, saw nothing further out of town, and went back to the deli.  We pushed past a glass double door covered with 8 1/2 by 11 posters about fishing and poaching regulations and local events and stepped into a room divided in three parts.  To our right was a comfortable space with a dozen tables and an unlit fireplace.  Patrons were chattering, eating, or waiting.  There was a partial wall dividing that area from the smaller seating area in front of us.  A low counter to our right separated the kitchen from the dining area.  At the grill was the cook, a tall striking though plainly dressed woman with her hair tucked in a small bonnet.  A young girl took our order of eggs and bacon and we took a seat in the small dining area.  We were having breakfast “with the Mennonites” as Cindy had suggested.  Our order was slow in coming; there were a number of people who had ordered ahead of us.  The bacon and hash browns were scrumptious.  My scrambled eggs were scrambled harder than I would have liked, but I should have specified how I wanted them ahead of time.   In addition to breakfast and lunch, the deli sold jams, jellies, and relishes.  We left with a cherry Jalapeno jam and an jalapeno onion relish.

Nevada is not without merit. We passed a salt flat by a river that would be worth exploring if we had more time.   Then too, the mountain ranges in the distance at sundown were majestic and the high plains are vast.  The mountain ranges beckon  but remain distant as the plains hold firm for hours seemingly.   The drive through Nevada and eastern Utah is much like meditation.


The mountain ranges of eastern Nevada were a welcome change from the prairie and salt flats we had driven through the day before.  Crossing into Utah, the mesas and mountain ranges grew more colorful and dramatic.


On the Road, Utah

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Why stop at scenic views?

Delta, Utah

Just at the end of our long meditation we drove into Delta, Utah.


Driving into Delta Utah

In Delta we happened upon the first day of a weekend custom car gathering.  The fifteen minutes we promised ourselves was too little time. While Ellen walked about taking photos of other classic automobiles {will post more photos on photo site) I thoroughly enjoyed talking to the creator of a custom bright red Studebaker convertible.  The design started with a rusted out model similar to this one custom Studebaker.  It became a one of a kind contraption with a bed pan for an intake filter cover.  It has “maytag” emblems on the door sills because so much of the metal in the car was crafted from old washing machines.  It took the fellow ten years to complete this car:

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One Very Clean Custom Studebaker

Blackhawk Rodeo, Salina Utah

We chose to stop at Butch Cassidy RV Campground south of Salina, Utah for the night.  It was growing late as we rounded a turn and saw a cluster of RVs parked atop a mesa on our right.  We figured that had to be the campground and turned right ahead of a massive sign announcing the Blackhawk Rodeo.  We drove up that road until it dwindled, U-turned, and took the road up toward the rodeo and the hundreds of RVs.  Our first clue we were not at the campground?  The hundred or so mounted cowboys milling about the entrance to a huge indoor arena, with other cowboys and cowgirls riding across our path headed toward the arena. There were hundreds of RVs parked on the mesa, all here for the rodeo!  Very slowly and carefully we pulled through and around the parking area waving at random groups and trying not to spook the horses.  We found the campground another mile up SR-50. If it were not so late we would have taken time at the rodeo to enjoy the event.

Butch Cassidy RV Campground, Salina Utah

I highly recommend this RV campground during the off season.  The campground has back-in sites and pull-throughs. The pull-through sites are organized two wide, which makes for cramped camping.  The evening we arrived, none of the dual pull-throughs had two RVs.  Some of them were empty. We took one of them and had plenty of room.

Again we arrived after hours and filled out a late arrival form at the office.  No information sheets were available: no codes for the bathrooms/showers or for the laundry, no info on WiFi.  The campground was mapped out on the wall.  Later we realized the bathrooms and laundry were not locked and there is no WiFi.   While we were setting up in site #16, Randy happened by.  Randy was talkative describing where he lives, that his relatives were staying in site #3, and he described the roads around Salina.  He also mentioned a Melon Festival happening in Green River Colorado the next day.  I was friendly, but heck, I was in the middle of setting up and the sun was setting.  Ellen was more talkative.

A bit later and at the push of a button, the Wineguard antenna whirred, raised, searched, and locked-on.  DirecTV was up and running. We watched “Reall Time with Bill Maher”.  This time the outside speaker was off.  We double checked.

I had a long welcome hot shower and shave that evening.  The next morning at the office, the cashier/manager was gruff and not welcoming at all.  That is until identified myself as the guy in site #16 who has not yet paid.  Still gruffly, she processed my credit card and when the sale went through, her attitude changed completely.   She became gracious and we joked about the array of gadgets and brick-a-brac for sale.

We slept well and were off early for us at 8:30 am.


A view from the road, Utah


Green River, Utah

The drive to Green River through Utah was rugged.  We passed around or over a series of mountain ranges, now climbing then descending gearing down to save the brakes.  I consistently drove ten mph less than the posted speed limit or 60 mph.  The posted speed limit through Nevada was 70.  In Utah, long stretches of I-70 were posted at 80. I comfortably drove at 60 with no need to slow down for turns most of the time.

We arrived at Green River around 2:30 PM.  After all the sleepy towns we had driven through, Green River was hoppin’.  More so than Delta.  We stopped at ACE Hardware for a short extension cord.  When we bought food in Delta, we also bought a crock pot, but one with a ridiculously short cord. So here we were at ACE looking for an extension cord and an IR extender (another story). Duayne was very helpful and talkative (the shop was empty).  As we were leaving, he mentioned that we could get some free melon at the melon festival just across the street.  Then we remembered Randy of the Butch Cassidy RV park.  Oh Yeah, the Melon Festival.  Duayne said the little Mexican restaurant in the yellow building across the street is the best restaurant in town based on surveys.  We should have lunch there or at his favorite place RAY’s.

We ate at the Mexican place (name to be added later).  I had the best pork verdi I have ever eaten.  It was fabulous.  The restaurant is actually an outdoor grill just beside the “OK Anderson Park” where the Melon Days Festival is held.  Beware, the Habaniero salsa is extremely hot.  We missed the World’s Largest Melon, which was on display somewhere in the park.  We did catch the melon eating contest.

Green River State Park and RV Campground

Just down the street from our parking spot outside ACE hardware is the Green River State Park which has RV sites.  We drove down to the river and met Randy the park ranger at the entry kiosk.  “Sure you can tour the park if you like.  I have one site available now and it might not be available when you get back.  If you want to stay, you should take that site! ”  So we talked some about Green River and the park.  Randy said if we come back we should make reservations well ahead.  He has regulars who come down and rent cars through Enterprise at the Moab Airport and use the park as home base to roam far and wide.  This sealed it.  We would skip Moab this trip and come back.  It seemed unreasonable to dash through Arches without spending time hiking and exploring.  We do not have that luxury on this trip.

Randy was very helpful.  He gave us the phone number for Enterprise Car Rental at the Moab Airport and even handed us a map of Utah.  I grabbed a pen to write the phone number down and…   You know the pilot pens that leak with a drop in pressure?  That’s the pen I grabbed and splattered indelible ink all over myself.   There were two cars in line behind us by now one a state trooper.  I pulled forward enough to be out of the way and washed down my shorts. Ellen handed me several paper towels laced with dish soap and the ink actually mostly came out!  I thought the shorts were history.  Proof that stains can be taken out before they set or that that indelible ink does not adhere to synthetics.  Who knows.

We drove down to the river and toured the campsites.  The river looked brownish that day.  The campsites are large and many are under trees.  I noticed the Navion we had seen at ButchCassidy parked in the shade of a stand of trees.  They do it right.  They traveled 107 miles that day.  We had another 144 miles to Parachute Colorado ahead of us.

Smooth Running, Part 2.

Part 2 will be published in the next day or so.   It will include

Parachute, Colorado

Woodland Park, Colorado

Prospectors TV

Prospecting @ Woodland


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