Tag Archives: utah

Wildflower Season

Before we started workamping I thought wildflower season lasted for about a month in the spring.

Lodgepole Campground, near Heber City, UT
Fancy Pink

But I learned something by spending 3 – 5 months in a campground.

Lodgepole Campground, near Heber City, UT
Bright and Delicate

I have been continually amazed at the wildflowers that bloom throughout the summer.

Lodgepole Campground, near Heber City, UT
Tiny Trumpets

No matter what part of the country we’re in, desert or mountains or rain forests, we seem to see a new variety of wildflower bloom every week!

Lodgepole Campground, near Heber City, UT
Just after the snowmelt

I guess the dates on the photos don’t really demonstrate my point.

Lodgepole Campground, near Heber City, UT
Giant White Columbine

But being a camp host is a busy job.

Lodgepole Campground, near Heber City, UT
Blue Bells

And these are just a few of the wildflowers from half a summer in Lodgepole Campground, near Heber City and Strawberry Lake in Utah.

 

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Aspen Grove Campground, Strawberry Reservoir, near Heber City, UT

I have a few pix from our workamping gig, with American Land & Leisure, in the Strawberry Reservoir area near Heber City, UT, in 2010.

We didn’t work at Aspen Grove so the pix were taken before the season started; as you can tell by the bare aspen trees.

One couple works the campground and the area maintenance person also lives on-site.

You see much of the same wildflowers and wildlife here as in Lodgepole Campground; deer, moose, potguts (Uinta Ground Squirrel), hummingbirds, etc).

But if you’re looking for a campground on Strawberry that is smaller than the main one, Aspen Grove is lovely.  It is protected from the wind and the aspen provide shade from the high desert sun.  The campground overlooks the boat launch but American Land & Leisure does not operate it.

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There are about 60 campsites in Aspen Grove.  Some are reservable and some are first-come-first-served.  You can reserve a site up to 6 months in advance here: Recreation.Gov

Antelope Island Sunset

We’ve had beautiful weather while in northern Utah.  Don called my attention to the sunset the first night, well actually, as we were landing.

Antelope Island Promontory Reflection
Promontory Reflection from Antelope Island

If we had driven across eastern Oregon and southern Idaho to get here it would have been snowing all the way.  We decided to head out to Antelope Island for the sunset.   There is not a whisp of wind tonight.

Antelope Island Chukar
Chukar at the Visitor Center

Our kids have us to thank for the great weather.

Antelope Island Bison
Antelope Island Bison

We barely got to the Visitor Center before the sun went down.  Chukars greeted us with their chuckaring sounds and we saw about a dozen buffalo from the hill.

Antelope Island Sunset Wasatch Reflection
Wasatch Reflection from Antelope Island

This photo is looking back across Davis County to the Weber Canyon in the Wasatch Mountains.  Like much of the west, this year, northern Utah has seen little rain or snow yet.  The mountains are bare of snow.  We heard the fall colors were beautiful and all that’s left is a few patches of yellow.

Antelope Island Sunset
Antelope Island Sunset

It’s been a while since I’ve seen mountains on the other side of a body of water.

Antelope Island Chukar UFO
Chukar Watching the UFO at Sunset

As I was photographing the chukar at sunset, I noticed a dark spot in the sky that wasn’t moving.

Antelope Island UFO Closeup
UFO Closeup

So I zoomed in and could see that it is a blimp!  I didn’t know they still used those?

Antelope Island Sunset Colors
Colors Get Brighter After Sunset

The sunset colors just kept getting more vibrant.  We saw cotton-tailed bunnies, a coyote walk in front of a bison and even a couple antelope after dark; the whole Antelope Island food chain!

Antelope Island Moon Sunset
Crescent Moon Over Antelope Island

That was a successful trip to Antelope Island!  We made the mistake  (ONCE) of camping here in the spring when the brine flies were thick.  BLECKkk!  But this time of year would be fun and there are quite a few RV’s out here for Fall Break (or UEA weekend as we used to call it).

I have a funny memory of driving across the Antelope Island Causeway from when our oldest son was learning to drive.  Don was out of town for a couple days and you know you can’t miss a day of practice at that age.  So I took him out to Antelope Island.  Not much traffic out there and I’d never been out with him before.  He did good but I wasn’t ready to take it to the next level yet.  When he asked to drive all the way home, I said “No, maybe the next time.”  Or maybe I just said “No”?   So, in order to lengthen his time behind the wheel, he slowed down to about 5 mph for the 4 mile trip across the causeway.  It was adorable!  You know, in the way that only a silent-stand of a teenager can be.  hahaha

Workamping for American Land & Leisure

I love it when I can get 15 seconds of fame!  So, when Kelly Fenley from the Eugene newspaper The Register-Guard called, I jumped on it!

Jo 'n Don
Jo 'n Don

Occasionally, a journalist wants to do a story on ‘what local retirees are doing’.  When Kelly called American Land and Leisure, Gary referred him to us.  Gary Huntington is the Hiring Manager in the Orem, Utah based company.  Don and I are Area Managers for AL&L in the Siuslaw National Forest, Central Coast Ranger District.

Here’s the article: Retirement on the launching pad

Since I’m already talking about myself, I’ll just extend this 15 seconds to 20.

Jo with Pole Saw
Jo with Pole Saw

I’m not above laughing at myself.  I think Don wanted to document the size of the tree that I actually cut down.  Don gets up-close-and-personal with a real chainsaw.  But I’ll only use this battery-operated pole saw.  I usually just trim off branches.  When he showed me the pix, I thought I looked a little nervous. hahaha  Like, “I wouldn’t touch that with a 6 foot pole!”

Jo doin' the Pole Saw Happy Dance
Jo doin' the Pole Saw Happy Dance

If you can’t make work fun, what’s the point in getting out of bed in the morning?  Mind you I was whining, the whole time, that the battery wouldn’t last.

You’ve got to love people to workamp in campgrounds.  If you are happy to greet people, between shoveling fire pits and cleaning toilets, they will feel welcome.

Greet customers with a smile
Greet customers with a smile

Another aspect of workamping for AL&L is fee collection.  Most people are good about paying their fees “within 30 minutes of arrival” as the rule goes.  But for those who don’t seem to think it is important, Don has a unique way of explaining what the campground and day use fees are used for…and timing can emphasize the point.

FeeCollectionTechnique-TP
Need TP? Pay Your Fee 🙂

What?  You say there’s a log in the tent area?

Moving a log
Let me get that for you! 🙂

We are ready to tackle anything for you!

AL&L-Man
An AL&L Man is ALL Man!

We appreciate all the customer feedback.

Customer Feedback
AL&L gives extensive training, including how to get Customer Feedback

If the customer gives any negative feedback, it is an opportunity to fix something that is broken.  If they give positive feedback, we have a better chance of repeating our good behavior!

Redman Campground was our first workamping “gig” for American Land & Leisure.  We have been with them ever since.  We have worked for them in Utah, Idaho, Oregon and No. California.  What a great company to work for!

Elko, NV to Lakeview, OR

Well, that was a pretty stressful and expensive trip to Utah.  We were ready to get out of there after getting a new fuel system in the Dodge.  We DID get to hug all 6 of our grandkids although it was WAY too short of a visit.  We were there for a week without our truck but only got to see the kids and grandkids one day.  Our camper was a 2-hour drive from them and no way to move it without the Dodge.  We stopped, briefly, near Elko to get more supplies out of the 5th wheel and a brief visit with family.  Then it was on to Rye Patch Reservoir (our favorite campground in northern Nevada).  Storms are coming in from the west and bringing cold and wet weather.  High wind warnings are in effect, around Reno, so we figured we’d hunker down below the dam.

Rye Patch Campground Fall Colors
Rye Patch Campground Fall Colors

The fall colors were gorgeous at Rye Patch.  The morning was nice; not too cold.  We ate breakfast outside by the slow-moving creek.  Nothing but the sound of fish jumping, flickers, crows, seagulls and some little chirping birds.  I saw a couple bunnies and 4 deer, all does, this morning.  We were the only campers in the loop by the creek.  We didn’t even bother to look up by the lake because of the wind.

Strange patterns on lava beds near Gerlach, NV
Strange patterns on lava beds near Gerlach, NV

We wanted to try a new road so we turned north at Fernley, NV, on Hwy 447.  This heads out to Gerlach.  Then we’ll head northwest to enter California and onto Oregon.  Northeast of Gerlach, NV, in the Black Rock area is where the Burning Man gathering is held each year.  The grasses and sage brush make interesting patterns on the ancient lava beds.

First Snow
First Snow

Here’s what those weekend storms left on the northern Nevada and California mountains.  We’re gonna have to cross those, I just know it!  I just noticed the timestamp on the camera is wrong.  It is really 2 hours earlier than the time displayed.   Hwy 447, north of Fernley, is a good 2-way, 2-lane paved road.  Some rough spots are marked.  Big rigs use it.  We fueled up in Fernley so I wasn’t really paying attention to gas stations.  If there were any, it would have been in Gerlach.  There was a little bit of a steep climb and switch-backs going through the Granite Range towards CA.  I don’t think it was on purpose that Don picked the roughest part of the road to let me drive so he could nap.  He didn’t get much sleep.  By the time we got to Cedarville, CA, my eyes had had it so I pulled over and he got behind the wheel.  We were letting Nuvi navigate and it said to continue straight ahead.  I didn’t even look at the atlas….until we started wondering how we were going to cross those mountains.  Hhhmmm, only unpaved roads are shown on the atlas.  Why is Nuvi (our GPS) taking us on a gravel road?  Oh well, we’re up for the adventure.  It says we’ll be there in a half hour.  It can’t be too bad…can it?  Well, we took the left Y, just like Nuvi told us.  Not sure if it would have turned out better if we’d taken the right Y, which was FS 2.  Although we’re not towing the 5th wheel, we ARE pulling a utility trailer.  This is starting to look like trouble.

Uh Oh!
Uh Oh!

We went a little further than this.  The road just stopped.  Well, I take that back.  The road continued on the other side of the stream.  We really didn’t feel like fording the stream though.  So, we backed up a little ways, dropped the trailer, spun it around, turned the truck around then hitched the trailer back up and got the heck outta dodge.  Have I ever mentioned how much Don LOVES to back-track?  Well, anyway, 15 miles back to Cedarville…past a couple hundred deer in the hay fields…at dusk…did I mention back-tracking?   Nuvi – Menu – Settings – Navigation – Avoidances – Unpaved Roads – CHECK

Crossing the Warner Mts
Crossing the Warner Mts

At Cedarville, we took Hwy 299 west.  We crossed the Warner Mountains before we got to Hwy 395.  North on 395 will take us to our final destination for the night, Goose Lake State Park, and we should still make it before dark.  We stayed here a couple years ago.  It’s a nice little park and has electric hookups (which we desperately need because our laptop battery is dead and both cell phones ran out of battery BEFORE we even got to the gravel road).  We got there just before dark…only to find the gates CLOSED…hahahaha…Don wasn’t laughing….he was driving….I was laughing.  I’d had this gnawing feeling, for the past 10 miles or so, that the furnace in the camper might be on.  I kept looking back at the back window to see if there might be flames visible through the curtain.  I didn’t tell Don because, as I said, his job was to drive and I didn’t want to complicate his job.  Anyway, since we were stopped, I thought I’d just run back and check.  Sure enough, the furnace had been running.  We keep our garbage bag hooked over the utensil drawer, which is above the furnace.  Miraculously, it had NOT melted.  I don’t think it ran very long.  We have 2 problems that caused this little mishap.  One is, the vent doesn’t shut all the way (ever since someone broke it while breaking into our camper).  It had vibrated open even further while we travelled.  So it got colder than normal in the camper.  The other problem is that we replaced the thermostat with the only thing available at the RV parts store (that’s a little bit of an exageration).  It is a camper thermostat but it doesn’t have an OFF switch per say.  The lever that sets the temperature, clicks when it is below the 50 setting.  So we figured (and so did the store attendant) that was the OFF position.  Well, apparently we were SO wrong.  Oh well, no harm, no foul.  Just something else to watch.  In the meantime, Don found the next closest RV park on Nuvi.  Go to Lakeview (15 miles) and turn left on Hwy 140 and go another 10 miles.  Longer story short (sorta) – the Hwy sign for the park said it closes Oct 15.  But as we were starting to turn around, another sign said they were still OPEN.  So we drove a few more miles down the gravel road…and, viola, here we are!   Where’s that EASY button?!

We are at Juniper RV Resort.  There are other RV’s here.  I don’t know what this place looks like but we have electricity, broadband and leftovers for dinner.  It costs $27/night for a FHU site. We don’t need water and sewer but no one is around and we didn’t see a price for just electric.  Don put $30 in the envelope because he didn’t have change.  They take every kind of discount except for the one we have.  Maybe we’ll see the Host in the morning?  I sure hope so, we need that $3 to help pay for the new fuel system…hahahaha

Strawberry Reservoir, Utah

We’re back in our summer home!  We’re at Strawberry Reservoir, east of Heber City, Utah.  The fishing is great this time of year.   We got here on UEA weekend and the place was hopping with fishermen!  Of course, our truck is in the shop so we’re in a rental van.

Strawberry Bay Camping
Strawberry Bay Camping

Do you think putting the camper on the van would void our rental agreement? 🙂

Haws Point at Strawberry Reservoir
Haws Point at Strawberry Reservoir

We are camped in the Overflow area in Strawberry Bay Campground, overlooking Haws Point, a popular fishing access towards Renegade Campground.  Sure it’s a little frosty on this morning but it has warmed up since.  When we finally got to our camper – after the fiasco with our broken down truck – we remembered that the thermostat was broken before we left it.  So we snuggled a little closer that night 🙂

Frosty Morning at Strawberry, Utah
Frosty Morning at Strawberry, Utah

Can’t beat the dawn at Strawberry Reservoir.  I was never too impressed with Strawberry…until this year.  I think you have to spend some time here to really appreciate  the beauty.  I tend to like treed areas.  But this is impressive!

All the campgrounds around Strawberry were open (Soldier Creek, Aspen Grove, Lodgepole, Renegade, even Currant Creek) through UEA weekend.  They had a good crowd for the great weather!  They’ll keep the campgrounds open as long as there are customers.

Tooele, Utah, Scenic Tour

If we had to pick a good place to break down, it could have been worse.   We could have been further away from a town.  We could have been on the side of the interstate.  It could have been after closing time or even after dark.  We could have been towing the 5th wheel.  It could have been Friday night or Saturday or Sunday.  But, as it was, our Dodge broke down at a rest area on Thursday at 3:00pm.  We left our 5th wheel at our nieces’ house in Elko this morning.  We were able to get a phone number off our Garmin GPS for a nearby Flying J, who gave us a number for the Dodge dealer in Tooele (pronounced, Too-el-uh).  Thank goodness for cell phones too!
Grassy Mountain East Rest Area
Grassy Mountain East Rest Area

We didn’t see any snakes or scorpions – well, except for the snake in a bedroom this morning.  Anyway, we’d just had lunch in Wendover so it would be a while before we’d get hungry.  But it’s good to know that the Donner-Reed party got through this section of the desert without eating each other.  Still, if Don looks at me like he’s going to start gnawing on my arm, I’m outta here!

Cedar Mountains Wild Horse Range
Cedar Mountains Wild Horse Range

A tow truck picked us up 1 1/2 hours later.  He pointed out the huge Walmart distribution center and the Larry Miller Speedway.  He dropped the truck at the Dodge dealer but they had closed already.   Then he took us to a nearby motel to see if they had a room for us.  That was nice of him.  Tooele Auto Towing was our tour guide.

Our Tooele Tour Guide
Our Tooele Tour Guide

Hopefully we’ll find out tomorrow.  Sure hope it’s something simple!