Welcome

The CoolRVers are actually a couple of retirees, Judy and Luke Rinehimer and our 5 year old German Shepherd Dog, Miss Shady Lady. We are "extended-time" travelers with a home in Cool, California. Thanks for following along with us as we travel North America in our "rolling condo", enjoying the RV lifestyle. Your comments are always welcomed.



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Thursday, September 22, 2011

SEPTEMBER FAMILY TIME

Our daughter Robin, her husband Troy and two grandsons – Taylor, 11, and Tanner, 9 – live a VERY active life in Pleasanton, California. 

On this visit to Pleasanton, we got to watch them finish their backyard remodel project for a friend’s 40th birthday project, attended two of Tanner’s tackle football games, dropped Taylor off at his Lego Robotics Team workshop, picked up the boys after school, and took their dog, Izzy, and our dog, Star, to the local dog park for some leash training and social time.

BACKYARD PROJECT

When I made a side-trip to kid-sit back in August, I had a chance to see the yard project in-progress.

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Glad the boys had a “hand” in re-doing their new patio.

 

 

Finalizing the project before “Uncle Dave’s” 40th birthday party bash was a challenge.  The built-in BBQ and outdoor bar/kitchen arrived the morning of the party BUT it was the wrong one.  The company agreed to leave the one they delivered so the party could go on.

SIL Troy (with headband) mans the bar and grill.  Luke (in his trademark bucket hat) checked out the snacks during the party.

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Dave’s 40th party was a “worst dressed” affair and everyone, including the grandsons, got into the festivities.

Tanner, Taylor, Robin, “Uncle Dave” with the boys, and Robin and friends.

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ADULTS HAVING FUN

We have attended many of the Treto family parties and this was another one where the kids and adults like to play.  A friend has a business adding lights to hula hoops and she brought along quite a few that everyone got to try.

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As the party carried into the night, we took the boys back to the motorhome where Taylor claimed the couch and Tanner chose the recliner chair.  IMG_7280IMG_7279

 

 

 

 

 

Neither looked comfortable.

 

 TANNER’S FOOTBALL

Our youngest grandson, Tanner, loves playing tackle football and we had a chance to watch a couple of his games during our stay. Tanner,#64, got to represent his team as one of the “captains” to meet with the refs for the pre-game coin toss.  For the first few games of the season he played center. Unfortunately, they lost this game.

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IZZY – OUR GRAND-DOG

Izzy is a crazy little dog.  Hyper like a Jack Russell, this little girl loves to run, jump, and chase birds.  Unfortunately, during the backyard remodel, she was unable to use the backyard.

Please, can’t I go out???

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IMAG0563She and Star get along so Grandma and Grandpa took the pair to a local dog park for some exercise.  Grandpa also got to give Izzy some needed leash training using the “Gentle Leader” snout-style leash.

TIME TO HIT THE ROAD

Our visit with family came to an end on Sept. 21, but we will return the end of October.  It was time to head for Albuquerque, New Mexico where we would be hosting the Escapee Boomers for the ABQ International Balloon Fiesta.

NEXT:  BALLOONS AND BOOMERS

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Writing about “Travel Days”

As many of the readers of this blog know, I started writing back in May to chronicle our RV travels.  I started writing this update at the end of September (but back dated to stay in trip sequence) and now finishing it the end of October.  So much for writing discipline.  Remember I’m retired….

TRAVEL MODE:  GOING FROM POINT A TO POINT B

There are lots of “travel days” where Luke drives while I navigate, watch for animals, take photos, and work with my laptop IF we have internet connectivity with either my Verizon Aircard or, as the case in Canada with no data service, use local Wi-Fi.  After taking notes during the day, I would then do more homework online about what we saw and then I would write the blog to document where we’ve been and what we did.  The blog is our record of the trip and is available for review for others who want to meet up on the road (which happened a lot in Alaska) and for those who are planning future trips.

Some days I have a lot to write about, but then there are other days that are, frankly, boring!  Our “detour” trip from the Grand Tetons in Wyoming to visit family in Pleasanton, California was one of those trip legs I have had trouble writing about, thus the delay in writing this blog.

WYOMING TO CALIFORNIA

We had time in our schedule after Escapade in Gillette, Wyoming before we needed to be in Albuquerque, NM the end of September.  A call from our daughter asking for a little “mom and dad” time was all it took to fill in our travel plans.  Okay, California here we come via Wyoming, Idaho, and Nevada.

Our first decision was which way to head west from Jackson, WY.  We could take Teton Pass, which looked like the obvious westbound route, BUT I remembered reading lots of travel postings that this was NOT a big rig friendly route.  We would drop a little further south in WY and take Hwy. 26 towards Idaho Falls.

The route along the shore of Palisades Lake proved to be an easy 2-lane drive and picturesque. (Sorry about the window reflections)

Driving into Idaho Falls we hit major road work and traffic delays, but we were able to view the Snake River Gorge below us.

NEVADA – NOT MUCH TO SEE 

From Idaho Falls we headed south on I-15 to Pocatello, then cut back west along I-84 to Twin Falls.  We still had daylight driving time so we continued on to Jackpot, Nevada, just across the NV-ID state line.  There wasn’t much to see, but we racked up 333 driving miles – a longer driving day than normal.

In Jackpot we paid to stay at Pistol Pete’s Casino RV park, had dinner at the casino, and then tucked in for the night.  As we were preparing to pull out the next morning we had one of those all-too-familiar greetings:  “Aren’t you CoolJudy?”  Yep, an Escapee Club member staying in another section of the park noticed our SKP decals and came over to say hello.  Bob and Sally recognized my mug shot from the Escapees Golfing thread.  It’s always fun to run into Escapees on the road.

If you have driven through Nevada you’ll know why I have so few photos of this barren land.  This day Luke drove 420 miles, our longest (and most boring) day’s travel on this five month trip!

Being passed by “triple” big rigs is about the only excitement we had between Jackpot, NV and Boomtown, NV where we parked at Cabello’s.

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BACK IN CALIFORNIA

The last time we traveled I-80 westbound over the Sierra Mountains, we were in white-knuckle mode through the miles of roadway re-construction.  This trip, the westbound side was pretty well finished and it was smooth sailing.

I-80 runs through Auburn, CA, just across the American River Canyon from where we live in Cool.  We had already decided to  NOT stop at the house, so we waved as we passed by.

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Luke glances across the canyon where we live along the rim on the other side.  We can see I-80 from our house.

 

 

We arrived mid-afternoon at the Alameda County Fairgrounds, just a few blocks from our daughter’s place in Pleasanton. This is a familiar stop for us and we are getting to know the workampers and other “regulars”.  Family time for the next 12 days.

NEXT:  FAMILY TIME

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Yellowstone & Grand Tetons

When we left the Escapees Escapade RV rally in Gillette, Wyoming on Sept. 4 we had different options on which route to take.  We had no commitments until late September when we need to be in Albuquerque, NM to host 40 Boomer rigs for the ABQ International Balloon Fiesta for two weeks.

IMG_7104After glancing at the map we decided to head west and then drop down south to visit Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons.  We were here many years ago (1975?) and then again a few years ago.  Over those many years, things have changed – or at least our memories of those stops – and not all for the good.

FIRES

IMG_7096The saddest part of visiting this area has been seeing the devastation caused by wildland fires.  I understand that fire is a natural part of the ecology system (see this link to view the Wildland Fire Management Plan), but it is still sad to see how much of this huge park is blackened.  Yes, natural seeding is rebuilding the forests, but, after 25 years since the huge fire here, the trees are still years from being full grown.

WINDS

IMG_7081If the hillsides were not blackened, they were strewn with downed trees from wind storms that toppled the weakened trees

 

 

STILL BEAUTIFUL

Yes, there was devastation, but there was still lots of beauty in them thar’ hills, valleys, meadows, and lakes…

I love waterfalls and I did get to photograph a number of them.

 

Gibbon Falls, just north of MadisonIMG_7052

 

Undine Falls near the north end of the park, about 4 miles east of Mammoth Hot Springs.  It flows into Lava Creek.

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Lewis Falls, about halfway between Grant Village and the South Entrance.

 

 Lakes, Rivers, and Meadows

I don’t have all the names of these places, but they begged to have their photos taken:

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ON THE ROCKS

Cliffs and mountain vistas are also favorite photo subjects for me…

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GEYSERS AND OTHER YELLOWSTONE ATTRACTIONS

On previous visits to the parks we took the time to visit Yellowstone’s other major attractions – the geysers, mud pots, and natural springs.  This trip we limited ourselves to just “drive-bys”.

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ABOUT OUR STAY

I probably should have stated at the beginning that this was just going to be a short, two-day stay for us and our touring would be by car, not much on foot.  We did get to drive most of the park’s major roadways (we missed from Canyon, Fishing Bridge, down to West Thumb).  We also took an evening drive to look for wildlife (see below).

When we stayed near the West Entrance a few years ago we paid the high commercial campground rates to be in West Yellowstone.  We also learned back then that IMG_7101there was a popular nearby Forest Service campground that had electrical hook-ups available on a first-come basis.  To increase our chances of getting into a park without reservations, we opted to arrive on Labor Day when the “campers” would be heading back to work and/or school.  The strategy worked and there were plenty of sites.  We were able to get an electrical hook-up at Bakers Hole for just $14 per night with Luke’s Golden Age Pass.  BTW, that pass also allowed daily FREE entry into Yellowstone NP.

GRAND TETONS

Rather than touring the loop from Madison to Old Faithful by car, we opted to use that route with the motorhome and toad to exit via the Southern Entrance towards Grand Tetons NP and Jackson, Wyoming.

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 As you leave Yellowstone, the highway gets a name: John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway.  Maps show this road co-numbered as US 89, 191, and 287.

 

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This highway also follows the shores of Jackson Lake for about 20+ miles with plenty of views of the Grand Teton Mountains.IMG_7148

GROS VENTRE AND JACKSON

As with our stay in Yellowstone, we wanted to stay away from the congested commercial parks near Coulter Bay so we opted to stay at the Gros Ventre Campground located about 10 miles north of Jackson.   We wanted a space where we could use our DirecTV satellite (Go SF Giants!), so they placed us in their “A Loop”.  Length of the sites maxed–out at 42-feet, which normally would have been sufficient, but they used large logs to mark the end of their parking pad and to keep the RV from rolling down into a drop-off area.  We were able to get the rig in, but they suggested parking our toad in a neighboring space.  Not a big deal since we went out touring once we got settled.  We also had a “view” lot.

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JACKSON, WY

We have actually learned to read maps in our many years of extended traveling.  If you asked us 30 years ago if we had been to Jackson Hole, WY we would have said “yes”.  But, as it turned out, we actually missed the village of “Jackson Hole” and have visited the town of “Jackson, WY” on all three of our visits to this area. Yes, we definitely saw the Grand Teton Mountains, but we never took the Jenny Lake route through the Jackson Hole tourist area.  Next time when our schedule permits.

Once we settled into our campground space we headed south past the National Elk Preserve (didn’t see any live Elk), past the local art museum’s elk sculptures, and toured the town of Jackson.  (We actually went beyond the town to see where the truck route would take us to Idaho the next day.) 

IMG_7182Dinner was at a “steakhouse” near the town square.  It was like a “Sizzlers” where you line up and place your order, then find a table and the salad/soup bars. 

 

Food was fine, affordable, but not memorable.  I did enjoy their “art work”.

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They also like antlers in this town.  Two of the many antler archways in Jackson.

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WILDLIFE

-- YELLOWSTONE…

We saw some wildlife during our short time in Yellowstone, but nothing spectacular.  Pronghorn and bison herds were visible across the meadows and we spotted a couple of moose in the ponds adjoining the interior roadways.

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Mule deer provided the only “up close” photo opportunity during our evening wildlife viewing drive.  The one above on the right was “shouting” at the onlookers.

-- GRAND TETONS…

IMG_7189The only live critters we saw on this leg of our trip were a Moose cow and her calf lying in the grass just below a pull-out along the Gros Ventre River.  She wasn’t posing for the many cameras pointed at her, but  that’s okay.  The “bull moose” was across the river but stayed out of camera range.  (We never saw a bull moose during our Alaska trip and I really hoped to see this one a little closer-up – but not too close!  I did get a glimpse of him as he trotted off into the bushes.)

 

NEXT:  DRIVING WYOMING TO CALIFORNIA