Monday, July 12 - Twin Lakes, CO to Steamboat, CO
On the road again, and we are glad of it. Too many days in one place, we need that scenery flashing before our eyes and are looking forward to spending a night camping in Stagecoach State Park. Another short day of driving. We leave Twin Lakes at 8:00 a.m. and expect to be in our campground by noon.
Brian starts out the drive and gets that wonderful winding road down off the mountain. Trevor chimes in from the back "I think I want a lima bean" he says.
"A what?" I ask.
"A Lima Bean" he repeats.
Brian and I look at each other, puzzled. Not sure how to respond, we ask him why he wants a lima bean.
"Because I don't feel so good" he replies.
Oh, a Dramamine. Gotcha.
The road takes its toll on more than Trevor. As soon as we are back on the main highway, Highway 70, Brian gladly gives me the wheel. There is a little town we stopped at on our way in, we remember it had a Burger King, we can get some iced teas and Trevor something to eat. We are almost to our turnoff, Highway 131, and there isn't much going on there so we see what we think is the exit we had been to before. But we are wrong. It is the exit to HELL! A town, totally composed of traffic circles. How can you get anywhere here? You can't. Get back on the Highway, we will find someplace else!
Someplace else turns out to be State Bridge on State Highway 131, another one of those "widenings" in the road. It must be a party place for the locals because the only thing there was a bar/restaurant with a great big patio and lots of signs advertising types of drinks. Oh well, any port in the storm; we stop for a potty break and some ice teas which the silver tongue of Brian gets by talking his way into the closed restaurant. Iced teas in styrofoam coffee cups, stirrers as straws. It works.
Driving down State Road 131 is slow going. Only one lane and very curvy; if you encounter a slow-moving vehicle you pretty much have to stay behind it until it either pulls over or you feel you have luck on your side and are willing to put your life on the line and guts enough to pass. Passing cars was a joint decision, with much discussion beforehand. OK, let's go, you're good to go, go go go, whew, we made it. Brian does a lot of counting when I pass, "1001, 1002, 1003…"
In short order, we see the cutoff for Stagecoach. The Triple-A book makes it sound a lot further away, but here are the signs and we figure we should follow the signs, not the book. Five miles later, we drive back to the intersection and follow the book to Stagecoach State Park.
Our assigned campsite, #54, is close to the marina, camp store, swimming beach, and showers. Only one little problem. The trees they have planted will be great, in about 20 years. There is no shade and it's about 105 degrees. We go to the other three camping areas to see if any of them are better…not. We return and set about setting up camp.
"Can I go swimming? Please please please please" asks Trevor. YES! Let's all go swimming. Camp is made and we are HOT. We head to the swimming beach…oh oh… a sign commands "No Dogs on the Beach". Well, that's just not right. We can't leave Tessa in camp in the hot sun; so we bend the rules, just a bit taking a position just to the edge of the swimming beach and put Tessa on the other side of the roped-off area. It works, the rangers, while they do come and check on things, say nothing. Of course, they may have noticed the other three dogs hiding on the beach.
Trevor is having a great time after making friends with some other children who have buckets and shovels. He starts digging his very own lake, complete with a dam. We need to go to Steamboat Springs for supplies, but how are we going to get Trevor to go along with the program (hey Trev, let's stop playing and being cool and get back into the hot car to do some shopping) yeah, right. Dad is inspired, he'll go back to the camp and start making the "we are finally going to have them" hot dog lunch. After a while, I'll bring Trevor up to eat and we will promise him a pail and bucket when we go to the store! Great idea and it works. Trevor comes up to camp and eats two, count them, two, hot dogs then jumps happily into the car for our trip into Steamboat Springs.
As we exit the campground I see a sign that says, Steamboat Springs, 11 miles, that-a-way. But that's not how we came in; our map says Steamboat Springs is 7 miles down the country road, then 22 miles on the state road. Must be a different Steamboat; one of many not on our map, not the real Steamboat Springs. We better take the safe route. Seven miles later there is that same country road, making a loop and coming out onto the State road. We are taking that back, it's a whole lot shorter.
We find the Safeway and get our shopping done in short order; mostly taco fixings and ice. But there are no pails and shovels. We are on a crusade, we made a promise. So off to Wal-Mart, still no pails and shovels. City Mart? Nope. I get inspired "How about," I say, "since you don't use the pail anyway, you can use our bigger camp shovel? That would make a hole really really quick." Trevor goes for it. We are campsite homeward bound.
Back at camp, I stow the supplies while Brian and Trevor head to the beach with the big shovel. A group of children with special needs has taken over our perimeter area so we are stuck with Tessa, smack dab in the middle of the beach. Trevor makes a special hit with the children and they all want to help him design his lake and dam. Trevor is willing to go along, for a while, but soon wants to do it himself. They don't understand. Off to the side, Trevor notices that some of the kids are jumping off (a diving board?) into the lake. He immediately runs over to take his place in line when a whistle blows. "You kids take that back"; the children have dragged one of the picnic tables into the water and are jumping off of it. Trevor never gets his turn. Disappointed he returns to reclaim his shovel; dig that lake, build that dam. It's o.k. He's still having fun.
Brian and Tessa have had enough sun and head back to camp to sit by the only shade available. The shade of the tent. I stay with Trevor and give him his ten-minute warning. Thirty minutes later I finally get him back to camp. Dad and he go take their showers while I set up hor'dourves. We all sit by the shade of the tent and enjoy our cocktails, crackers, cheese, and deviled ham. Finally, it starts to cool down, the bugs have gone to bed, it's time to make tacos.
Our shady spot
Trevor cuts tomatoes, Dad chops the onions while I brown the meat. Then we sit and enjoy our delicious camp tacos; wash the dishes, light the fire and make some s'mores. Finally, it's Trevor's bedtime. Exhausted he falls asleep quickly while Brian and I sit quietly by the fire and gaze at all the stars, the Milky Way is so clear.
Enjoying the campfire
It really was a good day, and it's really a nice camp. Especially at night. Tomorrow - Dinosaurs.
Tuesday July 14 - Stagecoach State Park to Heber City, UT
When there are no trees or mountains, the sun arrives pretty early. Brian and I are awake at 6:00 a.m. but stay in bed until 6:30, rationalizing we don't want to hit the road until 8:00 anyway. As soon as we get up, we go to work. I let the air out of the air mattresses while Brian rolls up the sleeping bags. Hunt and gather clothing and get those into suitcases. What time is it? 7:00. "OK," I say, "while you pack up the car and take down the tent, I'm going to make some breakfast". Brian is concerned. We should be on the road in an hour, do we have time? I'll make time! I've brought all the makings for "catastrophe" and have yet to make a proper camp breakfast. Brian takes Trevor, sleeping bag and all, to the car while he finishes breaking down camp. I work on breakfast. Catastrophe takes a bit longer to cook in the altitude, and the wind is blowing hard to my back, but I am determined. We take a few pieces of bacon to Trevor as he luxuriates in his back seat comfy cozy fort, then finally breakfast is ready. Brian and I sit and enjoy our breakfast and cup of coffee; then we wash the dishes, pack the food box, pack the stove, pack us and we are off. 8:10 - not bad.
Granted we did not fresh roast our chilies while camping, we used canned Ortega ...
Our first stop is Dinosaur National Monument. We were going to camp here, but with only 178 campsites to 10 acres we knew it would not do, so we booked that hotel in Heber City. It's going to be two short journeys in the car with a major break in-between. The weather is getting hotter and hotter. How are we going to go into the Quarry with Tessa in the car? It's much too hot to leave her in the car. Maybe we can just do it really really super quick? "No" I say " I'll just stay with her and if it gets too hot we can find some shade, you and Trevor can go look at the bones." As we enter the Information Center we are told that dogs can go up to the Quarry on the tram, just not into it. Great! We'll take turns outside with Tessa and inside with Trevor.
Trevor rides the dino
We get to the Quarry, Triple-A states there is no fee to get in but fails to mention the $10.00 parking fee. Oh well, what the heck, we are on vacation. It's 100 degrees outside. We run to the tram. Tessa jumps onto the tram with us and sits down. We wait for the driver, the trams starts … "wait a minute" says Tessa "there are no doors on this thing, it's noisy and I want OFF." We hold her on a short leash as we make the 2 ½ minute journey. Brian and Trevor go in first. A nice park ranger offers a panting Tessa some water, but our dog has no manners and refuses to touch it.
The exhibit is amazing. Hundreds of fossils are embedded into the side of the mountain partially exposed. Their deaths are captured forever, the result of falling into streams that ran through the area millions of years ago and jamming up in smaller culverts. Because the park system knew there were literally thousands of dig sites in the area, they took this one and protected it. it will remain always as it is today.
My, what big teeth you have, and big head too...
After a quick road trip lunch of pizza, we head 180 miles to Heber City. We are so glad we decided not to camp at Green River, that would have been hot and horrible. Besides, we were now going to be 180 miles closer to Elko; shorten that day's trip right up. Aren't we smart?
Trevor knows how to keep himself occupied while traveling...
We arrive in Heber City and quickly find our motel, the Danish Viking Lodge. Greeted at the front counter, we are quickly informed of the additional $10.00 charge for the dog "was that mentioned on the phone when you made the reservation? the young man asks. "No", I respond, "I was told that it was $59.00 inclusive." "Well, there's a $10.00 charge for the dog," he says. I open my mouth, Brian gives me the look, I closed my mouth. Better hush up Lindy, before you get yourself into trouble.
We are given one of the "quiet" rooms to the back of the motel. "Just take the little road just to the right of the pool," says our counter boy. Off we set ...
After navigating the unpaved road with conveniently placed potholes, we pull up in front of our room, room #128. We pile out and unload our suitcases. "Can we go swimming?" asks Trevor. "Please please please please?". We don our swimsuits, grab some towels, tell Tessa to be good, and head to the pool. Brian notices the sauna, and then the neighbors. The group next door looks like they are about ready to complete a major drug deal, not the most savory group of people. Brian checks the lock on our door, it's a little loose, he gets his screwdriver and tightens it up. Now we are off to the pool. Trevor jumps in. Brian and I hear the jam session going on in one of the other rooms of the motel. Brian goes back to our room to get all of our valuables. OK, now we can relax.
After swimming for a while, Trevor decides that he and Dad should go have a massage (sauna). They set off for their relaxing massage while I watch the valuables. After a short while, I decide to go in and take a shower and get ready for our outing to dinner. There is a place within walking distance called the "The Claim Jumper". Brian and Trevor return from their sauna and I tell them I have decided we shouldn't walk to dinner, let's drive. But why? Well, I just noticed that we are in an industrial area, with factories and yes, another junkyard, flanking us. I really don't want to be walking around, after dark.
Brian has been trying to get the TV remote, which was given to us at the front desk, to work. On our way to dinner we stop by the front desk for another one; instead they "reprogram" the one we have. Maybe it will work, maybe it won't. Only time will tell.
We enter the Claim Jumper and are given a menu printed on the side of a wine bottle. We look at the menu. We look at each other. Can these prices even be close to right? This is after all, "Heber City". Yep, a steak, regular cut, is $16.95. A buffalo steak? $32.00. And all the sides are extra. So a small fraction of the "Quincy Gang" again decides to walk. Giving some money for the loaf of bread Trevor ate, we up and walked out; down the road to one of the greatest BBQ places, at reasonable prices. Memphis Jakes was the right choice. OK..so there were a couple of ants in the salt shakers, but the meal was great and we didn't spend $100.00 on a couple of steaks.
Returning to our room we find that not only doesn't the remote work but the air conditioner doesn't either. Back to the front desk … no sir, we don't want to fix the remote again, we want you to change our room. Room #229 is our new digs. As I go up the stairs I notice the trailer, and the trailer trash, bottles, cans, old furniture, all strewn along the side of the Danish Viking Lodge. The doors will be locked tight tonight. This place is scary! We pull back our bedding, remove the rubber blanket, and settle down to a fitful night of sleep. Triple-A had this place rated as 2 stars, I would give it a minus 2 stars. How long has it been since they visited this joint anyway? Thank goodness tomorrow we will be in Elko at one of our new favorites, Best Western Gold Country. (Just as an aside, the Danish Viking Lodge seems to have gotten worse since our stay if that is even possible - from this Trip Advisor review - Ants in the room. The bathroom light didn't work. Neither of the lights over the beds worked. The table lamp didn't work. No washcloths. No shampoo or lotion was provided. No clock. No telephone. Pool not functioning. The sauna didn't work. Jacuzzi didn't work. Bed passable but not great - sheets dirty or stained - Park City, is not too far away)
Wednesday July 15 - Heber City to Elko NV
The good news, other than the fact we were leaving Heber City, was our trip to Elko was now only 250 miles. Trevor, worn out from the night's stay at the beautiful Danish Village Lodge, sleeps the first four hours of the trip, waking less than 100 miles from our destination. Brian and I both wish we could have slept for the first four hours of our trip. The traffic around Salt Lake City was crazy, that's the first thing we notice. The second is the lovely layer of smog. The third is the detour. Route 80 is closed. Not just down to a few lanes. But closed. Turning on the road news station we are advised to use exit 130 to I215 south. This loops around the outside of Salt Lake City. Good thing we had not planned to see anything IN Salt Lake City. After a 10 mile detour, we are once again reconnected to Route 80 west, just east of the city. Open road again, with nothing on either side but the Great Salt Lake. Ninety miles of nothing but the Great Salt Lake. After seventy miles of this, we finally decided we should take a picture. So we do.
Great Salt Lake
We hit Elko about noon, the temperature is 105. We check into our room, a very nice one, and decide that rather than go swimming right away, we should go to a movie, or bowling or something. I don't think Trevor can sit still through a movie, and I'm pretty sure I would be asleep before it ends, so we decided on bowling. Brian looks up alleys in the phone book. We are in luck, there are two of them in town. Off we go.
The first bowling alley doesn't look too great, can't even find the entrance. So I say, "Let's go look at the other one, it's not too far away." Trevor immediately decides that "No, this is the one with the best games." "How can you tell?" I ask, "you haven't even been inside." "I just know" he responds. He's on a roll, fighting, kicking, and screaming that he doesn't want to go to the other one. We prevail. We are going. We get to the second alley, it looks a lot better. Up to the door, pull on the door. Oops. Closed. Out of business. Oh well, we will go back to the other one and figure out how to get in. "See," says Trevor triumphantly.
Back to the other alley we go. We find the entrance, pull on the door. Oops. Closed. Out of business. Two bowling alleys and they are both out of business. What do people in Elko do? We go next door to the Mexican restaurant to plan our next moves. The food is, well, pleasant, but still not really Mexican food.
Back at the hotel, we decide to, what else, go swimming. "What do you want to take to drink," asks Brian since I am out of iced tea. "Oh, I'll get an iced tea at the pool," I say. "They aren't going to have poolside service" scoffs Brian. "Why not?" I ask this is a hotel, with a pool and a casino, I think they will. "No they won't" insists Brian. Off to the pool. Within five minutes the poolside waitress asked if we want anything. "Boy, you just love it when you are right" laments Brian. "Just because you are so convinced that you are right." I gloat. I have an iced tea, Brian has a beer (and a bit of crow).
Trevor has made friends at the pool with some boys that have a floating basketball hoop. They are running across the pool deck, jumping into the pool, and trying to slam dunk the ball. Each try moves the basket further and further away from the edge of the pool. Trevor wants to try, so they let him. "Take it to 8 feet" he commands. They do. Trevor backs up, surveys, takes off running toward the edge of the pool, stops, jumps, and falls about 4 feet short of his goal. "You don't stop" yells the boys. "Oh", says Trevor, "can I try again?". Trevor backs up, surveys takes off running, stops, and jumps. Oh well, just move the basket closer. They do. Slam dunk.
After the pool, we decide to take Tessa and Trevor to the park. Stopping for some ice cream we arrive only to be confronted once again with a "No Dogs Allowed" policy. Trevor and Brian go play on the swings, while I take Tessa for a perimeter walk. Well, we aren't officially "in" the park.
One of the nice things about the Best Western Gold Country in Elko is free coupons. Coupons for drinks at dinner, or in their bar, coupons for dinner, coupons for gambling (even money best-paid 2 for 1). We take advantage. Dinner is $19.00 for the two of us (Trevor had already eaten at Burger King earlier); which included two vodka/sodas NFL, two shrimp cocktails, and 2 large Southwestern Salads. Brian won his even money bet, I lost mine. We were even. There was no supervised play area, so we take turns watching Trevor in the arcade. It is hard to get into the "spirit" of gambling when you have to change places every 15 minutes, not so bad when you are losing, but when you are winning, it's not so great. We finally give up and go back to the room. Time to get some sleep, tomorrow…Reno.
Thursday July 16 - Elko NV to Reno NV
On the road again. Another short day, only 287 miles. We set off at 8:00 a.m heading towards Winnemucca. "Why would anyone live in Winnemucca?" we muse. "Must be married to a geologist." (OK…one of Brian's grade school girlfriends married a geologist and Winnemucca was one of those places she had to live because it's where geologists go 🙂 ) At exit 151 a sign instructs trucks to use the left lane for the next 24 miles. This is very strange, the trucks are all to your left, if you hit slow traffic you have to pass them by going behind a slower truck. Who made up this rule? And why? The road is no different in either lane. It just makes no sense, no sense at all. Finally, we are past this and driving in America again. Reno is right ahead. Trevor has a sudden realization, his Beanie Baby Elephant is still in Elko. He took it to bed with him and it was left behind. He is beside himself and wants to turn around to go get it. Cell phone to the rescuer. I call the hotel, tell them the story, and they promise to mail "Peanut" back to our home in Pacifica. Problem solved.
Brian chose the last motel, the Vagabond Inn. We drive through Reno and out onto Highway 395 and find our exit. It looks like a shopping/industrial area. There are no Casinos. There are no restaurants. We quickly grab our Triple-A book to look at our options. There is a Holiday Inn downtown that takes pets, let's call to see if they have a room. We do find cell phones to be very useful. They do have a room and it's cheaper than the Vagabond. Quincy Gang, Part III; we inform the people at the Vagabond we will not be needing their room tonight and hi-tail it to the Holiday Inn. On our way, we pass Circus Circus. "Can we go there?" asks Trevor "please please please please?". In a while.
Removing Tessa from the car (the bellman must have thought we were nuts when we started loading up ice chests, suitcases, Tessa's bed, bowl, dog food, etc) she follows me into the hotel lobby, into the elevator, the doors shut, it begins to move and she promptly lays down. "hey, what the heck is going on here?" she wonders. She was almost as happy to get off the elevator as she was to get off that tram.
We have an interesting room on the second floor with a great view of the roof. Hot afternoon sun pours in. We decide there are not really any great rooms when you are getting "dog rooms". Once we've settled in we take off for Circus Circus. Trevor's eyes light up when we hit the midway. So much to do! He wins prize after prize. Unfortunately, it is not supervised so we must take turns watching him play. After promising to return later that night, he reluctantly comes back to the hotel where we do another round of swimming. It's 103 in Reno, the pool feels great.
After pool time, we dress and take the shuttle to the "real" downtown for a dinner of sushi. Then, as promised, we return to Circus Circus for a repeat of the afternoon. On my watch I sit down to have one of those little cancer sticks (now 15 years quit), Trevor waiting patiently(?). All of a sudden he decides to turn in his tickets and takes off. In the amount of time it takes me to put out my cigarette, he is gone, swallowed up in the crowd. I panic. Brian is walking over for his turn to watch, and I tell him what happened. "You look for him," I say, "I'm going back to where I was". As I head back there is Trevor with two security guards, all waiting for me. "He knew where you had been, Mam, he just didn't know where you were." They explained it was illegal to leave a minor unattended in Nevada. "He wasn't unattended, just too damn fast." I was embarrassed and relieved that they found him so quickly and kept him out of harm's way. No more smoking on my watch. Hand in hand, that's how we roll.
Friday July 17 Reno NV to Pacifica CA
It's the final day. Driving home we decide to take Route 395 into Carson City to visit the States Museum that we missed on our first day. We are glad we did. Brian loves the Complete Carson City Coin Collection; I love the displays of silver, and Trevor loves the Western Village.
We take the northern route to Lake Tahoe, pretty country, winding roads. Trevor doesn't feel so good, so Lima Bean to the rescue. He falls asleep while we sit 45 minutes to get through the demon orange vested flagman. He sleeps most of the way home.
It's summer, so naturally, the coast and Pacifica greet us with 66 degrees and a thick blanket of fog. We are home.