Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Going in circles one day at a time

The day after the trailer fiasco, we woke up to a beautiful spot on a creek. We were parked under these beautiful tall trees that were providing some much needed shade, for the temps were already in the low 90's at 9 a.m. Today our plan would be to scout for a "better" camp spot. 

The place we were was a great place but we weren't getting any cell or internet signal, it's a tad bit too shady to get any sun on the panels and there were sooo many fire ants the ground looked like it was moving. I had already been stung 3 times in the matter of 15 minutes and I had to move the dogs and the cooker 4 different times. 

We figured since we had so much to fix right now that we would find a place close to town and sit tight there while we fixed everything, then go into Zion after that. Before we left Bryce Canyon, we found two other camp spots, other than the creek spot, on so we thought we would go check those places out and go from there. As I cooked brekkie, Jamie was trying to get some pages to load on the computer, one of which was our bank information, but since we weren't getting a signal he couldn't access the page. We thought we definitely had enough to cover a couple of $5 purchases here and there, so we wrapped it up and went into town to grab some more hardware, etc. We got everything we thought we needed and drove to the camp spot at Leeds Canyon, about 20 miles from the creek. Leeds Canyon is a BLM area that allows you to camp for 16 days, it's very hilly & mountainous with not a lot of shade. 

Even though we were in the mountains, at times on top of the mountains, the temperatures did not drop. I think we only went up in elevation, not even 1,000 feet, there was a lot of wind but just as hot...temperatures still reaching 105+. We drove around for about 15 minutes not really getting what we came up for (cooler temps), so we turned around and decided to stop real quick to let the dogs out. 

While we were parked Jamie thought he would look at the internet signal and try to load our bank information again. It was at this point we WERE able to load pages, only to find out we were in the red...-$10.96. Dang it!
We called the bank and talked to a customer service rep to figure out how to fix this and all in all the gal was not very helpful; telling us we would have to put some money in the account by close of business that day or we would be facing some major charges. This bank charges $37 per item that is overdrawn, at this time we had 10 transactions that were pending; $5.34 here, $2.87 there. Pretty much if we couldn't cover the $10.96 by the end of business hours, we would be facing about $370 bucks in overdraft fees....totally crazy huh!? Luckily we have very good friends that still live in Denver and my girlfriend was able to go into a facility and deposit some dinero into the account...phew. That whole mess took about 3 1/2 hours to solve and was very stressful. Thank God for good friends! We'll never make that mistake again...always check before buying.
Now that that was handled, we still had to find a camp. We drove to the spot in Rockville, fairly close to Zion and to the town of Springdale, that has pretty much everything you want or need. This area of camping is a little different due to the rules; you have to camp at least 1/2 mile off of the byway and the main road or you will concur a $150 ticket, which people on have commented that they stayed there, not a 1/2 mile off the road and got tickets for not adhering to the rules. The thing is, we didn't see any spots that weren't right on the road and we didn't see any other roads or trails for a vehicle to make it that far off the road, so I think it might be mostly for tent campers or backpackers. We drove down the rough bumpy, rugged road a couple of miles then saw the road ahead, it was pretty steep and narrow with no turn around spots in case of an emergency so we decided to turn around while we had the chance...maybe there were some good spots up there, but we weren't about to get stuck to find out. I'm not sure why I didn't take any pics of this road, probably because I had had enough that day and the pictures online don't show the road I'm talking about...sorry.

Back to the creek we went...going in circles one day at a time!
On our way to the creek spot we saw some public dumpsters, so we stopped to finally get rid of the trash we kept forgetting to dump. When I was throwing the trash away, I saw a metal bed frame sitting outside of one of the dumpsters, after looking at it we decided to grab it and use it for the trailer. If it didn't work we would bring it back and if it does work, we're not out any more money! I also found 2 brand new bicycle tires that had never been used so we grabbed those as was almost like something told us to stop there to save time and money...recycling at it's best! Waste not, want not.
We arrived back at the creek around 6:30 p.m.. There were some people parked at the spot we had this morning, which was fine because we didn't want to park there again anyway, due to the ants and too much shade. Fortunately we can drive further back than most people because we have our AWD Joon! We drove back a little ways where we have a sandy beach area that leads right down to the creek. 

We have a couple of trees around us but not tall enough to cast early morning or late afternoon shadows on the solar panels and they also act as a small "privacy curtain" from other campers. It's a nice little place but it's still pretty darn hot. 

We were so over another day of stress, stress, heat, stress that we just unpacked and hung out. Jamie gorilla taped my heavy duty bin that broke and pretty much piddled the rest of the day, as well as getting the van in sit mode. We left the awning for the next day...we weren't thinking about the early morning hot temperatures!

We woke up the next day and the heat was already cooking us inside the van, it was about 90* at 8 a.m. The first thing we...well, Jamie did was start putting up the awning. I was trying to make brekkie but the heat was getting to me pretty bad, I was throwing up and shaking...I was dehydrated, I couldn't stand up for more than a minute at a time. I ate two peaches and was trying to drink water, but the heat was so intense, nothing would stay down. I know it's gross but I'm writing it to warn you about the heat and dehydration, if you're not careful it can sneak up on ya and getcha! I was finally able to stand up long enough to get brekkie made and get some food in my belly, pretty much the rest of my day was spent in the creek. 

The temperatures are okay for sleeping, if you don't put on any blankets or sheets and have all of the windows open with a fan on. The days are reaching anywhere between 102-114*.

 Our awning helps a lot as well as having the creek 10 feet from the van. Even though the girls are not "water dogs", they will come stand in the creek to get cooler, we even saw Savannah walk into the water (on her own) and start swimming around to get cooler the other day, that was an amazing moment!
We are making sure to keep full water bottles in the fridge and drink as much as we can during the day. I'm not sure when we'll do Zion with everything we have going on, as well as the hot temperatures. We've even been tossing the idea around of going to Flagstaff for a month or two then coming back, but we both know if we do that, we won't come back this year. So for now, we are going to stay here at the creek, get all of this stuff fixed and go from there.

...'til next time

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

What a doozy!

We really enjoyed and liked our spot in Bryce Canyon. We had more privacy than any other spot we've ever camped, that I can remember at least. The crazy thing was that we were only about 2 miles from the entrance to Bryce Canyon National Park and never saw another person, around camp, for almost 3 weeks. Since we were so close to town, there were a few days we hopped on the bicycles and pedaled into town to get on the internet. The temperatures were awesome most of the time, most of the time I wore jeans or leggings, a tank and a light hoodie or cardigan (in the shade). The temperatures sat mostly in the high 70's the entire time we were there...for July, it was perfect! The only thing that pushed us to leave were the food prices. Just to give you an idea here are some examples of items I saw in the general store and around town for sale: 

6 pack of soda                    $11-12
6 pk of Coors Light           $18.98
Loaf of bread                     $6.50
1 chicken breast          $7
1 lb. pork sausage       $7
1 donut                               $1.56

and one night we thought we would go the 'cheaper' route and get Subway sandwiches, we got 2 Tuna Footlongs with no drink and no chips and the total was $22.87.
Ridiculous! We should have just gone to the Canyon Diner, they have burgers, pizza & shakes and would have cost us about $10 less...oh well.

We would buy only what we absolutely needed for groceries, when we needed it. Jamie thought if he drove the 8-10 miles to Tropic, that the prices would be better but they weren't, it was still very pricey...gotta get those tourists to spend that money! After a couple of weeks we decided it was time to pack up and go to Zion, or somewhere close to the park with higher elevation; Bryce Canyon area is about 8,000 feet and I believe Zion sits around 3,550 feet. So the day after my birthday we did just that, it took us a grueling 5 hours to pack... it usually takes us about 3 hours, it was also the hottest day at Bryce that we had had, low 90's. Then a 2 hour drive to Zion. We thought we would hit a Walmart before even seeing Zion but it turned out we had to drive through Zion to get to the town of Hurricane, where the Walmart is. The drive through Zion was incredible, the mountains are HUGE, the roads are narrow; the ranger at the entrance gate had to measure our vehicle with trailer due to the tunnels the park has. 

At one point in the drive, the rangers had the road closed off, we thought maybe it was a one way road through the tunnel but then a Winnebago came out, it was then we figured out the Winnebago had to drive down the middle of the road to not take out part of the top of the tunnel or their rig! It's a very beautiful part of this state, I'm sure it will be an epic close to our Mighty 5 journey. If you are not good in tunnels, this may not be your favorite part of the park, the big long tunnel is pretty long since you are driving through a mountain. We drove in the tunnel for at least 5 minutes if not longer...and it's VERY dark!
The short tunnel
The BIG LONG tunnel!
This is what you see when you pop out of the big long tunnel

At this point in our day, we are tired, hot and hungry, we had eaten brekkie but that was 8 hours prior. We get gas, find the Walmart for some light restocking (at normal prices), get everything in the fridge and pantry and are ready to go. We pull out of the Walmart to go look for a camp spot...well that's what WE had in mind, the trailer however decided it was now time to join the circus to become an acrobat, in other words, as we turned out from the parking lot to the main road, the trailer tongue broke away from the metal on the trailer and the trailer flipped! We were going under 5 mph but Jamie had given it some gas to get into the turn, nothing crazy just normal stuff, but that tongue just ripped off of that metal and there went the trailer. 

You could feel the jerk of the trailer leaving the van and then I saw the rest of the accident in my side mirror, so we stopped and jumped out, seeing one of the most shocking sights...the trailer on its side with the wheels spinning and stuff spilling from a bin. The tongue of the trailer was still attached to the hitch ball on the van. We tried to flip it back over but even with all of our strength, the two of us couldn't flip it. Thank goodness a super nice guy saw all of this happening and came running to help with the flip, with his help we were able to get it back on the tires and out of the road. I took the tongue off of the van and moved the van off the road as well. Luckily, we were in between the Walmart and Maverick gas station, so there were barely any cars on the road and we were able to move everything over to the gas station by this brick wall. We sat in shock, well I'd say for a few minutes but it was actually a couple of days, but in that moment we needed to fix this, so adrenaline set in and it was fix it time. 

The very first thing I did was start making a plate of food for us both; Rotisserie chicken and potato salad. After we ate, we assessed the situation and Jamie dropped the bicycle to ride to Walmart to get some hardware. Really the situation sucked but we couldn't have been more fortunate how or where this happened. We ran through a 1,000 different scenarios where that could have been a major catastrophe, maybe even fatal, or it could have happened in the middle of nowhere with a hardware store or Walmart 70+ miles away. One guy that stopped to see if we were okay, later that night, said to us after hearing what happened, "No doubt someone in the Universe is watching over us." No doubt is right! We had about 4-5 people stop to ask if we were okay or if we needed help, one guy sat down with Jamie trying to figure out the best method of fixing it, people in Utah are genuinely concerned and nice. 

We were also very fortunate to be right across the street from Walmart because when this happened, it was about 7:30-7:45 p.m. on a Sunday, so mostly everything we drove past on our way to Walmart, was already closed. As Jamie was at Walmart getting hardware, I assessed some of the damage with my camera...let's just say, we've got a lot of work ahead of us!
The repair took us into about 10:30 p.m. in 100+ degree temperatures. Jamie ground out the frame to reattach the tongue in a much stronger more durable manor. We're not done but it is pretty sturdy now, we can drive/tow it just as before, but he is going to put some more metal on the front and back of the wood on the trailer so the tongue can't twist again. 

After 3 hours, it's now dark, we're tired and ready to fall into a cozy bed BUT now we have to find a place to park for the night, hopefully not too far from a hardware store or Walmart. Once we do find a spot, we then have to unload everything out of the van (that was taken off the trailer, along with the innards that we always have to unpack) then put the bed down and fill it up...then we can climb into our cozy bed! A Class C is looking pretty darn good right now, haha.
The adventure never ends folks!

We did find a spot after looking in this one area for about 20 minutes. It was really hard to find because it was so dark (no moon), Jamie had to get out with his headlamp on and the Maglite (the big black flashlights police carry) to find the road. At one point, our GPS was telling us to go straight, but there was no straight only left or right....don't always listen to your GPS!!
After finding our spot for the night, we unpacked the van and sat down for about an hour, talking through everything that happened today... we were still in shock and this was the first chance we had to have it actually soak in. I think we finally went to bed around 1 a.m. or so
What a doozy of a day! Hoping tomorrow will be much more UNeventful.


 Here is a short video of our day:

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Flip it. Break it. Fix it. Rub it down....oh nooooo

*Written 07.30.2015*
Always stuff breaking, always stuff to fix. The past couple of days have been busy, needless to say. We're still assessing all of the damage that was done due to the trailer flipping. Even though we fixed the arm, to be able to tow it, there are still some things Jamie wants to do to make it stronger. He is going to place some metal brackets/angle irons at the front, back and down the middle of the wood on the trailer, then bolt them down into the metal arm, so it has less chance of twisting or moving around on its own. We found the Specialized (bicycle) has a split where the brake meets the hydraulic cord, so when you pull the brake, hydraulic fluid squirts out. The back tire rim is majorly bent along with the back bike rack and the handlebars and seat are scuffed up. It's interesting that the Specialized got so much damage and was the inside bike on the main rack and the Hyper was on the outside and barely got a ding. Figures! 

The bike is NOT supposed to pointed up to the sky like that! Guess the rack is bent too!

One of our heavy duty bins broke apart from the bottom to the top, but for now is fixed with gorilla tape. A couple of lids on the other bins got scratched up but are still usable. 

 Our big white "Lifetime" table has a hole in the corner. 
My scooter got hit as the trailer flipped, so she now has a broken taillight, a piece of the side & the license plate holder broke off. 

Other than all of that, I think the tarps and the TV antennae got the worst of it. There are huge, gaping holes in both the canvas and plastic tarps that go over the bins, I'm pretty sure I can sew the canvas one but the plastic one looks pretty beat up. The TV antennae looks like it was ran over several times, it's pretty rough. 

I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it a million more times, but I'm very thankful and appreciative that Jamie is so handy and is willing to fix pretty much everything. I think if I would have been alone, I would have totally freaked out and probably just sat and cried somewhere and his frame of mind is, "It might take some hardware or a certain tool (or whatever), but I think I can fix it." He is in town right now getting some more hardware, etc. to have on hand and also to fix the trailer, antennae and the bicycle. A word to my fellow woman (or person who doesn't understand or want to lug a bunch of tools around), just go with it, don't get on them about too many tools. If we hadn't had all of our tools, especially power tools, it would have taken us either much much longer &/or a lot more money to do what we did in the gas station parking lot, than the 3 hours and $6.00 it took. Let your handy person keep their tools, it might really be worth it one day.
So, as I started this post with, it always seems like we're fixing stuff...we wake up to our 9 1/2 year old 1,000 watt inverter not working. It went kaput! We use this inverter for all of the "heavy lifting"; to inflate/deflate our air pads that lay under the mattress, to power the coffee maker and to run the big power tools, for things like fixing the trailer.  Then as we were trying to figure out what was going on, Jamie also found a kink/split in the cord on the air pump, so after deflating the bed with one of our small 150 watt inverters, Jamie took the pump apart and fixed the wiring so it wouldn't spark when turned on and now it works for pumping up the bed tonight!

It just seems like everything is breaking at once and while we try to have a good attitude about it, there are many moments of frustration, plus this 107+ degree heat adds a little misery to all of these projects. I try to help with getting tools and holding things for him but I'm just not as creatively witty and handy like my main squeeze. I do keep him fed, keep the van and living space clean and take care of the dogs as he fixes everything. I think all in all, it's a win win!

The bicycle tire and rack have been fixed and roll just like there was never any accident. As well as the hydraulic cord to the brake...all fixed!
We found another piece of metal at the dumpsters to fix the antennae with and it works just fine, it may not look very pretty but it works!

The inverter has been fixed, it needed a new switch, which Jamie found on a vacuum at the dump.
I have yet to take pictures of the finished trailer just because we have been moving around a lot lately and the bins have not been off of it, so when we tear everything off at the next camp, I'll be sure to get some pics for those of you that are interested in how Jamie made it stronger.
Until then...

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A forced birthday is needed sometimes!

About a week or two before my birthday, I was not looking forward to the day approaching. I did not want to celebrate it. I wanted to forget it even existed. This would be the very first time in my entire life that I didn't want to even think about it, yet celebrate it. I usually want, if not an entire month of festivities, at least a week for fun, treats and celebration. 
Not this year.  
Jamie kept asking me what I wanted to do or if I wanted anything. Nope. The only thing I actually wanted was to talk to my mom.
This year I was sad, I was depressed, I was in a funk.
When the day came I didn't want to do anything. I didn't even want to be reminded it was my birthday, I wanted to act like it was any other day...although I did want ice cream.

Thankfully I have an amazing hubby that won't take no for an answer. He told me he was taking me somewhere and I was gonna have fun dammit! Even though I threw a fit like a 4 year old, he made me get out of the van, get dressed with "the right shoes on" (hmph), he made me get on the bike, he made me go.
We stopped briefly at the general store to check some emails and facebook, which was nice seeing all of the love from my friends and family pouring in. (I think this was part of his plan all along!)
After getting out of my funk just a little tiny bit, we decided to go into the park and do a hike. At the entrance gate Jamie asked the ranger which hike would be a good hike with interesting views but was pretty short, he told us Queens Garden Trail would give us all those away we went.

We made our hike our own by taking pictures and goofing around with one another, but definitely got some huffin' & puffin' in due to the steep angles of the trail...ain't no joke!

Queens Garden Trail was a great hike for us, we were able to walk alongside hoodoos and spires and could make the hike as long or as short as we wanted. There was a lot to look at on this trail...we didn't get much hiking in.

 I loved the trees on this trail. If they conquered the elements and everything that went with it to still be here chugging along...I could do it, too.

 By the time we spent about 30-45 minutes here, we decided that was was time for ice cream!!
We drove out of the park and down the street, it's literally 3.5 miles, to the rock shop where the ice cream parlor is. This place was hopping!! With how packed the line was, I kind of felt like I was in that Seinfeld episode of the soup nazi, (no soup for you haha) but I got my ice cream and my scooper wasn't messing scoop of ice cream looked like 3, it was awesome!!

We were able to snag a seat outside, close enough to the stables to smell the horse poop...happy birthday! 

All in all I did have a great day. Thank you to my love who knows me well enough to make me get out and enjoy my special day. I also got to talk to my momma and even got a special note from my bestie, Aussie, that I don't get to talk to nearly enough. Thank you to all who wished me a great day and sent their love, the small things really added up for me today.
Oh and Jamie did get me a present...a new, bright headlamp!! 125 lumens people!!! Now I can walk the dogs in the dark and be able to see my surroundings...and those eyes shining back at me!! Yikes

Happy Birthday to me.

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