Posts Tagged With: boondocking

Am I There Yet? A vintage girl’s journey across America – Day 8

I slept amazingly well considering I was on bear alert and a little on edge.  I waited for daylight so I could go across to the restrooms to get cleaned up and ready for the day. I was hyper-vigilant walking on the path through the bushes and carried my pepper/mace spray in the ready position.  With my quick reflexes and physical acuity I’m sure if I ever had to press the nozzle of the mace it would be pointed in the wrong direction and I’d get it in the face instead of the bear.  At least I wouldn’t be able to see him eating me.

I was reluctant to leave the grandeur of the bay but will savor the beauty and plan to return to Grand Teton National Park as a destination with my sister, hopefully, next year.

Yellowstone National Park is only 18 miles up the road from Coulter Bay Campground.  That was a pleasant surprise and, again, I saved the $30 entrance fee thanks to my Senior Pass.  My plan was to visit Yellowstone then head north to Glacier National Park but cell reception in the Tetons had been patchy to non-existent.  I even had trouble with my GPS so I’m a little anxious about driving to Glacier on secondary roads without any type of cell service in case of emergencies.  A girl’s got to be careful and aware when traveling alone, especially if she can’t call Geico or dial 911 if she’s in trouble. I decided to not think about it until I finished at Yellowstone, having already established a beautiful alternate route to Seattle if needed.

On the way to Yellowstone I passed the Continental Divide for the first time this trip.  An elevation of 7,988 feet may not seem like much to most people, but I’m from Florida where the elevation of my home is 6 feet.  I checked Wikipedia for a refresher on the “Continantal Divide” since it’s been about 100 years since my last geography class. If you’re interested, America’s Continental Divide:

is the principal, and largely mountainoushydrological divide of the Americas. The Continental Divide extends from the Bering Strait to the Strait of Magellan, and separates the watersheds that drain into the Pacific Ocean from those river systems that drain into the Atlantic Ocean (including those that drain into the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea) and, along the northernmost reaches of the Divide, those river systems that drain into the Arctic Ocean

Of course my first stop in Yellowstone was to see Old Faithful.  I only had to wait about 10 minutes for its eruption and it looked exactly like the old newsreels and pictures you’ve seen.  What made it especially exciting were the hundreds of people from all over the world waiting with me and the “oohs” and “aahs” as the geyser took off.  I stopped in the Travel Center to get my National Parks Passbook stamped, wrote some postcards to the grandkids and continued my exploration.

So I  moseyed and meandered through Yellowstone for a couple of hours observing waterfalls, geysers and hot springs.  So beautiful.  It’s funny …  I packed my clothes and equipment for kayaking and hiking adventures but my heart led me to continue driving and exploring, observing the beauty around me.  I entered Yellowstone from Wyoming and exited the park to West Yellowstone, Montana.  I had a late lunch at the Bullwinkle Saloon.  An adorable restaurant but $18 for a cheeseburger?  Oh wait, that included a Blue Moon and the tip. I finally had a wi-fi connection so I called home to let everyone know I was OK, caught up with emails and messages.  Wait, maybe I had two Blue Moons.  OK, $18 isn’t so bad. I checked my Allstays app (don’t leave home without it) and my atlas and decided it would be foolhardy to attempt Glacier National Park this trip.  I did not feel prepared or comfortable continuing without cell service or warmer clothes that were stored in my rooftop carrier and I’d rather be beaten than try to get the duffel down from there after the fiasco with my kayak. So, on to Plan B – just keep driving west.

I passed through Billings and Bozeman looking for a place to stay and finally gave up and decided to boondock at a WalMart in Butte, Montana.  I had a leisurely dinner at a local restaurant and spent a comfortable night tucked away between two giant RV units. Unfortunately, I parked under a security light and gave up a little bit of comfort for the safety of the big boys parked on either side of me.  It was a long day filled with wonders.

 

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Categories: Aging Gracefully, Camping, Life, Retirement, road trip, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Am I There Yet? A vintage girl’s journey across America – Day 6

I ended Day 5 at Lake Ogallala State Recreation Area.  Camping at a recreation area is very different from camping in a state or national park.  You pay admittance ($10 in this instance) and just drive to wherever you want to overnight.  Lake Ogallala is gorgeous.  I parked right on the beach under the trees and prepared for the night. After unloading my kayak, chair, cooler and other items I drove to the only restaurant in the rec area.  It was 4:00 but I  thought I would treat myself to a cocktail and a hot meal.  The sign read that the kitchen didn’t open until 5:00.  OK, I’ll sit at the bar and enjoy a glass of wine until it opens.  I ordered my wine and told the bartender I’d just sit and keep her company for an hour until I could order dinner.  She said, “Nope, that’ll be two hours”.  Well, I had crossed into another time zone and it was actually 3:00.  So, now I’m two zones away from home and I’m a little confused because I don’t know how to re-set my fit bit watch and I’ve been deducting an hour every time I glance at it.  OK, so now I’ll deduct two hours.  But I’m still hungry.  I bought a bag of Doritos and a bag of Cheetos (actually the first junk food since I began my trip – hooray for me!) and returned to the lake.

I inflated my kayak and had a wonderful paddle on Lake Ogallala.  I decided I’d do an early morning paddle so I left the kayak inflated, sat down to write, read, drink some wine (I always carry a bottle for happy hour), plan the next day’s route, munch on junk food  and watch the sun set.  Stunning.

There’s one problem with camping in a recreation area – no facilities. Well, there was a vault toilet but yuck, no.  I used my female urination device for the first time and it worked great although my sister-in-law’s method of outdoor peeing worked even better.  Thank you, Lisa. Contact me if you want her method.  I don’t mean to be offensive but these are things girls must think about when camping. I had a very comfortable night except that my eye started draining. After cleaning it with a washcloth and water, it began to feel better and by morning the pain was gone and the swelling under control.  Whew!

No kayaking in the morning.  The lake was shrouded in mist.  I sat on the dock dangling my feet in the icy water while making some phone calls. The setting was quiet and mysterious and I started thinking about Stephen King’s, “The Mist”.  I got extra spooked when I heard a splash and promptly pulled my feet out of the water and up into a lotus position but reminded myself that there are no sharks or alligators in Lake Ogallala.  It still creeped me out until I saw a large fish jump, wiggle and splash.  It was a trout or a bass maybe and would explain why I saw a bunch of people fishing yesterday.

I had a heck of a time deflating the kayak and getting it back up into the rooftop carrier.  I brought a one step stool but I still wasn’t tall enough to position it, zip the carrier and tie it down.  There was no one around to help so I just did a half-assed job and went on my merry way. I stopped at the Visitor Center to clean up, change clothes, a little makeup (hopeless since I didn’t want anything applied around my eyes), comb and style(?) my hair, etc. The hell with it.  I was anxious to find Wyoming.

The rest of Day 6 was glorious.  I entered Wyoming early and was so enthralled with the scenery I passed right through Cheyenne and Laramie without really noticing. My plan was to stop and explore some cowboy stuff but I decided I was more interested in the countryside than tourist attractions so I kept driving west on Interstate 80 until I discovered a byway through the Medicine Bow Mountains.  It took me two hours off my route but was so worth it.

 

I then got desperately lost but eventually found Rawlins, WY and decided that I would boondock for the first time at the local WalMart.  Many of the camping blogs I read recommend staying at the WalMart lots because they’re safe and convenient.  There are security cameras and lights and I was encouraged that there were at least 20 RVs, campers and trucks parked in the overnight parking area.  I know it sounds odd to boondock in a WalMart lot but if it’s good enough for the big boys with quarter million $ RVs, it’s good enough for me.  WalMart loves overnight campers because they buy their supplies from the store, buy gas, etc.  Whatever you may think about WalMart, they are cordial and supportive of their overnight campers.

I stopped for dinner at the Days Inn restaurant next door because I was exhausted and didn’t have the energy to look for any other restaurants.  I had one of the most delicious cheeseburgers I’ve ever eaten.  Perhaps I was just extremely hungry having only eaten leftover Cheetos and a couple of energy bars all day.  I parked between two huge RVs and in the morning the lot looked like a regular campground. I felt secure and had a comfortable night.  I can’t wait for Day 7 – Grand Teton National Park.

 

 

Categories: Camping, Kayaking, Life, Retirement, road trip, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You’re Never Alone if You Have a Smart Phone

If you are going to travel solo, I suggest you run, don’t walk, to the nearest store to get a smart phone if you don’t already have one.  This one small device is all you need to:

  • Communicate with family & friends your whereabouts & your plans  via phone, text, email
  • Use as a GPS
  • Find the nearest WalMart, Starbucks or Subway
  • Call for help
  • Locate the next rest stop
  • Take photos & videos of your adventures and send them to family & friends to make them jealous via text or email
  • Post your adventures to Facebook, your blog, etc.
  • Locate the nearest gas station
  • Determine the weather where you are & where you’re headed
  • Surf the Internet to research highlights along your route, identify snakes/spiders/poison plants (just kidding or maybe not)
  • Find the correct time
  • Call for road service
  • Set an alarm to wake you up (why???)
  • Check your calendar for appointments
  • Map out your route
  • Listen to music
  • Play games
  • Follow the news (why??)
  • Follow other bloggers
  • Take notes
  • Calculate stuff
  • Use as a flashlight
  • Google, Facebook, Twitter
  • Orient yourself when you’re on a trail using the built-in compass

If you think this handy, dandy little device is too expensive or too frivolous, you’re wrong!  When traveling/camping alone I use my phone as my GPS to locate state & national parks, to make camping reservations, to check the weather and road conditions, to stay connected to my family so they know where I am and where I’m going and so I know that everyone is OK at home, as a phone of course, to listen to music, to make notes for future blogs, as a camera (takes better photos than my cameras), to check my bank balance & even pay bills if necessary, and when I wake up in the middle of the night I play Solitaire.  If you activate the locator on your phone you can be found if you get lost as long as you have your phone with you.

I also have applications on my phone for siren/alarms (hope I never need it), my bank, exercise journal, motivational radio, flashlight, Cracker Barrel (sometimes I boondock in their parking lot – did you know you can do that?), dutch oven meals, travel deals, national parks, games and much more.  Everything I need fits right in my hand.

So do some comparison shopping (I love my iPhone) and then find a 10 year old to show you how to use it.

 

Categories: Camping, Family | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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