2006: Yellowstone

Nevada and Southern Idaho



It's been over five years since our acquisition of our very own fifth-wheel RV, and sadly, the same amount of time since our one big twelve-week trip into the Pacific Northwest. The poor RV has been sitting in a parking lot since then, and I was beginning to think there it would stay until my funeral. But finally I convinced the old ball and chain my Darling Husband Mike that working is not the ONLY thing worth doing, and we scheduled two months for a new trip in the summer of 2006.

Gas station humor.

Ordinarily we try to travel the spring and fall, to avoid the crowds; so I had some trepidation -- well-founded, as it later proved -- about doing most of our traveling in July and August. Since it was to be the shank of the summer and we hate the heat, we decided to head as far north as possible and hope for good weather.

One thing we knew for sure: the fuel bills were going to be scary, with diesel selling for over $3 a gallon. RVs are not known for their fuel economy, y'all.

There goes the neighborhood.

Our first week on the road, just getting from home to where we wanted to be. was a bit of a trial. We first stopped for three nights in Reno to visit some former neighbors who had just moved there. We stayed in the Shamrock RV park (using the term "park" loosely), a paved parking lot located in a warehouse district right next to the railroad tracks. Not the greatest location, but it was clean and had a nice little swimming pool for a quick dip in the searing heat. And there were at least two bail bondsmen just down the street, in case we needed their services.

Surfing road warrior.

At least the satellite TV worked, and our new so-called "air card", an internet card for the PC that is essentially a cellphone connection. It's not super-high speed, but we find it works adequately on all the major interstates, and anywhere else we can get a direct line-of-sight to a Cingular cell tower. Of course that doesn't cover everything, but this was a less expensive alternative to a mobile satellite internet dish, favored by full-time RV'ers.

We had a bit of a scare in Reno when our cat, Chelsea, started showing symptoms of a recurrent bladder infection -- on a Friday night, of course. How exactly do animals know when the week-end starts, anyway? A quick (if expensive and harrowing) trip to the Reno emergency vet clinic solved her problem, so we decided to keep going.

Endless Nevada I-80.

And going, and going -- and going. who knew that Nevada is about a thousand miles wide? Well, at least it seemed that way. Our ultimate destination was Yellowstone, via Idaho, but first we had to get thru the endless desert. We don't like to travel more than six hours a day, so we chose to stop overnight in Elko, NV. Let's just re-dub it Hell-ko right now, shall we? 'Nuf said. And if anybody ever offers you a free pass to the delightful Double Dice RV Park -- run. Fast.

Thirsty truck in the desert heat.

We escaped from the desert on the fifth day of our so-far unsatisfactory trip. It's never been our favorite thing to move frequently -- we like to find a nice camp and stay for a while -- so we were still looking for that elusive happy place. Alas, Xanadu was not to be found simply by leaving Nevada.

I had calculated that Ketchum, Idaho, the nearest town to the Sun Valley resort area, was about the right distance for one day's travel. I'd only visited Sun Valley once many years ago to ski, but I thought the summer mountain environment might be a pleasant place to spend a few days before moving on toward Yellowstone. So after several hours' drive thru the desert, we finally started to wind our way into the forests of the Sawtooth Mountains.

Curiously, I had trouble finding information about any RV parks near Ketchum. That was a warning signal, but I ignored it. A day before leaving, we contacted the one place we could find, and the owner made it sound pleasant enough, offering us a place "near the creek". Okey-dokey, then. We located the place easily enough, as it was on the main road to Ketchum. It's pretty hard to miss a tumble-down trailer park with a couple of dozen RVs crammed into it, right up against the highway. If there was a creek on this property, it must have been a Native American, not a body of water. We beat a hasty retreat. After a fruitless trip to the Ketchum tourist office -- it was Sunday, so it was closed, of course -- and consulting with a local wandering the streets, we concluded what I should already have known: Sun Valley is too hoity-toity and upscale to allow any of its precious land to be occupied by RV'ers. So we reluctantly turned around to drive back toward Twin Falls and possible alternative lodging.

On-the-road internet is a handy thing when you're searching for a place to light. Online I found a couple of likely-looking RV parks along interstate 84. And, of course, that's exactly where they were -- directly alongside the interstate.

Exhausted, we finally settled for a place called Village of Trees, halfway between Twin Falls and Pocatello. It was actually a lovely spot in many ways; the trees were for real, large and shady, and a nice stretch of the Snake River was about a hundred yards away. It would have been exactly our kind of place except for the zooming traffic assaulting our ears all day. A bridge over the Snake seemed to operate like an echo chamber in the afternoon hours, amplifying the roar to painful levels. Regardless of the shortcomings of the place, we decided to stay for two nights and regroup since my plan to visit Sun Valley had gone awry.

City of Rocks, Idaho.

The next day we headed for a local attraction called the City of Rocks. We drove for over an hour on a back-country road to reach, well, a bunch of rocks. The place reminded me somewhat of The Pinnacles near Salinas, California, but with less of the charm. Of more interest to me than the rocks were the deteriorating, abandoned log cabin buildings we found along the road, evidence of settlers from many years ago and a glimpse into the past.

Rrrrrrrrrrr. Hard life.

After a hard day on the rockpile, we enjoyed some much-needed relaxation. I mean, just look at that EXHAUSTED cat.