Lake Mead N.R.A.

Lake Mead N.R.A.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

RV Weigh In and Travel Day to Jim and Mary's RV Park Missoula, MT.

August 26, 2011 Island Park, Idaho to Missoula Montana.

We enjoyed our two week stay at Valley View RV Park. During our stay we met a full time RV couple, Paul and Doris whom have started a business weighing RVs known as RV Weigh. We got to know them and have them over for happy hour during our stay.  We decided along with our traveling companions Paul and Paula to have our rigs weighed. So we each paid the $60 fee and first had our trucks weighed while unhitched and full of fuel prepared for travel with all occupants. My truck weighed 8,550 lbs. and I was given the individual weights for each tire and axle which were well within the rated limits.
Today, just before leaving the campground for Missoula Montana we had our trucks and trailers weighed hitched and again received individual weights for each axle and tire.

Our Rig Getting Weighed

Paul and Paula's Rig Getting Weighed

With our 2009 Dodge Quad Cab 3500 Long Bed DRW 4x4 (4:10 rear end) and Carriage Cameo combined we were over our rated Gross Combined Vehicle Weight of 24000 lbs. by 100 lbs.  We joked that if we had Rico ride with Joyce in the Jeep we would be under!
Say What?
As anticipated our Cameo weighed more on the off-door side (driver's side) which contains the heavy components of the entertainment center and kitchen in the slide as well as the bedroom slide. The off-door side weighs 775 pounds more than the door side. I've always tried to 
load heavy items on the door side to counter-balance but obviously it hasn't worked completely! The total weight of the rig came it an 15,550 lbs. including a tongue weight of 3,275lbs. Total weight on my dually axle is 6, 975 lbs. well under the Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) of 9,350 for my truck. Something to consider for those of you with SRW trucks! While we are at it the front axle of the truck came in at 4,850 which is under the GAWR of 5,200 for the front axle.
Now the two Cameo trailer axles are rated at 7K each. These were the weights that I was most interested in. The rear axle total was 5,950 lbs. under the GAWR by 1,050 lbs. The left rear tire was supporting 3,200 lbs and the right rear tire 2,750 lbs. (the lightest).
The forward axle of our Cameo total was 6,325 lbs. under the GAWR by 675 lbs. The front left axle tire was supporting 3,325 lbs. which is more than the others. The front right axle tire was supporting 3,000 lbs. Each of our Goodyear G614's are G-rated at 3,750 lbs. each at 110 p.s.i. 
Weight Sheet from RV Weigh 
So, the good news is that we are within specs for the axles and tires although not evenly balanced. We are also well within specs for the Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of the truck. We will work on the balancing of the trailer weight to the best of our abilities...but I think it's largely due to the unbalanced design of the trailer. With regard to Paul and Paula in their Ford and Cameo...let's just say we were a lot lighter!
After getting weighed and provided copies of the results we said our good-byes to Paul and Doris of RV Weigh and were on the road by 9:30. We had about 260 miles to cover to get to Jim and Mary's RV Park in Missoula Montana. The weather was clear and expected to be 95 in Missoula by late afternoon.

I took the lead with Joyce following me in the Jeep. The route was hilly through some beautiful farm country on a two lane highway taking us up to Interstate 90.
Flat section of US 287

Beautiful small town of Ennis
Shortly after turning on Interstate 90 and climbing a large hill I began noticing that I could no longer see Paul and Paula behind us. I tried calling them on the phone but couldn't get through. Finally they called me and told me they were on the side of the interstate with a turbo problem and would call right back. Joyce and I pulled into a truck stop and waited. Long story short...after about 2.5 hours they were back on the road after a diesel mechanic reattached a clamp and hose that separated from the Ford turbo. They were lucky the diesel mechanic arrived with the tow truck and was able to fix it otherwise, they were looking at 3-4 days of waiting on a Ford dealer and all the complications that go with it.
Once we got going again, I let them take the lead so that we would be behind them if they continued to have trouble.
Paul and Paula ahead or our rig.

We ended up making one more stop on the interstate as Joyce radioed to me that my weather station was about to fall off it's pole attached to my ladder. It was too late by the time we pulled over, as Joyce saw it fall and splatter into a thousand pieces into the shoulder of the interstate. I really liked that weather station!
We arrived at Jim and Mary's RV Park in Missoula shortly after 5 P.M. considering the delays, we still made good time. We were all pleasantly surprised at the shady mature trees and beauty of Jim and Mary's RV Park. We both got large grassy sites (though not together) with mature shade trees which was real nice considering the heat wave and 95 degree temps. I'll post pictures of the park later. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Final Ride in Yellowstone

August 23, 2011 Valley View RV Park, Island Park, Idaho

A couple of days ago we took are last ride (for this visit at least) into Yellowstone National Park. We had decided with Paul and Paula that we wanted to go into the park in the evening with the hope of seeing the elusive wildlife. So, we went into West Yellowstone at 5:30 p.m. and had dinner. Paul drove us all in his truck into Yellowstone which was fantastic and it gave me a chance to really look around.

You can drive for miles and miles in Yellowstone and see nothing but Lodgepole Pine trees, streams and rivers.

We came across this bull bison lumbering up the middle of the road.

A little further down the road we encountered another Bison bull walking the other way down the road.

As we continued our two hour drive towards Lamar Valley in the park, the sun began to sink below the horizon making our spotting efforts too difficult. But, not before we came across a herd of bison crossing the road.

We finally left the park around 11:30 disappointed that we had not seen a grizzly, moose, wolf or elk.

Okay, I know you didn't ask, but I'll tell ya anyway. My opinion of Yellowstone N.P. is that it was a bit of let down. Joyce and I both think we enjoyed Grand Teton N.P. more than Yellowstone. Yellowstone is so vast that you have to drive great distances to see the park. However, the biggest let down was the lack of visible wildlife. Obviously not the fault of the park! Although the landscape is beautiful, much of it is forested thus making it hard to see as you drive. In the Grand Tetons the roads aren't as crowded by the pines and there's always the majestic mountains to view. The biggest themes in Yellowstone N.P. seem to be the geothermal pools, paint pots, geysers and water falls. Pretty, but not my thing. Now had we had better luck finding and viewing wildlife, I know my opinion would be different. Having said that, if you get a chance to visit Yellowstone, be sure and do it!

Tomorrow we are moving on to Missoula Montana and eventually Glacier N.P.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Kayaking the Henry Forks River and a Moose or Two is Loose

August 22, 2011 Valley View RV Park, Island Park, Idaho.

We wanted to do a kayak outing while here in Idaho. Paul was wanting to take the kayaks off the roof of his truck and get them in the water and I was wanting to take our Sea Eagle kayak out of the bag. One of the RV park managers told us about a kayak trip on Big Springs and Henry Forks River. We decided to try it.
We launched just south of Big Springs and parked Paul's truck down river at Mack's Inn off Hwy. 20. We left the Jeep at the launch area on Caribou-Targhee National Forest land.

The water was cold but absolutely clear. We couldn't have asked for better weather as the high was expected to be in the low 80's.
We were expecting this to be a leisurely float possibly taking 3-4 hrs. to do the 4 mile kayak trip down the river.
Joyce and I
Joyce and I running a ground in the shallows!

What are we looking at...Moose?
Shortly after launching we had come across a female moose in the dense bushes along the river but we weren't able to get any pictures. However, near the end of our trip we came across these two Bull Moose. The largest seemed to be the one laying in the water.

Between the four of us we only had two small pocket cameras. So, the pictures at full zoom aren't the greatest.
We were so excited to see the Moose. This is one of the animals that we most desired to see in the National Parks as we have never seen a live Moose.  But we never saw one in the parks!
We drifted past the Moose and were really quite surprised as we had made the 4 mile trip in about an hour and a half! Needless to say the river was moving along pretty well. In two or three spots I had to get out into the ankle high water and drag us over some shallow spots. Even so, we made great time and saw plenty of fish in the crystal clear waters.
The trip was over sooner than expected but actually it was just right. Further down river past Coffee Pot Campground (Caribou- Targhee NFS) is supposed to be a very severe rapid.
Back on shore we took the next two shots of one of the Moose in the river undeterred by the humans around him.
There are plenty of aquatic weeds in the river for the Moose to feed on.
Today Joyce and I drove past Macks Inn and saw this Moose in the River. It was probably one of the two we saw a couple days ago.  I had my new camera with me so we quickly got out to take some more pictures from the opposite side of the river with my telephoto lens.

The Bull Moose was in the shadows of the opposite bank so the pictures aren't the greatest. Even so, I was happy to get some shots!

Searching for Wildlife and Visiting the Red Rock Lakes N.W.R.

August 24, 2011 Valley View Rv Park, Island Park, Idaho.

Please bare with me as I try to catch up on the blog. 
We've been enjoying the last few days here in Idaho outside of West Yellowstone.  Joyce and I took another ride into the park in search of wildlife while Paul and Paula went fishing. We aren't fisherman, probably because I don't have the patience!

After driving about an hour into the park we decided to stop by this beautiful lake actually South Twin Lake. We ate lunch and watched for wildlife. We were hoping to see a Moose, Elk or bear...something!
We saw nothing but, we had a good time and ate our bag lunch.

We moved to another location along a river and just sat looking. We saw this these Geese.
We also saw this Bald Eagle soaring above the river! But, that's all we saw in terms of wildlife with the exception of the odd bird or two. After a few hours we packed it up and headed home having enjoyed a quiet afternoon in the wilderness.
The other day we took the Jeep with Paul and Paula and went for a drive down some dirt roads around Henry Lake and eventually headed west along more rough dirt roads over Red Rock Pass.
We kept driving and reached the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. 

We stopped at the visitor center and had a good time talking with the two volunteers. Not much to see in the refuge that we didn't see driving into it!
We also visited a couple of the local lakes: Elk Lake and Hidden Lake.
Hidden Lake
We had a good time driving for about 60 miles on rough dirt roads. We were all keenly interested in finding some wildlife to photograph. Not much luck with that but we certainly tried!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sawtelle Peak and Wild Flowers

August 18, 2011. Valley View RV Park Island Park, Idaho.

From our campground, a large Radome is visible on the top of a peak in the distance. We learned from some other campers that there is a gravel road that leads to the peak and the radome. The peak itself is known as Sawtelle Peak and the drive at this time of year is particularly beautiful due to the wild flowers. So, after just a little prompting, we decided to take the drive up to the mountain with Paul and Paula.

The summit is just under 10000 ft. At the summit is an FAA Radome and some FM radio towers. The entire route to the summit can be driven as the gravel road is maintained to service the Radome and towers.

From the top of Sawtelle Peak the view of Mt. Jefferson at 10,200 feet and the tallest peak in the area is just phenomenal.
The clouds were coming and going changing the shadowy perspective.
It was a hazy day but we could see Henry's Lake below.
In the center of the next photo you can see Valley View RV Park. (Click on any of the photos for a larger view)
On a clear day one should be able to view portions of three states Idaho, Wyoming and Montana to include Yellowstone Park from the peak. Obviously we didn't have a clear day!
You might be able to make out the Grand Tetons in the center horizon of the picture below.
On the way back down the mountain, the girls wanted to stop and play in the flower covered sub-alpine meadows.

Paula and Paul

We had a great time checking out the meadows filled with flowers. Later we found an off-road trail that we followed in the Jeep till it ended looking for the elusive wildlife.
On the way home we stopped at a local grocery/ gas station. The prices were crazy but, there isn't much available in terms of grocery stores in the area. 
We will see what tomorrow brings.