Posted on December 3rd, 2016 by Brenda.B
Valley Of Fire State Park is Nevada’s oldest and largest state park, just an hour north of Las Vegas and close to Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam. A great get away if you find yourself in the area. While we had been to Valley Of Fire State Park before back in 2011, and you can read our previous posts here, here and here, we had to go back. As a matter of fact, it was high on our list of places to visit again. And we are so glad we did.
First of all, Valley Of Fire State Park does have a great campground for big rigs. The downside is that it is a no reservation, first come, first serve campground. So while you may find yourself in need/want of a campsite, you may be disappointed. We luckily were not and found a great site.
We arrived on a Wednesday, which I firmly believe helped in the matter of finding an open site, we also arrived before 10am. There is a separate RV only area in the campground that has large sites with water and electric (50amp). So they are not full hook-up, they will do for a while before you have to go to the dump station, which is right at the beginning of the campground road. While all the sites, whether they are in the rv only section or the dry campground area, are well spaced apart, I’d have to say most are not level. The first site that we pulled into, our front tires were up on blocks and we still had a hard time leveling. Spotting a big rig leaving another site that looked nice, and much more level, we decided to move to that site. And boy…are we ever glad we did. It was a great view and more importantly, LEVEL! All sites come with a campfire ring (wood available in the visitor’s center) and shaded tables and a grill.
So why do we like Valley of Fire State Park so much? Well….look at it! (Remember you can click on any of the pictures to enlarge them)
Red rocks that glow even brighter with the sunset surround you. The campground is a good distance from the main road through the park that you don’t hear anything while out there. At nighttime everyone is generally quiet so it’s very peaceful. And the stars are a plenty. What’s not to like. It would be perfect if it was a full hook-up campground but oh well, you can’t win them all.
The colors out here are awe-inspiring. From the reds to the white sandstone to everything in between. Every time we went out for a hike we kept saying how amazing the colors were out there. How interesting the rocks were with their stripes and variations and the many, many layers. You really did feel like you were walking on a Martian surface.
We had great weather while we were out there. Perfect for hiking during the day and relaxing outside in the evening.
We just can’t get enough of this park. It’s one of our favorites. It’s a very popular park and campground alike. So if you find yourself in the area and want to spend a few days out amongst the red rocks, while no reservations are taken and you can just show up on a whim, I suggest you arrive early.
When we find ourselves in the area again, we are definitely stopping at this park for a few more days of exploring.
Until then, we’ll have to relive this awesome park through David’s quadcopter video footage.
Posted on November 25th, 2016 by Brenda.B
We recently stopped in St. George, Utah for a visit. Having never been there before we were intrigued by there rich history. We like to visit historical areas and learn what we can. This area is big in Mormon history and seeing that we are not religious at all, we were not sure what we were in for. Well, regardless of your beliefs, this area of the country, and St. George in particular does play a large role in how this country came about.
The quick version of their history is this…You see, back in the 1800’s the Mormon’s were prevalent in upstate NY (close to where we are from) and in Ohio. People in those areas feared the Mormon faith; the people of that area had driven out the Mormons to find another place to call home. They eventually settled in the Salt Lake City area, led by their President (of the church) Brigham Young.
Then Brigham Young had a vision to go south and expand. So he sent missionaries south of Salt Lake City to look for more land where they could spread their communities and their faith but also find land to grow cotton to help in the Civil War era. So they packed up their wagons and headed out. Along the way, making camps that eventually turned into small towns. Eventually settling in the St. George, Utah area. So you see, the many smaller communities that you see along Interstate 15 from Salt Lake City to St. George are, from what we understood, towns from those early settlers. Without going into to much detail, as I am not sure I am remembering everything exactly, you can read all about the history of this area here.
A Temple was built in St. George and visiting it today, it is amazing to see the architecture and quality of the build from that long ago. It looks like it’s not that old and they keep the grounds immaculately clean. While it is considered a sacred place to the LDS (Mormon) community, you cannot go inside it unless you are of the Mormon faith and something is happening inside. They use the Temples for weddings, baptisms and such. The grounds are spacious and well kept and there is a visitor’s center that you are more than welcome to explore. They have videos on the faith and pictures showing the inside of the Temple along with the meaning of the pictures, the faith and what we enjoyed, the history of it all.
As I said, we are not religious people but exploring this area, you can not deny that the Mormons in this area have a large hand in developing the American landscape that we know today.
Brigham Young, the President of the LDS Church, had many health issues in his golden years and found the weather in St. George, Utah, being drier and warmer, helped his health. He built a winter home and next to it, an office, where he would travel from Salt Lake City and spend his winters. He would run the church from his office in St. George, all the while taking meetings and receiving dignitaries from all over.
St. George, Utah is a big snowbird destination. There is a lot of shopping and things to do in the surrounding area. Some parks, both National and State are close by as well as other outdoor adventures.
While exploring St. George, we stayed at the Temple View RV Resort. While a great location to everything we wanted to do, we were not happy with this park. They did have a really nice community room, pool tables (which we actually saw people using), pool area and such, however, their sites left something to be desired.
The park is mostly filled with park models and snowbirds, which is fine. They do have one large street that seems to be reserved for longer term RV’s.
We were booked there for 10 days. Our site was in the back, on all gravel, as most sites are in the southwest area. While it was easy to get in and out of, it was also backed right up to the storage area. If you look at the RV’s positioned behind us in the left picture, those RV’s were in the “storage” area. I put quotes around that, as it was in the same area that we were in, the only difference being they were backed up to the wall.
While we are not opposed to being in an area that is close to the storage area, it is bad in the sense that it felt like we were parked on a busy thru road. The back and forth traffic going in and out of the storage area (both behind us and in the storage area next to us) seemed non-stop. And when someone was not parked next to us, that site then became a busy cut thru to the back. We actually had to move the picnic tables across the area so cars and trailers would not cut thru.
When cars and trailers were not cutting thru, people walking their dogs were. This had to have been our biggest pet peeve about this park.
We had already visited Zion National Park and that surrounding area, Hurricane, Utah. So when in St. George, we wanted to hit the highlights of that town. We feel we saw what St. George had to offer and we can honestly say; we’ve done that, now we don’t need to go back. It was too crowded and congested for our liking. So much so that while Verizon phones for calls worked fine, the data was way over saturated. It was almost impossible to connect to Verizon data at all. Thank goodness David carries with us and put up a 5 GHz wifi antenna to connect to the wifi in the air. The 2.4-band was impossible to connect to as it was just over saturated. St. George has essentially over grown itself and the infrastructure has not kept up with the demand.
So, while Temple View RV Resort was the best park in the area, from what we had read, we would not stay there again. As far as St. George? We’ve been, done that. We see no need to go back. It just wasn’t our favorite.
Posted on November 11th, 2016 by Brenda.B
When people find out that you travel full-time in a motor home the question always comes up of, “Where is your favorite place that you have travelled to?” This question is always difficult to answer because the States that we have explored so far are all so different. You have the areas with the Great Smokey Mountains, the Rocky Mountains, the Gulf Coast states, the Northeast with their Fall Colors and shore lines, the Texas Hill Country (one of our favorites) and then there is Moab, Utah and the surrounding area with all of their red rocks.
As you may recall, we have been to Moab, Utah before. A couple of years ago in fact. You can read all about our adventures here and here. We had such a great time last time we were in Moab that we kept saying that we had to go back.
Well, we finally made it back and it still did not disappoint. We stayed at the same place, Portal RV Resort, which is just a great place to stay. (tell them we said so. :)) You know how sometimes you visit a place and what you remember is not how it actually is? Well, Moab and Portal RV Resort were just how we remembered and then some. In turn, we went back to some of the same restaurants that we remembered as good and they were just ok. So that was disappointing. Oh well.
This time around the best part is we have a Jeep! Yes, it is a Grand Cherokee however; it is Trail-Rated which means it has a special suspension and skid plates and such so that you can go off-roading in it. In our Jeep we can even raise the suspension even more for a higher clearance over the rocks.
So for those wondering if such a Jeep can actually go off-road…well…off-roading we went!
One of the trails we went on was called Chicken Corner’s. It’s mostly dirt, gravel, slick rock and such. No one should be out on this trail without a 4×4 that’s for sure. Some areas were so steep we had to put our Jeep in “rock” mode just to help our traction going up the hills and such.
With such beautiful scenery (the pictures really do not do it justice), David had to get his quadcopter out and take some aerial video as well. We also remembered that our dash cam was recording all of the drive, front and back views. So David took his aerial video along with the dash cam footage and edited together a great video that you can enjoy at the end of this post to see how nuts we were. :)
As you can see, we had an awesome lunch spot out on the trail. It’s so surreal out there. So peaceful and quiet. There are not a lot of people out there on the trail, so you really do feel like you have the whole place to yourself. I’m sure on the weekends that could be a different story.
David’s birthday happened to fall on the time that we were in Moab. So to celebrate, we rented a Razor 4×4 and went out on some of the slick rock trails (“Fins and Things” and “Hell’s Revenge”) that we didn’t want to take our Jeep on. These machines and the tires on them are amazing in what they can do. Climbing up this slick rock at 60% grades and just gripping the rock the entire way. Oh my!
To follow these 4×4 trails you basically just follow the black lines. This is where all the tire marks that have gone before you have travelled. Once in a while there is a white arrow but they are few and far between and they wear off easily from all the wear and tear. Yes, there are maps, but those can be difficult to navigate as well.
So off you go, following the trail, hoping it does not fade or lead you astray. We did these trails last time we were here and we were pleased that this time around the Sand Flats Recreational Committee that helps maintain these trails, have actually put up new signs and maps along the routes.
Moab did not disappoint us, in what we remembered and the fun that we had. We had a blast 4x4ing in our Jeep and in the Razor. There is so much to do here it’s difficult to get bored. We did not go into any of the National Parks that are in the area as we did those last time. We wanted to go out exploring the areas that a lot of tourists tend to over look.
We find ourselves wanting to go back again. Maybe in another couple of years.
In the mean time, I promised you David’s video, so here it is. We hope you enjoy it.
Posted on November 9th, 2016 by Brenda.B
Well…let’s just say this was 3 nights too long. If they did not have a strict no refunds policy, we would have left. However, when booking the site, we had to pay for half up front. That was $59.00 a night, which included our Good Sam discount, not including tax. So, for 3 nights in this park, it ended up costing us $190 bucks total! Yikes! We said, this better be some great place. We usually do not write park reviews like this as you know…but in this case, we felt we just needed to. (Note, the park office staff was nice, yet not much they could do and it seems we were not the first to say something about the park’s condition.)
Well, getting to the park is pretty easy. It’s right off of I-70 yet it was not overly noisy. At least where we were parked when we got settled. We were parked in site C5 which was a pull-thru. If you are unlucky enough to be put on the other side of the park, they are located right next door to a factory that starts working at 5am. Or so the other reviews online say. We did not hear any of that where we were parked.
They charge extra for pull-thru’s which is not unusual except for the fact that we could not “pull-thru”. The roads are very narrow and tight here, with light poles at every driveway corner, so their was no way we would be able to pull forward to leave without having the people across the way from us move their vehicles. Which by the way, they gladly said they would and they did not. So we had to back out of our pull-thru site onto yet another very narrow and tight street. We were only able to do this with me spotting and David’s confidence.
The site itself was terrible and while we walked around looking for a better site, we could not find one. All the sites there are concrete slabs with grass on the side. Sounds nice except when you find out that their concrete is crumbling, cracked, heaved from tree roots and uneven. The grass on either side of the concrete is much lower than the slab, so if you happen to go off the slab, you drop quite a ways. Unavoidable when you are pulling on or off your site as we barely fit side to side. So no wiggle room here. We were not able to level with our jacks. It was taking our wheels off the ground, which we prefer not to do. Thank goodness we had an air leveling system. We were able to use that to level. Others in the park were not as lucky and had multiple layers of wood and such underneath tires and jacks just to try to level themselves. That’s how unleveled everything was.
This park is built on a hillside which shouldn’t be an issue if they graded it properly when they built the sites. However, they did not in my opinion. You know there is an issue when you hook up your sewer hose and it is traveling uphill from your site. Umm…what?
Yes, The sewer line is uphill from your site. Not good. It’s difficult to see in the picture but trust me, it is significantly up hill.
Unless you are one of the lucky few to be able to get into and fit into an end spot, which seem to be taken up with seasonals anyway, be prepared to become friendly with your neighbors. The sites in this park are laid out in such a matter that on the driver’s side, while you have your own electric, sewer and water, you are also sharing that thin strip of space with your neighbors electric, sewer and water. So all utilities are on one side, which puts the rigs pulling in opposite of you. So that leaves your passenger side where you hang out and go in and out of your rig. Well, your neighbors are also entering and exiting from their rig on that same patch of lawn. Your picnic tables are side by side and you are so close that really all they can fit are the picnic tables between you.
Because of mature trees at the sites, while not a terrible idea, are bad in the sense that they are not maintained. They are overgrown in the sense that all the grass between you and your neighbor, where your picnic tables are, is unusable because of tree roots popping up all over and making the ground uneven, as you can clearly see in the picture above. Not to mention, as I said before, they did not grade the hill they built this park on, so if you did want to sit outside, you’d be doing so at an angle. And good luck trying to get your awning out. Nope. Not possible. For 3 days we can deal with that though.
So why did we stay if it was that bad? Well…as I stated above, they have a strict no refunds policy. We were not about to loose close to $200 bucks for a bad site. We could make it work for the 3 days that we were there and heck we’ve all been there done that. We’ve been in worse and we’ve been in better. No, we couldn’t sit outside because of the slope everything was on and no, we could not pull forward through our pull-thru site (which they charge more for) but hey, we were able to get into the site, so we were able to back out of the site. As long as you take your time and listen to your spotter, which David does wonderfully :) , then all should work out. The park is in a great location with the historical area of Golden not too far, about 10 minutes or so away, and they were close to shopping and restaurants. So you pay for the location in this case…NOT THE PARK.
Will we stay there again? I think you all know the answer to that.
It really got under our skin that they charged so much for so little. While the place was clean and neat looking, it was not, in our opinion, a good fit for big rigs. So no, we will not be back to that park.
Next time, if their is a next time for that area, we will stay a little further away at a state park. Colorado has some beautiful ones that have full hook-ups and are very big rig friendly. We’ve stayed in them before and we will seek them out in the future. Their just were not any in the area we wanted to be close to.
Oh well…live and learn :) Stay safe out there and remember, milage will surely vary when it comes to RV parks. What may not have been good for us, does not mean it would not be for you.
Posted on November 2nd, 2016 by David.B
We are so happy to say that CoachProxy for the Tiffin motorhome is now available for sale!
It took longer that we had hoped as we made adjustments based on the feedback of our beta testers and actually redesigned the interface and some hardware components. Being a startup, this took some time but so happy to report that we feel great in being able to finaly release the product.
To remind you, CoachProxy is a plug and play control product that is for Tiffin Motorhomes that are 2015 or newer. With a device such as your cellphone, tablet, or computer you can control any device that is on the Spyder system locally or from anywhere in the world! (Worldwide if your motorhome has internet access.) It also is the first Voice Activated interface to your motorhome! Thats right, if you have full time Internet and an Amazon Echo or Dot, you can upgrade the CoachProxy to support full voice control. “Alexa, turn on main light.” It will also alert you to your tank levels and battery voltage via text to email. (Again, Internet is required.)
So the store is NOW OPEN so get them while you can! —> https://CoachProxy.com
Note: It is recommended, but not required, that your motorhome have it’s own internal Wi-Fi network running. Meaning you connect all your devices to your own Wi-Fi SSID and that the router is then connected to the RV park or JetPack for Internet.
You can build one for under $100 if needed. Please see this tutorial… Secure Private Wi-Fi for Under $100.
Posted on October 30th, 2016 by Brenda.B
Yes, I know what you are thinking. That is some long driving days for you and to tell you the truth, yes, yes it was. We prefer not to travel such long days however we left later than we had originally planned and we wanted to get to Moab to enjoy it and not have to cut our time short there.
So off we went. When we left Southwoods we had a very windy day. We fought it the entire day and as you all know, that can make for a long, hard driving day. Luckily it only lasted that first day and the rest of the driving days were beautiful skies and no wind.
On day three we made it to Shelby, Iowa, on purpose, because heading west on I-80 was The Corn Crib in Shelby, Iowa. It’s a great stop. Easy in and out for a big rig and if you need to stop overnight, which we did, they let you stay in the parking area next to the restaurant. If you need hook-ups for the night there is a no nonsense rv park just across the street which we have also stayed in. You see, we traveled through here a couple years ago and this was one of the places that we said we had to go back to.
When we first happened upon this place, we were like everyone else, just passing through, as we still were that day. There is nothing really to Shelby, Iowa other than a good place to stop for the night. We walked across the street to The Corn Crib restaurant, which yes, does happen to sell gas as well, not expecting much but a quick meal. Well, that quick meal turned into some really good home made cooking. Then David saw that they had french toast on their breakfast menu. In talking to the owner/cook, he said that it was his grandmother’s recipe for french toast. So french toast is made all over the country. What made this so special? Well, the owner batters it with a batter similar to a funnel cake and deep-fries it. Yes…you heard me right….deep fried french toast! Umm….yes, we will have to try it. And in love we fell.
I won’t go into detail here about how good the french toast was, which it is soooo good, let’s just say it was that good that we made plans to stop at the Corn Crib again when passing through this area, just for the french toast. And that we did, two years later, about a week ago in the writing of this blog post, we stopped and had some more french toast. YUM!
OK…so onward we go. The next day we made it to Golden, Colorado where we have never been (we’ve been to Denver, just not Golden) and planned on exploring the area for a couple days and relaxing a bit before our push through the Rockies.
We stayed at Dakota Ridge RV Park right there in Golden, Colorado. Not a bad location in the sense that it is right off I70 and close to shopping and restaurants, however I would not recommend this park for big rigs. I will leave it at that and will be doing a park review on this particular park on the next blog post. We will not stay at this park again.
Golden, Colorado’s historic town square area, while not big, is cute to walk around and see. It’s filled with restaurants and sculptures on every corner, but very few shops. I was actually expecting more shops but oh well. Golden, CO is the birthplace and home to Coors Brewing Company and while the big thing is to take a tour, we didn’t feel up to it that day. We are not beer drinkers so it really was not high on our list. There are a few driving scenic tours around the area that go through some more historical areas and such, but again, after driving for a few straight days, we just wanted a rest and not more driving. So we just wandered around the little town square area, took in the scenery and had lunch at a local pizza place.
We’re glad we stopped for a couple days to relax and check out Golden, but we don’t really see a need to go back to Golden in the future. The entire surrounding Denver area, no matter what direction you may be, is always congested and stressful. At least for us. We do not prefer large cities.
When we left the Golden area and hit I-70 to head through the Rockies, we could not have had a better day. It was in the 70’s that day, no wind to be heard of and very light on the traffic. We have travelled this route before but never with such light traffic. It really made for a fun and relaxing drive through the mountains.
I-70 is a great route to drive with a big rig. You just have to remember that you will be going slower due to the climbs and down hills. So relax and enjoy the scenery. Don’t try to push it. Allow yourself the extra time. While our engine does great in the mountains, you will go slower than normal traffic. There are several tunnels that are carved throughout the route that you will have no issue going through. Remember, this is the major route through the Rockies for the truckers as well, so you will have company in the slowness. People expect it.
Once on the other side of the Rockies, you come to Grand Junction, Colorado. It borders Utah and this is where you will make the decision to head south or keep heading west. We have done both. This time we were heading to Moab, Utah, our final stop for a few weeks. Once you clear Grand Junction the road and landscape just completely opens up. You can really see this in the first picture above. This is what we love about being out west. The openness and lack of traffic. You can truly see for miles and it just makes for a nice drive.
On a side note, there is a Pilot Truck Stop in Grand Junction, right off of I-70 at exit 26, that is a great stop. I had to mention this because too many times do we stop at a FlyingJ/Pilot Truck Stop and the roads are buckling or crumbling, it’s dirty and super busy. Well, this Pilot has a nice smooth road in and out, easy in and out, is clean from what we saw and when we were there, it was not busy at all. I just wanted to throw that out there in case you find yourself in the area.
Once through the Rockies we hit Utah and made it to Moab in no time at all. We have stayed in the past, and are currently staying at Portal RV Resort just on the edge of town. If you visit there website, you may recognize David’s video (on their main page) he did last time we were at the park.
It’s a great park for big rigs and if you happen to have a big rig with a large trailer that you tow, this is the place to be. Their sites in the owner’s section (no, you don’t have to be an owner, you can rent these) are huge as you can see from our photos above. This park makes for a great jumping off point for all the many activities to do in the area.
We love this area of the country and when we were here for the first time a couple years ago vs this time, it still does not disappoint. You know how sometimes you may remember things a little differently than how they actually are? Well, not here for us. This is a great place, great little town and lots of off-roading, parks, scenic drives and more to keep you busy for however long you may stay.
Here’s the two blog posts that we did a couple years ago when we visited this area, in case you missed them or care to catch up.
We highly recommend Moab, Utah if you have not been here before. You’ll marvel at the scenery that the people that live here get to enjoy every day. We never tire of this place and we can totally see ourselves making another trip here in another couple of years.