As we round the corner into November it becomes clear that the end of the RV season is upon us. We have been fortunate this year to have been able to use the RV for a solid 9 month stretch. But the time has finally come to winterize and put our baby to bed for the winter, but not before one last overnight trip. We were trying to decide between Antelope Island State Park and Utah Lake State Park and decided that we hadn’t been to Utah Lake this year and decided to head south for the night. Opting to not make any reservations just in case the weather didn’t cooperate, we were excited when Saturday was looking like a very nice day. We headed out and made the short drive to the park. Upon arrival we saw the dreaded “Campground Closed” sign… This campground shows as open online and is typically open year round so we were a bit thrown by the sign. We decided to stay at another campground that is just outside the entrance to the State park called Lakeside RV Campground.
The office staff was really friendly and more than willing to get us a space. They even accommodated our request to be near a fire-pit but to not have full hookups. Upon arriving Lily quickly noticed the playground and requested that we head over the second we had camp setup, which we did. The playground could use some updating but since they had swings, Lily was all set.
After swinging for a bit we decided to ride our bikes around the campground a bit and to check out the “scenic trail” that bordered along the Provo River. The trail was totally tree wrapped and the ground was covered in leaves (like most of the campground). With crisp air on our face and crunching leaves under our feet, it is hard to deny that the end of the season is here. After we made dinner we headed out to the fire-pit for one last fire of the season. The three of us sat around and reminisced about our travels this year and tried to decide on a favorite. After a bit of discussion we all agreed that Dinosaur National Monument was our favorite this season. This was a bit of a surprise to me but we all agreed that it was at the top of our list. Our favorite hike of the season was Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park. This hike is the longest one we have done as a family (5 miles) and one that we were prepping for leading up to our glacier trip.
So with the conclusion of the 2015 season it is now time to start the planning for our 2016 adventures. Those who know me know that I enjoy planning, in fact it has been a large part of my job for a long time. So now its all about limiting our scope and starting to nail down a few key details.
Fall is one of the best times to go camping. Not only is the weather very favorable but the crowds are basically non existent and you can essentially have the campground to yourself. Unfortunately this was the last full weekend for this State Park.
For our first real trip in our new Secret Hideout we decided to go to Jordanelle State Park. This is our second time at Jordanelle and I have to say it is quickly becoming a favorite location of ours. With its close proximity to Heber and Park City, it is a very nice central location for a bunch of different activities.
For this weekend trip we were taking it easy and didn’t really plan many activities. We headed over to Park City and bummed around on main street. The city has a very rich mining history and one of the places we stopped in had a museum. We didn’t go through but I ask if there were any mines that did tours. Surprisingly they said no and that the last one closed down in the 90s. I am sure at some point we will come back and check out the museum. We all hope that this isn’t our last outing for the year, but winter is fast approaching…
At the end of our 3rd season of RVing we say goodbye to our beloved Jayco Swift 184BH and hello to a Keystone Hidehout 24BHSWE. Like alot of RVers the shopping for a new rig basically starts the day you bring home your existing rig. For us the Jayco was our first venture into this way of travel and really acted as a way for us to determine if we would use the trailer and like camping as much as we thought we would. For us, it was apparent after only a few months that camping was what we were meant to do and the investment in our family was irreplaceable.
Not long into our second season, we started to identify several aspects of our trailer that just wasn’t ideal for us. Sure each of them were manageable, but if we were going to keep doing this; why compromise? So what did we want to change?
- Dedicated Beds: The 184BH has 2 bunks and a convertible dinette. This gave our daughter “her space” but caused Ashley and I to have to convert the dinette and never really allowed us to make the bed area as homey feeling as we wanted.
- Larger Refrigerator: The 3 cu ft fridge was great and worked VERY well, but it is small. We made due by using a large cooler and ice. Occasionally we invite people to join us at camp, and packing the extra food quickly became an issue. On several occasions we even had to have other people traveling with us take some of our food in their rig.
- Larger Black Tank: With only a 9 gal capacity, we were really limited to only being able to do 2-3 nights at most without having to hit a dump station. While a lot of campgrounds have dumps on-site it is an inconvenience to have to break camp to go do the dump routine. This usually lead to us just not staying anywhere more than 3 nights which limited some of our exploring options.
We really started our search about half way through the 2015 season. The number of manufactures and endless floor-plans can make this process a bit complex and confusing. We found it necessary to not only line out the 3 items above as requirements but we also had to identify a few more to help narrow the field of options.
- Bunks: We went back and forth but we ultimately decided that we had to stick with bunk-house models. This single choice alone narrowed the field a ton but having a dedicated space for our daughter was important. There are many sweet floor-plans that lack bunks but after much discussion, this just didn’t seem like an option for us in the stage of life.
- Under 30 feet: Doing a bit of research it seemed that staying under 30 feet allowed us to have more options at campsites. There are many campgrounds that can accommodate rigs over 30 feet, but frequently the number of spaces get more limited. Since the vast majority of our camping is in Federal and State campgrounds, we felt it was best to keep it small.
Our search started with Jayco. We had a great experience with our 184BH and had no reason to even really look at other brands. We started looking through the floor-plans and found that there was really only one the meet all of our requirements, the White Hawk 25BHS. While this is an awesome trailer, we just couldn’t get past the 2nd slide on the awning side of the trailer. Since this would cut into our usable space under the awning, we just really couldn’t see ourselves with this model. It was a bit unfortunate as we would have liked to stay with Jayco but the only other bunk house options they have put us over that 30 foot mark. After reading “How to Survive an RV Show…and Make it a Great Experience” we headed off to our local RV show with a listing of 16 trailers that meet all of our requirements.
As suggested in the book we knew going in that we were not going to buy at the show and we were going to focus on narrowing the field even more. After several hours of going in and out of trailers, taking many notes and pictures we felt that there was one trailer that was standing out. In addition, the sales rep (Casey) that we talked to was also standing out in our mind, so a win win in our book. After a lot more research online we went to Motor Sportsland to take another look at the trailer and make a few final choices. The entire sales process was very smooth and the trailer delivered was well coordinated and organized.
As we were moving our stuff out of our Jayco I felt a bit sad. I have never felt that way about an old car or a house so why with the trailer? I think its because the trailer really enables us to be at our best and those are great memories that will be with us for a lifetime. The trailer enables us to be who we really are and to truly enjoy our time as a family. Seeing the trailer leave that exposed this to us struck a bit of a cord and it was a bit hard to say goodbye. However as we have been moving into our new Hideout the sadness is gone and all of our requirements are now meet. Its time to start the next chapter in our camping adventures and we are looking forward to each and every one of them…
The annual running of the Wasatch 100 is a great reminder that we are leaving summer and moving into the fall season. It is usually on my way up to our base camp that I see the first signs of leaves changing in the canyons. This year the colors were already going strong and in fact over the weekend we could actually see a change.
The Wasatch 100 is one of those premier events for Amateur Radio operators and provides a serious challenge when it comes to communication. We are task with tracking every runner in and out of each of the 15 aid stations. That gives us 32 potential times for each of the 317 runners that we had this year. That’s 10,144 data points that we are responsible for tracking. The good thing is all those data points give us a good idea where each of the runners are on the course and help us determine if a runner is over due at a given checkpoint.
The caravan has arrived!
Morning at Camp Wasatch 100 Finish Line
The tools of the morning
Our Ops center - Complete with cartoons!
Shitter was full...
To help liven up the weekend a bit we decided to make it a bite more of a camping adventure and so we bring along several trailers. This was the second year that we did this and it really turned out nice. I was much more comfortable sleeping and it is really nice to have some of my comforts of home so close to our base of operation for the event.
A while back we decided to do two different type of birthdays for Lily (Friends & Family). This year was a family birthday so we decided to spend the weekend camping in one of our favorite areas, Heber, Utah. Previously we stayed at the Wasatch Mountain State Park, but this time we decided to check out Jordanelle State Park. The two parks are only about 30 minutes apart so generally they are in the same area. Jordanelle is very popular because of the over 10 mile long reservoir.
We arrived on Lily’s actual birthday and she couldn’t wait for everybody else to join us. The cones in the picture above were place by her to mark off the “stage” area where her performance would be. Once everybody arrived and had a moment to site and have a drink, we kicked off the taco and salsa bar. We weren’t sure how this would work for a group, but it actually worked out quite well. Shortly after dinner it was time for gifts. We are very fortunate to have family that can give such nice gifts and want to thank everybody for their generosity.
Lets do this...
Yea, its what you think it is...
The next day we headed over to Midway for the Soldier Hollow Classic. This is an annual event that is really based around the dogs and handles that are responsible for herding sheep. The main event has dogs can handlers herding the sheep down a mountainside and into a pen. The handler uses a series of whistles to tell the dog what to do and quickly drives the sheep in a controlled manor down and into the pen. Around the main event they have also added several other dog focused events such as Splash Dogs and agility demonstrations. The event was a lot of fun for the entire family and it is truly amazing how well some dogs can be trained and how much the dogs love doing what they do.
To wrap up the weekend we got the opportunity to hit the water and do a bit of trolling. The wind was going nuts for a good part of the afternoon and for a while we thought we might not be able to make it out on the water. But we had some dinner and gave it some time and eventually it cleared up. After a longer than normal trip down the boat ramp (thanks to yours truly) we hit the water about an hour after we originally wanted to. We cruised out to a really good spot and got all rigged up. It wasn’t long after the lines hit the water that the birthday girl got a huge hit on her pole and pulled in a 21″ Brown Trout. The success continued with several more Rainbow Trout before we had to call it quits and headed back to camp as it was getting dark. The weekend didn’t go exactly as planned but all in all it was a great weekend and hopefully a great birthday for Lilly.