Thursday, October 30, 2014

Well Diddle - Damn

Well, Millenicom is no more.  I have used it happily for two and a half years. 

 Yes, I even hung in there after the price increase to $89.00 per month as it was the best deal available for bloggers on the road (IMHO).  

Most customers received word of the recent change via an email.

Info from Millenicom:    This is to correct an earlier email that was sent to you regarding your service. Verizon Wireless, the carrier providing your wireless service, may be contacting you about options for your ongoing service. Going forward your relationship will be directly with Verizon Wireless. Millenicom will no longer have any role concerning your account and Millenicom does not now or will have any relationship with Verizon Wireless. Thank you and we apologize for any inconvenience this notice may cause. 

I  had decided to cancel my subscription on September 30 as I would be home bound for the winter except brief interludes when I venture out into the snowy white world on adventures mearly days before the unexpected announcement .  I have internet available at the house and the RV Resort will my trailer will be for the winter, so paying for Millenicom would have been unnecessary and costly.   Before I canceled my subscription I talked with the wonderful tech folks at Millenicom and was assured that I would need to pay a reactivation fee but would be welcomed back when I was ready to hit the road again in the Spring.  Win - Win????  Not so fast. 

 Enter the corporate decision of Verizon to take over Millinicom. 

I have watched the advertisements regarding deals available to Verizon customers to double their data that go on through October.  I have no intention nor can I afford $160 to continue internet as I knew it.  So we shall see.   As I am no longer a customer of Millinicom, I am only eligible to double up my minimum data on my phone.  


Well I can no longer post pone gathering more info.....and consider my options!


Wish me well!!




Saturday, October 25, 2014

Northrup Canyon - A Time Capsule Awaiting Exploration

Combine a historic ranch, long on intrigue, great geology, a crisp fall day with perfect weather and I can get positively excited about heading out for a hike.  In fact, Northrup Canyon was one of my must do hikes and one of the reasons I returned to the Grand Coulee area for this trip.   I was surprised and hooked by the history of this canyon that sent me on a two week quest for answers on the internet in addition to a fabulous hike.

Rich soil and a good water supply initially attracted settlers to this canyon.  John Warden Northrup purchased property and created irrigation systems, gardens and orchards.  Four generations of the Northrup family lived in Northrup Canyon until 1927.

The canyon opens up leading into the only naturally forested area in Grant County.  Sprinkled with fall colors it draws me into it's splendor.

Just before the trail drops down near the aspens, the trail has a Y.  The main trail leads off to the left and a smaller trail leads to the right and follows up along the canyon wall.  The former d Wagon Road between Almira and Bridgeport used for stage coach and freight wagons -- is there to explore. 

Leading down into the canyon , the aspen are just kissed by cooler temps making their yellowing leaves rustle in the gentle breezes.  The twittering of birds, unseen but heard quietly beckoning.....

And the canyon draws you in pulling you forward marveling at it's stunning formations leaving the small forest behind.

  Chunks of columns,
        cracked by weather,
                         break away,
from their positions 
           guarding the wall.


                                             The sphinx broken, alone at the canyons floor.                                    

opening to the meadows which were used for farming

And the Northrup Homestead

John Warden Northrup, after several failed marriages, career changes and moving around the Northwest, he moved with his wife Catherine (Caty) Northrup into the canyon in the 1829.  They built a cabin, set out a garden and planted trees. Some of the apple trees they planted are still to be seen in Northrup Canyon.

When in 1894, John Warden Northrup's health began to fail, Israel Sanford leased part of  the property.  Soon afterward he killed Caty in a dispute over the ownership of the orchards in the sagging log house shown above that still stands on the property.  At trial he was found 'not of sound mind.'

So what happened to him?..... I want to know!

John's son George brought his wife Joella and family to the canyon and took over farming in the canyon after John's death in 1901.  George who had many occupations including sheriff, a banker, a real estate agent, lawyer, preacher and miner, never liked farming. 

The Canyon Lady

Love the stories of the strong and determined pioneer women of the west.

We stopped for lunch and visited with some local mountain bikers who at the ranch site eating their lunch and reminiscing about their childhood memories in the canyon and surrounding area.  After stopping for a bit we explored above the homestead before heading back down the trail.

See the homestead at the bottom of the grassy knoll.
Canyon hillside beyond the homestead.

Headed back down the canyon and met some explorers along the way

I stopped and chatted with a graduate student studying land and resource management. We talked about land management and the area Geology.  What a raw treasure this area is.  Interpretative signs would add so much to knowledge and enjoyment of the hikers along this trail. 

Hailey went on ahead but I found her mark along the trail.

Garbage or Historical Items?

Near the trail head I explore acres of historical artifacts. 

During the building of the Grand Coulee Dam, large camps of workers were located near the entrance to Northrup Canyon.  Large communal kitchens produced acres of  rusty piles which are now protected as historic.

Interesting how garbage cast aside in a few short years becomes historically significant. 

We reluctantly left this wonderful canyon, a time capsule spanning thousands of years for the journey home, to return again another day   

I often have said one of the things I hate about vacation type travel is time constraints often dictates returning another time to do all the unfinished sights and hikes. So it is with this trip.  I would rather stay and enjoy all that an area has to offer before moving on.  But I had hoped to climb Steamboat Rock and my hip dictated that I not do another challenging hike. 
Steamboat Rock and Candy Point trail.....Other hikes to be done another day

We reluctantly left this wonderful canyon,
                       a time capsule spanning thousands of years for the journey home,
                                                                                                   to return again another day.

  ~Happy Trails~ 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Day 2 - Fall Getaway

Life with a teenager has many lessons to teach us old ones.  I cherish my morning times.... as does Hailey. She celebrates the morning by sleeping just as long as I can tolerate.  I choose to celebrate mornings with freshly brewed coffee and a morning walk.  So leaving her to her early morning dreams, I head out to the picnic and beach area.

The picnic area and beach is devoid of all human presence.  The hustle and bustle of children and their parents of summer are long gone.  The quiet envelopes me as I enjoy my morning ritual in this amazing place.  The rustling of falling leaves and the honking of Canadian Geese annoyed with my presence are the only sounds I hear.

The beach prints tell the story of critter occupancy, with geese and deer prints punctuated by only a few humans prints. 


So much of our lives is surrounded by noise, and technology, I take advantage of the quiet and drink in all the solitude.  I have left behind all technology for this trip.  Now cell phones turned on, no computer, not kindle.... just peace and quiet.  Hailey has surrounded herself with non-stop music but it is delivered via headphones so I enjoy the lack of auditory stimulation.  Ahhhh hhhhh

I watch as clouds begin drifting into the skyline.... looks like the sun will be gone shortly but I enjoy all the warming rays as I am soaking it in for as long as it lasts.  
Hailey at long last is up and we enjoy a cooked breakfast of hashbrowns, vegetarian sausage, (I know, its a oxymoron but surprisingly good) and eggs.   
Fall is the time of year that creatures large and small search for warm places to call home as the temperatures cool.   Flies stand guard near the door, ready to fly into the trailer, landing on my nose and then progressively slowly fly about the trailer evading the long arm of the fly swatter.
This battle continues the entire trip and I am armed with my weapon of choice.....

Hailey comes screeching back to camp.
She wants me to bring my camera to the rest room.......NOW WHAT?
I oblige and find a very large coal black spider.  

Hailey fetched a stick for me to check out the spider.

While blurry, it's red hour glass on the underside is visable...... I was done checking out this spider.
This is only the second black widow spider I have seen.  They normally hide in dark and moist places and I'll be just as happy if  they continue to hide in more distant places.

After the spider excitement, it begins to rain and I decide to postpone our hike into Northrup Canyon and hope for better weather on Sunday Morning.    We spend the rest of the afternoon reading and lounging in the comfort of the trailer.

Sunset is early at 6:30.  I am restless and tired of reading so we break my vow of no technology and break out the battery operated DVD player and watch a few episodes of Alias.  

We turn in early, listening to the soft pitter patter of raining falling on the trailer roof.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Warm Weather - A Last Harrah

The weather has been running 10 to 20 degrees above the normal average the last two weeks.  With nothing on the must do list and a three day weekend I grab at the opportunity for another adventure alone in the wilderness.  The weather forecast promises a weekend promising temperatures near 70 degrees in the middle of Washington State (otherwise called the banana belt) so we will chase the sun on this last hurrah of summer.

We are leaving on Thursday afternoon after Hailey gets out of school and get a bit later start due to a little whoops while loading up the trailer.  (I bumped the trailer hitch and dumped it off the blocks)  After a neighbor showed me a trick using the blocks to get the trailer up high enough to get it back on the hitch we were off, a little frustrated but on our way just the same. Thanks Larry for you patient instructions and help!

Due to our late start we ended up setting up in a familiar camp with a premium view.  It was dark as we pulled in and setting up in the dark is a challenge I hope not to repeat anytime soon.  We did a minimum set up and retired early anxious to begin a three day weekend.

Morning was glorious and I explored our camp to discover what a premium site we snagged in out late nite arrival.  I also discovered that our winter prices had changed to off season prices so our senior rate qualified us for $2.50 per nite for our lake side view site. 

Best yet the campground was nearly deserted with only 4 to 5 campsites occupied each night.  Plenty of wide open spaces and quiet, quiet, quiet.

Happy to call Spring Canyon home for the weekend.

Early to bed means early to rise, at least for me..... Lots of morning coffee and time for a morning walk revealed a private beach off of a group camping site that I hadn't discovered before.

The group site might be a great place for a small vintage trailer gather, especially this time of year!

Lots of autumn views and scenery to enjoy in the quiet of the morning.

This view from the beach reveals the back side of Grand Coulee Dam. This view shows little of the enormity of the dam.  The road over the top of the dam is nearly a mile long and is shown at the top of the lake.  Contrast this picture with a picture from an earlier trip to the dam from the opposite side.

The peace and serenity from our beach view certainly hides the power hidden behind the wall of the dam.  Coffee and morning walk done, it's time to hit the road and see the sights as we head out for today's hike to Lenore Caves near the southern shores of the man made Banks Lake. 


The Lake Lenore Caves were formed during the
last Ice Age, when catastrophic floods raged across much of Eastern Washington.

These floods carved long and deep ravines or coulees, from solid basalt.

The effect of water freezing and thawing within the basalt formed cracks within the cracks allowing the torrential waters to pluck out rocks along the cracks forming large cracks that formed into caves.


Gravity continues to cause the rocks from the ceiling to fall to the floor in some caves the outer edge nearly rising up to the ceiling.  In the future some of these caves could barely be visible.

At least 5,000 years ago native people began using these caves as temporary shelters and a place to work.   During the spring and summer, Native Americans visited this area to collect plants, dig roots, fish and hunt.  After preparing the food and plant materials, they carried their loads back to permanent villages.  They often left behind mats, grinding stones food and supplies for their next visit.  These artifacts were removed from the caves and are on display in nearby museums.

Kids and dogs doing what they do best.....exploring every inch.

Standing guard high above and south of the caves

We stopped at the visitor center at Dry Falls on our return to our campsite.

 Since the end of the ice age, water no longer flows over edge of the once largest water fall on earth hence its name DRY FALLS. 

The cliffs witness to the tremendous power of the catastrophic floods that swept over Eastern Washington at the end of the last Ice Age.  Today Dry Falls Remains as one of the most spectacular Geologic wonders of the Ice Age.

And then of course there was the Ice Cream...... Some of the best we had this summer. 
Chocolate for Hailey, Huckleberry for Me!!

More hikes and more Geology to come!

~Happy Trails~



Monday, October 6, 2014

Looking for a Needle in a Haystack....Locating Low Cost Camping Options

Everyone has their own method for locating camping spots when on the road.  While no one source seems to put together a resource that pulls together all options available campsite resorts I have relied on a few great resources to help me find campsites that worked pretty well last summer. 

Odessa Tourist Camp (Cost- Free!!)  Found on

I am a visual person so I like to get an overall picture of the area that I am going to.  So the atlas is often the first place I start when looking for a new camp.  I draw an imaginary circle around an area that I am going near and then begin looking for more detail.  A good camp needs to be close to the attractions in the area that you want to participate in or you spend the campground savings on gas going to the places you want to see.  Just like in a sticks and bricks, it is all about location, location, location.  Here are some of my favorite resources when hunting done the perfect camp.

1.   National Geographic Atlas - My go to atlas.

This well used atlas, shows state campgrounds but also show National Forests and marks National Campgrounds which are often very low costs and of course many participate in the 50% off camping fees for seniors.  It is spiral bound with a heavy duty, plastic coated cover and has held up well under constant use. (it has held up far better than my Benchmark or Delorme Atlases.)

2.  Two web sites that have provided camps that aren't always on maps or Atlases


Generally basic campsites but the ones I have used have been in areas that do not have a great number of low cost campsites so are valuable in a pinch.

3.  Pinterest - My on the Road Virtual Filing Cabinet

Pinterest is an on line bulletin Board of filing cabinet.   I have used Pinterest as my on line filing cabinet for years and have been collecting places I want to go and campgrounds, hikes, tips for camping and even good camp cooking.  I have found all kinds of useful (and useless) information to store in my files. When I read blogs, I often follow folks that camp in similar ways.... low cost and like to hike and enjoy the outdoors. Then I save pictures and locations oft heir campsand hikes that locate me near the outdoor activities that I enjoy.  When I am ready to go into a new area, I consult my file for that state and I review the camps and activities I have saved for ideas.
                                                               It works great for me.



Allstays is an app that s available for use on phones or computers that could quickly become my new best friend.   Within its search engines are all kinds of information that will help the travelers as they move into unfamiliar territory.

Within the Allstays program, on the campgrounds page are located links to campgrounds and more links to list Walmarts and other businesses that allow overnight parking, that allow overnight parking, casino's, rest stops, truck stops and rv dump areas.  

5.  Bench Mark Maps

I also use BenchMark maps that show recreation areas, listing campgrounds, RV parks and recreational areas.  There are also topographical maps showing terrain and road maps that show roads in greater detail.   I may choose to stay in a campground for a night and scout some of the local roads without the trailer.  Many of the forested roads may not have turnaround areas large enough for a full sized truck and trailer.  Dropping the trailer to search out spur roads in a national forest takes a while.... but far less aggravating than trying to do a turn around in close quarters. (I have learned this little tip.....the hard way.)      :(
                  I have spent many hours pouring over maps getting a lay of the land. 

6.  Chat with locals, Visitor Centers and other Rv'ers along the way

Additional places that are not always located on maps are marinas and county or local parks that allow overnight stays. It is amazing what you learn by sharing a few words

Staying at Cap Sante Marina offered dry camping with a view.....

At $20 a night it is nearly $20 savings over the price price of a state park.

Check out the View!!

This beautiful camp was found by talking with other campers

I haven't paid for membership at campgrounds or Fraternal Orders campsites or the Escapees and their magically Boondocking lists...... and am not eligible to stay at the military camps.   Nor am I particularly fond of camping in RV Parks or resorts but I have discovered that some of the private campgrounds are actually cheaper than state parks when using the weekly rates.  When traveling on the East Coast,  I certainly will have to develop some new travel planning strategies to cope with the high cost of overnight stays.

What are your special strategies for finding those low cost campsites? 

Share all....Inquiring minds want to know!!