Twin Falls: The Final Stop

We’ve been on the road for almost 80 days and it’s been fantastic. However, there’s an end to every summer and ours was in Twin Falls, Idaho. We spent four nights in this south-central Idaho city at a local KOA. We sat right next to the highway and could hear (and smell) the cows nextdoor. It was one of our lowest rated campgrounds, but it gave us easy access to Twin Falls which was why we were there.

Our first day there was all business.  I got a new phone, Steve got the truck’s oil changed, and we did a Costco run. Once we were caught up on life we headed out to see the sights.

The big draws in Twin Falls all revolve around the Snake River Canyon. The IB Perrine Bridge spans the canyon and was at one time the tallest bridge in the world.

Now it draws base jumpers from across the world. These daredevils jump off the bridge with only a loose parachute with hopes of landing on the banks of the river hundreds of feet below. It’s quite a sight to watch!

We quickly found the Snake River Rim Trail, a ten mile trail that skirts the edge of the steep canyon edge. We rode it twice. The first time we made it to the Evel Knieval jump site, the place where in 1974 the daredevil attempted to jump the canyon in a rocket-like contraption.

His parachute engaged early and he plunged down to the river’s edge. The launch site is still there, a mini-mountain that Steve had to climb. 

The other day we rode we made it to Shoshone Falls, one of the prides of Twin Falls. Known as the “Niagra of the West,” the falls are pretty spectacular, even though the water levels were low this time of year. 

Riding along the rim provided spectacular views of the canyon and river below. 

Twin Falls and much of the region was hit with a strong “wind event” the night before we were set to leave. With wind gust of over 60mph, the RV rocked and shook for quite awhile. Luckily we didn’t have damage and it didn’t look like anyone else around us did either. Boy, what a mess.

As we drove south toward Salt Lake City it was clear that the storm was even stronger there. Along I-15 just north of Salt Lake we passed over 40 big rig trucks blown over along the side of the road. It was still pretty windy but we made it safely to our overnight stop, another Harvest Host, south of Salt Lake.

All good things come to an end and this trip is about over. We plan to be back home by the end of the week and ready to plan our next adventure!

The Sawtooth

From Salmon we drove about 150 miles south to the center of Idaho and the Sawtooth National Recreation and Wilderness Area.  Most famously known for nearby Sun Valley Ski Resort, the draw for us is the natural beauty. We’ve said lots of “Wows” on this leg of the journey.

First we headed into Ketchum, the closest town with a Verizon store. Replacing the broken iPhone is a priority but in these parts, your priorities are not their problem. After a number of calls and an uncomfortable store visit we left without a viable solution. The last photo my phone took was a call to 911, which I didn’t make.

So, we are working on one phone for the time being. The scenery, however, makes up for it.

Our first destination here was the small town of Stanley and the nearby ghost towns of Bonanza and Custer. This is gold rush country from the mid 1800s through 1960. In Custer we toured the ghost town that once held a large population, all there to work the nearby mill, built to process ore from the mines. Relics from the early miners litter the ground of this historic site.

Along the way to Custer we passed the Yankee Fork Gold Dredge, which is a 988 ton relic of gold mining from the 1940s and 50s. There are 71 one-ton buckets on one continuous chain and each bucket could hold eight cubic feet of dirt.

The dredge dug into the valley over a six mile swath to recover gold by washing and separating the rock, gravel, and dirt from the gold.  Having cut a large swath of land through a beautiful valley, the old dredge still stands as a testament to man’s search for wealth. We toured the four story dredge which over a 12 year period turned out gold valued at  $1.2 million in 1958 dollars.

The next day we hopped on the bikes and rode from our campsite to the nearby Pole Creek Ranger Station. Pole Creek is the oldest Forest Service construction in the Sawtooth National Forest and was home to Ranger Bill Horton for 22 years.

The station is on the National Register of Historic Places and shows how tough and hard working rangers like Horton were. 

The remainder of the day was spent at the popular Redfish Lake. With a lodge, visitor center, and white beaches, Redfish is popular with hikers, paddle-boarders, kayakers, and boaters.

We walked the Fishhook Trail from the visitor center and came across the Kokanee Salmon, a relative of the Sockeye in the nearby creek. It was spawning season, so the red fish were thick, having come up stream from Redfish Lake. Once they hatch and grow they will go downstream tail-first to live and enjoy the beautiful Redfish Lake. 

The Sawtooth National Recreation Area is filled with campsites, streams, and trails. We spent some time on the Harriman Trail, an 18 mile mountain bike trail that runs along the Big Wood River. We rode just a section of the trail, which was a good workout with incredible views. 

From there we headed to nearby Pettit Lake where Steve did a seven mile trail run while I rode the bike a little more. Steve’s run took him from Pettit Lake to Alice Lake. Along the way he had incredible views and scenery. 

The campgrounds were beginning to fill up in anticipation of the upcoming long weekend, which is our cue to move along. We really loved our time in the Sawtooth area and hope to return to explore more trails by foot and by bike. 

We are heading south towards Twin Falls for our next set of adventures. 

The Mundane of RV Living

Our COVID-19 RV travels are continuing, carefully, in Central Oregon. We had a great two day stay at La Pine State Park and wish we could have stayed longer. The park is just south of Bend, situated right on the banks of the Deschutes River, and has a ton of easy mountain bike trails.  IMG_8566This gave me an opportunity to get back on the bike for more than a few minutes and Steve a chance to try out trail running with his injured collarbone. 

We both loved it!  Flat single track along the river and nice weather made this stop one that illustrates why we love RV travel. 

But let’s be real…it’s not always champagne and roses when you tow your home with you wherever you go. This blog post will focus a bit more on the day-to-day realities of RV travel, rather than the places and adventures we’ve experienced. In fact, here are nine realities of living in an RV, especially during a pandemic.

  1. Many of the highlights and “must see” attractions are closed.  Along the way we’ve seen tours (yes, brewery tours!) and parks that we’d love to explore. However, due to the pandemic, they are not operating.  Most of the pools and recreational features at the RV parks are also off-limits.  We expected this but still it’s kind of a bummer to see something cool and be unable to check it out.IMG_8551
  2. You still have to do laundry! And it’s not always pleasant when you don’t have your own fancy front loaders and laundry room. Here at the Thousand Trails Bend/Sunriver RV Park the laundry room was pretty scuzzy and the machines weren’t very fast.IMG_8540
  3. You don’t get your daily mail. I love getting the mail and take for granted the ability to walk outside and open my mailbox each day.  Last week we had our wonderful neighbors, Nancy and Tom, send us our mail from the last month. It was quite an ordeal. Long story short, we sat at these mailboxes in the middle of nowhere for over two hours before we finally received our package, which was already a day later than guaranteed. IMG_8531
  4. Some really fancy RVs have dishwashers. We, on the other hand, have a dish drainer and some cute kitchen towels!
  5. Electric power is variable. At each stop we either have 20, 30, or 50 amps of power or nothing. This number determines if we can run the A/C at the same time as the microwave and if I can blow dry my hair while the electric water heater is on. At the Bend/Sunriver Park, an older park, the power was on and then off and then…
  6. Steve has to “dump” regularly. Yes, it’s a reality and practicality of RV living…the water and sewer tanks must be emptied on a regular basis. Sometimes we have a sewer connection a the site but often in the Thousand Trails parks you have to visit the dump station to empty the waste. IMG_0136
  7. Speaking of sewer, did you know you have to treat the sewer tank after it’s emptied? Yep, every time Steve dumps, I have to pour a little bit of this stuff into the toilet to help “break down the solids.” Yes, we’ve learned some pretty gross things on this journey.IMG_8549
  8. We are big Costco customers, but can’t buy in bulk while traveling in less 300 square feet. Our 8 cubic foot refrigerator/freezer barely gives us the room to keep a little frozen food and the necessities for a few days. More frequent trips to the grocery store seem to be a reality of living like this. IMG_8547
  9. We interact with very few people along the way and that leaves us missing our family and friends. Because of the pandemic, we stay to ourselves the majority of times. Luckily we like each other, but we do miss hanging out with our neighbors in the Mahogany Lane parking lot!IMG_8539All of this said, we are very grateful to have this opportunity and know how lucky we are to be able to travel this way and see our country. Regardless of the mundane tasks and inconveniences of RV travel, it is really the best way to see the United States up close. While the pandemic continues to rage on, we feel safe motoring along in our self-contained, moving home. IMG_8560

One highlight of our stop in Bend was a visit with my cousin Tom Zimmerman and his family. Wife Kelly prepared a tasty BBQ meal and we got to spend time with their three girls, Zoe, Laney, and Kira. Connecting with family, far and near, is certainly one of the benefits of RV travel. IMG_8558We’re in Bend for a few more days, taking care of business…oil change, haircuts, groceries, etc. and enjoying the beautiful scenery, world-renowned breweries, and endless bike trails. Even though this blog post focuses mostly on day-to-day RV living, we have really fallen in love with Bend and the surrounding area. It will be hard to leave but next we are heading north into Washington State. Until then… IMG_8538.JPG