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Old 06-04-2009, 01:52 PM   #1
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Great Western Loop

Apologies to all who hate the "come on over and watch a slide show from our summer vacation" kind of invite, so be forewarned!

The trip:
1. start with the 4CU Maintenance Rally
2. then go to Port Townsend to check out and buy a kayak
3. then see how much you can fit in, in between.

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Getting to the rally was a trip in and of itself, leaving the home locale and Pikes Peak, then passing through Taos on the way to Albuquerque

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The rally was excellent. I don't know who came the farthest, but Levon always competes for that honor, as well as bringing his polishing expertise and his special "refreshments"

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Much of the rally happened in the "big tent" with excellent lectures and almost continuous work on UWE's Area 51 trailer. I didn't get to spend much time in there, but whenever I went in, it seemed that Kip and Brad were hard at work

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And there were lots of things to see and people to chat up in the RV park, too--ARTSTREAM was easy to find

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for those who don't want to suffer the whole show, skip on down to see DOORGUNNER, AEROWOOD, and a few shots of kayaks...
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Old 06-04-2009, 02:04 PM   #2
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Albuquerque - Vegas - LA

I try to never miss a chance to pass through Indian Country--the Navajo Nation and then the road from Page to Kanab is always awe inspiring.

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By the time you get to Vegas you're ready for a little bit of civilization, I guess. I used to love the Circus Circus RV Park, but KOA has made it startlingly pricey without adding much to the old ambiance. It's a great location, though, since you can walk the entire strip from there.

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Leaving Vegas, there wasn't enough time to stop in the Mojave preserve (which is a boondocking delight), but there was time to see friends in the Tehachapi Mountains and then spend a few days at Dockweiler Beach in LA, right next to LAX. Surprisingly, it's not that noisy and it's right on the beach bike path which extends from the Palisades up past Santa Monica. Tehachapi and the surrounding area is a real surpise of cool and agricultural land, given that it's right on the edge of the Mojave Desert.

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Old 06-04-2009, 02:29 PM   #3
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DOORGUNNER and then on to Oregon

Meeting DOORGUNNER for the first time was a real pleasure. His marvelous little camera-carrying flying machines, his Airstreams, and his kayak all have a pull for me. I really appreciated his advice on kayak building, particularly regarding the best resins. You can see his fine work on his Chesapeak Light Craft kayak.

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Leaving Lodi I had to go over Donner Pass to get to friends' in Reno. The Interstate west of the pass has to be the worst piece of concrete in the country. The worst. Leaving Reno, if you want to head up to Oregon you're pretty much confined to rural highways, but they are wonderful in the west--beautiful views and not too much traffic. The shot on the right is just a random scenic view pullout north of Susanville.

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Now, I don't want to rain on anyone's parade, but come on, why are we capable of filling up our tanks in 48 other states (is New Jersey still doing this?), but not in Oregon? Maybe the people there have some kind of history of exploding themselves or catching on fire or something....it wouldn't be so bad, but when one person is trying to keep up with the whole show, getting a tank of gas can be a 40 minute (or longer) ordeal. Sheesh. These signs need to go up in California, Washington, and Idaho!


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On the other hand, what beautiful beaches and coast, not to mention the friendly state park system. Sunset Beach, up by Coos Bay, is my favorite pay-to-stay RV park.

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Old 06-04-2009, 02:42 PM   #4
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Bandon Beach and Cape Arago

Bandon Beach never fails to drawn one down to the edge of the sea. At low tide, the beach is wide and provides access to the rock monoliths that dot this part of the coast. It might be of interest to future visitors that the best tides are around -1' and below. These occur in the morning in the spring and in the evening in late summer. So if you want sunlight on the rocks, you need to be there in the spring. If you want silhouette/backlit photos, you need to be there in the late summer.

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Heading about 30 miles north to Cape Arago, you find the Sunset Bay State Park, which is near the Shore Acres botanical park and a small cove immediately on the park's south side. Watching even moderate wave action wash over the rocks is awesome and if the waves are a little higher, you'd swear that they will wash over you down in the cove--they won't, but it's really interesting about the 10th time you run like crazy from the beach.

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One of the features I like most in the cove is the incredible eroded rock formations.

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On the way to the Washington coast west Olypic National Park, you pass through dense temperate rain forest. If you're looking closely, you can find some side roads where you can back into an old logging access and boondock for the night.

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Old 06-04-2009, 02:54 PM   #5
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Kalaloch

Everything about the Olympic Peninsula is middle earth--cool, foggy, lonely, wonderful. Kalaloch is one such place. This small stream fills a lake at the edge of the beach. Its shape changes every year due to the piles of driftwood and sand that storms routinely reshape. This year, instead of the lake emptying into the sea directly, it was dammed up and ran about a quarter mile north along the woods edge before finding an outlet.

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Once again, I got to the beach at sunrise and low tide. The tidal area is not like California at all--a few rocks, some unusual underwater errosion paths, and best of all lots of highly worn and intersting small pieces of waterlogged drift wood. Up above the high tide mark, lots of very big drift wood.

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Speaking of middle earth, this is a shot across the Kalaloch into the forest that lines the beach, right at sunrise.

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If you're from the drier part of the west, where you can see for miles as you drive along, the rural highways in this part of the country are completely walled in...

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Old 06-04-2009, 03:10 PM   #6
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Kayaks and Anacortes

Ha! Now we're getting to the real reason for the trip--finding the right Kayak. It just so happened that there was a kayak symposium in Tacoma (OK, the tirip is a little out of order here, so sue me) the middle of May. Lots of plastic stuff (not interested) but a couple of wooden boats and some very fine on-the-water and class room instruction for only $30. Really worth the time and money.

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The Redfish strip-built kayak kit on the left is georgeous, but maybe a bit of a challenge for a first-time builder. So eventually I made my way to Port Townsend and the Pygmy Kayak showroom to paddle all their models. I picked an Arctic Tern kit, 17' of light and strong sea kayak. Now I just have to put it together by September--there are two kayak symposiums in Port Townsend then. I think that will be a good follow-on to Burning Man...

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Getting around the Port Townsend, Anacortes, Seattle, Tacoma area is a challenge these days due to the closed Hood Canal Bridge. But beautiful. Deception pass just south of Anacortes is a great example of the whole area and the San Juan islands.

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Getting to Anacortes from Port Townsend requires a long drive or a ferry. The ferries are reasonable if you are less than 20', so you need to plan where you're going to leave the Airstream well ahead of time. When you leave Anacortes, an old drive in movie is a sight to behold, full of old aluminum. This shot shows only one of the three rows of trailers, but there's maybe 5 Airstreams max in the whole lot.

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One fun thing in Anacortes was it was Victoria Day on that particular Monday and Kip (AEROWOOD) was bored silly up in Canada, so he drove down for lunch and dinner. While we were cruising through town (looking for Airstreams and old boats, not babes) we found this Dodge Explorer. Never seen one before. The owner, 6' tall, demonstrated that he could stand full upright inside due to an area of dropped floor. Really amazing. The double bed, toilet, and double dinette were also truly amazing.

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to be continued....
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Old 06-04-2009, 03:22 PM   #7
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Cool pictures, I'm heading back up there Monday AM
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Old 06-04-2009, 03:35 PM   #8
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Inspiration

Great slide show, Zep. It inspires me to keep working my butt off on my little Airstream and someday I'll be able to experience adventurous road trips as well.

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Old 06-04-2009, 04:55 PM   #9
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Bondocking - WA, UT, CO

All things must come to an end. Had to head back, didn't even have time for a quick stop in Yellowstone--yay! have to go again.

Taking the Interstate to Salt Lake almost eliminates any chance to boondock. There's some opportunities around the Tri-Cities (WA), but zip in Oregon and Idaho, as far as I could tell. So stop early, before you get to Oregon (and post another "gas up now" sign ). After a few visits along the road, the next objective was the red rock heart of Utah. I decided on a new route I'd never taken before, down 6 to 89 to 31, taking 31 up and over the mountains to the desert. Whoa! 9,700' at the top? A very nice drive, but basically 35 mph to the top, then 55 down a slghtly less steep east side.

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Now the real boondocking can begin! My absolute favorite place is exit 131 off of I-70, which is about 40 miles west of Green River. The San Rafael Swell and all of the area from exit 131 west to about exit 95-ish is amazing--ought to be a national park. Anyway, there are several spots to boondock right at exit 131 on the north side, completely out of sight. It's also a junction of dirt roads that take you to many rock areas and rock art, as well as north into the San Rafael River gorge, sometimes called the Little Grand Canyon. The Wickiup itself is a very interesting formation...

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On some of the best roads, the ones that take you to the best areas, you have to get there by going under the Interstate...

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Old 06-04-2009, 05:07 PM   #10
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Rocks and Rock Art

The rewards in and around the area called "Head of Sinbad" are worth every yard of dirt road.

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In the center of the rock wall in the lower right photo above you can find the "monkey" rock art below. This is a well-known site, fenced by the BLM. If you want to venture a little further, you can go about 50 miles SE to Horseshoe Canyon, a small, detached part of Cayonlands National Park and find many large panels, including the Ghost Panel. On the way, you'd pass right by Goblin State Park.

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Old 06-04-2009, 05:21 PM   #11
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End of the road

Leaving the top of the San Rafael Swell and heading east, you have to descend through a short (several miles) but very steep cleft in the uplifted face of the Swell. You can see the Interstate winding down it in the left photo. The right photo is a continuation of the view to the north, but it doesn't do any justice at all the magnificance of the color and size of the buttes.

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What is missing are photos of the face of the Swell--huge shark's teeth of tilted rock. A little known fact is that you can exit the Interstate on dirt roads going north and south along the face of the swell, even though there is no visible exit. Just look for the wire gate in the fence and the BLM signs behind those gates. I don't think there are many like this in the entire US system.

When the clouds are just right, every view in the desert is worth capturing, IMHO.

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Getting close to home, another great camping spot is at the top of Vail Pass, a little noticed road that winds down about a mile to a lake and just beyond it the camping spot. You can't go any further--the road is closed at this point and is only a bike trail into Vail. One caution--it is problematic to camp here before about the 15th of June. Two years ago I got trapped here on the 5th of June due to high mounds of snow on either side of the road due to the snow plows and couldn't turn the truck and Caravel around. This time, on June 1st, the snow berm had to be shoveled open to get into the camping spot (which usually is clear of snow before the berms melt). If the berm couldn't have been shoveled open, I never would have gotten the truck and Sovereign turned around. Never. I gotta remember this!

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Yay! Excellent trip. Time to get ready for the next one.

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Old 06-04-2009, 05:50 PM   #12
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Absolutely cool trip!

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Old 06-04-2009, 07:11 PM   #13
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WOW !! Excellent pictures and itinerary descriptions. I want to travel with you sometime Zep, as you know all the cool spots.

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Old 06-04-2009, 09:00 PM   #14
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Superb photo work once again zep! Not only that, I now have a new boondocking target . I hope to see you out on the road again.
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