Cross-country Trip Wisconsin to California

It’s been over a month since I did a post, I apologize for that. But I’ve been so busy and so much has been going on that I just haven’t stopped to take the time. The past six weeks have been a total roller coaster ride of super highs and super lows with lots of other highs and lows in between. So, over the next five post, I plan to catch you up as best as I can and fill you in on what’s been going on. In this post I will highlight my trip leaving Wisconsin the weekend of July 4 and arriving at Hensley Lake Park, California a week later. While back in Wisconsin I got a call from Vern the volunteer coordinator here at the park. I had put in at this park and Army Corps of Engineers Park (Hensley Lake), way back in February. With all the craziness of the pandemic going on things were put on hold and this particular park was closed for a while back in March and April. As I mentioned before my summer plans originally were to go back to the lighthouse in Oregon for the months of July and August. And then moved to Pine Flat Lake in central California, very near to where I am now. And then later this winter to move back down to Potrero Park (near San Diego) where I have volunteered before for the rest of the winter into the spring. Vern the volunteer coordinator, reached out to me in June to see if I was interested in coming this fall. I told him I had already committed to Pine Flat Lake but would be willing to come for a couple months starting in July, which he gladly accepted. I knew this is the hot time of the year in the “San Joaquin Valley” and there are many days that have been 100+ degrees. But more on that in later posts. I chose to leave Wisconsin on the July 4 holiday weekend. Figuring most people would be where they were planning on being. I planned on letting my travels be based on traffic and availability of campgrounds. I never worry too much when I’m going from point A to point B where I am going to be staying. If nothing else, I will pull in a wayside or Walmart or something like that and just stay overnight and continue on my travels. The first day of my trip (July 4 Saturday) I made very good time and stopped at my favorite wayside for the evening just outside of Chamberlain, South Dakota where the giant Indian Maiden stands tall overlooking the Missouri River. Read more about her here. 20200704_181419

The next day I made more good time, being very familiar with this trip having done it dozens of times over the years. But no matter what, I always enjoy the familiar highlights in this part of the US here I am passing through the Badlands area of SD. 20200705_092125(0)

And then arriving in the Black Hills the “first little taste” of the mountains. 20200705_100931

Driving hard with my next stop planned in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I had found a nice campground on Passport America website and spent Sunday night resting and catching up on sleep. This is where one of those highs and lows came into play. I was having some trouble with my RV lacking power when it came to starting out and climbing hills. So, first thing Monday morning I got into the local “Cat dealer” to have them check it out before I got to the mountains. They got me in right away and started working on it in between scheduled appointments. Which is always great, I find most of these big dealerships willing to do that on a moment’s notice for full timers. They did a whole bunch of checking of routine things that could be causing the problem finding nothing wrong. They couldn’t come up with a valid solution on Monday at the end of the day and I needed to stay overnight. Rather than try to put the RV back together to take it out of the shop so I could spend the night in the parking lot, I decided it was easier to just get a motel room for the night and come back the next morning when they promise to get to work on it first thing. I’ve done this before and it’s no big deal, you do what you have to do. Well here is when another one of those other “little lows” came into play. When I had unloaded the car and parked it in the parking lot up near one of the concrete wheel stops that so many of these places have. I had not noticed that the block was held in place by rebar. This is normally not a problem except in this case one of the pieces stuck up three or four inches and was hooked to the front. When I parked the car “with its low profile” the plastic bumper slid right over this rebar without making a sound. But when I went to backup, I heard this terrible crunching sound, and looked forward to see my bumper being pulled off, I said a few choice words and shook my head. After looking at it figured it was not the end of the world, which it wasn’t. So, for the rest of the trip to California I basically duck taped it on a couple times as best as I could and we made it to the park. Here’s a photo of it once I got out to California. The tape kept coming off, letting it ride on the tow dolly so that kept it from falling off all the way. 20200711_183933

Once I got to the campground and settled in, I took the bumper off, found a place online to order the replacement parts reasonably. 20200714_131708And over the next couple weeks got all the parts together painted the bumper and reassemble it. For around $400 it looks better than it has in years with no stone chips and scratches. I think it turned out pretty well. 20200723_14565220200723_145643Now back to my RV engine problems after a day and a half of diagnosing and running all kinds of tests. The head mechanic determined after upgrading the software with updates, that it seemed to be running just fine. I took it out for a long test drive and as he figured it was running the way it should. It being later in the afternoon I determined I was going to just stay Tuesday night in the parking lot at the Cat Dealer. And then be on My Way, Wednesday morning July, 8th. Well that highlights the lows and highs of those two little inconveniences. The lows are always when something doesn’t go the way you planned, but I always try to find the highs when I can get things fixed and get back to normal routine life. Later Wednesday morning I caught my first glimpse of snowcapped peaks off in the distance just west of Cheyenne, Wyoming. This always gives me a thrill. 20200708_06465120200708_064654

At one of our many stops along the way just east of Rock Springs, Wyoming. Maxine spotted some prairie dogs and wasn’t sure what to make of them. 20200708_092821

They kept a close eye on her and made their little barking sounds. It’s hard to get a good picture of them and I did try blowing the one photo up but it’s all blurry. 20200708_092808crop

After a short rest we were on the road again and headed into a more mountainous area just east of Salt Lake. 20200708_10382820200708_12513920200708_104103

On the west side of Salt Lake, we passed through part of the “Bonneville Salt Flats” and had to stop and check them out.

20200708_15562020200708_155639Of course, Maxine “Being Maxine” she had to get out and get right into the experience and taste the salt. 20200708_15571720200708_155739That night we made another stop at a Passport America Park (near Wells, Nevada) for a restful evening before continuing on the next day, Thursday the ninth. We were kind of winging the trip all the way out, not sure what was going to be open. Making last-minute decisions on where to stop and it was working out just fine. After looking ahead, I had decided to make a shorter days drive on Thursday the ninth and stopped at a Nevada State Park called “Rye Patch State Recreational Area”, check it out here. Arriving early and finding a nice spot to stay, with a huge shade tree to park by was a bonus. 20200709_150609We were right below the dam next to the spillway which made for pleasant sounds of running water. 20200709_15054520200709_151235

We got set up and had plenty of time to explore the park. This is a great spot with a wonderful lake, out in the high desert of Nevada. 20200709_153143

Well of course with there being water Maxine had to get right into it. 20200709_15342420200709_153439

This stop was one of our highlights of the trip and I’m planning on someday coming back and spending a few days here and trying some fishing. After a very peaceful evening and catching up on some well needed rest. We got up Friday morning July 10 and decided to finish the rest of our journey knowing it would be a long day. Along the way we went through more mountains which always makes me feel euphoric. 20200709_13031820200709_12572420200709_125652

And after a long and tiring day we arrived at “Hensley Lake” early evening. Of course, this had its own minor incidents. But more on that in my next post, I hope you stay tuned in till next time. Until then take care and safe travels to all, Rick



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