Saturday, June 28, 2014

Day 5 - Salt Lake City, UT

Dateline:  June 21, 2014; Salt Lake City, UT

We woke up in Salt Lake City and planned an adventure.  We started by driving out to Promontory Point where the two sides of the country were joined by rail back in 1869.  There is a really nice little National Park site there.  They have replicas of the engines that met at the site.  The originals were scrapped for $1000 each back in the day.  They do re-enactments which sound cheesy but are actually quite fun.  Greg volunteered to be one of the re-enactors.  He was cast as the Governor of Arizona and had lines to say and everything.  It was really fun.



After that, we had lunch at a little diner in Corrine, UT that claimed they had the best burgers in Utah.  I don't know about that but they were good.

We then headed for the Aerospace Museum at Hill AFB north of Salt Lake City.  The museum was really fun.  They have a ton of airplanes inside and out.  It focuses, understandably, on the impact that this AFB has had on past wars.  Liza particularly enjoyed the display of flight suits from the early days of the Army Air Corps and how they have changed over the years.


We then went and saw XMen:  Days of Future Past and had dinner at a great brewery in downtown Salt Lake City, Squatters.  The food was delish and so was the beer.  They had a double-bock for Greg called Wasatch the Devastator and Liza enjoyed a nice organic amber called Respect Your Mother.  They even had a really good locally brewed root beer for Gage.  Ruth enjoyed a nice Dr. Pepper!

Camping in hotels and enjoying city life is fun!

Note:  To read about the next day, click the "Newer Post" link below. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Day 4 - Salt Lake City, UT

Dateline:  June 19, 2014; Salt Lake City, UT

We woke up early in the Wagon Wheel Motel.  Greg and Liza walked down to check in with Chris, the owner of The Otto Clinic.  He arrived just after we did and reminded us that he was booked and couldn't work on our vehicles until Monday.  Greg talked to him and got him to agree to try to figure out the car so that we weren't stuck on foot in Wells for the weekend.  He did.

We came back to the motel, rousted the kids, and walked down to Bella's Restaurant (not to be confused with Bella's Hacienda Ranch which has Ladies available 24 hours a day -- You gotta love Nevada!).  After Breakfast, we went back and found Liza's car working great.  Turns out the battery was bad (despite the tester that said it was fine).  A new battery and it was as good as new.  Phew!

We also made a trip to the grocery store to get ice.  The FMC was parked at an angle in front of the mechanic's and the fridge was no longer working.  We threw out most of the food and loaded the ice into the fridge.

In true Miller fashion, we proceeded to make the best of things by taking a drive out to Angel Lake.  It's a small reservoir at the base of Hole in the Mountain Peak.  It was so beautiful up there and cool.  Greg and the kids hiked around the lake and even found snow.  They thoughtfully shared their snow with me (all the snowballs missed - ha!).  I stayed at the lake and enjoyed the quiet.  There was a Fish and Wildlife ranger who was looking up the mountain with a spotting scope and listening for radio tracked collars.  When I asked him, he pointed out where the bighorn sheep were on the mountain.  I couldn't see them with my camera and had left my spotting scope in the motorhome.  Drat.

We headed back to town and visited the Trail of the 49ers Interpretive Center.  We had a nice tour of the museum and learned about a ghost town outside of town.

We started to drive around to make our way to the ghost town and found the FMC being turned around in the street.  It died in the middle of the street and the mechanic had to tow it back to his garage.  Drat.
We drove out to see a ghost town near Wells but missed a turn and had to get back to talk to the mechanic.  He had quit for the day and wasn't promising to look at it until Monday.

We said good bye to Wells and drove two and a half hours to Salt Lake City.  Wells just didn't have enough fun for us Millers.  We checked into the Best Western by the airport and crashed for the night.

Note:  To read about the next day, click the "Newer Post" link below. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Day 3 - Wells, NV

Dateline:  June 19, 2014; Wells, NV

When we woke up in the morning, we were so surprised to see this amazing site out the window.


The Hole in the Mountain Peak is more than 11,000 feet.  Wells, Nevada had a snow storm earlier this week so the mountains were covered in snow.  Really beautiful.  We had a leisurely breakfast and slowly got ready to go.
Wells, NV

We were so excited to head north towards Idaho.  Highway 93 is a two lane highway with lots of truck traffic on it.  But it was fairly quiet as we drove north.  We were impressed to find a wildlife overpass along the highway.  Tall deer fencing went along the highway for miles before and after the overpass to funnel wildlife towards the safe crossing point.  Really cool, Nevada!

  Wells, NV

We got about 10 miles and boom -- literally, the motorhome started backfiring and losing power.  Not good.

We nursed it up the hill aways, trying to find a safe place to pull over.  As we eased to a stop, it died all together.

The next few hours were aggravating. Greg would try to start the FMC and end up flooding it.  So, we'd sit and wait.  Then we'd try again.  We got close to getting it going a few times but no luck.

Wells, NV 

Finally, we decided to unhitch Liza's car to drive into town and get a couple of parts we thought might help.  We unhitched the car and when Liza turned the key.  Nothing.  Dead battery.

We'd been having trouble with this and thought it might be related to some work on the wiring that attaches the Suzuki to the FMC when we're towing.  We tried out portable jump starter and that didn't work.  So, we called AAA.  Pancho was out in about 30 minutes.  He gave us a jump start and Liza headed down to the parts store.  There she had the battery tested and it checked out okay.  Good news.
Meanwhile, Greg was still trying different things and eventually got the FMC started.   He turned around to head back into Wells.  We wanted to have it all checked out before continuing on our way.  He didn't make it back to Wells and was stuck on the side of the road again.  Liza drove up to wait with him while he waited for the tow truck from CoachNet.  We unloaded all the chairs and tents and things we carry in her car so we could all fit in the Suzuki when the FMC was being towed.

As time went on, we decided it would be best to go get some food with the kids.  Liza loaded them into her car and went to start the engine.  It started but was running ragged and rough and all the lights on her dash lit up.  At this point, we've got two dead vehicles on the side of Highway 93 north of Wells, NV.

Wells, NV 

We call AAA again.  Thankfully, this seems to be unrelated to the earlier call and we get a tow.

Both vehicles were towed to The Otto Clinic in Wells.  The owner is already gone for the day and warned Greg on the phone that he's booked solid on Friday and won't be able to look at our vehicles until Monday.

FMC being towed back to Wells

Suzuki being towed back to Wells

We walk down the street to a dinner place that was recommended to us:  Luther's Bar and Grill.  On the way, we stopped to check into the Wagon Wheel Motel.  Wells used to have a bunch of very cool motels on it's main street.  When Highway 80 went through, it destroyed the businesses here and Wells lost some of it's charm.  Still, the remnants are there and beggars can't be choosers.

Donna, the manager at the Wagon Wheel, set us up with a room for the night.   The motel is mostly long-term residents now but they were very kind to us.  Both Donna and our neighbor offered to drive us to a restaurant if we wanted to.  Everyone we dealt with in Wells was so kind.

Luther's was a good find.  Good food, which we needed.  There were a few video poker machines.  A few locals offering some local color.  And lots and lots of extremely conservative bumper stickers behind the bar for our entertainment.  Our favorite was "Green is the new Red" with a hammer and sickle symbol on it.  That gave us lots to talk about with the kids.

We walked back to the Wagon Wheel and went to bed.

Note:  To read about the next day, click the "Newer Post" link below. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Day 2 - Wells, NV

Dateline:  June 18, 2014; Wells, NV

Day 2 was planned as one of our longest driving days and we thought we'd get up and hit the road early.  By morning, however, Greg had rethought that plan.  There were a few things he wanted to adjust on the FMC (new spark plugs, check the tire pressure and adjust the tire pressure monitoring system, etc.).  We also wanted to work on the weird electrical problem with Liza's car.  So, we tossed our plans aside and had a leisurely stay in Carson City.

We had a great lunch with Liza's parents at one of their Carson City favorites, Pho Country.  YUM!  


Once we were on the road, we decided this had actually worked out really well.  We were driving when it was cooler and, yes, we'd arrive late in Wells, NV but it was just an overnight anyway so we were okay with that.  

It was a nice drive across Nevada.  There is such stark beauty in the desert.  Highway 80 follows the old Humboldt Trail to California and we enjoyed imagining the plights of travelers as they crossed this harsh desert landscape.  The desert was green.  

Sun behind us

We arrived in Wells, NV in pitch dark.  We stayed at Angel's Lake RV Park.  They are very accommodating to late night travelers and we pulled in, hooked up, and went to sleep.

Note:  To read about the next day, click the "Newer Post" link below. 

Day 1 - Carson City, NV

Dateline:  June 17, 2014; Carson City, NV

We got up bright and early and hit the road.  That was the plan and, amazingly, we were within 30 minutes of our goal.  We headed off into the sunrise.


Our trip across California went well.  There are some kinks to work out with the new carburetor (nothing major) and Liza's car is having some odd electrical issues.  We'll work on these things as we go along our way.  

Our first destination was Carson City where Liza's parents, Lee and Igor, live.  We had a great visit with them.  We went to a fun English Pub in historic downtown Carson City called Firkin and Fox.  Great service!  Great food!  Great company. Loved it.   (Liza notes:  I can't believe I didn't get any pictures of all of us together.  I'm still adjusting to vacation mode!  I'll do better!)

We parked the motorhome in their driveway that night.  A great start to our trip!

Note:  To read about the next day, click the "Newer Post" link below. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Planning and preparing for another big trip

We are getting ready for another epic Miller family trip in FMC #708.  Here is our proposed route.  In some ways, this is our most ambitious trip yet.  We are leaving the Tuesday after school is out and heading off!

And, we can't wait!

More on our extensive preparations soon!