Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday, May 9, through Thursday, May 30, 2014: In Utah, Part 1: Hurricane:

The 57-mile drive from Mesquite to St. George was actually uneventful.  There were signs warning about potential traffic problems in the Virgin River Gorge (through the Arizona portion of the trip) due to road construction, but they didn’t materialize.  That gorge remains a spectacular piece of geology.  Our first stop in St. George was at D&D Automotive, a repair facility we were assessing to repair the blowout damage we had. 

We were impressed enough with what they told us that we told them to tentatively schedule the repair work, left with them the repair parts we already had, and called the second possibility we were planning to see---Jim’s RV Repair---and told them never mind. 

We then checked into the St. George KOA park where will be for the next month.  It’s a KOA on the surface, but is actually owned by Encore Resorts, which is the parent of Thousand Trails.  As the result, we get a decent discount when we stay there.  By pre-arrangement, we were assigned Space 22, the same one we were in last year.  It’s a very nice site.

Even though we had only come a short distance, travel days are always tiring, so we crashed early Friday night.  Saturday was pretty tame until late in the afternoon.  While we watched Blackfish from the redbox (an interesting documentary about killer whales) the wind started to come up with a vengeance.  Then it started to rain as well.  Then the thunder and lightning started.  Exciting!  It was a long night, and Ramsey and Kelsey joined us in bed.  The next morning, we saw fresh snow on the nearby mountains,

and we learned during a call to our daughter in Park City that it was still snowing there---and they expected a foot or two.  Doesn’t anybody know it’s May?     
Sunday morning (Mother’s Day) the park threw a free pancake breakfast, which we attended.  No big deal.  After that, we drove into central Hurricane and took the dogs on a walk through the historic residential area.  There are a number of nicely-maintained old “Mormon” houses there.  (A Mormon house has more than one main entrance---to accommodate the existence of several wives, all of whom have equal status.)  We then stopped at the Wal-Mart there (nearly everything else is closed on Sunday in Utah) for some stuff.  On the way back, Becky, Ramsey, and Kelsey got out and walked the last half-mile.

Monday morning, we had appointments with our audiologist, Kimball Forbes, for our annual review.  We passed; our hearing had not deteriorated in the past year.  Good news.  But one of my devices seemed to have lost most of its oomph, and we left it with them to have the factory repair it.  Later, I dropped Becky and the dogs off in the “red rock” recreation area that starts across the street from our RV park, and they hiked back while I picked up dinner at Wal-Mart.

Tuesday was our day to see our dermatologist, Dr. Robin Berger, for our annual review.  She froze a few little goodies off my body, and we made an appointment for her to freeze off one other one.  Per some bizarre Medicare rule, she couldn’t do the last one the same day---even though Medicare does not pay the $10 fee for the procedure.  I don’t get it.
Wednesday was our day to see Joshua Frame, our GP since 2003, for our annual review.  All seemed to be in order.  On our way back to the RV park, we dropped off our bikes at High Knees Cycling in St. George for tune-ups and a few fixes. 

We had stopped there on Tuesday to discuss our situation, and they convinced us to bring the bikes in.  The folks there, Will and Dennis, seem to be very nice, and knowledgeable.  Since the bikes are outside year-round, they suffer a lot of weather damage.  They are supposed to be ready on Friday.
Thursday was my day to attack a problem with our rig that has been bothering me for a while.  A few years ago, in Bozeman, Montana, the bed had become detached from the slide out mechanism due to what the manufacturer admitted was a design defect---such that when the room opened up the bed didn’t move, staying squeezed up against the dresser.  It was a Sunday and my sources for repair parts were limited.  I fixed it as best I could under the circumstances, and knew that someday I would have to do it again---the right way.  That day had come. 

It involved taking the bed mechanism apart, crawling around on my hands and knees in very tight spaces, and generally moving some of my body parts in ways that were rather unfamiliar.  I finished the job, but I now hurt everywhere.  I will recover, but I don’t want to have to do that again.
I also undertook to program the two new tire monitor sensors I received on Wednesday---to replace the two that had seemed to die a few days ago.  It’s not as easy as it should be.  Since the written instructions are incomprehensible, I called the manufacturer for technical advice.  After two scraped knees from crawling around under the slide outs to get at the tires, two dropped cell phone calls, and sweating bullets from the 100 degree temperature, I gave up and told the tech I would call him on Friday to pick up where we left off.  He was sympathetic.

Friday was haircut day for both Becky and me.  After that we went to Sakura for sushi.  This was the first time we have gone there, always preferring Samurai 21 previously.  But since it is now closed we thought we would try Sakura.  Not bad.  And one of the sushi chefs there (and we think one of the owners, as well) is “Johnny,” who used to be the main chef (and we’re sure one of the owners) at Samurai 21 when we first went there in 2004.  It was fun seeing him again. 

Then we picked up our bikes and settled in for the night.

Saturday was our day to visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. 

From where we are it is about 140 miles each way.  Every time we go there, which is every time we are in this area, we remind ourselves how beautiful the drive to the rim is.  The place is still the same, except they spent $900,000 putting a new roof on the lodge.  We woke up Mike Kidd, the lodge manager, who was sleeping on his first day off in 45 days. This is his third season as manager, and he not only is enjoying it, he has lost some weight and looks great.  The lodge just opened for the season on Thursday, and things are still a little chaotic. 

We had lunch at the Deli.  The line was out the door since they had only one person making everything on the menu, so we both selected pre-made items.  My salad, I found out too late, had been made the day before and, while the lettuce was still OK, the croutons were soggy and chewy---and the salad cost $13.00!!!  Becky’s ham sandwich was OK and only $7.00. 

On the way home we decided to have filet mignon for dinner, which we picked up at Lin’s Market.  Matched with one of our Justin reds, they were delicious.

Sunday was our day to hit Costco for the first (and surely not the last) time since we got here.  We stocked up on the usual goodies, including, this time, 70 pounds of dog food. 

Monday (the 19th) was Becky’s birthday and we drove the 33 miles to Zion National Park so she could celebrate by buying a Senior Pass allowing free entry to all federal fee installations.  (Hint:  You have to be 62 to buy that pass.) 

While there we walked the mile-long Riverside Walk along the Virgin River to the entrance to the Narrows, rode our bikes back from the end of the road to the Lodge, took the shuttle back into Springdale, and had a delicious lunch at Oscar’s Café.  While in the park we chatted with Kirstine Johnson, Becky’s former boss in the gift shop,

and with a lady named Sharon who was “manning” the new beer bar in the patio outside the Deli.  Sharon was a long-time server in the lodge dining room; we never learned her last name in all the years we’ve known her and her husband, Tom.

Before we entered the park, we dropped Ramsey and Kelsey off at the Doggy Dude Ranch, in Rockville---just outside Springdale.  This was Ramsey’s second time there and Kelsey’s first.  The idea was not only to free us to enjoy the entire park, but to introduce the dogs to spending time with Philly, the proprietress, because we plan to leave them there while we go to Park City at the end of the month for Emily’s high school graduation.  The dogs did well at the ranch, and were completely pooped when we got them home.

The big event on Tuesday was mastering the mysteries of the tire monitors.  Mike at the manufacturer, with whom I had been discussing the problem time after time, finally decided to tell me that I had been wasting my time the past few days since the display monitor had been corrupted somewhere along the way.  The fix involved a very simple procedure, and within five minutes everything was working perfectly.  Hurray!!! 

Three days ago I discovered that someone had stolen a tiny piece of trim from our truck.  The dealer told me that GM would only sell me a giant piece that included the small piece I needed, and suggested a visit to a wrecking yard.  On Wednesday, we went to Dixie Auto Wrecking, and picked up three of the little pieces for $5.00.  (We bought three in case the thief returned.)

We celebrated by taking the dogs to the Dog Town Park for a romp.  They really enjoy that place.       

Our granddaughters, Meghan and Emily, had requested that we make a contribution to a video they were making to celebrate Donna and David’s 25th anniversary.  The deadline was approaching, so on Thursday we watched the video of their wedding to give us some ideas.  It was a lot of fun re-living the event. 

We recorded some appropriate words and forwarded them to the girls.  We then watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty from the Redbox.  It was just awful, which was very disappointing, since I remembered that the original with Danny Kaye was delightful.

Friday morning, I returned to Dr. Berger’s office to have a gross-looking thing removed from my jaw line.  It was some benign growth that I had first noticed last summer.  I thought it would go away on its own, but I was wrong.  She hit it with her magic nitrogen gun and promised it would disappear in a couple of weeks.  I hope she’s right.

Becky had started having a sharp pain in her head Wednesday night.  By Friday, it had become such a nuisance that she went to the Instacare facility in St. George for some relief.  It turned out that she had shingles.  She was given several medications and warned that she would be uncomfortable for at least two weeks. 

Saturday and Sunday were basically relaxing, in that on both days we had the free pancake breakfast at the RV park, followed by hot dogs (not free) by the pool, and quiet afternoons avoiding the heat.  The only variation was on Sunday when Becky took Ramsey and Kelsey on a very long hike that wore them out completely. 

On Monday (Memorial Day) we revived an old tradition of ours by taking the dogs and some wine, bread, cheese, salami, and two National Enquirer-type magazines to the local park for two hours of reading exciting news items to each other.  The park in Leeds was completely empty, so we had a peaceful and rewarding time there.     

Tuesday was a lazy day for me.  Becky dropped off some old clothes at the local Mormon thrift store and shopped for some new ones at a more appropriate venue. 

Wednesday was my day to get a pedicure.  Becky thought the place was one of the stereotypical salons filled with Vietnamese women who seem to do all of the nail work in the U.S. these days.  It was not.  The lady who did my nails (the only one working that day) was a former truck driver who had finished nail school only two months ago.  Giving a pedicure is not brain surgery, so she did just fine, although it took a lot longer than usual and she was completely stumped by the toe that I broke 18 years ago when I dropped a TV set on my foot.  The nail on that toe is rather nasty looking.  After consulting with her boss, she just ignored that toe altogether. 

We also stopped at the Verizon store to get some technical advice, and went to the Willowind RV Park in Hurricane to book a site for next year.  We had decided not to return to the park we had stayed in previously since it was a little removed from civilization and, more importantly, because it was behind a hill there was very weak cell and internet service available there.  We felt like we were stranded without the ability to immediately and fully participate in life there.  At Willowind, we will not only be fully connected, but will also be able to walk to stores and easily take the dogs to interesting places.  We spent an inordinate amount of time selecting the site for next year, but we were finally satisfied that we could survive for two months in #164.

Late in the afternoon, while driving the dogs (and Becky) to a spot in the federal wilderness area across the street from where they would begin their afternoon hike, Kelsey chewed on Ramsey’s leash for the first time in months, and it came apart.  While Becky took them on their walk holding onto what was left of Ramsey’s leash, I made an emergency trip to St. George to find a new leash.  It turned out to be much more difficult than I had supposed.  Apparently, leather leashes are no longer popular.  After hitting three stores and calling three more, I finally found a suitable leash.  It was one of the few the store had left and was the only one that was the right length.  The owner was so happy to get rid of it that he gave me a 25% discount.            

Thursday was devoted to getting ready to leave for Park City.  On my part, that included a lube and oil change on the truck (called a “Signature Service”) at Jiffy Lube in St. George, a quick lunch at Burger King across the street from the Jiffy Lube, a stop at Wells Fargo Bank to get some cash, packing bags for the trip, and a bunch of other mundane details.  

In addition to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, we watched a number of redbox movies during our stay here:  Gimme Shelter, which was very good, Gloria, a Chilean film that was excellent, Labor Day, with Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet, which was eerie but captivating, Blackfish, a documentary about killer whales, which was very interesting, At Middleton, with Andy Garcia and Vera Farmiga, which was delightful, and That Awkward Moment, a teen movie that was disgusting.


  1. That repair facility means business! Usually there's quite a backlog, and you may have to wait some time for your truck to be attended to. The rig repair must have been stressful for you, but at least you got that fixed already. It pays to have some reserve parts on your RV, so that you can use them once the old one gives out unexpectedly. I hope that next time, your tasks won't be as laboring as this one. Drive safely!

    Kathryn Weber @ Global Parts, Inc