Checking out Arizona, part 2

Outside of Flagstaff, AZ. January 2021

One day we drove from Phoenix to Flagstaff. The drive goes through all sorts of different landscapes. From cactus, to evergreens, from flatland to mountains. Kevin and I like it all.

The famous Route 66 in Flagstaff, AZ. January 2021

We drove directly to the old downtown area. This is a favorite thing for us to do as you can see and learn history there. Here is Kevin (with mask on) standing on the Route. Behind him is a train depot with a small museum. Trains still use this track.

Best authentic Shepherd’s Pie, ever! January 2021

When we travel, we like to stay away from the food-chain restaurants and eat at local places. It took us quite a while to find a place open because 1. this wasn’t their busy season someone told us and 2. Covid had a lot of places closed. We found this place and we were delighted. The food was over the top of what we expected.

Shepherd’s Pie at Collins…I am ready to go there again! January 2021

Hang on, as I pause to remember this delicious, mouth-watered dish! Okay, moving on….

Arizona “Check it out” trip. Jan 15-24,2021

We like to learn the history of old towns and are always glad to see signs on the buildings describing their history. The Babbitt Brothers came from Ohio in 1886. They bought some land near Flagstaff (a wild and rowdy town of 600 people) and put some cattle and sheep on their land. They were very successful. The two brothers convinced the other 3 brothers to move there and they all started this mercantile store. Inside, you can see the tile on the ceilings and the floor is warped with time and use. Here is a link for more information on the Babbitt brothers:

Babbitt Brothers Information

We continued our walk and saw the Pinecone Hotel, the old opera house and many other buildings

Kevin shouts “A Maverick!” Camp Verde, AZ. January 2021

If you know Kevin at all, you know he “loves” his Diet Coke. And this convenient/gas station is his favorite. He was thrilled (translation: squealed like a kid at Christmas!) when we saw this Maverick Store along the road. Of course, we had to stop. And, he made me take his picture so that he can remember this good find. HAHA

Is A Town With Our Name A Place For Us?

8th – Days 34-50, Dec 18, 2020-Jan 3, 2021, St George, UT, Arizona, and Nevada

Harsh but beautiful desert Dolan Springs, AZ

Friday, I drove the truck while Kevin worked from the passenger seat. This works out well for us. We left at 8:00 am because we wanted to give the sun some time to warm up the roads. It was in the 20s when we left. Glad we are going to weather in the high 60s! Kevin’s work gave everyone a 1/2 day off today since they can’t have a Christmas party. I thought that was very nice. Stopped to pick up Carl’s Jr in Beaver for lunch and ate in the truck. Picked up our trailer at the storage. All looks good. After a setting up our campsite, site #9, we drove to Ace Hardware to get some screws for the name sign Kevin made for us.

Stockings are hung with hang sign Kevin made.

Then we went to Harmon’s Grocery Store. The traffic was pretty crazy, probably due to the weekend before xmas. Came back to camp and had hot dogs and Mac and cheese.

Beauty reflecting off our trailer during sunrise.

Saturday, we had a really fun drive. We are looking for a “home base” and Kevin found Dolan Springs in Arizona. We had decided to drive there. So, three hours south and oh it was fun. The scenery is beautiful with the rocks and desert. Las Vegas was easy to drive through. We wanted to get drinks at Boulder City but ended up driving through the whole town, which was fun. Picked up McDonalds and then took a few pictures with Lake Mead behind us.

Laughing with each other in front of Lake Mead.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Look at the different landscapes

Kevin’s input: Dolan Springs was a bust! Our thought right now is to have some land for a “home base” when we travel full time in the future. There are a lot of counties that restrict camping to so many days a year. Dolan Springs is in a county that does not have that restriction – and it shows. Although there were a few places that looked nice, the majority of them are run down. It looks like a place where mobile homes and trailers go to die. There were a lot of abandoned trailers with no windows. I am sure there are great people there, but it was not for us. With my namesake, I would have hoped for better.

Is this our future? The name is right. 🙂
Dolan Springs, AZ.

That evening we got to camp around 4:00 pm. I had made French Dip in the crockpot at home and had put it in Food Saver and froze it. We had French dip sandwiches for supper and it was very good.

Sunday, we didn’t know what we wanted to do. That morning we decided to drive through Zion National Park. It was stunning! Like before but with snow at the top. The park doesn’t have the shuttles running because it is “off season”. Well, they should have…it was so full the rangers blocked off the road to all the hikes and stops! It was okay, we drove on through the tunnel and out the east side of the park. We are amazed at how the landscape changes just “down the road a little bit.” So fun to see what it looks like around the bend.

Zion National Park. Fun watching what looked to be some people’s first snow.

I am setting up my camera and tri-pod, ready for the outstanding photo that will blow the world away. And then…SOMEONE steps in front right at the second I press click. Does he like to have his picture taken or perhaps he just likes to bug me? 🙂

I, Charla, have no words! 😉

We drove to Kanab and got ice cream at a gas station. Then on through Fredona. We remember stopping at Pipe Springs with my Aunt Goldie and Uncle Jim years ago. We though it was very interesting and had lots of history. Kevin and I passed the turn off and then turned around to go get his National Park Passport stamped. On the tiny road, I remembered that the Indian Reservation is extremely high with Covid. We turned back around when we saw a sign in the middle of the road saying no visitors. On through Colorado City and Hilldale. In Apple Valley we saw a “tiny home resort” and of course had to turn around to see it. The tiny houses are literally smaller than our trailer. HAHA The road down to Hurricane is fun: drops off quit a bit. We came back to camp and just read and watched movies. Dinner was corn dogs from a food truck that came to our RV park. It wasn’t what we thought the batter would be (sweet) but it was good. We were glad to support the truck.

Southern Utah RV Resort, St George, UT had a food truck. Yum!

Monday, Kevin and I both worked. Kevin sat outside most of the day. I was out there a lot but it was so bright it was hard to see the computer. The shower head broke this morning so we went to Walmart and got a new one. Plus I got a hand held vacuum and we got some groceries.

Tuesday, same thing as yesterday. We both worked. Kevin was able to sit outside most of the day. I sat inside. I enjoyed working from here. 🙂  In the evenings we watch RV youtube videos and it is fun. We also booked flights, hotel, and rental car for Phoenix, AZ Jan 15-24. Going to check out land, houses, communities, etc. 🙂 We are excited about our plans….

Wednesday, Happy 32nd Wedding Anniversary to us!  I finished all the things for work about midday. Last month, Kevin made reservations for us at Cliffside Restaurant, here in St George. We drove up there and it was still light out, since our reservation was at 5:45 pm. We were a little early but the view was great. At 5:30 pm they texted Kevin and said they were ready for us. (This is a new way since Covid: you wait in your car.) Oh, this restaurant surpassed all expectations! We got a table by the window and the view over the city and bluffs was stunning. The food was some of the best we have ever had! The flavors were out of this world. I had chicken fried chicken and the best mashed potatoes and dipping sauce ever. I tasted rosemary. Kevin had surf and turf. We had coconut shrimp for starter. The sauce had a lovely orange taste but not overpowering and not tart. We enjoyed our evening together.

Enjoying delicious food, great atmosphere, and stunning views for our 32nd Anniversary Dinner.

Next week… more exploring.

Part 3: Quilting, Relaxing, Reading, and Storage

6th Trip – Day 18-27. Oct 16-25, 2020

Monday Kevin woke up at 6:45 am, you know, he has a long commute! HAHA But as he was ready to log on to work and discovered he had left the charging cable at home. Off to Walmart he goes. Back quickly with a new one. He was kind and set up my sewing machine for me. I on one end of the table and he on the other. I love it!

Kevin working on one end and me sewing on the other.

Soon he was outside for the day working in his comfy camping chair. I had a lot of fun sewing in the trailer. I set up the cutting board on the end of the counter; plenty of room. It even has a plug right above for the iron.

My big kitchen allows for great space for quilting.

For lunch I made Steak Bites with Garlic Butter (recipe below). I came to realize that on Kevin’s work days, we should have our big meal at lunch because as soon as he is done with work, we want to be off exploring and not taking the time to cook and not come back starving. In the afternoon I sewed some more and read.

Working while at Southern Utah RV Resort, Camping St George, UT Oct 16-25, 2020

As soon as Kevin was done with work at 4:00 pm, we were in the truck. We went to Traveler’s Quilt Book stop Quilted Works. It was a small shop and I was surprised not a lot of xmas fabric. But I did find a darling one with snowmen and bought it.

Shopping for fabric. Can never have enough, right?

Then we went to what showed online as a used bookstore. It is called Book Bungalow. As the name says, it is in an old house, cute, but all new books. Kevin is interested in old books. Interesting, online we don’t find any used bookstores in this area.

We drove to Red Hills Desert Garden. This is a neat place where you can walk on and around red rocks that have been shaped from wind and water. Really fun place. We took out our walking sticks and did a bit of walking around. Kevin offered Costa Vida for supper and of course I couldn’t resist! (Otherwise, it was sandwiches.) We ate on our picnic table and enjoyed watching the sun go down and the moon come out.

Beauty from wind and water,Camping St George, UT Oct 16-25, 2020

Tuesday was incredibly relaxing. I did some quilting, reading and catching up on this diary. Kevin worked from outside. Lunch was French Dip. After work, we drove to a place in Hurricane called “Winder Towing.” They have a YouTube channel called Matt’s off -road Recovery. It is something that Kevin and his brother, Gary, have seen on YouTube and they laugh their heads off! As I understand it, if you need a tow, you get a free T-shirt with their logo. We went there because they have a little shop online and we thought he could buy some things from there. Every though we were there during the open hours and cars were in front, the door was locked.

Kevin and Gary watch YouTube videos of this place. He wanted to see it. Camping St George, UT Oct 16-25, 2020

Then we drove to Sand Hollow. I hear people talk about that place. It didn’t seem like much to us. Continued to drive along the east side of St George and around the south near the hotel we usually stay at. It is fun to drive around and just see life and houses. We went to Harmons Grocery for treats and bread and then back to camp. We were full from crackers and cheese I had taken with us. I read and Kevin watched some videos. We did a late night (9:30 PM!) walk-about and then went to bed.

Wednesday continued to be a relaxing and perfect weather day. For lunch I heated up the Chili Verde I made at home and we had it over tortilla chips. Yummy. That evening, I had to do a Zoom video conference meeting over the internet with the Department of Services to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Advisory Council. Kevin got me all set up on his computer and I had my iPad for CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation). It worked well since I am deaf. Kevin went off to check out the storage place for our trailer that we rented. Afterwards, Kevin and I went on a walk-about and then came back and had sandwiches for supper at 7:00 PM. Enjoyed a lovely evening reading outside.

Thursday I was busy with emails with the Advisory Council and other things. I didn’t sew today but organized and edited a lot of pictures. I also read. Kevin is enjoying his work from his chair outside. 🙂 At 5:00 PM, we met our friend who goes to college here. We went to Angelica’s Mexican Restaurant. It was good food and fun to catch up with her. After dinner, Kevin and I drove around and looked at some campgrounds around here for ideas for next time. We found we really like Southern Utah RV Resort! Hey, look at the cool way the guy cleans the campground road:

This made us laugh. Riding that thingy and using the leave blower to clean the road.

We picked a name for our travel trailer. Since it is our Home On Wheels, we named it HOWE (pronounced How-ee). We even have the camping dates in our calendar listed under HOWE. HAHAHA

If you remember a few posts ago, we had decided to get a storage spot for HOWE in Southern Utah. This area is warmer and a place that Snowbirds (people who go south for the winter) like to be. Where we live, it is way too cold, too snowy, and most places in the mountains are closed because you can’t get there in the winter. So by having HOWE in the warmer area, we can drive there in a few hours and take it out and camp on long weekends, holidays, etc. Don’t worry, we will be camping in just a short time.

HOWE parked at storage. We can easily pull it out for camping soon.

*Steak Pieces in Garlic Butter Yumminess

(We made this on the Blackstone Griddle but this recipe shows cooking on a stove)

 1 1/4 lbs. steak, cut up into small pieces

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp butter

2 tsp garlic, minced

1 Tbsp parsley, minced

Salt and Pepper


Over high heat, using a large pan, heat the olive oil. Season the steak with salt and pepper.

Place the meat in the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes. Stir often so that each piece gets brown.

To the pan, add butter and garlic, cook for 1-2 minutes. Stir so the sauce coats the meat.

Sprinkle the parsley over the meat and serve.

More beauty

6th Trip – Day 18-27, Oct 16-25, 2020 Part 2

Sunday we have a humungous drive from St George/Leeds KOA to our next campground, Southern Utah RV Resort….15 miles! HAHAHA We took our time this morning and finished off the Blueberry Muffins. We didn’t cook outside at this campground. After a walk-about to a historic brick house that is on the property there, we left at check out time, 11:00. We decided to drive to Southern Utah RV Resort to see if we could check in early, otherwise, check in is at 2:00. Kevin said they were so nice and said we could check in now. This was at 11:15! This place is great, paved road, gravel sites. Large sites! Each has a tree growing but is small since this place just opened up last year. Lifetime brand picnic table. Nice grass with games, bath house, etc. We really really like this place! It would be hot in the summer but perfect right now.

Kolob Canyon, Zion National Park, UT Oct 16-25, 2020

After we got all set up, we decided to drive to Kolob Canyon. It is the Northern part of Zion NP.  It is right off I-15. We stopped at the visitor’s center but it is closed due to Covid. The Ranger outside with his table of maps was nice; no charge that day to go in the canyon. We drove the 5 miles to the end and like this entire area, it is hard to describe the beauty. Lots of cedar trees but then jutting up to the sky would be these red rock cliffs. Incredible.

Kolob Canyon, Zion National Park, UT Oct 16-25, 2020

We even got out and walked down a trail for a ways.

Kolob Canyon, Zion National Park, UT

When we were down there, hum, what should we do now. We looked at the map and picked Cedar Breaks National Monument. You go up the canyon out of Cedar City. And can I tell you, again, breathtaking!

The road to Cedar Breaks National Monument, UT Oct 16-25, 2020

These rocks were white, not red like Kolob and Zion. The Autumn leaves were full bloom with lots of yellows. The road goes up over 10,000 ft in elevation. At Cedar Breaks National Monument, the temp was a cold 50 with wind blowing quite hard. It was beauty to see, though.

10,333 ft elevation, 50 degrees, Cedar Breaks National Monument, UT Oct 16-25, 2020

It looks like Bryce Canyon. Kevin checked and we were at 10,333 ft above sea level. We are so happy we went on that road. At one side stop, you can see clear to the mountains near Virgin. I recognized it from the other end. 🙂 

Back at camp, Kevin cooked Philly cheesesteaks on the Griddle. No campfires in this campground but you can have propane. This campground is full and it has more huge motorhomes than we have seen elsewhere. Probably more of them than trailers.

Southern Utah RV Resort,St George, UT Oct 16-25, 2020

Next time…how to sew/quilt in a travel trailer! 🙂

South for the Winter

6th Trip- Day 18-27, Oct 16-25,2020 Fillmore KOA, St George/Leeds KOA, Southern Utah RV Resort PART 1 🙂

This trip started out as a baseball-watching trip. Our high school friend is a fantastic baseball player and we like to go to his games. He was to have a tournament with college scouts watching on Oct 15-18 in St George. Kevin and I decided we would go and watch and camp in our trailer. Well, why not stay longer while we are there! (This is common for us. HAHA) Let’s make it a week, with Kevin working during the days, and then add the two weekends. We found a campground that looked neat but they only had openings from Sunday to Sunday. So Kevin booked that and then we booked a KOA near Leeds. Then, the baseball games got canceled, due to Covid, but we didn’t hesitate, we are still going. 🙂 Since we didn’t need to rush to a ball game, I suggested we go 1/2 way on Friday night. That way we wouldn’t be setting up in the dark. Kevin liked that idea and made the changes.

Friday we left after Kevin got off work (both always antsy to get going with excitement!). We had a great drive to Fillmore KOA. We thought there would be more traffic, this being Fall Break, but we were just a head of it. The campground at Fillmore is really great. It is a Journey with beautiful grass at each site, water, electricity and a dump. We didn’t use the dump, being there just one night. Our site was at the back and opened up to open range. In our walk-about, we saw a lot of ATVs. Talked to one guy and he said it is a popular place for them up in the mountains. We didn’t have a fire that night but just relaxed. I had made Tortellini Salad and homemade Banana Bread for dinner. It was perfect.

Beautiful “backyard” and surrounding area. Fillmore, UT KOA.

Saturday, after relaxing and breakfast of homemade (at home) Blueberry Muffins, we headed out. On the way, we stopped at The Creamery in Beaver. We had stopped before. We ate cheese curds and grilled cheese/patty melt. Then we walked around the store a little bit and bought some Salsa Cheese Curds. Next was famous ice cream. We ate it outside. Everyone wore masks. As we were walking to the truck to leave, I got a horrible feeling in my stomach. Had to take some time in their bathroom. As I got in the truck, Kevin had the same feeling and took some time in their bathroom. We didn’t feel well for about an hour afterwards, although we continued on our way. I think it must have been all the rich cheese…and it is so good we ate it fast. Thankfully, we felt better later. Oh, right as we left, I felt I needed the bathroom again. Kevin pulled into a parking lot and opened the door of the trailer for me. I ended up not needing it but there is something to say about having your bathroom with you. HA

We checked in at St George/Leeds KOA (Hurricane address). It is our least favorite campground, so far. Very clean but the spaces are too close together. One spot we saw two slides literally inches apart from each other. We would stay there if we have to, but not really planning on it.

Too close to the neighbors! KOA Leeds, UT.

After setting up, we decided to take a drive. We drove through Hurricane (much much bigger than I thought!), on through Springdale, and ended up at ZION NATIONAL PARK! Now, last week I had researched and saw that you get tickets ahead of time for the shuttles. They are every hour throughout the day. They are $1.00. I clicked on it and found out that every hour, for all 10 days we are down here, were sold out! (Places like this have been extremely busy due to Covid and add to that, Fall Break. No worries, we had been here before. We went to the Visitor’s Center and Kevin got his National Park Passport stamped. Success!

Kevin getting his National Park Passport stamped. Zion National Park, UT.

He bought a huge mug and we got Zion masks. Then we drove the “tunnel road”and my gosh, the scenery was stunning. It was “golden hour” about 5:30pm and the setting sun made the rocks, mountains, trees, everything just glow with beauty. We went out the other side of the tunnel a ways and then turned back around. As we entered the 1.1 mile long tunnel, I was curious about the inside. It was built around 1930 and I wondered if the ceiling was curved or flat. So I took a picture…

Entering Mt. Carmel Tunnel at Zion National Park, 1.1 miles
Literal picture of INSIDE the tunnel! I still don’t know if the ceiling is curved or flat! 🙂

ZION NATIONAL PARK

Stunning landscape at Zion National Park, Utah.
The different layers of rock, sandstone, and trees.
Zion National Park, Utah
Zion National Park, Utah

We scored on our little “let’s go for a drive” big time! When we got back to the campground there was a trailer right next to us and so close we didn’t even feel like sitting outside. No worries, we were ready for bed.

Stay tuned for more about this great trip.

Short people problem!

5th trip – Day 14-17, Oct 2020, Brigham City/Perry KOA, Utah

My parents have been wanting to camp with us so I decided to set up this camping trip to include them.

Autumn leaf on campsite table.

Kevin and I stayed in our travel trailer and Mom & Dad rented a deluxe cabin there at KOA. There are smaller Kamping Kabins, but this one had a bathroom inside. We went up Thursday evening. Kevin and I have been to this campground at least three other times over the past years. We like it and remember wagon rides and ice cream socials. Well, those aren’t happening right now due to Covid. Mom & Dad’s cabin has a small stove and a fridge. She made her Baked Beans and brought them for Thursday night supper. I made corn muffins at home and brought them for this meal. We ate outside their cabin.

Charla’s parents & Kevin enjoying a fire.

Friday I played games with Mom & Dad. Friday evening Ben came up and stayed in the cabin. Meals were at our campsite table. We sat around our fire pit that evening.

Camping Brigham City/Perry KOA, UT Oct 8-11, 2020

Saturday we got in Mom & Dad’s van and Kevin drove us to Bear Lake. The idea was to see the Autumn leaves in Logan Canyon. They didn’t disappoint! So beautiful and all colors. While driving up there, I got a text from a friend. She and her husband were camping at Bear Lake but heading down the canyon while we were going up to have lunch with granddaughter at USU. For fun, we found their trailer, took a pic and sent it to them saying “No one is home.” They got a great kick out of it.  We didn’t drive too far around the lake. Drove back to Logan and had a picnic lunch of sandwiches that Mom and Kevin made that morning. We ate at a park just below USU main building. It was a lovely day.

Beautiful Logan Canyon

Traveler’s Quilt Book stop was at “Village Dry Goods” in Brigham City. I bought some fabric that is gray and white that says things like “sewing is my happy place.” The ladies tried to sign “thank you” but ended up signing “never” and I so appreciated their attempt.

Fabric store!

Dad wanted to stop at Smith’s & Edwards. It is the huge store mentioned in a previous post. Back to camp for naps. That evening Kevin made his now famous Smashburgers.

Who is ready for smashburgers? Me!

Mom got excited and told me she wants to buy a camper van.

“Kids” Terry & Barbara Kester, on their phones.

One day I went to use our bathroom in our trailer. “Someone” put the toilet paper on the top of the highest shelf in the bathroom. I can’t reach it! 🙂 THAT is a short person problem. Actually, it was a tall, husband problem because he got in trouble. HAHA What did I do? As soon as I was home, I bought a toilet paper stand for the bathroom. Problem solved 🙂

Someone is in trouble for placing the toilet paper on the highest shelf in the bathroom!

Sunday we had a nice relaxing and lazy morning. Then we all headed home.

Dry-camping Delight

4th trip, Day 11-13, Oct 2-4, 2020 North Fork Campground, Eden, UT

This was a fun camping trip. We went with my cousin, Duane and his wife (and my wonderful friend) Jennette. We followed the GPS, which rightly took us to North Ogden, over North Ogden Canyon Rd. and over the North Ogden Divide. The divide is 6 miles long and goes from 4501 ft to 6190 ft and then down to 5167 ft above sea level. It is a narrow but paved road that is steep. Our truck and trailer handled it with no problems at all. It was a gorgeous drive. We had a hard time finding the actual campsite and turned around on the Eden road (to very fancy houses!) two times. We laughed and said we were “practicing” backing up and turning around in the middle of the street. 🙂 We ended up calling Jennette and Duane to get directions to the specific campsite.  They had gone up the night before. Incidentally, when we left, we went out an entirely different and much easier way. Ha

Beautiful double site. North Fork Park Campground, Oct 2-4, 2020

We got settled in quickly in our nice double campsite. Totally dry camping and that is fine because we have batteries, water, and sewer all onboard. Jennette made chicken wrapped bacon, red potatoes, and chocolate cake all in Dutch Oven.  So nice to arrive and dinner was cooking. It was delcious! We enjoyed a nice campfire that evening.

Outside view from inside our trailer. Stunning autumn colors!

Saturday morning Kevin made breakfast for everyone. He used the Blackstone Griddle and made hash browns, bacon, and eggs. Delicious! Everyone had seconds.

Can you believe the stunning colors behind Kevin?!!!

Kevin and I then went on a hike. There are lots of trails around there used for walking, bike and horses. The colors of the changing leaves were very pretty. There is a ribbon of granite running along the mountain with bits of Evergreens and trees with autumn leaves. It was beauty to behold.  We walked about two hours. Kevin said it was extremely quiet and with no wind, silent.

On our walk, beauty to behold!

Back at camp, Duane was whittling wood figures and Jennette was working on crocheting.

Duane & Jennete

Lunch was on our own; Kevin and I had sandwiches and fixings. After lunch, Jennette and I worked on her puzzle. In the afternoon, their daughter, Susanna, and husband Nick, came up. They are a fun couple and we enjoyed visiting with them. She knows some ASL so that was super nice.

Susanna & Jennette working on a puzzle.
Susanna & Charla having a good laugh while working on a puzzle.

For supper, Kevin made everyone Smashburgers. Delicious! It was a hit. Campfire and S’mores that evening.

Sunday was lazying around. Took our time getting packed up since check out was at noon. The drive home was really nice. Duane and Jennette said they want to camp with us again. That is a good sign! HAHA

Jennette is an amazing quilter and embroiderer. Her business name is The Masked Embroiderer and you can find her on Etsy at: themaskedembroiderer and on Facebook. She makes the cutest masks, towels, yard flags, etc. Check it out.

Willard Bay State Park

3rd trip – Day 8-10, Sept 25-27 Willard Bay State Park, South Marina, Utah

Willard Bay State Park, South Marina Campground, Sept 25-27, 2020

We found this place from a camping app. A few days prior to going, I looked at reviews and they were awful! People, sometimes full-timers, said it was the worst campground they had ever been to. Some of the reviews were this month. I was a bit wondering. I even checked on availability at a KOA campground in Brigham City in case we needed to leave. 🙂 It wasn’t bad at all. The South Marina is a “parking lot” with grass (dead grass this time of year) behind the trailers with nice picnic tables and fire pits. We picked a site on the end and had lots of lovely trees around. Other tables that didn’t have shade had nice covers. Yes, there were a few mosquitoes but what do you except, you are by a lake. They weren’t bad at all. A few gnats but more in Helper than here (see other post). I know in the summer the bugs can get really bad around the lake.

Willard Bay State Park, South Marina Campground, Sept 25-27, 2020

We got settled into our camp spot and I took a walk-about. I like to see how other people set up their campsites. Next to us was a large motor home with 2 TV’s on the outside. Wow!

We couldn’t see the lake because we are next to a long berm, or dam. But across the bridge and up some stairs and wow, this fresh water lake is huge! There isn’t a beach here on the south side but there is a boat ramp. Several people were fishing. Of course I got my iPhone out and started snapping pictures.

Willard Bay State Park, South Marina Campground, Sept 25-27, 2020

For our evening walk-about we walked along the water on the berm/road. After about 15 minutes we started feeling the mosquitos and goodness, we should have sprayed ourselves. Kevin is sweeter than me and got several bites. I didn’t get bit at all. It was getting dark and we went inside, relaxed, and read. OH boy, we sure sleep great in our trailer! Every night is just like being in our comfy bed at home. The mattress is the same size, a queen, and very comfortable.

Willard Bay State Park, South Marina Campground, Sept 25-27, 2020

The next morning Kevin cooked on the Blackstone Griddle that his brother gave to us. He cooked hash browns, bacon and eggs. Delicious!

Come and get it! Breakfast is ready.

After cleaning up, we drove the truck north to the main marina. Kevin wants to try a kayak and we checked into them. They are cheap to rent. But the wind had picked up and it was a bit cold to be on the water. He will try it another time. We drove through the two campgrounds. Back to those reviews, some said the freeway noise was horrible. Kevin agreed. Something with the noise bouncing off the close mountain made it exceptionally noisy. (I wouldn’t know became I am deaf. 🙂 )We found a spot we would like to stay at on the water’s edge. Next time.

Willard Bay State Park, South Marina, Sept 25-27, 2020

Next we headed south to Lifetime Products Factory Outlet. They make hard plastic chairs, tables, play grounds and sheds. We were interested in a shed so we can move yard tools and things out of the garage. That way we have more room to get around our vehicles, and Kevin has more room in his wood shop. We found one we like and asked about “scratch and dent.” We bought one; the only thing that was damaged is the box. We will need to pick up this week. It is a cute one.

This is the finished shed after we put it together. 🙂

I looked up in my Traveler’s Quilt Book and found a few fabric stores in Ogden, where we were. We went to “My Heritage Fabric” and bought some fabric that had cute quilt saying on it. I will make them for my sewing friends for Christmas. As we were checking out, I saw a lady with an amazing panel: a map of the US and then National Parks around the edges. I have been looking for a good National Park fabric, even online, and everywhere was sold out. And I liked this one better than any others I had seen. After she left, I asked the saleslady for it. She said that lady had bought the last 3 panels. Oh, I was so disappointed. She offered to call her “sister store” and see if they have it. They do! We drove to the other side of town and got it. A darling store, in an old house, called, “Bertha & Beulah’s”. I got great fabric to go with the  panel. Kevin suggested a quilt for the trailer. Oh yeah!

My Heritage Fabrics quilt store.
Bertha & Beulah’s quilt store

On the way to our campsite, we stopped in at Smith & Edwards. It started out as a military surplus store. It still has a lot of military surplus, but has expanded to sporting goods, farm supplies – just about everything. It is a huge store. I mean, ridiculously huge. Kevin bought me a hiking pole.

Back to our campsite. After relaxing, armed with my new hiking pole, we walked along the lake for about a mile. The wind had picked up but it wasn’t really cold. We liked to watch the seagulls and the boats. We tried for find a geocache but it looked like it was in the canal. Nope, not going to do that. Back to the trailer and Kevin made smash burgers on the Blackstone. I had them all mixed and prepped in balls at home so it wasn’t so messy. Oh man, they are delicious! After dinner, Kevin made a fire in the fire pit. No bugs, light wind, perfect relaxation. Let me tell you, the sky gave the most amazing sunset. I kept running up to the lake and over to the trees to take pictures. The sky was breathtaking.  

Willard Bay State Park, South Marina Campground, Sept 25-27, 2020
Willard Bay State Park, South Marina Campground, Sept 25-27, 2020

Sunday morning I heated up the breakfast from yesterday. The temp outside was 47 but we were nice and warm inside. We didn’t even have to turn on our heater at all this trip. It as a great weekend and we want to come back. We will try the north campground by the lake but not in the summer.

As I look back at photos I have taken, I realize I like old posts. 🙂

History of Smith and Edwards

Willard Bay State Park

Just Put That Thing On The Coals.

A fun way to cook while camping is: put it together, set it on hot coals, let it cook, open it, and enjoy. Oh, clean up is easy because you throw it away.

Foil Pack cooked in the fire pit on hot coals

Let me explain. 🙂

A Foil Pack, also called Hobo Dinner, Packet, and several other names, is where you use aluminum foil to wrap up the food and then you place it on hot coals. You can cook all sorts of things this way. Start with 2 large pieces of aluminum foil (I like to double it so food doesn’t burn as easily.) You don’t want your food to stick to the foil so you can spray the foil with cooking spray, add butter, or add oil. Place the food in the center of the foil. Grab the long ends, bring them together and then roll down towards the food. Leave some room for air and steam. With the short ends, crimp and fold over a few times. You place the foil right on hot coals and let it cook. When it is done, use a shovel or tongs to take the pack off the coals. Be careful where you set the Foil Pack because it might melt something plastic. Open carefully, remembering the steam will be very hot. Let cool slightly and then enjoy. Be sure to look online for other tips to use. There are a lot of Foil Pack recipes online as well.

One time I had planned what sounded to be a yummy Foil Pack Breakfast. That morning I woke up and I thought, “ What? Am I crazy? How long will it take to start a fire, get it nice and hot, let it get coals and then be ready to place my Foil Pack on it? Too much time, I am hungry now.” 🙂 So instead, I made it in our trailer on the stove. Just like cooking at home.

Too hungry to wait for coals so I made this on the stove in the trailer. 🙂

Our favorite is Foil Pack Taco Burger & Potato Delight. In fact, years ago when we were camping, we made these. We liked them so much, we drove down the mountain to a store to buy more ingredients to make them again the next day. 🙂 

Foil Pack Taco Burger & Potato Delight

1 pound raw hamburger meat

1/2 cup plain bread crumbs

2 Tablespoons taco seasoning

1/4 cup milk

3 cups frozen southern-style hash browns

1 can condensed fiesta nacho cheese soup

Mix the first four ingredients together. Form into 4 patties. Place one patty each on a sheet of aluminum foil.

Mix together the potatoes and soup. Put onto the 4 patties.

Cook about 40 minutes. Make sure to test the doneness of the meat.

Other ideas:

Italian sausage links, bell peppers, onions, olive oil

Chicken, taco seasoning, black beans, salsa

Flank steak, bell peppers, onions, garlic, olive oil, provolone cheese

Nacho chips, cooked chicken, enchilada sauce, black beans, nacho cheese

Eggs, hash browns, ham, cheese

Camping Castle Gate RV Helper, UT Sept 11-13, 2020

The possibilities goes on and on. Please share with me if you have a favorite Foil Pack recipe.

Who did the town of Helper help?

2nd camping trip- Day 5-7, Sept 11-13, 2020 Helper, Utah

Kevin found a campground through the app called “Good Sam” and we thought the area would be a nice place to explore. We left on Friday right after Kevin got off work. We drove up Highway 6 through Spanish Fork Canyon. The truck pulled the trailer with not a problem at all. Kevin is an excellent driver and very safe. Hwy 6 is a stretch of road that used to be the worst in the US. Thankfully, UDOT has added a lot of passing lanes and I know that has helped reduce so many accidents. We got to our campground and greeting us was a huge barn that is several stories tall. It looks new-ish and has the registration, store, and laundry for the campground. The people who built the campground said (on their website) that they traveled to Helper over the years for the Art Galleries, Christmas festivals, and other times throughout the year. They wished there was a campground there. So, they built one and it is charming. It is called, “Castle Gate RV Park”. The campsites have tiny, packed gravel with different colors so you know where to park.

Camping Castle Gate RV Helper, UT Sept 11-13, 2020

Once we got set up, we had sandwiches and then just relaxed for the evening. Our evening walk-about was nice with just a few swarms of gnats. When searching the area for things to do, I came across a museum that sounded like something we would enjoy. However, it  was closed due to Covid. That evening, I looked up the website again and it said closed, but opening in the Fall. Well, I exclaimed, THIS is Fall! HAHA 

The next morning Kevin called the museum and yes, indeed, they had opened back up the day before. Wahoo! After I cooked eggs and hash browns in the kitchen, we ate, and then drove through the tiny town of Helper. So named for the trains that need to “help” the long trains up the incredibly steep grade.

Display at Western Mining & Railroad Museum, Helper, UT Sept 11-13, 2020

Many of the houses are original to the coal mining days. The town has a small grocery store, several bars, a school, and a few other stores. We drove south of town because I thought I saw an old train water tower and building. As we got closer, we saw they weren’t ancient. 🙂 The railroad tracks led into an old repair building.

Train maintenance shed, Helper, UT Sept 11-13, 2020

We followed a dirt road up the canyon and enjoyed beautiful mountains with layers of rocks. We were able to drive several miles before coming to the end of the road and a gate.

Beautiful layers of rock. Helper, UT Sept 11-13, 2020

Then it was off to see the Western Mining and Railroad Museum. Masks were required, which we were thankful for. We were there almost 3 hours! We decided to walk down the old main street. Many of the buildings we read about in the museum, we now saw with our eyes. How cool is that! It was way past lunch time but there wasn’t a lot open. We walked to a gas station, got big drinks, packaged ice cream treats and sat at a nice picnic table they had outside.

Main Street, Helper, UT Sept 11-13, 2020

Back to the campground for lunch. Then we took our chairs and walked behind our campsite where the rush water of Price River was flowing. We sat under the shade and read our books the rest of the afternoon.

Camping Castle Gate RV Helper, UT Sept 11-13, 2020

Dinner was foil dinner (AKA Hobo Packets) with brats, peppers and onions. You put the  pack right in the fire pit on the coals. It is done when I smell it. HAHA

Camping Castle Gate RV Helper, UT Sept 11-13, 2020

Ate outside and enjoyed it. We sat around the campfire the rest of the evening. One thing I noticed about our trailer is that the smoke doesn’t get inside the trailer. That is nice: I like campfire smell outside, not in. HAHA

The next day it was time to pack up and head home. The campground was great; I think with the rocks it would be terribly hot in the summer,  but when we were there, it was perfect.

If you want to learn more about Helper and the “help” the engines were to the railroad, read more here..

Wikipedia on Helper

Castle Gate RV Park

Railyard, Helper, UT Sept 11-13, 2020

Next time I will share some tips and recipes for camping.