Thursday, November 15, 2018

Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area

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   Easy access from the interstate, a 360 degree scenic view, and an inexpensive campground fee makes this a good overnight or even longer stop. The campground has 77 sites, water, restrooms, tables, and grills. The sites are either pull-through, large enough for any RV, or very short and grouped together with three or four sites in a fan formation – an odd design that we haven’t encountered anywhere else.

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  Five sites are designated as accessible. Two are large pull- throughs with shade shelters, concrete around the picnic tables, and concrete paths to the restrooms. Two are in the fan formations with concrete under the tables and paths to the restrooms. The one pictured above has a narrow, concrete path to the table and concrete paving along one side.

  A short paved trail goes to a hilltop viewpoint. It’s probably  accessible with assistance but we did not try because of cold and windy weather. A couple of unpaved, rough trails that are not accessible provide access to the Virgin River.  Campground  36.95065, -113.79291

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Lost City Museum

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   Abandoned village sites of the  Ancestral Puebloans were discovered by settlers who came to the Moapa Valley in the 1800s Archeologists recovered some artifacts in 1920s but extensive excavations weren’t undertaken until the 1930s. Plans for the construction of Boulder Dam which would create Lake Mead meant that many of the villages would be under water and lost forever. The National Park Service teamed up with the Civilian Conservation Corp  to recover artifacts and build a museum to display them. The museum has been expanded to include the excavated foundation of one of the dwellings. A semi circle of reconstructed dwellings is located on the grounds outside.

  The museum contains many of the recovered artifacts along with information about Native American pueblos and abandoned mining towns. Push buttons start two short videos.

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   The museum is accessible. A sidewalk leads to the reconstructed dwellings which are not accessible.

  The accessible parking space is long enough for RVs plus there’s an addition parking lot with room for RVs.

   The drive to Overton along Route 169 is very scenic. Museum 36.53148, -114.4414

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Thursday, November 8, 2018

Lovell Canyon Boondocking

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   We drove about four miles up Lovell Canyon Road and found a great camping spot on a little dirt loop right off the road. I was curious about the well maintained, paved road that continued up the canyon because it’s usual to find such a good road seemingly heading into wilderness. A quick look on Google maps explained it all. The pavement ends at Torino Ranch, a beautiful resort with a swimming pool, a lake, organic fruit trees, cabins, and a campground, however, this is not an ordinary resort. It was built by Brett Torino, a Las Vegas real estate  developer, who provides free camp visits for sick and special needs children. All multi-millionaires should be this generous.

  There are many opportunities to camp along Lovell Canyon Road from small pull offs and large clearings to dirt roads leading to more secluded spots. On a Friday night most of the places close to Route 160 were filled. The loop where we camped is not quite level but large enough for any RV. Canyon  36.07252, -115.56241

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Sunday, November 4, 2018

Route 66 Boondocking

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  One of the best sections of Historic Route 66 starts about 5 miles west of Ash Fork, Arizona and continues for 170 miles all the way to Topock, Arizona. We wanted a place to spend the night and found a good spot listed on freecampsites. A dirt road that makes a mile long loop off of Route 66 has a nice boondocking site with a large, fairly flat area, trees, and a rock firepit.

  There are also couple of boondocking spots along Route 66 if you don’t want to drive on the dirt road. One is just a large pull off. The other is a short loop with some trees to screen it from the road. This may be Arizona State Trust Land which requires a permit for any use by the public. Camp  35.27858, -112.69311

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Thursday, November 1, 2018

McHood Park

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  A really nice free county park with picnic tables, grills, and views of the reservoir. I posted this campground on Free Campsites when we camped here in 2010. At that time the Free Campsites website had been up and functioning for just a little over a year. Wow, have they grown! The site now has thousands of free and inexpensive campgrounds and boondocking spots. There’s some debate about publicizing free camping because it has become so popular and many people break the rules of common courtesy or abuse the land. For my part I’ll continue to post on Free Campsites especially when I find an established, unlisted campground but I understand why people want to share special backcountry gems with just a few friends. I also post places where we have stayed overnight such as free campgrounds, boondocking spots, large parking areas, and casino lots on my own map – Here.

  Back to McHood Park. When we camped here in April 2010 the park was almost empty. I think it was used mostly by the local community. Now it seems to be well used by people stopping for a night and others who are enjoying the full limit of 14 days of free camping. All of the coveted sites by the water were taken when we arrived but by mid- morning the next day half of the sites were unoccupied. Several campers had loud generators but fortunately they turned them off around 6:00 pm.

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   Some of the sites have paved parking pads and the gravel parking pads are fairly easy for rolling around. Both are wide enough to deploy a wheelchair lift. The tables are wheelchair accessible. Park  34.97187, -110.643333

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Monday, October 29, 2018

Hobart Street Park

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    Noise from both the highway and the rail line is the only drawback of this little free campsite in Pampa, Texas. It has tables, grills, dumpsters, fresh water, and a dump station. There's little traffic on the park road itself.

  I couldn’t find very much information about the park but I did find a photo of a sign that has since fallen to pieces. 35.52857, -100.9715

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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Washita Battlefield National Historic Site

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  General Phillip Sheridan, who fought for the Union in the Civil War, was appointed head of the Department of the Missouri in 1867 by President Grant with orders to keep the Native Americans living on the plains under control and restricted to reservations. His tactics included harsh treatment of woman and children, destruction of villages and food supplies, and unrestricted killing of buffalo.

   On November 27, 1868 the 7th U.S. Cavalry, led Lt. Col. George Custer under Sheridan’s command, attacked the sleeping village of Cheyenne Peace Chief Black  Kettle. The village was the western most of a series of winter camps along the Washita River and relatively isolated. The men in the village attempted to hold the soldiers at bay while the women and children fled to safety but many were captured and held as hostages. Custer and his men began marching towards warriors from the other villages who had been gathering on the nearby hilltops. Fearing that the women and children would be harmed the warriors retreated which allowed Custer’s troops to retreat back to their camp and supply train.

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  Black Kettle and his wife were killed along with village men, women, children although an exact count is a disputed matter. Custer lost 21 soldiers. Native Americans refer to the action as the Lodge Pole Massacre which seems a more appropriate name than the Washita Battle.

  The site includes a visitor center, a paved loop trail, and a 1.5 mile grassy trail to the village location.

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  The visitor center is accessible. The paved trail is accessible but, due to grades, wheelchair users may need assistance.

The visitor center parking lot is large enough for RVs. The Washita trailhead lot is small but RVs can be parked in the grass along Route 47.  Battlefield  35.61617, -99.68677

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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Washita National Wildlife Refuge

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  The accessible, paved trail is short at only 1/3 mile long but it  loops through several different habitats of meadows and forests to a boardwalk view of the wetlands. We did not see many birds or animals but the insects were out in great numbers.

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  The refuge has a 22 mile auto tour route and another short trail. We did not do either of these.

The parking lot is large enough for any RV but the entry road is narrow and hard to spot. The trees have not been trimmed lately so  large vehicles will brush against the branches.  Refuge  35.63837, -99.28219

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Lucky Star Casino - Hammon

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     RVs can be parked in the long spaces on the southern edge of the lot. There’s also a large gravel lot behind the gas station which may be an okay parking spot. The casino closes at 2am on weeknights which did not affect our parking overnight.

  The card and money slots are easy to reach. The chairs are fairly easy to move and the employees are always ready to help. Casino   35.63902, -99.3577

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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

McCubbin's Transformers

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   Reasons to travel the backroads – very little traffic, slower speeds, interesting scenery, and giant Transformers! We spotted Optimus Prime guarding the parking lot of Mike McCubbin’s body shop at the eastern edge Stillwater, OK and immediately turned around to get a closer look.  It is amazing! The story is pretty interesting too.

    Mike McCubbin was impressed by a huge Transformer statue outside of a museum in Missouri so he ordered two from Thailand, one for each of his body shops. They arrived seven months later but quality of the statues was disappointing. Mike spent the next nine months grinding, welding, sandblasting, and rebuilding to make them reflect his high standards and to delight every little kid and Transformer fan.

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   It’s easy to get close to the statues but they can also be viewed from your vehicle.

   The shop on the east side of Stillwater has a small parking lot.  Anyone driving a large RV should park a bit west at the gas station. The shop on the west side of Stillwater has a pull through lot. It’s also possible to stop on the frontage road.  Transformers  36.1158, -97.03227

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