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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Bend, OR to Gooseneck SP, UT

Main Gallery Pics

Goose Lake SP, OR
Burning Mann, NV
Pyramid Lake, NV
Berlin - Ichthyosaur SP, NV
Ward Mountain, NV
Sacramento Pass BLM, UT
Little Grand Canyon, UT
Goblin Valley SP, UT
Goosenecks SP, UT
Solar (bottom page)

So, not a whole lot happened since last post, just quiet times waiting for VA Appt.  Turns out, when I showed up for scheduled appt, the Doc was off/out and appt was Canx.  They did call, 2-hrs ahead but I was coming  out of the woods and had phone off as usual. Went to WY for the Eclipse and then back again (Prior Post).

Had appt, nothing of any major consequence.  As I tried to "List" all things that needed discussions via the VA Message system, it's a waste of time, no one reads it and they ask the same thing when you're in there along the lines of "Why are you here...."   So, a VA PCP change is in the wind.

Anyway, left the area and heading south.   Got a late start and ended up, taking it 'Easy' at Goose Lake SP, OR.  The goal was to hit the "Goblin Valley SP, UT" for Halloween, just to do it.  Sorta like doing Death Valley for Christmas, just sounded kewl.

I had planned on just staying 1 night, but this was like an "R & R" with power and water (dump station) and a nice green area, I splurged and stayed 3 nights.  It had been a long time, months, since I've had "Hookups" so it wasn't hard to suffer another two nights there....

Nothing special about the park, no view etc to Gawk at, but it's like being in a park, green grass and quiet.  Park was closing for Winter in a week or so.

Burning Man, I've often heard about the "Burning Man" thing, knew it was in NV somewhere, but no idea where (NW Corner of NV).   The actual 'Happening' was a few weeks prior.  Found it and wanted to take the 'Northern Access Route'  via Cedarville and Vya (actually, just south of Vya) to it.   It's hard to tell type of roads from google maps.  If you go to "Google Earth" and zoom in you can get a better idea if paved or dirt and the condition of it.  If there's a white stripe or dashes in the middle, it's paved.  If nothing then probably dirt and if wide, it's probably in good shape.

Turned out to be some 80+ miles of dirt road, not a bad one but around 40mph or so.  Could have gone faster, but 40mph seemed best speed.  Just take Gas...

Went by the area, was going to camp it, but just had rig washed and noted truck coming off the flats and felt, "Nope, I'll be Baaaack...." and pressed on to Gerlach, just south of it.

Running short of daylight, figured I'd hit Pyramid Lake, NV just to check it out.

On Reservation land and a little confusing on the set up/registrations.  Little sites on the bluff with 3-5 cabanas but signs saying you must be registered and have a sticker or whatever, purchase at the marina office further down the road.

Lake was nice and you can see why they happen to call it 'Pyramid Lake' as the hills on the East side do look like 2 pyramids.

Marina office was closed, had a box next to the little store there, but no Pricing info for the little Cabanas.  There was a hookup park just north of the office and pricing was for that.

I had to go inside an ask the clerk if he knew how much and how to register..  He wasn't sure, $10-15 he thought and you put the plain envelope into the box next to the door.

I figured $10 for a Dry spot and put info on check and envelope and popped it in.  Checks, usually will pay with a check not cash as cash is hard to find and might not have the exact change.  They, parks, don't give refunds nor change so while it's a PITA to write $5-$8 checks it's a lot easier.  I was planning on carrying around apx $100 in 5's 10's and 1's just for that but not happening yet, so checks are the preferred mode of payment.  Some parks will take credit cards, but most will not have that option.

Stayed one night and then pressed onward to the Berlin Fish Dinosaur thing, never heard of it.. Somewhere out there.

This was nice.  Never knew it was here and how that fish got "Stoned" Petrified up on this mountain  was intriguing... not really, just really weird knowing that it was all underwater at one time.

It's a nice out of the way campground with some older mining stuff around with tours when staffed, mostly on weekends.  The "Stoned Fishie" was closed but able to look in the windows for an idea.

Hard to see the outline, but guessing it's there, heheh and not a sham...

Campground was nice, good internet and some sites with a view.  Liked it.  Not suited for big rigs, but a smaller trailer would fit.

Stayed a few nights.

I wasn't in a hurry, just biding my time as Halloween was a few weeks off and I was running early.  I had SID so all was good.

Leaving there, I wanted to do the Crater along way, just East past Warm Springs.
Drove right past it, sigh...   Highway sign posted 'Entering' it, but next sign with arrow pointing straight down the road 9 miles or so.  Went the 9 miles saw another sign showing Entrance going the other way.  The trick is, that the sign was saying turn RT and then 9 miles to the Crater.  Oh well, next time...

Made it to Ward Mtn NFS, NV stayed there a few times before, some $2 night with the OGP and it's a nice campground, well maintained.  A few others were there, looked like one-niters...

I was having "Issues" with my Generator, Honda 2000i in blowing smoke on startup for about 3 minutes, so figured there was  a problem.  My Solar wasn't working as it should be so still needed the Gen to bring batteries up to par.

I had changed the oil, 10-40 was what I had, and after thinking I had to take it to a repair shop, Coil rope was ready to break/frayed too (ultimately, I just tied a knot past the Frayed part and still had enough  to start it) i did.  Repair shop appt was for next week, so stayed at Ward Mtn till then.

I also had to get my "Diesel Fuel Filters", 2 of them, changed as I was getting a warning light along with a 'Coolant low' light.  Found a RAM shop, made appt and took it in.  Some $350 of unexpected expense about cleaned me out.  It's something you have to do or would void a warranty somewhere and I was down to some 6% use left while heading out to Boonie country so had to do it.

Anyway, Gen fixer was very helpful but didn't really know much about them so he'd have to take it all apart and search.  After the Filter $$ expense, I couldn't finance a "Search n Repair" mission so thanked him and let it go.  It still worked and I would eventually get it to a Honda repair place.

After all that, time to move on, was planning on staying at the Kilns just south of Ely, NV, but too $$ now so basically just needed to get to destination with Boonie/Free camping along the way.

Revisited Sacramento Pass BLM, NV which is a great stop over.  Right off of Hwy 50, Loneliest Hwy etc, and not crowded at all.  I've stayed there a few days before, but good for a 'One nighter'.

Onward towards Little Grand Canyon and then to  Goblin, a week earlier  than I should be.

Along the way, I've been getting a Coolant Low Warning.  I had it checked at Ely with the Fuel filter change they said they filled it and I got some extra just in case.  The Mopar Coolant is the one recommended and has to be diluted 50% water.  I got some earlier, this was a continuing issue, from Wally's World and after discovered that you can't just use any ole coolant, has to be Mopar's (RAM) or your engine will clog up, blow up, send you to hell and back and then to the moon according to way they say in the manual.  Sigh...

Well, after they said they filled it, kept getting the warning.  Oh smart me, diluted the Mopar stuff, and started pouring in.  Filled that sucker up to the top...  Next stop, the dam thing was leaking again.  (happened on the previous fills too) so figured I had a bad leak, now where to find a RAM dealer out here enroute.

Found one, had them look at it, and they pointed out that the "Fill Line" was about halfway down the tube I was filling full aka 'Reservoir' and it was simply overflowing with the dripping, Gawd, sometimes I wonder how I get up in the morning.

So proceeded to Little Grand Canyon...  Looking forward to this one as I've never heard of a "Little GC" (aka The Wedge), found it on another Rv'er's post which is a good source for places to go.

... and, of course, another well maintained dirt road some 10+ miles or so.  Able to do apx 45-50mph so road wasn't that bad and oiled to keep dust down.

I read there were only a few "campsites" along the ridge, but there were a little more than a few, apx 10 or so depending upon rig.  I found one, comfortably on the other side of road, not the rim, just cause... and stayed there for a few days.

Great views, talk about a "Room with a View"... this had it, across the road.

Walked to the view point, whoa...nice...

Did take my Mtn Bike for a stroll around the area, mann, talk about outta shape here. yikes... but got around anyway.  All the more reason for a "Buggy"... would have actually been fun then.

It was a pretty active area, mostly day visitors and a few one-niters...

Started getting antsy and time to move on.  Had just enough fuel to get to destination and the longer I stayed on the road, the more $$ it would be, FFB's that is, so loaded up and headed for final destination, Goblin for an early Halloween..  I had wanted to try the San Rafael Bridge in the same area but that would have to wait till next time.

Made it to Goblin, still getting coolant low warning.  Got there just before closing, spoke with the rangers and got the pass.  (Warning, pass is only good for the day of purchase or dates.  Getting there late in day, get 1 day pass, is only good for the day you purchased it, not the next day) I asked where the free BLM camping was and proceeded back down a mile or so and headed for the hills...  cliff on the western side of highway.

Driving along the road, you'll see several dirt roads leading to the cliff/bluffs which is where you camp.  Several other campers there, so grabbed a spot and it had toilet tissue blowing/scattered all around like they had just left that day or so.

Uneven sites but doable.  SID was pretty much blocked due to the cliffs, so stayed one night only.

If doing it again, I would stay at the gravel parking area just after the turnoff to the main entrance to the park, some 8 miles before the gate/kiosk.

Park was pretty kewl even if it was still a week or so away from Halloween.  Big area, great for a kids playground, with luck (for them) they'd find their way back.

Stayed for about an hour or so then time to move on.

I wanted to to the infamous "Dangerous Highway - Moki dugway" and the Muley Point, but due to possible engine damage due to whatever the coolant was or wasn't doing, decided next time and headed into the Goosenecks SP, UT.  Been here before, so nothing new, nice views though.

By now, all I had left was a straight shot/run to the "Q" (Quartzsite, AZ)

Ran the Gauntlet and drove straight through.  I had some fellow RV'ers that were there and just figured, WTF Over, might as well get it over with and start Winter.

Long drive, some 8-hrs or so, but got there.

Wasn't sure where I'd head out to next, Padre Island, TX was looking good even after the Hurricanes so that might be a possible...

This has been a continuing "Issue" from original installation to the amount needed for my apparently told, "Power User" level.

Basically, I just run the TV/DISH/Antenna/Hard Drive and a Laptop.  No Coffee maker (French Press is used) or trying to run the Microwave.  AC is rarely used, only once if I recall..
So, what's up wid Dat..

I have:
3 x 160w solar panels
3 x sets of 6-volt batteries (2 black boxes and 1 set in camper)
2 Generators, Honda 2000i and OEM Onan propane in the camper

I feel I should have enough solar to not run the generator, Honda, at all.  But, here I am, in full sun and still need to crank it up 2-hrs morning and same at evening, off by 8-9pm for neighbors.

So, with that in mind, a fellow RV'er who has knowledge in this, offered, and I accepted, to take a closer look-see.  Turns out many issues, big ones were the gauge of wire used, batteries needed to be set up in Series-parallel and a better solar controller.  Small wires will create resistance and loss of power as will distance/length of wires.

I had the dealer install the solar and apparently didn't really know what all is involved.  Short version, I had to replace all the wiring, move the batteries closer together and to the controller, rewire the roof panels to controller with heavier gauge wire as with the batteries.

While it's working a little better, I still need another panel and set of batteries, actually replacing all sets, 8 batteries in all, with the Trojan T-125 series.  Wet cells as the dry/no maintenance ones are some $150 more, and that's way outta reach.

I keep bringing this all up, probably mentioned it before, to give a "Heads up" and make sure you get a professional to do the install.  Even with that, you'll get different opinions on what/how to do it.  My experience is to check around at several sources and look for the agreed set up.

On Wires, 
Bigger/thicker is Better and the gauges goes from small 22+ to large "0".
4/0 = 4 x 0000 gauge, real thick heavy wire.  The number '4' indicates the number of "0"s so 3/0 =000 gauge, bigger/thicker than 2/0 gauge.

Battery wire to controller and series connections can use 4 gauge or to be extra "Arrgghhh!" as Tim the Toolman, Allen would say, bigger, so I used 2 gauge.  Wires from panels to controller would be whatever shipped with the panel and using MC-4 connectors, waterproof and heavy enough for the power to route to the controller.    Previous installed wiring was about half of what it should have been and had been heating up, potential fire hazard.  Wire under sink was even thinner and would smoke and melt creating a real fire hazard.  They'd heat up, to hot to touch for an idea.  Lastly, make sure you "Over plan" on this as you don't want to have to come back and redo it all..

Anyway, all that to say, it's been a real $$$ expense trying to make it right.  Also changes the loading of boxes on the flatbed as the battery boxes moved from headboard area to the side right under camper batteries and controller.

Next step is to get another 160w panel and a battery box built, put the 2 sets in and wait till I can get the 3rd set for a total of 4 x 2 6-vt for a total of 8 6-volt batteries.  One set is in the camper where the normal batteries go.  Six volt batteries are the batt of choice as they're stronger, deeper power than a 12-volt one.

Now, with all that in mind, every time you move/change something, it affects something else like, if I have to unload the camper, how to make the connection for the outside batteries in the box along the side..

First thought was a 10' supplement cable with the quick connectors.  Keep the Battery Box on the truck.  Problem is the distance that the power has to travel decreases power etc.

Current thinking is to put small rollers on one end of long sturdy box, handle on the other end and slide them down the buggy ramp (under the flatbed) and use the winch to lower and pull them back up.  Too heavy for me to do it obviously.  Each battery is some 68lbs, EACH so 6 in the box would be.. some 408 lbs.
That's the current plan, subject to change on a whim.

And finally, regardless of who you get to set it up, plan for the next level so you won't have to reinvent it all...


Monday, October 9, 2017

Two year Anniversary Recap

So it's now been 2 years going full time in the Truck/Camper, Oct 1st 2015, and luving it.  Only thing that holds me back is what I call the "FFB"s... (Fuel, Food, Beer) and yes, still 'Whining' on not having a Buggy, miss it, Polaris RZR XP 1000,

('Nellie', my Navigator is the decal on camper sitting with a map)
(My Nav, she always got me there, sooner or later that is)

So wandering around like a loose cannon trying to find something to do with all this.

Looking for that Lotto Moment to get the next one..
Polaris XP 1000 Rock Special Edition.
 Sometime in the future or more than likely, "Next Life"...

(Next one planned with trailer of course)

and lest we, I, forgot "Li'l Nel" as the retirement truck camper rig package, game plan was to travel around to different ORV (Off Road Vehicle) rallies and explore the various trails around the states, stopping by unique state features highlights.

Named "Lil Nel" as younger, smaller sister of 'Nellie', so I called her my "Social Director".  Polaris ACE 900, a fun one, but bumpy as hell due to small wheelbase, thus the preference for the larger XP 1000.. easier on this ole body..

(Li'l Nel - Social Director)

Having said that, I've compiled a few pics of places that were kinda kewl to see over the last 2 years

Coming from a background with a Camp Inn Teardrop, aka "Le Droppe" 6 years, which was perfect for the "Dive Campouts" we used to do. Good for 3-seasons but will get cabin fever if wind and  rain are happening at the same time.

(Le Droppe)

Here's how I started out, staying at Wanapum SP, Vantage, WA. Oct 1, 2015

(on the Columbia River and I-90 Hwy)

First overnighter, met up with fellow Tear Drop camper, Rich P, he upgraded too, for a "Test Nighter", a continuing process

 So, in no particular order other than Alphabetical since that's how my Pic Folders are arranged by state...

Just one of many gorgeous sunsets (also sunrises) Dome Rock, Quartzsite, AZ.
(Quartzsite, AZ - Dome Rock)

And the BBB Event at Havasu, AZ for the VW Busses...  visiting old time friends and their Wagon Bugs.. heheh, Wow, what a selection they had.. An annual event in Jan.
(Busses By the Bridge, Havasu, AZ - Jan)

More Pics here...

Fortuna Pond, Yuma, AZ was a nice surprise, a little pond away from it all, well sorta, it was pretty crowded.

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Mittry Lake, Yuma,  AZ was a nice one too, dirt road to get there north of Fortuna.  Felt like I was on a dive trip to warm waters.

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Monument Valley, AZ was a fun one to drive though.
Nice N Easy...

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Palm Canyon, AZ was a nice place to camp.  Palm trees? were way up in the slot.. but view was nice.

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Petrified Forest, AZ.. enh? not really impressed, but had to see it...

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Death Valley, CA, I wanted to spend Christmas here for the Irony of it all.  Only able to do the northern half, coming back for the Southern Half next time.  Mosiac Canyon, Death Valley, CA

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Jumbo Rock, Joshua Tree, CA was interesting camping among the "Rocks"..

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Lassen Volcanic area, No Calif.  Crowded, but nice loop drive.  Got caught in the beginning of a snow storm.

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Red Rock Canyon, CA. Interesting rock formations.  Visiting old friends with their Micro Busses.. (See above BBB)

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Redwoods in Calif.  Nice beautiful trees, but after 30 mins then what??  heheh, Yah, I might have a short attention span...

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Sequoia, CA was nicer, IMNSHO, stayed several nights.  Couldn't really get around to explore but big ole trees they are..

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Trona Pinnacles, CA.
Really kewl place, wierd rock formations. Liked this one a lot, plan on coming back to it.

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Westport, CA - Union landing.
Luv'd this place right on the ocean bluff.  Just really nice to sit and watch the waves.  Unlike Trees, Rocks, waves move..

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Bishops Castle, CO was a fun one to see.  All hand made by one man only.  Each rock handled at least 7 times before put in place.

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Dinosaur Nat'l Mnt, CO
Interesting stop for the day.  Apparently quite the "Bone Dam" as the bones/fossils were all dammed up in one block.  But? where are the Dinos...

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Great Sand Dunes, CO
Largest Dunes in No America, they don't look too big until you get up close and personal-like.. and the colors...  with a river/stream running through it.

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Red Canyon, Flaming Gorge, UT
Just south of the Flaming Gorge, up top on the plateau, makes for a great view.

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Taylor Park, CO,
I was able to do a rally just north of Gunnison, CO.
That was blast, but "Li'l Nel" had a hard, literally, time on the rocks, which about 80% of the ride.  I'm glad I was able to do it.  Since the ACE was smaller in size, doing 40mph is like doing 60mph in the XP1000 buggy.  Great views and trails through little dirt road towns.  Long rides and was limited on size and gas.

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Durango Train, CO
This was something the just had to be done. Nice ride up to Silverton and back.  A little long on the train, 3-hrs each way, but great views.

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Craters of the Moon, ID
Just a stopover on way to WY. Nice to see, interesting campsite among the lava rocks.

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Rally in the Pines, Mackay, ID
Lucky to do this ORV rally again, missed last year, no buggy, but did this with "Li'l Nel" and did quite well as it mainly trails, not much rock which was nice.
They have many different rides among which is a Haunted Trail Ride.. fun..
They've changed locations now up to Salmon, ID.  It's still early yet, but would luv to make it there..

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St Anthony Dunes, ID
Great place for buggies that like the dunes. Big ole ones... I just drove around a little with "Li'l Nel" as getting stuck going solo can be a PITA... but good to see.

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Los Algodones, MX
This is a big Dental/Eye's happening.  Why? cheaper and many good ones down there, US Trained.  Something that would cost me some $600+ is apx $110 so you can see the reasoning, and again, it's the same work, finding a good one counts.

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Aguirre Springs, NM
Great campsite, Dry, with a great view of the White Sands, NM area.

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City of Rocks, NM
Nice unique campground with Rocks. heheh,  camping in among them.

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Ice Caves and Bandera Volcano, NM
Land of Fire & Ice.  Interesting stop over.  Short hike to Volcano and then to the Ice Cave used in the old days for keeping stuff cold.  No Ice Skating allowed, heheh.

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Kartchner Caves, NM
Yo, Listen UP
While I didn't actually go into the 'Caves', pretty pricey $$$ for each of two caves, it would be something to see.  Campground right there, walking distance.

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Berlin-Ichthyosaur SP, NV
Interesting park, old mining shacks restored and they had? some great fishing back in the days.  How the hell a "Fish Fossil" got up a mountain in the middle of Nevada is beyond me.. heheh, luckily I don't 'Fish' so not a problem.  I would note, this would be a good 'Catch n Release'..

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Cathedral Gorge, NV
Interesting place to visit.  Two trails, long one is just up one side of Valley and back down the other, good if you like hiking, not long, but the shorter one up through the narrow valley to the Vista Pavilion is the better one.

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Lehman Caves, NV
Great Basin area, nic stop, several campsites and great cave.  Sorta like a "Mini-Cave" compared to others.

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Valley of Fire, NV
Out in the middle of nowhere, looking for "Fred & Wilma Flintstone" just around the corners.  Can get windy, but a unique camping area.

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Christmas Valley, OR
Surprisingly a lot to do here in Central OR.
Sand Dunes, Hole in the Ground, Crack in the Ground along with some Ice Caves a little further north.

Sand Dunes, nice, great riding area to be sure

Crack in the ground.  Wouldn't hang around if the Earth started moving.

Hole in the Ground, yep, it's a big Ole hole.

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Malaquite, Padre Island, TX
Liked this place, several campgrounds around, but this one was right next to beach.  You can go out on the sand a little further down.  Also, inside bay looked good to.

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Gooseneck SP, UT
A unique look at a river winding around through the canyon.  Monument Valley is just south, 1-hr, away and Mexican hat along the way.  Nice, can get windy at times.

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Coral Pink Sand Dunes, UT
This was nice to see. Just the colors etc.  Buggy riding allowed in certain areas as is "Surfing" down the sand dunes.  Camping right there.

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Carlsbad Caverns, NM
Just had to "Do" this.  This was more like trip report.  Elevator was down for repairs so I was "Lucky" (sigh) to get to hike down and worse, hike back up.  Amazing to say the least, something that has to be done.  Big ole Cave in the Ground.  Stayed up the way at a nice Reservoir. (Hard to get good pics due to light, flash was too c-c-cold on the pics)

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Devils Tower, WY
Another 'Have to See, if in Area' so did.  Good to see, spent apx 30 min and moved on.  Listened for the "Tones" and "Bright Lights" Nada..  nut'n Honey..

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There were many more, remember, every night is camping somewhere, but these are most of the highlights.
All Gallery pics and campsite pics here.

On to the next year, 2017...