Posts Tagged ‘campsites’

Time for bed in Somoto Canyon

31st August 2011 by Paul
Camp in Smoto Canyon

Camp in Somoto Canyon

There is no sensation of air at all.  It is utterly still and the temperature is the same as my body. It’s as if all the air has disappeared, the only clue that this is not the case is that I am still breathing.

I’m standing next to our truck, but its faint outline is only just distinguishable against the night sky. Overhead, the sky is ink black, and dotted with a billion stars winking against the thin smudge of the Milky Way.

As my eyes grow more accustomed to the dark, I can just make out the tops of the trees and the crests of the hills that surround us.   Beneath the ragged horizon there is the occasional blink of light as fireflies signal their presence to would-be mates.

But whilst the night is thin on visuals, it’s as if the volume has been turned up on our world.  All around me there is the rhythmic rasp of cicadas.  Occasionally a frog croaks somewhere off near the river, like a creaky door needing oil.  Moths and other unseen insects buzz around my head, attracted by my breath, their tinny sounds approaching and receding like tiny motorcycles buzzing by at high speed. 

Camp in Somoto Canyon

Camp in Somoto Canyon

We are camped at a fork in the river, and so from my left I can hear the gentle rippling sounds of slow moving water against the gentle banks, whilst from my right, there is a more hurried and unsettled rush of water foaming and boiling over small rapids.  Somewhere a fish breaks surface with a splash.

In the near distance a small herd of unseen cows are grazing, and I can just hear the feint rhythm of their chewing and the repetitive tearing of grass from its roots.  And closer, but still unseen, the hooves of a horse, or maybe two, slowly crunch their way to new grazing.  Far off,  a pair of dogs bark – a short lived exchange of aggression, which soon stills.

Suddenly a mule signals its presence in the canyon – its braying sounds like a bellows being worked hard with a rude leak.

I smile.

It’s time for bed in God’s country.

Heading Out

23rd April 2011 by Helen

It was a long and dusty drive south from Junction towards Laredo.  One town we passed through proudly displayed a sign boasting they had been Football State Champs in 1975 – yup, 36 years ago – we were not sure that was something to particularly boast about and wondered what they have been doing since.

We were on the lookout for campsites and RV parks along the way.  No campsites and only some seriously run down looking RV parks.  It seemed that everywhere was full (including the State Park at Laredo), due to the Easter holiday break being in full swing.  A motel could offer us a room for the night but at $95 for one night in what I can only describe as a flea pit, we drove on.  Eventually it was getting to late to continue, we gave up looking for someone decent and ended up with an uncomfortable sleep in a layby on the I35.

Campsite – I35 just outside Laredo

Distance travelled – 232 miles

Arctic Conditions

3rd January 2011 by Helen

Who’d believe it could be so cold.  We really have been testing the tent and ourselves in arctic conditions here in North America.  With the temperatures being too cold for the thermometer we have only been able to guess at how cold it has been.  Certainly it has been down to at least -25 degrees centigrade (the point where the LCD on the thermometer goes off).

[31st December]  Although we want to head south as quickly as we can to get to where it is a little warmer, we are also hoping to see some of the sights on our list.  So it was that after we left the forest campsite we continued our journey east to pick up some of the key Lewis and Clark sites of interest.

We have also figured that with most of the forestry campsites and roads closed we might as well make use of the rest areas.  We know we can put our tent up at most of them.  Even though there are signs saying no camping our tent is on the roof and not pitched on the ground so we consider we count as an RV and haven’t been challenged on that view.

New Year’s Eve – we found ourselves at a rest area near a town called Anaconda in Montana.  Our plans to defrost and cook some of our food were thwarted by being unable to even get the key into our high security padlock on the back door.  That precluded a short drive into Anaconda, past Opportunity and Wisdom (hmmmm, might be something in that), where we found McDonald’s already closed but the discount supermarket Alberstons open, enabling us to feast on sourdough bread, ham and cheese, and one of Paul’s favourites, a large box of doughnuts.

Knowing the tent was already full of ice from the forest neither of us had the heart to tackle putting it up again and settled into our arctic sleeping bags for a cab sleep.  We’ve got quite practiced at this over the last few months since leaving the UK.  Paul likes to be completely snug in his sleeping bag, fully zipped to the neck.  I tuck my feet in the bottom of my bag, zip it up as far as the seat to stop the draft coming up from the floor, and then use the rest as a duvet.  That gives me much more room to fidget around, flap the cover open if it gets a bit warm (not much chance of that on these nights), and use the hood to completely cover my head and so keep out the noise and light pollution.

[1st January] Engine wouldn’t start again this morning.  This time the fly spray trick didn’t work.  So especial thanks to Emerson and Tammy who stopped and helped us out with a jump start. 

checking out the bank in the ghost town of Pony in Montana - not going to get much fundraising done here

checking out the bank in the ghost town of Pony in Montana - not going to get much fundraising done here

Montana 'cowboy country'

Montana 'cowboy country'

Sadly we found the Lewis & Clark Caverns were closed but we stopped at the ghost town of Pony, which is nestled in the foothills of the Tobacco Root Mountains, and posed for photos outside the old bank there.  Although billed as a ghost town, it is still very much occupied with just a few of the old buildings left standing empty.  Further on we passed through both Virginia City and Nevada City ghost towns which appeared much better preserved, whilst still occupied.  There were many more of the old buildings still standing, and although we passed through in the dark it was possible to get a sense of what life might have been like here.

Montana scenery

Montana scenery

A stop at a garage proved the lock on the fuel filler was also frozen shut.  After much application of de-icers it eventually released its grip so we could fill up with fuel and the garage kindly gave us a large cup of almost boiling hot water to defrost the padlock on the back door.  Needless to say, by now we can’t lock pretty much any of the car up!!

We’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Montana scenery, but by tonight we have made it into Idaho for the second time.  It’s not got any warmer and another cab sleep begins with the temperature already dropping below minus 15 degrees centigrade.

[2nd January] – We awake to minus 17 degrees centigrade and an engine that won’t start.  However, today we really must get some charge into our phone and laptops so we can communicate whenever we reach internet access and so, rather bizarrely we spend much of the day sitting in the rest area’s lobby plugged in and charging.  That is, after we had played noughts and crosses in the ice on the inside of the windows.

playing noughts and crosses in the frost in the mornings

playing noughts and crosses in the frost in the mornings

It was here we met Pete & Laura, before we travelled a little further south and camped just outside Salt Lake City, where the next morning [3rd January] we found the temperatures much improved, sufficient for us to put up the tent (in Walmart’s car park), brush out the ice and get the tent and bedding aired for the first time since leaving the forest.  Our problem now is what to do with all that frozen food, which is fast defrosting now we are no longer in freezer conditions!!