Summer 2021 New Mexico Tour: Going Home

In this episode, we wrap up our trip to New Mexico. Thursday, July 22, 2021, was decision time. Do we turn the truck for home? No. We weren’t quite ready. Not yet. Hey, Twin Falls was only about 720 miles away, albeit mostly north rather than west. We could make that drive in a couple of days. So, the next day, we loaded up, hooked up, and climbed into the cab.

Depiction of Powell and his crew on an expedition at the Wesley Powell River History Museum

Green River

Shady Acres in Green River, Utah, looked like a good place to stop for a couple of nights. We’d have time to catch up on the laundry, the museum in town looked interesting, and we could visit Green River Coffee Shop. We had picked up a nice batch of freshly roasted decaf coffee beans and pastries at the coffee shop the last time we drove through town.

Campsite at Shady Acres
The Green River Golf Course and farm land surrounds the RV park.
From the museum looking north up the Green River
J.W. Powell River History Museum entrance
Panels and artifact displays tell about the river’s history, geology, and the people who lived and ran the river.
Details in the statue’s base depict scenes from Powell’s expeditions.
This metate is only one of many artifacts displayed.
Running Rapids
Dinosaur exhibit with Utahceratops gettyi
The Boat Room shows different styles of river boats that navigated the rapids, including this bull boat. American Indians and frontiersmen used boats made of wooden frames and covered with buffalo hides.
The boat No Name met its fate at Disaster Falls when it broke in two during John Wesley Powell’s first voyage down the Green and Colorado Rivers. No lives were lost, only cargo.
This was Norman Davies Nevills boat used in the 1940s.
Sample of paintings in the art gallery. Carol Bold paintings: Reflections Adrift, Winding Around the Bend, and Preserve the Reserve.

Outside, next to the museum, is a walking path along the river.

Main Street’s Green River Bridge

Here are a couple of unexpected sights in the museum’s parking lot.

Need a charge traveling I70 in Utah? Tesla has a charge station in the museum’s parking lot.
Watermelon used as a float in the Melon Days Parade?

Sadly, there were no coffee beans for sale on this trip, and the muffin we shared was not what we remembered. Oh well. We were still in the middle of a pandemic and our laundry piles were waiting for us back at the trailer.

John Wesley Powell River History Museum

Jon and I spent a good part of two hours exploring the John Wesley Powell River History Museum. Betsy Hatt, “in memory of Vail Hatt and his commitment to the betterment of the community and tourism,” donated the property where the museum stands.

Conceived in 1987, the 23,000 square foot museum opened its doors in 1990. It is owned and operated by the city in partnership with the John Wesley Powell River History Museum, Inc., established in 2008 as a non-profit organization.

We enjoyed wandering through the historical exhibits and reading the information panels, as well as the art exhibit and the science exhibit featuring dinosaurs. The museum’s focus is on the impact that exploration of the Green and Colorado rivers had on the history and culture of Southeastern Utah.

Visitors will find historical exhibits detailing the Crossroads of the West, John Wesley Powell, the River Runner’s Hall of Fame, and the Boat Room. Temporary art exhibits are also available for viewing.

One of the most notable observations we made about the town of Green River was how neat and clean everything was. Most of the properties, whether occupied or not, had been swept clean of debris and landscaped with flowers planted in barrels.

Following our two-night stay in Green River, we headed north to Twin Falls, Idaho, where our friends Sonia and Marv Baima had moved to from Sparks, Nevada.

Twin Falls, Idaho

On our way to Twin Falls, we stopped for lunch at the Tangerine Eatery in Price, Utah. They serve healthy choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And patrons will find plenty of toppings for their favorite frozen yogurt selection.

We arrived at Twin Falls KOA around 6:30 p.m. after a long drive from Green River. We met up with our friends, Sonia and Marv Bamai for breakfast then went to Shoshone Falls to gawk at the Snake River rushing over the boulders and cliffs. Then headed downtown for good eats and beer at Koto.

Rainbow in the Mist 1
Rainbow in the Mist 2

Historic Twin Falls Downtown

Twin Falls, founded in 1904 as a planned community, is the county seat of Twin Falls County, Idaho, and has seen significant growth and development since 2006. During our visit, we noticed several new shopping centers and recently built homes.

All’s Quiet in Downtown
Need a pot, pan, or other kitchen goodies and gadgets? Rudy’s has you covered.
Guess the painter hasn’t gotten to the upstairs part.
Check out Koto for good food and beer.
No crowds here today.
Take a seat and watch the water dance.
The Surveyor – A Vision of Tomorrow is a bronze sculpture of The Twin Falls surveyor John E. Hayes created by Dave LaMure Jr. Hayes surveyed the town in 1904.

The next day, a hike to the Devil’s Washbowl Outlook along the Snake River helped us compensate for the food and beer intake of the previous day.

Looking from trail back to kiosk and parking lot
Water everywhere
Devil’s Washbowl from a distance
Devil’s Washbowl
View from the end of the cliff

We were glad we had left for our hike early in the day. The air conditioning was a welcome treat when we returned to the car, so we opted for a drive to Murtaugh Lake—I forgot to write the name down, so I could be wrong.

If my memory is correct, this is Murtaugh Lake. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

For more information on Twin Falls, Idaho, check out our blog post [add link]

Sparks and Victoria City in Nevada

Our next stop was Sparks, Nevada, to meet up with Sonia and Marv again at Virginia City for the Hot August Nights event. And as usual, we stayed at Sparks Marina RV Park.

Picnic and beach area at Sparks Marina and Lake

It’s always a treat to see the Victorian homes in Virginia City.

Reminds me of the Addams Family House
Cozy yellow and green cottage
Love this house with its wrap-around porch

And now for the cars.

The detail on this woody captured my attention.

Woodie, woodie, you so fine!
Updated wood dash with modern digital gauges
Put together like puzzle pieces
The beats of rock-n-roll with Lady and the Tramps
1959 Desoto
Beep, beep goes the jeep
Shelby GT 500 Mustang
Mechanic at work
Marv’s 1967 Jeep Gladiator J-3000
Some of the buildings are in need of repair
Meet us at the Red Dog Saloon
The Way it Was Museum will stir up your memories

And finally, our 2021 Summer New Mexico Tour comes to an end. We’ll be back next time with our 2021 fall tour. Hope you join us as we whirl around Southern California and Lake Havasu City, Arizona, to check in with family and friends.

Safe Travels

Heading Home with a Stop in Sparks, Nevada

Traveling without confirmed reservations or any idea where we’ll stop makes me nervous. For some reason, I felt a sense of freedom not knowing where we would land when we left Cortez, Colorado, on Tuesday, June 4, 2019. We were just heading toward Sparks, Nevada, and when we got tired, we’d stop.

Our route led us through farmland and canyons and one particularly interesting sight. This bulbous sandstone formation stood in the middle of a field all by itself.

Church Rock on U.S. 191 in Utah

To demonstrate how one perspective can differ from another, look what was behind.

Church, Beehive, Whale? What do you see?

A search on Wikipedia reveals a myth about how the formation earned its name, in case you are interested.

I’ve read many a blog post on Moab and Arches National Monument, but never got the impression the bustling town was more than a gas station and a convenience store. With over 20 RV parks and campgrounds, it was clear the population of 5,250 swelled with visitors during the spring and fall seasons. Too bad we couldn’t join them and fit in a hike or two in Arches.

We passed up a few eating establishments through town because they lacked enough space for us to easily park. Then, at the edge of town, we saw it. A Denny’s sign. With plenty of parking next door. This was our last chance until we hit the next town, which was hours away. I had not eaten at a Denny’s for over twenty years. My expectations for a quality lunch were extremely low.

When our server set down our plates piled high with old-fashioned grilled hamburgers including all the trimmings, I tucked away my restaurant snobbery and dug in. Even the salad tasted like the cook had freshly picked the ingredients from the garden.

Back on the road, I was so happy to see a pullout on Highway 191 at Wilson’s Arch. The preview of what awaits inside the park had me scouring the RV park listings for the perfect place to stay. We definitely need to arrange a trip this way again, including plenty of time for exploration.

Wilson’s Arch seen from U.S. 191

We pulled into the KOA in Green River, Utah, for the night. The next morning we bought lattes at the Green River Coffee Co. and a pound of freshly roasted decaf beans. That bag of beans had the cab of the truck smelling like a coffee roaster for the rest of the day.

Green River Coffee Co.

West Wendover, Nevada, was a good place to stop for the night. The next day we drove to Sparks, Nevada. After three days of driving, we needed a break so we settled in Sparks for two nights at the Sparks Marina RV Park.

Not content to sit still for too long, a visit to Virginia City was in order. It had been years since we were there last. The skies were clear making it a perfect day to view Reno and Sparks from Geiger Lookout Wayside Park.

Geiger Lookout – No need to climb the stairs unless you need exercise. The view is best from the parking area.

We marveled at all the housing developments that have sprung up in the area recently. Spurred by Tesla’s Gigfactory and other industries moving into the region, it’s easy to see why Nevada was the fastest growing state in the union last year.

View of Reno (to the left) and Sparks (to the right) from Geiger Lookout

I thought there would be an information sign explaining the purpose of the stone fireplaces scattered around, but I never found it. I did find mention of the park at livingnewdeal.org, which listed the overlook as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project completed in 1938. What looked to me like fireplaces were barbecues. Picnic tables and restrooms were also once located there.

Picnic area ruins from a WPA project.

When we arrived in Virginia City we noticed several motorcyclists were in town. They must have been from the Spring Street Vibrations event.

Motorcycles parked in front of the Mark Twain Casino

It seems like Reno and Sparks have some kind of event three or four times a month throughout the year. Watch the Great Reno Balloon Race in the fall, drool over classic cars at Hot August Nights, cheer on cowboys at the Reno Rodeo, and vote for the best ribs at a Rib Cook Off. There’s always something happening in the Biggest Little City in the World.

Territorial Enterprise Mark Twain Museum

Virginia City proudly boasts its connection to Samuel Clemmons. On March 5, 1862, he published his first news stories in the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise under his pseudonym Mark Twain.

He eventually became the paper’s editor and stayed on until May 29, 1864. His time at the paper was not without controversy given his habit of mixing in fictional narratives with the news as a hoax.

St. Mary’s in the Mountains

Many prominent members of politics and society in Virginia City, Carson City, and Washoe County were not sorry to see him leave. Wikipedia details the saga here.

Chollar Mansion

Jon was able to walk from one end of the town to the other with the aid of plenty of benches lined up on the boardwalk.

On the boardwalk

A tip from a proprietor at one of the bars led us to The Canvas Café. When I heard the word canvas, a tent came to mind, which is what I was on the lookout for when we searched for the cafe.

The Canvas Cafe

I should have paid more attention while eating my lunch. Now that I look closely at the photo of Jon, I see that Canvas refers to all the art hanging on the walls. Duh!

JT waiting for his lunch

The Reno River Walk and the Truckee River was our next stop. With all the snow and rain received in the west this past winter, we were curious to see the height of the water.

Portal of Evolution by Bryan Tedrick

Here is the view of the Truckee River raging through downtown from one of its many bridges.

Truckee River in downtown Reno, June 2019

And here is a view from October 2014 when families dipped their toes and whole bodies in the middle of meandering stream.

Truckee River through downtown Reno, October 2014

To spend a few hours along the River Walk is to spend time enjoying nature, the sound of rushing water, and the delightful squeals of children. To finish off our time in Reno/Sparks, we found a comfortable place to sip a beer, reflect on our trip, and people watch along the River Walk at The Sierra Tap House.

Sierra Tap House has a patio with tables and umbrellas on the Riverwalk

And so we cut short our Late Spring Adventure with dreams of our travels ahead once Jon resolves his back issue. Our fingers are crossed his appointment with the spine specialist will reveal a solution.

But before we go, just for fun, here are a few random shots of flowers that didn’t fit in with the previous posts on Cortez.

Mountain Daisy

Blue Flax

Munro’s Globemallow

Safe Travels