Bruneau Dunes State Park

Sand and Stars at Bruneau Dunes State Park

Bruneau Dunes State Park

August, 2018

Bruneau Dunes State Park in Idaho has the ‘highest single structured sand dune and a public observatory with a 25 inch Newtonian reflecting telescope.  The park has two RV sections – almost empty during the heat of July.  They also have an equestrian area and several day use sections.  Christine decided to walk up  one of the big dunes almost to the top before the heat set in and warmed up the sand.  Several people were sand-boarding down the side of the smaller dune.

The park offers electricity and water but no sewer.  But there are gray water dump locations scattered around the park.

Bruneau Dunes Video

Bruneau Canyon Overlook

A short drive from Bruneau Dunes State Park is the Bruneau Canyon Overlook.  It is managed by the BLM with input from the local Shoshone Indian tribes, ranchers and environmental groups to protect the area that has been used by the Native Americans for centuries.  It is a remote and spectacular canyon well worth the drive.  As a side note, you drive through a U. S. Airforce bombing range where… you guessed it… “objects may fall from aircraft”!

Castle Rocks

There are two Castle Rocks in Idaho – both have crazy rock formations.  We visited the Castle Rocks on Castle Rocks Creek east of Mountain Home on Idaho highway 20.  The other Castle Rocks is near the Utah border!  Regardless – the Castle Rocks near Mountain Home is a fun drive and the early afternoon light on the rocks brought out some amazing natural erosion relief.  Other than a couple of forest service guys, some cows and a few ranchers we are alone on this trip.  The dogs enjoyed walking on the dusty road while Christine and Jeff take pictures.

Mountain Home

Mountain Home is the largest city around.  With Mountain Home Air Force base close by it is a busy town with most conveniences available.  Jeff utilized the library and Walmart for picture and video uploads and we visited the grocery store too.  Also went to the local farmers market which had some great fresh fruits and vegetables, but the best were the fresh farm eggs.

There is a winery (Cold Springs Winery) close by near Hammett, Idaho, which we visited.  Even though the sign indicated it was closed, we had called and their message said they were open, so we drove up to the house / winery on the hill.  The wine master was there wrapping up some things and opened the doors for us to do some wine tasting.  Excellent wine, spent a few dollars on quite a few different varieties and you just couldn’t beat the views from the top of the hill.  Spectacular!  This winery is also a member of Harvest Hosts, which allows you to stay one to two days for free with no services, but you get to experience the place first hand.

Stars, Stargazing and an Observatory

Bruneau Dunes State Park is set up for the amateur astronomer in mind.  It is considered a Dark Site.  There is a limited amount of lighting around the campsites, and the two campgrounds are situated well away from the highway.  The lights around the restrooms are red-lights.  Mountain Home – the closest town is far enough away and blocked by hills that there is a limited amount of horizon light.  Unfortunately there is a big fire north of Boise and some nights the sky was blocked by smoke and clouds.  Fortunately, since we are staying here for 8 nights a number of nights were clear.

I am not using a very sophisticated astrophotography setup.  A Canon 60D is great but I’m using lenses that I picked up for real estate and hobby photography.  I have an f4.0 medium zoom (17mm wide open) for Milky Way pictures.  And I used 1600 ISO which is probably too high.  800 or 1000 would have less noise.  But I am learning and with practice hope to get better.

Here are some AstroPhotos!  If you look closely at the center of the picture marked Cassiopeia you can even see a smudge for the Andromeda Galaxy.

Milky Way  Pictures from Bruneau Dunes State Park

Bruneau Dunes Observatory

For $5 anyone can view the stars using the big Newtonian Reflector telescope at Bruneau Dunes.  It is one of the largest observatories that is set up for public use only.  We also got a blue light flashlight so we could chase tiny scorpions busy during the night on the dunes.

Scorpion Pictures

Designs in the Sand

Happy Trails!

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Massacre Rocks State Park

Massacre Rocks State Park

Near American Falls, Idaho…

July 2018

We are camping at Massacre Rocks State Park for a week after attending the FMCA Rally in Gillette.  We have water and electric at our campsite, but no sewer – no big deal as they had really great bathrooms with wonderful showers.  There are gray water dump stations scattered around so no worries about dumping.  Our new sensors come in handy to monitor the tanks.

Dawn at Massacre Rocks

 

Skywatching

We spent lots of time watching the stars – from ‘ol Sol’s sunrises and sunsets to the stars and Milky Way.  Even with smoke from fires near Boise we had a few really nice nights where we watched the stars.  We used the binoculars for most of the viewing, but Jeff also set up the telescope for some stargazing.  No camera work this time though.  Jeff is getting better setting up the German Equatorial Mount telescope and hopes a “Go-To” motorized telescope is in his future!

Massacre Rocks

The name is a bit of a misnomer.  There was no actual Massacre, although a few settlers  (10 by some accounts) were killed by Native Americans who felt threatened by all the wagons coming through their land.  It was actually named Massacre Rocks in the early 1900’s as a way to promote the area for tourism.   The area did have a lot of Native Americans along this part of the Oregon Trail, and settlers were wary of meeting them, fearing Shoshone attacks.

Area Map

Pictures

The Great Flood 14,500 Years Ago

No, Jeff did not witness this flood.

As the glaciers were retreating from the last Ice Age melt-water formed a great lake called Lake Bonneville.  The Great Salt Lake is the largest remnant of this ancient lake and this is where Bonneville Salt Flats gets its name from.  At its largest the lake was bigger and deeper than Lake Michigan.  About 14,500 years ago erosion ripped open part of the lake disgorging 1,000 cubic miles of water in the space of months.  For a while it created a huge waterfall on the other side of the Snake River from Massacre Rocks State Park.  The gorge from the waterfall is impressive to see.

Register Rock

This area of the Snake River provided Native Americans and pioneer settlers a natural route to travel east and west.  The Shoshone Indians populated this area in the 1800’s when pioneers were heading west.  Wagon ruts can still be seen around the area of Massacre Rocks – the interstate actually runs along the Oregon Trail here.  Register Rock has  many carved names of the pioneers that were heading west on the Oregon Trail.

Walking, Exploring, Relaxing at Massacre Rocks State Park

After a hectic week at the FMCA Rally in Gillette it was nice to enjoy the sites around American Falls and Massacre Rocks State Park.  We took the dogs down to a boat ramp for an old-dog swim (they got wet, then back to shore).  There are trails where we walked and biked, flew the drone and caught up on reading.

The park has lots of walking and biking trails along with Register Rock.  It is close to Interstate 86, and we got a spot up on a hill overlooking the Snake River that is a little farther away from the freeway.  The campsites are spread out, campground very clean and nice.

Next up – we are excited to go to another Idaho State Park – one that has an observatory!  Happy Trails and see you on the road.

 

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Yellowstone Day 3

Yellowstone Day Three

Bison

Can’t believe it’s already Yellowstone Day Three!  It is always exciting to see Bison.    Today there is Bison in the fields and even one that wandered along the road.  That was a treat in itself to see a Bison so close and not trying to view one while driving by.  Traffic is at a stand still until a Park Ranger came to make sure there weren’t any people foolish enough to get out of their cars and scratch these ears!

Grand Prismatic Spring

Yesterday we walked along the trails of the Grand Prismatic Spring and Turquoise Pool.  Because this is one of the most spectacular sites to visit we took a different route to view it.  Today we took a hike on a hill above the basin that gives us a fantastic view of the colors.  Our granddaughter was so excited about this, as this is what she talked about most of the trip. The colors were just incredible and you could see more of the spring because it was warmer outside which created less steam coming up from the hot water.

Grand Prismatic Spring
Grand Prismatic Spring

 

Along the Firehole River

The  spring run-off is in full swing in Yellowstone, and the rapids and falls on the Firehole River are breathtaking.  We took several breaks along the river to take in the sights.  According to the staff, this year has more rain than normal, so every river we either drove by or stopped at was overflowing and moving swiftly.

Mamma Moose and Baby

A must-see for our daughter was to see a moose, and today is her lucky day.  Up close we could see a Mama Moose and her baby.  On the way back to Henry’s Lake from Yellowstone we spotted the two of them and had just enough space to pull over to watch them.  Oh what a joy it was to see and everyone was very excited because we could get some good moose pictures to remember our Yellowstone visit.

Back at Base Camp: Henry’s Lake

Another full day at Yellowstone,!  We are ready to kick back and re-join Jeff back at our base camp at Henry’s Lake State Park across the border in Idaho.  Jeff was not able to make today’s trip because he is recovering from falling off the ladder while trying to wash the RV’s front window in May.

 

 

Happy Trails!

 

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Happy Trails!

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Henry’s Lake – Island Park Idaho

Henry’s Lake

Near Island Park, Idaho and West Yellowstone

It is only 114 miles from Paradise Valley (Livingston Montana) to Henry’s Lake State Park at Island Park, Idaho. We picked this park because it is only 15 minutes or so from the West Yellowstone entrance. Web reviews were good but it was hard to find many pictures to show the lay-out. We were very pleased with the park.

Off of highway 20 just past Island Park is the road leading to the state park. Go up and over a knoll, then you see the park and Henry’s Lake along with a small range of spectacular mountains to the west. Reservations are required, so we had our spot picked out already. The facilities look brand new with a really nice bath house. Our site was equipped with water and electric, including 50 amp power, however we lost one leg of our 50 amps during a wild lightning storm the 2nd night, so dropped down to 30 amps. We had parked closer to the electrical box to give our kids room to set up their tent on the asphalt pad where Lola was parked, so we elected to just keep 30 amp power and have the park staff repair the electrical equipment after we left.

The bath house has regular toilets and there are additional “pit” toilets scattered around the park. This park has the newer pit toilets that have cement floors and the staff must use something like Happy Camper enzyme treatment because as long as the previous occupant has put the lid down there is very little smell ;-).

There is lots of room between camping spots, with mowed grass and wild flowers in between. The staff is friendly and everything is well maintained.

Flying the Eyes of Lola (Our Drone)

After checking the Idaho State parks websites and a few blogs it looked like it was okay to fly the drone. I took it up to get pictures of Mt. Two Top to the east and Black Mountain and Bald Peak to the north. A few days later while I was doing some maintenance on the drone a ranger stopped by to let me know that drones could no longer be flown in Idaho state parks. He was very nice about it, and if I had wanted to get some more pictures it would have been easy to drive off the park land to fly.

If you are looking for a campground near Yellowstone that also has boating and ATV access, check out Henry’s Lake State park. We were sure glad we did!

Happy Trails

Thermopolis Wyoming – Hot Spring State Park

Hot Spring State Park

On Our Way to Yellowstone National Park and the FMCA Rally in Gillette Wyoming

The last year has been a challenge for the Trippin’ Engles.  After spending almost a year fixing up a house in Sacramento, we sold it and are back on the road.

We stayed at the Eagle RV Park in Thermopolis for two nights so our grandson could visit the Wyoming Dinosaur Center and participate in a ‘dig’.  He just finished 1st Grade and since he was 3 he has wanted to be a paleontologist.   This was a dream-come-true for him!  While he was out with his parents digging up bones, Christine and I took our granddaughter to Hot Spring State Park.  This is the largest hot spring in the world.

The rangers at the state park allows us to fly the drone and get some videos of the hot springs.

 

More to come soon.  Internet access is sketchy at best here in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho so we will post as we can.

Happy Trails!

Trippin’ Engles

Eastern Nevada and Utah

En route to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Eastern Nevada and Utah – En route to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Our Route from Winnemucca to Scofield State Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

California Trail Interpretive Center – Elko Nevada

September 28th

After leaving Winnemucca we drove through the high desert of Nevada to Wendover on our way to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta .  On the way, we stopped at the California Trail Interpretive Center in Elko Nevada – it’s well worth the stop and has easy bus and RV parking.  The dogs enjoyed the break and there were some nice trails for them to stretch, sniff and wag.

Pictures of the California Trail Interpretive center (Hit the arrows to scroll):

Wendover

It’s a typical Nevada border town with casinos galore!  We stayed at the Wendover KOA behind a casino.  We were very close to an airport and after getting approval to keep it low we took The Eyes of Lola – our DJI Mavic Drone – for a quick look-see.  We could just make out the white of the Salt Flats in the distance.

 

Salt Flats

September 29th

At mile marker 10 just inside Utah on I-80 is the Salt Flats rest area.  Again – The Eyes of Lola went up for some better views of the Bonneville Salt Flats – and a stretch before driving through central Utah.  Check out the video at the bottom and the pictures below (Hit the arrow to scroll)!

Scofield State Park

September 30 – October 2

Our destination of 3 days – a stay at Scofield State Park.  The fall colors were all around us and we enjoyed several drives in the area.  Up at 7,656 feet elevation it got chilly at night and we even had snow on the last full day at the park!

During out stay we visited the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry where one of the largest finds of Allosaur bones are found with museums around the world getting skeletons from this quarry.  Unfortunately it was closed the day we visited, but we hiked the area and spotted some cool rocks.

Wasatch Plateau

During out stay at Scofield state park we had time to expore the area.  The Wasatch Mountains and Plateau is an active coal mining area, a perfect area for outdoor enthusiasts with roads and trails for ATVs all over.  We spotted many fishermen on the lakes and streams.  With roads at over 9,000 ft in elevation you get breathtaking views of the valleys below the Wasatch Mountain Range.  A good driving guide is found on the Sanpete website that includes several loops that you can drive.  One cool stop is to the Mammoth skeleton found near Huntington Dam.

In 1989 during the construction of a dam a Columbian Mammoth was found in the mud – one of the best preserved mammoth skeletons.

The site of the discovery is right off the road and there are some nice trails and fishing spots.

 

This Episode’s Video

Deception Pass Bridge and State Park

Deception Pass – Puget Sound

Deception Pass State Park is just a hop, skip and a jump away from Thousand Trails La Conner.  We visited the park with our daughters many years ago, and again about 10 years ago when Christine and I took our first vacation ‘without kids’.

 

 

 

Deception Pass State Park – Little North Beach

Little North Beach is the closest beach to the Deception Pass Bridge – a magnificent engineering masterpiece composed of two bridges.  One over Canoe Pass and the other over Deception Pass.  The bridge was built in 1934-1935.  A fun fact from Wikipedia is that it cost more to paint the bridge in 1983 than to build it in 1934!

This is a great place to catch some drone footage, and we did!

There are lots of agates on the beach, this is a great place for any rock hound.  We had Little North Beach to ourselves for most of the time – amazing to have an entire beach for the family during the summer!  The kids and grandkids skipped rocks over the water, watched boats cruise by through the narrow gorge between the islands and soaked up the summer sun.  We truly escaped!

This is only a small part of the over 4,000 acres of Deception Pass State Park.  There are campgrounds, beaches and lots of walking trails to enjoy besides the view of the pass and bridge.

You can see it was fantastic weather in Washington.

Happy Trails!

Wells State Park – Southbridge Massachusettes

A visit to Wells State Park

Southbridge Massachusettes

Wells State Park is near Southbridge Massachusetts.  This was one of the first parks we visited looking for a dog-friendly park.

It has a nice set of trails that are set up for trail bikes and walkers.  There are ranger sessions to teach youngsters of all ages the basics of hiking – with some trails on the flat and others up some hills.

[ready_google_map id=’18’]

The park is heavily forested with 2 and 4 miles hiking loops.  There is camping available – so it would make a great place for a family with kids that want to bike in the forest.

On the down side is that it’s $5 for day use if you are a Massachusetts residence or $6 for non-residents.

Here’s some pictures taken at the park – click on a picture to enlarge it.