Laundry Room: Flooring

And so the first overhaul begins! The laundry room is a 8′ 2.5″ deep and 5′ 7.5″ wide. The washer and dryer sit side by side (but are stackable) and there are two free standing cabinets in the room which provide limited storage. The floor has vinyl peel and and stick tile that is popping up in areas; what lies beneath remains to be seen.

What do we want to do to this room? First we want to increase storage space (a problem through out the house) by adding base and wall cabinets. We will stack the washer and dryer, which provides the space for a utility sink. A wall mounted drying rack and shelving will also increase the functionality of the room. From a cosmetic stand point, the floor will be replaced with porcelain tile and the walls will get new paint. The light fixture must also go, but it is challenging selecting a style to go with the log cabin. Check out the link laundryroom for the floor plan, just trade the utility sink and washer/dryer positions (Jess loves graph paper, Dave is not fond of her graph paper creations).

To make this all work, we must start at the base. The floors are first! The peel and stick tiles were pulling up from the old linoleum underneath due to water infiltration. This was never cleaned up properly so there was an interesting combination of hair, lint, and biological growth between the peel and stick tile and the linoleum. The smell was wonderful. The linoleum was then scraped away to reveal particle board! A highly useless material that turns to mush when wet, making it a fantastically superb choice for sub-floor material in baths and laundry rooms.

3/8″ plywood was laid down over the particle board to provide a fresh surface to adhere tile to without having to scrape up 20 year old linoleum paper backing. Ditra, a tile underlayment, was adhered to the plywood with latex portland cement (a type of thinset). The plywood was wetted down with a sponge prior to the application of thinset. The Ditra was left to bond with the plywood overnight and 12″ x 12″ porcelain tiles were set the next day with MAPEI porcelain tile mortar. The mortar was mixed thin and in small batches because the low humidity resulted in a fast drying; the tiles were set in an offset pattern with 1/8″ spacers. The mortar was allowed to harden overnight, and the next morning, the tiles were grouted. Viola! New floor in approximately 48 hours (okay, the area was only about 45 square ft, but it’s new flooring).

Tile: Floridatile coastal sand (purchased at Loveland Design Carpet One Floor and Home)

Why use Ditra? This product has been on the market for some time and in general is raved about. It prevents cracks in tile floors and serves as a water proof membrane.

Why not use cement board instead of plywood? Cement board is fine product for shower walls. It is heavy though and is a challenge to work with. It imparts stiffness which was not needed in this instance, so 3/8″ plywood was an excellent choice for providing a fresh surface to bond to.

Critical tools: Tile saw, notched trowels, mixer attachment for drill

Skill level: High intermediate – Easy peasy if you have laid tile before and have all the tools and knee pads. Dry fit your tiles first. Having the first row of tiles placed properly is critical for the success of this project.

Note: The tiles were not centered on the room. Why not? There will be appliances and cabinets along the edges of the room, so having a full tile on one side and a partial on another (non-symmetrical) will be difficult to notice. For a room that would have been more open, we would have centered the tiles for symmetry.

2016 in Review

No better way to start the new year than to reminisce about 2016 and plan a trip (or two) for 2017.

Some quick stats for 2016

  • Miles traveled in Abby: ~ 13,800
  • Time spent in Abby: ~12 weeks
  • Longest stretch of time in Abby: ~ 4 weeks
  • National Parks/Monuments visited: 18
  • State Parks visited: 13
  • BLM lands camped on: 8
  • Private campground: 6
  • Family members/friends imposed on: 6
  • Canadian Provinces visited: 2
  • States visited: 22
  • Home brews: 12
  • Home brews dumped: 1
  • New pieces of brewing equipment purchased: 2

Looking back 2016 was a chaotic year. We didn’t travel in California as much as we had hoped when we were living there. Our move to Colorado involved two too many visits to emergency rooms. We didn’t spend as much time in any one of many amazing locations as we would have liked. But we had a lot of fun and saw some truly amazing sights. We’ve watched Alex grow and develop an enjoyment of the outdoors.

Our 2017 RV travel schedule is complicated by the fact that Jess is now employed. The copious free time of unemployment has vanished. We also need to consider visits with family so Alex can continue to develop a close relationship with his Mimi and Papa and uncles and aunts and cousins. We also hope to change our trips slightly. Instead of the wheels are always rollin’ mentality where we average 250 miles of driving per day of a trip, we want to focus on a deeper exploration of an area.

This means we will have to stop using a shoe horn to add destinations into our itinerary that are *only* 150 miles away. We will have to leave some amazing destinations off our list, for a future trip (or when we win the lottery).

And to add to the list, we found a house that we liked and are in the final stages of the purchasing process. Remodeling fun also awaits us in 2017 (and 2018 and 2019).

2016 Gallery

Pacific Northwest: Crater Lake

Crater Lake was formed when Mount Mazama, a 12,000-foot volcano, violently erupted approximately 7,700 year ago. No longer able to support its own weight once the magma chamber was emptied, Mount Mazama collapsed and a caldera was formed. This caldera then filled with rain and snowfall. Since no streams run into the lake, there is very little sediment to cloud the water.

The lake has thick mats of bacteria at depths where there is no light. There are also thick rings of moss, reaching depths of 400 feet, along the caldera walls. Hydrothermal pools have also been discovered, indicating a volcanic heat source. Mount Mazama may be dormant, but it is not extinct.

Our visit to Crater Lake was a drive through due to time constraints. There were also some closures in the park due to trail repair. The only campground for RVs is Mazama Village. The park is beautiful an is on our list to return to.

Gallery: Click on a picture to open the gallery.

Pacific Northwest: Lava Beds

The Lava Beds are the result of the gentle eruptions from the Medicine Lake volcano, which has over 500 surface vents. The result of this gentle activity is a shield volcano with a low, gently-sloping profile. Eruptions dating back to 30-40,000 years ago formed over 700 lava tubes. Lava tubes are formed when the outside of a lava flow cools and the center remains hot. The hot lava center drains out, resulting in a pipe like cave. Caves can be stacked on top of one another due to multiple eruptions.

This region was home to the Modoc people and their ancestors for over 10,000 years. Moved from their homeland to the Klamath reservation in Oregon, some of the tribe returned home and fled to the natural defenses provided by the lava beds. It took the United States Army 6 months and 1,000 troops to capture less than 60 Modoc warriors and families. These families were then exiled to the Quapaw Agency in Oklahoma.

Lava Beds National Monument was established in 1925 to protect the land and the history of the Modoc people. In addition to the lava beds and caves, there is Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Petroglyph Section. The Petroglyphs were covered by water as late as 1875. At this point water for Tule Lake was diverted for farm irrigation and the newly exposed land was converted to farm land. No longer protected by water, the petroglyphs are being damaged by vandals and the scouring action of wind blown soil.

While at Lava Beds, we hiked the Mushpot Cave (motion sensor lights, paved path) and the Skull Cave; the Skull Cave ends with an ice cave that served as an important source of water in this arid environment. In addition to the caves, there are hiking trails throughout the park.

September was an excellent time to visit Lava Beds, temperatures were cooler and the sun was less intense.

Gallery: Click on a picture to open the gallery.

Pacific Northwest: Camping

More detail about the campgrounds our Pacific Northwest trip. We stayed at a couple municipal campgrounds (Campground by the Lake, Saratoga Lake Campground), a commercial campground, NFS and BLM campgrounds, national park campgrounds and dispersed camped.

Picture galleries are interspersed through out this post. Click on a picture to view in a new window.

Favorites:

  1. Kalaloch Campground: Camping on the a bluff over the Pacific Ocean? Only way it would have been better was some sunnier weather. We had to play the walk-up game and camped the first night in B-17 (spur within the A loop). This site was spacious and relatively level. It was farther away from the bluff in the trees. On the second night we scored the bluff site A-25, a large rather private site with trees and bushes separating us from neighbors on both sides. A-27 is a very similar site. Some minor leveling was required in A-25. D loop prime sites are D-24 to D-30; D-24 is on the bluff while the other sites are across the road from bluff. All have clear views of the ocean.
  2. Lone Fir Campground: Just off of WA-20 in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, this campground is tucked in amongst the trees with a creek running along the back campsites. These sites (~14 to ~20) are the prime sites and were occupied when we came through. We camped in site 23, which was level and a pull through. This was one of the larger sites at the campground. Sites 23 – 26 are large and would be top on our list for camping in despite the proximity to the (little traveled) road.
  3. Water Canyon Recreation Area: This is a campground on BLM land near Winnamucca, NV. This canyon has a creek running through it. Along that creek are apsens; creating a stark contrast with the surrounding desert. After crossing onto BLM land, there is a campsite up the road approximately 1 mile. This site has  along the creek and is lower than the road. It is a little hard to see because there is a site adjacent to the road, don’t be fooled, this a separate site in a prime location. Continuing another mile up the road, there is another site right along the creek in a large clearing. We didn’t level up on this site as well as we would have liked, but it nice. Alex was able to play in the creek and we hiked up the upper access road (closed in the winter). There are additional campsites accessible if you have a high clearance vehicle.

Least Favorites:

None really. If anything we found South Beach State Park to be a little crowded, but it was close to town and had beach access. We weren’t on the beach, but close enough.

Also note that the bike path in South Lake Tahoe is a joke. It is narrow and unpaved at places. Where it is unpaved the transition is from bumpy black top to sand. If riding at night, a bright light is a must.

Biggest Pleasant Surprise:

Lava Beds National Monument: We did not know what to expect heading to this campground. The campground is at the south end of the park, and fortunately for us, we came in the south entrance. We arrived to find a nice mix RV and walk-in tent spots. We stayed in B23, one of the larger sites that could accommodate a RV in the mid-30 foot range. Most sites were relatively flat. Be sure to check the site stubs closely, we found that were several days expired; it doesn’t seem that the rangers come through that often to remove the expired stubs.

The campground was within a quarter mile of two caves (Indian Wells and Mushpot) and the visitors’ center. The visitors’ center had a great brochure outlining the difficulty of the caves. There were several trail heads within the campground or at the visitors’ center that provided access to a variety of caves.

Commercial Campground:

Camp Coeur d’Alene got our business because we needed to dump and our RV dump station app had already failed us twice. Combined with Alex waking up early from a nap, our goal to push further east was thwarted. Technically camped along the shores of Lake Coeur d’Alene and took Alex out on a paddle boat. There was plenty of space for Alex to run around. We dumped our black and grey tanks, filled up with fresh water, and did laundry to ensure clean underwear all the way home.

Dispersed Camping:

After a successful dispersed camping experience in Bighorn National Forest during our Northern Rockies trip, Dave was looking forward to another positive experience. This experience did not start out as well as it was difficult to determine where the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest began and private property ended. It also didn’t help that we were on the fringes of the national forest and the road passed in and out of the forest.

We found a decent spot to pull off the road and set up camp. Slightly pitched to the left and front, we decided to walk further up the road. The view did not disappoint.

The night was a little creepy – Jess heard a four wheeler come down the hill and was positive it stopped near the RV. She then thought she heard someone(s) walking around the RV. The dogs did not bark, but she woke up Dave anyway. It was not a restful night, although everyone came out of the experience unharmed. If we had continued on MT-43E for about 10 more miles, we would have come upon a campground just shy of I-15. This campground was along the Big Hole River in a stand of trees. If you are in the area, check this campground out before going off into the wilderness.

 

Pacific Northwest: Yellowstone and Grand Teton

We last visited Yellowstone in July of 2015, and were frustrated by the shear number of people also there. We thought that coming later in the season would improve our experience, as less people would be there. While the crowds were reduced at the end of September compared to July, there were many more people than we expected.

Also unexpected was the fog, which made it hard to see some of the features, especially later in the day as the air was cooling (at Grand Prismatic Spring the fog was very thick and swirling with the wind). The fog also made it challenging to see wildlife and pedestrians along the side of the road. We definitely slowed down leaving the park due to poor visibility; as our elevation decreased, the fog began to dissipate.

We were did walk the Fountain Paint Pots and Grand Prismatic Spring Nature trails. Both were board walks that went past multiple thermal features. These walks were smooth and easy for Alex to navigate, but people added a challenge. There was not a railing at all points to ensure a little boy stayed the course. It required some herding of Alex to make sure he didn’t run into people or fall off the walkway. There were stairs to Grand Prismatic Spring; Fountain Paint Pots did not have stairs, but there was one steeper grade.

Pay attention to park bulletins if you are camping late in the season. We wanted to camp at the Tower Falls campground, but it had closed three days prior. Additionally, there was road construction just south of the North entrance, requiring a significant re-route through the park. After reviewing the campgrounds that were still open (Mammoth Hot Springs, Madison, Slough Creek, and Lewis Lake) , we re-routed to the West entrance because Lewis Lake still had availability and we did not have to take the detour. We drove along the Gallatin River on US-191S; the fall colors were absolutely beautiful along this route.

We exited Yellowstone via the South entrance and drove through John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway and Grand Teton National Park to Coulter Bay Village. This route allowed us an up close view of the damage caused by the fire earlier in the park from earlier this summer. The fire damage, along with the low level of Jackson Lake, emphasized the drought that western states have been suffering.

When is the best time to visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton? We wish we knew. Rangers said that social media (people being warned about the crowded conditions during the summer) has extended the peak season closer and closer to season’s end.

Gallery:

Click on a picture to launch the gallery in a new window

 

Northern Rockies: Going to the Sun Road

We learned that in Glacier National Park, the ‘crown of the continent’, there is a convergence of plants and animals from diverse environments. The ecosystems of the north (Canada), Maritime (Pacific Northwest), south (Southern Rocky Mountains), and east (prairie species) are found here, the narrowest point of the Rocky Mountain Chain. Water from the park flows to the Pacific Ocean (via the Columbia River), Hudson Bay (Saskatchewan and Nelson Rivers), and the Gulf of Mexico (Missouri and Mississippi Rivers); this convergence of watersheds also promotes the migration and dispersal of plants and animals. This environment is so diverse, all native carnivores – grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, and cougars – are able to survive. The abrupt transition from mountain forest to prairie supports a variety of herbivores – elk, deer, big-horn sheep, and mountain goats – which in turn allow the carnivores to survive.

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Creek along Trail of the Cedars.

Going to the Sun Road (driven in a rental car because Abby was too long and tall) provided an excellent example of the diversity that abounds in the park. Starting from the Apgar campground on the west side, we moved through areas that were reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest, which was exemplified by the Trail of the Cedars (handicap accessible board walk/paved trail). Ferns, under towering cedars, dominated the forest floor. As we climbed to Logan Pass, grass became more dominant and wildflowers (Indian Paint brush, bear grass) were in full bloom. We even saw a mountain goat. Over the pass, we pushed on to St. Mary, and the cedars were replaced by dense stands of pine trees.

In the future, when Alex is older, we will take the shuttle. Many of the lots were full (the Logan Pass visitors center was like the mall parking lot at Christmas time), so if we wanted to hike we would not have been able to due to lack of parking.

Click on the images below from our trip on Going to the Sun Road to enlarge the picture.

 

 

Northern Rockies: Two Medicine Lake Hike

We enjoyed our hike around Two Medicine Lake, which was approximately 8 miles. If we had gotten an earlier start, we would have tried to make No Name Lake – there were reports of a moose spending the afternoon in the water. There was a boat that we could have taken from the General Store to the west end of the lake. This would have allowed us to hike trails up to the lakes, perhaps even Dawson pass.

The route we took resulted in a more gradual climb up to along the southeast side of the lake. The trail on the northwest side of the lake is not close to the water as one might think. It is actually up the mountain.

Click on the images in the gallery below to start slide show.

 

 

 

 

Northern Rockies: Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument:

The monument is located on the Crow Reservation and is just off of I-90 near Crow Agency, Montana.

History

The battle of Little Bighorn/Greasy Grass was one of the last armed efforts of the Northern Plains Indians to preserve their culture. This battle was also where Custer and the five companies under his leadership, were wiped out.

The Indian encampment along the Little Bighorn River numbered approximately 7,000 people from the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes. Of this number, there were approximately 1,500 to 2,000 warriors. The tribes were led by Sitting Bull and they refused to be restricted to a reservation, preferring a nomadic way of life.

Lt. Colonel George Custer’s decisions on the battlefield remain controversial. President Ulysses S. Grant criticized Custer’s actions, saying it was Custer’s folly and hubris that resulted in the massacre. It should be noted that Custer had implicated Grant’s brother in an Army supply price gouging scheme, had arrested Grant’s son for drunkenness, and was writing articles critical of President Grant. Grant, in turn, had Custer arrested and ordered to stand for court martial. Other army leaders blamed the incompetence of Custer’s subordinate officers for the massacre.

To further the complexity of the situation, Custer was believed to have entered a traditional marriage with Mo-nah-se-tah, daughter of Little Rock, a Cheyenne chief. This was rumored marriage was in addition to the marriage he had with Elizabeth Bacon, whom he married in 1864. Custer had also promised Stone Forehead (Medicine Arrows), a Cheyenne chief and Keeper of the Medicine Arrows, that Custer would never fight against Native Americans again. Custer also told his Native American scout, Bloody Knife, that if he was victorious in his last Indian campaign, he would run for president and use the power of the office to protect Native Americans.

Impact

How would history be different if Custer had kept his promise to Stone Forehead? If white settlers and the US government could have treated Native Americans with respect? We unfortunately will never know in this universe.

Gallery

Click on a picture below to enlarge the image and enable the slideshow option.

 

 

 

Western Trip: Picture Gallery

A pictorial diary of our trip.

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Selfie just before we left our driveway.
Great River Bluffs State Park, MN
Chewie at Great River Bluffs.
Penny at Great River Bluffs.
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Palisades State Park, SD
Palisades State Park, SD
Badlands National Park, SD
Prairie dog in Custer State Park, SD
Custer State Park, SD
Custer State Park, SD
A trail ride in Custer State Park, SD
Mount Rushmore National Monument, SD
Natural Arch
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Yellowstone, WY
Jackson Lake, WY
Jackson Lake, WY
Jackson Lake, WY
Alex at Jackson Lake, WY
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Signal Mountain, WY
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Abby at Signal Mountain, WY

 

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Flaming Gorge, UT
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Flaming Gorge, UT
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Durango Silverton RR, CO
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Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
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Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
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Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
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Penny enjoying snow in July, RMNP
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Rocky Mountain National Park, CO