Getting our bearings straight

Where to start?

About a week ago the original plan was to leave Lake Tahoe and spend a couple of weeks in the Utah desert near Arches NP before getting to Colorado at the end of the month.  The best laid plans of mice and men…  On the day we left Tahoe we drove across most of Nevada and made it to the small town of Ely (on the far east border of Nevada) with the idea that we would just crash for the night and then continue onto Utah the next day.  Then we looked at our 5th wheel tires.

Three of the four tires looked perfectly fine.  But the rear passenger side tire had strange wear – the outside tread was worn all the way down while the rest of the tire looked fine.  We had no idea what the issue was but we didn’t feel comfortable going any further until we had it looked at. So we found a local KOA campground and booked a spot for the week and started researching all the shops nearby that could figure out what was going on.

The short version is it ended up being a wheel bearing issue that was pretty easy to fix.  After a quick visit to a local auto shop they got us fixed up and gave us a recommendation to a guy who could come out to us and replace our worn down tire.  By the end of the week we were ready to hit the road again.  Good as new(ish).

But stuck in Ely, NV for week, what is one to do?

Quite a bit, actually.  On the night we got to town, after all that had gone down, we did not feel like dealing with dinner so we got an amazing chicken garlic parmesan pizza from Racks Bar and Grill.  When we went to pick it up, not only was the bar packed but it looked like everyone in town had a picture on the wall of their trophy kill – elk, deer, pronghorn, big horn, and even a few mountain goats.  It was not what we expected to see but it was pretty evident this town was close-knit and tight.

With full and happy bellies we started looking for things to do on Sunday.  That’s when we realized there was a national park just an hour away – Great Basin NP.  After some searching we found that the star of the park was the Lehman Cave tours but they all were reserved for the rest of the month. Bummed, but we decided to go to the park and take in a hike or two anyway.

Best. Decision. Ever. We left early on Sunday and got to the Baker Visitor Center on the edge of the NP around 8am.  I asked if they ever had cancellations for the cave tours and they said  there were walk-in tours available that we could sign up for if we got the Lehman Cave Visitor Center in time.  We sped off and booked two of the Grand Palace tours at 1:30pm.

With a morning to kill we decided on a beautiful 3-mile hike around the alpine lakes.

Then it was back to the visitor center for lunch and then the cave tour.  It was incredible.  These pictures are amazing but they don’t do the tour justice.  It was the fastest 90 minutes ever and every turn was awe-inspiring.

That Sunday was an unexpected treat.  The whole week was.  We had plans to be boondocking in the Utah desert but we got stuck in a small Nevada town with a 5th wheel issue we weren’t sure we could get fixed quickly and cheaply.  And then a week later we had experienced an amazing national park with a stunning cave tour and got our 5th wheel taken care of by capable and genuine, hard-working hands.  If every unexpected issue on this adventure ends up like this, we will be blessed.

That brings us to today (or yesterday at this point).  We finally left Ely heading east for Utah.  The goal was to camp for the next week near Bicknell, UT.  We got to the campground but couldn’t fit our 35’ 5th wheel into either of the open camping spots.  That campground was so beautiful and we were really bummed to have to give it up.

A few miles down the road we found a semi-popular boondocking spot near Capitol Reef NP.  We knew how popular this spot was so we weren’t really expecting anything but luckily we found a really good spot not too close to any neighbors.

When we were scoping out the spot a (very) small kitten ran up to us.  We worried it might be a lost kitten of someone boondocking in that area.  But our neighbors (an amazing couple originally from Quebec City) told us they had asked all around and no one would claim the kitten.

That kitten would not leave Lauren alone.  All it wanted to do was sleep in her lap.

And when we shared a campfire later with our Canadian neighbors, the kitten wanted to fight off a rattlesnake in the rocks nearby.

That’s was the first time I’d ever heard a rattlesnake.  The sound it made was a bit softer than I’d expected but it was unmistakable.  At the end of campfire we had agreed to make sure the kitten got to a new home safely before we left Utah at the end of the week…

7 thoughts on “Getting our bearings straight

  1. Karen (Mom)

    I think little Boonie has found her new home. How can you turn away a kitten that tries to fight off a rattlesnake for you? Great pictures of your many amazing adventures!

    1. The Duck Post author

      Lauren did a little detective work and we’re pretty sure she found boy parts on the kitten, so I think it’s just Boon, not Boonie. We are not keeping the kitten. But we will do our best to make sure someone looks after him after we’ve gone.

        1. The Duck Post author

          Yeah, that was a real highlight of our unexpected stopover in Ely. Highly recommended if you’re ever in the area!

    1. Buffalo

      It’s true that an animal companion would be nice but this place is so tiny and he doesn’t seem like he’d be content with being a lazy indoor cat…. For many reasons we are planning to drop him off at a campground nearby before we leave so he’s not just out here on his own. He’s pretty good at begging for attention!


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