June 21, 2021 Burns OR

Today was a another relatively long bound towards home. The most direct route from Las Vegas to Portland is thru the Great Basin, and it may be the least populated part of the lower 48 states. Today we wanted a commercial campground because we want to give Scout a good scrubbing and dump and clean the tanks. The options were Winnemuca Nevada which was only about 100 miles from Austin, or drive another 200 miles past Winnemuca to Burns. We always opt for Burns.

The Mormon Cricket.

While traversing the appropriately named Big Smokey Valley in Nevada we came across a natural phenomenon we have never seen. We began to notice that there were a lot of bugs on the road. As we drove the number of bugs increased and we encountered tens of thousands of these things on the road over the next 60 miles or so. As we were driving I had Ton Google “lots of bugs on the road in Nevada”. It turns out that periodically in the west there is an infestation of Mormon Crickets. During periods of drought they hatch in the millions. They can cause havoc if they get into an agricultural area as they will eat everything. The reason we were seeing so many on the roads is they are also Cannibalistic, so as they are crossing roads when one is squished others will stop to feed on the dead cricket, they are then squished by another car, and the cycle continues. We passed one section of the road where there were so many dead crickets that it looked like brown tire tracks. In fact the article we read said they can cause traffic hazards because so many get killed that they cause the road to become slick.

There is not a lot of human activity in the Big Smokey Valley, just a few ranches scattered over 75 miles of road, but we always seem to have something interesting happen here. This time it was crickets and last time we were buzzed by a F-35 fighter jet twice.

All of the spots are Mormon Crickets. I wanted to get out to take a better picture but Ton wouldn’t let me because it was gross.

When we stopped at Winnemuca for gas, all of the surfaces behind the tires were covered with chunks of hundreds of cricket carcasses. Our first stop before checking in at the RV park was a carwash to de-cricket the exterior of Scout.

May 28, 2021 Bee Cave TX

Today was the shortest drive of the trip, and very nearly a disaster. On the 48 mile trip to our friends Pae and Supachai we were following a pick up truck down a two lane road with a center third lane to make left turns, a common set up on busy two lane roads in Texas. The truck was traveling at about 45 mph on a road with a 70 mph speed limit and had his emergency flashers on because of the slow speed. We ended up following him for about 5 miles, and were the first vehicle behind him, immediately behind us was a semi-truck, and behind the semi were 8 or 10 cars.

Coming to an intersection the pick up truck pulled into the center lane which is used for left turns. Just as I went to pass him on the right, he swung in front of me from the center lane and turned right. I initiated a full brake panic stop and swerved to the right and just missed him. The semi-truck behind us also went into full panic stop and swerved left to miss us, but caught the left corner of our bumper, and scrapped the paint on the back of the house on Scout.

We pulled Scout over to the shoulder and the truck driver pulled his rig in behind us to look at the damage. The guy who caused the accident slowed down for a few seconds after he heard the semi hit us, but decided to not stop. The only significant damage was to our aluminum bumper that we mount two storage bumpers on. It had a hole punched in it from one of the lugs from the wheel of the truck. Unfortunately it is a specialized bumper and expensive to replace.

Jaime the truck driver then told me that he needed to call the police because as a commercial vehicle he needed a police report for the accident and could not just exchange insurance information. We waited on the side of the road for about 20 minutes and a sheriff showed up. He took a quick look at things, and then told us that because it was a commercial vehicle accident the investigation had to be done by a State Trooper. He called the Texas State Police and asked for a trooper who was dispatched from San Angelo. The sheriff explained that San Angelo was about 45 minutes away, apologized and left Jaime and I there to wait on our own.

It turns out Jaime is a really nice guy, and we had a wide ranging conversation from the stupidity of the guy who had us talking to each other on the side of the road in Texas, to what it was like to drive a semi-truck, to climate change. He did say one thing that got my attention, he had just dropped his load and his trailer was empty, he said if he had been full he probably would have hit us square on, because he would not have been able to slow down, or maneuver fast enough under load to almost miss us.

The Texas State Trooper eventually arrived, took our statements, assessed that neither of us were at fault for the accident, but that the pick up truck was the cause. He provided us with the accident report and after an hours delay were on our way.

The goatherd at the Jester King brewery near Austin.

We spent the rest of the day with our friends Pae and Supachai. They took us to a nice barbeque restaurant for lunch. After lunch we went to a local brewery which is on a working farm. As part of the farm the brewery keeps a herd of about 60 goats, we got a treat as the goats were out of their pen and working in a field. I met my first goatherd ever, and he told us about the hierarchy among the goats, the alpha is a female, and even the bigger male goats do not mess with her.

A slight correction to yesterdays post about the wildflowers. There are two flowers that look similar the Indian Blanket I talked about yesterday and this flower called a Mexican Hat. Both are really beautiful.

We finished the day by cooking some steaks on the back porch of Pae and Supachai’s house during a big thunderstorm. It was a nice relaxing way to end an unexpected stressful day.

Travel Highlights

We travel to explore different places and cultures, these blog posts are things that delighted. Sometimes we expect to be delighted and sometimes we are delighted unexpectedly.

May 27, 2019 Bamberg GE

When you are traveling from campground to parking lot to campground you start to appreciate the little things.  This campground has absolutely the best showers

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April 15, 2018 Albi FR

The day started out with a visit to the cheese shop under the supervision of Patrick the campsite owner.  He also had a French couple

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June 7, 2015 Union OR

Today we spent the day at the Eastern Oregon Livestock Show.  It is a combination of a 4H fair, horse racing, and Rodeo.  I have

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April 24, 2015 Sequoia NP

We had planned to cross over the central valley to Sequoia National Park.  The night before Ton mentioned the Carrizo Plain National Monument which is

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August 13, 2014 Cody WY

Today was spent at the Wild Bill Western Museum.  This museum is a revelation and is actually five museums in one.  There is of course

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The Alaska Highway

We have traveled the Alaska Highway twice. The first trip was in our ERA class B in 2012, and confirmed the idea of traveling farther afield that led to our moving on to Scout our Tiger RV unfortunately we were not blogging at the time.

Our ERA parked near Valdez AK in 2012.

The second trip was in 2017 in Scout and the blog entries are below. Anyone who is interested in this trip I would highly recommend it. The main Alaska Highway is paved the entire way and the road quality is generally good. There are towns and services spaced along the way so you need no modifications or extra fuel to make the trip as long as you follow the 1/2 rule. If your tank is at 1/2 you fill up at the next gas station you see.

In Alaska the main roads are also paved and generally good quality. Any class B or C RV can handle the main roads on the trip, and we saw plenty of class A and large travel trailers on the highway.

The Cassier Highway is a chip seal surface and two lanes wide. No problem for most RV’s

Some of the side trips involve gravel roads, but again in general they are well maintained and 2wd will suffice. If the conditions have deteriorated the highway departments are good posting road conditions. The two roads to the Arctic Ocean involve hundreds of miles of gravel, but we saw all kinds of vehicles on these roads including cars, semi-trucks and 2wd pickups, though I think some discretion is required.

The Dempster Highway is approximately 400 km’s of gravel to the Arctic.

The sights on this trip are fantastic and make the effort more than worth it. There is everything from majestic mountains, to Fjords, to Tundra. The wildlife is plentiful and I can almost guarantee you will see interesting animals frequently.

We cannot recommend this trip enough.

 

August 28, 2017 Seward AK

Well it was another gray day.  The forecast was clouds and occasional showers, and they were right.  Because of the weather forecast we decided to

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Road Adventures

Part of traveling is dealing with unexpected things. Over the years we have had our share of things go wrong, but more often than not, someone has come along to help. Below is a list of the posts we call road adventures.