Trip to Yellowstone – Part 1

Jun/9/2015 3 Malia Lane
State Parks, Yellowstone National Park

I’m so happy that I’m on the road again with Yellowstone as my main destination this time instead of just passing through like I did in 2003 on my way back from Alaska.  My mom was with me and we only had three days before we had to get back to Austin then.  I’ve wanted to return ever since and my time has finally come!  Here’s my planning page.

I left Georgetown on June 5th and had to schedule my trip more carefully than usual since I need to be in Denver on June 9th.  As I was preparing to leave, my washing machine quit working, giving me an error code F-01.  According to Splendide, that means either a loose wire, the control board is bad, or the motor needs to be replaced.  I just was not willing to spend another week or more in Texas to get it fixed before I leave, so I found Competition Recreational was a Splendide repair service and they nicely agreed to work me in.  Of course, I have no idea how long it will take once the problem is diagnosed and parts ordered, to actually get it fixed and get me on the road again.  I know a lot of people don’t understand why I consider having my own washer and dryer an absolute necessity, but I just can’t stand going to laundromats, so that’s just the way it is.

So I basically planned no more than 250 miles a day to get me to Denver in time. For my first stop, I had heard about the City of Hamlin RV Park that provides 30 amp full hookup sites free for the first night. That fit my budget and schedule just fine, so I was glad to check it out.

Hamlin RV Park

As suspected, the park is nothing to write home about in terms of beauty, but for RVers looking for a quick overnighter, it’s a good deal. I was glad to be able to stop at that point with good satellite TV, internet and phone reception. Since it’s still really hot in Texas, I wanted to at least have electricity so I could keep cool at night without using the generator, so this was definitely preferable to boondocking at WalMart. I was particularly glad I had my chocolate peanut butter cup ice cream, and I was perfectly content for one night here.

grateful rockBefore I went to bed that night, I thought about one of the parts I love about full-time RVing: even though I can hear traffic outside my window tonight and I’m in a strange place, I’m still comfy in my own home with all my familiar stuff around me. And tomorrow I will be closer to my destination, but in the meantime I have decided to also enjoy the journey. One more day after this and I’ll be in Colorado!

Texas Safety Area

With all the disastrous flooding and tornadoes around Texas and Colorado shortly before I left, I was glad to see this rest area in Donley was also a designated tornado shelter, but I was more thankful for the beautiful travel weather I was enjoying.

The second night, I stopped at Wonderland RV Resort near Amarillo.

Wonderland RV Park

Again, nothing special to write home about, but at $23 for 50 amp full hookups, price and convenient location was the big factor. And it was still so hot that I had both my A/Cs on full blast when I first arrived.

Rain storm before Trinidad

The next day I was looking forward to a two night stay at Trinidad Lake State Park in Colorado. I definitely find that three days of straight driving is enough to need a two day break.

I had been more careful than usual about checking the weather and that morning everything looked great for my upcoming stay.  But about 30 miles before Trinidad, a sudden thunderstorm struck, with really heavy rain and more scary, a short bout of pea sized hail blowing across the road.

I really hate driving in the rain and when I started seeing people pull over to the side of the road, I decided to join them, afraid that something worse was up ahead.

Thankfully, it was pretty short lived and not long after this, I had outrun the bad weather.

When I arrived at the campground, I realized I hadn’t looked at the rate information on their website well enough. I had expected the $20/night rate for an electric only site (50 amps), but I hadn’t seen that in addition, they also have a $7 Daily Pass, and I really thought that was excessive in addition to the camping fee, especially since there is also no water hookups at the site (there are faucets scattered around the campground where you can fill with water and a dump at the entrance).

Trinidad - site 56

But it was a nice, roomy site with good space between neighbors and a fragrant pine tree on the side.

Trinidad - lake site

Right across the road were some sites that backed up to the bluff with views of the lake, but those were all booked for the two nights I would be there. has pictures of all sites here at Trinidad Lake.

But on my first full day here, I decided the price was worth it when I took the one mile loop Levsa Canyon Trail nature walk. Here are some of the views that made me decide the wow factor had great added value:

Fisher's Peak at Trinidad Lake State Park

Fisher’s Peak – named for a captain who climbed it in 1846 as part of an invasion, is visible from other areas of the campground, but this view was my favorite.

Spanish Peaks

Spanish Peaks – the Plains Indians originally named them “Huajatolla” which means “breasts of the earth.” Ancient people attributed divine powers to the mountains and believed all things received sustenance from them.

Purgatoire River

Purgatoire River – Commonly translated to mean River of Lost Souls. An early Spanish expedition was destroyed by Indians and since they had not received last rites, they were condemned to wander forever in purgatory.

Maxwell Land Grant

Maxwell Land Grant – once the largest tract of land privately owned by an individual in the history of the United States. The mountain range is the Culebra Range of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Sangre de Cristo means Blood of Christ and was named such by a missionary who viewed the deep red sunset upon the peaks.

But my absolute favorite part of my stay here was being treated to a sunshower – when the sun was still shining, but rain was falling.  I was fascinated watching it from inside the motorhome for a while, but then the final special treat came when I posted about it and a Facebook friend reminded me to go out and look for the rainbow that usually accompanies these events.  I was certainly not disappointed!

Trinidad rainbow 1

This was taken from right outside the motorhome. It was really vibrant when I first went outside and I thought it was cool to see the dark clouds and the sunny skies together.

Trinidad rainbow 2

By the time I walked closer to the water, it had started to fade, so I feel especially blessed that I was able to see this!

So it was nice to have that rest and wonderful experience before I land in Denver area to deal with the RV repairs I’m getting tired of dealing with!