Greeting from West Des Moines, IA…
We made it back home at 4:30pm today. Have lots to blog about…
We stayed one night in Cheyenne, WY at the A & B Campground before heading to the Rendezvous. We got setup at 5:00pm and by 5:30pm it started to rain really hard for the next hour. The downpour included some small hail, but no damage was done. John was worried about the batteries in the RV – they are six years old and not holding a charge very well. Not good since we will be living off of them and the generator for the next five days. We went to Walmart in the rain and purchased three new marine batteries. John had them installed in no time (rain stopped by now), but we had to bring the old batteries to Walmart so we get the $9.00 per battery core charge returned. I also did some more grocery shopping. Have my fill of Walmart now for the next two years…
The campground had a small restaurant on site that specializes in pit BBQ. We were tired/hungry so it hit the spot. I had pork BBQ that was moist and had a nice flavor to it. The potato salad and cole slaw sides tasted homemade and were delish.. Later in the evening Bernie and Mike arrive at the campground. I purchased some BBQ rib dinners that they also enjoyed while chatting in our RV.
In the morning we left Cheyenne and headed out to the Wyoming Rendezvous – our final destination. It was only a 40 mile drive, but the RV overheated going up several of the large hills. By the time we left I-80, we were at an elevation of 8600 feet above sea level. We stopped at the rest area that is the highest point of the Lincoln Highway with the “Scary Lincoln” memorial to unhook the Jeep. Bernie and Mike did the same.
John then had Mike and I drive ahead in the cars so we can alert them to any problems we see with the roadways. We took “Happy Jack Road” a few more miles before pulling off on some dirt/gravel roads. The further in we traveled, the worse the roads became. They were very “washboarded” with lots of little hills and uneven roadway. John had to go very slow to avoid “bottoming out” the RV and to keep our glasses and dinnerware from breaking. It was that bad.
We arrived in camp and spent 15 minutes trying to find a suitable spot. Dave and Mitch arrived the day before and had some sites saved for us, but they were crammed in with other RV and close to a communal bonfire area. We opted for a site down a small hill. We were able to get almost level – it was about 10 degress of out level from back to front. It was not ideal, but livable. Bernie and Mike have a 42 foot RV and had a very difficult time finding a spot. At first they were setup by us, but their RV was so out of level that cabinet doors would not stay closed. They ended up at a flat meadow just down the dirt road from us after an hour of trying different spots.
I was able to get our site setup with our patio mat, all of our lawn chairs, tables, LED tiki torches and gas grill. It was nice to be at a place long enough to warrant dragging everything out.
We then spent Monday through Saturday morning at the Rendezvous. The event was a bit of a “mixed bag” for us. We enjoyed spending time with all of our camping buddies – Dave/Mitch, Bernie/Mike and Don/Troy. We also ran into some campers from California that we previously meet in Quartzite, AZ. Besides our group there were 300 to 400 other campers all setup in everything from tents, vans, work trailers and all types of RV’s. I meet a few people, but seemed like most of the campers kept to their own groups. Most evenings our group meet for a pot-luck supper. I made a different casserole each evening. I like being able to mix it all together, throw it in the convection oven and be done with it. Only downside is that we needed to run the generator while it was cooking. Nobody seemed to complain about the generator noise… at least to us 😉
I did attend some of the scheduled Rendezvous events like a cooking demonstration, hour long “Flora and Fauna” hike and a three hour walk to a hidden waterfall. The short walk was neat because the guide stopped and pointed out over 40 different plants/flowers. From buckwheat, sage brush, miners lantern, gooseberries and on and on.
The longer hike was one of the neatest hike I’ve been on in a long time. It was at the new Curt Gowdy State Park. The trail went up and down lots of hills with neat rock formations. The waterfall itself is not very big but we were able to take our shoes off and wade in the cold water at the base of it.
The headline entertainment was lesbian comedienne Vickey Shaw. She did an hour long show that was just a hoot.. Think it is crazy that she was willing to come and do a show outside in the wilderness of Wyoming – more power to her. She flew into Cheyenne and then was driven out to the campground..
The remainder of the time I read, played iPad games, gossiped with friends and people watched. What surprised me most about Rendezvous is how much of a sleazy undertone the whole event had. Seemed like this is some gay/lesbian/bi/transgendered peoples only chance to get laid each year. One part of the campground is called “Pervert Peak” and we heard lots of stories about what goes on up there.. Took a few walks in the daylight through that area and saw several naked “bears” 😉
One day I watched the movie Too Wong Foo Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar in Bernie/Mike’s RV. At the end of the movie I noticed it was filmed in Nebraska. After some googling I found it was done in Loma, NE. Checked some mapping software and it is not too far off of I-80. Begging John to take me there on the way home.
John had his fill of the while thing by Friday so he declared that we would be leaving on Saturday morning. There was not much on the schedule that interested us, so worked with me. I was getting tired of dealing with the lower oxygen level at 8600 feet. Climing up simple hills made me out of breath really fast. Several nights I would wake up just gasping for breath. Was also tired of all the dust in the air caused by lots of 4-wheelers and trucks going back and forth, back and forth. It felt dirtier then camping in Quartzsite, AZ.
Saturday morning we spent an hour packing up, cleaning the RV a bit, saying our good-byes and heading out. The roadway out of the camp was worse then when we came in. Lot of vehicles passing over it in the last five days did not do it any favors. John just slowly navigated it and hoped for the best. By the time we made it to the visitors center the RV was overheating again. Then while we were parked the radiator suddenly started to spew radiator fluid. I thought the radiator had sprung a leak and was envisioning calling CoachNet and having to be towed to a service station. John investigated and found that the fluid was just from an overflow valve.. We waited 45 minutes for the RV to cool down and were on our way. John thinks the overflow valve may have been stuck on our way here and contributed to the overheating problems we had on the way here.
We had no overheating problems the remainder of the trip. I’m sure it helped that we were going downhill most of the way. Our first stop was to the large Cabela’s store in Sidney, NE to use their free dump station. While dumping we noticed there was a do-it-yourself car wash across the street that is large enough for our RV. John really wanted to spray out the RV’s radiator thinking it being dirty may be causing some of the overheating. Plus the RV is still coated in Rendezvous dust. We spent $18.00 in quarters but it was worth every cent – was great to see the RV all bright and shiny again.
We then drove until 7:30PM and stopped for the night in Kearney, NE at the Kearney RV Park. It was a newer RV park that was pretty nice. John cringed when they charged us $35.00 for a full hookup site. No complaints here – was nice to be back to a full hookup site so I could take a long hot shower. We then had a quick supper at a local Perkins restaurant – it was close and we were in no mood to try anything new… service was slow but the food was fine…
Once back at the RV park I spent the remainder of the evening doing laundry since we were out of clean clothes. The washing machine cost $2.00 per load and the machine was not working well – no hot water was filling the wash tub. Ended up switching to a cold water cycle and it worked…. I sent the RV park and email this morning letting them know about the machine not working properly…
This morning we were on the road by 9:30am. Before we left I did some more cleaning/vacuuming to help minimize the mess when we arrive home. We did make a bit of a detour to Loma, NE. Loma is where part of the movie “Too Wong Foo Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar” (1995) was shot. Loma is portrayed as the small town of Schneidersville in the movie. The road to Loma was not much better then when we escaped from
the gay refugee camp Rendezvous, but John slowly made it. We were a bit worried when we past a sign that said “unmaintained road”. We arrived and checked out several of the remaining buildings. The hotel where the drag queens stayed is no longer there (was it just built for the movie?), but the bar/cafe, store, garage and several others were. It was fun checking them all out for 15 mintues. Here’s some pictures we took:
One of the benefits of going to Loma was that we found a Casey’s gas station off the interstate that had cheaper diesel fuel then we were seeing along I-80. Also helped that I had my Hy-Vee fuel savers card (for the first 20 gallons).
John was very glad to finally made it back to blacktop roads. The remainder of the way home was uneventful. Prince started to meow from his box while going through Omaha, NE – so took this as meaning he was hungry/thirsty or needed to go the bathroom. A few miles later we stopped to grab some lunch at Hardee’s and let Prince out to do his thing. There’s not many Hardee’s in the Des Moines area – so it was kinda a treat for me.
Once we arrive home, we unloaded all of the grocery items, our clothing and etc. Then I spent an hour cleaning. Was not too bad to do but still needed to scrub out the shower, toilet and detail/dust/vacuum the remainder of the interior. Is nice we have a 50 amp plug at home so I can run the air conditioning while cleaning. The apartment building was in good shape – looked like how we left it. Is nice to see the place does not “go to pot” when we leave. Looks like the flowers need to be watered but that can wait until tomorrow morning – I’m tired.
We both have tomorrow off of work – going to be great to have a day to decompress from everything and get back organized. The Iowa State Fair is still going on, so I might go and check it out – will see what the weather is like.
Looking back at our experience at Wyoming Rendezvous I think it is something that would grow on us the more years we attend it. We would meet more new people and look forward to seeing them each year. Just not sure the wear/tear on the RV, the long drive and the dirty conditions are worth it… Will see how we feel about it when it comes around next year…
Will upload some more pictures tomorrow and put them in a photo album online – will add a link to it when I’m done… I’m off to take a nice long shower, watch TV and just relax….