Our Adventures RV'ing

Our Adventures RV'ing

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Winter 2016: Lessons learned, Skiing and Sundance

Utah-The Wasatch Mountains

I've been lapse in updating everyone on our trip here to Utah. It has been a busy 2 months and, finally, I can sit down and write about our drive here and our winter life in Utah.

My Snowman 2016

With the RV tucked away in storage, we will spend the winter in Utah and enjoy our other passion skiing. We have ski passes at Brighton Ski Resort http://www.brightonresort.com/ and should average 2-3 days a week of skiing.  Thanks to a predicted El Nino weather pattern we are hopeful it will be a good ski season. The start was good but seems to have weakened and we need more snow. Both Mike and I have battled winter colds, mine only lasted a week, Mike's has dragged on for 2 weeks. Both of us have had to miss some good ski days and if more snow shows up we should have a decent March. 

I also get to ski Wednesdays at Snowbird with a great group of women called the Skimums. Since skiing with this amazing group every Wednesday I am skiing better and more difficult terrain. There is not much at Snowbird I can't ski now.

The Snowbird Skimums

We even had a celebrity siting this year at Snowbird but we were so busy having fun we missed him.
Rob Lowe was enjoying the Bird for a few days but one of our Skimum's son got a picture of him.

We will ski until April, pull the RV out of storage, travel until June and then return to Utah for a travel break, and enjoy some Utah hiking and mountain biking. We will venture out with the Coach again in September and return to Utah at the end of November. I am in planning mode and putting together our 2016 travel itinerary.

Getting here was not without its challenges. I have delayed writing about our trip to Utah so that I could put my thoughts in a more positive light then my state of mind was when we reached Utah. We left Arizona and traveled our 1st leg to Las Vegas with no problems. Mike was driving the Coach with the toad and I had to drive our other vehicle since we are trying to sell our Arizona home and were ready to move as much as we could to Utah. Since Mike had to do a lot of the RV driving we wanted to break the drive down over several days. The RV park we stayed at in Vegas was a top end resort. My only regret was not staying there longer. The park was called Las Vegas Motorcoach Resort  http://www.lasvegasmotorcoachresort.com/. Although it was expensive I can see why it is rated in the upper level tier of RV parks. Not much is cheap in Vegas and it was away from the strip. It was a gated community and the grounds were well maintained. It felt more like a neighborhood then an RV park. The spaces were ownership lots and many were occupied with full time and winter visitors. The sites that are unused by owners are rented out to travelers.  They even have a small putting green course to keep you entertained. If you wanted to gamble, there was an off strip casino close by. While we rested here for a few days we noticed some minor oil leaks that would need to be addressed when we reach Salt Lake City. Mike thought of stopping at a diesel repair place on the way out of town but they were too busy to address it the same day and we didn't want to delay our push forward.

Our next stop was at an RV park just outside of St. George in Leeds called Leeds RV Park & Motel http://www.leedsrvpark.com/. The plan was to stay 1 night before we reached really cold country and shorten that last stretch of driving into Salt Lake City. The site was wide and long enough that we didn't even need to unhook the toad. It was cold when we got into Leeds and a milk container spilled over in the refrigerator and leaked all over the inside. No joy, we spent the 1st hour empting out the refrigerator and cleaning the entire inside. Tough when you had to move everything outside in the cold to be able to get at cleaning everything. Not what I wanted to do but we opened a bottle of wine and got it done. Lesson learned, I will have to set up the refrigerator differently when traveling, I don't want to have to do that again. Since it was going to be a  short stay we only opened 1 slide in the bedroom and didn't even bother with the others, our escape the next morning would be quick.

Since I was following the coach on an 80mph stretch from Cedar City to SLC and was following Mike at our RV 55mph limit we decided that after we got past Cedar City and closer to Beaver I would leave him, drive ahead to our home in Sandy and wait for his call that he had arrived and we could unload the coach. This was when our nightmare began. I had just pulled into the house when I get this call from Mike saying he had a problem at around Nephi. One side of the toad hitch had come loose and the Jeep had come partially unattached and swerved left of the coach but stayed attached due to the safety restraints. Mike saw everything due to his constant attention to the rear camera and could react quickly. The adrenaline still kicked in but he got everything under control without an accident. I about cried when I heard all of this, but was relieved to hear that he and the coach were fine and no other vehicles were involved. He said it was a challenge getting everything off the freeway and then unhook the Jeep by himself. I was going to need to drive back to Nephi to get him which was at least 65 miles. I settled the dogs in and was about to leave when Mike called and said he was fairly close to an exit and was able to drive the Jeep there and park it off the freeway. He would walk back to the coach and it would make better sense to drive the coach into Salt Lake to the RV park in Draper and then he would call me and I would pick him up and we would drive back to pick up the Jeep. It was a more sensible plan, we got the Jeep back safely but it will need to go in to the shop to correct the only damage which was to the alignment. The tow hitch would need a part replacement but we would not need to replace the entire hitch system (expensive). After analysis of what had happened it seems there was a mistake made in attaching the pin in the correct configuration; we had made a beginner's error and were very lucky that the outcome was not worse. It was an awakening experience that we will not forget, Mike, of course, was not happy with himself. A hard lesson to learn but, at least, nobody was hurt and no significant damage occurred. Mike has also purchased some pin locks that we will use to give us additional security and we made adjustments to our Motorcoach checklist. We also have a heightened sense of awareness when it comes to the complexities of owning an RV and the importance of all the checks and double checks especially when hitching and unhitching the Jeep. I know our RV adventure will always be tested but I hope this will be our last misstep. We've had some time to reflect on what happened, made adjustments and I am in a better and more positive state of mind then 2 and 1/2 months ago.

My other winter distraction was as a sign up volunteer for the Sundance Film Festival which ran from January 21st to the 31st. By volunteering I also get to see films during the festival for free. The festival is a 10-day event with movie screenings in Park City and Salt Lake City. There are also a host of parties and special events held in Park City during the festival.  The festival uses 2000 volunteers each year and while many are from Utah others travel from all over the U.S. and Canada to be a part of the festival. The festival was started in 1978 as the Utah/US film festival in Salt Lake City. In 1984 the festival moved to Park City and the name changed to the Sundance Film Festival in 1991. Robert Redford has been involved in the festival every year from its beginning and still is seen at the festival's opening event each year in Park City. The festival has grown into a huge marketing event for the film industry and many films that premiere at Sundance have shown up as Academy Award contenders.

This is my 3rd year as a volunteer and I thought I would share my 2016 experience here on our blog.

I found out about the Volunteer program from a friend of mine who has been volunteering for the last 5 years. I put in my application for my 1st year in August of 2013 for the 2014 festival and I had heard that sometimes your application may not get accepted the 1st year.  Many volunteers return each year and the festival's need for volunteers varies from year to year. I think it helped that I knew a volunteer. I got the call and my application was accepted.  I had requested to be placed at a Salt Lake City theater so that I would not have to drive to Park City for my shifts. The drive and parking during the event is a reason many locals not attending the festival avoid Park City during these 10 days in January. I was placed at the Salt Lake City Library theater. It is a nice auditorium that seats around 300. My job would be on the theater team which involves all aspects of crowd control, ticket entry, and theater ushering. The ushering is great because you get to stay in the theater and see the film. The volunteer program requirement is to work a minimum of 24 hours during the festival. For each 4 hours worked you receive a volunteer voucher that you can exchange for a free ticket to see any movie. Each venue at the film festival has a certain number of tickets reserved for volunteers. Each year that I have volunteered I have been able to see at least 7-8 movies with my volunteer vouchers and will usually get to usher and see 2-3 additional movies. Most movies will have a Q & A after the movie where the director and or screenwriter will talk to the audience and answer questions about the film. Some of the actors have been known to show up at the Q & A's but mostly this happens the 1st weekend in Park City and at the premier screenings. Park City events also draws the crowds and paparazzi, especially during the 1st weekend. Next year I will take a day and go to Park City to see a few movies and experience this side of Sundance.
Q & A for Jacqueline(Argentine) with the Director and some of the principal actors

 There are benefits of returning to the festival each year. You become an alumni volunteer and get to stay at the same theater you were originally assigned or you can choose a different theater or even move to a Park City theater if space is available. You also get to choose your shift times earlier then the 1st year volunteers. I have enjoyed the library and request it each year.  I see the same people return as I have, and it becomes a reunion each year.

Here is the run-down of the 2016 movies I saw, keep an eye out for them. I will put them in order of my rating of each film from favorite to least favorite. Remember these are independent films and include U.S. and World films in drama and documentary and some may have subtitles. At the end of the festival there were awards given in many of the categories. Visit the Sundance website http://www.sundance.org/festivals/sundance-film-festival for a complete list of all 2016 films and their descriptions. The award winners are all posted on the website.

1.  Hunt for the Wilderpeople
2.  Embrace of the Serpent
3.  Manchester by the Sea
4.  Land of Mine
5.  Certain Women
6.  The Eyes of my Mother
7.   Operation Avalanche
8.   Jacqueline (Argentine)
9.   Morris from America
10. Green Room

We even had a chance to foster a puppy "Luke"  for a few weeks around Christmas. I think they all got along well.


  1. Hi, thanks for stopping by and posting a comment at our blog lowestravels.com
    As for mishaps, things are bound to happen when driving and living in an RV. There are still many things to learn along the way and as you continue to drive your rig, it will become easier.
    We had our rig for over a year and had many practice trips before embarking into a full time living on the road. Our first mishap on our first day was our jacks got stuck and our slides won't retract and heres the story about it https://lowestravels.com/2012/04/01/day-1-of-full-time-adventure-came-with-a-whimper/
    Even now on our fifth year we are still learning new things about our home.

    We will be in Moab beginning April 8 to end of month. Hope we can meet up.

    1. Thank you for visiting our blog. Blogging is new for me and every day I am learning more and more from other RV Blogs. We leave Utah April 5 towards Arizona to catch up with family before it starts to get too hot. Sorry we will miss you, our route south will take us to Page, Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly. Doesn't look like we will be traveling through Moab on this trip. We love to mountain bike and always enjoy the Moab area.
      You both do a lot of hiking, we also like to hike so maybe we will meet up on the road sometime for a hike or happy hour. Happy travels.....