Our boating exploration hiatus is over. Time to head west!
Two years ago we set our sights to trailer Kismet west this summer for four months, mainly to cruise Puget Sound up into British Columbia’s Desolation Sound, and maybe even the Broughtons, time permitting. On our way we’ll put the boat into the Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Utah. It’s been nine months since we had a cruise of any significance – the Tennessee River from Grand Rivers, Kentucky down to Rogersville, Alabama. We are happy to say that the planning is over, the boat is prepared, goodbyes to family and friends (always difficult) were made and the truck is packed.
Our first stop on the way out west will be the Flaming Gorge Reservoir, it straddles the borders of southern Wyoming and northeast Utah, and is 1,586 trailering miles from our home in Michigan. Traveling 450 miles per day seemed like a reasonable goal, so we ventured off early Sunday morning to tackle 4th of July weekend traffic as we worked our way out of Michigan, through some road construction delays and heavy bumper to bumper holiday traffic south of Chicago. Finally clearing that mess, we continued to make our way west on I-80 into Iowa.
We boater homed our first night at Little Bear Campground/RV park in West Liberty, Iowa. For $26 we received a well manicured, shady spot, with electric, water and an added bonus of a swimming pool, which was very refreshing in the 90 degree dry Iowa heat.
By day two, we were in road warrior mode as we plowed our way across the heartland of America. We passed Ronald Reagan and John Wayne’s birth towns, the town where the Herbert Hoover Museum is, three Railroad Museums, a Sprint Car Museum, a Big Rig Truck Museum and more Americana folk art than you could shake a stick at, however we didn’t make any touristy stops, we were too excited to get off the asphalt for awhile and onto the waters of the Flaming Gorge.
Our second night was spent in Kearney, Nebraska. It was 95 degrees when we arrived at our “field of dreams” at the Kearney RV park, seemingly cut out of the middle of a corn field, nice enough though for hot, weary travelers – it had the added bonus of an air conditioned bath house. After traveling in 90 degree heat all day it really hit us when we stopped to call it a night. We found the interior of the boat was too HOT to relax in. It didn’t take us long to come up with the idea of leaving the boat for a bit and head into town to find an air conditioned pub for some cold beer, a bite to eat and to cool off while the sun set and the boat cooled down a little. After two days on the road our muscles were sore from all the inactivity and long periods of sitting.
On day three we left Nebraska and entered Wyoming. It was boat inspection time. Several western states have put measures in place to prevent invasive species from entering their waterways. Because we’re from Michigan they (Wyoming, Arizona, Utah and maybe others) are especially concerned about preventing zebra mussels from getting into their lakes and rivers. Shortly after entering Wyoming we came across their watercraft inspection station. After a thorough inspection of our bilge area, anchor locker, hull and trailer we were happy, but not surprised, that no invasive species were found and we received our launch permit. Had we not passed the test our boat would have had to have been decontaminated with some chemical spray. A short fifteen minutes later we were back on the road.
At the end of the day we found Rawlings RV Park, a KOA RV park in Rawlings, Wyoming. Again it was too hot to cook on the boat so we made our way into town for some Wyoming beef. After asking around town, we found out about a $14 T-bone special at Cactus Jacks, more importantly, the restaurant was comfortably air-conditioned.