Welcome to the UltraEscape

No home, no car, no worries. On the road since 1996, a TechNomad couple share their travel secrets and adventures.

Guest Postings

I have been very busy the past few months...our travels took us from Las Vegas to Michigan via San Antonio, TX and Baton Rouge, LA, then back to Las Vegas and on to San Francisco for the Dreamforce Cloud Computing Convention. We are currently in Reno for a few days before heading to THETRADESHOW, a travel industry convention back in Las Vegas.

Meanwhile, I have made a few guest posts which I wanted to highlight today. I recently completed an Ultimate 3 Day Las Vegas Itinerary for Unanchor.com.

The following is an excerpt from Gaming Destination Diversions

This ULTIMATE itinerary highlights free shows and activities at the famous awe-inspiring themed Las Vegas Casinos plus takes you to a few “off the beaten path” destinations. It's PACKED with advice, insights and helpful maps to guide you through each casino property and includes numerous photos. This handy guide also includes recommendations for meals, shows, activities, entertainment and transportation...

I also wrote a short blog article called "For Future Generations", for TBEX, the Travel Bloggers Exchange here is an excerpt:

“I see the beach!” “I see the beach!” My brother and I would yell excitedly as we rounded the last of the S-shaped curves and the water came into view. We would pull into the tiny township park, pile out of the car and race across the sandy beach to test the temperature of the water. It varied in degrees of cold depending...

Meanwhile, we have changed the focus on our Comphoppers site to:

Earning Complimentary
Food, Lodging, Transportation and Entertainment

Become a Comphopper!  Comphopper's know how to earn complimentary food, drinks, lodging, transportation and entertainment from various endeavors and industry loyalty and reward programs.

We are busy adding content daily. Register at Comphoppers to learn more and share your comments.

Comphoppers - A Travel Club

I have taken a temporary break from my personal blog writing to work on a new project.

We are creating a new online travel club in order to share information on how we maintain our travel lifestyle. We talk about how we live on the road, the resources we use and share information on current discounts available.

The club is founded on the idea that as a group full-time travelers have more travel purchasing power than the average traveler. The site will encourage the travel industry to post exclusive offers for our members. Not only those of us who have 365 days a year to travel will benefit from the club, it will also encourage those who only dream of life on the road to venture out.

Everyone is amazed when they find out how easy it is to live like we do. No home, no car, no worries. Learn more at Comphoppers

Stargazing in Utah

From Luxury to Primative
Moab UT

The sun was shining, the sky a beautiful cloudless bright blue as we pulled out of our luxury accomodations in Avon, Co. The front that had caused the snow showers had finally pulled out of the area, temperatures were raising and clear weather was predicted for the next few days. We headed to Moab, Utah to camp in the desert area of Arches National Park.

Expecting chilly evening’s we made one more stop for camping equipment. In the camping section at a convenient WalMart we pondered over our choices. Should we get the really cool bedding set designed and prepackaged just for our air mattress or should we go for the fleece inserts for our sleeping bags. We choose the inserts avoiding a wrestling match for the covers.

We drove out of “Colorful Colorado” and into beautiful Utah departing I-70 heading south on Hwy 191. As we got closer to our destination the traffic picked up. Unusual for a Thursday, we thought. And then we got the bad news. It was a school holiday weekend in Utah. Who would have though all the campgrounds would be full this time of the year!

At Arches National Park we picked up an information sheet that listed the National Forest campgrounds located in the area and began to search for any available spot. We got lucky and found a site along the Colorado River on Hwy 128. We quickly set up our camp.

Next on the list was relaxing with a cup of freshly pressed Starbuck’s coffee while gazing at the beautiful scenery that surrounded us.

I was struck by one scene in particular. At the top of the mesa, the play of light from the setting sun on the tall spires made it appear as if frozen in stone; an Indian Maiden sat before a fire, relating a tale of long ago to a young child. From a nearby cliff face a grandfatherly figure looked at the scene fondly.

The scene was even more fantastic the following morning. With the angle of the sun just right, the rock cast a shadow that looked just like a motherly figure on the nearby cliff. I had to get out my sketching pad and paints. What do you think?

The only drawback of our site was that during the heat of the day there was little shade. We solved this problem by driving down to the next camping area where there was easy access to the river and several large shade trees.

The evenings were breathtaking. The imposing cliffs turned from a dull red-brown to a bright red-orange, only to be swallowed in shadow and disappear as the sun set. We cuddled up in front of a blazing fire. Overhead we watched the twinkling stars of the Milky Way waiting for the thrill of a shooting star in the black nighttime sky. Occasionally we spotted rapidly orbiting satellites before they faded into nothing.

Slowly the awesome cliffs became more visible as the evening lengthened. The stars began to fade and suddenly over the edge of the mesa a nearly full moon appeared flooding the area with light.
We slept with the rain cover off the top of the tent allowing us to view the sky. With the bright moonlight the shadows from the nearby bushes seemed to dance on the dome of the tent. We snuggled up in our warm bags with the fleece liners and slept comfortable even when the temperatures dropped into the low 30’s overnight.

Four Days at Sheration Mountain Vista Resort

Avon, Colorado

When we set out from Cheyenne this morning it was a beautiful sunny day. However, by the time we reached Denver and headed west on I-70 dark clouds obscured the mountain tops.

We began to climb, neon signs warned of fog ahead. We climbed higher, up and over the 10,000 foot plus passes, snowflakes began falling. Snowmaking machines were spewing out additional snow at the ski resorts we passed. The mountain tops were obscured.

Suddenly, we dropped down into the Vail Valley, the sky turned a beautiful bright blue and the sun came out of hiding. By the time we arrived in Avon we were well below the snowline.

Our destination, The Sheraton Mountain Vista Resort, in Avon, CO was a surprise. We had received a special invitation to stay earlier in the year. We were assured it was not a ploy to get us to a time-share presentation. When we asked why the special offer we were told it was simply to get us to visit and tell others about the resort. We fell for it.

We received a VIP check-in and were told of all the fine activities in the area, advised of special restaurants and locations were we could receive discounts and about other points of interest. And then the pitch came. If we would go to a presentation we would receive additional bonuses. We declined.

Our unit was very nice with a balcony overlooking the mountains complete with a BBQ grill, a push button fireplace and Jacuzzi. The kitchen didn’t have a stove but the convection microwave served us well. And we availed ourselves of the stacked washer and dryer and spent time at the City Market selecting special treats to enjoy during our stay.

Because we were staying for several days I pulled out my French easel and acrylic paints. The view from our unit was beautiful with the snow covered mountains in the background and the fall colors in the foreground. I thought I would give it a try while Dan worked the stock market on the wireless internet.

We spent one day touring the area via automobile. We visited Beaver Creek Ski Resort and drove along the Eagle River to the nearby town of Edwards. Here we strolled along the Eagle River Valley hiking and biking trail and checked out the quaint shops.

Another day we wandered down to the Eagle River trail from our unit. We stopped to take pictures of the many statues dominating the numerous round-a-bouts.

Along the trail we admired the ski-lifts overhead, colorful trees in their autumn glory and watched the fly fishermen tossing out their lines. Even though our resort had an excellent fitness area complete with several indoor and outdoor hot tubs, I always enjoy walking outdoors.

All to soon, it was time to hit the trail again. Today we head for Moab, UT.

Kicking up our heels in Cheyenne

Cheyenne, WY.

Our first stop after hurriedly leaving Deadwood, SD was Cheyenne, WY. Here we enjoyed a short layover while waiting for the weather to clear before crossing the Rocky Mountains.

Although it was cold, windy and rainy we ventured out discovering the Mall, various restaurants and a movie theater.

Travel Tip: When attending a movie in a mall theater it is better to park near the theater entrance. We made the mistake of parking at another entrance assuming the mall would still be open after our movie. We were wrong. We ended up walking in the cold misty rain completely around the outside of the mall back to our car. We needed the exercise but it sure was cold!

The following morning we spent a short time touring the downtown area, passing the capitol building, a dominant structure on the Cheyenne skyline, in addition to being historically one of the most important buildings in the State, the train depot and rail tower.

We loved each of the eight foot tall cowboy boots that have been carefully painted by local artists to show Wyoming's and Cheyenne's history that are scattered around the area. It's always a treat to discover something new when traveling. Kicking up our heels in Cheyenne.

Deadwood and Turkeys

Deadwood, part 2

Last night we overheard the rumor of an impending winter storm. This morning we awoke to over 2 inches of snow on the ground. The weather report calls for more snow over the weekend. We cancelled our reservations and decided to get out while the roads were still passable.

Our cart was full of suitcases, computer equipment, coffee supplies and our cooler as we left the comfort of our hotel. Across the parking lot the Subaru Outback rental was covered in snow.

Now I know I packed the gloves somewhere, but they were not to be found.

So while looking and feeling a little foolish, I stuck my hand in my green and blue winter boot and began clearing several inches of wet snow from the car. Finally, I was able to see through the windshield and move the car to the protection of the overhang, covering the hotel entrance for loading. Not an easy task, as car is packed with our camping supplies that we have yet to use.

After a quick stop for gas, which surprisingly had gone down in price to below $3.00, we cautiously headed out through the Black Hills south on Hwy 85 bound for Cheyenne, WO.

The roads were wet and sandy but not covered in snow. The snow piles along the roadside indicated a plow had passed recently. There were only a few flurries in the air as we wound our way through the gulches, along the river and up over the passes. The pines trees were weighted down with heavy snow and occasionally as the temperature rose; snow fell in front of us from the power lines that crossed over the roadway.

The winter scenery was spectacular. Snow covered mountains, bare bluffs, green pine trees heavy with snow surrounded by the bright yellow of aspens and cottonwoods still showing their fall colors and tall, golden grass sticking up through the white snow. It made it worth the rush of packing up and hitting the road earlier than planned.

We were traveling through a peaceful snow covered valley when I noticed something odd. Over near the tree line were many black objects that stood out from the white background.

“Tree stumps”, I thought at first glance. Then it dawned on me that they were moving. With the fanning of a large tail, I was able to identify a large flock of turkeys. I turned to Dan exclaiming in surprise, “There’s a flock of turkeys in that field”!

Up ahead of us the road climbed and turned sharply to the right. Just as I spoke, another flock of large turkeys decided to waddle across the road. Suddenly, a car rounded the curve; the turkeys took flight scattering in every direction. The panic stricken birds flew directly across the road in front of the car heading for the safety of the shoulder.

I can't imagine what the driver thought as he was suddenly in the midst of the flock flying at windshield height. One large fat bird frantically flapping it's wings could not get enough lift or speed to avoid the car's grill. It was hit and went tumbling to the side of the road. The driver apparently unfazed continued traveling down the road. He was past us before we could fully take in the scene.

That was our first experience with a hit and run. You just never know what to expect around the next curve. Happy travels.

Play and Stay in Deadwood

Deadwood Territory
National Historic Landmark
Part 1

The town of Deadwood, South Dakota, a historic landmark is currently being restored to it's former glory. The cobbled streets are lined with gaming halls (80) that date back to the Gold Rush of 1876, offering games of chance, food and liquor.

The town, down in a deep gulch with a river running under it; and surround by the beautiful black hills is full of history with lots to see and do.

We arrived late in the afternoon and spent the evening walking from establishment to establishment trying our luck. Overall, we felt the games returned enough to make it fun, while not breaking the bank.

We visited Kevin Costner’s casino, the Midnight Star, then explored the Lucky Nugget Gambling Hall, the original location of Wild Bill Hickok’s shooting and interpretive site, and home of the historic Eagle Bar and brothel. At the Buffalo Bodega Complex, I dined on Buffalo prime rib. We ended up at the Silverado, associated with the historic Franklin Hotel, where we discovered an electronic “Let it Ride” table with computerized dealer’s and seats for five players. What fun!

The following morning we discovered that from our hotel, the Comfort Inn Gulches of Fun Resort we were able to access the 110 mile Mickelson Trail. The trail was the originally site of the Burlington Northern railroad line that took trains from Edgemont, SD to the northern Black Hills and the gold mines in the Deadwood Area. The line was abandoned in 1983. It became the states’ first rails to trails project.

The crushed limestone and gravel trail, designed for hiking and biking, turns into a paved pathway as we near the trailhead located in the town of Deadwood. It’s an easy walk. The trail travels downhill into town, winding along a rushing river once mined for its gold. Shuttles are available for the return trip.

High on a hill over the trail, we spot a siren. The town, originally named by prospectors for the piles of deadwood that littered the river, is prepared to alert it's citizens in the event of a flood. We learned later that the main roadway is build over the river. In the evening it is not unusual to see deer wandering along the path browsing on the fall foliage.

After a quick stop at the historic post office, where we viewed a mural created by a local historian, we headed to the old depot. Now the location of the visitor’s center, the historic building houses a museum touting the history of the area. We picked up a brochure for a “Boot Hill” tour.

Boarding the open-air, Boot Hill tour bus in front of the Buffalo Bodega, cowboy boots hanging from the windows, our guide relates tales of days gone by as we drive through town. Our tour takes us to Mount Moriah Cemetery, the resting place of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. Our guide, stands before Wild Bill’s stone where some enterprising vandal left an offering of whiskey bottles, separating the facts from fiction.

From the cemetery, located on a steep hill that towers over the town, the view is outstanding. In the distance, the historic Homestake Mine is visible. Our guide warns not to mispronounce the neighboring town of Lead. “It’s lead into the ground to the gold,” he says, “not lead, as in a pencil”. Good tip.

The next morning as we drink our coffee, enjoying the view of the tall hills behind the hotel, we are surprised to see the first snowflakes of the season. We ignore the early warning as the sun comes out heralding another beautiful fall day. We extend our stay in order to receive our mail.

More on our adventures in Deadwood in the next posting.