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Our Annual St George trip and PPA Pickleball Tournament


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Chris and I met playing tennis in 1991, and 3 years ago we transitioned to Pickleball for the community and it's also a little easier on our older bodies!

Chris has competed in a bunch of tournaments with her Ladies partner, and we have played a few mixed doubles together. Loved our visit to St George for this tournament last year and we are playing it again this week: Selkirk Red Rock Open in St. George, Utah | PPA Tour

So, it had the makings of a great Oliver trip. Thought we would boondock a first night just 2 hours from home, then 2 nights at Valley of Fire Nevada on the way. Starting tomorrow, we will spend 3 nights at a St George RV park right in town to be close to the tournament.

This was our first night, off Signal Rd in Wikieup AZ (pics below).

Wikieup 4-24a.jpg

Wikieup 4-24b.jpg

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Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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Nice Photos!

Appreciate mixing sports with camping trips! Where we play golf they have very nice tennis & pickle ball courts, too. We try to take golf clubs on camping trips, too. 

Looks like a fine trip y'all are having!

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1 hour ago, rideandfly said:

Looks like a fine trip y'all are having!

Thank you. It sure started that way until we ran into some unexpected weather. Last year, the tournament was early vs. late April. We drove into St George on April 5, 2023, and the temps were in the 40s with snow flurries. We had a friend playing Womens Doubles that day. We grabbed coats and hats and watched for a while. Our matches were the next day and it got up to the high 60s and the rest of the week was perfect!

This year is a much different story, OMG! Getting ready the week before we noticed the forecast would be in the 80s for the tournament. But it got worse, and Chris is not a summer person at all. Driving out on Sunday, as we dropped 3500 FT leaving the elevation of the Prescott NF, it got hot and was in the high 90s the remainder of the drive. Yes, the pictures look nice, but what you can't see is Chris and Charley were hiding in the shade of the Oliver as the sun had just set.

It was 91 degrees in the Oliver, when we parked, and it stayed hot until 9 PM. We were in the Sonoran Desert at 2000 FT, so lows got down to the 60s and we slept well. Right now, I can remember @Patriot writing, "I like options" when he was referring to carrying a generator, that I was not wanting to do. Living SW, we don't summer camp and weren't thinking of high 90s in April.

The real issue was the next two nights, where we had booked 2 nights "no utilities" at Valley of Fire. How fitting is that name, when the forecast is 99 degrees? We wasted our reservation there and looked for a place with hookups to run the A/C! Ended up a bit short of our planned stay, two nights at Callville Bay RV Village Park, which we would not recommend. It's a park of rundown singlewides for weekend boating types, with 5-6 RV pads (picture taken Monday night).

Today we head to St George. Looks like a great route, driving by Pinto Valley and Jimbilnan Wilderness Areas on the way to Valley of Fire. We will at least drive into the valley to take a look. Then Moapa Valley, Mesquite NV and on to St. George tonight.

Callville Bay RV Village Park.jpg

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Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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We camped at Snow Canyon SP at St. George UT and Valley of Fire SP NV in September a few years ago.  It was hot at both State Parks and had a wild rain/thunder/wind storm one night at Valley of Fire, but we did have shore power at both locations.

Beautiful areas, hope the weather cooperates for the remainder of the trip!

 

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Posted (edited)

Valley of Fire was not in the stars for us this trip. We drove into the east entrance today, which should be less busy than the other side from I-15. There was a line of cars and trucks backed up a ways from the entrance gate. After 10 minutes they had only let one car through. Chris and I voted, and we decided to pass until our next time, perhaps on the way back or next year. At least we live relatively close. This is as close as we got! (see pic)

Pulled a big shoulder to shoulder U-turn and headed directly to St. George. Love how you can turn with the Oliver sharply without issue. 

Nice cool breeze this evening. We hit the ball a little to warm up and watched some of our favorite pros practice. High tomorrow forecast is 77 for our tournament play-day (very nice if not too windy). High of only 62, chance of rain forecasted for Friday! Thankful for the cool. Snow Valley should be great next week.

Valley of Fire NV SP.jpg

Edited by jd1923
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Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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Posted (edited)

As they say, "you win some and lose some." I believe it was all the changes we went through on our trip getting here, but simply stated, we played like cr@p!

We started the day losing but, in the end, we won big and had a great time at the tournament! We're thinking next year we'll just come to watch. They had a very short format for us amateur players. No time to get truly warmed up and play well.

Long story short, we watched 4 great matches courtside. The best was a with an ATP tennis pro we have followed since he first turned pro as a teenager in 2011. Jack Sock was a recent great US tennis player. His highest ATP world ranking was #2 in doubles, #8 in singles, and he medaled in the 2016 Olympics for the US. He retired from tennis last year and he says his second career in pickleball will be all about having fun! What a great player, humble/polite guy (always takes his hat off when shaking hands at the end of a match) and crowd favorite as he kids with the crowd regularly.

The pics will tell the story, but after catching an out ball, and a free Selkirk hat, Chris snapped the picture of me and Jack!

Jack Sock at Red Rock.jpg

Sock Signature.jpg

Edited by jd1923
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Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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Awesome swag, John!  Nice touch with Jack's signature on your new hat!!!

Cheers!

Edited by MAX Burner
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New campground for 3 nights at Snow Canyon Utah State Park. Got here yesterday, several tight spots in a row with water and electric. Pretty place and everybody we meet is so nice, guests and staff.

You can just barely pull through to our site #8 and at first the streetside was 6" low. Using our LevelMatePRO+ we got that number down to 3.5" and the Andersen Levelers took care of the rest. Enjoyed our first night here!

Snow Canyon UT SP.jpg

OTT Snow Canyon UT SP.jpg

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Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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Finishing up our visit at Snow Canyon. It doesn't snow much here, so this Utah state park gets its name from two Latter-Day Saint pioneers, Lorenzo and Erastus Snow, who assisted in settling the area during the 1860s.

This is a mountain bikers paradise it appears, so many trails. They have a race starting here in a few days and the enthusiasts are showing up each day! They also have an amazing asphalt paved two-lane bike trail from here all the way down to St George. Is this the race route? We followed it for miles, going into town today for supplies.

Our final picture here is of the "Petrified Sand Dunes."

Snow Canyon Petrified San Dunes.jpg

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Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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Posted (edited)

Our trip has been one of weather extremes, from the high 90s 10 days ago in S NV to a high of 63 in Cedar City Utah yesterday. We spent the night at a BLM site (free dispersed camping), the Parowan Gap Petroglyphs: Utah Petroglyphs | Parowan Gap | Visit Utah. The low overnight was 28 and now that it's 10:30 AM it's 50 and feels very warm in the sun (altitude 5600 FT).

What a difference a day makes, not only in temperatures, but the contrast between a busy state park and the open BLM. Here our closest neighbors, 4 of them are a minimum of 300 yards away. We met two great couples at Snow Canyon, and then we heard complaining from some not-happy campers.

A Class-A with Florida plates, parked in a narrow site like ours a couple spaces down. Slides open on both sides, one was nearly touching the shade structure and the other was hanging over the shared hookups. Common S FL dress, where the couple came out in wool hats and winter coats, since it was only 70 out! The Oregon couple next to them in the Sprinter Class-B had much to say about the space they were taking and running their basement HVAC all day and night, so they cranked up their stereo! Chris and I looked at each other thinking yep, it's time to leave!

We’re wearing shorts of course. Gave Charley a bath on our way out that morning, by backing the truck bed right to the Oliver outdoor shower. Better washing the dog at a good height. We hitched up, filled fresh, dumped the tanks, and I used the campground shower myself after everything else was done. And we headed north, SR-18 north, to SR-56 east to SR-130 north, a very nice route avoiding I-15.

This location will be great for the next few days since it's warming up again. We're also 45 minutes to Cedar Breaks National Monument which is the one great SW-Utah park that we have not yet visited. The mountain we can see from our campsite is Brian Head Peak (11,307 FT).

Parowan Gap1.jpg

Parowan Gap2.jpg

Parowan Gap3.jpg

Parowan Gap4.jpg

Edited by jd1923
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Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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Great photos, pretty scenery and it looks like y’all really had a good time! 

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On 5/2/2024 at 2:32 PM, Patriot said:

Great photos, pretty scenery and it looks like y’all really had a good time! 

We certainly are Patriot and @rideandfly and thanks for writing well wishes. Today was GREAT! Finally made it to Cedar Breaks NM and what a view. Literally breathless at 10,440 FT! The park is still closed for winter, but you can park at the North View Overlook. Since I've been reporting weather, it was 63 degrees in Parowan and only 43 another 4000 FT higher at the lookout.

Chris too 100 pictures and I took some too. She got this one of me sitting on the overlook wall. Have proof we was there! Simply amazing! Didn't want to leave, but had to eventually, only had a couple layers and a spring jacket.

JD at Cedar Break North.jpg

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Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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Posted (edited)

BTW, it's not advised to tow your Oliver up SR-143. It's a 4K FT climb in 12 miles, and REALLY STEEP the last 2 miles prior to the town of Brian Head. Road signs showed 13% grade and there was a sign going up and another coming down stating "Trailer Towing Not recommended."

We did see a new-model HD Ram-Cummins pulling a ~7K trailer up as we were heading back down. Our older 4-speed automatic was working hard on this route, even without trailer attached. I had OD off the entire climb and trans temp was 221F when we parked at the top, where 172F is highway normal. The hottest I've seen pulling the Oliver, when hot outside on an Interstate climb was 201F.

If you ever get in a situation where your trans slips, or if you have a temp reading, it gets too hot, stop and put your trans in neutral (NOT Park) which allows the trans fluid to cycle through the cooler. When in Park, the fluid is sitting still, staying hot much longer. I did this for 5 minutes and the temp dropped over 30 degrees. A transmission performance upgrade is very likely in our future.

Edited by jd1923
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Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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1 hour ago, jd1923 said:

We certainly are Patriot and @rideandfly and thanks for writing well wishes. Today was GREAT! Finally made it to Cedar Breaks NM and what a view. Literally breathless at 10,440 FT! The park is still closed for winter, but you can park at the North View Overlook. Since I've been reporting weather, it was 63 degrees in Parowan and only 43 another 4000 FT higher at the lookout.

Chris too 100 pictures and I took some too. She got this one of me sitting on the overlook wall. Have proof we was there! Simply amazing! Didn't want to leave, but had to eventually, only had a couple layers and a spring jacket.

JD at Cedar Break North.jpg

 

 

Beautiful scenery today!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

41 minutes ago, jd1923 said:

BTW, it's not advised to tow your Oliver up SR-143. It's a 4K FT climb in 12 miles, and REALLY STEEP the last 2 miles prior to the town of Brian Head. Road signs showed 13% grade and there was a sign going up and another coming down stating "Trailer Towing Not recommended."

We did see a new-model HD Ram-Cummins pulling a ~7K trailer up as we were heading back down. Our older 4-speed automatic was working hard on this route, even without trailer attached. I had OD off the entire climb and trans temp was 221F when we parked at the top, where 172F is highway normal. The hottest I've seen pulling the Oliver, when hot outside on an Interstate climb was 201F.

If you ever get in a situation where your trans slips, or if you have a temp reading, it gets too hot, stop and put your trans in neutral (NOT Park) which allows the trans fluid to cycle through the cooler. When in Park, the fluid is sitting still, staying hot much longer. I did this for 5 minutes and the temp dropped over 30 degrees. A transmission performance upgrade is very likely in our future.

Good tips!

Thanks for posting this great trip!

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Great snaps, brother - keep 'em com'n!  Enjoy your Ollie Adventure in the Rockies...  Cheers!

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Posted (edited)

Another tennis-loving Oliver owner here. Sounds great! I'll take a trip that includes Jack Sock and Cedar Breaks anytime! Saw both in 2023 - one at the Dallas Open and one in October, right before they closed for the winter season. It's beautiful up there for sure.

Edited by jdmmtx
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Lived in Sandy, UT for 8 years and loved all the wide open spaces.  Their National and State Parks are amazing!  Super glad you are having a great trip.

With a 23 year old diesel, I suspect you are seeing some age related issues.   When newer those diesel 2500 trucks would pull loads a lot heavier up just about anything and not overheat.  Suggestions:

  • A transmission cooler upgrade. 
  • I would replace the thermostat if it is also OEM or even just 10 years old.  They can corrode/wear out and then not open fully when needed with older age. 
  • If still a problem, consider having your radiator "boiled out with chemical" professionally done.     

Question:  What is this on the roof of your truck?

John

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16 minutes ago, Geronimo John said:

Question:  What is this on the roof of your truck? John

image.png.80fc75d09ff443618b579e87522717d4.png

That would be a Parsec Husky Pro 7-in-1 Antenna (4 cell, 2 Wi-Fi and 1 GPS antennas combined). The Pepwave router is mounted on the cab wall behind the rear seat. I wrote this up in a mod post in January: Pepwave Cellular Router and not the common install - Ollie Modifications - Oliver Owner Forums (olivertraveltrailers.com) 

This is the kit I used: Speed Demon Mobile Internet Bundle – MobileMustHave.com. We get excellent cell reception almost everywhere we go, stream TV, etc. Mounted in the TV since so many times we are detached, so the Wi-Fi router goes with us. Chris can use computer as we drive too. BTW, in this picture, up at Parowan UT we got 230 Mbps download speed. And we stayed 2 other nights in deep canyons without cell service.

Nothing wrong with the older Cummins Diesel, although the 2nd Gen Cummins has much less HP and torque than the newer ones (thinking 5th Gen is current which will double those numbers). The engine ran at 190-200F (ECT) the entire trip and it has a 200F thermostat. The engine cooling system is running as designed and I have a performance water pump and new serpentine belt ready when needed (OEM water pumps are weak on these). The Cummins with recently upgraded fuel supply will outlive me for sure.

The temp I was referring to above is Transmission Fluid Temp (TFT). The older Rams are known for weaker transmissions, as mine has the 4-speed 47RE Chrysler trans. Newer model trucks have more gearing. Guys will tow 15K LBS with these older Rams, by adding aftermarket torque converters, valve bodies, etc. That is what mine could need at some point ($6K build). Sounds like a lot, but our TV cost used about 20% of a new diesel truck. A rebuild is not urgent though, since it shifted nicely all trip and the fluid only got hot climbing the 13% grade to Cedar Breaks! When you increase engine performance, as I have in fuel supply and ECM, you need to keep your eye on the trans being the weak link.

 

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Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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Love this! This is the state my wife and I are hoping to get to (traveling to camp and playing some pickleball). We just got back from Mt. Vernon doing the Tulip Tussel. Doing Airbnb for now until we get our Oliver someday we hope. Warming up at tournament play is always a bit tricky. We had the same issue plus it was 50 degrees. The concept of combining travel with stops for pickleball tournaments or open play across the country is quite appealing. Especially, if we can do some PPA tournaments and combine amateur play with watching the real pros like Jack Sock! Should you find yourself in the Coeur d'Alene, ID region and are looking for a pickleball match, feel free to reach out.

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Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, Zodd said:

Love this! This is the state my wife and I are hoping to get to (traveling to camp and playing some pickleball). We just got back from Mt. Vernon doing the Tulip Tussel. Doing Airbnb for now until we get our Oliver someday we hope. Warming up at tournament play is always a bit tricky. We had the same issue plus it was 50 degrees. The concept of combining travel with stops for pickleball tournaments or open play across the country is quite appealing. Especially, if we can do some PPA tournaments and combine amateur play with watching the real pros like Jack Sock! Should you find yourself in the Coeur d'Alene, ID region and are looking for a pickleball match, feel free to reach out.

Love another forum member who is into Pickleball too. I thought there would be 5-6 of us here with all the members, but two is good. Hope you get your Oliver soon. We got lucky to find a used one in our hometown and the prior owner backed it right into our home RV spot upon payment. You should change your profile to read "couple" since you two will be traveling together of course.

Let's meet at the PPA Red Rock Open next year. Closer to us than you, but somewhere in the middle. The pros will be there, and you can play too. It's a great venue where you can see many pro matches with just a grounds pass that players get with tournament entry. My warmup comment was that they only allowed us one game to score of 15 vs. the standard two games to 11. No time to catch up and it was a lot of money to play only 3 games to 15 (more games if you keep winning).

We would love to play pickleball with you one day in beautiful Coeur d'Alene, ID. Prescott is not a bad visit either during your winter, so the invite goes both ways! We'll look for you having a hull # one day soon. Bring your new Oliver down our way and we'll supply "partial hookups." 

Edited by jd1923
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Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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After 3 nights at Parowan Gap, it was time to start heading back south. Wanted to stop on the way to see the Dino Cliffs Trail that @topgun2 suggested, but they had the Interstate exit closed and traffic was backed up everywhere. Turns out Saturday was the "Ironman 70.3 National Championships” in St George. This was not going to happen this year. Bill wrote me, "I'm guessing that those tracks will still be there for the next time!"

An hour on I-15 with winds getting stronger all day, was enough for me! I found a great route south where we could avoid the majority of I-15. Love to avoid Interstates (we've driven many times to and from Austin and Prescott, 1100 miles and NO Interstates, nice).

The route is "Old US Hwy 91" which runs along the historic Old Spanish Trail. Starting in Ivins UT (St George NW suburb) ending in Mesquite, NV. We boondocked on the way at the entrance to Beaver Dam Wash National Conservation Area. Winds over the weekend got up to a constant 40 MPH with stronger gusts. We could see the Nevada valley ahead looking thick like a dust storm. We wanted to spend the night at elevation instead. There was a tiny camping area at the entrance to the NCA. Noticed it out of the corner of my eye and turned around for it. We camped on a level site with dense cedars on the side. The cedars cut the wind so much, we were able to sit outside in the evening. Stayed there to 2 PM the next day when the winds were finally slowing.

What a beautiful area! Beaver Dam Wash NCA Fact Sheet.pdf (blm.gov)

Beaver NCA1.jpg

Beaver NCA2.jpg

Beaver NCA4.jpg

Beaver NCA3.jpg

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Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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Posted (edited)

Awe @MAX Burner, thank you! You're just a sucker for a dog picture. 🤣

Charley can't wait to meet you and "the knuckleheads!"

Edited by jd1923
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Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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We made two more stops getting us back home. After the 24 hours of 50 MPH winds it was nice to get to a relaxing place. BTW, there is a large boondocking location just north of Lake Meade NRA and Valley of Fire SP on Northshore Rd SH-169. Would have stopped there, but it is on high ground and was still quite windy.

We remembered from the way up that there was another campground at Callville Bay. Two weeks before it was in the 90s, so we stayed at the Trailer Village (ugly, but full hookups). The weather was much cooler this time and we stayed at the campground. They have about 50 nice campsites and they only had a 1-2 campers. We took site 30 with the view of Lake Meade.

I covered our next stop, in an "We saw an Ollie" post. We found Grand Canyon Caverns campground on old US HWY 66 just past Peach Springs AZ and to our surprise the only other camper at the campground was an Ollie! The campground was a bit run down, way past its heyday! There was no attendant, office locked when we arrived about 5PM. WE asked in the restaurant, no answer. Left leisurely late morning and still nobody to pay for our night. All we did was park and level, spend the night without their hookups anyway. 

The next morning another hour down Route-66, then an hour down US-89 and we were back home. Chris and I really enjoyed our first real Oliver excursion, finding nice stops along the way!

Calville Bay Campground.jpg

Grand Canyon Caverns.jpg

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