Tuesday, April 8, 2014

G = Great Grapevine Hills Trail & a few updates


Thursday morning was “moving day” for Millie and me.  We were moving to our second reserved site for the week at Big Bend National Park’s Rio Grande Village—this one right next to Suzanne’s site.   It was also perfect timing to go refill our fresh water tank at the dump station (since none of the sites here have hookups).


With that task completed and now all moved in, it was now time to play!  Yesterday’s winds were now gone and we could go do the hike we had planned to the Grapevine Hills Trail.  It was rated as an easy 2 1/4 mile desert hike in the park brochures, so right up my alley (but likely a bit of a bore for Suzanne’s more adventurous hiking legs).

After a 30-mile drive along the park highway, and an additional 6-mile drive down a gravel road, we arrived to the trailhead to pull into the last parking space left in the lot…whew!   Most of the trail was a flat, straight walk along a sandy wash surrounded by mountains of laccolith boulder rocks that reminded me a bit of the giant Jumbo Rocks I’d seen at Joshua Tree National Park a few years ago.


It was an easy, pleasant walk punctuated with a few photo stops to photograph the blooming yucca.


Soon, the trail began to steeply climb into the boulder hills providing a magnificent view of the valley below!


Higher and higher we climbed!


Now stopping for a few photo ops of each other so we could catch our breath!


Incredibly, the boulders got larger the higher we climbed!


After scrambling the summit and carefully making our way around the cliff edge of one final set of big boulders, we saw the trail’s final highlight—Balanced Rock!  Wow, what a thrill!


Suzanne scrambled down the other side and found a large flat rock where we could sit and admire the view…and what a spectacular view it was!


We hiked a bit further along the ridgeline to get a few more shots of Balanced Rock (being ever so careful to watch for any snakes sunning themselves on the rocks as the park brochure had warned!)


This had been my most challenging hike of the week so far, and I (err…Ethel) was feeling absolutely elated and invincible!  Where was all this newfound strength and confidence coming from?

I could just about lift and throw this large boulder with my own two hands!   But alas, I decided to leave it for the next middle-aged woman to claim her victory pose Open-mouthed smile.  I’d be content to just sing the old Helen Reddy song “I am Woman” all the way down the mountain and back to the car!



And now for a few miscellaneous blog updates--

If you read these posts from an RSS reader (like the excellent, free Feedly reader I use!), you might want to click on over to the main WinnieViews blog page to take a look at our new header photo!  As much as I loved the old one, it needed updating to show our newer J-model View, so a quick snap of our new rig at Big Bend did the trick!

While you’re at the blog’s homepage, scroll down and take a look at the “We Recommend” sidebar (as well as my RV Gadget Favs page) for some new items I’ve found and am totally in love with, including these:

BackJoy Relief Seat: Sitting in my straight 90-degree RV dinette bench seat used to be very uncomfortable on my tailbone (especially when starting to stand up again!), but this lightweight, easy-to-store Backjoy seat has now eliminated that pain and, amazingly, makes sitting in the bench seat now a pleasure! 


Unsure if it was just a fluke, I had Suzanne also try it out on her tailbone, and she’s now a believer too in this space-aged, featherweight little seat!

Travasak Lives Again!: Speaking of RV comforts, I recently discovered that CampingWorld has brought my beloved Travasak bedding system back to life! The original company went bankrupt in 2009, and I was recently lamenting that my old Travasak sheets were starting to look pretty raggedy.  But it now appears CW might be riding to the rescue!  If anyone buys some of the new stuff, let me know what you think!  I’ll probably be in the market real soon to update mine!


Amazon Link:  Finally, while we’re on the subject of shopping, you may have noticed the Amazon link that’s been appearing at the bottom of my posts lately.  Many bloggers have now become Amazon affiliates.  It lets you help out your favorite blog while doing your regular Amazon shopping.  No additional cost to you, and a few extra pennies to us bloggers trying to keep up with the high cost of cellular bandwidth and diesel fuel to share these posts with our dear readers! Smile 

Well, recently one very thoughtful reader emailed to tell me she’d be making a major $1000+ purchase from Amazon and wanted to be sure I got the affiliate credit for it.  After our email exchange, she clicked my Amazon link to finish up her purchases and buy all the stuff she had been holding in her Amazon Wishlist.  The next day, she excitedly wrote me back “did you get it? did you get it?” (referring to the affiliate credit).

Unfortunately, I did not Sad smile

It turns out that even if you click the link below and see the “winni0b-20” tag at the end of the URL in your web browser’s address bar, Amazon will only credit us for the new items you might add to your shopping cart or wishlist during that session.  Any existing wishlist items that you might be purchasing won’t count (Amazon won’t consider these as being referred by WinnieViews since you had already had them on your Wishlist before using our link). 

So, a slight refinement request for the link text below-- please start your Amazon dreaming and Wishlist-ing from the link!  Amazon will then send a few pennies back to WinnieViews for any of those items you might ultimately purchase from them.  Sincere thanks from Lynne and Millie!




  1. The "I Am Woman" photo may be your next blog title photo. Though I like the current one. Someone had to revive the Travasack at some point. People have been bemoaning its demise for about a decade. Gonna go check it out.

    1. Ha, well it's now my most-popular Facebook profile photo ever, so maybe I should update the blog photo with it too someday! I do need to get myself up to CampingWorld soon to look at those new Travasaks. Sure hope the new sheets are compatible with the older bags! They are so great for our small rigs (albeit, expensive as heck!)

  2. I use Feedly, and in "settings" you can set it to display blogs in their original web page design. I prefer that as it shows the blogger's display choice. BTW, your blog is amazing!

    1. Thanks Peter. I didn't know that about Feedly-- I'll have to go check that setting out!

  3. Great header photo. Your photos are wonderful as always. What a difference a real camera makes.

    Slight correction on the Amazon link. I first clicked on your link, then signed in from scratch and that is when my wish list popped up. I just tried it again and I have 2 in my new wish list. Bottom line is that you HAVE to start any research on Lynne's link or she won't get the credit.


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