Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Small Taste of Colorado

Colorado may well be our favorite state, but it was not a destination state this year.  We made the most of our four nights and driving time there as we made our way to Utah.  The drive south on I-25 from Cheyenne became more scenic as we approached the Loveland area.  Highway 34 to Estes Park, especially in the Thompson Canyon area, was a beautiful route.  Those canyon walls were HIGH!!

Rocky Mountain National Park provided a free shuttle service to the various points of the park.  It was so nice to let someone else do the driving!  After viewing the park introduction film at the Visitor Center, we shuttled to Bear Lake and hiked the loop around the lake.  

This picture was taken at the trailhead of Glacier Trail.  How many glaciers do you 

Jellystone Park of Estes Park was a fun park with steep roads & trails and a lot of altitude.  The altitude just about kicked our butts.  We had to push ourselves to hike the trail behind the park, the one that ends up in a national forest when you miss the trail marker.  Here's the view from the trail.

Traveling Interstate 70 from Denver to Grand Junction was such a treat!  I've never before been through so many tunnels at such a high altitude.  This route was a "first time" for both of us and went beyond our expectations of beauty and grandeur.  The road signs were quite interesting, too!


The Eisenhower Memorial Tunnel was fun (so were all the others). We crossed the Continental Divide while driving through this tunnel at 11,000+ elevation.

Lots of tunnels!

 I-70 is an engineering marvel, built along the Colorado River.  The cliffs and canyons of the Rockies were breathtaking.

An overnight stop was made in Grand Junction at the Junction West RV Park.  Plans to visit the Colorado National Monument were cancelled due to tunnels too small for our RV to go through.

That was a short but sweet time spent in Colorado!!  More in the future, please!

coming soon:  Utah


August 20th and we were headed to Wyoming!  First stop:  Devils Tower National Monument.  This was a short but interesting stop.

On to Ft. Laramie and the Chuck Wagon RV Park.  More homework should have been done prior to selecting this little town and this RV Park :(  The population of Ft. Laramie is under 300, so there was nothing to do other than visit the area historic sites.  The RV park was okay other than the railroad tracks that were just feet away from the park.  Trains and whistles, along with rattling and shaking, ALL. NIGHT. LONG.  But also just feet away was the F. L. A. G. cafe (Fort Laramie American Grill).  The food was excellent, and the owner was super friendly.  Any guesses on the decor theme?? 

The historic attractions in the area were superb.  First stop was at the Fort Laramie National Historic Site.  During the mid-1800's, the fort was the supply stop for the Pony Express, Mormon Trail, Oregon Trail, and California Trail.  Thousands of emigrants making their way West walked these grounds.

A short drive up the road found us at the Oregon Trail Ruts National Historic Landmark.   It was so difficult to imagine driving or guiding covered wagons (carts or wagons of any kind) over this path.  Parts of the ruts were as high my knees.

A few miles further down the river was the Register Cliff State Historic Site.  The Oregon Trail followed the North Platte River across the plains and into the rugged terrain of the West.   As the emigrants passed these cliffs, they registered their presence.  Over 700 names are found on Register Cliff, along with dates as early as 1829.

All three of these Historic Sites were poignant for Curt, as his great-great grandparents Bolinger emigrated to California via the Oregon Trail.  Did they walk the very grounds of Fort Laramie that Curt walked?  Did their wagon wheels touch the rut that Curt had his foot placed in?  Did they register their names somewhere on Register Cliff?

On to Cheyenne, with plans to visit the Western Museum.  Unfortunately there was no place within walking distance of the museum to park our RV!!  There is a huge parking garage for cars but nothing we could fit into.  After driving around town for close to an hour looking for parking, we ended up going to Holliday Park where the "Big Boy" steam engine is stationed.  Curt is a train nut, so this was exciting!  First time he has ever seen a "Big Boy".   This 1.2 million pound behemoth is one of only 25 of the world's largest steam engines built exclusively for Union Pacific between 1941 and 1944.

Our next Cheyenne stop was the Terry Bison Ranch where we spent two wonderfully western nights!   Following a nice walk around the Ranch,  we decided that the "Ride and Dine" special was a really good deal.  A two-hour trail ride that was not a "nose to butt" ride....just the two of us with a guide, spirited horses, and acres of hills to ride in.  In addition to prairie dogs, pronghorn antelope, cayotes and bison, we saw a huge herd of elk.  One small group (13 of them) stood like centuries on a ridge as we passed by...oh so close.

Following the ride we dined at "The Senators" steakhouse.  As part of the "Ride and Dine" special, any entree from the menu could be ordered (including the $42 bison steak).  I opted for the bison ribs, very yummy.  Curt enjoyed a bison sirloin.

Saturday's activity was a "Terry Train" ride among the bison show herd.  Having bison eat out of the palm of my hand was a FIRST for me.  Do you see the tongue under my fingers?

She left a LOT of slobber on my hand!!

The day was hot, full of flies, and the herd's bull decided to roll in the dirt.

Terry Bison Ranch is THE place to stay if you are visiting the Cheyenne area.  We had a ball here and would definitely return! 

Plans for 2014 include the northwest Wyoming parks.  This Wyoming stop was just enough to whet the appetite for Wyoming!

coming next:  just a touch of Colorado

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Black Hills, part 2

August 15th finds us on our way to Custer City, SD, and the French Creek RV Camp.  This is probably the friendliest campground we have ever visited....the owner (Rock) is a 70-something cowboy-biker type BSer who is a HOOT!  The camp is in town, two blocks from main street, with everything within walking distance.  The Friday night cook-out for camp guests is pictured below.  What a wonderful way to meet new people with like interests!

Custer City is such a fun little town to walk and browse.  Touristy shops along with museums and eateries fill the main street.  

The director of the town Visitor Center provided an excellent history lesson on Gen. George Custer, Crazy Horse, and the Battle of Little Bighorn, along with the early history of Custer City.  This prepared us for our visit to the Custer Courthouse Museum.

Old school items are always fascinating!  This is probably the oldest globe I've ever seen.  Notice the strange water fountain and the old pump organ also found in this museum classroom.

"Must Do" (we did it twice!!):  Eat lunch and/or dinner at Black Hills Burger & Bun Co.  The Western Bison Burger and fixings are PHENOMENAL.  Yum. Yum. Yum.

Our time in Custer City was short but sweet.  Yes, this is a place to return to in future trips to the Black Hills.

Now, on to Deadwood!  Before arriving at the campground, we stopped at the Crazy Horse Monument and were pleasantly surprised at the quality of the whole site.  This monument is another "Must See" .  The monument and museum honor not only Crazy Horse but all of the Native American Nations.  Artist Korczak Ziolkowski has definitely captured the spirit of the Native people and this hallowed land.

As we were walking from the parking lot to the museum, I couldn't help but notice that Crazy Curt looks a lot like Crazy Horse.

This was not our first trip to Deadwood, so very few pictures were taken.  Just a couple of new discoveries.  The Celebrity Hotel uses a "movies" theme and displays a variety of costumes and props used in well-known films.  My heart pitter-pattered with this one, the armor worn by Sean Connery in "The First Knight".

Life is about experiencing new things, right?????    No, Mom, I am not in jail.

A trolley car tour, live cowboy music (including musician/historian Randy Christiansen) at the Bullock Hotel, and the re-enactment of the cold-blooded murder of Wild Bill Hickock at Saloon #10 rounded out our visit to Deadwood.

There is SO MUCH to see and do in the Black Hills!  Have we been here before?  Yes!  Would we come back again?  Absolutely!!

Coming next:  Wyoming

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Black Hills, South Dakota

August 11, 2013, and we are driving our favorite direction....WEST!  First destination, the Black Hills of South Dakota.  Because we try to do no more than 300 miles in one day, the logical place to stop was Mitchell, home of the Corn Palace.  Of course we had to take pictures!  The exterior of the building changes (new corn, new design) every year, so even if you've been there before it is worth seeing.


Onward to Hot Springs, SD and three nights at the rustic Allen Ranch campground.  Fall River gurgled next to our site, about 20 feet from our door.

Lesson learned:  When the weather alert radio says possible tornado and ping-pong ball sized hail will be hitting Hot Springs within 15 minutes, grab the dog, the bag with valuables & meds, and a bottle of water.  Head to the safe place (concrete shower house) BEFORE the lightning and hail begin.  Fortunately, the hail was only dime sized and the beautiful little river did not flash flood.  No damage, and we did not get washed away.

Here is a "Must See"... Wind Cave National Park.  Three different tours are available to visitors, ranging from moderate to strenuous.  The Garden of Eden tour, while being listed as the least strenuous had more than enough stairs to tire us out.  But it was well worth every step, and we certainly would visit this park again....maybe even try the more difficult tour!

A "Must Do" on every trip to the Black Hills is the drive through Custer State Park.   Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam, where the deer and the antelope play.....  and the prairie dogs chatter non-stop!

These two prairie dogs were having a boxing match right before I snapped the picture!

One of many pronghorn antelope.  Do you also see the prairie dogs in this photo?

This burro stepped out in front of us, continuing down the road at a very leisurely pace.  She left behind her Jerusalem donkey friends and numerous other burros.

Another "Must See" is the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs.  Thousands of years ago, a large number of mammoths and other animals were trapped in a sinkhole at this exact spot.  Wow, what a dig!

The Black Hills area has so much to explore!!  Coming next:  Custer City and Deadwood!

On the Road Again

Just a note to my friends about the purpose of this blog.  Last year, when Curt and I started traveling in our camper, my son suggested that sending pictures to family could be most easily accomplished via this blog site.  Now that we are back on the road, I am going to TRY to do posts on a regular basis.  Please remember the purpose....PICTURES for family and friends, along with a few words of what we are discovering while on the road in new areas.  And, as relative newbies to almost-full-time RVing, some of the "lessons learned",  "tips to share", and/or "you've got to see this place" may be added from time to time.

January 2013 found us back home in Florida with a new-to-us motor home.  After spending eight months together on the road in 2012, we decided that: 1) we can live together in tight quarters and still love each other; 2)  we love exploring new places and getting to make new friends all over the country; and, 3)  we are having a ball and hope to become full time RVers.  Thus, the upgrade to a larger motor home. 

April 18, 2013, the first day of our 2013 trip! 

First destination stop, Branson, Missouri, to see "The Texas Tenors" and six other outstanding music groups!  

 May, June, and July were spent with family in Illinois and Minnesota, spoiling the grandkids and visiting Mom!!

August 10th found us in Grafton, Iowa for my 45th high school class reunion....UNBELIEVABLE, where has this time gone?????

Early morning, August 11th, we headed WEST!!!!  Next stop:  The Black Hills!!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Saturday, October 20th

The Old Iron Nut and I spent a delightful day with our Anthem, Az, friend Mark at the Grand Canyon!  While the day started out at 31 degrees at 6:00 AM, it was sunny, shirt-sleeve weather at the Canyon.

Here we are on the South Rim, at the Mather Point and Verkamp's Visitor area,the most well-known tourist areas.
Throughout the day the Old Iron Nut and I took around 300 pictures.  This one is just a sample of the beauty that surrounded us throughout the day.  I do not claim to be anything other than an amateur camera clicker, but I do try to find interesting things to capture...
...and I find old wood to be interesting.

 While still at the same South Rim area, a California Condor put on quite a show for all of us tourists!  It sat on a boulder for several minutes before taking flight.

Its tags were visible on its wings (Tag H9), so we knew it was a released condor.  Mark looked it up on the government website to find that this one was born in Portland 6/3/2008 and was released 9/24/2011. 

On a whim, we decided to drive part of the Desert View Drive, a new experience for all three of us.  Wow, what a winner!!!  Be sure to do this drive when you visit the Grand Canyon.  There are numerous easy-to-park pull-outs with panaramic views of the canyon.

To me, rocks and bolders are similar to clouds....they often contain faces and familiar figures.  Please use your imaginations and dream with me :)

What face do you see?  A wolf, a cat, Roscoe Dawg??

Hmmmm... a buffalo?  a Viking?  Elvis?
And now my favorite.  All day I've been humming, "Little Jackie Paper (on left) loved that rascal Puff (the Magic Dragon, on right)".  There may be a dozen or so pictures of this in our photo files.
And the last picture for today's adventure, our best view of the Colorado River:


Another great day in the lives of Miss Glorianna and the Old Iron Nut!  Life is good.