A Travellerspoint blog

Kaysville, UT (Salt Lake City_

Stop #17 Cherry Hill RV Resort

semi-overcast 60 °F
View Western Loop 2013 on scpurvis's travel map.

Once again, it is with regret that we are leaving this spot. We have to keep reminding ourselves that more good things lie ahead. Yellowstone was just so incredibly beautiful! On to Utah...can't wait to see what we find there. We had a travel time of about 5 hours. Of course, it takes us a little longer pulling the trailer.
Approaching the Salt Lake City area, we ran into our first real change of color. Up in GNP, YNP and GTNP, it was all mostly different varieties of pine so we didn't get much color change. We also ran into the first weather where the temp was over 74º, it actually topped out at 79º and really felt too warm. We are both thinking we better stay gone until the temperatures cool off in Florida because we have really been enjoying the cooler weather. Lucky for us, it would cool off again tonight.
We would be staying at Cherry Hill RV Resort (?) for the next 5 days

Day 1
Catch up day......After over 8500 miles of mountain driving, over half of it, pulling a trailer, it is time for another oil change. They also inspected our brake wear and Bob is doing good, so far, on all that mountain driving in saving our brakes. Not bad for an ol' Florida boy! After getting that done, we went shopping again for Bob's hiking boots replacements. Went to several sporting goods stores and to the mall and found some he liked at a local store AND I just happened to find a 50% off 2 day coupon on all regular priced hiking boots for that store. Success!! I did find a pair I liked at a different store but no coupon. I am still debating on them. Anyway, another run to Walmart, no Publix out here, yet, as we haven't been in a town big enough to have a decent store in a few weeks so we needed to stock up. All this running around took up pretty much the entire day.

Day 2
Up and out early today to ride into Salt Lake City and check things out. We took a swing by the capitol, which is modeled after the U S Capitol, to get a few pics.

It seems the whole of downtown is occupied by buildings of the The Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS). This appears to be a government unto itself. We would first take a tour of their conference building, opened in spring of 2000, which is used as the premier meeting hall. The auditorium, which seats 21,000 people is an engineering marvel as their are no pillars supporting the balconies so there would be no obstructed view from any seat, . The rostrom, made up of a 100 modules, seats the church general authorities and other leaders and the choir for conference. The rostrum pieces can be broken down and moved on an air-caster system described as "the air-hockey concept," Only a couple of workers are needed to easily relocate pieces that weigh several tons. Also, housed in the auditorium is a beautiful 7,667 pipe organ. When the Mormon Tabernacle Choir does live broadcasts. this is their performance venue. Included in the 1.4 million sf building is an 850 seat conference center theater which can be used as a dedicated theater or overflow for the main auditorium.

Located throughout the center, are numerous galleries with original oil painting, some dating back to mid 1800's.

The roof is landscaped in about 3 acres of native grasses and hundreds of trees to showcase local foliage. The landscaping is meant to echo the mountains and meadows of Utah.

Following the tour of the conference center, we walked across the street to Temple Square. Located in the 10 acre complex called Temple Square are the Salt Lake Temple, Tabernacle, and Assembly Hall, along with two visitor centers. We would first head to the Tabernacle as we were just in time for the pipe organ recital on the 700 pipe organ. There is a daily recital and I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Salt Lake City.

Following the recital we headed over to the "Beehive House" and "Lion House" which were built in 1854 and 1856, respectively, located adjacent to each other. These were the homes of Brigham Young, the Beehive House served as the executive mansion of the Territory of Utah from 1852 to 1855 and was Brigham Young's official residence where he entertained important guests, and Lion House was the home of 12 of Brigham Young's wives and children. Fortunately for us, the Lion House is now a restaurant serving home style fare with wonderfully delicious bread, so, we ate!
P1080120.jpg Beehive House (2 story structure) Lion House (single story)P1080113.jpg Lion House Pantry Restaurant P1080139.jpg Beehive Garden

It was starting to rain, again, and we had just about completed all we wanted to see of the square, so we decided to take a "scenic" ride, then, return to the city for a rehearsel by the 350 person Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Checking out all our notes we had made for Salt Lake City, we decided to do the Skyline Drive north of the city. With the rain, it really wasn't ideal conditions for scenery viewing, but, it was a nice way to spend the afternoon. As it turned out, the drive was very memorable. We got some good shot from the top of Bountiful Peak and on the way up. It was also a little scary as at one point, visibility was zero, the road was narrow, on the side of the mountain, two-way traffic on what should have been one way and unpaved, to boot. We got into a little snow at the top and would have been gorgeous if not for the cloud layer hanging over us. Took pictures anyway.

Back to Salt Lake City for the choir rehearsel.

Day is done.

Day 3
Another rainy day. Guess everyday cannot be perfect. The RV park where we are, is having a "Spook HIll" starting tonight through Halloween. Not sure what it is going to be, but, I'm sure we will find out as they have closed off the park right behind us to set up for this. Hopefully, the weather will clear and they will have a big turnout.

I decided today would be a good day to make a pot of soup, so, waiting out the rain, I attended to my domestic duties. Hmm, guess I will end up freezing some of it because by the time I got finished....I could feed a small army.

Day 4
Rain gone....should be a beautiful day with high temp in the mid 60's. Headed out early to Antelope Island State Park, a 42 square mile island located in the Great Salt Lake and accessed via a 7 mile causeway from the mainland. The Island is inhabited by herds of bison, pronghorn antelope, big horn sheep and millions of of birds. There are several good hiking trails on the island up the mountains for spectacular view, but, as we have to be back by 1:30 for the FSU game, we won't do that today.There weren't too many people out there today, a boy scout troop was camping along with a few others willing to do the "primitive" camping and there was a "run" out there today. It would be a great place to run (if you do that kind of thing :-) ).
P1080204.jpg Causeway to Antelope Island State Park
P1080219.jpg Antelope Island State Park 276A06D12219AC6817B3B88830A21915.jpgBison on hill P1010213.jpg

Home in time to watch FSU add another "W" to their scoreboard!

Florida State 48
Boston College 34

Day 5

Heading to Jordanelle State Park today. It is just a short drive southeast of Salt Lake City up near Park City. See you there.

Posted by scpurvis 12:33 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Victor, ID (Grand Teton NP)

Stop #16 Teton Valley Rv Park Sept 19 - 24, 2013

sunny 54 °F
View Western Loop 2013 on scpurvis's travel map.

Short trip from West Yellowstone to Victor, ID which is right across the Wyoming border where we will stay at Teton Valley RV Park. We chose not to go to Jackson with the 10% grades over the mountains and higher prices. View wasn't too bad from here.

We will spend 5 days here and scour the countryside, or should I say mountain sides? There really isn't much to the town. I think the population is 2000 on a good day. Kind of nice though, there biggest political fight in town is which direction the parking spaces should be angled. You see, right now, for whatever reason, the on street parking spaces are angled so you back into them. Strange, but maybe they thought it would be safer to back in then to back out. Business owners hate it and say it confuses the "tourist" so they don't stop. Really? Guess there always has to be something.

Like I said, not much to town.

Day 1
Today we drove around the Grand Teton NP loop to check out the park, take a few hundred pictures of Grand Teton (which I promise I won't bore you with) and check out some hiking trails. Anyone who has been here knows that it just seems, almost every picture you take has Grand Teton in it. Why do I just want to keep taking pictures of the same thing? It is truly breathtaking! I would look up, take a picture, go down the road, decide, oh, this is a good angle, take another picture, go down the road, see another good angle.....you get the picture (lol, no pun intended). See all pictures by looking under "photography" to the right and clicking "more pictures"

Our first "swing by" was Jackson Hole which wasn't as large a place as I had envisioned, but, typical ski resort.

Look closely and you can see the sky divers floating down over the mountains. They were there in celebration of Jackson Hole just being named the top Ski Resort by Ski Magazine.

Our next stop was right outside of Moose, WY at the Chapel of Transfiguration, built in 1925 to serve guests and employees of the local dude ranches.
It was featured in the movie "Spencer's Mountain"; guess I will have to rent that now just to see it there.

In this same area, is Menors Ferry Historic Site. This is the site of the ferry crossing established by Bill Menor in the 1890's and sold to Maud Noble in 1912, who ran it until 1927 when a bridge was built in Moose. She must have been some lady to live out in that wilderness and operate this business.

Maude Noble's cabin

Snake RIver at Menors Ferry

Bill Menors cabin and store

Moving on, we stopped next at the Jenny Lake Visitors Center to get some info as we had read there were several good hikes starting out here. We decided we would take one of these trails tomorrow and make a day of it. Checked out the Jenny Lake Lodge which was nice but when I hear the word Lodge...I am really thinking of something a little more grand. It was very nice though with a nice big fireplace with a roaring fire!

Our next stop would take us up a narrow winding road to the summit of Signal Mountain where we found beautiful views of the valley with the Snake River meandering through it.

Leaving Signal Mountain, we were headed to Coltor Bay but lots of road construction on that route so we decided to forgo that. That is also the road that takes you over to YNP. I am sure we are out of the main tourist season but there is still a lot of people. I can't imagine what it would be like in the real tourist season...not sure I would like it. It would be great to have these hiking trails all to yourself but I'm sure it could be worse. Trying to get out of the "pack" we decided to take a little gravel road back into the "wilderness area". Definitely gets you away from the traffic as I think no one but "locals" want to go down those roads. It really turned out very nice, nice drive back in the forest, although we didn't see any wildlife. Since the road seemed to have no end, we decided we better turn around and head out the way we came in. On impulse, we decided stop and hike up one of the smaller, but steeper, "hills" for the view and to get a little exercise. Hmm, sure didn't look that steep from the ground but nice view with no people around when we got to the top. The sun was warm, it was quiet, just perfect up there in our own little world. A lot can be said for making your own path.

Hiked up to the pines on the top
Our truck parked in the distance

Next stop was at Cunningham Cabin site but since a wedding was going on....no pics of cabin this trip

Just moved on down to the Snake River Overlook

Next, we would turn off the main road onto Antelope flats where we did see some Pronghorns, but, we didn't even take pictures of these anymore because we had seen so many. On this road, we came upon Mormon Row which is a line of Mormon homestead complexes built in the early 1900's.

John Molton Homestead

Other homesteads and buildings

Leaving Mormon Row, we followed the road around coming out at the Elk Refuge. Still looking for some wildlife, but, we are either too early or too late. Oh well, time to head back to Victor, maybe another day.

Day 2
Hiking day....Jenny Lake up to Hidden Falls, Inspiration Point and out along the Cascade Canyon. The hike would turn out to be more like an uphill obstacle path, it being VERY rocky in a lot of places, but very beautiful, of course. It turned out to be about a 5 hour hike which we would have made a little longer but we wanted to catch the boat to get across Jenny Lake....heaven forbid we should hike around it. lol.

Jennhy Lake

Hike up to Hidden Falls

Hidden Falls

On up to Inspiration Point

Inspiration Point

Through the Cascade Canyon

Lunch and then headed back to catch the boat....PBJ......now, where are those bears?

We met some people on the trail who saw a small black bear and a moose..........we DID NOT. :-(

Made it back to boat dock with minutes to spare before the last boat, thanks to a very fast pace. Of course, coming down the rocky side of the mountain wasn't quite so fast, but, we made it!

We left Jenny Lake very tired and with sore feet but lovin' every minute of it. On our way out, we passed by the small Jackson Hole airport just in time to see a private jet coming in. Thought it was kinda cool to see this jet coming in by the mountains.

Returned over the mountain, first passing through Jackson. Just outside of Jackson, we spot some, what it turns out to be, "moose watchers" on the side of the road and we pull over.

Moose Watchers

And then we saw the People Watcher

Hooray!!!!! We finally saw some wildlife in Grand Teton! We can go back to camp now.

Day 3
Day to rest, recoup and clean......laundry, AGAIN. I keep asking myself why I brought so many clothes when I keep wearing the same thing over and over. Live and learn.

But, we did have an amazing sunset today.
P1010088.jpg Is that just not absolutely incredible?????

Day 4
We decided to ride back over to Jackson and walk around town, check things out and do some shopping.

BUT, on the way into Jackson, we did spot a couple Elk up on the hill, so stopped for a photo op!

Bob is looking for some new hiking boots as the soles on his current ones are about done for and I am looking for something I can't live without. So you ask yourself, who in their right mind would go to a resort town looking for something practical at a reasonable price. Well, neither of us found what we were looking for.

Not much luck in the shopping area so we decided to check out the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar which is suppose to be famous although we had never heard of it.. it was interesting
P1010123.jpgP1010120.jpgP1010116.jpgYes, those are "saddles" at the bar.....not that comfortable, so we moved on
P1010124.jpgP1010126.jpgThe sign reads, “Knobbled Pine: This unique wood formation came from western Wyoming forests. It is caused by a growth stimulus of individual wood cells in young twigs. Research is being continued to determine the exact cause of the growth disturbances.” Lots of it in this bar.

We ended up on the balcony at the Tavern on the Square which was a good spot to people watch and watch all the traffic going to Grand Teton NP as we had a bird's eye view of the intersection that leads to the park.large_P1010139.jpg
That is really a square "square", panarama distorts.....sorry

arches made of elk antlers on each corner of the square. Interesting fact I did not know is the elk shed their antlers every year. You ask how the antlers get so large? Well, according to my favorite source, wikipedia, they can grow .98 inches A DAY!

Headed home (home away from home) to watch us some Breaking Bad! We are addicted to that show but only one more episode left after this!

Day 5
A new day dawns
Moving day....headed to Utah, the 13th-largest, the 34th-most populous, and the 10th-least-densely populated of the 50 United States. So there!

Posted by scpurvis 05:07 Archived in USA Comments (4)

West Yellowstone, MT

Stop #15 Rustic Wagon RV Park Sept. 14 - 19, 2013

overcast 51 °F
View Western Loop 2013 on scpurvis's travel map.

It was about a 3 hour trip from Helena to West Yellowstone and was uneventful, thank goodness. We have been very fortunate so far (hope this doesn't jinx us) in our travels with no problems. We will be staying in West Yellowstone, which is located right at the West entrance to Yellowstone National Park, for the next five days. So much to see, so little time. Oh yeah, our time is only limited by the limitations we put on it. We have an intense itinerary planned for the next few days and I can't wait!

Day 1
Yellowstone is made up basically of two sections, north and south. We have opted to do the southern loop first for whatever reason. Started the day out early hoping to catch some wildlife on the way in. I am worried about missing some wild animal, grazing out in the valley or wondering through the pines on the mountainside.......needless worry........just look for the 50+ cars stopped on the roadside and when there is not room on the roadside, the other 50+ will stop in the middle of the road. Okay, that is a little exaggerated but you get the picture, or, in case you don't
Well, really, this was later in the day when the bison were taking up the whole road actually backing up traffic for about 3 miles.

It didn't take long. About 3 miles into the drive, we notice a huge bull elk out in the Yellowstone plains with a small calf.
The calf started coming towards us, getting closer and closer. Next thing you know, it is right there on the side of the road right by us! It starts making these really strange sounds, just standing there.

All of a sudden, it starts across the road and when we turn around, lo and behold, there is the mother. What happens next is truly amazing; the calf begins to nurse right there in the middle of the road. If the cars weren't stopping before, they definitely are stopped now because the elk are in the middle of the road.

Moving on, we stop at beautiful water falls, which there will be many on our tour of Yellowstone.
Yellowston..adison_Rvr3.jpgYellowstone_-_Madison_Rvr.jpgYellowston..adison_Rvr2.jpg Madison River

Proceeding around the loop, we come upon about 20 cars parked along the side of the road, giving us our first indication we needed to stop. A big ol' black bear decided to pick some berries and then have a drink in a nearby stream.

Onward to the geyser basins. There is just no real way to describe these geothermal areas or really, for amateur photogs like ourselves, to capture the true picture. These areas occur where rainwater and snowmelt seep into the ground, get indirectly superheated by the underlying volcanic region which heats the rocks above and then erupts at the surface as geysers, hot springs, and fumaroles or what I call steam vents, depending on type of rock in the area, the amount of water and if hydrogen sulfide is present.
BC9060772219AC6817D8D0CE154EDE19.jpg Lower Geyser Basin
BDB607F32219AC6817B2EA73014EA800.jpg Midway Geyser Basin

The "hot springs" are formed when the water, way below the grounds surface is heated by the rocks, and bubbles up through unrestricted channels to form pools of hot water. The steam bubbling through these pools will form the hot spring.
Yellowston..atic_spring.jpg Giant Prismatic Spring
Yellowston..aliente_Spg.jpg Ojo Caliente Spring

A geyser is essentially a hot spring where the channel to the grounds surface is somewhat restricted. Thus, the water does not flow up until enough pressure builds up underground to cause an "eruption" forcing the water upward under intense pressure, creating the geyser.
Yellowtone..Dome_Geyser.jpg White Dome Geyser
Yellowtone_Old_Faithful2.jpg Old Faithful
Yellowtone..tain_Geyser.jpg Great Fountain Geyser
Many people, but not these two people, will take chairs and setup in the vicinity of geysers waiting for them to erupt. We waited on Old Faithful since it is very faithful about erupting on a given time, give or take 10 minutes.

The third phenomenon occurring is the "mud pots" which occurs in areas of "soft" rock, limited water and where hydrogen sulfide is present. The hydrogen sulfide reacts with the water to form sulphuric acid which corrodes the rock and breaks it down into silica and clay. This creates an area of hot, boiling and bubbling "mud".
Yellowtone..n_Paint_Pot.jpg Fountain Paint Pot Yellowston..n_Paint_Pot.jpgYellowstone_-_Mud_Volcano.jpg Mud Volcano

Around noontime, we stopped in at the Old Faithful Lodge, Bob for beer, I had a Bloody Mary which was bloody good and very POOR service. We split some wings and called that lunch. I really couldn't believe the bartender (we sat at the bar for faster service, lol); he served Bob his beer, chatted with his fellow workers, washed some glasses, chatted some more, and right when I was about to lose it, about half way through Bob's beer, he proceeds to fix my drink. We were about ready to tell him to forget the whole thing. Well, he fixes my drink and then just lets it sit there on the bar....NOT in front of me! When he finally brought it over I just remarked that I thought he had forgotten about me, very nicely, of course. I have never done this before, but, NO TIP!! It really was incredible. I told Bob not to tip him so he left ME with the bill which was fine with me.....he got $0.00! Probably didn't matter to him, but, I felt better.
Yellowtone..thful_Lodge.jpg Old Faithful Lodge

Continuing on around the loop, we came upon Yellowtone Lake and the historic Lake Hotel which they are in the process of refurbishing. The lake covers 132 square miles. I guess because we were having overcast weather and it was a little chilly and windy, didn't see one boat out on the lake, although we had seen several flyfishermen in the rivers.
Yellowstone_Lake.jpg Lake Yellowstone Lake_Hotel__at_Yellowtone.jpg Historic Lake Hotel

Moving on around the loop, we came upon the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone which of course is not even close to the size of the real Grand Canyon but it was really beautiful. We drove down along the south rim first and walked out to what is called Artist Point and I am only assuming it is because of all the colors in the canyon walls which is a result of hydrothermal alteration. It is said the canyon changes color during the year depending on the rainfall where the water reacts with the iron in the canyon wall. In other words, the wall is rustsing.
F7FB699C2219AC681729FFC052A8327D.jpg upper falls viewed from Artist's Point
We then crossed over to the north rim where they have a nice hike along the canyon but, it was starting to rain so we just drove along and stopped at the various lookouts. Sure can't complain about a little rain as our weather has really worked for us.
Yellowstone_Glacial_Rock.jpg Glacial Rock

It was a great day on loop 1 of Yellowstone. Headed back to West Yellowstone and this is where we encountered the backup with the bison headed to who knows where.

Day 2
Started out a little later today as we wanted to be at Lamar Valley late afternoon for the wildlife. Supposedly, this is the place to see it. This time we headed north as we got into the park toward Norris and the Norris Geyser Basin. Just north of Norris is Mammoth Hot Springs where the combination of different minerals, mainly limestone in this case, and the hot water create terraces which are constantly changing above the town.
Yellowston..g_Terraces4.jpg travertine terraces Yellowston..pg_Terraces.jpg travertine terraces overlooking Mammoth
Yellowston..g_Terraces2.jpg Stalacite formation at terraces Yellowston..Hot_Springs.jpg Mammoth Hot Springs Liberty_Ca..Hot_springs.jpg Liberty Cap Mammoth Hot springs

Leaving Mammoth, we headed towards Lamar Valley for the wildlife viewing. Since we were a little early, we decided to go on up to the Northern entrance of Yellowstone , stop in Cooke City, and have a bite to eat to pass some time. We were remarking how strange it would be to grow up in these little towns out in the middle of nowhere...no cell phone service, no cable tv, etc.
F87317DD2219AC6817EFAE43AE2C491B.jpg Cooke City Beartoothe Cafe
Yellowston..alley_storm.jpg Rain over Lamar Valley

With the time approaching 4pm, we decided to head back to Lamar Valley. On our way through the first time, it was so strange as people were setting up on the side of the roadway with their chairs, binoculars and some really, really expensive cameras to catch some shots of the wildlife (if they show up). When we got back there, the number of people had like quadrupled. As we were passing by the hordes of people, scanning for wildlife in the valley, all of a sudden, we saw it, or I should say them. We could not believe our timing because we were just going to pass through, not sit there for hours waiting for "something" to show up; anyway, it was a mama grizzely and her 3, yes 3, little cubs walking down to the river. It is like they just wanted to come down and cool off for a few minutes.
Lamar_Vall..ith_3_cubs6.jpg Then mama bear decides it is time to go...so off they go
How awesome was that!!!!

After the excitement of the grizzleys, we headed back to W Yellowstsone which was going to take us a good 2 hours. Another good day! And a terrific sunset to boot.

Day 3
Wet, rainy and cold today. Will hang around camp and catch up on the blog today. This afternoon, we braved the rain and walked around W Yellowstone. This town is made up mostly of t-shirt shops, motels and campgrounds with a few unremarkable restaurants thrown in. We didn't buy any t-shirts but we did find a decent BBQ place for dinner, Beartooth BBQ, hmm, lunch yesterday at Beartooth Cafe....guess they like the beartooth around here. When we got in the truck to go home, Bob noticed it was snowing, but melting fast.

Day 4
No rain today but very cold and windy. It is suppose to get down to 29º tonite and I don't think it is going to have that far to go. The wind, of course, makes it even worse. Spent some time this morning putting some chili in the crockpot so dinner will be ready when we get back tonite.
P1070615.jpg see, I do cook!!!!
Then headed out to Harriman State Park outside Island Park, ID, looking for some moose. The campground owner had told me this is their rutting season and we should see some up there. Well, NO MOOSE, in fact, no animals at all except some range cows and some grouse that flew up and away before we could get a picture. Headed back to camp, we had a beautiful view of the snowcapped mountains where it had snowed last nite and this morning. Upon arriving back at camp, we heard there had been road closures in Yellowstone today because of the snow and chains required on other roads. Someone was looking out for us, again.

Another successful day.....

Day 5
Packin' up, headin' out.......to Victor, ID and the Grand Tetons!

Posted by scpurvis 20:57 Archived in USA Comments (3)

Helena, MT

Stop #14 Lincoln Rd Rv Park Sept. 11 - 15, 2013

sunny 76 °F
View Western Loop 2013 on scpurvis's travel map.

Left Kalispell this morning with a touch of sadness to be leaving Glacier NP. It has been so awesome and there was so much we wanted to do that we didn't get to do. We are already talking about trying to make a return trip to visit Banff (which we didn't get to) and back to Glacier in the late spring or early summer when the waterfalls and creekbeds will be flowing. We were headed to Deer Lodge, MT but on arrival at the RV Park behind the truck stop, we decided to travel on to Helena, and so glad we did.

Day 1
We took a ride into "downtown" Helena to check it out and first thing we saw was this beautiful Cathedral. How could we miss it, you can practically see it from anyplace in town. The Cathedral of Saint Helena was built in 1908 with funds provided by miners who had struck it rich.

Helena, like so many other towns in the west , was originally a mining town. In 1864, four prospectors finally found gold in what they would eventually dub Last Chance Gulch which is now the main street of Helena. Supposedly, the remains of the creek bed still flows under the street. In 1894, Helena became the state capital but would continue to suffer the boom-or-bust economics for many years. We were amazed that a state capital would be so small but of course with only just over a million people in the whole state, what should we expect?

Below is a picture of the "Guardian of the Gulch" firetower, built in 1876 after a fire destroyed the city, to give watchmen a 360º view of "the gulch". which is now Helena.

On the recommendation of our good friends Bob and June, we decided to do the Gates to the Mountains boat tour. We took the 2pm boat ride which wasn't too crowded and it was perfect. The weather was right on being around 73º, and not a cloud in that Big Montana Sky. The Gates to the Mountains ... as described by Meriweather Lewis on his discovery .... "this evening we entered much the most remarkable clifts that we have yet seen. these clifts rise from the waters edge on either side perpendicularly to the hight of [NB: about] 1200 feet. every object here wears a dark and gloomy aspect. the tow[er]ing and projecting rocks in many places seem ready to tumble on us. the river appears to have forced it's way through this immence body of solid rock for the distance of 5¾ miles and where it makes it's exit below has thrown on either side vast collumns of rocks mountains high. the river appears to have woarn a passage just the width of it's channel or 150 yds. it is deep from side to side nor is ther in the 1st 3 miles of this distance a spot except one of a few yards in extent on which a man could rest the soal of his foot". The passage appears today much as it did when M Lewis made his discovery in 1805.

Maybe you can see the "opening of the gates" ; taken as we were going up river.....

Also, we passed the site of the Mann Gulch Fire, where in 1949,12 smokejumpers and 1 fireguard were killed while fighting a fire in the gulch. Because of dry conditions and very high winds, the fire roared out of control. Later. estimates were 3000 acres were burned in 10 minutes. The result of this fire would be more emphasis on fire research and behavior with more specialized training changing wildland firefighting forever.

Day 2
Another day for laundry. If I had known we would do laundry so often, I could have left half the clothes I brought. We have no room to store a bunch of dirty clothes, so it is a "must do". Also had some errands to run and found out about a community theater which was highly recommended, so, we made plans to attend the play tonite.

We decided we would have dinner at an historical restaurant previously known as "Big Dorothy's", now, the Windbag Saloon. Big Dorothy's was owned by Dorothy Baker, the last of a long line of Helena madams. She ran her brothel on Last Chance Gulch from 1955 to 1973 when it was raided on orders of the County Attorney. Dorothy had kept in the good graces of the local community by catering to powerful individuals and donating to children's causes and alerting police to drug activity.
P1000516.jpg Ready for a night on the town

Following dinner, we strolled around the pedestrian mall and ended up at the Grandstreet Theater where we saw an amazing performance of Steel Magnolias. The cast and acting were excellent. The theater, built in 1905 was originally the Unitarian Church, which is supposedly haunted by the preacher's wife who died during his tenure there. (We saw nor heard any ghost)

Day 3
Early start...on the road to West Yellowstone. We need to get there in time to FSU slaughter Nevado!

Posted by scpurvis 19:23 Archived in USA Comments (4)

Kalispell, MT

Stop #13 Spruce Rv Park on the River (E8) Sept. 6 -11, 2013

overcast 70 °F
View Western Loop 2013 on scpurvis's travel map.

We left St. Mary for the 2 1/2 hour trip through the Marias pass to the west side of the Rockies, destination Kalispell. Unfortunately, the navigator, that would be me, missed the turn and we were half way to Canada before we realized my error, we missed the turn. Okay, Canada was only about 10 miles away from where we started, so, we didn't go THAT far! The bad part about it, was turning around....Bob had to pull in a driveway and back out onto the highway to turn around. Now, there isn't that much traffic in MT so it should be easy, right? Well, it just so happened, every car in MT decided to come over that hill about this time. Anyway, we got turned around thanks to Bob's great maneuvering skills and we were back on the right road in no time.

Arrived in Kalispell at the Spruce RV Park on the River and actually got a site "on the river" (lucky us, again!)

Day 1
Today we would check out the town of Kalispell, which is one of the larger cities in the area, large city by Montana standards, ie, population around 20,000 and is the largest city in NW Montana. Of course, we made a run to Walmart for more water which we are now buying 2 cases at a time. This afternoon, we headed to Big Fork, population 4500, where we had reservation for some community theater, a production of 50's and 60's music. It was entertaining and a nice change although, they did not do ONE BEATLES song! How can you have the 60's without the Beatles? Big Fork sits on the north end of Flathead Lake which we would tour around on another day.

Day 2
Today we took the drive around FLathead Lake which is 28 miles long and 370 feet deep (I thought Lake Harris was big). So beautiful. It is very overcast today with some sprinkles of rain every now and then so we won't be doing much hiking today. On the north end of the lake is the city, Polson, MT, , which is known for its cherry orchards. Of course, our timing is off again, as the cherries were in at the beginning of the summer. Sure sorry we missed out on that. Out from Polson, we traveled to the Kerr Dam which is 204 feet high, 54 feet higher then Niagara Falls. Even with the threat of rain, we decided to walk down the 1000' boardwalk to right above the falls to enjoy the canyon view. Short hike, but steep climb coming back up.
Kerr_Dam__Polson__MT_dam3.jpgKerr_Dam__Polson__MT_dam4.jpgKerr_Dam__Polson__MT_deer.jpgdeer on road to Kerr Dam

From Polson, we traveled about 30 miles more south to do the 19 mile loop on the National Bison Range which is a National Wildlife Refuge established in 1908 to provide a sanctuary for the American bison. FYI, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife, we don’t really have buffalo in North America. The true buffalo are the Cape buffalo of Africa and the water buffalo of Asia. Guess no one from F&W has been to the Villages!
Bison_Range_vistas1.jpgBison_Range_vistas2.jpgBison_Range_vistas.jpgBison_Range_Pronghorn.jpgBison_Range_Elk.jpgBison_Range_Bison6.jpgBison_Range_Bison5.jpgBison_Range_antlers.jpgantler stack
Even though the weather was not that great, we saw some great wildlife, including a beautiful elk who was so nice to pose for a picture.

We were able to get some great pictures but it is ironic, everytime you try to get a picture of wildlife they turn their rear end to you.....a camera might work better the bear spray for those grizzleys!

Heading back north along the edge of Flathead lake, we stopped at a lakefront restaurant for liquid refreshment and some nourishment. As their season is really over here, there were very few patrons but someone did come up by boat while we were there. We even saw a few people coming from the lake in their bathing suits...it was about 65º and overcast.

Day 3
Headed up to Big Mountain at Whitefish for a hike today. This is the only ski resort in this area and they have numerous trails you can take to the top and ride the ski lift down. Upon arriving, we discovered the ski lift only operates on weekends in the summer, so, we would just do the hiking part. The hiking path would crisscross the the ski trails several times before reaching the top. (I still want to try that snow skiing!)
It was a nice hike and we did get to see a couple of deer up the mountain.
Whitefish_..ain_Resort2.jpg Whitefish Mtn Resort at Big Mtn
Big_Mtn_at_Whitefish3.jpgSki trail - looking down from path
Big_Mtn_at_Whitefish2.jpg ski trail looking up from path Big_Mtn_-_Deer2.jpgP1000422.jpg

Day 4
It's my birthday!!! And, for my birthday, we will head over to West Glacier and do a hike down the Trail of Cedars and on up to Avalanche Lake. This lake receives meltwater from the Sperry Glacier making it very clear, very blue and very cold! The first part of the trail (Trail of Cedars) is actually a boardwalk winding along Avalanche creek through the cedars and is absolutely spectacular. This is one of the few trails that is handicap accessible and is just less then a mile.
8760C63D2219AC681731BF3D7A41F5AF.jpg It is amaziing to see how the water carves out the rocks as it gushes down the creek.

We continue on past the Trail of Cedars up to Avalanche Lake. This is supposed to be one of the busiest hikes in the park, but, I guess we lucked out because, although, there were plenty of hikers, it wasn't really that busy. The grade wasn't too terribly steep on this hike and you continued on through the cedar forest so it was very cool and refreshing.
Trail_of_t..__tree_root.jpg tree root of big cedar Trail_of_t..lanche_Lk15.jpgTrail_of_t..lunch_spot2.jpgwhere we stopped for "lunch" (crackers and water)Trail_of_t..lanche_Lk13.jpgTrail_of_t..lanche_Lk12.jpg
Trail_of_t..er_lakeside.jpg this little guy wandered out to the lakeside while we were there

After our hike, Bob took me back to Lake McDonald Lodge which was on our way out of the park for an early dinner. Very nice way to cap off my birthday and our stay on the west of GNP. When we got back to camp, we found these guys "hanging" around over the river.

And a nice little surprise from our daughter.......

Day 5
Packing up, movin' on

Posted by scpurvis 18:27 Archived in USA Comments (3)

St. Mary, MT (East Glacier Nat'l Park)

Stop #12 Johnson's of St Mary Cmpgrd

semi-overcast 72 °F

Traveled from Great Falls to St. Mary, MT. The roads out here can get very interesting, to say the least. We try to avoid the interstates if we can and we have found the Montana roads can just suddenly turn into gravel roads; or they might decide to repave a road and tear up 20 miles of road so you are driving on more gravel. We have also paid the most for gas to this point, $4.24/gallon.
P1060885.jpg saw a lot of these on the hillsides along the way P1060888.jpg road construction for miles

Arrived in St. Mary to cooler temps, lots of wind and spectacular scenery! The view from our campsite is just incredible; looking out, we have St. Mary Lake on our right, Flat Top and Single Shot Mtns directly in front of us and Divide Mtn furthest to our left. St. Mary Lake is 9.9 miles long, 300 feet deep and very cold!

Our campground is right outside the park entrance at the Going-to-the -Sun Road. Our first full day, we decided we would just do the 110 mile, round trip drive on the Going to the Sun road. Unfortunately, it is the same 55 miles twice but we did get to see it in different light. When we got to the west side, we stopped in for a drink and nourishment at the Lake McDonald Lodge, a beautiful old lodge built in 1913.
P1000005.jpgOne of the 33 restored 1930 tour buses in Glacier.

P1000006.jpg Lake McDonald Lodge
Going to the sun Road

Day 2
This would be the day for the hike on the 12 mile Highline Trail. We started off about 7am, temperature about 45, driving over to the Loop trail-head where we would leave our truck and take a shuttle to Logan Pass, to start the hike from there and then hike back to truck. The trail would take us on some very narrow paths along the side of the mountains where they actually installed cables to hold to for the faint of heart. The trail follows the Continental Divide most of the way. Starting out, I was thinking what a perfect day for this hike, cool, sunny, just beautiful!

We felt very fortunate as we did get to see some wildlife along the first half of the hike...a few mountain goats, lots of what looked like small prairie dogs to me and even walked around the bend to find a grizzly up on the mountain eating some berries. He was not too far off the path ahead of us so we waited patiently while he finished his lunch and watched him amble up the mountain over the rocks. It was really kind of surreal because it seemed like we were just looking at a big ol' grizzly at the zoo, no threat at all. (I did have my bear spray handy, though)

After almost 8 miles, we arrived at the Granite Park Chalet which is a hiker's hostel of sorts. You can make reservations to stay overnight here in some primitive cabins and bring in your on food and water, or you can make arrangements to have food/water brought in by mule which is how all the supplies are brought up the mountain, 4 miles, from The Loop. (those poor mules!) I believe the term "chalet" is a little misleading in this instance, the facilities being very rustic, no running water and no electricity.

Following a brief respite, we continued our journey, supposedly, the remaining 4 miles which would be 95% downhill. I was thinking we had completed the difficult part, but, boy was I wrong. I never knew going downhill could be so hard. The terrain was mostly a rocky, uneven trail with no shade. Ironic that on the morning part of the hike when it was cool, we were on the shaded side of the mountains and even went through some pine forests on the mountain and on the afternoon part, no shade, full sun, rock on the side of the mountain absorbing all that heat....like hiking in an oven . One hiker passing by told us the temperature was over 90 at that point.

Finally, we got to the sign marking the trail to the parking area but the sign indicated the trail was closed. We trudged on down the mountain thinking this was just another trail to the lower parking lot. NOT! At least we were now hiking in the shade again so it wasn't quite so bad and actually came upon a waterfall coming down the mountain. After about a mile, about the time we started thinking we must be on the wrong trail, we came upon another sign indicating Packer's Roost 1 mile in one direction and some other destination 4 miles the other way....we opted for the one mile. This worked out to be the right decision at this point as, at least now, we started hearing sounds from the highway. We were joined by a couple of young ladies who had taken the same turn as us, so we had some company along the way.
ECA6C7912219AC68176EAE46BA93E3A2.jpg Packer's Roost

Packer's Roost turned out to be the location (about a mile off the main road) where the mules were brought in to carry the supplies up to the Granite Park Chalet. Too bad for us, no one was there. My hero, Bob, volunteered to continue on, hike the road up, up, up to The Loop, get our truck and return for me. The young ladies were going to try to find a ride back to St. Mary. It all worked out, a family came down to the Roost in their car to check out the area, offered to squeeze me in their car as they were PACKED but, I asked them to go back up and pick up Bob instead since he had already started out and had the keys to the truck. They were just so nice because he left his wife and son on the road, picking up Bob and the young ladies. Bob soon returned with our truck, thanks to the ride from the good Samaritan, and we would take the ladies back to St. Mary.
ECA814EE2219AC68174E218988A5B7EC.jpg this fellow came to visit while I waited for my ride

ECA7752A2219AC68171D0B554321A7A1.jpg end of the trail at Packer's Roost.

We made it back to the campground safe and sound....it was a very full day.

Day 3
Nothing for today except recouping from yesterdays hike! OMG, I feel muscles I forgot existed in my body and my poor toes from all the pressure on going downhill for 4 miles. I don't know when I will be able to put my boots on again. Time for ibuprofen.

Day 4
It is a good thing we took the long hike on the day we did; it has been overcast with a little rain yesterday and today. We rode over to the Many Glacier entrance to check that area out. Although it was still cloudy with an occasional sprinkle, it was a nice, short drive and got us out a little today.
P1000231.jpg Grinnell Glacier from the highway
P1000128.jpgP1000132_copy_copy.jpgP1000133.jpgP1000140.jpg Many Glacier Hotel

Day 5
The day started out with some rain and clouds are over the mountain so we won't chance a hike. We rode up to Waterton National Park which is just across the Canadian border. Very beautiful and very remote although there is a little village in the center of it on a beautiful lake and they have the Prince of Wales Hotel, built in 1927, which is very beautiful, on the lake.
P1000160.jpgP1000162.jpgP1000183.jpgP1000191.jpgP1000198.jpg Prince of Wales Hotel

Although they have "free range cattle" here, which is odd because some cattle are free range and some are standing next to them in the fence, we did find some bison in one area of the park. It was a small herd and they weren't interested in us at all.
P1000209.jpgP1000210.jpgP1000218.jpg they were actually rolling in the sand here, I am assuming to get rid of some kind of varmin or flies which there were a lot of them.

Day 6
Heading out today to the west side of Glacier Park, to Kalispell. We will have to drive down and around the south end of the park to get to a pass in the Rockies that we can traverse. See you on the other side of the mountains!

Posted by scpurvis 15:22 Archived in USA Comments (4)

Great Falls, MT

Dick's RV Park - 2 nights

sunny 88 °F
View Western Loop 2013 on scpurvis's travel map.

We arrived in Great Falls coming from our one night stay in Garryowen, MT. The weather is getting a little cooler and the wind is definitely picking up. I guess that is why they have all the wind turbines out here. We have seen more of these in Montana then anyplace else, so far.
In looking forward on our trip, we decided we better make a run to Walmart while we are here because it looks like for the next couple of weeks, grocery stores and the like are not going to be quite as accessible or reasonable. As much as I hate doing that, we will make that stop. We also went looking for an adult beverage store to replenish the stock and went into a couple of places before there was any kind of selection at all. Every street corner has a casino/liquor store but the liquor store turns out to be a smokey bar. I guess you buy the bottles behind the bar. It was really great up to here, because we could buy liquor in the Walmarts. I don't know why all Walmarts don't do that. Also, after being here, I see good reasons not to have "uncontrolled" casinos in Florida. I'm not sure what the criteria is to open a casino here but it seems every gas station, convenience store, liquor store, etc. has what they call a casino, which might consist of a few slot machines.

Anyway, if you go to Great Falls, I guess you have to see THE Great Falls, which were really pretty but not so great because there wasn't that much water running this time of year. This is the Ryan Dam built behind the Great Falls.
There is a nice little park just down from the Dam but, since it is about 12 miles out of town, not sure how many people go there.
P1060798.jpgMissouri River Gorge as seen from Ryan Park
We went to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center which gave the history of their Great Discovery expedition with emphasis on the Great Falls Portage. It is really unbelievable all the hardships people went through back then. They certainly had more endurance than most people today.
P1060824.jpgcanoe similar to the kind used by Lewis and Clark

From the interpretive center, you can take a walk down the Missouri river, passing the lookout to the Black Eagle Dam and on to the Giant Springs and Giant Springs trout hatchery.
P1060819.jpgBlack Eagle Dam
Giant Springs originates in the Little Belt Mountains and according to radiometric dating, the water takes almost 2,900 years to travel underground before returning to the surface at the springs at a temperature of 54º. The spring is the headwaters of the 200-foot long Roe River, the shortest river in the world according to Guinness Book of World Records, which flows into the Missouri River.
Some of the water from the spring is diverted to the trout hatchery next door.

Our last trip in Great Falls would be to the "First People Buffalo Jump" which one of the sites where the Indians would herd the buffalo over a cliff, killing or maiming them, making it easier to get a large number of buffalo at one time. This was out in the middle of a great plains, and on heading out there, we ran across an air force security patrol. We stopped to ask if we should be concerned since they were out here in the middle of nowhere, but, we were told they were just doing security for some field maintenance nearby.....NOTHING was nearby!

Off to cooler weather and fantastic vistas!! Can't wait!

Posted by scpurvis 07:54 Archived in USA Tagged great_falls giant_springs buffalo_jump Comments (1)

Garryowen, MT

7th Ranch RV Park overnite stop

sunny 88 °F
View Western Loop 2013 on scpurvis's travel map.

Traveled about 5 hours from Custer, SD to Garryowen, MT. We paid the highest for gas today, $3.69, since we left FL; the least expensive was in GA and AL and slowly went up from there.
P1060762.jpgheaded west on I-90 in Montana with view of Yellowstone ahead
P1060764.jpgCrow Indian Reservation
There is not much to Garryowen and since we have another 5 hour drive to Great Falls today, we didn't even unhook the trailer when we got here so we didn't get to check everything out. lol. Here is an excerpt from Wiki:
" Garryowen is a private town in Big Horn County, Montana, United States owned by Chris Kortlander. The "Townhall" currently houses a Conoco gas station and convenience store, a Subway, an arts & crafts store called "The Trading Post," and the Custer Battlefield Museum. This town is currently for sale, but an auction in August 2012 was cancelled after no one registered to bid. It has a population of only two.

Garryowen is located on the same lands that the southern edge of Sitting Bull's encampment once sat upon. Major Reno and his detachment fired the first shots just a few hundred yards away from Garryowen."

Sorry we didn't get to the Custer Battlefield Museum, maybe next time. We are still having warm temperatures during the day but only up to like 88º and the cooler nights, 58º. Okay, that about covers Garryowen, MT. Movin' on.
P1060765.jpg7th Ranch Park OfficeP1060771_copy.jpg7th Ranch Rv Park

Posted by scpurvis 07:31 Archived in USA Tagged garryowen_mt 7th_ranch_rv-park Comments (2)

Custer, SD

Stop #9 Big Pine Cpgrd #73

sunny 92 °F
View Western Loop 2013 on scpurvis's travel map.

Arrived mid afternoon having driven across Nebraska.....boring! The campground in Custer is on the side of a "small" mountain in the pines, thus, the name, Big Pine Campground. The weather is cooler here and we were actually able to sit outside and enjoy the pine scent and cool weather. After the sunset, it actually got too cold to sit outside. We could have built a fire, but, it had been a long day.
2FD9A3D32219AC68170DDBA9C19D0E7E.jpgNote boys sitting on the E and R P1060541.jpgBuffalo in front of 1881 CourthouseP1060531.jpgP1060532.jpg

First full day.....
Today we did a loop on the Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway winding through Custer State Park, along Needles Highway and down Iron Mountain Road on its way to Mount Rushmore National Memorial. We first hit the Needles Hwy and, oh my gosh....it was so breathtaking. I am only sorry the pictures of the scenery we take really don't do justice to the actual thing.
After riding the Needles Hwy, we took the route to Mt Rushmore winding around the Byway, through numerous tunnels, the first being only 8'4" wide. Some of these tunnels were strategically placed to frame what would be Mt Rushmore. Awesome!
Finally arrived at Mt Rushmore with the other million people and I have to say, I liked it better from the distance.
On leaving Mt Rushmore, We headed to Rapid City to check out the area. Stopped in at Murphy's Pub and Grill for a few drinks and something to eat. The bartender was great, food was good and we were on our way to the, okay, get ready, Central States Fair in Rapid City.
P1060544_copy.jpgLake on our way to Rapid City\Murphy_s_pub.jpgMurphy's
And the fair was really lame, but, it could have been something great so we didn't want to miss out!
P1060596.jpgThe only bear we have seen so far was at the fair!

Day 2.....
Another road trip today to check out Crazy Horse Memorial, Spearfish, Sturgis and Deadwood. Well, Crazy Horse was pretty impressive but Spearfish and Sturgis were DEAD, unlike Deadwood which was hoppin'. I guess Sturgis without the Bike Rally is like any other place. Deadwod was having the "Kool Deadwood Nights" which brought in a collection of "street machines" aka, old cars, lots of entertainment and hords of people. Deadwood is another of those former gold mining towns which attracted outlaws, gamblers and gunslingers along with the gold seekers. Wild Bill Hickok was one of those men who came looking for fortune. But just a few short weeks after arriving, he was gunned down while holding a poker hand of aces and eights – forever after known as the Dead Man’s Hand. Today, thanks to limited-wage gambling and lots of saloons, Deadwood lives on.
HPIM3649-2.jpgCrazy Horse Memorial
SturgisMotorcycleRallyb.jpgSturgis during bike rally 31A11B892219AC6817378EA90B82150A.jpgSturgis with no Bike Rally
P1060608.jpgPactola Lake on the way to Deadwood from CusterP1060649.jpgDeadwood

Day 3.......
Today is ANOTHER driving tour, but a short one. Going back through Custer State Park and takiing the Wildlife Loop to try and catch some of those Buffalo, Pronghorn, Big Horn Sheep, Deer, etc. So, Bob tells me we have to leave by 6:30am because the early morning is the best time to see all this wildlife. I want you to know, I was up, dressed and out the door before 6:30! The problem, which we discovered after the first sighting of deer, was we had forgotten the battery to the little "point and shoot" camera and something weird was going on with our better camera, all pink and pretty colors. If you wanted a rainbow, it would have been great, but, for wildlife, not so good. Since we don't have many pictures, I can tell you we saw lots of deer and lots of the pronghorns, 3 buffalo, counting the baby with the mama.
HPIM3666.jpgpronghorn taken with camera which was dyingpronghorn1.jpgHPIM3679.jpg
buffalo.jpgNo special effects around buffalo, just dying camera!
So, we are hoping when we get to Montana, we will see loads of wildlife....didn't do so well here.

We got back to the campground around 11:30 and spent the rest of the afternoon doing the "stuff" that just has to get done, cleaning, laundry, etc. I also took the time to do some research on our camera to see what was going on. TRASH! It is the CCD chip and HP doesn't sell this part. The camera was old but this same thing happened when we first got it, and fortunately, the camera was replaced under warranty. I see Canon will replace theirs for free, shipping included, both ways even if it isn't under warranty.....maybe I should look at Canon?

Day 4.....
Off to the Badlands. But first, we had to stop by Wall to peruse the Wall Drug Store. It is enormous, has everything you could ever think you might need. Seems the original owners bought it in 1931 and weren't fairing very well because it was off the main roads going west. In watching the bands of cars pass by their little town in the South Dakota heat, the wife came up with the bright idea of giving away free ice water. Signs were made and placed strategically along the highway and the next thing you know......BOOM! Today, bus loads of people come to visit Wall Drugs.

Everyone should get to visit the Badlands at least once in their lifetime. It is truly an amazing site. It is so hard to comprehend this was the result of erosion by wind and water. You see sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires along with the largest grass prairie in the United States. Just awesome.

We decided we would take our first real hike even though it was quite warm.
The "Notch Trail" is described as a somewhat strenuous trail not to be attempted by those afraid of heights about 1.5 miles, up. We decided we would give it a try even though I keep telling Bob I do not do hikes in the HEAT. I had envisioned these hikes in 65º or 70º degree weather with the sun shining. Nice, refreshing and enjoyable! Maybe the next one. A short ways into the hike, you have to ascend a ladder made of cable and wood. I was wondering if maybe we should turn around.
P1060683.jpgon the way up
As I climbed that ladder, I kept wondering, how in the world am I going to get down from here. Going up is okay with me, it is the coming down that gets me. Regardless, Bob and I both made it up and trekked to the end of the trail where it teminates at a "notch" in the Badland wall giving a dramatic view of the White River Valley.
Now we just had to retrace our steps, go down the ladder and get to the air conditioning!!!!

The rest of the trip through the Badlands would be in the comfort of an air-conditioned automobile. We did happen upon some cute little prairie dogs and ol' eagle eye Bob saw a mule deer up on a plateau.

On leaving the Badlands, heading back to Custer, we swung by another one of those old mining towns, Scenic, SD. Unfortuately, Scenic has scene better days. They just need to get some casinos because all those other old mining towns were thriving with casinos.
But right near Scenic, we saw acres and acres of sunflowers. That's a lot of sunflower seeds.

We decided we would swing by the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park one more time to see if we could happen upon something real exciting. And, what do ya know.....the first thing we see is this huge buffalo herd.
We caught a group of burros with one of the pronghorns and a prairie dog on the side....lucky shot!

That was a great day! I think we have seen all we can see in South Dakota on this trip. It has been wonderful. See you in Montana!

Posted by scpurvis 06:31 Archived in USA Tagged mt_rushmore deadwood badlands_sd custer_state_park Comments (2)

Sidney, NE

Stop #8 Cabela's campground at Headquarters

sunny 85 °F
View Western Loop 2013 on scpurvis's travel map.

Today starts the beginning of our 4th week on the road. Wow, this has gone by really fast. Things I have learned in these 3 weeks: I brought way too many clothes (but we haven't gotten to the cold weather yet), brought too many shoes, Bob and I can actually live in 290 sq feet of living area and actually enjoy it, and there is some awesome country out there in the good ol' USA and I don't won't to miss any of it; I'm already thinking of where we want to go next trip and we are only about a quarter of the way done with this trip! The only drawback to this is not being able to get together with our "kids" and granddaughters! You just need that "fix" every now and then. Bob has been a patient and wonderful driver and even though I have offered to drive, he has declined my offer for some reason. I think he just doesn't want to be the navigator. :-)
Well, we are in Sidney, NE for a one night stopover. I guess you can tell by my rambling above that there is almost NOTHING here...only the headquarters for Cabela's, with a big Cabela store and a campground which is where we are staying. I think this says it all......
Corporate Headquarters for Cabela
Cabela's (okay, you have probably seen a Cabela's store before and this isn't anything special)

Well, that's it for Sidney, NE. On to the Mount Rushmore state.

Posted by scpurvis 13:37 Archived in USA Tagged sidney_ne cabela's rv_travel Comments (2)

Littleton, CO

Stop #7 Chatfield State Park Littleton, CO(20 miles S of Denver)

sunny 90 °F
View Western Loop 2013 on scpurvis's travel map.

Left Lamar, CO, headed to Littleton and looking for some BIG mountains. It was really strange for me because I never felt like we were in the mountains but when I looked at the GPS, we were over 5000 feet up; not what I expected. We are staying at Chatfield State Park for 5 nites; located on Lake Chatfield, although the campsites are not on the lake. But that is okay because we are right at the base of some very BIG mountains! Arrived about 4pm, got setup and thought we would enjoy the outdoors and the view....not.....it was 90°. I thought it was suppose to be cooler in the mountains. Anyway, by 7:30 it was in the 80's with a nice breeze.
Campgrd_at_Chatsfield_SP.jpgcampgroundView_from_camp.jpgview from campSunset_at_camp.jpgSpectacular sunset first nite

So now, we are on Mountain time and these time zones are playing havoc with our sleeping schedule. We were up very early the first day and got to see some hot air balloons taking off between us and the mountains.

First full day--------
We decided we would take a road trip this first full day and headed out to Mount Evans which is on the way to Breckenridge. The temps in Littleton today were suppose to top 90° again so we were looking for cooler temperatures on the top of Mt Evans which is 14,265' high. The road going up was quite breathtaking in more ways than one....the scenery was spectacular and the road was, well, you can imagine. We were in God's country today. Really, the pictures we take do not do it justice. The road up, according to Wikipedia which I am sure is correct, is the highest paved road in North America. After reaching the end of the road to the top, there is a nice hike up the rocks to the summit with some awesome views. We did find cooler temps, 47° at the top.

We had been going to the gym quite a bit before the trip to be ready for these hikes but the gym does not prepare you for the lack of oxygen. I could definitely tell the air was very thin up there. You wouldn't believe the people who were actually cycling up and down the mountain, and they all weren't young! It is 14 miles up from the visitor center parking lot.

On to Breckenridge from there. This was our first trip there; we found it to be a very charming and busy village. All the flowers were in bloom on the streets which were packed with tourist, of course. I would really like to see it in the winter time with the snow.

After leaving Breck, which is what the locals call it, we headed back to camp. As I said before, it is on Lake Chatfield which really doesn't look to be that large of a lake, but they put some big boats in there. The funny thing is, no one goes anywhere on the boats except out to the middle of the lake, tie up together and spend the weekend. Really looks like a lot of fun!

Day 2
Started day 2 off getting up at 5:30am Mtn time, good thing our circadian clock is still on EST which mean we felt like it was 7:30am. It would prove to be a long day. We had to be in Canon City, CO (about 2 hours away) for the early train through the Colorado Royal Gorge. We opted for the Parlor/Bar car, hmmm, where the seating is facing out the plate glass window for sensational viewing.
The ride lasted about two hours and took us through the Royal Gorge and under the Gorge Bridge which is temporarily closed do to a huge wildfire a few months ago which destroyed the Royal Gorge Bridge Park. This was the hight suspension bridge in the world until 2001 when a bridge in China beat it out.
The ride along side the Arkansas River, where they have Class 4 rafting trips, was beautiful and just the right amount of time on the train.
Cl_4_rafting.jpgAR_River_-_Royal_Gorge.jpgEC1EB8612219AC6817A2E449F892FBA5.jpgview of gorge from near suspension bridge

After the train ride, we rode over a very short skyline drive in Canon City which really wasn't as scenic as it was amazing they would build this rode over the top of the "hill". It was orginially built to carry prison guards up to the watchtower which was located on the road that overlooked one of the 13 prisons in this town, four federal and nine state.

From Canon City, we headed to Pikes Peak but happened upon a one street town, Cripple Creek, which was having a day honoring all veterans. All of main street is nothing but hotels and casinos, but the "old west" type being that they are in the historic buildings, most from the 1800's. It is a former gold mining town where one of the largest gold strikes in history was made. Interesting to say the least.

On to Pike's Peak....WOW! Another day in heaven. I know we take way too many pictures of these vistas, but, they are just so incredible. I must say, the road up to the summit, although very curvy, was in much better shape and a lot easier to drive then the one up Mt Evans yesterday. Bob did another excellent job driving up and down. You even have to stop at a station on your way down to have your brakes checked to be sure they aren't overheating and Bob did such an excellent job, ours were cool! Interestingly enough, they also have the international hill climb which is the 2nd oldest auto race in the US. We drove 19 miles in 45-60 minutes and they do a 12.42 mile course up, the winner in 8 min 13 sec! Here is a link to a video of the winners run if you are interested----some good footage in here: http://www.topspeed.com/cars/pikes-peak-international-raceway-pikespeak/ke1001.html

Arrived back at camp at 9pm.....a very full day.

Day 3
A day of rest.

Day 4
We rode over to Red Rock Park and Amphitheater today. It is a very well know concert venue and after going over there, I am sorry we didn't get tickets for the concert tonight, Peter Frampton and BB King. I would just love to see a concert there. They have some really good shows coming up, but, of course, we won't be here.
Red_Rock.jpgRed_Rock_Amphitheater.jpgRed_Rock3_.jpgRed_Rock2.jpgP1060473.jpgHPIM3622.jpgDenver_from_Red_Rock__2_.jpgDenver from Red Rock Park

From Red Rock, we drove over to Lookout Mountain, but it wasn't very impressive after going up Mt Evans and Pikes Peak. I did get a shot of Denver from up there but it was a very hazy day.

After leaving Lookout Mtn, we rode to Black Hawk, CO which is another one of those former mining towns out in the middle of nowhere. According to my friend, Wikipedia, it is the least populous city in Colorado with the 2011 census putting it at 118 inhabitants. Again, it is nothing but casinos and a few hotels. No, we didn't win anything!
4ABABE772219AC6817952EB23CC64CFD.jpg Thanks Wikipedia!

We left there and headed to Golden, CO where the Coors brewery is located, the largest single brewery facility in the world. We were hoping to take a tour but it was too late when we got there so we decided to have an early dinner and then head back to camp to get ready to leave tomorrow.
Golden__CO.jpgGolden, CO
coors_brewery.jpgCoors Brewery

Day 5
Packin' up, movin' out.....

Posted by scpurvis 18:17 Archived in USA Tagged denver breckenridge chatfield_state_park royal_gorge mt_evans Comments (3)

Lamar, CO

Stop #6 Lamar Sportsman Rv Park scratch Country Acres

sunny 83 °F
View Western Loop 2013 on scpurvis's travel map.

"I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore" -- thank goodness we are through Kansas; one long, boring, road.
The_Long_a..inding_Road.jpgThe long and NOT winding roadThe_Long_a..nding_Road2.jpgjust playin' around

We did take a short stop in Dodge City to see some cowboys. This is the town that "Gunsmoke" made famous and it is a good thing because there isn't really anything else there but a whole bunch of feeding pens for cows, fatten them up for the, well, you know, steak, hamburger, etc. And believe it or not, that is one of the "attractions" noted on tripadvisor, the cattle feedlot overlook.........
cattle_feedlot.jpghard to tell, but, those are cows or cattle, whateve,r soon to be burgers
Of course, there is the Museum of Boot Hill made famous by Gunsmoke
Boot_Hill_Dodge_City.jpgBob_and_El_Capitan.jpgBob and charging bull of Wall Street; alright, it is the El Capitan monument on Wyatt Earp Blvd
Cowboys_of_Dodge_City.jpgCowboys of Dodge City

Traveling on to Lamar, we passed some interesting sites, some random metal art and many wind turbine farms. We actually passed by a place that assembled them but we were by it before we realized what it was and pulling a trailer, you just don't whip around to get the picture.

We arrived in Lamar without incident and went searching for the Country Acres RV Park......well, we found it and if the previous park was strike one for Bob, this time he hit a fly to left field and is OUT!!! We drove on by and found a decent one down the road. To be honest, the RV park last night was very clean and safe, just not what we had been used to but it was exactly what we were looking for, a place other then Walmart parking lot to spend the night. And the reviews on the Country Acres weren't that bad and gave no indication of what it really was like. Sorry, I didn't get a picture of it but this is where we ended up....Lamar Sportsman RV Park

Now, on to what is really suppose to be spectacular......stay on the train, it should be an incredible ride!

Posted by scpurvis 10:14 Archived in USA Tagged dodge_city lamar_co Comments (1)

Wichita, KS - Air Capital of the World

Stop #5 Air Capital RV #54

sunny 83 °F
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Hard to believe.....in 300 miles, we go from this
to this

Seriously? Bob? What have you done? You get credit for all the beautiful parks we have been to so far, you must take responsibility for this "parking lot". Fortunately, this is just an overnight stop and we move on. Strike One!

Arrived in Wichita around 4pm so, after a long day riding, we didn't have much time to check out Wichita. We did ride over to the are called "Old Town" which is a restored area of old factories and businesses, now mostly bars and restaurants. Of course, on a Wednesday afternoon, there wasn't a whole lot going on. Touring around the city, we did come upon the Old Town Cow Museum but it was closed and rode along the Arkansas river which winds its way around the city and is currently over the banks. Below, the "Keeper of the Plains" is a bronze statue situated in the middle of the river by the pedestrian bridge
keeper_of_the_Plains.jpgcourtesy 360Wichitacows.jpgP1060194.jpg

In talking with a "friend" at the bar and grill, we learned that Wichita is called the "Air Capital of the World" because it was a major hub for aircraft production in the 20's and 30's where Stearman, Cessna, Mooney, and Beechcraft were founded. Boeing was here for awhile and in the 1980's, they modified two 747's to become Airforce one.

Another interesting note, this is where the Pizza Hut was founded and the first Pizza Hut building was moved to the Wichita State University campus where it resides today.
220px-FirstPizzaHut.jpgcourtesy of Wikipedia

And a tidbit for the musically inclined, In October 1932, orchestra leader Gage Brewer introduced the electric guitar to the world from Wichita using an instrument developed by what would later become known as the Rickenbacker Guitar Company. (also, from Wikipedia)

"And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line" Later------

Posted by scpurvis 05:35 Archived in USA Tagged air capital rv wichita ks Comments (4)

Branson, MO

Stop #4 Site #21 Old Hwy 86 COE Park,,good sites 21,22,23,24

semi-overcast 84 °F
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We must be travelin' right; I thought we would be inundated with torrential rains from the weather reports, but made the whole trip from Little Rock to Branson with NO rain. This is my favorite park so far! Of course, thanks to Bob's research, we have the perfect spot. Looking out the back of the camper, you think you are on a boat because all you see is water and then the mountains across the lake (Table Rock Lake). Truly stunning.

We arrived a little early so we had to wait for our site to be evacuated but the ranger let us temporarily park right across from it. We met the people who were in our site and the ones next door who were telling us about all the rain they have had. It has rained every day for the week they have been here and the lake has come up about 4 feet in that time. Finally, we got into our site, flipped some burgers for dinner and headed into town as we had seen in the paper there would be a free concert at Branson Landing which is like an outdoor mall on the river, away from the "strip". We took our chairs, got all setup with perfect seats, got our drinks, jumped up, grabbed our chairs and ran for cover because the deluge hit. There was not little sprinkles to start with, just the bottom falling out with winds to match. Oh well.

First Full Day----
We decided to drive over to Eureka Springs, AR which is 8 miles south of the Missouri/Arkansas border. This is a victorian, mountain village which sprang up around various mineral springs in the area. One of the things I found so amazing about this town, was the fact it is located on the side of a very steep mountain which means the roads, businesses and houses of the town are litererally stacked on each other up the side of the mountain. Some of the roads go straight up and down which is very scary for this flatlander. Wish I could depict this in pictures but it really doesn't show how steep the roads are. We went to a show, the Ozark Mountain Hoedown, which was exactly what it sounds like but entertaining, singing and comedy.
Eureka_Springs.jpgPassion_Play_Figure.jpgfigurine at Passion Play
We rode up to the Crescent Hotel, built in 1886, which is known as "Americas Most Haunted Hotel" with 8 spirits supposedly residing there. It was featured on the show Ghost Hunters. No, we didn't happen to get a glance of any of the spirits, except the drinking kind, but the hotel was pretty spectacular itself.
Crescent_H..ureka_Spgs3.jpgCrescent_H..Eureka_Spgs.jpgCrescent_H..ureka_Spgs4.jpgcourtesy Crescent Hotel

Day 2---
We had another storm last night but, although cloudy, rain looks like it has moved on for today. We rode into Branson and decided to brave the Strip after a short sample of it on Friday night, we were prepared for traffic like you wouldn't believe. Much to our surprise, it wasn't too bad. Had to stop off at the Table Rock Dam where with all the rain here, the water was really flowing.
Table_Rock_Dam.jpgBoats_on_W..r_below_dam.jpgfishing on White River
We went to the Legends in Concert show featuring Johnny Cash, Celine Dion, Blues Bros, Temptations and, of course, Elvis. Johnny Cash and Temptations were exceptional and even though the Blues Bros weren't that close in resemblance, sure made me miss the John Belushi days of SNL. After the show, rode back over to the Branson Landing for dinner on the river at a Mexican restaurant. Don't bother, overpriced and not the best food.

Day 3----
Rain, again. This would not be a good day for walking around so decided to go check out another show. We opted for one of the smaller theaters and what did we get, a smaller show, tribute to Johnny Cash which the singer also does John Denver tribute. He should probably stick with John Denver. As it seems with other stops along the way, we should be here NEXT WEEK for some bigger name shows.
We stopped off at the Big Cedar Lodge on our way back to the campground which is a resort on the lake and really beautiful. If you are ever in the area, stay or go by here and check out Buzzard Bar where we stayed until about 11pm as the entertainer there was better then anything we had seen in town.
Big_Cedar_Lodge.jpgchapel_at_Big_Cedar_Lodge.jpgchapel at BCLdge

Day 4----
A rough day sitting by the lake taking it easy. Ok, not so rough. We decided to stay off the roads today as we will have a long haul (about 5 hours) tomorrow to get us to Wichita where we will be for one night. I love this park!

Day 5-----
Time to move on; leaving the "Show Me" state. See you in Kansas.

Posted by scpurvis 05:44 Archived in USA Tagged branson Comments (2)

Little Rock, AR

Stop #3, Maumelle COE Park, #B29

sunny 98 °F
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We left cool breezes across the lake outside Memphis and arrived to sweltering heat in Little Rock, no breezes here even though we are on the Arkansas River and heat index, 108 degrees.

After getting everything set up, decided we would ride downtown, check things out and find someplace and something cool. We really lucked out in going into the Flying Saucer on Pres Clinton Ave right across from the Riverside Market for brewsky and food. They must have had over 100 beers on tap and the food was very good. The atmosphere was great with lots of overstuffed leather sofas and chairs placed in intimate seating arrangements along side your normal café tables.

On our first full day in Little Rock, we decided we would check out the Clinton Library. It is a very modern structure and to me, not that impressive architecturally. Currently, there is an Oscar de la Renta exhibit included on the upper floor, thus, his picture hanging on the front of the library.

In the library itself, we found a duplication of the Clinton Cabinet Room and the Oval Office along with a timeline exhibit of all his accomplishments. Sorry, but we just weren’t that impressed with the library. Of course, this is the first presidential library we have visited so we didn’t have anything to compare it to. We will visit a few more when we get to Texas for comparison purposes.  :-)
okay, that really wasn't in there.

After touring the library, we rode over to Hot Springs to check out Bathhouse Row and the quaint little town. I must say, we were a little disappointed in “Bathhouse Row” itself; they still have the “hot baths” you can go in and of course the massage services. It just seemed to me, they would have more of a draw if they made some of those into B&B’s – maybe they would get more business. Of course with the temperatures pushing 100, who wants to go into a hot spring bath.

We did happen upon the Ohio Club for a cold beer and discovered it was the oldest bar in Arkansas known for its frequent gambling escapades by Al Capone, Babe Ruth and “Bugsy” Siegel. We sat at the bar with a couple of masseuse from one of the bathhouses and decided we would pass on the massages. Bob wanted the “hot” chick with long blond hair and curvaceous bod for his masseuse, not the 50 year old, grey haired lady with squinty eyes that was sitting next to us. Of course, my ideal was not the grey haired pony tail guys sitting with her, either.

Day Two-------------------------------
Started out the day at Pinnacle Mtn State Park which is right down the road from where we are staying. We had planned on taking the hiking trail up Pinnacle but with it being so hot, 96 degrees, we decided to forgo that hike but just climbed up to the lookout which gave a beautiful view of the river.

We then rode over to Central High School to absorb some history of the civil rights movement. This was the site of the first important test for the implementation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954 where the "Little Rock Nine" were denied entrance to Central High School. So hard to grasp how segregated our country was.

Bob wanted to check out DeGray State Park and Resort because it was so highly praised online.....note to Bob, don't believe everything you read online. It was okay but nothing like it was portrayed. It did have some beautiful scenery in the area and it was a good day to be in the air conditioned vehicle because it was so danged hot outside!

Day three--
A day of fun stuff, laundry! I can tell you, it isn't any more fun doing laundry on the road then it is at home. After the chores, we went back to the campground to wait for it to cool off. Our plan was to ride over to the "Big Dam Bridge" (yes, that is the name of it) and walk across for a little exercise. It was still way to hot at 6:30pm so we decided to forgo that and go to the Cajun Wharf to cool off with wine/beer.
Photo LR outsidebig_dam_bridge_.jpg
And a good thing we skipped that, as I saw on the news that all the cars parked at the park were broken into! Anyway, the Cajun Wharf was good, would be great in the spring or fall. It was still 91 at 8:30pm.

Ok, day four and we are leaving for Branson, MO this morning. Weather is not looking good up that way, flash flooding yesterday and warnings again for today. We will see.

I will leave you with a quote from former President Bill Clinton, "Being president is like running a cemetery: you've got a lot of people under you and nobody's listening". Not sure of the context this quote was taken from, just sayin'.

Posted by scpurvis 06:07 Archived in USA Tagged little_rock maumelle Comments (4)

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