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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Statistics, who needs them????

We arrived at home today around 1:30.  It was only a 218 mile leg and was an easy drive.  We did stop in the Dalles to have an early lunch.

When we left Pendleton, it was about 80 degrees but the humidity was in the 60 percent range.  Too muggy to do much for sure.

This was really an enjoyable trip.  We did have a few problems (hot water heater, DVRs acting up and the like) but all were rather easily addressed.  None were critical, costly, or complicated.  We saw some great scenery and the out and back legs were on different roads and through different areas, so that made it even nicer!

For the most part, the parks had good Wi-Fi and when they didn’t, our myfi on our Verizon smartphones came to the rescue admirably.

Now for the statistical recap for those of you who are in need of a numbers fix…..

Total RV Miles……………………………2,823.2

Number of days…………………………24

Different RV Parks……………………..13

Actual RV driving days………………..14

Gallons of gas used in RV……………358.1

Cheapest gas…………………………….3.21

National Parks visited………………….2

Nat. Monuments visited………………7

Hottest Temperature………………….106 degrees

Number of quilt stores visited………9

Days we didn’t have fun……………..0

Number of nights with no satellite TV signal………..1

Number of bugs on windshield……..23,522,870

Number of bird strikes………………..1

Number of VORTACs seen…………..5

Number of new friends made………2

Number of times Carol threw the frying pan at me…….0

Number of times she should have thrown it………I plead the 5th amendment

Now to plan the next trip!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Round them up in Pendleton

Well, here we are at the site of the famous Pendleton Roundup.  We had an easy 288 mile drive from Glenns Ferry, ID to get here.  Since we had a one hour time change enroute, the trip seemed even quicker!  We did have a stiff breeze, but it was a direct tail wind the whole way.

We stay at Wildhorse Casino & RV park when we come through on this route.  We know the park well and the Wi-Fi is great, and the sites are nice.  They only have 12 50 amp sites though, so you want to be sure and reserve ahead if you need one of them.

After settling in, we drove into Pendleton.  It was too hot and humid to do the river walk, but we did visit 2 quilt stores.  When we went to leave for the first one, I put the address into my smart phone and it seemed like it was doing well in giving directions once we left the park.  However, it insisted that we go east on the freeway which would be away from Pendleton.  The next city is about 50 miles in that direction and the next off-ramp  would be at least 12 miles that way.  So we knew this was wrong and went west on the freeway and then got off in downtown and found the store.  The whole way, the nav application kept trying to get us to make a u-turn so that we could go back on the freeway to the east.

While Carol was in the store, I was trying to find out why the usually reliable program was all of a sudden acting up like this.  I noticed that it had computed our drive time as 1 day and 16 hours!  And the address was in New Jersey!  I know Carol likes quilt stores, but New Jersey seems like a rather long trip for a quilt store.

Anyway, I obviously had done something wrong when entering the address.  I rekeyed it and it found the correct one right away, so obviously operator error.

We were thinking about spending an extra day here tomorrow and going home on Thursday.  But the weather is supposed to be hot and humid, so we will just go home tomorrow to cooler weather!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Scratch 1, Strike 1, Cut 1, Touch 3

That about sums up the day.

SCRATCH 1:  When we were trying to leave the RV park this morning, some imbecile parked right in the middle of the road and locked his car and was nowhere to be found!  Tried honking, looking around, etc.  No luck.  Called the RV Park office.  They couldn’t care less.  Finally backed up and went through a site, but it was very narrow and I got a nice scratch from a faucet that I couldn’t see to avoid.h.

STRIKE 1:  While enroute on I-84, I saw what appeared to be a crow or a black bird of similar size just before he went up and collided with something on our roof.  At the next rest area, I saw that our radio antenna had made contact with him and was bent every which way.  Fortunately, I think I can straighten it out when we are at home.  Also luckily, it appears that what was left of the bird went off on the left side of the RV and didn’t mess up the roof.  Will verify that when we get home too.

CUT 1:  At tonight’s RV park, the site they wanted to give us had a low hanging branch.  I was adamant that it be cut before I would even try to go in the site.  The manager reluctantly went and got a pruner and we clipped that branch.  Then for good measure, I did a couple of others.  Had no problem getting in the site.

TOUCH 3:  We actually started this morning in Wyoming, drove 6 miles and entered Utah.  We were there for about 2.5 hours and then entered Idaho which is where we are now.  So we touched three states today.  (Never mind the states of anger, confusion, disappointment, and frustration from the above.)

Last night in Evanston, we disconnected the car and drove into the city to take a walk.  Of course, the walk was everything but uneventful.

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Well, this corner had all four signal posts with the signs on them properly instructing you what to do if you want to cross.  See anything missing????

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While approaching a corner, a pickup truck went by and dropped a cooler and a restraining rod out of the back of his truck bed.  The cooler was full and landed upside up.  I went into the intersection and moved the items to the side so that the cars would not hit them.  Wonder if he ever came back for them.  (He didn’t during the 10-12 minutes we were in the area)

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You have probably heard of the Jamaican Bobsled team.  In case you were wondering where they are these days, it appears that they have a new stealth training facility in downtown Evanston, WY.  Nobody would think to look for them there.  I wonder how they will do in the 2014 Winter games in Sochi, Russia???

Enough weirdness for one day!  Tomorrow it is on to Pendleton, OR.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A plea to the emperor of China…..

Wy-o-ming – sounds like a plea to the Ming emperor of China for an explanation of some question.  Well, I’m not sure how the state got its name, but I’m sure there is a story there somewhere.  Wyoming is the 10th largest in size of the states yet the least populated!

We had wind on the entire drive today.  Not too strong and mostly a headwind.  Also for the last 12 miles, we entered a rain shower.  Now it is raining on and off as we relax after the 208 mile drive.

The outdoor temperature has cooled down quite a bit and is now in the high 70s.  That makes it at least bearable outside.  We are still at high elevation which may account for the lower temperature.

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Here is a view through the front window out into the rain and beyond.  If you are an RVer,  you will notice that there are a lot of trees and many of them need some serious trimming!

Tomorrow we blast into and through Utah to Glenns Ferry, ID.  We are only 6 miles from the Utah border so we will get there quickly!  We drove through Glenns Ferry two years ago during our 6 week Grand Circle trip so it will be interesting to see if it has changed.  It is 311 miles which is the longest of the homeward legs of our trip.  We have over 2,000 miles on the RV now on this trip alone and a little over 800 more to go before we are home.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Rolling into Rawlins

We had an uneventful trip from Cheyenne to Rawlins today.   About 153 miles in good weather.  Once we got here, we got all setup and then went into town to check it out.  There’s really not much in Rawlins.  We stopped at a local deli that is going out of business next week and brought food back to the RV to eat.

Then Carol went off exploring while I rested.  The altitude here is about 7,000 feet and as noted in previous posts, I have difficulty getting enough air at altitude due to having part of a lung removed.  I have a device which clips on your finger and measures pulse and oxygen content of the blood.  Normally my reading is around 95-98 which is fairly normal.  However up here I have been measuring it and it has been as low as 89 so I try to take it easy.  My pulse is usually about 56-63 and here it is 68-73 which means it must be trying to compensate. 

Tonight we went out to dinner at a local restaurant that was in an old 1880s type house converted.  It was about the only place in town!

We raced to get back to the RV from dinner because we could see a big thunderstorm coming.  We just made it as it was starting to rain as we opened the door.  We have had several of these storms tonight already.  They start with some significant gusty winds that rock the RV.  Then the heavy rain/hail comes along with the thunder and lightning.  The storms last about 30 minutes and then all is calm for a while until the next one comes along.  Supposed to be this way tonight until midnight.

Tomorrow we leave for Evanston, WY, a distance of about 256 miles.

No pictures for today, but I thought I would leave you bloggers out there with this cute cartoon…..

cartoon

Friday, July 13, 2012

Give them the Boot!

This morning we decided to do a walking tour of downtown Cheyenne and view the old buildings.  Carol had a booklet with the map and description of what we were looking for.  But unfortunately, the  map was for the old buildings, many of which have been replaced with newer structures.  So the tour really didn’t make a lot of sense.

Map of progress of Transcontintel Railroad

We started in the Cheyenne train station which has a map made out of the floor tiles of the progress building the transcontinental railroad.  You can see the map in the very short video above.

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All over the downtown there are a series of large boot sculptures that are all painted up.  I am not sure what they are celebrating with them but they are interesting.

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They also have a trolley that runs a route downtown that you can get on and off of to view various sites.  We elected to walk as we have not been getting much exercise due to the heat.

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The temperature was already 84 at 9:45 so we knew it would be a warm day.  After about 45 minutes on our walking tour, we got back in the car and went up near the state capitol and walked there and also visited the Wyoming State Museum which is free.

On the way home we stopped for lunch and then back to the RV to get in where it is cool.  (the temp was 92 at 1:30).

Tomorrow we leave for Rawlins, about 156 miles away.  Originally we were going to stay one more day here and then drive to Evanston, a distance of 366 miles.  But we decided to break that long travel day into two day and make the interim stop at Rawlins.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cheyenne–a tribe, a place, a KOA

Today we are in Cheyenne, WY.  We have left Nebraska behind us and can officially say we are heading west, towards home.  Of course it will take us about a week to get there!  Now we are traveling through the native areas of the Sioux and Cheyenne Indian tribes.

We left Scottsbluff about 8:40, stopped for fuel and headed the 103 miles to the Cheyenne KOA.  Drive was easy and nothing really of note.  The KOA here in Cheyenne is nice, probably the nicest park we have stayed in on this trip—except that the water pressure is really low.

After arriving, we had lunch and then went on errands – three quilt shops, haircuts, and then the obligatory stop at Wal-Mart.  It did give us a chance to see a good portion of the city though.  Temps are now in the high 80s so we are glad to get back to the RV.

Last Saturday we visited the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, SD.  I didn’t have a chance to share the pictures of the visit with you, so here are a few today.

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This is an active site for fossil recovery.  Mostly Mammoths and the short faced bears.

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The entire pit is in a large covered room so that it can be worked year around without any problems from moisture.  You can see this pit above is about 30 feet deep.  They think there are another 190 feet or so of fossils to recover.

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This is a fossil of a pelvic and hip bone that has yet to be dug out and processed.

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Here one of the paleontologists is working with a brush and dental pick to recover a bone.

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Here a set of tusks and a skull have been partially uncovered and will be removes soon.

I really recommend this site to visit.  Even if you are not at all interested in the science of what they are doing, just hearing their theories on what happened and what they are finding is interesting.  Plus they have activities for the whole family.

Kids can work and active site and spend some time in a dig site recovering actual bones.  Older ones and adults can try their hand at hunting as humans did back when the mammoths roam.  They have targets set up outside and you can try to hit them with spears.  Not near as easy as it looks.  And after a few throws you might be tempted to give up, but if you do, you and your family don’t eat for a few days!

Tomorrow we plan to do some local touristy things, not sure what for sure yet.

You can see a short video about the Mammoth Site here……

Mammoth Site, Hot Springs, SD

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

30 miles, 2 days, Are we there yet?

Today we visited two national monuments that were key locations on the Oregon Trail.  While they are only about 30 miles apart, it took two days for the pioneers to go from one to the other.

First we visited Scotts Bluff because it was closer to where we are staying.  The pioneers would go between the formations on the bluffs and head towards the Rocky mountains.

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As you can see, these cliffs are formidable and would not be something they would want to take on….

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….especially when there is a gap right through the middle of the formation.

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Off to the southwest, there are more interesting formations.

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And yet another formation.

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One of the neat things about this monument is that the park service has created a road you can drive to the top.  There are also trails, but they are steep and it was pretty hot outside.  The view from the top is really great!

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They have a nice visitor center with a short movie about the area.  Not much on the geology though and I saw this layer on the top of the bluff and wonder what event caused the horizontal line in the rock?

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As we were walking back to the car, I spied these cacti growing up here.  If you had asked me if you could find cactus in Nebraska, I would have answered no until I saw these.  Maybe that is why those pioneers referred to Nebraska as “the desert!”

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From Scotts Bluff, it is only about 30 miles due east to Chimney rock.

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This rock rises up off the “desert” floor and the pinnacle is about 350 feet high.  This rock could be see from a great distance.  It is said that while the pioneers were crossing the great plains to get here, the 600 mile trail was so boring.  In fact some pioneers would wish for an Indian attack just for variety! 

But once they reached Chimney rock, they knew that they were about a third of the way to Oregon and while the first part of the trail wasn’t very interesting, it also wasn’t very dangerous.  Chimney Rock was the demarcation point where the trail had more sights to see but was a good deal more dangerous.

Tomorrow we head to Cheyenne, WY – only about 100 miles or so away.  Should be an easy trip and cooler there.  It is 94 here today!

Here is a short video of the Scotts Bluff and Chimney Rock areas….

Scotts Bluff and Chimney Rock National Monuments

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Who Called Scott’s Bluff????

OK, so here we are in Scottsbluff, NE.  It is warmer outside than back at Custer, SD.  That is probably because we are lower in elevation and further south.

We made good time getting here, not counting stops, it took about 3.5 hours to go 201 miles. 

First impression of Nebraska…….There is a whole lot of nothing out here!  Lots of open ground either range for cattle & horses or some is planted, mostly hay or corn.  There are great distances between towns and some of the small towns are nothing more than 3 or 4 houses.  At one point I drove 26 miles without encountering a vehicle in either direction.

One sad note, we saw at least three coal trains close by that were idle, just parked on the tracks.  There may have been many more in the distance, but I was too far away and driving at the time to pay close attention.  And my copilot was sleeping.  These were fairly long trains with cars full of coal just waiting for someplace to go.  Unfortunately, the current government’s policy is to prohibit coal usage which has really put some folks out of work.

The RV park is nothing special but not too bad.  The sites are arranged haphazardly so there are no clearly defined rows.  When we arrived, the gate was closed.  Apparently the campground host liked it that way but while Carol was registering us, the city called them and said it had to be left open!

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Here is the view out the right portion of our front window.  The left portion has the back of three RVs.

Tomorrow we plan to do some tourist spots.  It is supposed to be in the 90s tomorrow, so we will probably get an early start.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A down time day to kick back

Today is our last day in Custer and the black hills and tomorrow we head SSE to Scottsbluff, Ne.  The weather was quite nice with temps in the high 70s under a mostly cloudy sky.

We have a lot of driving ahead of us (about 1450 miles or so) and so today was a great day to kind of take it easy.  We did go into town to mail some postcards and walk about the stores.

They have a Custer Stampede every summer and various businesses line up to sponsor different parts of the program.  This year we will be long gone when it happens, but they do something interesting for the sponsors.  All around town there are various life size bison on the street corners.  The various sponsors are allowed to have their bison painted in any way they want. 

So during our walk today, I took pictures of the buffalo we came across.

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As you can see, some of these are very artistic.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Another episode of Buffalo Dave and Calamity Carol

Here we are again back in the wild, wild, West.  OK, so it’s actually pretty tame here.  Today we took a long drive through the Wildlife loop of Custer State Park.  We had a picnic lunch after the loop and just before leaving the park.

We started with a really nice scenic overlook with a covered patio type setting.  Calamity, I mean Carol, says this would be a great porch.

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And the view from the porch isn’t too shabby either!

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You can also see many radio masts on top of one of the hills along with a fire watching station.

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As we drove onto the loop, we came across two deer crossing the road right in front of us.

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Later we spotted our first of six Pronghorn Antelope.

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Here is a great picture of the prairie grasslands in this part of the park.

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In one section, there were about 25 burros that were extremely tame.  They would come up to your car and expect food from you.  There were signs telling you not to feed the wildlife so we didn’t, but many people went ahead anyway.

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We stopped at a small visitor center which didn’t really have much but the volunteer lady running it told us if we wanted to see some buffalo, to take this gravel road and keep turning left.  We should see some buffalo and end up right back at the center.  Well, we saw two isolated buffalo! 

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We did however also catch two Pronghorn Antelope foraging out on the prairie.

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Later we came up on a bison just walking alongside the road as we drove by.  He didn’t even acknowledge our existence.

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We also came across a burro that appears to have lost his way from his herd.

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Right at the end of the loop drive, we came upon two large herds of bison.

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After our ride in the park, we stopped at the Gordon Stockade.  The party that built this did so in violation of an Indian treaty.  The Calvary chased them off the Indian land but they kept coming back to this stockade.  Finally the troops refused to protect them.

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There were 7 structures inside the stockade.  Some had fireplaces in them and others looked to be work areas.

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The view of the lake outside of the stockade with the clouds in the sky was really pretty!

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Tonight we are planning on having dinner with blogger friends Judy and Everett before we go our separate ways on Tuesday.

You can watch a brief video of today’s excursion below….

Wildlife Loop at Custer State Park