SOUTH WE GO OR FLORIDA HERE WE COME CHAPTER TWELVE JUNE 24 –

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Silverton, Colorado sits at 9,318 feet in the San Juan Mountains in an ancient Caldera bowl. You might remember the word caldera from previous posts. It is a large volcanic crater, formed by a major eruption that led to the collapse of the mouth of the volcano. In 1860, Charles Baker and other prospectors came to the area seeking wealth. They found gold and silver in the Animas River. Silverton was established in 1874 and incorporated in 1885. It is the last mining camp in San Juan county. In the 1800’s, Silverton and other mining camps were connected by a narrow gauge steam railroad. Today, Silverton is connected to Durango by the same railroad, the D&SNGRR, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge RailRoad. We’re taking a journey up and back on the train.

The entire southwest has been under a severe drought. The ground is bone dry. When there is rain, it causes floods and mudslides. I have seen pictures of mudslide areas on the news, but nothing prepares you for the real thing. A severe thunderstorm swept through the Four Corners area on Tuesday, July 24 causing major track damage between Hermosa and Rockwood. As a result, we cannot leave from the Durango station. We are bussed up to Rockwood on US 550. The road runs parallel to the railroad tracks. As we drive, we see the damage the mud caused. The road still has telltale signs, but the piles that were bulldozed off the road are all along the shoulder. You can see the scars to the hillside that the rivers of water caused. A scary site!

When we get to Rockwood, we board our gondola car. We could have sat in a closed car in bench type seats, but we paid to be in an open air car, with a roof, to see and experience the sights. The ride to Silverton takes about two and a half hours through the San Juan National Forest. Evidence of the recent wildfire can be seen as the train moves north. This deforestation was a contributing factor to the mudslides. This vicious cycle of drought, wildfire, flood and mudslide is happening all over the southwest. Wildfire aside, the ride gives us beautiful views of gorges, rivers and cliffs.

Around 11:30, the train pulls into Silverton. Under normal circumstances, you could book a one way train trip up to Silverton and take the bus back to Durango, giving you more time in the town. With the track damage, that option is not offered. It’s train up, train back, and we have to be on the train for the return trip at 1:30, not giving us much time. We’re hungry, so we head over to The Shady Lady Saloon and Grill for the daily special of hot open faced roast beef or turkey sandwiches with mashed potatoes.

The Shady Lady was a brothel that opened in 1888 and was the last to close by its last madam Jew Fanny in 1947. The building, built in 1880, sits in the red light district of old, and was operated by several notorious madams including Denver Kate. Its purpose has calmed down a bit since.

After lunch, we walk down Silverton’s streets checking out the shops and restaurants.

There are places offering Jeep tours and other off road experiences. Before we know it, it’s time to get back to the train station. We get ice cream and board the train for the ride back where we spend the return ride chatting with a young couple from Luxembourg. 

Friday, August 10, 2018

I have a nail appointment at 11:30 this morning at the casino spa. As it turns out, it is the worst I have ever had. Alex is playing the slots to earn ten points so he can get four dollars off the steak and shrimp meal they offer today in one of the restaurants. The original price is $10.99, the points price is $6.99. The points have to be earned by 2:30. When I’m done with my nails, I join him. Not seeing the attraction of slot machines makes me unenthusiastic to this exercise. I put $10 in the penny slot machine and in a minute or so have my ten points. Alex has his points right after me. When we cash out, we find we spent a combined $12.35 to save eight dollars on our meal. The house wins $4.35, plus the eight dollars. 

We walk over to the restaurant that serves up this offer to get some lunch. It’s somewhere around 2:30. The game plan was to get a light lunch, then come back for our steak and shrimp dinner. What we discover, is the offer is until three. So, now we’re having our steak and shrimp dinner as lunch! Then we’re back in the hot tub.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

While we were having a lazy breakfast, I get a text from our bank asking if we were making an $11.65 purchase at a Huddle House, I don’t even know what that is, with a card ending in a number I don’t even recognize. A few seconds later, Alex gets the same text message. We check cards and sure enough, it is an ATM card of Alex’s that he has never used. But somehow it has been hacked. So, the morning is spent stopping the card, getting a new one issued and stopping all the debits on the card. Fortunately, there were only three others to a fitness center for ten cents each. Guess they were testing the waters before going hog crazy. After the ordeal, we spend the afternoon in the casino pool and hot tub. A well deserved treat.

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Hot tub, lazy river pool at 3.5 feet deep and bubbling system. Nicest pool I have seen!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Alex is having another kidney stone attack. Perfect timing! We’re moving to Ignacio and Sky Ute Casino. We like casino RV parks. They’re usually not outrageously priced and they have nice amenities and good food. This one does not disappoint. All paved, water, 50 amp electric, sewer, laundry, pool, hot tub, bowling alley and great restaurants, what more could you ask for.

We have less than seventy miles between campgrounds, and the road was fairly easy. We get to the casino a little before one. The camp host checks us in and then takes Alex over to the casino to pay and do the paperwork while I set up inside. When he comes back, he tells me that this is a a Passport America site. They tell him, if we join we save 50% on our stay. So instead of $39 a night, we are paying $19.50 a night. Once upon a time we were members, but that was long before we were full time. We didn’t use it then, so we let it expire. Now it makes sense. I quickly joined online. Our permanent cards would come in the mail as soon as we were approved, in the meantime, we would get a temporary card we could print. Next up, payers cards for the casino and lunch at Shining Mountain Cafe.

 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Home day working on our future stops. Alex is feeling another kidney stone bout coming on.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Telluride is an old Victorian mining town in the San Juan Mountains. Now it boasts one of the premier ski resorts in winter, sitting at 8,750 feet, and a hiking and mountain biking community it warmer weather. The town’s old fashioned charm still remains. It is a haven for foodies and has music, jazz and blues, film and other festivals.

It is a seventy five mile drive north on CO 145, San Juan Parkway, through the tiny towns of Delores and Rico, and the San Juan National Forest. When we get to Telluride, we are lucky enough to get a parking spot on the main street. Be aware, you have to find a parking station and pay for parking. We didn’t see any of the few and very discreetly placed signs and were lucky enough to get a warning and not a ticket.

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Believe it or not, this is a telephone booth. When was the last time you saw one of these?

 

We start walking down the street and it isn’t long before we find High Pie Pizzeria & Taproom where we had pizza, beer and wine for lunch.

 

We learn, from our waiter, there is a free tram to the top of the mountain and Mountain Village, the ski resort. After eating, we continue walking both sides of the main street and all the shops and restaurants. When we go back to the car, that’s when we find the warning notice. We drive over to where the tram station is located, and after two tries, we find a parking spot a few blocks away. This time we pay for parking. 

The tram ride provides great views of Telluride and the surrounding area. The cars are equipped with racks that hold bikes.

 

We get off at the first stop to walk around, but this is a hiking, biking stop with different levels of trails. Not doing either of these activities today, we get back on a tram car and head to Mountain Village. This is the premier ski resort, built to look like something out of the Alps. Hotels, restaurants and shops have an Alpine look and make up the resort with ski lifts a few feet away.

 

We wander around taking in the sites and get ice cream. Here the temperature is only seventy six degrees. Much cooler than back in Cortez. Late in the afternoon, we take the tram down to Sergio and starts the long journey home.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

We’re working on picking our next stop after Hooper. Later, while Alex watches NASCAR, I chat with family and friends.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

The half mile hike, or should I say climb to and from Cliff Palace, has kicked Alex’s butt. The “no hiking using the fractured wrist” rule went out the window and he’s feeling it in his wrist and all the muscles he had to use to do the climb. We’re staying in, giving him time to recoup. 

We finished the Human Body jigsaw puzzle DDAA1EED-3755-4F35-A7A0-CFE5FA5EDD3Dand started the Grand Teton jigsaw puzzle. We both believe we are missing pieces. There’s only one corner, the right side border is non-existent and pieces that have lettering are no where to be found. Oddly, when we opened the package, there were large sections still together, mostly the border. We will have to see what happens with this 550 piece puzzle we thought would be easy.

Friday, August 3, 2018

We drive to the Four Corners Monument on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico, forty miles south on US 160. This is the only location in the United States where four states, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado, intersect at a single point. You wait in line to get to the marker and are allowed three photos. You can get back in line to take more, but the three photo rule allows everyone to get a chance without waiting forever.

 

There are vendor booths that surround the monument making a squared enclosure. Here you can find pottery, jewelry, tee shirts and just about anything else.

 

In the background, are the barren hills of the desert. The only thing we saw driving here were horses. 

Afterwards, we take a drive to Shiprock, New Mexico, out of curiosity. My cousin was a parish priest on the Navajo land many years ago and I wanted to see what he had described. We tried to get close to the scared Shiprock rock of the Navajo that they call Tsé Bitʼaʼí or “rock with wings”, that stands nearly 1,583 feet, but couldn’t. The haze from the many fires in the southwest made getting a good shot impossible.

On our drive home we stop at Ute Mountain Casino for all you can eat seafood and prime rib buffet for $19.99. This is a Friday thing. Got to love casino food deals. All day that was all I could think of. Probably, the best seafood buffet we have been to. They we’re giving you a huge pile of snow crab claws and you could get more. Fried shrimp, cocktail shrimp, oysters, fried clams, swordfish, salmon, and of course, delicious prime rib. Being all you can eat, I had two helpings of prime rib. Oh yeah, they had veggies and rice and salad, but I needed the room for all the good stuff, so I will just have to eat more veggies tomorrow to make up for tonight. I don’t think they made money on us!

 

Thursday, August 2, 2018

The main reason for coming to this area is Mesa Verde National Park. The park entrance is seven miles east of our campground on US 160. Mesa Verde National Park was created in 1906 to preserve the archeological heritage of the Ancestral Pueblo people. The park has over 4,500 archeological sites, of which 600 are cliff dwellings, the most famous being Cliff Palace. 

Once you enter the park, there are several pullout overlooks you can stop and view the canyons. It will take thirty minutes to climb the switchback road up the mountain to get to the Far View area, where there is the lodge, restaurant, coffee and gift shops. All the archeological sites are past this point. You can drive to the overlooks to view the sites from a distance, but to get close, you must pay for a ranger guided tour. They don’t want people climbing over these precious ancient sites. There are a few self guided sites you can visit. These are enclosed so people can’t climb in and do damage. We book the 700 Year Tour. Our tour bus picks us up at Far View Terrace, where we had lunch,

 

to begin our four hour tour through Pueblo history. We makes stop along the Mesa Top Loop where we see the ruins of pit houses and villages, kivas, believed to be communal buildings of ceremony, and the Sun Temple.

 

The crowning jewel of the tour was Cliff Palace, the most famous of all cliff dwellings.

Getting to and from Cliff Palace is a bit of a challenge, to say the least. You first descend down some very nice metal stairs. So far, so good. Then you descend down some very narrow, maybe twelve inches wide at best, very uneven in height, rocky stone steps dug into the cliff. 0F902CE1-2486-41CB-AC10-E816B87744ACNext walk along a path with the cliff to your left and nothing to your right. Finally, climb a wooden ladder to get you to the path that brings you to the cliff dwelling. F4AD4777-D25A-45BC-A162-C9685F4A0810Oh, but it is so worth it! 3143FE2A-4FCA-49D8-9E5B-19BF3C0B9E62

 

We learn about the very hard life these people had just to survive. They farmed on the top of the cliff or mesa. They gathered water that dripped down through the rock or hauled it up hundreds of feet from below. They spend all day grinding corn into meal. They hunted whatever animals would be in the area, and went to the bathroom just about everywhere. They died by the age of forty. They lived here hundreds of years, but eventually migrated due to severe drought and the famine it brings. 

When our time is up, we start the even crazier journey to the top. Initially, the path is wide stone steps. A few feet later, there is a sign pointing to the left that reads exit. But, there’s a stone wall! I turn slightly to my left, almost making a hairpin turn and I see a tiny cutout in the cliff with wildly uneven stone steps that twist and turn. Up I go with Alex and others following behind, sometimes having to use my hands to pull myself through because the steps are spaced so far apart and my legs can’t get my body boosted up that high. After maneuvering the stone tomb, not the place to be if you’re claustrophobic, there are three steep wooden ladders to climb before you reach a landing with a path to the top and the parking lot. 7D0A75DE-CFB9-456E-A791-FCD504734DCFAt this point my lungs are on fire. Thank goodness for rescue inhalers. Just as we got to the landing, it begins to thunder. There is a severe drought here and any rain is welcome. It might even help with the wildfires and help clean the air. We’re back on the bus as it begins to drizzle. Then it’s home for some much needed rest.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

We got a couple of interesting neighbors yesterday. The coach next to us was for Favorite Fishing gear.

 

The other was even more interesting. It was an old converted school bus with no less than ten people, kids included, living in it. Sheets served as window coverings and mattresses could be seen being climbed over by the inhabitants. It reminded me of hippie days.25BDDA2D-9C95-42AF-A51B-61F0944B0A31

We pack up and start out for Cortez, Colorado and Sundance RV Park on Main Street or US 160. It is only a little more than one hundred miles.

 

The campground is right in the middle of town, though you wouldn’t guess it, convenient to stores, parks and attractions. It’s quiet with blacktop roads, nice gravel sites and trees. Water, sewer, 50 amp electric, wi-if, 48 channel cable, showers, restrooms, laundry, a dog walk and picnic tables complete the package. We have a nice private end site at the back of the park. Our weekly rate breaks down to less than thirty four dollars a night. A good price for these parts, where forty, fifty and more are quite common.

 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

We called yesterday to get Alex an appointment with the orthopedist for today, when the doctor would be in. We have a three thirty appointment. We are having a relaxing breakfast when the phone rings. You guessed it, it’s the doctor’s office with a ten thirty cancellation. Can we come in? We have forty minutes to get our act together and get to the doctor’s office. 

The doctor confirms the fracture to Alex’s radius and opts for a soft cast, to our relief. He gives Alex his dos and don’ts instructions, the biggest being, don’t put pressure on it, no hiking involving using his hand, ice it and take it easy. That being said, we head home. While Alex ices his wrist and rests, I head out to do a few errands before we leave tomorrow.

Monday, July 30, 2018

The pain has subsided in Alex’s wrist, so we’re going to Moab Giants, a park that has life-sized dinosaurs, a 5D prehistoric aquarium, 3D theatre, cafe, museum, playground and gift shop.

 

 

It’s a few miles north at the intersection of US 191 and UT 313. But first, we stop for lunch at Peace Tree Juice Cafe. 

 

It’s hot, triple digits hot, so we plan our park visit alternating between outdoor activities and indoor, air conditioned ones. The theater and aquarium are scheduled events, showing every thirty minutes. We have a few minutes until the movie starts in the theater, so we tour the main grounds complete with playground and activities for the kids. We head to the theater, and air conditioning, for the 3D movie, which takes you from the birth of the universe through earth’s many stages to the present. Sufficiently cooled, we start the half mile trail through the desert to get up close and personal with the life-size dinosaurs. If you’re a Dino fan, or even if you’re not, this is as good as it gets. This is the closest you can get to a dinosaur without being eaten. It’s like Jurassic Park, without the animals running amuck.EA2CE378-B669-4647-9C3D-096270FEA0E2

 

As you walk, you move through the different periods and are shown the dinosaurs that lived during that time. There are shaded places to stop and sit, that have mist to cool you. It’s hot, so we take advantage of these rest areas. After our desert hike, we head to the 5D Prehistoric Aquarium. We don our 3D glasses and walk through the aquarium with our guide telling us about each of the prehistoric critters we “see” in the tanks. The grand finale is the shark attack. A fun surprise ending. We finish our dinosaur experience with a walk through the interactive museum. An interesting and fun day.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Day two in the tale of the broken wrist brings pain. Alex watches NASCAR while icing his wrist. I finish our Native American Indian Tribe jigsaw puzzle and start on the Human Body jigsaw puzzle.DB682C23-387E-4FC3-B2AD-EE6DFFBDBEC5

Saturday, July 28, 2018

We are staying home today. The swelling has begun. Alex needs to keep his arm elevated with ice packs on it. No lifting. No strain on the arm.

At dinner time, we escape for pizza at Zax Restaurant in town. Not good! The crust falls apart and the pizza was barely warm. The red gravy and toppings were good though. The restaurant itself was nice and the staff great. Maybe other things on the menu are better.

Friday, July 27, 2018

We’re going to take a break from humans today and take a drive on Highway 279 or Potash-Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway as it is called locally. The seventeen mile road runs along side the Colorado River providing great views of the river, ancient rock art and dinosaur track, climb included.

We pack up and head out the door. I head out first loaded with handbag, camera equipment, water, package and a few other things. Just as I get to the car, I hear a loud thud and a groan. When I turn, I see Alex sprawled on the ground. Alex walked backwards down the steps, missed the last step and fell. Bleeding and bruised, we head back inside to bandage him. We put a hand splint on his right hand and bandages on the cuts. He doesn’t want to go to the hospital, so we start on our journey.

We head north through town and turn left on Highway 279. About two miles after you turn on the road, you enter a deep gorge called The Portal. We stop to look at the river and cliffs and again to look at all the ancient rock art, and there is quite a bit.

 

 

The state highway ends at the Intrepid Potash Mine, where potash, used in fertilizer, is mined. We continue around the plant on a local road for another two miles, and come to the east entrance of Canyonlands National Park. This is the end of the line for us. To go further, you need a four wheel drive vehicle. The road is dirt and rocky and the signs clearly tell you low clearance vehicles, like Sergio, are not recommended, you should have four wheel drive. Rough terrain hills ahead. Most of Canyonlands National Park is four wheel drive territory. I miss my old Jeep, Max.

We head back and stop at Canyonlands by Night & Day to book an eighteen mile, thirty six mile round trip, Colorado River boat ride and dinner that takes you into Canyonland National Park. Unfortunately, we are told the water is too low and they can only offer a two mile trip in the other direction, with a light show and dinner. Not what we were looking for. Remember I told you I tempted the universe with my “I hope I’m not going to be disappointed” remark.

We turn on to the Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway otherwise known as Highway 128. This is where the only boat ride available travels and does a light show on the cliffs two miles in. As we drive, we see kayakers and white water rafters, only there isn’t any white water. They are paddling to move forward. This isn’t the time of the year for water sports. The woman at the campground office said they are almost booked for next spring, when winter snow melts and gives the river some force and volume.

 

After about twenty miles we pull into one of the boat launch access parking lots and watch as rafters are coming out of the Colorado River. We head back down the Byway to town and stop at Moab Brewery for dinner.

 

Alex had tried one of their brews, Rocket Bike American Larger, elsewhere in Utah and liked it. He had one with fish and chips and I had Alfredo chicken with broccoli and a Sauvignon Blanc.

Alex’s wrist is hurting so we drive to Moab Regional Hospital in town and pay a visit to the Emergency Room. They were quick and determined he has a small fracture in the radius. They put a splint on his wrist and arm, allowing for swelling. 22D0592A-6264-490C-B502-468B6AC4FC1BWe need to make an appointment first thing Monday morning for the doctor to reevaluate and cast his arm. The swelling should be down enough by then. Unfortunately, the appointment won’t be until Tuesday. The doctor isn’t there on Monday. We’re keeping our fingers crossed, we leave here Wednesday.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

We’re off to Arches National Park today. This park and Moab have been on my bucket list. I make the mistake of saying I hope I’m not disappointed. You should never tempt the universe.

Arches National Park has one of the world’s greatest densities of arches created by water, ice, extreme temperatures, and underground salt movement over the course of 100 million years. There are over 2,000 cataloged arches ranging in size from a three foot opening, the minimum to be considered an arch, to the longest, Landscape Arch, at 360 feet base to base. If all these arches aren’t enough, there are hoodoos, pinnacles and balanced rocks.

After you enter the park, the first thing you encounter is the Visitor Center. Tqhen you climb this insane cliff to Park Avenue. Not like any Park Avenue I know.

 

There are pullouts all along the road to view the various sites, like La Sal Mountains, Courthouse Towers and Petrified Dunes.

 

 

The next big attraction is Balanced Rock. By the time we reach here, we are pretty much disgusted with the humans. Cigarette butts tossed on the ground, in spite of the high fire danger signs, trash dumped, kids and people climbing over the rocks and arches, bad parking and general rudeness. We had to feel sympathy for a young couple with a baby at the Balanced Rock parking lot. Some idiot parked behind them on an angle that I can only describe as running to a fire, leaving not even enough space to put the width of your finger.

 

But we pressed on.

We take the access road to Garden of Eden, where a bunch of human cockroaches were climbing all over everything. CDC86ABF-D3C1-4ADE-A437-21DE82A6B756We drive to the North and South Windows, but can’t get a parking space, so we decide to go to the end of the park road, where the majority of arches are.

 

We make one stop at the Sand Dune Arch and that’s when a bad day gets worse. I hike up the hill to get a view and a few shots. Alex is trailing behind me. I stop, raise my camera and an Asian couple walk in front of me. So I wait for them to finish their climb. She moves to the right and starts taking pictures, still in my camera’s view. I wait. Then she moves to the center, directly in front of me and takes more pictures. I wait again. Instead of moving out of the way when she’s finished, she continues to keep standing there. I say, “Ma’am, could you move over so I can take my shot?” That’s when World War III breaks out. The guy gets huffy, Alex said something about consideration for others, the woman tells me to get out, I don’t belong, I’m no American, I don’t know my history of where I came from, I’m not a native American. The next thing I know, I let her have it. It was ugly. That put an end to our Arches adventure.

 

All day people are walking in front of you while your taking pictures or racing and pushing their way to get to the front of the railing, this was the last straw. We drive to the end of the road to check it out and decide to come back another day, but late in the afternoon when it’s less crowded. My love of National Parks, and people, in waning.

After we leave, we head to town and walk the main street of Moab going into the shops. We stop for the largest small soft ice cream cone I have every seen at The Spoke on Center. In addition to ice cream, they have burgers and shakes. A couple sitting at a nearby table sees my ice cream cone and we start joking about it. He couldn’t believe it when I told him it was a small. He jokingly asked his wife if he could have one if he finished all his food, saying it was a good thing he didn’t see the cone first.372AFB31-87C7-411E-AF48-97E7D6377AC2

We stop at City Market Food & Pharmacy, which turns out to be part of the Kroger family, for a few things. We were going to eat at one of the restaurants, but both of us are stressed and exhausted from our day, so we decided to go home for dinner to relax and unwind.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

We’re off to Moab, Utah, a 260 mile journey. We drive fifty eight miles north on US 89, passing Butch Cassidy’s tiny boyhood home, south of Circleville. Then it’s east on I-70 for 160 miles, and thirty four miles south on US 191 to Moab Rim Camp. The ride presents interesting and varied landscapes. We reach 7,886 feet, but the scenery is the winner. Most of the I-70 trek was in lonely, barren land with ever changing terrain. We cross the mighty Colorado River, but this time of the year, it’s not so mighty. Water levels are low.

 

We arrive at the campground around 2:30 and get setup. The sites are gravel with water, 50 amp electric, sewer, picnic table and fifty two cable channels. Wi-fi, showers and restrooms round out the campground amenities. They have cabins and one of the nicest tent areas I’ve seen, complete with a covered patio area. The park is on the southern end of town, but close to everything. Arches National Park is a few miles north.

 

 

Not long after we setup, I can see the dark clouds coming in and is isn’t long before we have rain.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The storms are coming early today. It’s not even eleven and the skies are dark, the thunder is rumbling and the lightning is putting on a show. Alex put away our grill in anticipation of the rain and our leaving tomorrow. By noon it’s raining. It rains all afternoon, sometimes heavy, sometimes light, with a few breaks in the action. We have some wild winds come through scattering rug and lawn chairs. It’s rained every day we have been here.

 

We start on a new jigsaw puzzle.

Monday, July 23, 2018

On our way today to Bryce Canyon National Park, we pass through Dixie National Forest and Red Canyon. In the summer of 1924, J.W. Humphrey, the Forest Service Supervisor, was amazed by these wondrous creations and wanted to make them accessible by car. His vision became reality in 1925 and the Red Canyon Tunnels were completed. You can’t help but get excited driving through them.

 

Bryce Canyon National Park is famous for horseshoe shaped amphitheaters carved from the eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in southern Utah. Here you can see canyons, windows, fins and spires called hoodoos. Hoodoos form from erosion. Frost enlarges crack in thin walls called fins, creating holes or windows. As the windows grow, the tops collapse leaving a column. Rain dissolves the limestone pillars turning them into hoodoos. Rain and snow create new hoodoos and cause older ones to be reduced to lumps of clay. All this makes for beautiful scenery!

Once we pass the Bryce Canyon National Park entrance, we make our way to the end of the park road, some eighteen miles in, to Rainbow Point and Yovimpa Point. This get us away from the madding crowds that start at the beginning of the park. We are now at 9,115 feet. Spectacular views!

 

 

We’re starting our journey back to the park entrance and as we do, we begin our decent to Black Birch Canyon at 8,750 feet.

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The rare and elusive tree centipede!

 

We climb a bit in elevation to Ponderosa Canyon at 8,904 feet.

 

Agua Canyon brings us down to 8,800 feet and some interesting hoodoos.

 

The Natural Bridge really takes us down to 8,627 feet.

 

Farview Point and Piracy Point take us back up to 8,819 feet. Nature’s roller coaster.

 

We take a side road that takes us to three different locations, two at the end of the road and one to the left as you enter. We head to Paria View, 8,176 feet, at the end of the road on the right fork.

 

Bryce Canyon, the main event at 8,300 feet, is off to the left and our next stop. The afternoon thunderstorms are beginning to show themselves. As I turn away from the overlook at Bryce Canyon, I hear a loud clap of thunder. When I turn, I see the first bolt of lightning. We are going to have to move fast to see the last stops. The signs at these overlooks tell you to stay in your car during the storms.

 

We head back out the side road to Inspiration Point, 8,100 feet, where I hike to the top and think I’m going to die. Even though this is the lowest elevation for parking, the long climb to the overlook is a kicker for my lungs. Allergies to green growing stuff and asthma at 8,000 feet plus don’t make for a great combination. I had to stop several times and wish for my inhaler and a box of tissues.

 

Back in the car it begins to sprinkle. Since we briefly stopped at Sunrise Point on the way in, the only thing we miss seeing is Fairyland Point. We make a brief stop on our way out, at the Dixie National Forest Visitor Center, and meet another full time RV couple that is volunteering. We trade road tips and then set off for home. We have rain on and off all the way to Panguitch. It’s dinner time so we stop at The Cowboy’s Smokehouse on South Main Street, also known as US 89, for mesquite smoked steak and brisket. Quaint atmosphere and good food.A96046C3-6865-472D-956C-E874DF621B45

Sunday, July 22, 2018

NASCAR race and we finished our jigsaw puzzle.EABD7D17-A090-42AE-BC0D-A4EF3CC29299

Saturday, July 21, 2018

We wake a bit tilted. At first I wasn’t sure if it was my sinuses or the coach. Turns out it was a bit of both. The rains have made the ground soft and we shifted during the night. Alex tried to level us again, but the jacks just when further into the ground. We close up and move to a different site. This one gives us a bit more room.

Thunderstorms are predicted for early in the day and my head is still clogged so we’re staying in. I’m making red gravy and we’re doing our jigsaw puzzle

Friday, July 20, 2018

I woke this morning dizzy and miserable with my sinuses causing me grief. And it’s moving day.

We’re heading to Panguitch, Utah. It is 278 miles south and east. We start down I-15 for about 250 miles. Somewhere not far north of Kanosh, at exit 148, we were hit with a micro-blast of wind that pushed us into the left lane and practically took the steering wheel out of Alex’s hands. Thankfully, there wasn’t anyone in the lane. We take Exit 95 on to US-20, a switchback road, that take us to elevations that reach 7,920 feet above sea level, and finally turn on to US-89, where we are staying at Paradise RV Park.

When we get there, the office is closed, with a note to pick your site and come settled up in the morning. We find a vacant site near the top of the hill and setup. The sites are close. 48094793-BDCB-4783-A920-1199B8975B23Most of the people here come back every year. Bloody Marys in the morning, cocktails in the afternoon. It’s a tight knit group. They take up the entire top ridge of sites. We learn the owner comes by maybe once a week and collects the checks slid under the door.

We also learn, the bad rains we had the other day trapped one woman in the laundry room with eight inches of water. Flash floods are common here. Oddly, the weather reminds me of Florida. Mid eighties to mid nineties, a little less humidity, but almost every afternoon the storms build over the mountains and you have yourself a nice little thunderstorm. Unlike Florida, it can last into the night. It’s not always a quick thing.

 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

After a phone call to Walmart pharmacy, I have success. My meds are ready. Our first stop is to Smith’s. Smith’s, Fred Meyer and Fry’s are all part of the Kroger Family. We stop there first to get Boars Head cold cuts and a few things I know we can’t get at Walmart. After Walmart, we head home to relax and get ready for moving day tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

We’re leaving McCammon RV Park. After the initial flurry of two other campers coming in the first night, we were the only other RV in the park for the remainder of our stay besides the six permanent or semi-permanent residents, all trailers or fifth wheels. It’s been a quiet park, except for the train running nearby. I don’t mind the train during the day, but it does many very long toots during the night, waking us up. And it comes by often. 15B8C5E3-A28E-4DF1-84C2-A99D8396DBD7But, we leave this place behind, and head 105 miles south on I-15 to Ogden, Utah and Century RV Park & Campground right off exit 343. We have a nice enough site, a concrete pad with grass, water, 50 amp electric, sewer and 64 cable stations. There is a pool, hot tub, laundry, playground and an extra area to store extra vehicles, for a price.

Alex is feeling the kidney stones again and is happy when we arrive. After we setup, Alex lies down on the bed and falls asleep. He wakes up near dinner. I have been doing battle trying to get two prescriptions filled, one of which needs the doctor to approve a refill. Given the hour, Alex still not feeling well, and no texts from Walmart regarding my meds, we decide to do our shopping tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The rains have past. We take a ride into Lava Hot Springs to look around

 

and have lunch at 78 Main, a cute little restaurant and bar, 855D50A6-9096-4887-8487-ABAFCDB985D5before heading to Lava Hot Springs Inn and their seven hot mineral spring pools, and one ice pool, for a relaxing soak. There are several places you can choose from to enjoy the hot mineral waters in town. Most people take one of the tubing excursions down the river or go to the Olympic pool. Walk down Main Street and you will see one company or another shuttling people on trucks with giant tubes to the river. B368BCD6-304B-4757-BB17-F1ECAB422FA2We opt for the privacy of the Inn, it costs a few dollars more, but it is peaceful and more relaxing than dealing with lots of kids, even though kids are allowed.

 

Each of the seven pools have different temperatures ranging from what they call Lobster, 105 degrees, so hot, I got one leg in before I thought my skin had peeled off, to “I could sit here all day”, 95 degrees.

DD28D98E-DB71-495C-9570-CD9D29BA2184
And this one is just right!

If it gets too hot for you, you can go into the ice pool at 45 degrees. Alex was in it for about three minutes, I did less. My feet were actually cramping from the cold. After we were throughly relaxed and cooked, we head home.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Thunderstorms, no Lava Hot Springs today. I was looking forward to a good soak, but I guess it will have to wait until tomorrow. Jigsaw puzzle today instead.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

We’re leaving probably the widest, most private campsite we’ve ever had and on our way to McCammon, Idaho to McCammon RV Park, off exit 47 on I-15. The campground sits on US 30 behind the Chevron station, convenience store and A&W restaurant. It’s an easy 132 miles south, first down US 20, then I-15.

We pull in and go to the Chevron convenience store to register. Somehow our reservation was missing but there wasn’t any problem accommodating us for the next three nights. We were told we could pick any spot and were given a map of the park showing the spots indicating which are 30 or 50 amp. Water and sewer are included, but no cable. There are thirty seven buddy sites, of which six were taken. The road and sites are gravel with grass and a picnic table to share and a tree or two between them. It didn’t take us long to find a level site and setup. We managed to get five antenna television stations. Progress!

 

 

Then we set off to A&W to grab some lunch. By nightfall, we had quite a few coaches pulling in, but only two staying.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Home today. Alex washed a bug riddled Sergio and scrubbed Claudia’s windshield. Now we can see.

Friday, July 13, 2018

We’re home today. Back working on the Colorado leg of our journey. Some of the planned stops aren’t looking good due to the switchback mountain roads, so it’s back to the drawing board. We do manage to get our second Colorado stop booked and the general route mapped out. The second stop is the Sky Ute Casino Resort in Ignacio, a Native American hotel, casino and RV park.

Alex made a very successful skylight insulator from the foam we got at Joann’s the other day. It probably won’t win any design awards, but you can feel the temperature difference, much cooler and darker.DD483828-878F-4C95-A76D-BEDA04849F4FWe could have used this in Arizona, but it will work well going back down into the desert and in Florida.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

It’s eighty miles to Grand Teton National Park. You can see them from our campground, you just can’t get there from here easily. You have to go south, then east, then north through Jackson, Wyoming, hence eighty miles. Most of the ride isn’t bad. From our campground, our first road to travel, E 1100 N, is a dirt road and we leave a trail of dust following behind us. Fortunately, it wasn’t a long stretch. After that, you see blacktop ribbons winding their way through a sea of green on our way to Idaho 32. Some of these blacktop roads have construction and loose gravel. Slow going. Then it’s on to Idaho 33, a two lane highway through Tetonia, Driggs and Victor, all small, small towns with 25 MPH speed limits. Soon we cross into Montana and on to Montana 22, where a sign tells big, heavy trucks to go back to Idaho. How rude! It gets a bit insane as you get close to Jackson. It’s called a mountain, with 10% grades for five mile stretches. That may not sound bad, until you have to climb them or keep your car from flying off them. Now I understand the truckers go away sign. There are runaway truck ramps everywhere. For the first time, we see a chain and cable netting runaway truck ramp. If this doesn’t stop the truck, it’s off the mountain it goes. Scary stuff. Add in crazy drivers and you’re glad when you get back down.

Ah, but down has its own set of problems, called Jackson, Wyoming, the biggest tourist, traffic jam ever. After traffic lights, pedestrians crossing everywhere, cars trying to park, or get out of spots, we finally clear town and land smack dab in the middle of two construction sites, complete with one lane traffic patterns and flagmen. Another half hour later and we make it to the Moose Junction Visitor Center. We get a map and talk to a ranger, who suggests the route for us to take. 83433235-AB87-4736-8832-078F96EE238BBack in the car, we follow her advice and start north on the 191-26-89 highway. The Tetons are on our left as we drive. We stop at Glacier View Turnout, but the glacier is no more, a sign of climate change, but beautiful anyway. DF9FD427-81E2-4DFF-AA9D-B702CA61C8BCThe Snake River Overlook offers views of the river as it flows past the mountains. Standing here puts you in the place where Ansel Adams took one of his photographs, one that helped save this beautiful land.

 

 

We turn north at Moran Junction, where we finally find the park entrance. We drive on and stop at Oxbow Bend Turnout for a different perspective of the river and mountains. 03B77974-C823-4DD3-B921-B5C0A98DE232Continuing north, we go to Colter Bay on Jackson Lake. Here, I hike down to the lake and marina. Boaters and kayakers are peacefully enjoying the bay.

 

 

This is our northern most stop. As we head south, we take a right at Jackson Lake Junction. Now the mountains are on our right and very much up close and personal.

 

 

A side loop off the main road takes us to Jenny Lake Lodge and Visitor Center, Cathedral Group Turnout, and views of Jenny Lake. Back on the main road again and a few more turnouts, then we are out of the park.

With the construction, traffic in town and the insane mountain, we had thought of just continuing north. The road would bring us to the southern entrance of Yellowstone. We could go through and come out the west entrance and then drive the sixty five miles home. It would be about the same amount of miles, but no mountain. The one hidden factor would be Yellowstone traffic. We made the decision to go back the way we came. That having been decided, we head towards Jackson and sit the twenty minutes or so each of the two road construction sites. As we start driving through town, we see an open parking spot and pull in. I see a sign for Hand Fire Pizza and we walk down the street. The restaurant is the renovated old movie theater and it turns out, it’s good pizza.

 

 

Back in the car, we start our trek home. It’s quarter to six. Each traffic light is several cycles before we get through.

 

 

Traffic is not moving and when it does, it is barely crawling. First gear all the way. Somewhere west of town, past Teton Village, we start to pick up speed, at least third gear. Then it’s the mountain. We get home at eight, a very long day.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The third time is a charm! After two failed attempts to see the Grand Prismatic Hot Spring, the third largest hot spring in the world at 370 feet in diameter, we finally have success. We drive the seventy miles through three different states, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, back to Yellowstone and park at Fairy Falls, about a mile south of the Midway Geyser Basin. We hike in 1.1 miles to the trailhead and make the climb up to the overlook, about another mile. The hike was more than worth it.

 

 

The hot spring is spectacular! Extremely hot water travels 121 feet from a crack in the Earth to reach the surface of the spring. It has a gorgeous turquoise and blue center with bands of orange, gold, yellows, greens and browns, trailing off into the surrounding area. The colors come from different species of thermophile, heat-loving bacteria, living in the progressively cooler water around the spring. The beautiful turquoise blue center happens because water scatters the blue wavelengths of light more than others, reflecting the blues back to our eyes.

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Grand Prismatic Hot Spring. The steam behind is coming from Excelsior Geyser. Turquoise Pool is in the upper left hand corner.

From the overlook, the added bonus is you can see Excelsior Geyser Crater, now no longer a geyser, but a giant hot spring, Turquoise Pool and Opal Pool. Back in the late 1800s, Excelsior erupted to heights of about 300 feet. It went dormant for most of the 20th century, but erupted for two days in 1985 with blasts as high as 80 feet. Who knows when it will erupt again.

This was the only thing we came to see, and having finally conquered it, we head out of the park

 

 

to West Yellowstone for lunner at Slippery Otter Pub.

 

 

Alex was jonesing for pizza and, me, being a beef lover, have become hooked on the exceptional taste of the beef out here, order a burger. We stroll around the small town for a bit, then it’s time to make the long journey home.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

We spend the morning working on our destinations for Colorado and the afternoon working on our jigsaw puzzle. Still have a long way to go on both.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Today we are making the sixty mile trek into Idaho Falls for some shopping. We hit PetSmart for kitty litter, Joann’s Fabric to get foam to make an insulation blocker for the bathroom shower skylight, Walmart and miracle of miracles, Freddy’s. Along the way, we stop at Red Robin for lunch. I don’t know if I was starving, but the burger was out of this world. Red Robin, yum!

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A circle/roundabout in Idaho Falls

Sunday, July 8, 2018

We continue moving south to Ashton, Idaho and Yellowstone Golf Resort. This is a wild place! Way off the beaten path. It’s roughly nine miles off US 20. Not the kind of place you just happen to come upon. You turn at the small silo wrapped in the green RV Park sign on to E 1200 N, that’s the name of the street. Travel a little less than seven miles and make a right on to 4100 E, another name of a street. Then make a left on to E 1100 N, you get the picture. Not very creative with street names out in these parts. And I have to wonder about compass skills. You are in the middle of farm land, all green for as far as you can see with a house, barn or other structure dotting the landscape, but mostly a beautiful shade of green. The park is a ten acre cluster of aspen trees, an oasis in farmland. In those tress is the campground and an eighteen hole golf course. Behind the campground, off in the distance, are the Grand Teton Mountains capped in snow.

 

 

The ride takes a little more than an hour. Pretty scenery of creeks and rivers. 7605DF1A-0139-43F5-9C6F-F93BA5137060Out of nowhere a bird flys in front of us and hits windshield. We didn’t see it until it hit. Poor thing. This is Claudia’s second bird.

When we get to the campground, we park in front of the office. We discover the road through the campground is a narrow dirt road, wide enough for one vehicle, but it has two way traffic. At the office, there is also a small building further restricting the road, effectively causing a bottleneck.

 

 

As it happens, two trailers are trying to get out as we are trying to get in. Since we can’t back up with our type trailer hitch, they had to back up and maneuver into the grass to let us and our golf cart escort through. We are taken to our site at the end of the park. It is big. We face the open fields. If the field wasn’t a hill, we could see the Tetons. The other side of us has trees blocking our neighbors. Very quiet and private for $243 for the week. Not a bad price for out here.

280D6371-0F8F-44B6-9E7D-28668CF884DF
Tell me this Aspen girl doesn’t look like something from a bar scene in a Star Wars movie!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

We’re working our way south, with stops, not by choice, but out of desperation. Today turns out to be extremely desperate!

This is the one night we couldn’t find a campground. Out of desperation, I found Jared’s Wild Rose Resort, on Montana 87, in the middle of fishing country, and got us a one night stay. It is only a fifty five mile trek to get to Island Park, Idaho and the campground. When we pull in, you are heading downward on a dirt road with lots of holes and bumps towards Henry’s Lake. We stop at the office and get our site. The site has a tree in the middle of it of the front end. 08D43534-A8FD-4F91-851F-1C516D787680There’s no way to be able to get our size in the space and even worse to get out. We go back in to see about another spot. They want to give us the “premium” site that has a view of the lake for more money. I believe they should accommodate us with no extra charge. There is nothing “premium” about the park or that space for that matter. The sites are rocky and very uneven. I don’t know if we have enough wood to get level. This place looks like it has nothing but residents in it and not well kept. It’s the kind of place you go to if you want to drink beer, scratch private parts, belch and catch fish. And live and smell like it.

We ask to speak with the owner, Jared. He comes in with an attitude. He gets nasty. Tells us it’s a “premium” site so it’s more money. He regular sites are fifty dollars. I tell him there’s nothing “premium” about it and since the site he assigned us can’t fit us, we shouldn’t have to pay more for his mistake. He says he’s not being a “dick” about it, to which I tell him he is. He’s not practicing good customer service. I point out as an owner of an RV Park he would know you can’t fit our size coach in the space he’s assigned. He blames his staff being ignorant in making the reservation. I tell him that really isn’t good management skills blaming his staff, especially with staff standing there. I point out he’s doing a bait and switch, bringing us into an inadequate site then making us pay more for a site that would work. Now he gets really hot and tells us “you people” want something for nothing. Bottom line, he agrees to give us our money back. Later I find I got a five dollar cancellation fee on my card. Lesson learned. Stay away from this low life dump, unless you want to drink beer, scratch private parts, belch and catch fish. And live like it!

While Alex drives, I do a quick Google search and find Valley View RV Park, still in Island Park, but on US 20, a few miles down the road. They have an opening for tonight. They are cash or check only. There’s a lot of that out here. It’s more money than Jared’s Wild Rose Resort, but the campground is normal. Nice level sites, with water, 50 amp service, sewers and grass sites with a picnic table. No cable, no antenna television. They have a laundromat that is an additional business. It is way better than what we just left.

 

 

Friday, July 6, 2018

Home relaxing and doing our jigsaw puzzle.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

We’re going back to Yellowstone National Park to try and see the Grand Prismatic Hot Spring and a few other spots. We enter from the west entrance and make a pit stop at the Madison Information Station. After all, it’s a long ride just to get to this point and bathrooms are hard to find in the park. B2FF81E1-AE7B-4F1E-AFC8-A3359F707CA6With the nature call taken care of, we head north and stop at Gibbon Falls and Gibbon River.

 

 

 

 

Still going north, we stop at Artists Paintpots, where I hike to the top of a hill for a bird’s eye view.

 

 

Our last stop northward is Norris Geyser Basin, where I do the hike around the Basin while Alex rests at the Museum and Information Station. There are geysers and mud holes everywhere you look, but the thing I find most fascinating is the Minute Geyser. It’s ending is the best.

 

 

 

 

We have to head south to the Old Faithful Visitor Center to exchange a tee shirt we got last week that was damaged and maybe see Old Faithful erupt again. The traffic today is out of control, nothing but long lines of cars, not like last week. We slowly make our way there and do the return, turns out they don’t have the same shirt or anything that I like. We just missed the Geyser, so it’s another hour and a half before it erupts again. It’s dinner time. We decide to eat at the Grill in the next building, but after a few trips around the parking lot trying to get somewhat close, we get a distant spot, hike to the restaurant and go inside. A bus load of teenagers enters and swarms the place. We decide to try the Lodge restaurant. Parking is easy, but the wait is an hour. Forget food, we’re going to Grand Prismatic and then get out and eat in town.

The traffic makes getting anywhere slow. Grand Prismatic Hot Spring parking lot is packed with cars all over the roads. At this point we’ve had it! We work our way out if the park. Traffic isn’t any better in the town of West Yellowstone, so once we clear it, we’re homeward bound. Dinner will have to wait.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy 242nd birthday America!

We’re off to Nevada City and Virginia City, about fourteen miles south on US 287.

Nevada City and Virginia City are two old gold mining towns that have long gone the way of the Pony Express. They are in the National Registry of Historic Places. There’s not much left of Nevada City, just a collection of old buildings from different parts of the area. It is a few hundred feet past Virginia City on US 287.A01A517D-22B5-4BF4-94CB-49AD8D2BD29D

 

 

Back in the day, Virginia City was the Capitol of the Territory. It’s just 20 miles west of Yellowstone National Park, as the crow flies, but 90 miles by road. After the gold ran out, there was still enough money so that homes and businesses were occupied, but not enough to update the buildings. So, this tiny town is frozen in the Victorian era.

This area is home to the Vigilantes. During the Montana gold rush, outlaws waited around the mining camps for a chance to steal the miner’s gold. With no organized law, a group known as the Vigilantes, took the law into their own hands capturing and hanging many of the so-called Road Agents responsible for attacking, killing and stealing gold from the miners or stagecoaches. The Hangman’s Building shows the beam where five of the outlaws were hanged on January 14, 1864.

 

 

The Road Agents cemetery is behind the main street and open for visitors, but not business.

There are small, old-style western hotels, that guests can stay in, and restaurants lining the main street, which happens to be US 287. Gift and souvenir shops, ice cream shops, photography studios where you can dress up like the old West, and tour businesses, all in old original western buildings, make up both sides of the streets.

 

 

 

 

One different business was the arcade, not your 21st century arcade, but one filled with old picture viewers, fortune tellers and games of chance.

 

 

Many of the old buildings show painstaking representations of the business that was originally occupying it along with the history. As an example, in 1900, Sarah Bickford, a Virginia City resident, earned the distinction of being the first African-American woman in the United States, to own her own utility company, the Virginia City Water Company.

After touring the town, we drive home for a rest and some dinner while we wait for the rodeo to start tonight at the Ennis Rodeo Grounds. This is our first ever rodeo. The first events we see are kids as young as ten riding bucking bulls. Amazing, but I can’t help think what their bodies are going to be like in thirty or forty years. Ouch! Then we move on to the adults, steer wrestling, bucking bulls and horses, roping, all very interesting and exciting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I do feel awful when the calves get lassoed and their legs are getting pulled and yanked by the ropes. While all this is going on, music is playing over the loudspeakers. Interestingly enough, none of it is country, it’s all good old rock and roll. All that high pumping sound for high pumping action. We had a grand old time, but then I learned why the horse and bulls buck. They tie up their genitals and then set them into the arena with their rider. My animal loving instincts were hurting too much after all this. I don’t know if I will do a rodeo again.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

We’re leaving Three Forks and moving to Ennis RV Park in Ennis, Montana, a short forty four miles south on US 287. As we drive, we cross some of the three rivers, Madison, Jefferson and Gallatin, that converge to form the Missouri River, which eventually creates the mighty Mississippi. The countryside is ranch and farms for as far as the eye can see.

 

 

We get to the campground early, around noon. It’s a nice, clean place, with level sites, water, 50 amp service, sewer, laundry, showers and restrooms. The gravel pads have some elbow room with a picnic table and grass. No cable and no antenna television. When we check in, we’re told there is no cable/satellite in the whole town.

 

 

We’re starving, so we inquire about restaurants. We get a few suggestions and after we setup we head down the road to the Sportsmen’s Lodge, with a bar, restaurant, casino and cabins to have lunch. Good food, good drinks and a friendly staff.

 

 

After we eat, we drive the few remaining feet into town, a real western vibe kind of place. We find a parking spot at the far end of the town and walk both sides of the main street checking out the shops. Most of the businesses are restaurants or bars, with a few realtors and gift shops filling out the mix.

 

 

 

 

Willie’s Distillery just happens to be where we parked, so we have to go in and do a taste test. We walk out with a bottle of Big Horn Bourbon Whiskey.97190689-C121-449D-AF4A-5A1B2A82DAC2

Monday, July 2, 2018

Chilling out and doing another insane jigsaw puzzle.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

We’re moving to Three Forks, Montana. But first, we make a supply stop in Bozeman, to the only Walmart in a sixty mile radius. This Walmart is insanely crowded, in the parking lot and the store. There’s nothing on the shelves. It reminds me of the day before a major storm is predicted to hit. I find what I can and try to check out. There are only two registers open, with at least a half dozen people with piled high shopping carts on line. After waiting a bit, I opt for the self check and get out.

Last year when we passed this way, we stopped at Montana Wheat Bakery for some very fattening, but deliciously good pastries. This year was no different. It just so happened to be at the exit we needed to take, a little added incentive. We loaded up on strawberry cheese danish, caramel almond buns, apple turnovers and cinnamon rolls, to go. Breakfast will be sweet for the next few days!

We’re staying in Camp Three Forks for two nights. It’s a small campground, with small sites. You get escorted to your site while branches hit your coach as you drive. Branches hit you in your site as well. The first site they brought us to wasn’t big enough for us. The guy realized it as soon as he pulled into the space. We had to go around again to get to the second site. Other than that, the park has the usual amenities, no cable, and nice and quiet.

 

 

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Yellowstone National Park. Be prepared to be amazed! Geysers, mudpots, springs, waterfalls, canyons, something for everyone!

I have always heard the horror stories about this park, how crowded, how congested, how hard it was to get around. We must have caught it right. We didn’t have any problems, so much so, that we covered just about the entire park in one very, very long day.

We enter the park from the north entrance at Mammoth Springs. Here we do have a line of cars, but it moves relatively quickly. Once inside, no traffic jams that we had read about. We take the north road that leads us east to the impressive Yellowstone River, Tower Fall and Tower Roosevelt, at 6,270 feet,

 

 

then take the road south to Canyon Village. Since there was rain yesterday, the higher elevations added snow to their peaks. As we drive, we can still see last year’s snow in patch on the ground. It’s only in the low 50’s.

 

 

All along the road there are pullouts, which we do use to admire the view, or the animals we see.C2AA0972-D940-4907-94A9-C37EFC62EA16F8349DFA-9D8B-48D9-9E70-DB596AAA4910ADD2751F-35FA-45D9-90CE-A985D456610FA335DE76-ABDF-449B-BFCC-1EAD4D5D4C68EA181A5A-E6C3-4CB3-8535-26F72E6EDEEE

 

 

Past Canyon Village, the really cool stuff happens. First it’s the Sulphur Caldron, and boy do you smell sulphur. I wish words could convey the odor as it burns your eyes, nose and throat. 964CFDE9-4E6E-4E39-A7D8-6CD1C99F8CE425AF7777-E2E1-4B14-BB9C-A40328E39FFC522130AE-EDCE-4D71-822C-24409DD18933C774B90F-9E2E-40B5-834B-6D1B4FC73356

 

 

Not far down the road are the Mud Volcanoes 116A7F88-0630-44C7-B555-D2E689FC7308and the Dragon’s Mouth. It doesn’t exactly breathe fire, but belches steam.

 

 

Onward to Yellowstone Lake and West Thumb Geyser Basin.

 

 

We cross the Continental Divide, not once but twice, in a very short span. The first time is at 8,391 feet, the second at Craig’s Pass is 8,262 feet.

Now, we are at Old Faithful, probably the thing most associated with Yellowstone. Old Faithful gets its name because it is so predictable, or faithful to its eruptions. They average every ninety one minutes, but have happened as short as fifty seven minutes or as long as one hundred twenty minutes. Benches line the area around Old Faithful. People, Ike us, find a seat and wait. It’s fifty and the sun is hidden, more often than not, by black clouds, and the wind makes it even colder. But we wait. He belches steam continuously. 04F92106-745A-4D69-B8C5-6F426F4B12E9Finally, at his ninety one minute interval, he spews forth. And what a site to see!

 

 

We waited almost the entire ninety minutes and as fate would have it, have a screaming child in our ears. The parents just sat behind us letting the kid pitch a fit. Never moved or took the kid away from everyone trying to listen and enjoy Old Faithful. Sorry, if I’m complaining, but I was raised to remove a screaming child from everyone and not be so rude. It bothers me this generation doesn’t have the same courtesy or respect. Enough said! On to the rest of Yellowstone.

Then there’s Black Sand Basin and Biscuit Basin, areas with geysers and hot springs. All of these springs and geysers give off steam laden with chemical odors, mostly sulphur, some taking your breathe away.

 

 

 

 

After these basins you reach Midway Geyser Basin, where Excelsior, the world’s largest geyser, and Grand Prismatic, the world’s largest hot, spring live. Grand Prismatic is the iconic photo you often see for Yellowstone, with its beautiful turquoise blue center surrounded by bands of yellow, gold and copper. This is the one thing I have been dying to see. Unfortunately, the cold temperature and the wind made it all but impossible to get a good view. That just means another trip!

Believe it or not, it’s after nine at night and the sun is on its way down. Sunset is a few minutes to ten. We have a two hour ride back to our campground, so we start the journey north. It isn’t long before it’s dark. North of Norris, we encounter road construction for five miles that seemed like fifty. Pitch dark, bumps, holes and everything else they could think of. We make it back to the coach at 11:01, not having had any dinner, we fall into bed.

Friday, June 29, 2018

We’re leaving Jim & Mary’s RV Park and Missoula. This was a pretty park, with nice landscaping. Our site was great. We were an end, with our door facing the park road, plenty of space, but grass where you couldn’t put a rug down or set a tent on. I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, grass means can’t-see-‘ems and that means my ankles get eaten alive. Those little buggers love my ankles. Just the short time I would be out there barbecuing, I would come in itching and scratching.

It starts to drizzle as we are getting ready to leave. The ride is cloudy, gray and gloomy with very small bursts of sun and even bigger bursts of rain.

 

 

You can see the rain sheets as we drive down I-90. Typical, for the PNW, Pacific Northwest. The countryside is beautiful in Montana, all shares of green. Trees, shrubs, grass, but all that green comes with a price, rain. The temperature stays in the low seventies during the day and goes down to the forties and fifties at night. Add in rain, and it’s a bit chilly. You can get an eighty degree day, but so far, not many.

 

Our ride is uneventful, except for the rain. We cross the Continental Divide at 6,394 feet. We get to Livingston/Paradise KOA around three and, of course, it starts to rain. It wasn’t supposed to, but it does. It rains on and off the rest of the day into the night. So far, I’m not a fan of this park. It’s one and a half miles off 89, and each and every one of those miles is paved with holes, bumps and dips. The speed limit is 35, but no coach can do more than crawl or lose everything inside. The sites are tight, and I mean tight. They have water, sewer and 50 amp service, with laundry, showers, a dog walk and a pool, but no cable. They have an ice cream social tonight and breakfast in the morning. The site next to us has multiple vehicles and kind of infringes on our space. The guy could just open his truck door without hitting Sergio. They say big rig friendly, but not a chance. At $57.10 before our KOA rewards, this place is not worth it. It’s forty miles close to Yellowstone and that’s it’s justification for the price. Glad we’re only here two nights. This is the problem with being by National Parks! Take a breath, and get the hell away from these parks!!

 

 

 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Hanging out today doing our jigsaw puzzle and getting ready to move tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

We are having a miserable day! We’re spending the day planning where to go after our next stop. It doesn’t sound like much of a problem, but summer out west by National Parks, and there are many, makes it a big problem. After an exhausting day, we finally have campgrounds through the beginning of August, which puts us into Colorado. It’s five o’clock, you know what that means, especially after the workout my brain has had!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Smokejumpers are men and women who put on protective gear, get on an airplane and jump out of that airplane into a forest fire. Brave and incredibly fit men and women. The gear alone can be up to one hundred ten pounds. They drop into the fire zone with the gear, work ten to sixteen hour days, and when all is said and done, hike out with all that gear. Pretty impressive.