Sunset in PV

Sunset in PV

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

August 20 – 26, 2012 “Yellowstone and Cody, WY”

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We have been on the go for the last week, very different than the previous one. There is so much to do in the Cody area, one could easily stay busy for weeks. So with that bit of trivia, let’s get started on our “Next Chapter”. (As usual, click on any image to enlarge.)

Yellowstone National Park was our nation’s first NP, established in 1872. It was an easy uphill 52 mile drive to the east entrance of the park. Today we decided to do the southern loop which included the thermal mud pits and the geyser fields. As we approached our turn, traffic slowed abruptly, for one of the local residents. He walked by the car so close, I could have reached out and touched him, but didn’t as there are signs everywhere warning of such dangerous behavior around these unpredictable animals.

The geo-thermal activity in Yellowstone is volcanic in nature. Several of the rivers were closed to fishing due to warm water, and the need to protect the fish. We saw several people swimming in one of the rivers, and when I asked them about the water temp, they replied “it’s very nice”.

We have visited many of the NP’s this year, each one is distinctively different, but there are a few things they all have in common; waterfalls, rocks and trees. Below are all three at the Kepler Cascades.

Now, on to Old Faithful, which is not the largest geyser in Yellowstone, but it is the most predictable. We arrived shortly after 1 pm and asked one of the Rangers what time the next eruption would be. She got on here walkie-talkie and was told 2:39 pm plus or minus 10 minutes. Well, it looks like we have some time to kill, and CC and Carla wasted no time in high tailing it to the gift shops. By the time we returned to Old Faithful, the crowd had gathered and we had a less than favorable location from which to witness the eruption. It never fails; shopping wins again.

The eruption started around 2:42 and lasted about 5 – 7 minutes. It starts slow, with steam being released, and then water up to 10 – 15 feet tall, and then, in the blink of an eye, erupts to 50 – 60 feet for a few minutes. It then reverses the order, ending with a few puffs of steam.

By now it was 3 pm, and we still had half of our southern circle to complete; more steaming geysers and mud pits, with a waterfall or two thrown in for good measure. By 4 pm we turned Carl’s Dodge Ram loose and headed for home 110 miles away; about 2 hours max. But then, traffic once again abruptly stopped. People were pulling off on both sides, and others just stopped in the road, blocking traffic completely in both directions. The attraction? More critters; this time elk.

The traffic jam cleared in about 20 minutes, and we were, once again, “On the Road Again”. By now it’s close to 5 pm, and the critters are starting to move. This time a herd of bison held up traffic for almost 30 minutes as they slowly meandered their way across the highway.

The following morning we visited The Buffalo Bill Historical Center in downtown Cody. Tickets are a little pricey at $18 each, $16 for seniors, but they are good for two days. So we asked if we could defer our second day until day after tomorrow, due to previously made plans. The lady selling tickets said, “No problem, just hang onto your tickets”, as she wrote the date and her initials on the receipt.

Every time we see a moose, we think of a friend of ours in Colorado. So, Ed, this one’s for you!

The Buffalo Bill Historical Center (BBHC) is much, much more than a tribute to Bill Cody. It has over 5,000 guns and rifles on display, some dating back to the 1300’s. If you’re a gun nut, this place is for you. Personally I was overwhelmed.

The Buffalo Bill Exhibit opened a few months ago, and it pay homage to the most famous scout, hunter and showman in the 1800’s. Bill Cody traveled over 250,000 miles in his life performing in his “Wild West Show”, made a fortune in his lifetime, and died penniless. The complete story is told here, and it is indeed, by itself, worth the price of admission.

Also incuded in the BBHC is an exhibit on Yellowstone (naturally), The Plains Indians, and Western Art. Since we were not fortunate enough to see a bear when we toured Yellowstone, I took the liberty of “shooting” one here.

The following day we decided to save our legs and get some windshield time, driving the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway to Cooke City, MT. The monument at the summit of Dead Indian Pass commemorates the passage of the Nez Perce through here, but it does not mention the confusion they created for those tracking them. just a mile or two beyond the pass the Nez Perce played a trick that was figured out by Chief Scout S.G. Fisher.

We arrived in Cooke City and visited the tourist information center, followed by, you guessed it…….shopping. While the girls shopped their hearts out, Carl and I sat outside enjoying the fresh mountain air in this town of 100 year round residents. The girls finally rejoined us outside looking malnourished so we decided a lunch break was in order to prepare them for their afternoon shopping spree at “The Top of the World”. After lunch we set out to conquer the highest paved road in North America.

We drove the 64 mile highway to Red Lodge, MT, in about two hours, where we stopped for a potty break. Yea right, more shopping; the potty was just a ruse to get us to stop. Carl & I did more sitting, and the girls, more of their usual “spreading the wealth”. Southward from Red Lodge to Cody in a little over an hour, we were home in time for “Happy Hour”.

The following day Carl and I used the second day of our passes at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, and the girls? Need I even comment? This is starting to sound like a broken record.

Friday morning we decided on more wind shield time to visit the town of Kirwin, WY, about 85 miles south of Cody; 64 miles of paved road, and 21 miles of dirt / jeep trail. This was on Carl’s bucket list; to visit a ghost town. Along the way, Carla spotted the elusive moose; our first moose sighting in the area.

We arrived at Kirwin, walked around for awhile, and took a few photos. Yep, looks like a ghost town to me.

Back on the road once again we decided to stop in Meeteetse, at the Cowboy Bar for pizza, and it was, if not the best, the second best pizza I have ever eaten. Who would have thought a tiny bar could serve up a pizza this good? If you are ever in the area, this is a must stop.

Well, that sums up our week in Cody. Tomorrow we all will move to Lander, and the following morning CC and I will bid farewell to Carl and Carla, as they have reservations for the Durango-Silverton train ride on Friday the 31st, and we’re moving to Cheyenne and then to the Denver area. We had a great time together, and the days seemed to fly by; until we meet again mi amigos, hasta luego!

And once again, to you, thanks for taking the time out of your busy lives to check in on ours. Until next time, take care and stay well……………….

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

August 13 - 19, 2012 "Our 100th RV Park"

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The trip from Cascade to Bozeman was an eventful 135 mile drive. We traveled down I-15 to Helena and picked up US 12/287 South to Townsend, MT where we turned eastward on US12. That’s where the fun began. While I was driving, I noticed a flashing road condition sign a few miles earlier, but didn’t have time to read it, and CC had her head buried in one of her “Romance Novels”. As we approached the flagman, who was actually a woman, it became apparent what the sign warning was; road construction. We were told about 4 – 5 miles of blacktop had been removed, and it was VERY rough. Our options? Turn around and drive 60 miles out of the way, or continue the 30 miles with 4 – 5 miles on dirt. And the verdict was? Drumroll please……………..(As usual, click on any image to enlarge.)

After we arrived in Bozeman and got set up at our 100th RV Park since we started this adventure in May 2010, Bear Canyon Campground, our traveling mate, Carl, suggested we “tour” the town. On the way down “main” street we noticed a Ted’s Montana Grill, and decided that was our destination for dinner. After cruising around town, Carl made a comment about the Elks Lodge, so, altogether now we shouted, “Happy Hour”. The people manning the lodge were extremely friendly and gracious, and after a couple of adult beverages we ventured towards Ted’s. Once inside and seated, Carl opted for the bison ribeye, and Carla chose a chicken caesar salad; CC and I both ordered safe and traditional beef hamburgers. Carl insisted on buying dinner and I said, “no way. He then challenged me to an arm wrestling contest in which the winner buys.  I put up one helluva fight but can you believe it, that lil’ sucker whipped my butt in nothing flat. We all left feeling very full, and I left feeling very ashamed for my inadequacies as an arm wrestler. I’ll get ya next time, Carl;…. guaranteed!!!!

The following morning we departed in route to Cody, WY, about 200 miles southeast. As we pulled into Cody, CC noticed diesel prices lower than they were in Montana, so we filled up before proceeding to Absaroka Bay RV Park. A bay in Wyoming; who would have thunk it? After checking in we pulled into site E9 alongside Carl in E8. Just as soon as we completed that task, Kenny and Clara Mae, friends of ours from Country Sunshine in Weslaco, TX came strolling by. If only I had the camera ready to capture the look on Carl’s face. By now it was again, time for Happy Hour.

The following day we mostly sat around visiting and catching up with Kenny and Clara Mae, whom we hadn’t seen since leaving our winter home in late March. Kenny and Carl have known each other for 25 years, and to listen to them banter, you’d think they either have a love – hate relationship or just act like spoiled 5 year olds. Maybe the truth lies somewhere in between, or maybe they just like to give one another as much sh!^ as possible.

Friday was Carl’s birthday, so after an afternoon of walking around downtown Cody, Carla had arranged a semi-surprise party at the Cody Elks Lodge. We arrived around 5 pm, celebrated and awaited the hamburger dinner they have on Fridays.

Kenny’s present to Carl on his birthday was a box of horse manure. (See how I cleaned that up?)

Saturday morning we all gathered and discussed our options for the day. We had not done much of anything, except for visiting, so we all had a case of cabin fever. Unanimously, we decided on a trip to the Cowboy Bar in Meeteetse, WY; the oldest continuously operating bar in the state. On the 35 mile drive, Carl wanted to check out a fishing hole in the area, Sunshine Lake. Of course no one had the foresight to take along a map, so we ended up driving around for almost an hour looking for it. It was close to noon by the time the driver on this excursion, Kenny, decided to give up and go have lunch. Of course Carl took the opportunity to once again, give Kenny a ration of manure, for not being able to find the water.

We all ordered lunch and had an enjoyable time together. I’m sure bystanders and onlookers will question that, due to bickering by two individuals. The food was very good and the portions were generous. The ambiance was almost like stepping back in time.

That pretty much sums up our week. Of course nightly dinners were a sort of pot luck, you bring a veggie, I’ll do a potato something, and oh yea, they have the steak / pork chops / ravioli / meatloaf. Who’s cooking what? Somehow we managed to put some good grub on the table every night, and Clara Mae ALWAYS had dessert; her specialty as none of the rest of us can bake the way she can. All in all; it was a very good week. And, we had the opportunity of meeting some new people here at the park; always a treat for us, especially when they are new full-timers as well. Safe travels Dennis and Deena.

Next week it’s on to Yellowstone. I can’t wait. Thanks for taking the time to stop by, and until next time, take care and stay well…………………….

Monday, August 13, 2012

August 8 - 12, 2012 "Fishin' in Cascade, MT"

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We got an early start on our journey from Essex to Cascade, leaving around 8:30 am. Normally we hit the road around 10 am, but Carl started tearing down and getting ready to go before the sun came up. The 200 mile trek was an easy one as far as traffic was concerned, but MT-89 had a few stretches of narrow, winding pavement with no shoulders, and that makes driving this rig challenging; add a 25 MPH side wind and the task becomes daunting.

Arriving at Prewett Creek RV Park shortly after 2 pm, we were given a pull-thru site, but the rig wouldn’t level due to excess slope, so we asked if we could reverse our direction, which the owner OK’d, and we were then quickly level and settled into our new home for the week. (As usual, click on any image to enlarge.)

The following morning Carl wanted to visit the C. M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, about 35 miles north. Since none of us had any better ideas, off we went. Carl had firsthand knowledge of Russell, since he majored in Art History at MFU back when Russell was still alive, coupled with the fact they were both from the St. Louis area.  

Charles Marion Russell (March 19, 1864 – October 24, 1926), also known as C. M. Russell, Charlie Russell, and "Kid" Russell, was an artist of the Old American West. Russell created more than 2,000 paintings of cowboys, Indians, and landscapes set in the Western United States and in Alberta, Canada, in addition to bronze sculptures. Known as 'the cowboy artist', Russell was also a storyteller and author. The C. M. Russell Museum Complex located in Great Falls, Montana houses more than 2,000 Russell artworks, personal objects, and artifacts.

Russell's mural titled Lewis and Clark Meeting the Flathead Indians hangs in the state capitol building in Helena, Montana. Russell's 1918 painting Piegans sold for $5.6 million dollars at a 2005 auction.

We have visited many museums since our journey began 27 months ago, and it still mystifies me why some museums will not let you take photos inside, but that is a fact with this one. In fact, they employed 4 Gestapo in the section where Russell’s watercolors were displayed. I saw one lady try and take a picture using her cell phone, and she was quickly reprimanded and asked to delete the photo or she would be escorted off of the premises. Come on now, really? This is Montana where most people still carry guns. I just don’t get it. (OK, I’m done with my rant; getting down off my soapbox.)

After the museum, it was time for lunch, and CC decided on Pizza Hut. After lunch, Carl wanted to get his truck washed. From there we ventured to an ATM, Wal-Mart, Albertson’s and Libations. By the time we got back home it was Happy Hour. As we sat in the shade, sipping our beverages, we were visited by several “locals”.

The following day we just decided to tour the area along the Missouri River, which happens to be right across Old Hwy 91, about 100 yards from our campsite. Actually Carl wanted to scout for some spots to fly fish from the bank. On our journey up-river we found several he thought to be ideal. By the time we made it to Wolf Creek, it was time for lunch. I could tell CC was getting “itchy fingers” by the way she was acting, so lo and behold we stumbled across one location that filled all our needs.

The answer is no, CC wasn’t lucky but, I think her ailment is cured pacified, at least for now. We left Wolf Creek and headed north, downstream. (Sounds funny to me; we usually think of downstream to be south.) Nearly an hour later we were again home, and just by chance it was, altogether now, Happy Hour; ‘cause we are!

The next morning, Carl was up early as he had hired a guide to fly fish the Missouri River. He returned shortly after 1:30 pm, with no fish, but plenty of tall tales of the one that got away. J.P., the guide, provided these two pictures as evidence that he did indeed catch at least two nice trout; one Brown and one Rainbow.

It seems Montana has a law that prohibits anglers from keeping fish, IF they were caught while using a guide. If you want to keep fish here, you either fish from the bank or boat WITHOUT a guide. Carl has now fished almost every day, and we are still awaiting a fish fry. Guess that’s why they call it “fishing”, and not “catching”. All kidding aside, on his first outing with J.P. Carl said he boated 15, and on his second, he boated 20 and hooked another 25 that he failed to boat. Really??? 

We’ll be here for another day, and then on to Bozeman for an overnighter, before getting to Cody, WY on Wednesday for a few days to visit Yellowstone NP. Thanks for stopping by; until next time, take care and stay well……………….

Thursday, August 9, 2012

August 1 - 7, 2012 "Glacier National Park"

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We have been so busy since our last blog, it’s hard to remember everything, but here we go.

We left Deer Park and moved our home to Wallace RV Park in, you guessed it, Wallace, ID. We only intended to stay the night, but the park manager told us of a few interesting things to see in Wallace, so we decided to stay an extra day. 

The Oasis Bordello Museum is housed in a former brothel which was still in business as recently as 1988. The final occupants left in a hurry, leaving the upper rooms with their belongings as though they were going to come back. A local entrepreneur purchased the building in 1993, opening the doors once again as a reminder of Wallace's colorful past. Although the guided tour through the second floor brothel is the main attraction, the Oasis Bordello Museum has several other displays of interest: a still and an old wine press in the basement. Inside there are several “No Pictures Allowed” signs posted, so……Both CC and I thoroughly enjoyed the tour, and it was well worth the $5 entrance fee. (As usual, click on any image to enlarge)

All of downtown Wallace is on the National Historic Register, and the architecture is amazing. We also visited the Mining Museum, and they claim Wallace to be the wealthiest mining district in the US, having produced metals worth over $ 6.9 Billion. Who would have known such a quaint little town existed, had we not stopped and taken the time to look around.

The following morning, we moved along I-90, in route to Polson, MT. CC had been trying to find us a new home close to Glacier National Park, but this is the summer vacation season, and the closest she could find was Polson, on the shores of Flathead Lake, which is about 80 miles from the park. The trip was uneventful, which is just the way we like it. It was mid-afternoon by the time we got set up, so decided a trip to the pool / hot tub was in order at our home for two nights; Eagle’s Nest RV Park.

Thursday morning, we left “home” at 6 am, in order to catch the Red Jammer Bus Tour of Glacier NP. Our first stop was lake McDonald, which is one of the most scenic lakes in the park and is also the longest and deepest. Immense glaciers carved out the 10-mile-long, 464-foot-deep lake. The Kootenai Indians called it “Sacred Dancing Lake” and performed ceremonies on the shores.

Red Jammers are buses used at Glacier National Park in the United States to transport park visitors. While the buses are called reds, the bus drivers are called jammers because of the sound the gears made when shifting on the steep roads of the park. The "jamming" sound came from the unsynchronized transmissions, where double-clutching was a must.
Originally tested at Yosemite National Park in California in 1935, they were manufactured as the Model 706 by the White Motor Company from 1936-1939. The distinctive vehicles, with roll-back canvas convertible tops, were the product of noted industrial designer Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, and originally operated in seven National Parks. Glacier National Park still operates 33 of their original buses today on the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park, Montana, where they are referred to as Red Jammers. Glacier's "missing" buses still survive to this day. The park kept one in its original condition at their headquarters in West Glacier, while the other operates in Anaconda, MT giving tourists a ride around the town. Yellowstone National Park runs 7 of their original 98 and also keeps one in its original condition. Glacier's were restored from 2000-2002 by Ford Motor Company, at a cost of $4.5 million, to run on propane or gas to lessen their environmental impact. The bodies were removed from their original chassis and built upon modern Ford E-Series van chassis. The original standard transmissions were also replaced in 1989 with newer automatics, removing the trademark "jamming" sound. 

Glacial horns, or pyramidal peaks, are formed when cirques, that are adjacent to one another, carve back into the headwall of the mountainside and form steep arétes. These peaks take on a pyramid shape. Probably one of the best known horns is the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps, and the main reason Glacier NP was originally nicknamed “The American Alps”.

There are 25 glaciers in the park today. A glacier is defined as an ice field at least 100 feet deep covering at least 25 acres, and moving at least 4 inches per year.

Goose Island in St. Mary’s Lake was formed when the top of a nearby mountain peak collapsed into the lake thousands of years ago. The local Indians tell of a time when two young lovers from opposing tribes would swim to the island for a clandestine rendezvous, and is the basis for this Johnny Preston hit from 1959.
On the bank of the river
Stood Running Bear
Young Indian brave
On the other side of the river
Stood his lovely Indian maid
Little White Dove was her name
Such a lovely sight to see
But their tribes fought with each other
So their love could never be

Running Bear loved Little White Dove

With a love big as the sky
Running Bear loved Little White Dove
With a love that couldn't die

He couldn't swim the raging river

'Cause the river was too wide
He couldn't reach the Little White Dove
Waiting on the other side
In the moonlight he could see her
Throwing kisses 'cross the waves
Her little heart was beating faster
Waiting for her Indian brave
Running Bear loved Little White Dove
With a love big as the sky
Running Bear loved Little White Dove
With a love that couldn't die
Running Bear dove in the water
Little White Dove did the same
And they swam out to each other
Through the swirling stream they came
As their hands touched and their lips met
The raging river pulled them down
Now they'll always be together
In their happy hunting ground
Running Bear loved Little White Dove
With a love big as the sky
Running Bear loved Little White Dove
With a love that couldn't die

Many Glacier Hotel is located along the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake inside Glacier National Park. The great northern railroad built this historic hotel in 1915 to accommodate the many tourists passing through Glacier National Park. Many Glacier Hotel is built in the Swiss Chalet style and the Swiss theme is carried through the interior of the hotel as well.

Glacier NP is home to many wildlife species. We saw a black bear, deer, elk, marmots, big horn sheep and mountain goats. We had hoped to see moose, but they proved too elusive for us.

Up early Friday morning we moved to Glacier Meadows RV Park in Essex, MT, to meet our Winter Texan friends Carl “Cool Whip” and Carla, who traveled north from their home in MO to watch their grandson play ball in a regional tournament. We arrived within minutes of each other, and after we both got set up, we finally managed to catch up on each other’s lives / travel since we departed Texas the end of March.

Since we had already taken the tour of Glacier, the following day we played tour guide, and once again entered Glacier NP. Driving the narrow, steep, winding roads gave me a new perspective on what the “jammers” do every day. It also gave us opportunities to take pictures from different locations throughout the park. Carl and Carla, pictured below, with Goose Island in the background.

The next morning Carl decided he wanted to see more of Glacier, so off we were to Polebridge, MT, located 15 miles south of the Canadian border on the west side of the park. The surrounding area is magnificent, and the small town operates on solar and generator energy to the two business in town; the Mercantile with an awesome bakery, and the Northern Lights Saloon where we “sampled” a few of their micro-brews.

Carl, ever the “eager beaver”, in more ways than one, convinced us we needed to see Bowman Lake, north of Polebridge. Once again we entered Glacier NP, and were told by the ranger the drive to Bowman was about 12 miles, and would take us a little over an hour to get there, as the road was single lane unimproved; basically a glorified Jeep trail. I think the picture below speaks for itself when people ask me if the drive was worth it. What do you think?

Well, that pretty much sums up our week; hope yours was as good as ours. Thanks for taking the time to stop by. Until next time from Cascade, MT, take care and stay well……………..