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|We drove a bit too far again today. 328 miles. Tomorrow we will slow down. Corssing the Mississippi River we could see some flooding. Stopped at a Flying J truck stop for fuel. This campground is pleasant, friendly owners, lots of mature trees, but just off Interstate 70 so a bit noisy. Appears to have originally been a KOA, probably from the 1970's. They are offering free Internet, but we couldn't get an assigned IP address, so we stuck with our cellular connection. Frank continues to adjust webcam setups.|
A more reasonable distance today of 215 miles. This is a casino campground just north of Topeka Kansas. Quite new, within the last few years. Nice campground but no trees, but that is ok because the evening clouds and sunset are beautiful. Hot though today, about 95, more than our air conditioner could handle. We had dinner at a buffet in the casino, not bad but not great either. We went through some heavy thunderstorms this afternoon while driving. Decided to stay here for 2 nights while we work on trailer projects. 9:30pm, heavy thunderstorms are developing directly over us but headed southeast so we are only getting a little rain and some pea size hail. Topeka and Kansas City are getting whopped.
July 3, 2008 A relaxed day today. Took 2 trips to the nearby town of Holton, Kansas where we found a great hardware store, a local grocery and about the smallest Wal-Mart we have ever seen. We moved to a different site to get a longer and wider trailer pad. The one last night was a tight fit for our rig. Later in the evening some facility just to our south had a 20 minute fireworks display which Frank watched from atop the picnic table.
July 4, 2008 Happy 4th to everyone. (The 4th of July is Independence day for us Untied States persons). A work day for us. Frank finally got the computers all working properly, with the help of a new router and 2 new wireless USB network cards. Tom did laundry. Rather warm in the low 80s. Frank got all the web cameras working for the first time.
|Today we arrived in Abilene Kansas. Abilene had its beginnings in 1858 when the railroads first arrived. This was the end of the famous Chisholm Trail which the early big cattle drives took to get the great heards to market. After setting up the trailer we visited the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum. A very good museum and we spent 4 hours browsing the exhibits. In the evening we had dinner at a wonderful restaurant, The Brookville Hotel , which served dinners family style. Everybody gets the same meal, half a fried chicken to a person and all the cole slaw, mashed potatoes, gravy, creamed corn and baking powder biscuits you can eat along with a scoop of ice cream, for $12.95. If you find yourself in Abilene, this is an absolute must place to eat.|
|Another long drive, 320 miles. We are headed to Colorado Springs for a Monday appointment at Camping World to get a second air conditioner installed in the trailer. With the heat of summer, the one unit just can't keep up. This is a VERY small town and a pleasant little friendly campground but a bit on the small and tight side. The owner was extremely friendly and was concerned at charging us what he did with our discount because he couldn't give us a 50 amp hookup. Dark clouds to the west and the weather service has a tornado warning in place for this area. Around 6:30 the sky got dark and the clouds began swirling in the forms that can create tornados. The camp host came around and offered everyone the option of his basement. Everyone did evacuate to the house, some went to the basement but most of the guys stayed upstairs and just outside while we watched the clouds, rain and heavy winds. No tornado materialized but everyone had a good visit while we pulled up radar images over the Internet. Later heavy rain and a lot of strong lightning. The temperature had dropped from 95 when we pulled into camp, to the mid 60's by 8:30.|
|This morning we headed for Colorado Springs. Stopping at the Camping World, we had a second air conditioner installed in the bedroom and the bedroom fan moved to the bathroom. That took most of the afternoon. This is a large KOA with plenty of activities for families and even a small restaurant of sorts. It was rather cloudy and a bit hazy today so we didn't see the mountains until we were rather near Colorado Springs but we can now see the front range from the back window of the trailer.|
We are back in one of our favorite campgrounds. We stayed here back in 1991 on our 2 year trip. It is right next to a rushing Colorado stream and the sound is very relaxing. The tempreture has droped to the mid 60s this evening. This is also the home town of Coors Beer. We had a late lunch at the Table Mountin Inn here in Golden.
July 9, 2008 A day to settle down and do laundry. Frank did some reformating on the travel pages to make image handeling easer. We had lunch at Table Mountain again then went for a visit with Dave and Jim. Dave is the author of some great gay western novels and Frank manages their website of Golden Feather Press.
July 10, 2008 This morning we took a nice drive up into the front range along some back roads neither of us have been on before. We saw some beautiful scenery and even a few huge gorgeous ranch houses.
July 11, 2008 Frank had a rodeo meeting with the IGRA finals committee this morning, and Tom did some shopping and laundry. The rest of the day was very hot and so for the most part was a rest and take it easy day. Frank finally managed to develop a mounting bracket for the webcam in the front of the trailer.
July 12, 2008 Today was rodeo day. The Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo. See galleries section.
July 13, 2008 Another day of rodeo, but this one was HOT. Upper 90s. But as they say it was a "dry" heat which made it tolerable.
July 14, 2008 Today Tom did Laundry again and we drove to Micro Center where we got a new color printer for the trailer. The old printer had given out from the heat last year. Then we went to Sheplers western wear where Frank got a new hat and a couple of shirts.
July 15, 2008 Added another rodeo gallery from Sunday's rodeo. Includes more rodeo event photos.
July 16, 2008 After a quick trip to Micro Center for a cable, we took a drive along the Lariat Loop road . Built in the early 1900s, this scenic highway is a must drive if you are in the Denver area. Here are a few captures from our truck webcam . In addition to the fantastic views along this short drive, at the top is the grave and museum of Buffalo Bill Cody. We had seen the museum before so this trip we just drove and took a few short hikes to take in the views . Quite hazy today so the views were not as spectacular as they could have been. Later in the afternoon Frank built a table lamp from a cowboy boot vase we bought at the rodeo.
|I screwed up and forgot to shoot a photo of the camp site so am using a webcam shot. A marvelous day and like a good horse we had a good ride. Up Interstate 70 through the Eisenhower tunnel and beyond Vale. We stoped for a short break at Summit Colorado . From there we turned north up state route 131 and some fantastic high desert scenery. We arrived at Lee and Harley's place around 2:00 . That's Harley of HomoRodeo.com. After showing them the trailer and them showing us their place, which is beautiful by the way, we headed north to Steamboat Springs. Later in the evening Lee and Harley joined us at The Old West Steak House restaurant for dinner. Frank tried some Rocky Mountain Oysters for the first time. If you don't already know what they are, then you probably don't want to know. He also had buffalo steak, an unusual treat. We talked until almost 10:00 pm when everyone had to head home.|
|Before leaving Steamboat Springs we went to a hardware store to look for some hose parts. We didn't find the hose parts but did find a good shade for the new cowboy boot lamp. Also stopped in at F.M. Light & Sons western wear store. Didn't buy anything but had some nice talks with some very friendly store clerks. After leaving Steamboat Springs we drove about 50 miles west along the Bear River then turned north at Craig on highway 13. That led us up and away from the river through the high desert. We even hit a few thunder showers. Much of the area was green from recent rains. Beautiful scenery but very desolate in places. Here are a few select webcam shots along the way. This campground is basically a gravel parking lot and it's right next to a petrolumn tank farm. . Ok for an overnight stay with the shades pulled, but I wouldn't want to stay here very long. The Internet connection is also very slow, I think they have too many people using it.|
From Rock Springw we headed north along US 191 toward Jackson Wyoming. Traveling through some beautiful desert scenery. (I guess it takes a real cowboy to see the desert as beautiful As we neared the Jackson area we began to see the mountains. The campground's Internet is not working and our Partnered provider cell phone Internet is so bad here that yesterday afternoon it took 20 minutes to successfully upload a 12k file. Finally got this updated on Monday from the truck while stopped in Jackson.
July 20, 2008 We went into Jackson today for shopping and lunch. I'ts amazing how fast the days go. This evening it was dinner and a show at the Bar J Chuckwagon, an evening of good food and fantastic cowboy entertainment by the Bar J Wranglers. Frank hasn't laughed so much in years. The show was a combination of jokes, stories and cowboy music by one of my favorite cowboy groups. If you can find an evening while visiting the Jackson's Hole, Grand Teton area, you just have to spend it at the Bar J Chuckwagon. $20 to $30 gives you all the cowboy style food you can eat and an hour and a half of fantastic entertainment. You can listen to some of my favorite cowboy music by the Bar J Wranglers on my Cowboy Music page.
The Making of a Park extra info on Grand Teton|
After a good night's sleep, we packed up and headed north. Stopped in Jackson one last time for groceries, then off and into Grand Teton National Park. For the next two nights we will be camped at Flagg Ranch, between Grand Teton and Yellowstone Parks. Grand Teton is one of the most spectacular of our National Parks. The Grand Teton mountains are the result of a geologic fault running along the east face. The mountains were uplifted while the valley dropped, then filled in with gravel and debris, eroded during the ice ages. The combined result is a drop off of 30,000 feet between the top of the mountains and the bottom of the valley beneath the rubble. Small glaciers from about 10,000 years ago scooped out some of the debris forming several lakes. The current results are high, rugged, snowcapped peaks, contrasted with the flat lakes, making for some spectacular photograph opportunities. This evening we are experiencing a thunderstorm with light rain. A wonderful sound way up here in the mountains.
July 22, 2008 The morning started out cloudy and low fog. We were afraid the day was going to be a bust, but a few hours in, the clouds lifted and the day was beautiful. We drove down the highway we came up yesterday to Moose Wyoming and turned back northward along the park road. We had lunch at Moose. Frank had a buffalo burger and Tom had a toasted ham and cheese sandwich. We stoped by the historic Cunningham cabin and pondered the sparse and difficult life of the pioneers. Along one area we even saw some cowboys herding a bunch of cattle. One cowboy was on his horse the other on an ATV. In the late evening, as we were preparing dinner, we had another light rain storm then the sun came out and we were then presented with a magnificent double rainbow as can be seen in the last 3 pictures in this first gallery.
|We left at 11:00 and proceeded north into Yellowstone National Park. We stopped at only a few overlooks before proceeding to Fishing Bridge in the heart of Yellowstone. We arrived, setup and had a late lunch at 2:00. Then we headed east in the truck to see if we could get some cell phone service which the office had indicated we could find along the lake. We had phone service but no Internet service so this entry will be delayed several days until we get to Gardiner, MT. We also wanted to do a bit of sight seeing and of course in Yellowstone there is lots of that. The results of the fires of 1988 are still very obvious but fire is a normal part of the evolution of Yellowstone. The park has done a suburb job of producing articles covering all aspects of the park. There was even a 6 page section about the fires and how the ecosystem is recovering. We will be in this campground for 2 nights then one night nearby in a no-hookup campground. We stayed here back in 1999 for 5 nights. Frank tried to walk to a campfire presentation but the mosquitos were horrible so he returned to the trailer.|
Bridge Bay Campground, Yellowstone NP $9.60 per night (Golden Age discount)We had to move to a non-hookup campground nearby because the weekend was already booked at Fishing Bridge RV Park. Not a problem, since we left the trailer around 11:00 to go sight seeing. We drove slowly along the route between Bridge Bay and Canyon Village, stopping about half way there for a sandwich lunch in a secluded turnout along the Yellowstone river. We took our time stopping at turnouts and thermal features along the way. We turned down the road to Artist Point and came to a major traffic jam. We sat for about 4 minutes waiting for the cars to move before deciding to turn around and come back later. We had made a reservation for Frank to go on a Dude String trail ride this afternoon. So we proceeded to the stables. It was a wonderful ride. Unfortunately, a few years ago someone dropped a camera and fell off their horse on top of the camera breaking their hip. So the Park Service had to ban cameras from trail rides in the park so we have no photos of the ride. After the ride we went back to Artist Point, and while the crowds were still heavy the area was at least accessible. Later we ate at the cafeteria in Canyon. This evening, after everyone settled down, the campground became extremely quiet and tranquil We both slept extremely well with no air conditioners or other noise anywhere near us.
Rocky Mountain RV Gardiner, Wyoming $44.30 per nightWe are now in Gardiner, Montana, just north of Yellowstone. A few travel photos Finally, after over a week we have a decent internet connection. Today is laundry and moving day. This is a pretty nice campground with beautiful views although it is quite hot, but dry, so unless you are sitting in the sun, it is actually quite pleasant. Tomorrow we will tour the northern part of Yellowstone.
July 27, 2008 Today is our 25th anniversary. In the morning we toured Mammoth Hot Springs in the north end of the park which is along the 45th parallel, half way from the equator to the north pole . The springs seem to have less water in them than we remember from our last visit back in the mid 1990s. We had lunch at the Mammoth restaurant, then walked around the old Army post buildings which are now used as the Mammoth visitor center and housing for park staff. Between 1886 and 1918, before the creation of the National Park Service, the Army was in charge of protecting the park from poachers and souvenir hunters. From what we learned they did a very good job. Mammoth Hot springs was where the army had their headquarters. This area is frequently occupied by elk grazing on the lush grass around the houses. Later in the evening, we celebrated our anniversary by eating out at the Yellowstone Mine Restaurant . Excellent food and nice atmosphere.
We had originally intended to come north over Beartooth Pass but decided to come via US 89 instead. Beartooth Pass has spectacular views but the last few days have been very hazy in this area so the views may not have been very good. Also, we expect there would be a lot of traffic and the pull outs would most likely be crowded. Beartooth Pass is also a very steep, twisty and narrow road in many places, so we decided to come back at a later date and drive the pass again. This KOA claims to be the very first KOA to be established. It is also the first KOA we have found that has a domain name but no web page posted. The domain was registered in 2001 but they still haven't posted any pages, and they advertise the web address on all their publications. Weird.
July 29, 2008 Today was a basic work day. Got oil changed in the truck, did laundry and went shopping.
Today, rather than taking Interstate highways, we drove the back roads of US 94 and US 12 through some real cattle country of Montana. This was some beautiful and lonely country. Despite this being a US highway, we only passed about one car every 5 minutes. There were bunches of cattle scattered all along the route where we could see them. This is real cowboy country, the cowboys were out there, we just can't see them from the road. The drive makes me think of a Dave Stamey song about Montana and how lonely it can be, but so beautiful. Along the way we stopped for lunch at a small town called Ingomar which was a bustling hub of commerce around 1910. Today it is just a lonely stop, 100 miles from the nearest town. In the afternoon the temperature reached 101, but the humidity was only 10% so it was tolerable. We stayed in this same campground back in 1993.
Text from the Ingomar historic marker
Ingomar claimed the title of "Sheep Shearing Capital of North America". Shearing at Ingomar was advantageous because of its vital location on the route between the winter pastures and the free summer grass. From Ingomar, the wool was loaded directly in to the railroad cars without risk of weather damage or delayed delivery to the buyers. Two million pounds of wool a year were shipped from Ingomar during the peak years of the 1910's.
A devastating fire in 1921, drought and depression have took their toll on the area but the original frame school building, Bookman's store and the Jersey Lilly Saloon are still here and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
July 31, 2008 After breakfast we headed downtown and looked up a western shop called Miles City Saddlery . They do sell saddles but also cloths and everything a cowboy or rodeo rider might need. We went in for a $10 stampede string and came out spending $440 on shirts, shoes, boot pullers, DVDs about cowboys and other miscellaneous items. Later in the day we visited a local museum called the Range Riders Museum an interesting place with lots of old cowboy artifacts. This museum honors the memory of local cowboys and ranchers. While much of what they have are just artifacts, if you are a cowboy fan, you will find lots of interesting things to look at. There are hundreds of photos of cowboys, ranchers and wives of those who are being remembered in this place along with thousands of individual items from the every day life of this region.