Sunday, August 31, 2008


Our trip of a lifetime comes to a conclusion at the end of summer. We started out in late Spring before most of our flowers started blooming and we return as the trees begin to pop with their Autumn color. We’ve seen everything and done everything a body could possibly do in 103 days. Well, all these bodies could do anyway!

The wildlife has been phenomenal – up close and personal! The views and plant life like none we’ve ever seen before. We’ve traveled through 14 states the majority of time in Alaska and four provinces – the Yukon Territory being the most interesting to us, that brought with it 6 border crossings. We’ve put over 12,000 miles on the coach and close to 3000 on the car. The bikes got a fair workout with close to 100 miles and the hiking had to be over 50 miles. But those are all just numbers.

Sitting on the Midnight Dome in Dawson City and contemplating life, watching the glacier calf on the Kenai Fjords tour, the graceful movement of big grizzly bears, hiking through backwoods where there are waterfalls just around the bend, just the fresh air and life all around! That’s what this trip has been about. We live in a magnificent country and it’s out there for all to enjoy.

Even as we started home and squeezed in a few bonus side trips, the Redwoods in CA are AMAZING!! And I’ve never seen anything like the Badlands in SD. As we traveled through MN and into WI I was beginning to long for home. We came across the Upper Peninsula of MI and I started to think about all the beauty that we have right here. Traveling along US2 bordering Lake Michigan is so beautiful and tranquil, yeah, we stopped there for a couple of hours of walking the beach. Crossing the Mackinaw Bridge started making it feel like we were just on a 2 week vacation. Our final week we sat at a campground on the Rifle River and just relaxed. Our daughter and peanut joined us mid week – what a reunion. Our son and DIL were able to join us on Sunday when we got home (did you hear? Our son and DIL will be having their first baby in March 2009 another grandbaby to spoil.). It was nice to get to reunite while still on vacation mode. I missed them all terribly. Can’t wait to see the rest of my family and friends.

These are a few of the pictures that I wasn’t able to share with you over the summer.

In the later pictures Peanut is sporting a camping mishap. Things just happen when you’re camping.

I don’t want to miss the opportunity to thank everyone at work – the bosses who approved this leave of absence and all the coworkers that covered my job. Without you all this would not have been possible. There are no words to express my gratitude, so I’ll just say a big “THANK YOU”! This trip has truly been “A trip of a lifetime”.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Recharging our batteries

It's Tuesday the 26th, I think. We're set up at the Rifle River for the rest of the week to just relax.

Oh yeah, I'm loving this.

We just sit and enjoy the tranquility in the morning and in the evening watch the canoers come in. In the middle we hike around a little and float on the lazy pond. Oh, and we've done a bit of reading too. Got you all drooling now? The end is near, gotta get it while we can.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Corn Palace, Mitchell SD

Sunday was a travel day, but we had lunch at our stop at the Corn Palace. The Corn Palace has been in Mitchell since 1892. It started small and has grown over the years. Todays Corn Palace was built in 1921 and is redecorated every year. They use native corn, grasses and grains of SD. The new theme is selected each year by the Corn Palace Committee along with the artist. They use 3,000 bushels of milo, rye, oat heads and sour dock tied into bundles and nailed to the building. The corn used is cut in half length wise and nailed to the patterned wall.

All of those murals are done with corn!! Can you see the individual cobs? The reason for the Corn Palace was back in 1805, when Lewis and Clark traveled through the northern plains, they wrote in their journals that the area was the Great American Desert suitable only for buffalo. Surely, they wrote, no man could ever make a living farming here. Wanting to prove Lewis and Clark wrong, as well as to entice settlers to the area, the Corn Belt Real Estate Association built the first Corn Palace to showcase all of the crops that could be grown in the rich Dakota soil. Of course, the festival each year celebrates the harvest with lots of entertainment and a carnival. Interesting, very interesting.

Black Hills SD - Crazy Horse Memorial - Mt Rushmore

On Saturday we got an early start for the Black Hills. There is kind of a scenic loop that takes you through and past lots of interesting things. I know I've posted a lot of animals, but this one really caught me as funny when you can see both ends of a huge animal.

No more animals I promise, until I see something else lol

There are a few campgrounds on this scenic loop, but I think you have to come in a special way if you were to drive the rv. We passed through at least 2 of these tunnels.

We glanced down at the gps at one point and thought the curvy roads showed up well. What do you think guys, time for a road trip? lol

There were huge rock formations every where you looked.

The Crazy Horse Memorial is a work in progress. This scaled down model is what the completed work should look like.

The first blast on this project was in June of 1948 and took off just 10 tons. Millions of tons have been removed since. This is a private non profit project. They want no national funding for it. When completed the vision is to have the sculpture, a university and medical training center along with a museum of native history. This is a picture of the sculpture to date. The horse's 22 story high head is blocked out now.

The video we watched at the visitor center helped to put the size in perspective. Mt Rushmore would fit into the hair of Crazy Horse! When looking off into the distance it is hard to convey the difference in size. Mt Rushmore looked huge too.

Next stop was Mt Rushmore. We've all seen it, but it's still a beautiful sight. There were a lot of changes since we were last there 20 years ago. Twenty years ago you just drove up to the base of it and looked up, today there is a huge parking garage and then you walk up to a walkway that is lined with state flags. There is also stadium seating.

The Black Hills of SD shouldn't be missed on a trip wests. Don't forget to bring home rocks lol. We bought a rock from the blasting of Crazy Horse (remember the movie "The Long Trailer" with Lucille Ball?) and then we went by a rock quarry that was selling lots of Black Hills rocks. Oh yeah, we got some for the garden lol. Fun trip.

Badland SD 8/15/08 (maybe)

Don't know why they call this the Badlands, but it has the most spectacular views I have ever seen. Pictures cannot do it justice, you all have to just come and see for yourselves. Robin, you just stay in the car, there are Rattle Snake warnings! We started this day with a beautiful sunrise.

And I'll just post pictures, words mean nothing.

There was this one lone mountain goat looking at all the beauty.

Driving around the other side of the scenic loop we found a herd of mountain goats. Don't you just love their little white "bums"?

We hiked around some looking for the snakes, but we didn't find any. I could have just sat and stared at this area all day, but it is very desert like and hot. BEAUTIFUL!!

Cody WY

Buffalo Bill State Park in Wyoming is absolutely gorgeous. It is right on the Shoshone River and we felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.

While sitting at our peaceful site we were occasionally having ashes dropped on us from the forest fire that was just behind us. We were told that 39000 acres were on fire, but they had it under control. Looks pretty ominous doesn’t it?

While traveling though Yellowstone we also saw a lot of geysers along the shore.

In Cody they also have a shootout everynight and we were able to catch this one. It was fun. They had about 4 props and 15 actors/actresses. Told a little story, but mostly it was just fun/funny.

There were also a lot of scultptures around town. They were all amazing, but I don’t want to bore you with too many.

Carol would absolutely love this old western town.

Grand Tetons Jackson WY

Camped in the Grand Teton Natl Park and went back into Teton Village. This is basically a skiing town and in the summer you can take the gondola or chair lift up the mt. We did the gondola first and went up to 10,000 ft. The view was spectacular from there. The whole area was beautiful. The chair ride was next. It only went up about 400 feet from the bottom. We found it interesting that on the way down on the chair lift there were a lot of bikes coming up. Instead of riding up and down the mountain trails, they would ride up on the lift eliminating the hard part, then take the trails down.

We went into Jackson for the evening and had dinner and walked around a lot. There is a gunfight every night at 6:00. We missed it. I really liked the archways made out of antlers. They were on all four corners of the town square. The boyscouts collected all of the antlers from the Elk Refuge in 1960 and donated them to the town. Can you believe there are that many antlers? About 7500 elk spend their winters on the refuge and shed their antlers in the spring. The Boy Scouts continue collecting them and they are auctioned off every spring.

There were also lots of herds of bison in the national park. They were crossing the road and rolling in the dust and sometimes just generally playing around.

Took a ton of mountain shots. A few of my favorite.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Are You a Skeptic Quiz

Okay, I wasn't going to post any more of these, but I couldn't resist. I'm more skeptical than Harmony, guess it comes with age hehe.

You Are 58% Skeptic

You aren't exactly a skeptic, but you're no blind believer.

You doubt what you hear, especially when you hear it for the first time.

When it comes to doing your own research, you sometimes fall short.

Question your beliefs a little more. You might be surprised what you find out!

Idaho is a Beautiful State

Didn't get going too early this morning so we're still in Idaho. It is such a different landscape than we are used to, but beautiful just the same.

That is Snake River in the foreground of the above picture.

Very desert like in this area. You can tell when you get near the Snake River because all of a sudden there is a lot of irrigation going on and everything is green.

We had an experience this afternoon that Angie will relate to. We pulled into a Flying J, and everyone knows that the trucks pull into the back. Well, this was a small city station and everyone pulled into the front. Remember how we can't back up with the toad? Well, I had to go up and not let any trucks pull into the first available pump so we could pull through and go around the block and pull in the right way. Talk about frustrating! Not something I want to do again soon, if ever.

How about this pic of MM with his new friend from the campground last night in Fruitland ID.

She looks like Felix doesn't she? Just as friendly that's for sure.

We've covered over 350 miles each of the last two days and tomorrow we're going to check out the Grand Tetons. I think it was Amy that said her in laws really liked it. I'm looking forward to a slow day, not like we didn't just have 4 slow days in a row.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Oregon east to Idaho

Tuesday August 5th We left CA this morning and arrived in Roseburg OR to visit with Aunt Fran. Her daughter Claire and son in law Mike also came over. We went out to dinner and had a real nice visit. Headed back to camp a few miles south of Roseburg afterward. Wednesday morning we fueled up and got groceries then headed to Diamond Lake. Missed two photo opportunities while leaving Roseburg. The first one was a man riding his bike going downhill playing his guitar. By the time I found the camera he was at the bottom of the hill just riding again and we were about to turn left away from him. Wished I’d got that one lol. The next shot was a few miles out from there. I guess I thought we were in a more urban area and what do I need a camera for? Surprise. This time it was a man carrying/dragging a wooden cross. The cross had to be at least 12’ and he was dragging it along with a red cloth on the bottom end of it. Too weird, but again, I didn’t have my camera ready.

At Diamond Lake we got very lucky and got a beautiful site right on the water.

Reserved it for 4 nights to take us through the weekend. Walked around the campground (Natl) and settled in to relax. We spent our days biking around Diamond Lake, hiking around, driving up to Crater Lake and just plain relaxing. On our bike ride I didn’t take the camera again. I’m really getting bad about that. About half way around the lake MM stops right in front of me and I almost run into him. There, about 30’ just off the trail is a bear. MM says that when he stopped it was just about to cross the path, when I stopped it was on its’ hind quarters looking up at us. Anyway, he sat and looked at us for a while and we looked at him. He finally got down on all four and crossed the path. We waited a few minutes to make sure there wasn’t another one then continued on our way. I remember he was black with some reddish on him and he had a white diamond on his chest. When reporting the siting to the ranger he said it was probably a very old bear. Wish I’d had the camera. We were amazed also by the swarms of butterflies and dragonflies. We would ride through them and they would just scatter. Lots and lots of butterfly kisses lol.

The afternoon and evenings were spent watching the sunset across the lake behind the mountains, reading and just plain relaxing.

Our trip to Crater Lake was very interesting. At 2,943 feet deep, it is the deepest lake in the United States and one of the deepest in the world.

The eruption that collapsed Mt Mazama was the largest in North America for hundreds of thousands of years. The lake that formed in its shattered remnants is one of the purest and most pristine in the world. Snow blankets the landscape for eight or nine months of the year. Wildflowers bloom late and disappear quickly in the harsh pumice soil, thriving only along streams. As well as the beautiful Crater Lake, we saw a beautiful waterfall and many deer.

Vidae Falls

The area was positively beautiful, but this morning (Sunday) we had to continue our journey east. We travelled all of Oregon from Diamond Lake, about 350 miles. Lots of miles, but at least not bad roads in any way. The vistas along the way were absolutely beautiful. I think they describe it as "high deserts". Desert scape on the mountains. Then what I can only think of a a "great basin" - lots of mountains coming together to form a "great basin". Absolutely breathtaking travels today.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Redwood Forest CA

There are no words or phrases that can describe these majestic forests. We kept walking and saying "WOW". Even sitting among them was just awe inspiring. So, I'll just put up a few pictures that can show a bit of the size. These forests are 20 million years old. They reach 350 feet in height and an average tree lives 2000 years. The forests that we explored were the Coastal Redwoods.

This first picture is not a tree, but a rock. It is described as the creator instructing the spirits to choose what you want to be. Oregos spirit wanted to help people. She chose to be the tall rock on the north bank of the Klamath River. It is said to resemble an old woman carrying a burden basket.

Just to get a scope of the size, here we are standing in between two trees that are growing together.

We saw lots of trees that had growths on them. This one looked to me like a raccoon or bear growing out of the side of the tree.

This next one just defies logic. The tree has obviously been growing like this for many years. In case you can't see all of the detail, there is a downed tree and another tree growing over it with the roots going around the downed tree. Again, can you say "WOW".

This next one just shows the majesty of nature. Wonder if this pic will blow up okay? We'll see.

Disguised to Protect is this coastal "The Farmhouse that is not a Farmhouse". Most of the guys will know what this is. Back in WWII our military built this farmhouse full of radar detection and bunkers full of secrets.

How would you like to drive under a downed tree? The tree is just hanging out.

While driving to the Fern Canyon we came to a sign that said "Stream Crossing Ahead". Yeah, right. Well there were three of them and we just have a little toad. All worked out okay though.

Do you recognize this picture of Fern Canyon? Parts of Jurasic Park were filmed here. We felt like we were in some prehistoric land.

The only touristy thing we did this day was the drive thru tree. Even vans were driving thru. Amazing huh?

There were several elk viewing areas. When we got to the Fern Canyon parking area we saw one right away and it was close. I was a little concerned because there are warnings everywhere. I had to laugh though when I was watching and shooting this one so much....turned around and there were three at my back. Fortunately, they were very docile and busy eating.

We explored for a full day and saw images that we will never forget. The Redwood National Forest follows the coast several miles south. We only had time for this small sampling, but I feel we saw some of the best. I've always wanted to see this and am so glad that we found the time this trip.