North American Tour-Day 47

Today, we left Wyoming, land of cattle, horses, pick-up trucks, & boots. Had a pleasant ride into South Dakota, past the Black Hills & Badlands.

We stopped in a park in Rapid City, South Dakota, for lunch. In this park, they had a memorial to the Berlin Wall, with alot of interesting information & photos. They also had 2 actual pieces of the Wall.

While we were there, we realized we were only about 30 miles from Mount Rushmore & decided to take a slight detour to see it. We passed some really tacky stores, souvenir shops, miniature golf places, petting zoos, etc. Luckily, we had a really clear view of the carvings & didn’t have to enter the park. I was glad I was able to see that.

We’re staying in a motel in Kadoka, South Dakota. Quite a small town. I think there’s a main street somewhere, but we weren’t able to find it when we took a little ride after supper. It’s a simple, clean motel with breakfast in the morning.

Tomorrow, we’ll proceed to Tyndale, where Steve’s friend, Bill, lives. Steve met Bill in Costa Rica when he (Steve) was there by himself, looking for a place for us to live.

There are still so many fires burning in these western states, most towns have cancelled their firework displays. Believe it or not, fireworks are still being sold, though they’re not supposed to be used here. Right!!

And, I almost forgot to mention-I added photos to several older entries if anyone wants to check, starting with the “Canyon” blog.

The first photo here is of the 2 pieces of the Berlin Wall in Rapid City-for some reason I couldn’t add captions.

.ImageImage

North American Tour-Day 46

Today we’ve traveled 7,500 miles-1000 by truck in Canada & 6500 miles on the motorcycle.

We left Yellowstone in chilly weather this morning. The drive out the east entrance & down through the mountains was one of the most beautiful of the whole trip. Outside Yellowstone is the Shoshone National Forest. Right alongside the road is unmelted snow! Lots of running water cascading down the rocks beside the road-little waterfalls. The road follows several rivers that sparkle in the sunlight.

As we continued through Wyoming, it got warmer & warmer, then downright HOT!!! Just like that drive through Utah! It reached 106 degrees! Yikes, & we started in cold weather!

Went through Cody, Wyoming, which is celebrating Cody Stampede Days & a rodeo. We followed a parade through town before we found a McDonald’s where we could finally check our email. Steve also wanted to find a motel for the night & to plot the address into the GPS. Later, we stopped @ a gas station, where we filled up on cold liquids, & I wet-down my cooling scarf (it was too cold this morning to soak it!) Further on, we stopped for a beer & chatted with a man & woman each on their own Harley who were headed in the opposite direction. We exchanged road information & commiserated about the heat!

Here we are in a Motel 6, in Buffalo, Wyoming. We both enjoyed a good tub soak, then had supper @ Pizza Hut. Ah, to sleep in a real bed!! Luxury! And looking forward to a shower tomorrow. I think we head into Montana tomorrow.

Other than the heat, the mountains here are different from any of the others. Older, with caves & formations. It did get cooler as we traveled through the mountains & it was greener than earlier in the ride. We passed fields of fragrant clover with what looked like beehives along the edges. And we startled 2 young pronghorn antelope along the side of the road.

Hopefully we’ll get to see fireworks tomorrow night somewhere.

Great American Tour-Days 44 & 45

Old Faithful geyser

On Day 44, we rode the short distance to Yellowstone National Park. There was along line of people @ the entrance to the park.  An electronic board indicating which campgrounds had openings & they were filling-up fast! So, we hustled to the first available campground & did find a nice space. This had a pit toilet nearby, but no showers. We stayed here 2 days, also.

The rangers here are very, very strict about what is left out in the camp when unattended. Bears are here-black & grizzly. A grizzly bear was seen walking through the campground where we stayed a couple days earlier. One cannot leave out food, coolers, or luggage with cosmetics or perfume. Your belongings can be confiscated & you can be fined if this stuff is found @ your camp. Our camping neighbor had several things confiscated & they would’ve had to pay a fine if the rangers hadn’t been too busy to come out! Luckily, they got their things back the next day.

Here, we saw bison, moose, elk, mule deer, & antelope. Didn’t see any bear, which was alright with me!

The first day, we went to see Old Faithful & were not disappointed. In the same area, there are a bunch of other geysers. The visitors center has a list of times they’re all supposed to do their thing, but we didn’t go there, & just wandered around. There’s a huge crowd when Old Faithful is due, so that’s easy to figure out. Some of the other ones are just as impressive. It’s just an interesting place to walk around.

The next day, we took a ride to a different part of the park-the place is huge!! A couple million acres. Forests, burned-out forests (they had a devastating fire in the 90’s that eliminated alot of animal environment just now coming back), rivers with cut-throat trout (visible in some places when they jump out of the water), lakes, grassy fields, marshes, lots of animals. There are alot of thermal pools, steaming places, steaming bubbling smelly places, bubbling mud pits, weird stuff! A really enjoyable relaxing day.

For as many people that are probably visiting the park, you don’t feel crowded in any of the areas, the place is just so big! There are alot of camping areas, lodges, stores, & gas stations.

One person we met was a woman from Alaska, driving a 3-wheeler, who made an annual ride alone from Alaska to Texas to visit her daughter.

elk

the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

It was sunny & comfortable during the day, but got down in the high 40’s @ night! I had to dig out the flannel pj’s & sweatshirt!

Great American Tour-Days 42 & 43

Grand Tetons

moose

mother moose & her 2 calves

On Day 42, we left the Wasatch mountains & rode to the Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming,where we stayed  for 2 days. Yes, the mountains were impressive, but I was more thrilled seeing a female moose & her 2 calves!

At this park, we saw bison (not buffaloes-those are in Asia & Africa only!), moose, antelope, mule deer, & lots of smaller critters. We took a hike of about 2 miles & later met 2 Brits who were BICYCLING across the US!

We’ve starting cooking in the camp-coffee & donuts or oatmeal for breakfast & supper heat-up things. The little propane stove has been in the trailer & we decided to use it.

I still have difficulty sleeping in the sleeping bag. After turning over a few times, I’m all tangled-up. Plus the sleeping bag slides off the air mattress & I find myself on the lumpy ground! And I lose track of the zipper-if I need to exit in a hurry, I’ll have to climb out the top!

Great American Tour-Day 41

This day we left Ivins, Utah & rode to Wasatch Mountain State Park. Poor Colorado & Utah-so many fires still burning. Not far outside St. George, we saw a fairly large burned area still smoldering, including a telephone pole completely burned & still smoking! A few pieces of fire equipment were still in the area. The closer we got to Provo, the more smoke was in the air. Sometimes the mountains on either side of the road were obscured by the smoky haze.

Nice campground there & we were close to the bathrooms (can be important @ a certain age!!). And they had showers-we ask for so little!

The park is close to a charming small town called Midway. Lovely homes decorated in alpine themes. We ate @ a great small restaurant-had really good pizza & tried the local beers, which were also really good. The restaurant had a singer playing during the evening-he sang alot of the songs from the 60’s & 70’s-loud enough to hear, soft enough to be unobtrusive.

We’ve seen alot of rental RV’s on this trip. I don’t know what they cost, but alot of people are using them.

Great American Tour-Canyons

the Grand Canyon

Bryce Canyon

Zion Canyon

We visited 3 canyons in Utah-the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon. The Grand Canyon is, well, grand! It’s so large, you can’t see the other side. We went to the north rim & did walk around quite a bit. Bryce Canyon is viewed from the top down, like the Grand Canyon. But Bryce is filled with fantastic stone formations, caused by the erosion of water & wind. Some look like standing people, which was a Native American legend. Zion is viewed from the bottom, looking up. Steep canyon walls of varied shape & color, some seeping water with plants growing on the sides & birds nesting in them. Zion has a really nice shuttle bus system, & explaining about different features of the park along the way. The shuttles frequently come by every stop, so it’s easy to get off whenever you want & just catch another one when you’re ready to move on. I think Bryce was my favorite, while Steve liked Zion more. He said he would’ve liked to have stayed longer & gone on some of the trails. Personally, I think that idea is a bit ambitious-alot of the trails are labeled strenuous or difficult-I’m not into difficult these days!!!

We saw bison @ the Grand Canyon, ravens & chipmunks @ Bryce, & @ Zion, we saw mule deer, squirrels & chipmunks, & a really annoyed prairie dog who was loudly chirping @ all the humans around him/her!

A word or 2 about the park rangers. All we encountered have been so nice!! Unlike border guards, who tend to be surly, these men & women seem to have endless patience. No matter how long the line is behind us, they are willing to explain whatever asked, show you the map, highlight the areas of interest. They have alot of knowledge about their area. They were wearing a black band on their badge when we were there-it was in honor of a ranger in Washington state who was killed while attempting a rescue. And you do see people doing stupid things that put themselves & others @ risk.

The national parks are such a treasure. And so big! And a bargain-I’m not sure of the other prices, but Steve purchased a senior pass for $10-this entitles him to enter any national park free of charge FOR LIFE!! (they charge by the vehicle, not each person in it, so only one person needs a pass.) As crowded as the parks are @ times, I wish everyone could have some of the experiences we’ve had.

North American Tour-Day 40

We continued in Ivins, Utah @ the home of Ellen & Arnie. Having a lovely & comfortable home, they had originally built a casita or guest house for Arnie’s father, who lived with them until his death. This is now a guest house for visitors, like us. Has an eat-in kitchen, living room with a futon, & bathroom with shower. Very comfortable & we’re not intruding on their time or space.

Today we got an early start, drove through McDonald’s for some breakfast, & headed for Zion Canyon. We had driven through part of Zion Monday, but today, we went into the park. We took a very comfortable shuttle bus through the park to the last stop. This was a hiking path to the Narrows of the Virgin River. Since we got there early, the path was shaded & a very comfortable temperature.

On the path, we saw squirrels, a prairie dog, several deer, & assorted birds. There were sections where water was seeping through the rocks, running down the rock face, growing flowers & plants in unusual places. Then we got to the river & walked through the water on rocks & sand upstream for awhile. The water was really cold, made my toes numb @ first until I got used to it. Steve walked further than I did, up to where the canyon got very narrow. One can see why it’s so important to keep an eye on the weather in this area. People have died after being caught in a storm when the river rose suddenly-there’s nowhere to escape.

Listening to the conversations of the many visitors around us, one can hear numerous languages. And it’s fun to talk to people along the path & in the bus. Fellow riders/walkers ask where others are going & where they’ve been. We spoke with people today from Philadelphia & Atlanta. Also compared notes with a couple traveling around the country in an RV & another older couple traveling in a 1930-something Chevy.

We plan to leave early tomorrow morning & proceed to Wasatch State Park, still in Utah.

North American Tour-Day 37 through 39

Here we are @ Ivins, Utah @ the lovely home of Ellen & Arnie. Their home is located in the desert, close to mountains. What a scene to look @ daily! Their home is built to blend in with the landscape surrounding it, not blocking anyone else’s view. Little creatures abound, we’ve even seen a family of quail!. They’ve seen a bobcat family around their house & heard coyotes. Others have seen mountain lions.

Monday, June 25, Day 38, we went to Zion Canyon & the Grand Canyon.

Ellen & Arnie’s home

Ellen & Arnie. Ellen & Arnie have driven us all around the area. What a treat for us-they know where to go to see the best views of everything! One runs out of adjectives to describe all this-enormous, spectacular, dramatic, beautiful, haunting…

Today, Day 39 we went to Bryce Canyon. At the risk of blasphemy, I like Bryce better than the Grand Canyon!! It seems more approachable, more personal, less grand, but still more interesting in it’s scenery. All these carved stone structures, formed by water & wind. All different. All colors.

We’ll be here through tomorrow,Wednesday, leaving Thursday. And we have clean clothes again!!! Thank heaven for family that lets us do laundry!!

North American Tour-Days 30 through 39

I am way behind with my blogging!!

On day 30, we stayed in a motel in Abilene-I can’t remember much about it, so it must not have been too bad!  Steve bought a new helmet, so @ least he can see out of the visor! The next day, we rode to Caprock Canyon State Park, still in Texas, where we camped for 2 nights.

Caprock Canyon State Park is located just outside the town of Quitaque, Texas, pronounced “kitty-quay” by the people who live here. There is one restaurant in Quitaque & one in the nearby town of  Turkey, about 15 miles away.  We ate in both & had decent meals in each, plus the people here are very hospitable. This precinct is dry (no liquor!) though- much as we wanted a beer, we had to do with unlimited refills of Diet Coke! The land around here is very flat & the wind is unbelievably strong! We talked with a fellow camper/motorcycle rider who had a ranch not far away-he said they could see 35 miles in all directions!!

This state park is noted for a herd of North American bison brought here in the early 1900’s. They have free range within the park & number about 90. One never knows where they’ll be within the park & we did see one each day. There are also mule deer who graze in a nearby field, unafraid of us.  It’s been so hot here, it was good to have a day without a long ride.

On Day 33, we finally left the state of Texas! It’s hard to realize just how big this state is until you drive across it!! On the way through NW Texas, we saw a large number of wind turbines. I don’t know why they don’t put them all over the state, with the constant wind that blows here. You’d think there’d be an enormous amount of power generated! I don’t know how that works, though, maybe it’s too expensive.

On this day, we camped @ Clayton Lake State Park. They have a section of land with dinosaur footprints, discovered with the building of a dam. We did have time to walk through there & it was pretty cool! This, too, is a dry county, & we made do with unlimited refills of Diet Coke again!! Still very hot!

We’ve been riding through alot of small towns in Texas & NM. Believe it or not, most do NOT have a McDonalds’, so we’ve been out of touch by both cell phone & internet. They all DO have a Dairy Queen, though, so we’ve indulged in cool refreshments of one kind or another! And someone usually asks us where we’re from & where we’re going. They’re always very interested in our trip & some have suggestions on what to see in the area. If only we had the time to go to all these places (yes, we do have alot of time, but not THAT much!!) I’m always touched by how nice people still are & how lucky we are to meet them & to see what a beautiful country this is.

On Day 34 we rode into Colorado. Lots of green pines, mountains (some still with snow!), & clear streams tumbling over rocks (one can picture Brother Fred fly-fishing here!). We stayed @ a really nice place called High Country Lodge in Pagosa Springs. (I consider it a plus if they have china mugs for your coffee, which they did!!) We met some motorcycle folks who, along with friend Joe in Lima, urged us to do the ride from Durango to Silverton, through the mountains. It’s called the “million-dollar drive”.

So, after a good night’s sleep & free breakfast, we set off on Day 35 for Durango. The ride to Silverton was as spectacular as advised!!! High mountains, winding road, cool breezes. Although the narrow-shoulder-no-guardrail-long-drop-down-the-mountain scenery was a bit(?!) nerve-wracking for me!! I couldn’t look that way even to take a picture!!! And the town of Silverton is charming! It was once a mining town & has all kinds of restaurants & shops. We ate lunch at a place called the Bent Elbow that was once a brothel or “sporting house”.

We then rode back to Durango & on to Mesa Verde State Park, NM. We’ve seen alot of “trikes” or 3-wheelers on this trip. They have the 2 wheels either in the back or front. Lately, we’ve seen alot of Can-Am-trikes with the 2 wheels in front. Turns out they were having a convention in Durango. Talking to the riders, they love their 3-wheelers & consider the 2 wheels in front safer than in back.

That night, we camped @ Mesa Verde State Park, CO. This is where the cliff dwellings are located. The park has very nice facilities-nice gift shop that sells souvenirs & food, including wine (!), a restaurant that serves a pancake breakfast every morning, showers, &  coin-operated laundry. We rode around the park some that afternoon & evening & noticed smoke over the mountain @ one side. Turns-out this was the start of another Colorado wildfire! This was named the Weber Fire & was increasing in size hourly. Luckily, it was about 10 miles from the park. The park did have a big fire several years ago & the people @ the park reassured everyone that they were prepared to notify us all in the event evacuation was required. Here, too, there were many mule deer wandering around the campsites, unafraid of us. That evening, one of the rangers gave an interesting presentation about the discovery of the dwellings & people involved.

On the morning of Day 36, we took a tour of one area of Mesa Verde, Cliff Palace. This was considered the easiest of the tours & still involved climbing several ladders & up & down a number of stairs-not easy @ this altitude & temperature!! What an interesting place! That afternoon, we left for Fairfield, Utah. This was the worst day of the entire trip so far!!! The temperature was 106 degrees with a hot wind blowing us all over the highway!! We had a stretch of 106 miles on I70, passing through the desert, without any areas for services, other than pullovers for scenery (!!-who cared @ this point!!!) Steve even had his cooling neck scarf blow off! Luckily, we had plenty of water with us! That night, we stayed @ a motel in Fairfield. Everything ached-back, butt, knees!!! A shower felt like heaven!

Day 37-to Ivins, Utah to the home of Steve’s cousin Ellen & her husband Arnie.

Weber wildfire, Colorado

cliff dwellings @ Mesa Verde, CO

the Bent Elbow restaurant, Silverton, CO

Dinosaur footprint @ Clayton State Park, NM

North American Tour-Days 27-30

Steve’s cousins, Sam & Leslie, live in the town of Tomball. This was once a small town somewhere outside Houston. When folks were looking for more affordable housing, they discovered Tomball. Now, the once quiet town has lots of houses, people, stores, new roads & traffic! Sam drove us around the area & took us through the original town, just one main street, really. There is also a section with quite a few small shops that are busy with tourists & locals buying out-of-the-ordinary things. Looked interesting, but, traveling on the motorcycle does restrict purchases. Probably just as well, since all these souvenirs could be hazardous to my wallet!!?

The houses I’ve seen in both Dallas/Plano & Houston are very nice, almost all with enclosed back yards with high wooden fences. About 99% have sprinkler systems, so their yards are well-tended & green. I told them in Hagerstown, most homes don’t have sprinkler systems (I guess except the bigger, newer ones) & in the summer, when it’s hot & dry, we just let the grass go dormant. Yes, it’s brown & looks dead, but it greens-up when it rains. They were surprised. Last year, there were drought conditions in Texas, so water use was restricted & people could only water once a week. This year they’ve had some rain, so they are able to water more often.

We stayed @ Sam & Leslie’s until yesterday. Had nice meals @ some local restaurants & good dessert @ a yogurt place. The yogurt place had every kind of flavor & topping that one could imagine! You got a cup, put in whatever you wanted, then paid by the weight. Great stuff for those of us with a sweet tooth!

Leaving Tomball yesterday morning

Sam, Leslie, & Ollie’s home

Sam, Leslie, & Ollie

, we were headed NW to Guadalupe River State Park, only to find they were completely full! They directed us to a nearby RV park that did have camping space available. So, that’s where we spent last night. We headed out this morning, again NW, to Abilene, where we’re checked-in @ a motel.

It was a nice ride today, but we did run into a few showers. It didn’t get us soaked & it did lower the temperature a bit, thankfully. I like Texas & most Texans (I do love the South, they are alot more cordial than other parts of the country, I’m sorry, but it is true!), but it is way too hot here for me. It’s been in the high 90’s & up in to the 100’s since we’ve been here. We went through the hill country of Texas, & that’s been my favorite part, scenically. I do remember alot of the town names from when I lived in San Antonio about a million years ago! We were on secondary roads mostly & went through Boerne & Fredricksburg, which remain small, interesting towns. By the way, the speed limit on the interstates here is 75 & it’s 70 on secondary roads, which are all very well maintained. Tomorrow, we have to go to a motorcycle store to get a new helmet for Steve-the visor on his is almost too scratched to see through. There’s a Harley/Yamaha place just down the road from the motel, so that’ll be convenient. Then it’ll be onward west again.

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries