Friday, September 03, 2010

Fort Union and Labor Day Weekend

We did get an early start since we were both upset with the Cedar Rail RV Park. Fortunately we didn't have a long drive.

We took our time and stopped at several rest areas along the way. At one of the stops we read a historical marker about the Fort Union Historical Monument. I jumped on the computer and it sounded like a very interesting place.

It was only 8 miles off of our route and we had plenty of time, so detour time!

We spent two hours wandering around the ruins of what was once the largest fort west of the Mississippi. This was the remains of the Officers Row.

Some restoration has been done but mostly imagination is required to visualize life on this post that was established to protect the travelers along the Santa Fe Trail and act as a supply depot. This was the prison.

The ruts of the Santa Fe Trail are still visible. In fact, the flagstone walkway that was built to the hospital has steps down to accommodate the path of the traveling wagons.

The hospital was built for the soldiers but for 50 cents a day civilians traveling through were also allowed to receive medical attention.

It was a nice break in the day and we arrived in Albuquerque in the middle of rush hour. Ooops!

We found our rv park easily and it was much more pleasant than the last dump. Enchanted Trails RV Park is an older park but fit our needs perfectly.

Being the day before the long Labor Day weekend, we were afraid that the park would be full and noisy. To our surprise we had plenty of room and nice neighbors. Hmmm......

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Driving Through Colorado

We decided to spend a couple more days in Lingle, WY while we plotted our trip south. There was a nice rock shop that Doug wanted to visit and we just were feeling like some down time. And that's what we did.

So, after spending hours with maps and guide books and campground books, we chose to just climb in the coach on Wednesday and drive. Let the chips fall where they may. I have been feeling anxious (for some unknown reason) to get back to the southwest.

Our plan was to find some place to stay in the middle of Colorado then head for Albuquerque. It was an easy drive through Cheyenne and across the Colorado border.
The scenery was pretty until we got to Denver. Typical big city, but it was fun to see the home of the Denver Broncos even though we aren't huge football fans.

Continuing on, we never found any place to stop that appealed to us and next thing we knew......we were in New Mexico. Barely.

We stopped for the night at a park at the top of Raton Pass called Cedar Rail RV Park. What a joke!

They parked us next to a cliff alongside the road going through the park. We were afraid to put the awning out since there was so much traffic going by us. There was absolutely no Verizon phone service and I was told on the phone that they provided wifi. When we got to the park we were informed that we were limited to 25 mb of wifi. We can go through that in an hour!

And to add injury to insult, it was the most we have paid for a night's parking all year. Obviously we won't be returning and certainly would never recommend the place.

We'll be out of here early!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fort Laramie and History

It never ceases to amaze me that we can stop in a little tiny town (Lingle, WY pop. 510) and discover so many wonderful things to see.

We found the Fort Laramie National Historic Site just a few miles west of the park near the town of Fort Laramie. It was established in 1834 as a private fur trading post and later became a military fort to help protect the thousands of migrants using the Oregon Trail and Mormon Trail.

Of course, our first stop was the visitor center which happened to be the old commisary of the fort.

And we loved the authentic teepee inside the visitor center.

Outside, we wandered over to the barracks. Some of the doors are open to the public and the inside is decorated as if the soldiers just stepped outside onto the parade grounds.

The bunks and equipment as well as the dining areas were a step back into time.

Then, we happened upon this marvelous woman who was not only dressed in authentic costume but acted the part as well. Referring to herself as if she had just stepped out of her covered wagon, she spoke at length about the trials and tribulations of being on the Oregon Trail for months.

She was able to answer every question from the construction of the wagon and the care of the oxen to the preparation of meals and clothing. Easily the most fascinating part of the day.

We strolled the rest of the fort, peering into the officers quarters (they lived quite well) and getting a feel for life in a military operation.

Leaving Fort Laramie, we drove 15 miles further west to the Oregon Trail Ruts Historic Site near Guernsey, WY.

This is the best preserved path of the wagons, animals and people crossing the Oregon Trail. The trail, across a sandstone ridge, was worn between two and six feet deep in places. Truly amazing, the hardships that were endured.

And just a few miles away is Register Cliff. It's the huge sandstone cliff in the background.

Adjacent to an emigrant campground, thousands of travelers have carved their names into the soft sandstone to declare that they had made the trek across the United States. Unfortunately the practice has continued until the present day and we had to search for the names and dates of original emigrants. There were many, many inscriptions dating back to the mid 1800's.

It was a long, hot day of sightseeing but the history came to life for a little while.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Heading South

With the temperatures dropping at night, we have had to turn the heaters on so it's time to head back south. During the day we've been experiencing temps in the high eighties and low nineties but we have such thin blood now that we don't like being cold.

We packed up the coach and headed south on Hwy 14A through Deadwood again. Oops, I didn't realize that there was a huge car show this weekend. Stop and go traffic through town cost us close to an hour although Doug thoroughly enjoyed the old cars. I was nervous as heck cuz he was watching the cars when I thought he should be focusing on the stopped car in front of us. But we made it through without a problem.

From there is was an lovely, easy drive through the Black Hills National Forest and into Wyoming. Once we crossed into Wyoming, the roads seemed to become much nicer for travel.

We stopped at several historical markers including this scenic view over Salt Creek Overlook.

The view was spectacular and Doug took lots of pictures.

But what you didn't see in the above photo is the barb wire fence he climbed over to stand on that rock overlooking the valley. Sometimes he drives me crazy. (Although he wasn't the first to do so considering the condition of the barb wire fence.)

By 5 pm we had covered a little over 200 miles and arrived in the town of Lingle, WY. Another Passport America park, Pony Soldier RV Park, was waiting for us with a mostly empty park.

Doug chose a site at the end of a row with a little shade, a picnic table and lots of privacy.

It's not a fancy park but the owner is friendly and helpful. There's a nice laundry room (which we don't need) as well as a book exchange (which I always need).

We'll be here a few days because there is quite a bit to see in this area.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Running Around

Whew......what a busy day running errands. A little after noon we received a call that our new air conditioner shroud had arrived at Green Star RV.

We already had a couple bags of unnecessary stuff loaded in the car for Goodwill, so we dropped that off on our way into Rapid City. And we didn't even buy anything more!

Then we went to Green Star Rv for the shroud and a new motor for the bathroom fan. Ouch....that stop was expensive, but nice people to deal with. Around the corner was an auto parts store where Doug picked up some paint to make the shroud match the coach.

From there we went to Americas Mailbox to pick up our mail before we leave town and then a quick stop at a pawn shop we passed. Doug is looking for a used lapidary saw but no luck there.

After filling the gas tank, we hit the grocery store and finally got home about 7 pm. Pooped!

Still, Doug found time to paint the air conditioner cover and while it was drying he climbed up on the roof to dismantle the bathroom fan. With my expert help (lol), he changed out the fan motor, put it back together and turned the switch. It worked.....yay!

It was after dark by the time he reinstalled the new air conditioner shroud on the roof and we called it a day.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


A neighbor suggested, a couple days ago, to be sure and take a ride along Hwy 14A, the Boulder Canyon. Since it was the road to Deadwood we thought today would be a good day to check it out.It was a nice, curvy road up into the hills and down through the canyon but not unlike anything we have already seen.

As we came into Deadwood we thought we would stop at the visitor center for more information. There's a huge parking lot and what surprised us was the parking meters at every single parking spot. Kinda made us mad so we skipped the visitor center.

We drove through town and there was absolutely no place to park that didn't have a meter. There were a lot of old and cool buildings but they all seemed to be casinos or restaurants. We were definitely not impressed with Deadwood.

So, we continued on along Hwy 14A through the town of Lead and several miles further we took the turnoff at Cheyenne Crossing towards Spearfish.

At last we finally found something wonderful. The narrow road winds through Spearfish Canyon following a lovely stream called Spearfish Creek for 20 miles. There were many places to stop and enjoy the scenery and most had fish, so Doug was in heaven.

It took almost two hours to drive the 20 miles with so much to see. This stop was Roughlock Falls. Beautiful and cool amidst the trees.

From there we took a detour down a dirt road to the filmsite of Dances With Wolves. I've never seen the movie so it didn't mean much to me, but Doug was thrilled.

Our next stop was Bridal Veil Falls. These reminded me of the some of the falls in Washington and Oregon. We had a nice visit with a gentleman who had ridden his bike eight miles uphill from Spearfish and then was going to coast back down. He advised us to check out the fish hatchery when we hit Spearfish.

So we did! And were we ever glad! It was fabulous. We arrived late in the day and we had the park mostly to ourselves.

The D. C. Booth hatchery was established in 1896 and filled with wood troughs and running water. Today it serves more as a living fisheries museum for the public. It's like a beautiful park.

There's a replica of an old Fisheries Railcar used when railroad cars transported fish across the country.

Hatchery workers used boats like Yellowstone Boat #39 to collect trout eggs on Yellowstone Lake to be brought back to the hatcheries.

We were disappointed that the museum was closed.

But I did get a picture of Doug with his new best friend.

There was so much to see that Spearfish will be on our list for a return visit.

To top off a lovely day, we had a full moon rise over the hilltops to guide us home.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Flying Air Conditioner Covers

Crazy winds pushed us right out of Rushmore Shadows, north on I-90. We were buffeted for quite a few miles while listening to strange noises on the roof. Then, BAM......Doug watched in the rear mirrors as the air conditioner shroud flew behind us onto the freeway.

He pulled over as quickly as possible at 70 mph, then ran back to try and retrieve the cover. Thank heavens there weren't any cars behind us when it blew off. The shroud isn't heavy but it is large and sure could do some damage if it had hit someone.

The surprising part is that Doug had checked both of the covers when he was on the roof just before we left the park. Later we were told that the material becomes very brittle after several years under the hot sun and will just snap if the wind gets underneath.

We continued on another 20 miles after stowing the pieces in the car until we came to the Bulldog Creek Campground. The office was empty with instructions to proceed with a self-check-in. Half of the park has been shut down already for the winter. Their moneymaker time is the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

As soon as we got settled, we jumped in the car and headed back to Rapid City to try and find a new air conditioner shroud. Green Star RV had one they said would be a good substitute but after comparing it with the destroyed one, it was apparent that we would need to order the correct one.

Our plan (carved in jello) was to begin our journey south on Wednesday but that will probably change since we need to wait for our purchase. Hopefully Thursday or Friday.

Pics tomorrow of the park.

Near Sturgis

Bulldog Creek Campground is the park we chose for hanging out for the next few days. We're located about 5 miles south of Sturgis where it's very peaceful.

As you can see, it's basically just a huge open field. Behind the coach and trees is I-90 but we are far enough away that it is very quiet.

And this is the view from our front window. The hills are beautiful and the pasture contains two horses that we enjoy watching. There are even deer if we are vigilant.

Here is another shot of the park. It's really empty. There are a couple of other rigs but we have yet to see anyone near them.

So we are just killing time here with all the comforts of home. Tomorrow, we'll check out Deadwood.