OMG! We Bought An RV Park

Well, not QUITE an RV Park. Let’s just say we bought an improved property with multiple FULL HOOK-UP sites installed. Plus we have a “Kool Cover” for our motorhome, along with built-in Casita and storage shed. Let me explain.

The property is very similar to many sites we saw while staying in Yuma. But, although we don’t mind short visits to Yuma, we could never get excited by the idea of owning property there.

This winter was our third winter spent in Quartzsite, Arizona. And for the life of us, we seem to have fallen in love with the place. Each year, we arrive earlier and earlier, and stay later and later into the season. I cannot tell you how many messages we have received from fellow travelers who have met us here who say “You’re still there???” long after THEY have moved on to other places. And we soon will own property here. How crazy is THAT? To many, it WILL seem “crazy”. And there will be no convincing otherwise. But to us, there are enough reasons that it makes sense, we had to go with it.

We actually ran across a different property last year that we gave serious thought to for most of the year after leaving Quartzsite. It was even more of an RV Park. More spaces, plus a park model house, apt. and a garage.  Then it was off the market.  Then this year, it was back on the market. We contacted the seller. We even had most of a deal put together. But we just couldn’t pull the trigger. Before we could make up our mind, it sold.

We’ve been here so long that we’re starting to befriend some of the locals. One such couple turned us on to another property. Although we did a drive by, we just could not get a warm and fuzzy feeling about it. However, while driving through the neighborhood, we found a property that we did like and better suited what we had in mind. It was a “For Sale by Owner”. The “Owner” was on the premises, spending the winter from Washington. He’s owned it for 10 years and has loved owning it for most of that time. But a few years ago, he lost his wife. He has too many memories that they shared on the property and had decided he should sell it. Within an hour, we had struck a handshake deal. And today, we went into escrow.

Without getting too deep in the weeds, here are a few reasons we like Quartzsite, NOT necessarily in order of importance. One is affordability. Real estate here is cheap, and properties are selling because of the relatively low cost to acquire combined with the improving economy.  Another reason is proximity to Southern California where we are still “connected” family-wise, business-wise and healthcare-wise. Quartzsite is just across the border, where gas is a dollar cheaper per gallon than in California and we are just 3 hours away from where we occasionally need to be near Los Angeles. Likewise, San Diego is about the same time and distance away. Additionally, this area is a great jumping off place for the other areas of Arizona. The Colorado River is in close proximity. We can be kayaking on a beautiful portion of the Colorado River north of Parker within an hour, and be at Lake Havasu in an hour and 15 minutes. Phoenix is 125 miles. Los Algodonas for very inexpensive quality dental is about the same distance , not to mention medicines and eye care.

But, most importantly is the weather. For five months out of the year, it just can’t be beat. 65-75 degree days, cool evenings and spectacular sunsets. The other 7 months or more will be spent traveling.

One of the things we have found is that there is actually a community here of fellow travelers who have established many events and activities attractive to us geezers. As just one example, Sharon has joined the local Gem and Mineral club which includes a lapidary shop, a metal and jewelry shop and a selection of craft-related classes. She is currently in a weekly indian basket weaving class that she just loves, not only for the instruction but for the opportunity of meeting and getting to know other women, men and couples. For me, there is a local radio control airplane club complete with runway, bike paths and trails, and having a base for a few months a year to work on projects that are presently in storage.

We certainly understand that Quartzsite is not for everyone. We know that. For us, it’s going to be a winter base for several months each year. As for our “RV Park”, space is limited. Get your reservations in early. Our rates cannot be beat. 😀

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First to Quartzsite…Still Here

Just as last year, it’s hard to believe that “The Big RV Show” has come and gone almost two weeks ago and we’re still in Quartzsite. But unlike last year,  we are using “Q” as a base while we commute into California for a series of medical appointments, leaving the motorhome in our favorite RV park. Our Ooberfest event concluded nearly two weeks ago as well, with most attendees moving on while a few of us continued our boondocking on BLM land for a week or so thereafter. These are others with whom we have established relationships over the last year or two. But ultimately, everyone EXCEPT  us had moved on. Had it not been for our appointments, we too would have moved either eastward or northward.

 

 

Zack and Rayeanne

 

 

 

 

Bev and Glenn

 

 

 

Bev, Rayeanne, Kathy and Gregg

Another reason for hanging out in the Quartzsite area has to do with Quigley, our new puppy. We have been determined to complete the series of puppy shots necessary before leaving the area. Even so, we have been traveling to Lake Havasu City every week for three weeks in order to complete the process. Yesterday, he received his Rabies vaccine. We have one more trip next week. I’m wondering if things have changed because we certainly don’t remember this being so complicated and expensive in the past with our other doggies. Veterinarians certainly seem to have a license to steal these days. Just as an example, imagine our shock and outrage when finding out that the vet charges for a ‘wellness” exam with each shot, even though our visits are a week apart.

Seriously??? Is this guy worth it?

All of this has interfered with our original plans which included our intent to travel south from here to Los Algodones, Mexico just south of Yuma where we were going to check into dental services there. With the puppy, we have to have all his shots completed so that he can go with us. Right now, that is not in the cards. Maybe next year.

While camping with our friends, there is a lot of exchanging of recipes and such. Particularly as relates to Insta Pots and the like. Ours is not a Insta Pot, but is a competitor product from Go Wise that has similar features and does pretty much the same thing. These are the combo pressure/slow cookers that seem to be so popular.

One tip that we picked up on was to toss spare ribs into the pot with apple juice to be pressure cooked prior to tossing on the grill to be slathered with BBQ sauce. What resulted was the best fall-off-the-bone BBQ’d ribs we’ve ever had this side of Kansas City. OMG Yum! Yum!

When we finally DO leave here around March 1st, where will we be heading? THAT is certainly a good question that we have been asking ourselves. It certainly will be getting warmer here, so that we will be motivated to go SOMEWHERE cooler. But we’re also motivated to explore new areas where we have not been. Maybe to south Texas where our friends Robin and Larry have invited us to their “spread” between San Antonio and Houston. Or Maybe over into New Mexico from Silver City northward to Santa Fe and then up into central Colorado, weather permitting. Heck, we’ve even discussed heading all the way along the Gulf Coast from south Texas to Florida. Our only real commitment is to be in the area of the Tetons in Wyoming sometime around June 1st. Not sure if trekking all the way from Florida back to northwestern Wyoming makes a lot of sense for people on fixed incomes. We’ll see.

Oh, lest we forget, another “Q” sunset. Nearly a nightly occurrence.

 

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Back in Arizona

After two months in Los Angeles, we are back in Arizona for the winter. And I cannot tell you how great it feels. Not that we did not have a great window for Sharon to spend quality time with her 97 year old father. And not that I was not able to spend important time tackling many projects in conjunction with the motorhome. All of this, in addition to spending Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day there was a blessing.

In spite of all of this, however, was my total dissatisfaction with nearly all things California. Particularly, what California has become in recent years. I almost cannot believe that most of my life was spent as a resident there. From growing up in Northern California, to most of my military years spent there, to my 25 year corporate life there, to owning a business for 13 years there. The California of today is NOT for us. And although we are still official residents, THAT will change in the near future.

So, we’re back in Arizona. Quartzsite to be specific. Although we have enjoyed our time here for the past three winters, we know this is just a temporary “home” in winter. At all other times, it is too freeking hot here. Although we ARE looking at other more northerly locations within Arizona for a potential home base, we’re also looking outside of Arizona as well. We’ll see. We are not in any hurry, and the full-time RV lifestyle is something we love and plan on continuing.

Although we are presently hanging out in our favorite RV park here for a couple of weeks, later this month we will move about 4 miles up the road to our BLM boondocking area north of town. We will be joined by something close to 100 other RVs JUST IN OUR GROUP as part of Ooberfest 2018, the 3rd annual gathering of folks who for the most part, did not know each other prior to the event. You just sign up and show up during the third week in January coinciding with the BIG RV Show held each year in Quartzsite. It’s free and all self-contained RVs of any type are welcome. Just Google “Ooberfest”.

On another front, those that follow this blog know that we lost our longtime doggie companion “Bogie” at the end of this past July. As everyone goes through who have had pets and lost pets, we were faced with whether 1) to get another one, and 2) if so, when is the best time after the loss. For us, there was never any question as to whether we would get another doggie, but we DID wonder when that would be. We always said that it would be when it felt right.

During the Christmas holiday, we visited an animal shelter. Rescuing pets is all the rage these days. It’s almost as though it is politically correct. And I hate political correctness. Nevertheless, I AM in favor of rescuing a pet if the stars align. And the stars DID almost align with one particular doggie. But, unfortunately, we were 5th in line for this particular guy.

After getting over our momentary disappointment and chaulking it up to “it was just not meant to be”, I happened to come across a Recycler website pertaining to dogs for sale. That’s when, among the hundreds of ads, I came across an ad with THIS guy…

And after meeting his family (mom above, dad below), we negotiated a deal and drove home with him.

Ya, I know, he sort of looks like Bogie. Although that was unintended, we’re okay with it. His name is Quigley mainly because, of the list of names we came up with, he responded to “Quigley”.

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Making a Beeline for Oregon

Once we were finished effecting repairs resulting from our tire blowout in Nebraska, we headed for western Colorado to meet up with our friends Robin and Larry from Texas. We were to meet them at Mineral Creek, a national forest campground near Silverton. We had met them for the first time at this same campground two years ago and hit it off so well that they came to visit us briefly while transiting from Montana to Texas earlier this year when we were camp hosting at Flaming Gorge, Utah. We had vowed to meet up again in the fall at Mineral Creek. I guess it was a form of reunion, although delayed by more than two weeks due to the blowout. Being the folks that they are, they waited the two weeks for us to catch up.

 

 

 

 

When we finally got there, we got to meet and share fun times with THEIR friends Linus and Kaye from Michigan. We all share a love for this area of Colorado and we REALLY enjoy jeeping together, which we did over several days. What a great time.

This is a photo of Linus and Kaye heading up the trail.

 

 

 

And this one is of Larry stopping to put on something warmer as we head up to Yankee boy Basin where it was trying to snow.

 

 

This is just another spectacular Jeep trail. Elevation about 10,000 feet;

 

 

After 10 wonderful days spent between Ridgway, Ouray, and Silverton in Colorado, we said goodbye to Robin and Larry, our friends from South Texas, and pointed our rig toward Oregon.

 

 

But not before taking a photo of our beloved area surrounding Ridgway, Colorado, a place we keep returning to. You can see why.

 

 

Linus and Kaye had other commitments and had to leave several days beforehand. We had a wonderful time with them, sharing meals, playing “Sequence” and taking Jeep trips. Having said goodbye to Linus and Kaye earlier, it was now time to say our goodbyes to Robin and Larry. They were headed home, and we were headed…………somewhere.

Our original plan had called for us to arrive in Winchester Bay, Oregon in mid-September AFTER camping in Colorado. But after having our tire blowout in Nebraska, our plans fell apart, or were at least delayed. So, as we waved goodbye to Robin and Larry, we had to decide if it might not be too late for the crabbing season at Winchester Bay in Oregon. After a couple of phone calls, we were told that September and October were great months for crabbing, and that October was better than September.With that information in hand, we made a decision to make a beeline for the Oregon Coast. Covering 1200 miles in 5 days, we arrived at the marina in Winchester Bay on Sunday, October 15th.

 

Our camp at the Winchester Bay Marina.

 

 

Crabbing is addictive. And, although on a lesser scale cost-wise, it can be similar to boating wherein a boat is just a hole in the ocean in which you pour money. Although we had spent time in Winchester Bay last year, our time was spent meeting folks and learning the basics of how to crab. But we did not actually do any crabbing. Having watched others, and having been gifted with several pounds of freshly caught Dungeness Crab, we were hooked, so to speak. We promised ourselves that we would return, and here we were a year later.

There are many different ways to crab. From a boat, or from the shore or dock. With a pole, or with some form of trap on a line or rope. We had none of these things when we arrived. I had been intrigued by the idea of using a fishing pole and a “book” type of trap. Unfortunately, all our fishing poles are for trout fishing and neither the poles or the fishing line were strong enough for crabbing. So, our first order of business was to purchase a suitable heavier duty pole and reel and line. After inquiries, we were told that a “salmon” pole and reel will do, along with line of 15-20 pound test. Nearly $50 later, we had ourselves a Abu Garcia “salmon” rod and reel filled with 17 lb. test fishing line.

The crab trap that is usually used with a fishing pole is referred to as a “book” trap, basically a rectangular wire frame with netting. You hook it to your fishing line and, after baiting it, you cast it out or straight down. As it settles on the bottom where the crab are (crab don’t swim), the trap lays flat, as if an open book. But when you reel it in, the trap closes, as if closing a book, hopefully with one or more crabs trapped inside the closed “book”. We had no “book”-type crab traps. So we bought one at Walmart. Little did we know that, within 24 hours, we would buy two more.

So, now we had our gear. All that remained was to get a license. Yes, you need a license. A shellfish license to be exact. We also needed bait. It turns out that crab love chicken legs. So, we bought a package of drumsticks. And then we bought a bottle of “crab fuel”, a pink concoction that supposedly is an attractant. You pour this liquid into a zip lock bag with your chicken and let it marinate. Hhmmm…good.

With gear, license and marinated bait in hand, we made our first cast from a dock just below our campsite at the marina. Almost immediately, we had fish, er crab, in our trap. We didn’t know that we did, but after about 5 or 10 minutes, it’s always nice to check. So, we reeled our trap in and, what do you know, we had two crabs in our closed ‘book”. This brings us to the next problem.

In Oregon, you can only take male crabs. And even at that, the males have to be of a certain minimum size…at least 5.75 inches as measured across the widest part of the shell using a plastic gauge for the purpose. Of the two crabs we caught, the largest was a female…over 5.75 inches. The other, a male, was too small. Both had to be thrown back. This went on for a couple of hours. We would catch crab, but none were legal.

Finally, we caught a “legal” male. But not before having lost our Walmart crab trap. It seemed that a $.25 cent clamp had failed, allowing the trap to separate from the fishing line and fall into the water. Gone. Having just landed our first “keeper”, we could not get to our local marina tackle shop (read expensive) quick enough to purchase another book trap. But, on the basis of wanting to be prepared in case we lose another, we bought two…along with a few stronger swivel clamps.

To give you  an idea as to this guys size, he is in a 5-gallon Costco soap bucket.

So, back to crabbing. Lots of crabs caught, one or two at a time due to the relative small size of the trap. All illegal. It was at this point that we began to wonder what all the females were going to do to reproduce if the mature males were the only ones being caught. We decided that the State of Oregon surely had thought of that.

Most of those on the dock with us were using more traditional crab traps which are 24” x 24” cages about 12” tall.. These traps can accommodate many more crab than a book trap. It did not take long for us to decide that we probably should have one of these. And $45 later, we DID have one, along with 50 feet of rope and a very nice bait cage to go INSIDE of the crab trap (cage).

We noticed that those that had these larger more traditional traps were soaking them for several hours, and even over night. Then we read online that these traps are supposed to be checked fairly frequently. Unfortunately, we did not read this until AFTER having soaked the trap overnight, which helped to explain why, the next morning, our trap was empty and our bait was almost entirely gone except the leg bones. We wondered how this could happen. Was someone sneaking out to the dock in the dark of night to steal our crab? Although stranger things have happened, we got our answer when with subsequent catches in our trap, the crab were a bit undersized to be legal, but they were still good eaters. In fact, the size of the holes in the cage are such that smaller crabs can escape, essentially coming and going as they please AFTER eating all of our bait. Such is the reason that you are warned to pull your pots frequently to check for crabs, and also to preserve your bait. Duh!!

Although we started off slow, our success started to ramp up. Unfortunately, a fierce storm hit the Oregon coast, a storm that was almost non-stop for about 72 hours. Constant rain and near hurricane force winds can interfere with a crabber’s best intentions. Oh well, we came to crab. So, we dug out our rain gear and perservered, setting and checking traps in between the worst portions of the storm.

Interestingly, our biggest catches came during the storm. As this is written, we have 15 crabs in the freezer and we’re not done. We are happy campers.

 

And the sunsets here are not bad either…

 

Stay tuned, as we wrap up our time crabbing in Winchester Bay, Oregon.

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Blow’n It In Scotts Bluff, Nebraska

After leaving the Black Hills of South Dakota, we headed south toward the panhandle of Nebraska.

In our 15 months of being on the road, we have met many fellow RVers and heard stories of mechanical ills and the like that they had encountered.. Everything from broken windshields to accidents involving other vehicles to bad batteries, etc. It is a fact of the RV lifestyle that things can and will happen. Although we had not had any misfortunes since becoming full-timers, we knew that someday our time might come and we have tried to be ready and not surprised when that time comes. That time came when we were 36 miles north of Scott’s Bluff on a lonely state highway that crosses thousands and thousands of acres of farm and ranch land.

Without warning from our onboard tire pressure monitor, we had a blowout on our inside rear passenger side tire. It was as if a hand grenade went off, and the damage that was caused was similar to what a grenade will do. In addition to the total destruction of the tire, the blowout exploded a hole through the top of the wheel well, and through the sub-floor below our shower. Above the wheel well, which is nothing more than sandwich of thin aluminum, styrofoam and another layer of thin aluminum, there is a sub-floor of plywood and 2 x 6 inch joists supporting the shower with its own plywood base. Everything EXCEPT the shower and its plywood base was destroyed. The wood pieces in the photo which show screw heads were part of my repair. When I was done, everything was sealed up with thicker pieces of plywood and a thin sheet of steel and then rubberized undercoating.

There was other damage as well. The blowout exploded forward as well as to the rear. The carcass remnants that were shot forward took out the rubber isolator that was part of the tailpipe hanger. This allowed the tailpipe tip and exhaust pipe to be free swaying until the tailpipe went into the blown out tire and rim, passing under the rim, being twisting 90 degrees toward the rear of the coach, and driven into the pavement. It had to be cut off in order to proceed. Fortunately, we were able to drive the coach since the cutoff portion of the tailpipe was AFTER the muffler. Even so, it would not be until arriving in Grand Junction, Colorado where a new tailpipe and hanger were welded on.

Without at least a 10-ton bottle jack, changing out a blown tire and installing a spare tire is just about impossible on a motorhome. Although we DO have a 20-ton jack NOW, we did not at the time. Fortunately, we have road service coverage and were able to make a call to get a tow company to drive the 36 miles and install the spare. Because it was into the evening before the motorhome was drivable once again, we opted to spend the night off the highway in a rancher’s pasture. We thank the Flaretys for their hospitality.

Rex, one of our camp buddies in Wyoming, lives in Scott’s Bluff. We knew that he had also agreed to be a camp host and was not due to be back at home quite yet.

Being the pranksters that we are, we thought we would park in front of his house ( we had his address), take a photo and text it to him with the message “Guess where we are?”. It was not going to be out of our way since we were heading for Colorado anyway. Although we knew our friend was still working as a camp host up at our former campground in Wyoming, what we did not know was that he would arrive home the same day this photo was taken. It all worked out. He received the photo and then drove to the RV park where we were staying.

Ultimately, although unplanned, we got to know the Scotts Bluff area and the history that includes the bluff itself being a key landmark for pioneers heading west on the Oregon Trail. We were able to tour the area in between repairs,  and also had visits with our friend Rex at his home and over dinner at a great mexican restaurant. In all, we wound up spending two weeks in the area at a city-owned RV park in Gering, which is a suburb of Scotts Bluff. This allowed us to make repairs.

Through all this, we got a great education regarding date codes on RV tires. When we bought our motorhome about 18 months ago, the dealer indicated that they had put “new’ tires on. And we don’t doubt that the Goodyears that they installed were new to them. AND, we had put over 10,000 miles on them prior to the blowout. Nevertheless, when it dawned on us to check the date codes on the Goodyears, we were shocked to find that they had been manufactured in 2008. The tires were over 9 years old. When it comes to RV tires, the rule of thumb is 5-8 years. So, even though the tires had lots of tread and had good looking sidewalls, they were just too old. And in light of not knowing for sure what the cause of the blowout was, we no longer had any confidence in the Goodyears. Before we left Scotts Bluff, we had a complete new set of Cooper Roadmasters with date codes indicating they were manufactured in June of 2017.

 

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From Northwestern Wyoming to the Black Hills

Although we had a wonderful time spending a significant portion of the summer in northwestern Wyoming, we also had the devastaion and loss of having lost Bogie, our pet and companion. Certainly, the last couple of weeks there was because we were having such a hard time leaving him behind. Ultimately, as hard as it was, we realized it was time to move on.

Looking back, it was hard to believe that we rolled into Lander, Wyoming on July 1st, staying there for a total of 5 days including celebrating the 4th of July there, and then moved past Dubois up into the Absaroka Mountains about 30 miles east of Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks, spending about 5 weeks at Falls Campground which we used as our base for exploring the greater area of that part of Wyoming. From that camp, we traveled down the mountain to Jackson Hole and the town of Jackson. We kayaked a few times on Jackson Lake in the Tetons and otherwise sought out Jeep trails and the abundant wildlife that is there, including Bison, Moose, Antelope and, of course bears. Before we were done, we had had close encounters with a black bear and a Grizzly. Nothing dangerous. Just a photo shoot.

This “Grizz” was just out for a walk when we encountered him on an open plain near Towgotee Pass. We were no more than 50 yards from him

One of the joys included in our travels are the people we meet and, in some cases, develop relationships with. Such was the case while camping at Falls Campground, where we met Doug, Rex and Richard and Justin.

Doug is a former Marine and airline pilot who lives in northeastern Kansas.This is Doug with his sidekick Hank. Hank is on the right. 🙂

Rex is an agronomist who has lived most of his 71 years in Scott’s Bluff, Nebraska. Richard was our camp host. He’s from South Carolina and has been traveling to this area as a camp host for the summer for the past nine years. Justin is the local Forest Service Ranger and district supervisor. We spent many hours together just hanging out, sharing meals and circling around campfires.

Once we left that area, we headed east from Yellowstone to Cody, Wyoming where we spent five days exploring the area and visiting the William F. Cody Center of the West Museums. I say “museums” plural because there are five museums under one roof. This is a must see when in Cody.

 

Among the five museums under one roof,  the Cody Firearms Museum was a hands down favorite. More than 7.000 guns on display, covering several large rooms. It is a signicant historical display of weapons that goes way beyond guns that tamed the west.

 

 

We had a few day trips, including traveling the Chief Joseph Highway and the famous Beartooth Highway (known as America’s Highway) up into Red lodge, Montana.

 

 

In fact, while we were traveling Beartooth, we ran across these guys at 11,000 feet.

From Cody, we continued east up into the Bighorn Mountains where we boondocked on top for a night before heading further east down off the Bighorns, arriving in Sheridan, Wyoming. Since Sheridan was such a short drive from our boondock, we continued south on Interstate 90 to Buffalo, Wyoming. Interestingly, this was our first Interstate travel in about 5 months. We DO NOT miss driving on Interstates, but sometimes it quickly gets us from here to there.

Our destination once heading east across northern Wyoming, was to be the Black Hills of South Dakota. We had not been there before. Just prior to crossing into South Dakota, Interstate 90 took us to the turnoff for Devils Tower, which is in the extreme northeastern corner of Wyoming.

Even though we had seen many photos of this National Monument in the past, we were not prepared for what we saw when, after turning a corner on a country back road, we were suddenly face-to-face with it. Rising 1257 feet above anything around it, it was just awe inspiring. We spent two days in the campground just below the tower, using the time to relax and explore the area within the National Monument boundary. Because of the sheer vertical nature of the Tower, we wondered if anyone climbed it, or whether folks are even allowed to climb it. We asked a Ranger who said “Oh yes, about 5,000 people a year In fact, there are about 200 people here to climb right now.” WOW!!

From Devils Tower, we continued on backroads crossing into South Dakota. Although we spent some re-supply time in Spearfish, South Dakota, we took the exit just south of town that took us up into the Black Hills and Deadwood, South Dakota where we spent a couple of days. Deadwood, and the adjacent Lead (pronounced LEED) are both historic gold rush towns well worth exploring, which we did in “spades”.

The Black Hills are an isolated range of mountains running north to south about 60 miles and east to west about 40 miles. At the north end are Spearfish, Deadwood, Lead, and Sturgis, all unique with their own glorious histories and stories to be preserved.

 

 

At the southern end of the Black Hills is Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse and Custer State Park and Rapid City. Before leaving this area, we would visit each of these places and otherwise drive the backroads through the Black Hills.

 

 

Relating to Mt. Rushmore, although seeing this Monument in person is awe inspiring, the Visitor Center with its extensive focus on the engineering and labor that it took the sculptor and his team to literally blast and carve what we see today is amazing and well worth spending some time pouring over all that is there. Well worth the visit.

 

We totally enjoyed our time in this area of South Dakota. Lots to see and do. We’ll be back

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Wyoming Political Statement

Sign posted in area of “Open Range” along Chief Joseph Scenic Highway between Red Lodge, Montana and Cody, Wyoming…

 

 

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Bogie – R.I.P.

Bogie Selfie

On Friday, July 28, 2017, we lost Bogie, our best friend. There were three of us on this on-the-road, full-time adventure. Now there are two, and our hearts are broken.

Bogie came to us about 12 years ago, and was probably about 3 years old even then. He was always more than a companion. And he was always with us. When we had our business, he was our shop dog and customer greeter. He even had his own fan club. People would come into our showroom and we would ask “Can we help you?” Often times, the response would be “Oh, we just came to see Bogie”. Not exactly good for business, but he more than made up for it in what he gave us and others.

When we went anywhere locally, he was always on the center arm rest riding with us. When we traveled on longer trips, whether in the motorhome or in the car, he was with us. And for more than a year since we have become “full-timers”, he has been with us traveling to Glacier National Park, to the Pacific Northwest, to Southern Arizona, to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. He’s even floated on inner tubes with us down the Dechutes River in Bend, Oregon.

Several months ago, Bogie began having labored breathing and fluid build-up in his lungs. He was diagnosed with a heart murmer and an enlarged liver, consistent with old age. Medications were prescribed which were helpful in dramatically improving his quality of life. But we were warned that we were only buying him some time. A few weeks ago, he took a turn for the worse. He would eat less frequently and was dramatically losing weight.

Even so, since being in the Teton and Yellowstone area, we would take him for day trips here and there and he would insist on either looking out the windshield or sticking his nose and entire head out the open side window, taking in the fresh air, and let the wind blow his hair back. He always seemed to enjoy that.

 

Ultimately, time caught up with our dear friend. Part of our decision to stay here for a few weeks was because we knew we would ultimately leave here without him.

On a recent day trip into the back country, somewhat close to our camp, we came upon a spot that overlooked one of the most beautiful valleys we have ever seen in all of our travels.

We know it’s crazy, but Bogie’s final resting place is in this spot. With all due respect to veterinarians, we just could not turn Bogie over to a Vet that we did not know to be disposed of by whatever means they utilize. So, on Saturday, Bogie was buried high in the Absaroka Mountains of Wyoming, just outside of Grand Teton National Park. A beautiful and wild spot worthy of Bogie.

 

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High Country Camping in Wyoming – A Cure for Procrastination

As this post is being written, we are about 10 days into a 16 day stay in a national forest campground in northwestern Wyoming in close proximity to both Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. There are many ways to approach Yellowstone and the Tetons. We have come into the area on Highway 26, approaching from the east due to our decision to stay awhile in Lander, Wyoming which was the subject of our last post and the place where we spent the 4th of July. We still have great memories of our time spent there.

Having several campgrounds to choose from, we were looking for one that was fairly close to the highway. As is often the case, roads into many otherwise beautiful areas and campgrounds can be fairly challenging. Maybe not for our Jeep, but certainly a bit of a problem sometimes for a 37 foot motorhome. For this reason, we almost always use our Jeep to check out areas before driving the motorhome into a situation that might prove problematic.

In our present location, the campground was just off the highway and, much to our surprise, had a loop, “Loop A”, that included electric at each site and water in close proximity, along with restrooms. Using our Senior Pass, we are in for $10 per day. You can’t beat this kind of deal, especially with an electrical hook-up. So, we decided to stay the entire 16 days that is allowed in national forests in this part of the country.

Located on Highway 26, we are about halfway between Dubois, Wyoming and Moran Junction in Grand Teton National Park. We are pretty much in high country, with the Continental Divide and Towgotee Pass no too far up the road, both of which are around 9600 feet. Our elevation here at the campground is 8,500 feet, which explains the early morning and evening cool temps and daytime temps that are in the low 80s.

We have used our camp as a base for taking day trips into the national parks. Although we have about a 30 mile drive just to get TOO the Grand Tetons, it’s such a spectacular drive that we have not minded. By comparison, a national forest campground in Grand Teton, with electrical hook-up can be well over $55 per day. Even with our Senior Pass, the cost would be $37.50 per day. Not so bad if your a Senior who is on vacation, but for full-timers, $37.50 per day is a bit much for just electric and community water. Even if we CAN afford it, we’d rather spend our money in other ways.

Even though we have visited the Tetons previously on a few occasions, we are always surprised at how these mountains and peaks rise so dramatically above the valley which is Jackson Hole. And approaching these mountains as we have this time from the east, causes us to climb down from a high pass in which, after many sweeping right and left hand curves of the road, we are suddenly and shockingly looking at the Tetons straight on without warning. Just spectacular.

We haven’t even scratched the surface of the wildlife that is here, and we’ve already seen a grizzly bear, a herd of buffalo, an elk and several antelope. And that’s BEFORE heading into Yellowstone where we’re sure to see more.

 

 

PROJECTS

I guess I’ve always been a procastinator. Anything that can be done today certainly can be put off until later. A great example of this has to do with the front brake on my bicycle. For some time now, the front brake has not fully engaged when I squeeze the lever on the handle bar. I had initially analyzed that the cable down near the brake pads needed adjusting. This is a simple fix. You just use a crescent wrench to loosen the nut, stretch the cable with a pair of pliers and simultaneously tighten the nut. It takes all of one minute, maybe less. Knowing this, why did it take until today to finely get around to it after putting up with less than full braking for at least several months?

Staying in one place for a length of time is not only a great way to wind down from traveling from place-to-place. It’s also a chance to catch up on projects that invariably pile up when on the road like adjusting my brakes. Sharon’s bike has also been in need of a new bicycle chain since her old one broke when we were in Quartzsite. That was back in early March. And, although I had ordered a new one right away, we have been traveling around with the bikes on the bike rack behind the motorhome since then. It’s now July. Time to put the new chain on.

And then, there is the Fantastic Fan in the bathroom. Several months ago, the fan quit working. A quick check of the fuse at the time revealed that the fuse was fine. Then procrastination set in. I rationalized that having the roof vent open was enough. No need for a fan. Today, it gets fixed. Using my multimeter (volt meter), I tested whether I had current at the wall switch. I did. Next, I tested whether current was flowng through the fuse. It was. Then I tested for current through the 3-speed switch. There was current. That left only the wires going to the motor. I quickly figured out that the ground wire from the motor was loose and not making contact sufficiently to allow the motor to run. After tightening the wire, the fan works perfectly. The whole process, including unscrewing the screen frame for access to everything, took all of a few minutes. So why did we put up with an in-operating fan literally for months? Procrastination.

I’m happy to report that I’ve resolved the above mentioned “projects” and have added new ones to my list. I’m thinking I’ll get to those…soon. Maybe tomorrow. 🙂

Happy Trails from Wyoming!

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4th of July in Lander, Wyoming

We never intended to wind up in Lander, Wyoming. Since leaving Flaming Gorge in Utah, we were heading north on US Highway 191 toward the Tetons and Yellowstone. After camping with Linda and Ken, our road buddies that we met in Bend, Oregon last year, we caravaned with them, boondocking at Walmart in Rock Springs, Wyoming. In fact, we boondocked there for a couple of days, all of us being cheapskates. Free camping is free camping.

And besides, it was time to re-supply there anyway. After some good times, shared dinners, and extremely competitive games of “Sequence”, it was finally time to part company. They to Pueblo, Colorado, and us to the Tetons.

Even though we were underway, at one of our rest breaks I took a look at our map and saw that we had a choice about which side of the Wind River Mountain Range we wanted to travel. Regardless, both routes would lead us to the Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. We had been on 191 all the way to Jackson, Wyoming in the past. So, it was an easy decision to turn on Highway 28 and head around the south end of the Wind River Range toward Lander.

Not having done our homework, we were surprised that Wyoming Highway 28 followed the routes of the Oregon, Mormon and California Trails, not to mention passing in close proximity to South Pass City and Atlantic City, both known for gold and outlaws. Butch Cassidy is probably the most famous of the outlaws that ventured to the area. In his case, he was captured by the Lander Sheriff and eventually sent to prison. South Pass itself was the route that allowed the pioneers to get over the mountains as they headed west. This area also marked the “Parting of the Ways”, a junction on the original Oregon Trail whereby those heading to Oregon went one way, while another trail led to Utah and California.

Lander, Wyoming turned out to be a very pleasant surprise to us. When you think of Wyoming, you think of cowboys and a “country” way of life. That’s Lander. Cowboy hats, big buckles, plaid shirts, Wrangler jeans, and boots are the uniform of the day.

The town has a lot of pioneer history, with many of its 7500 residents being direct descendants of those who came here either by covered wagon, on horseback, or on foot. This region is also home to the Arapaho and Shoshone indian tribes, both of whom share the Wind River Reservation just north of lander.

All in all, we spent 5 days in Lander, including the 4th of July. The first three days, we camped along the Po Po Agie (pronounced Po PoAshue) River as it passes through the Lander City Park. You can camp in the City Park for free for a maximum of 3 days. On the 4th, we attended a rodeo, and watched the town’s 4th of July parade sitting in our lawn chairs along the sidewalk on Main St. Later that evening, we watched one of the best fireworks displays we’ve ever seen from the top of a hill overlooking the town. Rather than having one professionally produced fireworks “show” at a single location, we were entertained by spectacular fireworks launched by individuals and groups throughout the town and entire valley. Starting at about 9:00 p.m., which is sunset in these parts, the “show” lasted until well past midnight.

There are two museums in Lander, both on the same property. One is the Pioneer Museum, and the other is the Museum of the American West. Both are well worth a visit. One really cool aspect is the “town” that has been recreated outside the Museums, with actual restored buildings. Everything from a Mercantile Store to a newspaper office to a livery stable, as well as an authentic pioneer church and homesteader’s cabin are all on site.

While here, we drove the city looking at the various neighborhoods. We like to do that as we travel. And we love grabbing brochures of the homes that are for sale. It kind of gives you a feel for the pride and economics of the area. We found most of the neighborhoods to be high on pride of ownership. And home prices were quite reasonable. You can find million dollar homes anywhere. But, we found nice homes in nice neighborhoods for $150,00-$300,000.

Lander is not near anywhere. If one needs a big city, it’s probably Salt Lake or Denver, both of which are several hundred miles distant. Perhaps, in a sense, that’s a good thing. We talked with many residents of Lander and all of them loved living here. From the young couple who’s families moved here from San Diego, to “Noni” (short for Winona) who has lived here since 1942, they say Lander has all they need and is a great place to live and raise a family or to retire.

 

We felt that during our short time here. Everyone we met was warm and friendly and welcoming. And you can’t beat the beautiful scenery of the area, including the snow-capped Wind River Range as a backdrop to the town. We’ll be back.

 

 

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