Thinking of Cpl. Scrimshaw

On this Memorial Day, I am thinking of Cpl. Wayne Gregory Scrimshaw, a fellow Marine. I’ve been thinking of him since June 13, 1969. Thinking especially, of all the things I have been able to do with my life, and how his was cut short. Every Memorial Day, and periodically throughout each and every year since then I think of him. In some ways, he has been an inspiration for me.

Although we never met, we served together in Vietnam. He was serving in a sandbagged bunker dug into the side of a hill at Firebase Vandegrif in the Vietnamese highlands, while I was stationed at the airbase at Quang Tri many miles away.

Cpl. Scrimshaw was from Lakeland, Florida. In 1969, he was 22 and married. In June of that year, he was getting ready to leave for Hawaii to meet his wife for some R&R (Rest & Relaxation). I was scheduled to fly to Vandegrif to relieve him. We talked on a field phone a few times between Vandegrif and Quang Tri in preparation for his departure and my arrival.

Although I did replace Cpl. Scrimshaw, it came much too soon as a result of a terrible accident that resulted in his passing. Although it’s been nearly 49 years since we served together, it is as if it was yesterday.

I’m thinking of Cpl. Scrimshaw today, and probably will think of him for the rest of my life. Perhaps we will finally meet some day. I would consider that an honor.

I’m well aware that Cpl. Scrimshaw’s is but one story as we celebrate this Memorial weekend honoring those who have served and sacrificed. In the hustle and bustle of life, and the celebration of holidays, we might be excused if the meaning sometimes gets lost. Cpl. Scrimshaw is my reminder.

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Northbound at Last

We finally left Quartzsite during the first week in May. That is WAY too long to still be in that area. Temperatures really start rising. It was forecasted to be 106 degrees on the day we left. If you had told us that we would still be there into May, we would have laughed. But then, if you had told us that we would have bought a winter place there in March, we would have just looked at you funny. But we did, and that is at least part of the reason for staying beyond the typical Quartzsite “season”.

Sharon made a two week trip over to California to visit her 97 year old dad and otherwise take care of things related to his wellfare, leaving me alone with Quigley. But that was okay because there were things to do. I wanted to get started on building an additional shed. The property already has a really nice one adjacent to our patio but another one will be needed to contain some of our remaining “stuff” that remains in storage over in California. This shed will be a barn-like 10×12 foot structure with a Gambrel roof. I wanted to at least get the floor framing, sheathing and skids finished before leaving. Although we purchased the lumber to complete the framing of the walls, we decided to store that portion until Fall when we return. The Casita on the property is very well built and insulated such that it stays relatively cool even when temperatures climb. As for the portion I DID complete, hopefully it will survive the summer.

Another project that I was able to complete was to refinish our kitchen drawers and cabinets below the countertop in the motorhome. Lots of block sanding, staining and finishing up with a satin polyurethane coating or two.

Ultimately though, Sharon returned from California and we set about packing up for our slow roll northbound toward the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone where we will be camp hosting for the summer.

As this is being written, we have just wrapped up our stay in Williams, Arizona. Suffice it to say, it was much cooler in Williams than in Quartzsite. Williams is a quirky little town that primarily services the many tourists visiting the Grand Canyon. It has Route 66 roots as well, having been a main stop for those traveling west on the “Mother Road” back in the day. The town has kind of grown on us over the last few years. With each visit, we try to venture out and about in an effort to better appreciate the area. While boondocking just a couple miles out of town at one of our favorite spots, we managed to get in a few more road trips. One such trip was to take the Jeep to the top of Bill Williams Mountain which sits immediately south of the town. At 9,100 feet, the 360 degree views were beyond belief. This particular photo is looking out toward Sedona.

And, of course, we had to take in at least one of the breweries in town, the Historic Barrel & Bottle House. She had the Oceanfront Property, an Arizona Lager using a Mexican recipe, while I had the Farmers Tan, a Pale Wheat Ale.

Although summer has not arrived as yet, there are quite a few folks in town, many of whom are here to visit and/or ride the train to the Grand Canyon.

As we continue northbound, we will continue to spend time in Northern Arizona visiting the Grand Canyon and Lake Powell. Then, maybe over to Colorado.

Who knows? Such is the life of the nomadic traveler. Stay tuned.

This sunset photo taken from our boondock site just outside of Williams, Arizona.

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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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