May 1, 2017 –
Woke up in Provo, UT RV Park – Lakeside RV Park – we needed to head over to Camping World today and see about getting a front bike hitch for the RV, so break down the site.
Today Tamara learned how to unhook everything, but watched Brian actually disconnect the grey/black hose and clean it out (YICK). Disconnected the water, electric & cable. We forgot to make sure that the lock was on the door to the shower – so it decided to swing open while we were on our travels today. Still trying to figure out a place for everything, and everything in its place BEFORE we leave, but that will happen I’m sure.
Traveled to Camping World in 2 vehicles – Brian in the RV and Tamara in the rental. Camping World was in Draper, UT, approx. 30 minutes down the road, not too long of a drive. Of course – they did not have the item we needed for the bike, but we were able to get a water filter that fits on the hose line so Brian doesn’t have to taste the city water.
After that it was off to Hertz – drop off the rental, then back to Walmart AGAIN. Needed some groceries and a surge protector so that we can set up the TV, Kody Box and the Hard Drive – everything needs a plug. Then it was off lunch with a friend from Tamara’s days growing up in Santa Cruz, CA. Amy Hodap Olson met us at Café Zupas in Orem, UT. We had a great lunch and chat – almost 2 ½ hours of catching up on our families, and what we’ve been doing for 25 years. It’s amazing the things that mean something to someone else.
Amy shared in 1995 at the 10 year High School Reunion for Harbor High, Santa Cruz, CA Tamara had given a prayer at the event, that meant a lot to her, and she still thought of that, also the times they shared in Primary and Young Women’s groups in the Santa Cruz 1st Ward, Santa Cruz Stake. There were only 4 girls in that class, and so she remembered how much fun we had.
Tamara shared with Amy that in 1985 at the Senior Art Show/Sale Amy had a painting – a large one of a purple castle in the sky. In every home/apartment she’s ever lived in, that painting has hung as a reminder of Amy and those high school years. Tamara also shared about how much she enjoyed going to Amy’s house on Sundays between Sunday School and Sacrament and enjoying Amy’s mom’s cooking. Yummy.
Next it was off to get gas – fuel for the vehicle & propane for the RV. Need the Propane if we want a hot shower tomorrow.
So the Squirrel Tour continues – we’re now heading through Provo Canyon towards Duchesne, Altamont and Vernal, UT.
We took some great photos as we drove through Provo Canyon including the photos of Bridal Veil Falls and other great scenery. We hope you like them.
We arrived in Altamont, UT around 4 pm and drove through – now you might ask why, but this is where Tamara lived as a child from 1974-1975. The photos we’re including include a photo of the old movie theater, the new elementary school that must have replaced the school that was there in 1974, and the church building. On 2/2/1975 Tamara was baptized as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in this building, and then confirmed a member on 2/3/1975. She has fond memories of this little wide spot in the road, though the time spent there was short, and a very long time ago.
Later our drive continued thru Roosvelt to Vernal, UT where we are now spending the nite at the Dinosaurland KOA before we go dinosaur hunting at Dinosaur National Monument tomorrow. Prior to setting up for the evening we tried out a quaint restaurant called Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers – very yummy, and definitely a great treat this evening.
May 2, 2017:
We found Dinosaurland KOA a very nice and relaxing place – not too many people, they have laundry facilities, and we needed to take care of a few housekeeping items.
We spent the day doing laundry, changing the sheets (boring I know) – but the flannel sheets are definitely a necessity right now, it’s still cold at nite – Brian figured out how the cable hookups worked and set up the Koby box and hard drive of movies that we have in lieu of carrying multiple videos with us.
Something we found out with the cable – it’s all well and good for the park to provide access to cable, and to attach the cable to the RV but if you don’t turn on the switch inside it won’t work.
Brian also spent many hours online checking out things to see in Colorado, Wyoming and Kansas as we plan for the future drives over the month of May.
Made dinner – leftovers from Sunday – pot roast in gravy with carrots, potatoes and a green salad. Just a much needed day of rest.
May 3, 2017:
After getting up and making breakfast in the RV, we packed it up and headed out to see the Dinosaurs. We went to the Dinosaur National Monument, visited the Dinosaur Visitor’s Center and the Quarry. Lots of cool things at the Quarry – you can see where they’ve dug out many bones, partial and full skeletons from the mountains. It was a great reminder of a trip Tamara took with her parents when she was a child.
Just a side note – earlier this year Tamara had read a blog about how important when traveling across country a National Parks Pass would come in handy. The cost to enter Dinosaur National Park was $20 except our pass got us in for FREE. We only need 3 more entries to have paid for the pass, and its good for a year.
We took lots of photos before heading out to Dinosaur, Colorado, where the other entrance to Dinosaur National Park was. We took the Harpers Corner Road off I-40 which took us off into a place where we saw only 1-2 cars for over 2 hours. Lunch was a picnic overlooking a beautiful canyon enjoying nature’s beauty.
After returning to the I-40 we took the U.S. 64 to Rangely, CO where Brian was planning to visit the car museum BUT it’s closed on Weds – only open Thursday to Sunday. It was time to keep pushing South towards the I-70 – desolate road does not begin to describe some of the scenery. But something really cool was we ended up at the top of a mountain at an altitude of approx. 8200’. The view was breathtaking, but at that point Tamara drove up – Brian was driving down. We hit the I-70 and started East towards Grand Junction, CO. Before getting to Grand Junction we stopped in Fruita, CO and ended up having dinner at Dragon Treasure Chinese Restaurant before meandering over to Monument RV Resort (a Good Sam Park).
Recently we’ve had good luck just showing up to the RV Park or calling out by 1 hour to get in as the parks up to now have been lightly populated. Not so with Monument RV Resort – the place is full and summer weather is here. The high in Fruita today is 81 degrees and the low tonite is supposed to be 44 degrees. It should be a nice stay here.
May 4, 2017:
Woke up in Fruita today. Had breakfast at a Gas Station Diner – Starvin’ Arvin’s – it was very good, Brian had the Biscuits & Gravy and Tamara had poached eggs and bacon. Good price and good food.
After breakfast and filling up the RV – we headed off to the Dinosaur Journey part of the Museums of Western Colorado. What a great museum, very interactive for children and lots of great displays. Learned a lot about the local dinosaur culture before we headed off East on the I-70.
Stopped in Glenwood Springs, CO to visit the location famed to be the final resting site for Doc Holliday. You park at the bottom of the hill, then walk a ½ mile path to the top of the mountain to find the cemetary – ½ mile doesn’t seem far except when its approx. a hike of 350’, the altimeter read almost at the top of the hill of 9800’. Had a little difficulty breathing, but we made it to the top and Brian found the site of Doc Holliday with his grave marker.
Lots of construction going on in Glenwood Springs – we parked in old town and walked over to a very cool restaurant called The Lost Cajun Restaurant (Beignets & Gumbo). Had a great lunch of catfish and beignets, then it was off again.
Next part of the drive was through beautiful country along the White River to the US-24 East, then up and over the mountains and past the Continental Divide to Leadville, CO.
For those who don’t know this is where Molly met her JJ (The Unsinkable Molly Brown). A very quaint town, looking forward to wandering the town tomorrow. We spent the night in a rather old RV Park off the main drive, though old, it served us well with full hookups.
May 5, 2017:
It’s time to check out Leadville, CO. There were several things we wanted to see, but only the Leadville Museum of Mines was open. We spent a few hours wandering the old high school that has been refurbished to house this interesting museum. Lots of rocks, minerals and mining equipment. It is amazing how much effort it took to mine just a little gold, silver, etc., and how through innovation, desperation man was able to change how mining was done to how things are done today.
In some areas of the world you’ll still find the miner hunkered down by a stream with a pan, sloshing water and sand to find that nugget, and in other places huge jets of water are directed against the walls of mountains to get the dirt loose, and moving down to sluice boxes or other types of mining equipment to extract the gold, silver, etc from the ground.
For many years there was a community just down the road called Climax – the mine was called Climax, the town was called Climax. In the 1950’s & 1960’s it was touted as one of the best places to live in the U.S. The mine was very active, and making a fortune for the owners – they mined Molybdenum ore. This ore was a necessary part of the steel hardening process, and WW II saw a huge increase in the need for this ore in the steel making process. In the mid-1980’s the town’s homes were literally trucked over to Leadville, CO where a new community was established for the miners and their families, and a few years later the mine was closed down. The mine reopened in 2012 for new shipments of the Molybdenum.
As we headed out of Leadville, CO and down the Rockies we found a rather unique display – Leadville Boom Days rocks – they had dates and lots of holes – Brian thinks that these are drill holes, so possibly some sort of mining celebration. Rather a cool thing on the side of the road.
We headed out of Leadville via the 24 (Top of the Rockies National Scenic and Historic Byway). Very beautiful scenery the entire drive. We caught back up with the U.S. 50 just outside of Canon City, CO. Here we visited Royal Gorge Bridge & Park. Brian walked out on the bridge as well as taking the gondola. The bridge sits approx. 900’above the Arkansas River.
After the gorge it was off to visit more dinosaurs at The Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience – we had a great tour guide who must be in late 60’s early 70’s. As a girl her passion was looking for fossils, and she spent a good part of her adult life hanging with people who did just that for a living and was able to bring some extra information to her tour. It made it very personal, and we found out things we didn’t know before, or never thought of before. In the Dinosaur Experience are several skeletons of dinosaurs we had never even heard of before. The coolest part though, was that even though the skeletons inside were made from casts, and weren’t the original bones BUT the original bones came from Canon City, CO area. In the late 1800’s as several farmers were preparing their fields for the growing season they kept digging up dinosaur bones – at first they were unsure what they were, but they took them to the town doc who suspected that they were in fact dinosaur bones. The farmers sold the bones lock stock and barrel to archaeologists at the Smithsonian and the bones were crated up and shipped East. But they kept finding more bones, and there are finds in the area to this day.
We were so enthralled in the stories we didn’t take photos – but please check out their website. Planning a trip to Colorado – the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park and Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience are within 5 miles of each other and there is plenty for the kids to do. We highly recommend these two attractions.
Now it was time to head East on U.S. 50 to Pueblo for our next stop – Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum. Through our membership in Harvest Hosts, a camping club, we were allowed to park overnite in their parking lot – our first boondocking opportunity.
Before hunkering down for the evening we had dinner in Pueblo at Mi Ranchito and en route to the airport we found a car show – Brian had a great evening.
May 6, 2017:
Woke up to a beautiful day – time for some shorts. Brian made breakfast, and they left to explore the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum. The Weisbrod Aircraft Museum’s claim to fame is a B-29. Not many around. They had several other aircraft, all static per their agreement with the city of Pueblo. The museum purchased a Canon City residents Spitfire project and were finishing it. Tamara did some housekeeping chores, and upon Brian’s return it was off to see more interesting stuff in Colorado.
Junkrassic Park in Cheraw, CO was our first stop. The owner enjoys welding – he has made quite a few yard sculptures. What was funny is that yard is posted as No Trespassing – but it was viewable from the yard.
Next stop was Bent’s Old Fort – this fort’s heyday was between 1833 and 1849. This was not a military fort, it was a trading fort. The owner’s of the fort traded with the Indians for buffalo skins as well as other animals, they traded with trappers and settler’s coming from the East towards better futures in the West. The fort literally, during its time, sat at the edge of the United States. The Arkansas River at that time served as the border with Texas/Mexico.
The fort burned to the ground in 1849, the ruins sat there undisturbed until the mid-1970’s when the National Park Service stepped in and rebuilt the fort on its former foundation to near exact measurements. These were provided by an army officer who was recuperating at the outpost from his journals. It has now stood longer as a museum than it did as a working fort. We highly recommend this museum.
No reservations this evening it was time to head towards Colorado Springs – found dinner at Applebee’s in Fountain, CO and a KOA just down the road. We are staying at the KOA Colorado Springs – we’re doing 2 nights a day of rest and relaxation before heading off to Denver on Monday May 8th.
May 7, 2017:
Day of Rest and planning for the next few weeks of places to see.
May 8, 2017:
Packed it all up and headed out – First stop in Colorado Springs was to visit Herkimer, the World’s Largest Beetle.
Now off to Denver – just an hour or so North on the I-25, we’re going to be here for a few days, so we decided to get a Rental Car to handle all the things we need to see while we are here.
Checked into Cherry Creek State Park Campground – what a cool place. It’s an oasis in the metropolis. The park itself had many different amenities including fishing, hiking, walking & horse trails, model airplane park, shooting range and of course camping. We decided to try this place on a whim, and so had no reservations. (Highly recommend that you make reservations here before going.) Our first night we had full hookups but then had to move to dry camping site for rest of the week.
We got setup then made dinner, and checked out our stops for the week. Tonight we experienced our first big rain storm of the trip – thunder, lightning and lots of rain. Watching the local news we saw reports of hail throughout Denver, but where we were NO Hail. The rain storm was awesome, and some of the thunder claps really rocked our little house on wheels.
May 9, 2017:
This morning – breakfast made by my hubby then get on the waiting list in the office to see if we could stay for another night in a full hookups before moving to a dry site.
Our first tourist stop – The Molly Brown House Museum in downtown Denver – within view of the Capital building. So Molly Brown born Margaret Tobin was not as portrayed in the movie The Unsinkable Molly Brown by Debbie Reynolds, exactly. In real life she was known only as Margaret or Maggie – never Molly. For her time she was highly educated, and she went to Leadville, CO at the age of 18 at the urging of her brother. Leaving Hannibal, MO and moving to Leadhill her brother felt would help her find a husband – she was going to become an Old Maid if she stayed in Missouri. Her goal in life was to marry a rich man so she would be able to take care of her parents. She did though in the beginning when she married John J Brown aka Johnny Brown who was a foreman for a mine – she married JJ for LOVE, and later he surprised everyone when his Little JJ Gold Mine hit it big. She was now able to afford the lifestyle she wanted in order to take care of her parents, travel the world, and live and do what she pleased. She was a suffragette, spoke out for mine safety for the workers, and tended to have differing political views from her husband. In her time – she was ahead of her time which lead to a break down of her marriage with JJ. They ended up separated for 10 years, but came together in the end – they are both buried in New York (Long Island) and their graves have been added to our New York must see list.
Lunch time – googled iconic Denver restaurants and ended up at The Buckhorn Exchange ~ the oldest restaurant in Denver, CO. Their state liquor license number is 1. The restaurant is a museum in itself. Lots of stuffed animals on the wall – from birds to moose, buffalo and all things in between. The atmosphere was very welcoming, and the food was delicious. Brian had the daily special – Bison Prime Rib which was so tender you could cut it with a butter knife, delicious. Tamara had the Salmon – a little too blackened, but still tasty.
Now we had to rush back to Cherry Creek State Park to see if we could get a full hookups site – you get on the list at 8 a.m. and must be back at 1 pm. when they start calling names. It’s a first come first serve opportunity – we were first on the list at 8 a.m. but because of our stop for lunch, we got back at 1:15 pm and all full hookup sites were gone – so we went with a dry camp spot to Thursday. We got the RV moved, and then headed back out to explore more of Denver.
This afternoon it was off to the Clive Cussler Museum – he is one of my favorite authors, and I enjoy his Dirk Pitt and NUMA stories. His museum houses approx. 75 classic vehicles, and if he owns the car that he features in one of his books, that car with the book it is in is on permanent display. Some very rare cars such as Delahaye and Talbot along with 60’s American muscle but most of those are convertibles. If you enjoy classic cars – this is a great stop.
Now for date night – made it to a local theater to catch Guardians of the Galaxy – so glad we did it. Make sure you stay for ALL the credits, great info at the end.
Back to Cherry Creek to sleep and prepare for tomorrow’s adventure.
May 10, 2017:
Today was a day to start with visiting friends from Lancaster, CA – Vicki Medina and her husband we met up with at The Egg & I in Centennial, CO. Breakfast was excellent – but the visit was even better. It was great to catch up with Vicki and to share a little of our upcoming tour.
After parting ways – Brian dropped Tamara off at the Denver Temple to have an opportunity to do some service, and Brian headed off to another car museum – Vehicle Vault in Parker, CO .Only about 30 cars but quite the mix. Vehicles ranged from a 1906 Ford Model T to a 2007 Mercedes slr722. Mostly customs but many stock cars. Great story of a one of a kind 1914 Mercedes that the mayor of Ulm Germany ordered. It was an open cockpit run about. He didn’t like being exposed to the elements so he requested a new body. The new body was a touring car. To save money Mercedes used the radiator, lights, bumpers and several other pieces. The mayor got his new car back along with the old body. He dumped the old body in a field. After some time he sold the car. The new owner heard about the original body and found it. He built or had built a new frame to place the restored original body on. The new frame was made of wood. He had all the shared parts reproduced in wood. The wood parts are amazing. The lighting at the Vehicle Vault really sucks so the pictures don’t do the work justice.
On Brian’s list of must sees was the Money Museum run by the American Numismatic Association. What a cool place – you wouldn’t necessarily think that how money came to be would be interesting – but you’d be wrong. From ancient Greeks, Romans, bartering and more, how much money has changed the way we do commerce in this world. It is truly an interesting place.
While we had previously been in Colorado Springs we got several posts from friends on Facebook – you have to see Garden of the Gods, so this afternoon we headed south to Colorado Springs to take the drive through the Garden of the Gods – what a beautiful place. The ground has many different hues, levels and ground covering. A wonderful relaxing drive.
May 11, 2017:
EARLY morning – we want to see the Denver Mint, which means you have to be there at 7 a.m. in order to get your free ticket for one of 4 tours, a total of 200 people per day. While Tamara headed off to downtown Denver to stand in line for the 9:30 a.m. tickets, Brian packed up the RV to get it out of Cherry Creek and over to a Walmart relatively close to downtown. After getting tickets Tamara headed out to pickup Brian and bring him back to the US Mint.
In line at 9 a.m. to get into the U.S. Mint. Upon arrival at the Mint, there was a sign in the window of the ticket office that all tickets were gone. The tour of the Mint was well done, it flowed well, and it was very interesting to see the process on how coins are made. A cool factoid: The Denver Mint makes money each year on its coin processing. They lose money making pennies and nickels – but they more than make up for it with dimes, quarters and half dollars. They also make collector’s sets and make good money on the markup of these items.
Back to the car – thinking about lunch when we receive a text from Jodi Austin that they are in Colorado and would like to get together for lunch or dinner as they are planning to attend the movies to see Guardians of the Galaxy. The Austin clan were in Colorado visiting family. Their youngest daughter Rylee is our granddaughter, and Jodi & Larry Austin are her adoptive parents. We are so grateful for the love that they have for Rylee, and how much she thrives in their care.
We met up with the Austin’s – Rylee, Jodi & Larry and Aunt Jenny at Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar in Aurora, CO – what we didn’t know was that they hadn’t told Rylee that they were going to see Grandma and Grandpa – SURPRISE. We had a great lunch with them, and we will have to try this place again if we run across it in our travels. We didn’t go to the movies with them, but we did enjoy a nice meal.
Now it was off to our new campgrounds high in the mountains above Denver – Central City KOA. Though windy, the drive was beautiful, Brian drove the RV and Tamara followed in the rental car. By the time we got settled, we were planning on laundry but Tamara was feeling very unwell – just curl up and die type of unwell, so she slept for a few hours while Brian continued to review the to visit list, and create more places to visit lists for other states. Brian is taking his job as trip planner very seriously.
May 12, 2017:
Time to pack it up again – several stops on the way to Ft. Collins, CO.
First stop was Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave in Golden, CO. What an incredible view (including a view of the Coors Plant in Denver). Lookout Mountain has been a go to place for over 100 years – people took their horses first, then buggies, then motorized vehicles & an inclinator at one time. It is a beautiful memorial to Buffalo Bill Cody, and a great remembrance of his lasting touch on the American West. We enjoyed the morning here before heading back down the mountain to return the rental car.
Returning the rental car – the gentleman who helped us was glad to see and hear that we had no hail damage as Hertz had a waiting list of over 900 people throughout Denver needing a rental car due to hail damage, so we figured that would be a quick turnover.
Now off towards Fort Collins – first stop the Antique Washing Machine Museum near Eaton, CO. We found it – middle of nowhere, but realized that we were going to be unable to view it today. We didn’t realize a reservation was required, and it was past the scheduled tour times.
Next stop – Greeley, CO – the Colorado Model Railroad Museum. We arrived at approx. 3:30 pm and the museum closes at 4 pm. They let us in for free and we did a quick tour – really cool place. Their railroad set up is geared towards Oregon – Klamath/Willamette train yards. So many little details – lakes with logs in them, rivers flowing along tracks, old side yards, the drive in and old cards, people placed throughout doing everyday things in everyday places. We really enjoyed the trains and the people there running the museum – mostly older gentlemen – who were part of the experience. They were friendly and welcoming and seemed gratified that we took time to come to see their passion. A really fun stop.
Now off to Ft. Collins about a 40 minute drive to our KOA – Fort Collins/Poudre Canyon. We’re here for 3 nights as we have friends to visit and places to see. Got settled in and set up for the evening.
May 13, 2017:
Last night saw a post by a friend from Lancaster, CA checking into the movie theater in Greeley, CO. Penny Vigil was in town on a layover from her long haul truck driving. Tamara reached out to her via Facebook and setup dinner tonight.
Two more museums to see today – Centennial Village Museum in Greeley and Timberlane Farm Museum in Loveland.
Off to Timberlane Farm Museum – CLOSED. We were very disappointed as we had looked forward to learning more about Colorado History as well as old West history.
Next – Centennial Village Museum in Greeley. We actually are getting smarter, we decided to call ahead – turns out, they weren’t yet open either. We’re finding that due to weather many things you’d think would be open aren’t open until Memorial Day or are open for limited times.
Because we were meeting up with Penny in Greeley we went ahead and did laundry in Ft. Collins. While Tamara was watching the laundry Brian went and got his haircut, then we had lunch at a Himalayan restaurant and then off to Greeley. We ended up at the mall a bit early so we did some walking around the mall and Tamara got her nails done – just a manicure.
We hooked up with Penny and went to Red Lobster and enjoyed catching up with each other. We took her and Max (the dog) to where her rig was parked and we got the tour of her big rig – that’s an amazing small place well organized and setup.
Back to our KOA for the evening.
May 14, 2017:
Happy Mother’s Day.
Today we are heading off to visit a very old friend and her family from Lancaster, CA who’ve relocated to Loveland, CO. We met up at church and attended church together before heading over to her home and having a wonderful dinner made by her girls and then game night.
All in all a relaxing day with the Hooper family.
May 15, 2017:
Up and out by 8 a.m. heading for Wyoming today. We stopped at McDonald’s just outside of Cheyenne and had breakfast before heading into downtown Cheyenne to The Nelson Museum of the West. Here we found great exhibits featuring craftsmanship of the Indians – beads, leather, tools and weapons. We also found a great history of military uniforms through the decades, military weapons and life in the West. The rooms were full of animals that had been taxidermied from around the world. U.S., Canada, Russia and South Africa – so many animals.
At this point we needed to track down a Notary as we had to finish some paperwork for the escrow on our house. Tamara googled Notary near where we were, and then walked to where the Notary should have been, but unfortunately their office was closed. Walking back toward the R.V. we passed a bank and decided to see if they might have a Notary –and they did. She was great, she took care of our Grant Deed and didn’t charge us, just told us to enjoy Cheyenne.
Next we were off to Holliday Park to visit the Big Boy train. Big Boy Steam Engine 4004 was indeed a massive engine. This engine was specially made to handle the rough mountains between Cheyenne and Ogden, UT. It sits on its own rails in the corner of a beautiful park in Cheyenne. Available for anyone to come and see at any time. The sheer size of this behemoth cannot be described – we took some photos and tried help with the scale of it – it’s massive.
Next stop –more visits with friends. Penny & Laurie Christensen are dear friends from Lancaster, CA and they moved about 2 weeks before we left and we were unable to see them before they headed out of Lancaster. We took them to lunch and had a great visit with them catching up with them on their plans for their new home. Laurie is a phenomenal artist – we own one of his paintings of Christ sitting on a hill above Jerusalem that hangs in honor in a very central spot in our home (when we have a home). They’ve purchased a home in Cheyenne that he will be able to use as a gallery/studio and paint to his heart’s content once it is all up and running – give him a year he said. They’re excited by this new adventure that puts them much closer to family than when they were in California. We wish them lots of luck and great love.
From their home we walked the two blocks to the Wyoming State Capitol which is under renovation. Scaffolding everywhere. We got some good photos, but it would have been nice to see the whole thing.
We next drove to the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum. Brian stated that he had never seen so many buggies/wagons in one place. The Frontier Days event in Cheyenne has been ongoing since 1897 – they’ve never missed a year. It is the biggest Rodeo event in the US and attracts a hundred thousand people every year for this event. The museum shared a lot of history about specifically the Frontier Days but in telling their story you learned about other interesting tidbits of the times. They had to have at least 50 restored buggies / carts / chuck wagons / book mobile-wagon / fire trucks / hearse – ALL set up for being pulled by horses. If you’re into Rodeo’s you don’t want to miss an opportunity to attend the Frontier Days – this year held July 21-30, 2017.
Now it was time to find our campsite for the evening – Cheyenne KOA. Tonight we learned two important things when setting up for the evening:
- Tamara needs to learn which water input is for filling the tanks and for just delivering water to the unit while it is parked. (She set up the water tonight and our neighbor came over to let us know that we were flooding water out from under our unit.) Easy fix – switch inputs.
- Brian’s not sure what happened, but he put in the hose to the sewer hookup uncapped the cap on the unit and icky smelly water came rushing out at him – to his complete surprise. He was quick though, he got the hose hooked up quickly. Fortunately Tamara’s flooding event quickly helped the area get cleaned up. He’ll be looking at that a little more closely tomorrow.
This evening was spent updating our blog and planning the whirlwind tour of Wyoming to come in the next 4 days. We’ll be focused on the Eastern portion of Wyoming before heading into the Eastern portion of Montana on Friday. Hold onto your saddle partner – here we go.
Tonight we went to bed with the sound of rain, then hail on the roof – and lightning with loud thunder.
May 16, 2017:
We’re heading toward Douglas, WY today. We were on the road at 7 am today – breakfast in the driver’s seat – granola bars, milk & bananas.
We’re heading West in order to go NE later today. The Wyoming Territorial Prison opens at 8 a.m. in Laramie, WY – and we want to be there when it opens – we were there by 8:15 a.m.
This prison wasn’t used for very long, but it seems in the late 1800’s prison conditions were actually much better than the general living conditions of the time for many on the frontier. They worked 10 hours per day – had 3 meals, had a bed at night and medical care.
Back on the road again – heading towards Fort Laramie, WY now. We’re planning on visiting the actual Fort in Laramie as well as Fort Fetterman in Douglas, WY.
Fort Laramie is a mix of restored and unrestored buildings. Initially the fort was built as a trading post but eventually evolved into a military fort. Once the fort was decommissioned the buildings were sold for basically scrap. Buyer’s took the building materials and moved them to other locations.
Turns out that Fort Fetterman in Douglas, WY is only open Memorial Day to Labor Day – so we are 2 weeks early. We were fortunate that the caretaker was at the Fort preparing for the opening in 2 weeks. Though the museum was currently empty and the buildings were closed, we walked around and drove up to the cemetary. As we headed out – it was hailing.
We drove into Douglas, WY where it turns out that they have claimed themselves the official Jackalope city. There were several oversized Jackalopes throughout town.
Tonight’s campground – KOA Douglas. Easy check in – rain and hail had stopped, so camp was quickly set up, and dinner heated up. Tamara had purchased a few days ago shredded pork so heating it up was quick, put in hot dog bun, add some carrots, tomatoes and avocados, voila, dinner.
May 17, 2017:
Another early morning – 7 a.m. we’re off again breakfast in the driver’s seat.
Today it was off to see Independence Rock and Martin’s Cove. Independence Rock is a VERY large rock rising out of the prairie and served as a marker for the pioneers and travelers from coast to coast as to where they were and that they were on the right path. At Independence Rock the travelers would carve their names and the date and where they were from. These carvings are still visible to the naked eye.
A little further along was Martin’s Cove – this is a historical site for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In late 1852 the Martin Handcart Company was late leaving the East to head towards Salt Lake City, UT. These were Mormon Pioneers heading from England to Salt Lake City, UT to join the saints in Zion. We had a great tour by the Missionary’s from the church of the site.
Heading for Casper, WY to visit Fort Caspar. This is a state historical site, and the fort has been restored in great detail. We had to fight out way through the museum with a bunch of 3rd graders – we think we’ll see more of these field trips over the next few weeks until school is out. At the fort we did the building self tour, and some cool things were seen. One of these was the Mormon Ferry recreation – a few miles from the fort on the Platte River the earliest group of Pioneers led by Brigham Young crossed over the Mormon Trail setting up way stops along the way for the next group of Pioneers to come West. President Young wanted to try and make it easier for the members of the church to get to the end and here near Fort Caspar a ferry was built to help with the last crossing of the Platte River. 10 men were left to run the ferry and help the pioneers continue to move forward – and they also charged other travelers a fee to cross the river. They helped all travelers with their crossing for a fee, but they also had a blacksmith who could help with shoeing horses, issues with wagons, etc. Eventually they built up trade opportunities to help people low on food or other supplies continue their progress West.
Next stop, The National Historic Trails Interpretive Center. How many trails were there from the East to the West? The 4 major trails are: Oregon, California, Mormon and Pony Express. Many legs of these trails overlapped, but all started in the East initially and ended somewhere in the West. This museum was very informative, well laid out, and bonus – they had a special collection at the museum about Brigham Young and his trek opening the Mormon Trail that ended in Salt Lake City, UT. There is even a display / video talking about the Martin Handcart Company.
When we were at Fort Caspar we asked for a recommendation for lunch – we ended up at J’s Pub for dinner where we found the food tasty and the atmosphere calming, as well as excellent WiFi service.
Tonight’s stop – KOA Casper.
We hit 3,000 miles of our own miles in the RV on our travels today.
May 18, 2017
It’s raining cats and dogs – and then it turned into SNOW. Cold sleeting snow. The dilemma – go or stay? Based upon weather reports, just a ½ hour to hour North no more snow, maybe a little rain. So off we go – North towards Montana.
In Buffalo, WY we stopped at the Jim Gatchell Museum. Very quaint little museum located in the old Library building built in 1909. Jim Gatchell was a local pharmacist who opened his store in 1900. He loved to collect items of historical significance to him, the community and to his friends the Indians. It was a very pleasant morning.
From there we headed towards Sheridan, WY and Ft. Phil Kearny State Historic Site. Phil Kearny was a US Army officer notable for his leadership in the Mexican-American War as well as the early years of the American Civil War.
All that now exists of this fort is a museum building and the ruins of the old fort. From the fort we went up the mountain to the site of the Fetterman Massacre where there is a monument. At the time this was the largest massacre of white men by Indians – it happened 12-21-1866. Captain Fetterman disobeyed his orders and the men he was leading were killed by Red Cloud and his Lakota, Cheyenne & Arapaho Indians.
Tonight we stayed at the KOA in Sheridan, WY.
May 19, 2017:
Today we are headed towards the Custer Battlefield.
Our first stop was the Custer Battlefield Museum – at first glance it seems to be the ultimate tourist trap, but once we found our way through all the touristy items we ended up in the Museum. The cost is $7 and we found that the museum was very informative, and not knowing a lot about the Battle of Little/Big Horn it was a great introduction to the National Park we visited next.
We visited the Little Bighorn Battlefield, National Park. With our National Park Pass we got in for free – the actual cost for entry in our RV would have been $20, so another great savings.
Once we entered the park we did a drive through the battlefield – most of the battlefield is now in private hands, but many of the areas where there were actual fallen men the grave markers are there though the men aren’t. Most of the men were removed a year after the battle and either physically moved to cemeteries in the East or were placed in the new National Cemetery now located here at the Little Bighorn battlefield. The whole experience was very moving, and the tribute that has been made to share with the world how this whole experience happened was truly inspired.
In the 1990’s the National Park Service has made an admirable effort to begin placing cemetery markers where the Indians fell as well. There are significantly less fallen Indians than US Soldiers in this battle.
From here we headed towards Hardin, MT where we stayed at the Hardin KOA.
May 20, 2017:
Today’s agenda is a full one – lots of things to see, and a trip to Billings, MT. Our first stop was the Big Horn County Museum – unfortunately it is closed on weekends and we were unable to visit. Next stop the Western Heritage Center. The best part of this Museum was truly the fact that they are trying to share History through memories and first and second hand telling of stories. Their main exhibit now has to do with the Indians and the forced migration towards reservations, and how the Indians fought back.
Next stop is the Moss Mansion Museum. P.B. Moss was an early resident of Billings, MT. He came to Billings to seek his fortune and relocated his family from Paris, MO to allow for opportunities to expand his fortunes and business. He became a highly prominent local business man with his hands in many businesses at the turn of the 20th century in Billings.
Just when you thought we were done – no, it was off to the State Park – Pictograph Caves. This is an early stopping site for Indians – when these were originally found in the early 1930’s, the cave art was easily seen and in 1937 when the first archaeological dig was done they found over 30,000 artifacts found with some thought to be over 9,000 years old. Today – the pictographs have faded and only a few can be seen with the naked eye.
May 21, 2017:
Sunday – an almost day of rest. We had a very pleasant breakfast then off to church. In searching for a local meetinghouse we had an option of about 10 buildings in 10 miles – reminds me of Utah.
Had a nice Sacrament Meeting in the Shepherd Park Ward – what was great was they discussed the church’s Pathways Program. I learned a lot and would highly recommend this option to someone looking to go back to college.
Brian waiting in the RV for the end of Sacrament – then we headed off to visit Boot Hill Cemetery – it is a very small little place. Then a drive along the Rimrock mountains that surround Billings and then a visit to the Billings Temple.
An evening of planning for our visits to South & North Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and Michigan. It turns out that based upon our schedule we will have to skip Illinois and Indiana this year.
May 22, 2017:
Up and at’em this morning. First stop was breakfast at McDonald’s and the gas station. Heading East on I-94 we are staying in Terry, MT tonite.
Our first history stop was the Pompey Pillar – an official site on the Lewis & Clark Expedition. Though great journals were kept by Lewis & Clark and members of their party, there is no physical evidence left of their travels across the country, except for this one location where William Clark actually carved his name and the date of his visit into the rock here.
The rock is approx. 200’ from bottom to top – we climbed to the top to visit the actual carving and then had a wonderful view of the surrounding countryside. At the top is an artist rendering of what the view might have looked like of Custer’s Army encamped on the bank of the river across from Pompey Pillar.
Next stop – Miles City, MT. The Stoebe family has a history in the area, and Brian wanted to take photos of the various gravestones belonging to ancestors. Two and a half hours later – he didn’t find them all and found that the groundskeeper was very unhelpful.
Dinner in Miles City, MT then off to Terry, MT where we found this very quaint RV Park called – Small Towne RV Campground. The campground isn’t much to look at – but Mel the owner makes up for it in small town charm. He informed us when we made our reservations a week ago that the cost is $25 cash – no check or credit cards. He provided us with full hookups, a welcome mat for our entrance, a small garbage can for our trash, a book of local attractions as well as coupons for various local businesses and some of the best WIFI we’ve had to date.
May 23, 2017:
We left Terry, MT heading East to Glendive, MT. Here we visited the Dinosaur Fossil Museum and the Frontier Gateway Museum.
The Dinosaur Fossil Museum has a unique perspective – they have their Museum set up with dinosaurs based upon a Creation by God philosophy. Very unique – and as Brian said: You can take the facts and twist them to any point of view.
Next stop just down the street with the Frontier Gateway Museum – unfortuneately the museum was closed, but the caretaker was on the premises and she allowed us to wander the exterior grounds to see the items that they have on site.
Now onto Wibaux, MT – our last night in Montana. In Wibaux we visited the Wibaux Museum – Pierre Wibaux was a Frenchman who did not want to follow in his father’s footsteps – he wanted to be a cattleman on the American Frontier. He came to Montana to pursue his dream and became a successful cattleman. The museum is set up with various exhibits donated through the generosity of local people. Buildings, furniture, clothing, histories, etc. It’s located in multiple buildings and the local caretaker gave us a guided tour. Mr. Wibaux’s father initially disowned his son, but after many years of correspondence and his return trips home, his father relented and welcomed his son back. When his father found out the local town did not have a church he personally donated $2,000 to be used towards the building of a church in this new frontier town. We took several photos of the church.
Tonight we stayed in a small RV Park located on a large open lot with hookups available. It’s open and doesn’t look very well maintained. The owner is a working mom trying to take care of her children and the residents.
May 24, 2017:
Off to North Dakota today. A very good friend in Lancaster, CA who spent a lot of his youthful years in North Dakota recommended that we visit the Enchanted Highway. This is a very unique little highway area that was a lot of fun to travel. We took lots of photos and hope you enjoy it too.
We had two museums to visit today as well – Lewis & Clark Trail Museum and Fort Buford. Unfortunately both were closed. Many things in this area don’t until after Memorial weekend.
We stayed this evening at the Roughriders RV Resort in Minot, ND. This is a Good Sam resort – it was a very nice park. Unfortunately for Brian we were close to the railroad tracks again – and he’s really tired of those. It poured all night.
May 25, 2017:
This morning we started off the day at the Scandanavian Heritage Park in Minot, ND. We walked around and viewed some very interesting buildings, sculptures and facts about the Scandanavian migration to North Dakota. It’s a beautiful morning, and the walk was very pleasant.
Next stop was the Old Soo Depot – the original train depot for Minot, ND. Disappointed doesn’t even express it. The depot has been taken over more as a research center than a museum. There were some cool china patterns from the various railroads.
Minot AFB is an active United States Air Force Base – near the base is the Dakota Territory Air Museum. Brian spent a good 1 ½ hours viewing the planes. Some of the planes from the Texas Flying Legends are kept here for mid May to mid August. Some were there while others would be the next week.
Time for another drive – we have two turtles to see on our way to Rugby, ND. Both turtles are man-made local attractions. The first one is located in Bottineau – Tommy Turtle is approx. 26’ tall and sits on the world’s largest snow mobile.
Next up was Dunseith Wee’l Turtle. He is made up of rims, and is central to a cute little park in Dunseith, ND.
Our base this evening is a small RV park attached to a local motel ~ Oakwood Inn & RV Park. The park is nothing to write home about – but a good place for location to spend the evening.
May 26, 2017:
We woke up in Rugby, ND today – after breakfast today, Tamara was doing the dishes when she felt a sharp pain in her stomach, and she started to feel ill again. Similar to what happened in Denver earlier in our trip. She felt it was a fleeting thing so we packed up and headed across the road to the Geologic Center of North America and then the Prairie Village Museum.
Brian headed into the Prairie Village Museum while Tamara decided to hole up in the RV. Brian asked Tamara – do we need to go to the Emergency Room? She told him of course not – go and enjoy the museum. Brian had been in the museum about ½ hour before Tamara called and said – time to go to the Emergency Room.
Fortunately the hospital was not too far away – Tamara was wheeled into the hospital by Brian, and spent approx. 5 minutes speaking with the intake nurse in emergency – handed over her id and her insurance card and was immediately taken into be diagnosed. After an ultrasound, and blood draw the doctor determined that Tamara was having a gall bladder attack, and that there was an infection that needed to be dealt with. At this point Tamara is being dosed with antibiotics to fight the infection, and a pain medication to help with the pain. The doctor explained that due to the fact this was a holiday weekend and Rugby was a small hospital, he recommended that Tamara be transferred to the hospital in Minot, SD as they had a bigger facility and better care over the holiday.
So off Tamara went in the ambulance (with the cute EMT) – pain meds & antibiotics flowing. The drive from Rugby to Minot takes about an hour – Brian followed in the RV and they met up again at the emergency room at Trinity Health in Minot, ND. Brian arrived while Tamara had been whisked off for an MRI to determine what is going on. The doctor arrived pretty quickly after the MRI to explain that Tamara was going to need 2 separate operations. The first operation will be on Saturday May 27th wherein the doctor will need to go in and remove a gallstone that had become lodged in an area that was backing up the bile duct, and a stint would be put in that will need to be removed in 4 weeks. Sunday surgery would be required to remove the Gall Bladder.
May 27 thru 31 and June 1 thru 3, 2017:
Brian is camping at WalMart until he can determine exactly how long Tamara will need to be in the hospital.
Both surgeries went well – the doctor was happy with both surgeries, and though getting up and walking was difficult, recovery was ongoing. Tamara was finally able to have food on Monday May 29th – and food was a welcome respite. Sleep for Tamara – catnaps in the hospital is all you get. With the nurses coming in and out to check vitals, alarms going off, because you’re not breathing correctly for the machine to read.
Brian made reservations at Roughrider RV Resort in Minot from Tuesday May 30 to Sunday June 4th. Several days for Tamara to recuperate are necessary because of her lack mobility. There was some concern when she left the hospital on Wednesday May 31st that she would be unable to get into the RV – if that happened it could have been catastrophic, but it was a non-issue.
On Thursday June 1st Brian did the laundry – he’s decided that if the only reason to keep Tamara around is laundry – it IS WORTH IT. He hates doing laundry.
We both got some well deserved rest, and just enjoyed time together.