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Monday, August 30, 2010

Joplin Missouri - KOA

Well the return trip to Kentucky continued. After a long drive to Dodge City, Bailey, Bella and I decided a bit earlier stop was in order. Therefore, Joplin, MO. seemed about right. I must say the KOA was adjacent to the interstate but a good stop and limited occupancy during the week. The sites are long pull through with 50 amp electric and full hook up.

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The trip across Missouri was uneventful except for many delays due to road construction. It seems the Obama administration is spending much $$$$ on road construction. This is good for the country and I for one do not complain. Best spent on infrastructure than unemployment checks. But, not a fun topic. I did manage to drive a short distance "standing". Worked great and permitted a bit of a stretch. Fuel was easily obtained near the KOA and made for a quick and easy exit from the Joplin area.

Off again. The nightly stay with Bailey and Bella seems a bit of a routine now. However, I did meet an interesting couple in Joplin. Parked adjacent to us was a well groomed class A motorhome a Damon. The gentleman exiting the motorhome was using a walker and assisted by his wife. I of course offered may assistance and learned quickly that he did not need me. We did strike up a conversation about the Workhorse Chassis we shared and became engaged. It seems he is a retired Air force Colonel. Way above my Navy rank. We talked about our Vietnam tours and his aircraft. A very interesting 32 year career. Their Damon is a 2004 with over 70,000 miles. The colonel has been battling Hodgens disease but is over the treatments. Good to see a happy couple of their ages traveling. They are heading to California from St. Louis area. A real inspiration.

Onward to Eminence MO. tomorrow. So, good night Gracie and see you on the road.

Happy Trails,

Barry, Denise, Bailey and Bella

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Gunsmoke - Boot Hill

The return journey continued into the wilds of Kansas. Now, my plan was not to travel the dreaded I-70 across the void of Kansas. After consultation with a 75 yr. old traveler at Dakota Ridge Campground in Golden, Co. I determined to drive Highway 54/400 across Kansas. This avoided I-70 and hopefully offered superior scenery.

Leaving Pueblo, Co. I found my way on a 4 lane, state highway East. I was determined to reach Dodge City, KS my first evening. I even drove standing up, that is right, upright, for several minutes to relax a bit. Arriving in Dodge City at the Gunsmoke Campground I slide into a site only ready to relax. Bailey and Bella rolled out of the Admiral roaming the wilds of the campground. The new smells were romantic to the girls.

I did ask the owner if any restaurants were within walking distance. However, his respond said it all, "the casino will send the shuttle to pick you up". Now, I called the Boot Hill Casino to inquire about free camping. They assured me I could camp free in the RV park. However, upon inquiry I discovered the RV park was the parking lot with no facilities. Also, being a bit tight with a $ I determined paying for a site at Gunsmoke Campground was less expensive than a visit to the Casino. RIGHT!

We relaxed at Gunsmoke, but I did not find Miss Kitty. I suspension Festus ran of with Ms. Kitty when Marshall Dillon was not watching.

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The next AM we rolled out to Highway 54/400. I checked the GPS and discovered my next TURN was in 300 miles. So, on we ventured along this highway. Well, the trip was none eventful but I did meet a traveler that has all the complicated parts eliminated. This traveler was stopped at a rest stop in rural Kansas. He had traveled to California and most western states in the reverse tear drop. What a simple rig. Becky would be proud to make her way across the US in such a rig.

Onward I travel home to Kentucky. Traveling the less trodden path is rewarding and I-70 Is not one of the less trodden. I would recommend Hwy. 54/100 across southern Kansas into Missouri.

Happy "Trails,

Barry & Denise

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Boulder Co. - The Republic

We arrived in Boulder area and stayed in the Dakota Ridge Campground in Golden, Co. This is only 20 miles south of Boulder. As Becky described Boulder, "3 square miles surrounded by reality". We relied on Ms. Becky to introduce us to Boulder.

No for those who have not had the opportunity, Boulder is like an upscale college town with a good supply of Weed. That is right Weed. As we walked Pearl Street it seemed 50% of those we encountered were "happy". The community is wealthy, educated and free spirited. Legal Weed sales are plentiful and the community endorses a free life style. However, the high education level, good employment opportunities and a thriving college community mixed with wonderful weather and mountains makes Boulder an attractive community.

While Becky toured us around Boulder, we heard more about Nederland. This is referred to as "ned". Becky escorted me to Ned and I must say it is more relaxed than Boulder, if that is possible. Ned is the home of the Frozen Dead Guy Festival. It seems a wealthy resident had himself frozen solid at death and they continue a festival annually with hearse parades featuring the dead guy. Now I ask you, were can you beat these opportunities. Ned is about 8,500 ft. elevation and above Boulder. The drive up to Ned is beautiful with a river and many camping and boating opportunities. The small community features many head shops, hippie style clothing shops and art exhibits. I understand there is a small "wookie" community.

Now all must partake of the Boulder experience. We managed to hit Pearl Street for food and drink, the Saturday Farmers Market which was more about entertainment than food and the Nederland experience. All was a good experience. Later I was escorted up Flatiron Mountain for rock climbing at its Best. Now this old, fat guy was along for encouragement and provided some beer. The young set included Matt Henderson and His finance' Rosie who are the expert climbers. Watching Matt scale 150 ft. up like a monkey was a wonder. Becky and Chris climbed and I just offered encouragement. Hell, the hike up did me in at the over 9,000 altitude. But, what fun with these healthy, energetic young adults. Makes me want to live part of that over.

I would suggest all visit Boulder and Nederland. This hiking, kayaking, food and night life is excellent. The 3 square miles surrounded by reality is fun. As they say in Boulder, " we live our bubble"!

Happy Trails,

Barry and Denise

Thursday, August 26, 2010

South Dokata Trail

We have begun our journey back to Kentucky. Reluctantly we leave this mountains for the hills of home. We will travel down mountain to the plains of Wyoming on our journey to visit Becky in the Republic of Boulder. In our rear view mirror are the views we enjoyed and the pull of the mountains. We will return.

Our journey takes us to a vast plain of Southern Wyoming down Highway 191 south of Jackson Hole. As beautiful as the mountains are, the vast plains remain inspiring. One wonders how the settlers ventured across these plains in winter and heat westward. The winds are constant and strong. Tumbleweed must be the state flower. We plan to venture to RV World along Highway 80 East. Now RV World is a bit of an exaggeration. The park is good and just off I-80. World is another description. The park is located in Rawlins, WY. The area bustles with work from Sinclair oil and gas and railroads. The winds are constant blowing all along the highway. Grass is not existent and guarded if it exists. Trains here seem to reach the horizon which is miles in eithter direction.

The park is open all year however, the snow can be a problem. The snow fences are located along I-80 to prevent drifting. You know you are in snow country when you have chain lanes along the intestate. We stayed the evening and would recommend to all traveling the area.

So in your travels across southern Wyoming, this stop is good for the evening but do not expect entertainment. However, the evening sky is spectacular.

Happy trails,

Barry & Denise

Grand Tetons Adventure

After four full days in Yellowstone we venture to the Grand Tetons. This mountain range is only 40 miles south of Yellowstone but seems much farther due to the unique shape and size of the mountains. Little did we realize that the Tetons would capture us. We have seen the Canadian Rockies and the Tetons mirror the size and shape. What we did not realize is the lower number of visitors in the Tetons which was welcome.

The Colter Bay RV Park was a welcome location. The park is near the waterfront on Lake Jackson and includes full service hook ups. The sites are wooded, spacious and all should stay here. Another campground, Colter Campground adjoins the RV park and well suited for tent camping. The park adjoins the general store and visitors center. Baily and Bella and I ventured to the general store each morning for coffee and their beef jerky breakfast. They are watching their cholesterol now. I continue to drink my red wine to combat the arterial clogging.

The only Internet and cell service was obtained at the Lake Jackson Lodge. The bar is welcoming and serves very affordable drinks. The view of the Tetons from the lodge is spectacular. If you choose to stay at the Lodge, bring barrels of cash. The Grill Restaurant was good and much more affordable than the upscale dining. So, have a few drinks, enjoy the view and dine with the common folk.

Bring your camera for the views and wonderful moose. These majestic creatures are found more readily in the Tetons than in Yellowstone. At least that was our experience. Hike the trails and drive the roads and you will be beckoned for a return visit. Jackson Hole is 40 miles south and is worth a day or night visit. Be aware on the return drive for those large creatures on the highway. The Snake River awaited us.

Now we are beginning kayaks but the local ranger recommended the drift below Jackson Dam down to the Oxbow in the Snake. Sounded great to us. We ventured to the dam and put the kayaks in for a float. We gently floated down river for a hour, estimating the paddle up river that the ranger said would not be a problem. However, after viewing coyote, otter and the wonderful views we turned about and began the return journey. Now, it was about 6:30 pm and time for a well deserved beer. We made it easily for a short while till we encountered a large bend in the river. Past the bend we encountered a real river current. Little did we know that the dam had opened gates and greatly increased the current. When we paddled like mad for 15 min. looking at the same stump we determined the work was futile.

Like the brave explorer I am, I paddled to the rock shore and decided to summon help. Fortunately several souls were viewing the river nearby. The first "gentleman" I asked for help informed me they had just arrived and would not be leaving soon. Now, the drive back to the dam was all of 5 minutes by road. Offended, I asked another couple and they agreed and the Wife remained to visit with Denise while I attempted the rescue. I only hope the Jerk that declined to help us would encounter a situation in which he needed help and can be declined.

We avoided the long night on the river, fighting off bears, coyote, wolf and all other creatures. The Snake River was beautiful and we recommend all try the float. Just remember to plan ahead and have a pull out drive arranged. The skeletal remains float away soon in this part of the river.

All things considered, we enjoyed the Tetons and will return. Yellowstone was wonderful in its own way, but something draws us to the Tetons. We are on our way to Boulder and Golden, CO to visit Becky who we have not seen in 8 months. We well venture to southern Wyoming along Hwy. 191 finding a stop along the way. Please, please, make this trip. Your soul will feel the mountains and replenish the body.

Happy Trails,

Barry & Denise

Monday, August 23, 2010

Yellowstone Party

We entered Yellowstone Ntl. Park at the East entrance. The drive over the Bighorn Mountains and to Yellowstone is impressive. Cody would be a good stop over for an entertaining evening, particularly the rodeo. However, we were more interested in Yellowstone.

Entering the park cost $50. for an annual pass which is needed for more that 7 days stay. It is also good at the Grand Tetons so we purchased the annual pass. The Fishing Bridge RV park is 27 miles from the East entrance. However, a beautiful drive. The Fishing Bridge Park is the only park in Yellowstone to accommodate up to a 40 ft. RV. The sites are "tight" but passable. We discovered you are not in the campground except to sleep. We traveled all the Yellowstone roads and viewed the park except the very northern Portion. This required a number hours driving but you can take advantage of the many turnouts and the roads are excellent. Look for people stopping and viewing some creatures. We were fortunate to photo Elk, Deer, Grisly and Black Bear, Wolf, Coyote, and Prairie Dog. The Bison are every where and easily aggravated.

We made a point to view several of the lodges, all built many decades ago. We were most impressed with the Lake Lodge along Lake Jackson and the Roosevelt Lodge in the northern portion of Yellowstone. These accommodations are fairly reasonable at about $150/night plus food. But for a few days an entertaining stay. The Lodge at Grand Tetons is another story.

We ventured to all parts of the park and were most impressed with the Lamar Valley near the northeast entrance and the Madison Area at the West entrance area. The meadows are spectacular to say the least. The beauty is such that it seems you are whispering and catching your breath at each turn. We desperately wanted to launch our kayaks in the meadow creeks or rivers, but alas there is only one small area where canoes and kayaks are permitted. It did not seem worth the effort. The ranger explained they did not have enough rangers to pull the bodies out each year. Of course I commented we cannot protect all from themselves 24/7.

The upper and lower falls in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone are impressive. This was one of my must sees. I was not disappointed. The canyon is vast and the lower falls are 300 ft. Much large than the upper falls. We did not walk the trail but viewed from above. Too much to see in only 4 days. We will return for about a week and hike, explore and find more of Yellowstone.

Please, please, take the time to explore Yellowstone. The views are awe inspiring and you will understand the grandeur of this county.

happy trails,

Barry & Denise

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Buffalo, WY and Bighorn Mountain Crossing

The expedition continues with the eventful crossing of the Bighorn Mountains. We chose to stay the evening in Buffalo, WY. to rest up from Badlands excursions and the drive. I managed to obtain some expert advice about which pass to cross and Highway 16, Powder Cloud Pass was the best. We had 7% grades but navigated the pass without brake or engine problems.

The views were just stunning. The pass reached 9,966 Ft. above sea level but our Admiral managed well. At one point we were full throttle, 4,500 RPM's and lower gear to generate 20 MPH. But the grade brake and gears took us down to Ten Sleep, Wy. We rested for lunch at the Ten Sleep Bar which was an interesting point for the day. The population is very small, however, they were preparing for NOTWOODSTOCK IX. We could not stay for the festival as Yellowstone was calling.

We pressed on to Yellowstone to the Fishing Bridge RV park 27 miles East of the East park entrance. This place is one large park. We arrived at Fishing Bridge in the early afternoon as the sky parted, rain ceased and sun greeted our arrival
View Yellowstone and Badlands Expedition in a larger mapal. The Fishing Bridge RV park is the only park in Yellowstone with utilities. However, this year no electrical service due to a rebuilding of the grid to upgrade to 50 amp., service. We used the generator morning and evening which was not a problem. Daily travel in Yellowstone was a priority and little time was spent at the motorhome. The sites are very close, but since we did not spend any number of hours there, not a problem. The best of the park is the location in the central portion of Yellowstone. All portions of Yellowstone can be accessed from Fishing Bridge and many service are available.

Our exploration of Yellowstone will continue in later postings. Internet and cell service is not available in Yellowstone with any reliability. We are catching the blog up from Grand Tetons Lodge. The journey will continue.

Happy trails,

Barry and Denise

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Blackhills and Custer Park - Day 4

After traveling hard for 3 days we ventured into the Black Hills and Custer State Park for a visit to Crazy Horse Mountain sculpture and Mt. Rushmore. As evidenced by the photos posted on Denise's Facebook, the views and mountain roads are stunning.

Our day adventure began in the Badlands for about 1.5 hour drive to the Black Hills. Entering the Custer Park gave us a glimpse of the day ahead. I would estimate a minimum of 200 motorcycles waiting to enter and pay for the pass. This was one occasion that being in a vehicle sped up the service. The roads cross the park and several narrow, very narrow tunnels must be navigated. One lane road through the tunnels and most had traffic control people to prevent the over sized vehicles. The tunnels are about 10 ft. high and 8-9 ft. wide. Great for the Harley's.

Crazy horse Monument is a view. If you visit, always see the movie. The dedication of the original sculpture who I believe carved for 47 years prior to his death for little or no $$. His wife and 10 children continue to project today. To get a feel for the size of Crazy horse, the Mt. Rushmore carving would fit into the face of Crazy horse.

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The journey continued to Sylvan Lake for a one hour paddle in the kayaks. Wonderful mountain lake with granite natural dam and blue skies. The water was about 65 degrees. A perfect break for lunch and entertainment out of the car.

Returning to the Badlands KOA was a scenic drive again at sunset. The reds appear in the rock formations (once the sea floor) and temps at about 70 degrees and falling. Strong winds from the south west are most typical. This evening we plan to gravel the Sage Creek Rim Road at dusk in search of sheep, prairie dogs, antelope and all other creatures. Hopefully, more pic posts will appear on facebook.

Tommorow is the continue journey to Yellowstone and the Big Horn Mountain Pass.

Happy Trails,

Barry & Denise

Monday, August 9, 2010

Western Mitgration-Day 3


Departed Sioux Falls, SD am Sunday to make our way to the Badlands. The fooler part of the trip was traveling the open land of South Dakota with only on grade of 5.5%. Leaving I-90 going to the South you enter a land seeming to arise from the center of the earth.

The picture on left is near the beginning of the scenic drive through the Badlands National Park about 2 pm. The red is beginning to show in the rocks. We plan to view this area and more today at or near sunset to get the real colors. We will post to facebook and in the blog. If you are traveling in the area DO NOT MISS THIS STOP!
We are settled into the Badlands KOA which we can hardily recommend. The campground is located just past the drive through the Park and is not near the interstate. Quiet park with all the services. Good location to drive to Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse and Black Hills. We plan to make the trip today.
We encountered even more bikers traveling to Sturgis, SD for the rally. I must say they were well mannered on the highway and represent every age and walk of life. We were told 400-500,000 bikes would converge on Sturgis. We will not be visiting. Shame, we brought our chaps, dew rags and leathers for this trip. I suppose I could drive Admiral through Sturgis with Denise on the kayaks on the car rack. Now that would be a blog picture. I will let you know if we get this accomplished.
Happy Trails,
Barry & Denise

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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Western Migration - 2nd Day

As the 2ND day began, the sun rose over Independence, MO. we looked fresh for another day making our way West to the land of honey in Yellowstone. Little did I know that Bailey was ahead of us in anticipation of the journey. When she was discovered in silhouette at the dash of the Admiral. Her early morning get up brought all of us to the floor. Bella joined in and my early morning coffee had to await the necessary "walk" . Good thing they make those doggie bags on a roll.

We evacuated Independence at 9 am. making our way along I-29 North to Sioux Falls, SD. Now, the good people of South Dakota deserve good highways. However, the stimulus money must have arrived. We would reach cruising speed only to encounter construction for miles with washboard roadways. We may have to have the dogs teeth examined for damage. The land is wide open with miles to the horizon of corn and pasture. The day was hot at over 90 degrees but a strong west wind and lower humidity did seem to help.

We were passed by hundreds of Harley's of all description and color. Many trailer the bikes to Sturgis, however, more seemed to be riding. We arrived at the Sioux Falls KOA campground at 5 pm. in need for rest. The entire park seems to be bikers readying for the last miles to the Sturgis Rally. KOA has every blade of grass and gravel occupied and most will clear out in the AM. We plan to make our way to Interior, SD tomorrow and start the exploration of the Badlands. We have the dogs, kayaks and no Harley's. I knew I should have loaded the bicycles.
Happy Trails to all.

Western Migration - Day 1

We arrived in Independence, MO. late afternoon on Friday 8/6/2010. We managed about 500 miles the first leg of our trip and were more than ready to stop. Due to my expert planning, we settled in a small campground in the middle of a Reform Morman Campus. Go figure!

The campground was perfect for a short stay and staff more than helpful. Unknown to us, we were in view of the Spire of the Community of Christ Church International. See the attached pics. Harry Truman would be proud of his hometown. The town was so clean you could eat of the side walks. We met two couples who are traveling many states this summer. They truly had much more experience than us Rubber Rats.
Tomorrow we plan to continue the expedition toward Sioux Falls, S.D. Another 400+ mile days but this will put us in position for a short 3rd. day to the Badlands. We plan to stay at Interior, SD for 3 nights and they push on to Yellowstone. All seems well with coach, dogs and the plains. We are not accustomed to this wide open country with constant wind and very few tree. However, the farms here are about the size of Kentucky.