Saturday, September 17, 2011

September 17, 2011

Leaving the Black Hills, Wall Drug, and Crossing the Missouri River.

Bright sunny morning as we drove through the Black Hills and back down to the plaines. As we approached Rapid City we encountered fog even more dense than that we saw in Wyoming. Went to a brand new Sams Club for gas and then east again. Stopped in Wall, SD to again visit Wall Drug. Hard to describe this except to say that every tourist needs to visit Wall Drug at least once. This was our second time. We probably will not need to do it again except that it is a good break spot on the drive across South Dakota.

East again to Pierre, SD. This is the state capital. It is literally in the middle of nowhere. No major roads go through or even nearby. Even the roads to it are not that large. It sits on the banks of the Missouri River in the middle of rolling prairie. Very nice capitol building which was evidently the model for many other state houses. We are camped in a city park on the edge of the river. The mid-west floods of the spring did not spare Pierre. Most of this parks infrastructure was flooded. RV campground, Little League field, tennis courts, skate park, picnic areas, and more. There are still sand bags around some areas. When we pulled in we were cautioned by other campers to check for electric power before choosing a site. Some sites do not work. The ground everywhere still has the rippled look left by water rushing over it.

The river is still very high. No bare shoreline to speak of. It is also a big river. Looks wider than the Sacramento.

Today was very windy. There were white caps on the river.

Still a pretty spot away from traffic noise.

Friday, September 16, 2011

September 16, 2011

Return to the Black Hills

Left Casper under bright, clear skys. About twenty miles down the road we encountered fog which lasted for forty miles off and on, sometimes quite dense. Fog on the prairie. Who knew.

After the fog, miles and miles of short grass rolling prairie. In to South Dakota and gradually the rolling prairie becomes hills. And trees appear. We pass through Wind Cave National Park and then Custer and then back to the same RV campground we stayed in two years ago.

The only major attraction we missed last time here was the Crazy Horse Memorial so off we went to see it. The memorial is a work in progress and will be for a LONG time. The original sculpture died some time ago and his family carries on with the work. The visitor center complex has a lot of tourist trap stuff but there is also a great deal of Indian history, crafts, culture, and art and much about the man who conceived and started the project. We spent several hours there and didn't see it all. Well worth the admission price.

Memorial now.

Memorial in the future,

Face is done.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

September 15,2011

On to Casper

Soon after we got set up yesterday afternoon it started to rain. Not too heavy but still wet and chilly. It was nice to sit inside and watch and listen to. I enjoy doing that in a tent but a RV is much more comfortable :) . Rained off and on 'til sundown. No rain at night but sky still cloudy in the morning.

Relatively short drive over endless rolling prairie. Arrived in Casper, WY in late morning. Sams for gas and broccoli and then to park the Carbus.

After lunch we did some sightseeing. First was a drive up Casper Mountain. About half way up is a vista spot looking out over the city. Supposidly Casper was laid out in the shape of a bucking mustang. No idea why. We thought we could make it out with some imagination. Took pictures but can't get it all in one shot. Would be best seen from airplane directly over the city. We continued to the top where there is a ski area. Can you say Poma Lift and Rope Tow. Childhood memories.

Next stop was our first quilt shop of the trip. Nice store and we had a nice chat with the owner about machines and software. Don't know about the weather extremes but Casper seems like a nice, liveable town with friendly people.

Casper is located where at least five of the major emigrant trails came together to cross the North Platte River. On top of a hill overlooking the city is the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center.

The center has seven interactive exhibit galleries and multimedia programs that tell some of the stories of life on the trails for those who traveled them and those whose lands they passed through.

Even had a couple Disney type ride/exhibits. One simulated crossing the river in a wagon complete with bumping and jostling and another simulated a stage coach ride with rider dialog. Both had video as though you were looking at landscape as you rode.

The building is not much to look at from the outside but the inside is very well done. We spent a couple of hours there. A nice perk for us is that the center is managed by BLM, hence our Golden Age Passports gained us free admission. Still continues to be the best $10 we ever spent. Even with the fee, this is a must see if one happens to be in Casper :) .

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

September 14, 2011

South Pass

Temperature this morning was 32 degrees. Started traveling a little later as we had a bit shorter drive planned.

Today we continued east on I80 for about 50 miles and then headed north and east following in reverse the path of most of the emigrant trails. Flat to rolling country land that would be easy travel for wagons. The gentleness of the topography is deceptive however. It is high. Much of it is over 7000' elevation. Long, straight, (like into the horizon) stretches of road a mile and a half above sea level. South Pass, through which the trails went, looks like the low foothills of the Sierra Nevada - just much higher (and colder).

We crossed the Continental Divide at 7600' and the road continued up over some ridges on the eastern side. Highest point we reached was between 8500' and 8600'. Ten days ago we attended a wedding at High Camp, elevation 8200' :) . Some trees are already changing color.

We are in Lander, WY. It is gray, windy, and cool. Looks like an inside afternoon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September 13, 2011

On to Wyoming
Not much to say about yesterdays travels. Northeastern Nevada is much like Northwestern Nevada along I80. Dry, flat, straight road with some curves. Pretty boring except for occasional construction. Actually quite a bit of road improvement. Part of stimulus I guess.

We spent last night in Wendover NV/UT. New casino RV park. Nice but it and adjacent truck parking are very well lit at night. Full moon didn't help either.

Moon over Wendover

Felt much like Alaska summer nights. Seriously considered breaking out the blockout screens.

Today we started out crossing the salt flats. Much like Nevada only white. Salt Lake City was a little better this time through. At least the air was clear. It is still a big, busy, city though. Big freeways with huge, complex, interchanges. Glad to be through it.

East of Salt Lake City I80 is very nice. Through the mountains and up to Park City. Saw the jumping hill from the olympics as we passed through. Pretty drive through and over hills on to Evanston, Wyoming. Planned to stay there but RV park was very close to freeway. Been there, done that for the last two nights. Moved on to Fort Bridger. Two miles off freeway in a very pretty area. RV park right next to Historic Fort Bridger. Major stopping spot on just about every major emigrant trail.

Wagons on side street in town of Fort Bridger

The fort grounds are quite extensive. There is a charge to visit and we were too late to really do a good tour so we passed. We have seen a number of similar forts. Touring this fort would take several hours and I'm sure is full of historical information but we have a goal further east.

The RV park is very nice. Large, flat, grassy area with huge sites. And Quiet! :). Well, mostly quiet. Right now we are listening to live accordian polka music. Pretty good.

Tomorrow we leave the freeway and head to the hills.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 2011

Big Trip Has Begun

Week before last was spent recreating and relaxing in and around Truckee, CA. We spent time with family and friends, did some hiking and biking and sight seeing, and finished the week attending a very nice wedding and reception. The wedding was held at Squaw Valley's High Camp. Outstanding view as backdrop to ceremony.

Last week was spent doing Dr.'s appointments, shopping, servicing, packing, closing up house, helping friends with computer problems, etc. Friday night we attended the opening of 'Children of Eden' in Roseville. Grandkids Nicholas and Amanda are both in it and their parents are very involved in the production. Great Show! Can't say much more. If you will be in or around next weekend consider seeing this show. You will not be disappopinted.

Today our journey began. We left home at 7:30 and headed east over the hill. In Reno we went north to Costco in Sparks to get gas. Then on to Winnemucca where we are now. Light traffic all the way and pretty comfortable temps. Right now it is partly cloudy, mid 70's, breezy, and thunder in the distance.

Clouds and hint of Rainbow over Winnemucca.

Todays trip was a little over 260 miles, much of it flat and straight. Tomorrow will be a little shorter.