What Do John Brown, Lewis & Clark, Stonewall Jackson and the Appalachian Trail Have In Common?

Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia

 

Yesterday, Ted and I visited one of our favorite places: The Harper’s Ferry National Park in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.

Harper's Ferry Selfie

Harper’s Ferry Selfie

I grew up in this area and used to visit Harper’s Ferry with my father (a Civil War Buff) before the National Park Service took it over.   Then later, when Ted and I owned Garringer Images – a local photography company, we often went to Harper’s Ferry to photograph this unique town.

Harper's Ferry downtown from the Armory.

Harper’s Ferry downtown from the Armory.

Harper’s Ferry is a real piece of American History.  It was here where the Shenandoah  and the Potomac Rivers meet that George Washington built the first US Armory and Lewis and Clark outfitted and planned their famous exploration;  John Brown and “Stonewall” Jackson both made history here during the Civil War; and the famous C&O Canal and the Appalachian Trail cross paths here.  If you are ever in this area, plan to spend time in Harper’s Ferry…hiking, boating, train watching, and learning about the incredible history of this unique town will easily fill 2 or 3 days!

Today as we hiked along the trails and walked through the restored town I realized that we could not take any new photos better than the ones we used to sell.

Harper's Ferry, West Virginia taken from Saint Peter's Catholic Church

Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia taken from Saint Peter’s Catholic Church

Harper's Ferry, West Virginia - Confluence of the Shenandoah and the Potomac Rivers. Taken from the top of the Maryland Heights Trail.

Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia – Confluence of the Shenandoah and the Potomac Rivers. Taken from the top of the Maryland Heights Trail.

Harper's Ferry Tunnel

Harper’s Ferry Tunnel

If you ever have the chance you’ve got to visit Harper’s Ferry National Park.

Thanks For Riding Along,

Coll

 

 

 

Playing “Catch-Up”: We’ve Had a Busy Month….

 

Iowa-Indiana-Ohio-Pennsylvania-New Jersey-New York-Connecticut to Maryland

 

We left Iowa on September 21st and started our trek back east to check in with family and take care of business….something most full-timers have to do at least once a year….for us it’s twice a year.   We have two home states: Connecticut, where we lived most of our lives (that’s where our hearts are….with our daughter Corrie, snl Will, and our granddaughters); and Maryland-our state of “official” residence, where my Mother, Aunt, Sisters (one is actually in PA) and extended family live.

Maryland is an expensive state to live and work in but current Maryland tax laws are actually pretty reasonable for retirees, especially if you don’t own property in the state. We lived here before going full-time so all of our doctors, bank, etc. are here. For now it makes sense for us to keep our Maryland residency.  We timed our visit to Maryland so that we’d be able to take advantage of Early Voting for the upcoming elections.

With all the miles driven and family visiting I have fallen way behind in my Fools On’a Mission blog (I concentrate on family when we visit….not web site)….so, I decided to catch up by posting Ted’s Fools On’a Mission Facebook Page entries. He is very good at posting one or two liners (always bracketed by 7 annoying ******* asterisks!) to update our movements. If you are on Facebook, be sure to “like” our Fools On’a Mission page so you’ll always be up on our foolish movements.

Thanks For Riding Along,

Coll

 

******* Buffalo, Iowa ~ Nappanee, Indiana ******* ******* September 22nd ******* A 260-mile day. I-80 all the way. Breezed through Southside Chicago before the rush ******* We’re camped at the Newmar assembly plant / factory for the next few *******

Downtown Nappanee, Indiana. Public horse and carriage stalls for parking.

Downtown Nappanee, Indiana. Public horse and carriage stalls for parking.

******* Nappanee, Indiana ~ September 24th ******* ******* Dutch Kitchen Restaurant ******* We had an excellent meal this afternoon at an Amish restaurant. Pork chops, mashed potatoes & gravy, green bean & bacon, corn chowder, beef noodle soup and ice cream for dessert *******

 

******* Nappanee, Indiana ~ Amherst, Ohio ******* ******* September 26th ******* An I-80 drive day… We took on fuel at a Marathon truck stop in Bristol, Indiana. The sign said $3.45 for diesel, in very small print it said “off road use price”. Add another 30-cents for road use tax. They should have just advertised $3.75, bustards *******

 

******* Amherst Rest Area ~I-80 eastbound ******* ******* September 27th ******* We docked for the night along the Ohio Turnpike. Ohio has set aside an area for RV’s only with 50-amp service for $20 a night. There are 10 RV spaces limited to 40-foot in length. Today we’ll continue eastbound *******

9-27 Welcome to PA

******* Amherst, Ohio ~ Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania ******* ******* September 27th ******* I-80 eastbound all day. We’re docked at the Bloomsburg Walmart along with two other coaches & five OTR truckers ******* The coach mileage improved to almost 8.6-MPG through IA, IL, IN & OH (flat land) ******* Had to buy a new battery for the Jeep this afternoon *******

Threading The Needle...on the Tappan Zee Bridge into New York.

Threading The Needle…on the Tappan Zee Bridge into New York.

9-28 Tapan Zee

******* Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania ~ Groton, Connecticut ******* ******* September 28th ******* A tense driving day. We took a new route to Connecticut this time, over the Tappan Zee Toll Bridge just north of NYC. Way too much traffic even for a mid-day Sunday *******

 

******* Groton, Connecticut, September 30th ******* Colleen & I have been helping Will and Corrie paint their kitchen and living room. The paint prep is almost complete, painting begins tomorrow or Thursday *******

 

******* Groton, Connecticut ~ October 3rd ******* ******* Painting Continues & roof maintenance ******* Colleen & Corrie resumed day number two of painting. They’re doing a great job ******* I washed the coach roof & sealed a few places where needed, routine maintenance ******* Liquid Spic & Span ~ 1/4 cup to a gallon of warm water, excellent on a rubber roof *******

 

******* Groton, Connecticut ~ October 5th ****** ******* Painting Update ******* Colleen & Corrie moved the paint project into living room and hall yesterday ******* Jill had soccer in the AM then we played Sorry the rest of the day ******* Grace was with Will most of the day *******

 

******* Groton, Connecticut ~ Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania ******* *******October 10th ******* Corrie and Coll finished painting on Wednesday ******* We put the finishing touches up on Thursday ******* We walked Grace & Jill to school this AM, said our goodbyes & began our drive south ******* We’re docked at Sam’s tonight, taking the Jeep to Sam’s tire center in the AM because of a slow leaking tire *******

 

******* Wilkes Barre ~ Jeep tire, slow leaker ******* ******* October 11th ******* The Sam’s tire guy found a small 1/2″ #4 screw in the tire, repaired for free *******

 

******* Sam’s 2 Sam’s / Wilkes Barre, PA ~ Hagerstown, MD ******* ******* October 11th ******* We arrived in Hagerstown around 4PM. Docked at Sam’s again tonight ******* Church this evening at Saint Mary in Hagerstown ******* Supply shopping & dumping the tanks in the morning *******

 

******* Hagerstown MD ~ Sabillasville MD ******* ******* October 13th ******* We’ll be docked at Colleen’s sister’s home for the next two weeks ******* Jodi & Tom (Kingdom Landscape) have made a nice RV pad for us on their property ******* While here have a dozen “must do” errands to take care of ******

Allenberg Apple Orchard, Smithsburg, Maryland.

Allenberg Apple Orchard, Smithsburg, Maryland.

******* Smithsburg, Maryland ******* ******* October 13th ******* The apple growers in the Smithsburg area are having a great year. The orchards are full ******* The autumn colors are just coming on in the Cumberland Valley, higher up the mountain along the Appalachian Trail the trees are further along *******

 

October 14:  Hagerstown, Maryland

Ted the Tool Man installed a hand rail for Aunt Gwen this AM…..is there anything he can’t do??

Mister Fix-it

Mister Fix-it

******* Sabillasville, Maryland ~ October 17th ******* ******* The To Do List ******* Complete except for Maryland early voting on the 23rd, my Cancer Doc visit & our dental cleaning on Monday *******

 

The Worlds Largest Truck Stop!

Shady Creek Campground

Army Corps of Engineers

Near Muscatine, Iowa

 

Our quiet little campground is now full to capacity.  Campers started rolling in on Friday afternoon and soon every spot was taken. We really enjoy watching families’ set-up for a weekend of camping, although it is surprising that any campground is full this time of year. I’d say that 90% of the campers here are local – within 15 or 20 miles.   Guess everyone knows that they only have a couple of nice weekends left before it’s just too cold.

Our neighbors are in every kind of camper…. Tents, pop-ups, trailers of all sizes, old and new.   When we arrived here on Wednesday, there was another full-time Motor Home couple here but they moved on yesterday. They were from Massachusetts and were newbie’s — full-timers for about 3-months. Unfortunately, they had had a series of “expensive” problems with their older Winnebago and so were a little bummed. In fact, the day they closed on their house, they had to have the Winnebago towed out of their “sold” driveway because the engine chose that moment to fail. We swapped travel stories and hopefully they are feeling a little better about their decision to live life on the road.   I have a feeling that a newer motor home is in their future.

Today we decided to explore to the north. We drove about 20-miles to Davenport, Iowa and headed for their Mississippi River Park where we knew we’d find another walking trail. What we found was a thriving downtown community area right on the river. There were three separate festivals going on down there today: (1) The Irish Rugby Riverssance Festival….complete with kilted rugby players medieval warriors and lots of bag pipers (fun to watch but not really our cup of tea); (2) The WQPT Radio Brew Ha Ha….for $35 you can sample all of the local brews you’d like (no dogs or wine drinkers allowed); and (3) the biggest most beautiful Farmer’s Market we have ever visited! I guess being in the heart of mid-west farmland makes a difference.

Davenport, Iowa Farmer's Market...every Saturday at Riverside Park.

Davenport, Iowa Farmer’s Market…every Saturday at Riverside Park.

We strolled around the market place for a while, sampled some wares, and then headed off down the river path for a nice 5-mile hike.

Back in the Jeep, we had to scratch an item off Ted’s Bucket List…..a visit to the World’s Largest Truck Stop!

The World's Largest Truck Stop on I-80 in Walcott, Iowa.

The World’s Largest Truck Stop on I-80 in Walcott, Iowa.

For years Ted has heard pieces of stories and driver tales about the wonders of “The World’s Largest Truck Stop” in Walcott, Iowa…..how the lot can hold hundreds and hundreds of trucks that pass through from every corner of the USA……how drivers can buy ANYTHING they need…….how there is an Indoor Chrome Shop and Big Rig Showroom! ….. and that you can get any kind of food you want!!

So here we are….

I-80 Truck Stop

I-80 Truck Stop

Leaving Andy in the Jeep, it was cool enough, we walked into the place like we belonged there! It was something! It almost reminded me of Wall Drugs back in South Dakota – there is that much stuff under one roof. First Stop: The I-80 Kitchen where for $12.00 you can belly up to a buffet bar and eat like the pros.   I am not proud to tell you that I couldn’t pass us the stuffed Iowa pork chops…..I had two and they were at least a quarter pound each – not to mention the trimmings.

Next we toured the chrome shop and the indoor big rig showroom…everything was flashing lights and shiny trim – beautiful. If you need it – they have it here. Oh, and if you want something in camouflage….they have it. Oddly enough, we managed to tour the place and leave without buying anything.   We have our little home just about the way we want it and we don’t need to add any chrome or lights. If you ever travel I-80 in Iowa you gotta stop for the pork chops if nothing else.  Oh, by-the-way, gas was $2.97 at a nearby station – lowest we’ve seen in the last 5-months.

Back at the campground, we hurried up and changed for church then headed south for Saturday night Mass at Muscatine’s 170 year old Saint Mathias Church.   One of the things we truly enjoy about our travels is being able to visit a different parish every Sunday.

Thanks For Riding Along,

Coll

 

 

 

 

 

The Pearl Button Capitol Of The World!

Shady Creek Campground

Near Muscatine, Iowa

 

Today was a beautiful day here on the Mississippi. This morning, we drove about 10-miles into Muscatine to explore their downtown Riverfront Park. The Riverfront includes 3 or 4 green areas that are connected by a long and winding biking/hiking walkway that runs about 5-miles along the Mississippi River.   Walking shoes on….ready to explore….we set out heading south. We were treated to the sights and sounds of the river which include barges, trains and wonderful smells.

Muscatine, Iowa Riverfront Park

Muscatine, Iowa Riverfront Park

The walkway is clean and well maintained with plenty of benches where you can sit and quietly contemplate the River. This was one of Mark Twain’s favorite places, he lived here for a time and even wrote about Muscatine’s stunning riverfront sunsets. “I remember Muscatine for its sunsets.  I have never seen any on either side of the ocean that equaled them.”

Along the walkway there are fountains and several bronze statues that help to tell the story of Muscatine’s founding and growth.

Mississippi Harvest Bronze on Muscatine's Riverwalk

“Mississippi Harvest” Bronze on Muscatine’s Riverwalk

This is Muscatine’s famous “Mississippi Harvest” bronze by Erik Blome. It is dedicated to the men and women of Muscatine who made this city the Pearl Button capital of the world! Look close and you can see the mussels and clams at the feet of this clamdigger.

The inside of the shells have a pearlized layer that reflects many colors of natural oyster pearls. Back in the late 1800’s a German immigrant moved here to establish a better life. In Germany, he had been a successful button maker so, he looked around Muscatine to find some natural material that he could use to produce buttons here in the states…..he found the perfect, beautiful material inside Mississippi River mussel shells and began harvesting the shells to make buttons…I can only imagine the amount of mussels that man’s poor family must have had to eat! The production and sale of his “Pearl” buttons soon become one of the biggest booms the city has ever seen.

By 1905 Muscatine produced 1.5 billion pearl buttons annually. With nearly 37% of the worlds buttons coming from Muscatine, the town became the undisputed Pearl Button Capital of the World.

Here’s a close-up of the bronze from below.

"Mississippi Harvest"

“Mississippi Harvest”

We walked about 3-miles along the the trail. On the way we met a very knowlegable local man who told us all about Muscatine and the many responsible corporate citizens who help to make the city a great place to live and raise a family.   There is a lot more for us to see her in Muscatine.

By noon we were back at our campground and ready for lunch. Today was pasta day with homemade sauce chock full of veggies and chunky ground beef with just enough heat to make it interesting!

The campground is starting to fill-up for the weekend. They say it is filled every weekend of the summer till it closes for the season in October. Guess we were lucky to get a site.

Thanks For Riding Along,

Coll

 

Stinking Fish

Yankton to Muscatine via Anamosa Iowa

Shady Creek Campground

 

We had a very relaxing week at the Army Corp campground in Yankton, South Dakota.  All was quiet and peaceful….except that they “poisoned” the lake while we were there.

Yankton Lake, South Dakota after controlled poisoning of invasive carp.

Yankton Lake, South Dakota after controlled poisoning of invasive carp.

It seems that in 2011 after a flood hit this area, the lake was taken over by an invasive species of carp.  Things got so bad that the carp multiplied and multiplied till there was no room for other fish.  Normally, Yankton Lake is home to bass and even sturgeon but, after the carp invasion, fishermen weren’t catching anything but the inedible carp.  So, the officials determined that the only way to get rid of the carp and restore the lake to its former natural state was to kill everything in it and start over. On Monday, we watched as they began to drain the lake. Next day, we saw them placing barrells of a chemical poisen at every inlet and low spot around the lake.  We were told that the chemical would not harm birds or poodles and other air breathing creatures. The chemical actually took the oxygen out of the lake water thereby causing all of the water creatures to die……99% invasive carp.

Invasive carp in Yankton Lake, South Dakota....after poisoning.

Invasive carp in Yankton Lake, South Dakota….after poisoning.

By day three, the lake water was very low and the dead fish were uncountable. The smell was not pleasant.  Lucky for us, our campsite was not right on the water, we could smell it all right but it was not unbearable….not so nice for many of our camping neighbors.

The plan for the lake is to let the fish rot naturally over the winter and, in the spring, re-fill the water from the nearby Lewis and Clark Lake.

On Monday we checked out of Yankton and headed for Anamosa, Iowa where we had an appointment on Tuesday to have our steps fixed at a Newmar dealer.  We overnighted at a Sam’s Club in Waterloo and pulled into Lasso RV on Tuesday around 1 pm.  They took us right in and an hour later we were fixed (it was a big bolt in the step thing-a-ma-gig that broke) and ready to go.  We decided to spend the night there ….why not….since they had a really quiet spot for us on their back country lane.

Near Amber, Iowa.

Near Amber, Iowa.

This morning, we waved good-by and headed toward the Mississippi.  Tonight, and for the next 5-days, we’ll be soaking up the sights and sounds of Old Man River.  We are camped just outside Muscatine, Iowa at another Army Corps Campground: Shady Creek ($8 a night for seniors).  Our campsite backs up to the Mississippi and an active train line runs on the other side of the campground. Ted is in heaven with his two loves: The Mississippi and Freight Trains.  More later.

Thanks For Riding Along,

Coll

 

Blame it on that Cigar Smoking Alice!

Cottonwood Campground

Army Corps of Engineers

Yankton, South Dakota

 

You’d never know that we are full-time Motor home people because, for the last month or so, Ted and I have been “touring” like vacationers and, it is exhausting! It started back in mid-August with the Wyoming State Fair in Douglass; then on to Cody where Ol’ Buffalo Bill settled a cowboy town; next Yellowstone for 8-days of hiking and buffalo hunting; back to Cody for a couple of days to see what we missed the first time; then, on to Devil’s Tower (love that place); next we made Custer, South Dakota our tour base and we visited the Wind Cave National Park, Mount Rushmore, and the Jewel Cave and Custer State Park; Whew…..just thinking about all of the Visitor Centers and Gift Shops we been in makes me dizzy (I have 2-new baseball caps!).

Custer Slept here and so did we.

Custer Slept here and so did we.

We left Custer on September 3rd. Our first stop, just 40-miles down Interstate-90 was in Rapid City to shop at the first Sam’s Club we’ve been near since Casper, Wyoming. We stocked up on freezer food, paper goods and stuff that is affordable only at a big box store: walnuts, craisins, coffee and granola bars.

Next stop was at a gas station not too far from Rapid City. That’s where we met Rover. This poor guy pulled up beside us at the pumps. It seems that his family is moving to Alaska and they just loaded him in the truck – house and all. He wasn’t very happy but he was comfortable.

Alaska or Bust!

Alaska or Bust!

Back on the road, we started seeing signs for Wall Drugs….Wall South Dakota. There were signs along I-90 every couple of miles….. “Free Coffee and Donut for Honeymooners”…… “Best Western Steaks You’ve Ever Eaten”….. “Doesn’t Matter What it is – We have it!” Well of course we had to stop!

Wall, South Dakota

Wall, South Dakota

The way the story goes….the original owner of a small drug store in the cowboy town of Wall wanted to attract customers to the store so they put up a series of signs on all of the roads leading to and from the Drug Store….wasn’t long before the place became famous!  I didn’t see anything that looked like a Drug Store.

Wall Drugs in Wall South Dakota

Wall Drugs in Wall South Dakota

The whole place was a little overwhelming. I sat down beside this old gal, Alice, to take it all in.

This is cigar smoking, card play'n Alice.

This is cigar smoking, card play’n Alice.

Much to Ted’s horror, we were there an hour before he could get me back in the coach….blame it on Alice and her stupid card games! I couldn’t wait to post a picture of Wall Drugs on Facebook and it’s lucky I did, because one of my FB friends told me about the Corn Palace that we’d be passing along the way! Late in the afternoon we stopped for the night in Chamberlain, SD at a private campground on the Missouri River – but, not before we visited “Al’s Oasis” where you can pet plastic Buffalo and buy Indian jewelry and western wear like the cowboys used to sport! We liked Chamberlain so much we stayed two nights.

Leaving Chamberlain, we left I-90 and headed south on secondary roads so I never did make it to the famous Corn Place in Mitchell. Instead, we had an enjoyable drive through very rural farmland and small towns till we reached the South Dakota/Nebraska boarder where we knew there was an Army Corp of Engineers Campground.

It’s a great spot right on the Missouri River at Yankton, South Dakota… we can see Nebraska just across the water. And, best of all, the campground is quiet, inexpensive ($8 a night for seniors) and there isn’t a Visitor’s Center in sight. We are treating ourselves to another vacation….this one will be full of rest and relaxation – we’ll be here a week.

Thanks For Riding Along,

Coll

 

Camp Here! Custer Did!

Wheels West Campground

Custer, South Dakota

 

Wheels West Campground, Custer, South Dakota....where George Custer and the 7th Calvary camped.

Wheels West Campground, Custer, South Dakota….where George Custer and the 7th Calvary camped.

For the last couple of nights we have been happily camped at Wheels West Campground.  It is a small, very neat and clean, private campground that sits right on the same spot where General George A. Custer and his 7th Calvary camped way back in 1874.  This was the longest stop they made during their Black Hills Expedition. His expedition party included 1000 men; 1900 horses; 300 beef cattle and 110 wagons! He also had 100 Indian scouts and 2 newspaper correspondents.  It was while they were camped here that one of his men, Horatio Ross discovered gold in the little French Creek that runs just behind our motorhome.  That discovery started the stampede of “get rich quickers” from all over the country which forced the entry into the forbidden Black Hills. Forbidden because these hill were the sacred home of the Lakota Sioux Indians and…..as always happened….they were soon forced out of their homeland.  Many went to Canada and many were forced down into the Okalohoma territory.

But today, this is a beautiful spot just outside the gates of the Custer State Park.  This is actually the 2nd time we have camped here – we found this gem 4-years ago on our first trip to these parts.  $35.00 a night/full hook-up….a good deal in this tourist rich area.

Mount Rushmore's Grand Entrance

Mount Rushmore’s Grand Entrance

Yesterday we visited Mount Rushmore – just 20-miles from Custer. An amazing place that includes two parking garages built right into the mountain! It is the only way to accommodate so many tourists at such a remote place. This is a photo of the iconic carvings from the Grand Entryway. This will give you an idea of the size of this National Monument Park. On site are restaurants, gift shops, museums and a wonderful boardwalk trail that takes you close to the carvings and provides many different views.

Following the Presidential Trail at Mount Rushmore

Following the Presidential Trail at Mount Rushmore

Along the way we got a good picture of a couple of Rushmore Residents: a momma mountain goat and her baby. Love this photo! Doesn’t it look like she is smiling?

Mama Mountain Goat and baby at Mount Rushmore.

Mama Mountain Goat and baby at Mount Rushmore.

We took lots of photos of the presidents but one of my favorites is this one of just George that we took as we were driving back down the mountain.

 

George from the road. At Mount Rushmore

George from the road. At Mount Rushmore

Thanks For Riding Along,

Coll

Devil’s Tower….Aliens?

Devil’s Tower National Monument

Devils Tower, Wyoming

 

Devil’s Tower is one of the most recognizable landscape oddities in the world. I remember looking at it through my View-Master Gold  that I got for Christmas one year as a kid. It was on the National Parks Slide and every time I clicked through that slide I stared at that Tower it in wonder…..mainly because it was called The Devil’s Tower…. ”is that where he lives?”

The Devil's Tower National Monument - Wyoming.  Note the Prairie Dogs staring up at the Tower in awe.

The Devil’s Tower National Monument – Wyoming. Note the Prairie Dogs staring up at the Tower in awe.

Today, as a fairly intelligent and practical older woman; I’m more concerned about the reports of Alien Beings visiting this site (Close Encounters….).   Now that’s just nonsense – isn’t it?

The Devil's Tower taken from the Pine Forest section of the Red Bed Trail.

The Devil’s Tower taken from the Pine Forest section of the Red Bed Trail.

Interesting, many American Indian people have long considered the Tower a place of spiritual worship. Northern Plains Indians honor the towering rock formation and consider it a sacred place; in fact, over 20 American Indian Tribes have a cultural connection with The Tower. Today, many ceremonies are still held here including pipe ceremonies, the tying of prayer cloths and vision quests. Group rituals include sweat lodge gatherings and sun dance ceremonies.   All of the sacred items associated with these ceremonies are left undisturbed on the trees, rocks and trails that surround The Devil’s Tower.

But today we were on a quest of our own: To hike the Red Beds Trail that circles the Tower….surly if alien beings landed here we would see evidence of it on the surrounding landscape.   Our campsite sits in the shadow of The Tower so it was an easy hike up the mountain side to the Red Beds Trailhead.

Red Bed Trail Info:  2.8 mile loop, moderate to difficult, very steep in places.  Mostly a foot-path trail.

Red Bed Trail Info: 2.8 mile loop, moderate to difficult, very steep in places. Mostly a foot-path trail.

This trail is described as moderate-difficult. It is a 2.8 mile loop that takes you from the Visitor’s Center, down to the Fourche River, and then back up a rugged climb to the Tower. It is well-marked and for the most part you are following a well-worn foot path that winds up and down the volcano mountain. I could imagine Indian Tribes following these grassy trails single file going to The Tower.  No matter where you are on that trail, The Devil looms above.

The Devil's Tower taken from the Red Beds Trail Grassland area.

The Devil’s Tower taken from the Red Beds Trail Grassland area.

At one point, the trail enters an ancient erosion area that was formed eons ago. The views were spectacular!

The Red Beds Trail at Devil's Tower.  This is the ancient erosion section near the Fourche River.

The Red Beds Trail at Devil’s Tower. This is the ancient erosion section near the Fourche River.

Trail completed and back at the Visitor’s Center we started watching some of the Rock Climbers on the Devil….Unbelievable!   We decided to walk the 1.5 mile Tower Trail to get a better look. Zoom in on these photos of The Tower and you’ll see as many as 6-climbers on the rock face.   They climb in pairs.

Devil's Tower Wyoming. Zoom in on this photo and you'll see at least 6-rock climbers scaling those columns.

Devil’s Tower Wyoming. Zoom in on this photo and you’ll see at least 6-rock climbers scaling those columns.

Devil's Tower.  Zoom in to find the rock climbers.

Devil’s Tower. Zoom in to find the rock climbers.

As you can see by all of the photos of The Devil’s Tower, it never really looks the same way twice……odd…. it is almost as if it is (somehow) living…..always changing its face…..never the same size or color….Alien in Fact!

Thanks for Riding Along,

Coll

Yellowstone: Climbing Mt. Washburn

Peter D’s RV Park

Sheridan, Wyoming

 

We left Yellowstone on Friday and spent another enjoyable weekend in Cody, Wyoming at the Buffalo Bill State Park. There is so much to see in Cody…..you could easily spend a week there. This is a photo of the Buffalo Bill (all things are Buffalo Bill in Wyoming) Dam. The Dam has been designated a National Historic Landmark because, at the time it was built, it was the tallest dam in the world.  So, while there, I was able to get another “stamp” for my National Parks Pass-Port Book…Yippee!

The Buffalo Bill Reservoir Dam, Cody, Wyoming.

The Buffalo Bill Reservoir Dam, Cody, Wyoming.

On Sunday, we  visited the site of Buffalo Bill Cody’s original town – today it is called Old Town and it includes buildings dating back to the mid to late 1800’s including the tavern where Butch and Sundance’s Hole-In-The Wall gang reportedly hung out. Also on this property is the grave of “Jeremiah Johnson” the mountain man that Robert Redford made famous.

The original site of Buffalo Bill's planned town, "Cody".  It has been recreated with period structures from all over Wyoming.

The original site of Buffalo Bill’s planned town, “Cody”. It has been recreated with period structures from all over Wyoming.

Now, back to Yellowstone Adventures:  One of our best days there was the day we climbed Mount Washburn. If you can only take one hike while you’re at Yellowstone – Mount Washburn Trail has to be it! It is located in the Canyon Section of Yellowstone and no other trail gives you the breathtaking views and majestic climb that you will experience on this trail.  But be warned – it is not for beginners. The trail head is located at Dunraven Pass – 4.75 miles north of Canyon Junction.

The Washburn Trail Info.

The Washburn Trail Info.  FYI: We had bear spray!

The elevation at the trailhead is 8,750 feet. Your goal is the ranger station at the very top of Mount Washburn. This photo was taken from the trail about ¼ mile into the hike.

I circled our goal: the Ranger station more than 10,000 feet high; over 1400 feet above us at that point.

I circled our goal: the Ranger station more than 10,000 feet high; over 1400 feet above us at that point.

It is a 3-mile one-way climb up to an elevation of 10,243 feet with unbelivable views along the way.

The trail itself is fairly well maintained. At some places there is a lot of loose stone and gravel where you have to be careful – especially coming down. As you climb you pass through mountain meadows; then thick pine forests where you expect to see grizzly’s around every corner; and then high cliffs where you can see big horn sheep at home on nearly vertical outcroppings. And all the while the feeling that you are “actually doing this” is incredible!

Those little white spots on the ridge are long horn sheep.

Those little white spots on the ridge are long horn sheep.

Coll climbing Washburn Trail at Yellowstone

Coll climbing Washburn Trail at Yellowstone

This is a good photo of Washburn Trail.

This is a good photo of Washburn Trail at a pretty level spot….most of the time it is straight up.

There were not many on the trail the day we climbed….maybe 15 in all, so for the most part you are alone on the mountainside. This is another photo of our goal as we approached the tree line- it still seemed a long way away.

Mount Washburn Ranger Station from below...almost there!

Mount Washburn Ranger Station from below…almost there!

The final switchback trail to the top was brutal and the feeling when we made it was euphoric.

Ted triumphant at the top!

Ted triumphant at the top!

We hung around up there for a while. There is a ranger who mans this post 24/7 during fire season. He watches after the weather station and tolerates the giddy climbers who make it up to his domain. He is a man of few words but did tell us, when we asked how often he was relieved up here, that he has no reason to “go down”. They bring him food and whatever else he needs. I don’t think he wanted to go down….and who can blame him….it is a peaceful world unto itself up there. Although, I don’t think I’d want to be up there in winter. In fact, the day after our climb they recorded snow at the ranger station!

Thanks For Riding Along,

Colleen

Yellowstone National Park

Buffalo Bill State Park

Cody, Wyoming

 

For the last week we have been camped in Yellowstone National Park. Internet was really poor (hey you’re 8,000 feet plus up in the middle of wilderness!) so we didn’t post while we were there. So glad we went….If you’ve never been, make sure you put it on your bucket list.

Yellowstone was the World’s first National Park and has served as a land preservation model for many other nations. All of my life I have heard about Yellowstone but never realized that it is actually a huge Volcano!   The last major eruption was more than 640,000 years ago….it was huge and spewed debris that formed the 45-mile volcanic basin that is Yellowstone today. In fact, the massive heat that powered that eruption still lingers within the park’s geysers, hot springs and mudpots. Nowhere in the world are there more active geysers than right here at Yellowstone.

Yellowstone Norris Area Geyser Baisin

Yellowstone Norris Area Geyser Baisin

There are seven main areas within the park that are setup to cater to the visitor. Each has a campground, lodge, cabins and restaurant(s). We stayed in the Fishing Bridge region where the only RV Campground with hook-ups is located.   At first, the campground was a disappointment. It has over 400 campsites that are very small and very close together. There are no fire pits and no picnic tables in the campground because of the bears….yes, grizzly bears. They don’t want any food outside that could tempt a bear. You can cook on a gas or charcoal grill but you cannot leave it unattended and you must put the grill away when you’re done. But, after the initial disappointment, you realize that very little time is actually spent in the campground because there is so much to see!

Bison watering in the Yellowstone River near a picnic area.

Bison watering in the Yellowstone River near a picnic area.

The Canyon Area was one of our favorite spots.  There you can hike to massive waterfalls or around the Yellowstone Grand Canyon rim.   Unbelievable!

Yellowstone Grand Canyon near Canyon Village.

Yellowstone Grand Canyon near Canyon Village.

Ted hiking the Canyon Trail.

Ted hiking the Canyon Trail.

 

Yellowstone Upper Falls at the Canyon.

Yellowstone Upper Falls at the Canyon.

And of course, the main feature of the Old Faithful Area is….Old Faithful! This geyser erupts every 45 to 65 minutes….just like clockwork.  This is one of the most visited geysers in the park because of it’s dependable reputation.  There had to be at least 500 people there that day.

Old Faithful: Before and After

Old Faithful: Before and After

At the West Thumb Area and also at the Mud Volcano you can follow wooden boardwalks through the geyser fields.

West Thumb Geyser Field

West Thumb Geyser Field

Yellowstone Mud Volcano.

Yellowstone Mud Volcano.

The Sulfur Cauldron

The Sulfur Cauldron

 

And of course there is plenty of wildlife. We didn’t see any grizzly bears but we did see big horn sheep, mule deer and lots and lots of bison.

A herd of bison strolling through our picnic area.

A herd of bison strolling through our picnic area.

Massive Bison just feet from our jeep!

Massive Bison just feet from our jeep!

As you can imagine, we have a file full of photos, and a couple of really neat videos. Hope you are up for seeing more because I’m going to do a couple of more posts about our adventures at Yellowstone.

Thanks for riding along,

Coll