A Day for Catching UP

After a drive down to Hot Springs SD for some things I had to do at the VA. We decided to kick back and relax sorta the trailer had to get cleaned and so did I. I spent the remainder of the day visiting with 2 parrots and watching Roy help a complete newbie figure out what was wrong with their trailer. Sometimes the fix is the simplest thing, a blown circuit breaker. Once that was fixed her thing worked.

I’ve been to a few VA hospitals and clinics but nothing compares to the VA facility in Hot Springs SD. It was built in 1907 and most of those buildings are still in use. It is on a bluff overlooking Hot Springs. It was originally a Sanitarium and used the medicinal waters of the hot springs to treat anything from lung problems to skin issues. Battle Mountain Sanitarium as it was called only cost $150,000 for construction and another $20,000 for equipment. Pricey for that day and age. Today It serves Veterans with mental health, kidney dialysis, TBIs, and an urgent care. As for how I was treated everyone was attentive and very helpful, which was refreshing. I plan on going back down to this VA and will take pictures of the grounds to share. I did get one picture of the grounds. There was this lone white lily.

After getting one prescription and trying to figure out how to get another prescription filled, we decided to do lunch. I have not stopped at a DQ for lunch in a long time, today was the day.

just hanging out

On the ride home we stopped by a known hang out for prairie dogs and of course my camera was out and snapping photos. He was just sitting there like a potato. It summed up how I felt after a long day of waiting around. I did see some prairie dog porn but didn’t photograph it. I have to say they are interesting to watch but the holes are everywhere busy colony for sure. This colony is on the way to Wind Cave National Park. I can and probably will sit for hours watching these little ones play and run around this trip.

Just a few of them
from the side mirror

We try and drive wildlife loop at every opportunity this trip around seemed like it was going to be a bust. (plus I forgot the apples for the burros). We get to one of the visitor’s centers and haven’t seen ANY buffalo which is rare. So, after taking a short cut and still seeing no buffalo I almost give up hope. We turn a corner, and it seemed like the whole herd was there. Interesting that they were this far away from the usual stomping grounds. We stayed here moving a few feet every time, some because of my picture taking but mostly because the buffalo own the road. You don’t go until they say you go.

We also decided to take some interactive pictures of a few of the brave prairie dogs next to the buffalo.

It felt good to sit back and relax today. Next, we check out some water falls on our drive of Spearfish Canyon.

I Promise

I promise this summer will not be all about buffalo I will throw in other things. Like these deer we found on our way to the Fairburn Agate fields. But the creek rose, and we couldn’t get there from here. More on that later.

run Bambi run

Fairburn South Dakota is a very small town, think ghost town with a few people still living. We wanted to go see the agate bed outside of town but had to ask for directions. There were people outside cleaning up the school. You guessed it go down over yonder see the yellow trailer on that road. I asked what’s out there and is it worth going down a dirt road to see. Their response was depends what you are looking for. Click here to find out some basic information on the town. Here is the Facebook page

Roy and I said what the hey it is worth checking out. The road itself was good to drive even though it was gravel. We saw lots of cows and grasslands we were in Buffalo Gap Grasslands and no buffalo. As Roy said it was a well-maintained road to nowhere with no outlet. One way in one way out.

So, we head down this road to the campground and the agate fields but even with the four-wheel drive we would have floated. No one mention a river crossing. Roy did not want to risk it as the water looked quite deep. I have to say I’m glad. We are here 3 months so maybe it will become easier to cross.

I think the easiest way to get a Fairburn Agate is to go to the rock show in Fairburn this weekend. I’m including a Wikipedia link explaining the agates and an article about where to find them.

I know this summer we will be finding some off the beating path adventures to share.

Where the Buffalo Roam

or Don’t stand so close to me. We have settled in put phone troubles behind us and are making lemonade. (with limited internet gives more practice with the camera. After taking a couple days to unpack and slow down we are getting around to finding buffalo and driving roads to nowhere. The photos I took are a little of this and A LOT of this. When we were here last time they were in the process of building another visitor center. This center is by the area where the fall round-up of buffalo occur. This is an event that happens in fall allows rangers to check the health of the buffalo. Here is a link to info Buffalo Roundup and Arts Festival | South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks (sd.gov) Maybe next year we can stay for it.

Again there is a ton of babies in the park.

We even saw some pronghorn lying next to buffalo. Although there has not been a sign of the burros. We have only been around wildlife loop once. The Prairie Dogs are active and I see an afternoon in my chair photographing these buggers.

The moms are still protective of the little ones it nice to see the bonds develop. Although like any kids you can watch them and try to keep them out of trouble until one of them juts in front of the car. Roy did miss it, all I could think of was look both ways before you cross the street. It was quite funny the way we were creeping up to get by ths camper I was thinking I bet one of them are going to run out in front of us. Here is the video.

Look both ways

I think the buffalo wanted a challenge but thought better of it when they realized Roy was bigger then them.

Chicken anyone?

Just in the time we were going down wild life loop we saw more prong horns than all of last trip through the park. Not in the same area but the we did see praire dogs

The best part of seeing the buffalo were sharing the road with them. We had a large one close to us and I wanted to get just the head of it. The interesting thing is if you look into his eye you see the reflection of our jeep. I am looking for more close encounters this year.


Not the Tunnel of Love

But it was a tunnel, all 11,112 ft of it. The Eisenhower tunnel outside of Denver is a feat in itself. The tunnel consists of two bore holes, the west bound tunnel (Eisenhower) was started in 1968 and completed in 1973. The east bound tunnel (Edwin C Johnson) was started in 1975 and completed in 1979. Today, if you have hazmat materials or you are too tall for the tunnel, you have to go 9.1 miles out of your way. This road has hairpin turns and you go over Loveland pass on US 6 the elevation is 11,991. In reality, the tunnel was short, but it made an interesting impression on me. If you want to learn more, click here https://codot.gov/travel/ejmt

tunnel of love

Well, you’ve now read the apex of the day, so how we got there is also interesting. We left Fruita Co bright and early so we could travel all day through some beautiful scenery. I have to say I was impressed to still see some snow on the side of the road. Even more impressed that we got to drive through slush. Had we been a little later in the day, it would have been snow. I am the snow magnet and that’s a fact. Aside from the slush I could not believe the amount of people and houses on the mountain. Going through Vail, Roy commented that it used to be a small ski town. Not anymore there is a West Vail, downtown, and East Vail.

snow on the mountain tops

Driving next to the Colorado River and seeing the high water level, I know that means gains in ground water. there will be plenty of ground water for us. We even saw a few rafters on the river.

After arriving at our home away from home for 3 months, we found that our cell and hotspot are very limited. Other than the cell service and nightly rain. We made the right choice. Today was our first trip around wildlife loop and yes, I’ve seen some buffalo. Pictures and video to come soon.

Google Maps are not to scale.

Ask me how I know!

We pull into Timber Ridge Campground on June 1st. I had a time out scheduled for Fruita because we thought it would be a fun break and the campground was in town so we could travel around town on the day we stayed using the chair and scooter. This is where google maps was deceptive. The town looked easy to navigate in fact there is a Dinosaur Museum and a park plus food all nearby so scooter and my chair could get put to use. Well that didn’t happen. We made it work though. The goal on the way up was to not have to unhook the car from the trailer. So not disconnecting we needed to find something for dinner Monday and Tuesday night. Just remember Dominos does deliver.

I do have to say that ordering from Dominos this time was definitely an adventure. I did not know that Dominos has gone to a central regional call center to place your order if you choose option 1 on your phone. My clue came when they wanted a complete address and zip code plus had no clue where Fruita Co was. So, I call back again this time choosing option 2 and getting a real person at the local store. Side note: this 3 topping large pizza was one of the better Dominos Pizza we’ve had in a long time.

the high river

The local store clerk who took the order actually saved us money by upping the size of the pizza to a large. In 30 minutes or less we had Dominos knocking at our door. So, we did pizza and went to bed early because I was going to get up early and pull the chair out to go exploring the area in the morning being right on the river was a plus.

Roy did post on the LOA forum that we were in Fruita on our way to a 3 month stay in one place. (So, looking forward to dropping once.) When we pulled in our first night we had two Lance right next to us and saw a few more in the park. I had plans on making the rounds in the morning, when I got up the two next to us were gone, but I did see that there were still a few others I could visit.

I however still need to learn more about my camera and that being said. I was headed down to the river in my chair to take pictures, this is after I figured out how to put on my shade umbrella bungy cords work to secure this. (pictures to come). I got lost. Surprise! The camp host came to my rescue and led me to the paved bike path so I could get close to the water.

here birdie bird

I am still learning what works with this camera. I wanted to practice tracking birds but every time that I was going to take the picture the birds flew away same with the dragonflies. I figured it was the shutter noise at least with this camera I can go into silent mode.

back to play

I was getting warm, so I headed to the boat ramp. I thought about seeing if I could float but the river was moving too fast. I did however started to watch this little girl who seemed to be deep in play. I thought I would just snap a photo; I was wrong. Right as I took it, she had turned around and posed. It got even more funny when she shouted up and asked if she ruined the moment. (she had but I said no)

I headed back to camp but I had one stop to make and that was the Lance trailer I had seen on the way down to the river. This was when I met Rachel and Greg, she posted on the LOA forum and asked if we were the ones who had Dominos delivered. BUSTED. It is enjoyable when we are on the road to meet fellow Lance owners who have common interests. They do travel in style even carrying their own bird feeders. The funny thing to this is the feeder was active with hummingbirds and orioles I would get ready to capture one and they would takeoff. I did get this one.

We chatted about photos, traveling, staying cool, and dealing with challenges. I am looking forward to them joining us for a lunch or dinner this summer when they pass through Custer State Park. It will be a blast catching up and exchanging stories from the road.

Catch me tomorrow when I share my impressions of a short tunnel and lots of curves.

Wow! It’s Summer Again.

Yes, it is. I’m so glad that we were blessed with cooler than mid triple digits when we packed. Here’s to hoping they continue. The goal until we get to Timber Ridge is to stay connected. I’m glad we packed my chair and Roy’s scooter so we can explore and still stay connected. Day one had us drive to Las Vegas spending the night and eating steak and king crab at Angry Butcher. (Yes, we also donated do the Vegas building fund.)

Day Two Stay tuned!
the moon

Setting up camp for one night Roy is already being goofy and this is only Day two. I will post one of him on day 105. Seriously I was trying to put the final touches on learning my camera. The moon was shot using my R7 and 100 – 400mm lens, I had it completely extended and this is cropped way in. The sunset in Beaver was not as colorful as I had hoped I was however able to catch some color on the mountains on the east.

what a view

We are in Fruita right on the very swollen Colorado River, I will be getting out and taking some pictures tomorrow as we are taking a break. The trip from Beaver UT to Fruita Co had some rest areas with wide open Vistas.

Tiny landscapes

I even got some kitty therapy today at one of these pull offs. I was headed over to take a few pictures when this 9 week old kitten jumped of her owners shoulder and came over to me. She was all black had tiny ears and did not meow. I asked if I could hold her she said yes. It was so cool to snuggly her. I should have gotten a picture, I did ask Roy if I could keep her the answer was no. I understand Buki was the best pet we had and he is still irreplaceable.

I know that I will always be learning. One of the photo goals I have this summer is getting some lightening photography. We are in the perfect area to experiment with this genre. I am also planning some milky way shots over the badlands. Hopefully the wildfires will be non-existent, last time we were here we had the smoky way.

Fluffy white Cow?

If you are wondering they do not exist. That is, unless it is me seeing it from a golf cart at the PSA festival in Colorado Springs. More on that later. We decided the summer travel wasn’t enough and I enjoyed myself last year so come back this year. It has been fun connecting with old friends and meeting new ones.

We came in on Sunday which is always good, it gives us a day to recover and get used to the area. Monday was a lay low day but Monday night the cowboys were out to play. After getting a lift into the bus, (who knew that they had lifts), we were off to the Flying W Ranch. The ranch itself has been in operation for 70 years. They recently rebuilt due to the massive fire that swept through Colorado Springs a few years ago. The ranch featured the standard chuckwagon fair and food line. It also had some Native American dancers which was worth the price of admission. I have to say I was amazed at seeing my first ever hoop dance performed by a 70+ woman. (I will post a video when I am home.)

We were waiting for the dancers to start and you know me I have to be in the thick of things right. So, I invited myself to take a trip around the ranch on a golf cart. There was no way I would make it with the rental chair. (learned lesson from Alaska). Stephanie our driver said she would stop whenever we wanted so we could take pictures. First stop, donkeys almost as friendly as the ones in Custer. Second stop, big horn sheep on the hill feeding. I think I only got butt shots but that is ok.

Here is where I encountered the fluffy small white cow. In my defense I only did a quick look and the color was right. What makes this even more funny is the fact that after my mind said that is not a cow, my mouth kept insisting. I could hear what the others were thinking and not saying. (She needs a lesson in animal identification. She has been in the city way too long. What was she smoking can I have some.) I did get my mouth to catch up to my brain and now know that it was a sheep. At least I make things funny.

On the way out of the event I almost did trying to be funny run over a friend. Not to worry I have all week. This year it was no outings for me as it would be too much of a pain with the chair. However, I will be exploring macro photography and learning more about night photography. I might even get some cool photos out of this trip.

Things Not Covered

Well first off we are headed home it is official. The ferry left port last night. We had one more shot at the northern lights but, they did not cooperate. I did however see some stars. Today I slept because open seas do not agree with me. Tomorrow should be a little easier as we will start hugging the coast so there will be land on each side.

Now, I want to share some of the things I did not share from summer vacation. The first is I have lost my cribbage mojo. I taught Roy cribbage on our summer trip in 2017. I have to say he won a few every once in awhile. He just sometimes couldn’t beg borrow or steal any points. I am not sure when it happened but it did. Roy can now pull a double double run out of his bum and skunk me almost everytime . It’s funny that the shoe is on the other foot. We didn’t play alot this year but we did play on the nights we had no OTA (over the air) channels. I do enjoy the now rare occurance when I can beat him

Some of the nights were filled with trying to figure out what movie we want to play for the rally in October. The choices were Rocky Horror Picture Show, Blazing Saddles, and Little Shop of Horrors. All I can say is feed me. I had seen Blazing Saddles years ago Roy had never seen it. He loved the humor but we realized not quite right for our crowd. Rocky Horror requires a lot of crowd participation. We both came to the conclusion that Little Shop of Horrors fits the group better.

Food this trip has been a mix of cooking in the trailer and eating out. That old saying when in Rome. The first food we looked forward to having again was Copper River Red Salmon at Sheep Mountain Lodge. In my opinion, Red and King Salmon are awesome but Copper River Red Salmon are the bomb diggity. This restaurant always has it on the menu and we planned the trip so we had it twice.

This brings me to the food on the Kenai. They are known for seafood, crab, halibut, cod, clams, shalots, oysters and some salmon. All from Kajamack Bay or the Cook inlet. The spit offers these at small restaurants. Roy said he had the best clams ever from one of these places. It also was very easy to get the scooter and chair in. I had my first halibut of the trip in Homer. We had more halibut fresh off the boat given to us by one of our camping neighbors.

The best ice cream at least according to Milepost was right next door to one of the places we camped. Roy said his hard packed black cherry ice cream was the best he ever had. It even had a small ice cube in it. I had the soft serve twist cones which they had different twist flavors. I couldn’t bring myself to try pineapple and vanilla but did try raspberry and vanilla.

When we were in Nenana we found one of the best home cooking restaurants. Roughwoods Inn, Kari is the owner and chief cook and bottle washer. She is open til 6pm every night except for Tuesday, family emergencies, and roadkill. Let me explain the roadkill comment. In that part of Alaska if the troopers know of a recent fresh roadkill they donate it to local people. This is one thing you have to get when it is fresh. (No, she does not feed it to her customers.) We both loved the fresh halibutand chips, hand battered and fried from fish caught in Alaska. She had Roy at the fact that she grills her chicken fried steaks and I was won over by her Philly Cheese steak. Although the halibut was hard to get by.

The farmer’s market in Fairbanks helped keep my salad for lunch streak going. I also got my fill of fresh garlic (keeps mosquitos away). Roy was able to get fresh mushrooms for his own crack an egg. This market also kept us in good homemade bakegoods.

I was able after 30 years of being with this man of mine to find something that he can not do I do not know who else can do it either. It all started with a facebook post, that said if a cop stops me for a DUI and asks me to say the alphabet backwards I will get in the car. I asked you can’t do that. He said he never thought of it and no, he can’t. I proceeded to show him. I am not sure he was impressed.

I need to make one comment about people from Wisconsin; when you meet one you immediately become family. Roy and I hung with some on the ferry. He basically got a crash course on Wisconsin tradition, right down to quarters and bar dice.

There are other things that happened that I am sure I will remember once I sit down and look through the pictures. Speaking of pictures I am still putting together the baby bald eagle growth journey.

Someone did what Roy couldn’t.

People who know me know that I’m not thrilled with the thought of a helicopter ride.  In fact I think it has been said over my dead body.  This couple I met changed everything (No he or she do not own or fly helicopters.)  She just took her first helicopter ride to begin a new chapter of live.  It wasn’t the fact that she did her first helicopter ride that changed my mind it was what happened afterwards that changed my mind.

Some back story first.  Three months ago Roy and I embarked on an adventure, so did a few other people.  I know this because waiting to board the ferry I had to be a social butterfly, riding around finding out where people are from and where they are headed, and if they are coming back.  This is when I met John and Jean and their dog.  This was a couple who seemed like any normal 40ish  couple. What attracted me to them was the trailer they had behind the ‘truck camper’  (I use the term loosely)  Pick up truck with a shell on top.  This trailer held everything including a kitchen sink.  I asked what their adventure was.

I saw that they were excited and a little unsure and questioning because  they were heading off the grid  for the summer to build a cabin on land they bought in the middle of nowhere Alaska.  They would return on the same ferry we were on in September.  (Inside I thought, if you don’t get eaten by a bear.)   The trip up was about five days so it is a small ship and  we chatted many times each time I felt they were thinking if this was the right decision for them.  They seemed well prepared with supplies and stuff.  I was impressed with the research they had put into it.  I will be honest I was concerned and thought of them often over the summer.  Fast forward to September 5th and the waiting line to board the ferry.  No trailer, they left everything they brought with them at the cabin.  John comes up and says hi.  I have to say I was relieved they made it out.  He was more sturdy and hairier then when he left and had a differant air about him I wanted to know more.

Catching up and listening to both of them has given me a new outlook on things.  It is amazing how these two blossomed  the courage, strength and determination you can now see in them.  In Jean retelling how she hand peeled the bark from the trees that John cut and delimbed mind you only using a chainsaw and she using her hands and some tools to strip the logs for the cabin.  I could tell that it was a joint effort that made the bond between them stronger.  I am sure it wasn’t all getting along I mean three months with just one other person for the majority of the time and no modern ammenties could wear on you.

Roy and I were lucky enough to see the photos and hear how the three months were spent.  Here is where the helicopter comes in.  Involved in getting to the property there was a bush plane ride a helicopter ride and some ATV transportation.  Remember I said over my dead body I would do a helicopter ride.  Jean was also a little afraid to go in a helicopter.  So she is describing holding the dog’s leash, her cell phone to try and take pictures (she said she got a few) then still trying to look at the scenery.  She got through the  ride by just thinking of the majestic landscape.  So when I get my all terrain chair I will take thaty helicopter ride to visit.

I am impressed how much they completed this summer.  A one room cabin with a door large enough to fit an ATV in.  Her poo path for compost and a little garden.  Cooking on a wood stove and making homemade bread.  Their efforts reminds me that sometime issolation and depending on yourself can give you the strength you need to move on.