Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Blue Ridge Parkway



We all met up at Smokemont campground in the Smokies. Dad and Mom got there first but battled traffic all the way. Lora and I didn't get in any traffic but Steve and Kathy drove through Gatlinburg by mistake so they battled traffic all the way. Kathy put on a chili dinner for our first night together. We sat around the campfire visiting.

Sunday morning we got up and started on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We saw the elk before we got on the road. We stopped at a few different overlooks to take in the sights. We stopped at the Devils Courthouse and hiked to the top. We stopped at another overlook for lunch and then went to our campground at Mt. Pisgah. This is a really nice campground. Dad was having battery problems so I ran him to town. We had steak and veggies for dinner. Another enjoyable campfire.

Monday we went hiking. We drove down and saw Looking Glass Falls and then went out the forest service road to hike to Twin Falls. We didn't make it to the falls, but had a good hike anyways. We came back and had hamburgers for dinner followed by a campfire.

Tuesday we went hiking again. Mom and Kathy stayed at the campground. We hiked Looking Glass Mountain. A really nice hike with wonderful views from the top. Dad lost his apple off the Looking Glass Cliff face. Lora was talking with some young ladies from Alabama, comparing Southern accents. They won. After our hike we drove the forest service road and saw Slick Rock Falls, Log Hollow Falls, and another waterfall. We also found a hunting dog that followed us to the waterfall and back. Steve got the info off his collar and helped get it back with it's owner. We had chicken tonight followed by a campfire.

Wednesday we were back on the Parkway toting our campers. We stopped at Craggy Gardens for our lunch with a short hike up to an overlook. We pulled into the parking area at Craggy Pinnacle Summit when we heard a large bang. Dad's tire blew out on the camper. Come to find out, he hit the curb leaving the Gardens and pinched the sidewall. We were very blessed that a race car owner was in the parking lot and had all the tools we needed to get the tire changed. After that we climbed the Summit. We drove on to the Linville Falls Campground, and RV Park for the next two nights. We had a Mexican dinner followed by a campfire. The entertainment was the acorns falling from the trees. The trees were extremely tall and the acorns had plenty of speed when they hit. Loud noises as they bounced off the camper tops.

Thursday we drove to Little Switzerland for some shopping and exploring. We had lunch in town followed by an exciting trip led by Steve down some good old washed out roads. When we turned around and headed the right direction we found the Grassy Falls which were beautiful. We drove to Linville Falls which was another beautiful area to visit and then made a Walmart trip before heading back to camp. We had fish for dinner tonight followed by a campfire.

Friday we all loaded up the campers and headed down the Parkway. We stopped at Blowing Rock and did the shopping thing again. We ate lunch at the campers and then headed on down to our campground at Rocky Knob. We had a Thanksgiving dinner of turkey tonight followed by a campfire.

Saturday Steve and Kathy headed towards home as the rest of us finished the Blue Ridge Parkway. We had our lunch at Peaks of Otter, finished the parkway and drove the Skyline Drive up to Hwy 33 and camped at Swift Run Campground. When we got here we found that we had lost one set of our camper keys?? We cooked out Brats and skipped the fire. We were tired and wanted to get our showers in.

Sunday the fog settled onto the mountains so instead of doing a moutain drive we did the valley drive through the Shenandoah Valley. We stopped at the little towns of Stanley, Luray, Rileyville, Overall, Bentonville, and Front Royal. Mom got her shopping fix on. We headed back to the campground for dinner of spaghetti. Cold and damp evening spent relaxing in the campers.

Monday we got up and headed East on 33 to Mechanicsville to see my sister. We had a good visit with her and Jim. They took us to the battlefield for a little hike and then after dinner we got to see the play Hamilton.

Tuesday the ladies went shopping while the men got projects done and or rested. Jim and Lynelle took us over to the river downtown and then we went to check out Nate and Perry's house. We enjoyed visiting and dinner with them before heading back home.

Wednesday we got up, said our goodbyes and then headed West. We took back roads to see the rolling hills of Virginia. We stopped in Fort Chiswell and camped at the Pioneer Village RV Park for the night. Hurricane Zeta is supposed to come through tonight.

Zeta didn't get through until about 10:30 this morning. We packed up and headed out taking interstates the rest of the way home. We stopped at the TN boarder for lunch. The weather turned to sunny for us. We had a great time.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Columbia TN


We went over to Columbia TN to Josh's wedding. On the way we stopped by Marco's and Natalie's. We took our camper to stay the night. The next morning we checked out Columbia before heading home.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2020

North Chicamauga Creek Gorge



We had time for a short hike today so we headed off to the North Chick trailhead. Just as we came the crossing for the Blue Hole, Lora saw a black lab in the creek that she recognized, Bear, and then she spotted Ed Swanner across the creek. Sure was nice to see him and meet his young lab Belle, another pretty black lab. Sad to hear about Skinny dying, but she surely died a happy dog being out there on a trail with Ed.

The wildflowers were pretty, birds were singing, the blue sky was beautiful, the waterfalls were flowing. The wooden stairs were still in good shape. All the bluff walls and rock houses were just grand, still some graffiti (sad). The trail on top of the bluff is overgrown. After the fires, with the trees gone, weeds grow. We turned back to get out of the weeds. 

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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Kentucky


We got up this morning got with our host. Made fun of him for not bringing our firewood last night. Then we walked over to pay our account when he told us about Barbara having a birthday so we sang Happy Birthday to her before we paid. After that we walked around the fort and watched the tug boats working in the river. 

We headed out taking the scenic drive down to TN and across the Northern part of the state. We stopped for lunch in Paris at their park which had its own Eiffel tower. We were looking for a campground after we left Clarksville and didn't find one until we got to Galleton. We stayed at Bledsoe Creek SP.  We ended up spending the evening talking with some people that had a fifth wheel Escape trailer.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Arkansas


We got up Sunday and drove to Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas. We took hwy 10 to 49 to 62 to 14. Pretty drive through the mountains of Arkansas. We entered the Buffalo National River and camped at Buffalo Point. Very nice campground along the river. During our walk through the campground we saw an Armadillo which is Lora's first. 

Monday we got up and hiked the 3.5 mile Indian Rockhouse Trail. Lots of stuff to see. Sinkhole Icebox, Waterfall, Old Zinc Mine, Natural Bathtub, Sculpied Bedrock, and the Rockhouse itself. After the hike we drove to Rush, an old ghost town. There are several structures there and some discriptions of others. We drove down to the canoe put in to see it. After lunch we hiked the campground trails including the overlook. Then we set up the hammock for a restful afternoon reading. We visited with the Rangers when they stopped by and took another short walk after dinner before getting our campfire going. First campfire in a while between the heat and the no fires allowed. We saw a turtle, deer, millipede, and butterflies.

Tuesday we got and headed East. We finished our drive around the Ozark National Forest and headed back to 62 which we followed out of Arkasas, through Missouri, and into Kentucky. As we crossed the Mississippi traffic came to a halt. Cars were turning around and heading back. One stopped by and told us that a wide load was coming through and they didn't close the bridge first. We had to back our camper back off the bridge and off to a side parking lot to let them through. A guy was vidioing me backing and was quite proud that I could back as fast as he was driving forward. Then there was construction on the bridge going over the Ohio River. We finally made it to our campground Columbus Belmont SP. This is a very nice campground with a good view of the Mississippi. It is also the site of an old fort. 

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Friday, September 25, 2020

New Mexico and Oklahoma


Wednesday we got some pictures and headed out. We decided to head into New Mexico and cross over to Oklahoma. We stopped in Trinidad for supplies and then took 25 south into New Mexico. There was construction on the way in with no welcome sign for Lora's picture. We got off 25 and took 72 to 456. We stopped at the Sugarite Canyon SP which had a sign stating if you are not from NM then don't come in. After driving out 456 past Folsom we found out that the road turned to dirt and gravel. Well we were getting low on fuel as well and continued on. Then we found the road was closed due to a bridge out and we ended up taking another dirt road out 35 miles to pavement heading toward Clayton. We made it to Clayton to get fuel and we did get to see a Roadrunner. Our camper was a little rearranged on the inside from all the jarring and everthing was covered in dust. We ate lunch in Clayton and then headed on to Oklahoma. We stayed in the Black Mesa SP for the night. We got there early enough to relax by the creek and cool down. We even got some laundry done. 

Thursday we got up and did a hike around the park and did their one trail, the Vista Trail. Short and sweet with views of the campground and lake. After that we headed East following Hwy 64. Not much in Oklahoma and no phone signal between towns. We camped at Great Salt Plains SP. When we got there we were the only ones. We checked to see if the electric and water were turned on before we set up. Later people started pulling in.

Friday we got up and drove to the Great Salt Plains where people dig for hour glass shaped gems. After that we toured our joining campgrounds with views of Great Salt Plains Lake and river. We spent the afternoon on the shore line. When I went for a swim, I found out that you can pretty much walk across the lake.  

Saturday morning we got up and headed East. We took 64 to 60. We stopped in Ponca City to see the Pioneer Woman Statue, Standing Bear Park, and the Marland Mansion. We made it to Copan Oklahoma and stayed at the Washington Cove campground. When we got to our campsite, someone else was still there. We decided to ask and of course they thought that they had another night, but would move out. Instead of waiting on them we moved to another site. This campground is very nice with it being on Copan Lake which was another of those shallow lakes, but pretty. We saw deer as we walked the many loops of the campsite.

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Monday, September 21, 2020

Rocky Mountains


We found a place to stay West of Berthoud through Hipcamp named "Farmland with Mt. Views". All parks and national forests were booked solid and one again no place to boondock. Sandra was extremely nice and had a really nice place. Marjorie and Zep got there about the same time as we did. We had lunch and then headed to Estes Park and hiked the Button Rock Preserve. A beautiful hike through the mountains to a reservoir. Lora provided entertainment by a snake encounter. A very large snake jumped off a rock and landed on the trail between Marjorie and Lora. There was an extremely high pitched scream, the thump of the snake hitting the ground, and then the slithering with hands over his ears under a rock. Lots of laughs for sure. Back at the camper we enjoyed dinner and visited under the stars.

Saturday we headed back to Estes. The Rocky Mountain National Park was doing a time release permit to get into the park. Should have looked ahead. So we desided to hike into the park to see it. So we started at the East Portal and hiked to Sprague Lake. We heard the Elk buggling and finally came up on five doe lying by the trail. At the lake we saw the bull coming out of the water and moving on. From Sprague Lake we continued on to Bear Lake. We ate lunch at the lake with a small chipmunk trying to steal our food. Then we had a bird join him sizing us up. Lots of people at the lakes, but few on the trails. On the way back we hiked the Wind River trail. Around 14 miles of hiking. We relaxed at the camper and had a good meal.

Sunday we got up and took the canoe to Carter Lake which is another reservoir and did some paddling. We did most of the length of the lake and then came back for lunch. After lunch Marjorie headed back home and Lora and I did the Peak to Peak drive along the Rockies. We started at Estes Park and went down to Black Hawk. Lots of mountains and pretty scenery but no wildlife. We ate dinner in Evergreen at a park and then drove back through Boulder on the way back. We did see some Elk on the way back.

Monday we got up and headed to Denver. Marjorie gave us a tour of the place she is staying and the area. It used to be the old Lowry AFB. They still have some old hangers there and a B-52 on a stick. It gave me flashbacks of working on them. Lora and I headed South after that. We stopped in Monument for lunch and then drove on to the Garden of Gods Park in Colorado Springs. Really cool place to visit. Lots of rock formations. From there we headed on to Divide by Pike's Peak to camp in the National Forest. 

Tuesday This morning we drove scenic Hwy 24. We saw several mountains: Thirty-Nine Mile 11,593, Saddle 10'794, Trout Pass, West Buffalo 13,340, and Past Pancha Springs Pass. Road construction kept us off Hwy 17. We were following Sangre De Christo Mts with 13-14 thousand foot Mts. In the valleys between the mountains we saw fields of campers and tiny houses. I guess this is the place to live off the grid, but I don't know why here. We got back on 17 after the 112 detour for the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Didn't want to ski the sand or hike up the dunes. It was hot and too much sand for us. They have the highest dunes in the US. We followed the scenic route with miles and miles of plains to Walsenburg. From there we drove to Aguilar to find SWA Spanish Peaks. Got on 41.7 following GPS and Phone. We took a wrong turn that led up a mountain with steep rough dirt roads. There was a gate at the top so we had to back down to a turn around spot. A little hairy for sure. We decided to leave out the other way when we came across what we were looking for. We had a good night out in a beautiful canyon. We had some hunters for neighbors that were from Arkansas and Texas. We watched a lighting storm in the distance and the stars.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Wind River Mts.



Well we pulled into the Twin Pines campground and saw the horse camper trailer knowing that it had to be Mike and Wendy's. We got the site next to them and waited their arrival. Actually we did laundry and cleaned up the car and trailer. Anyways it was great to get with them. They took us to town for dinner and their daughter Katlin joined us.

Tuesday we got with our friends again and they took us to watch some horse training at the Wyoming Catholic College before heading out to explore the Sinks Canyon SP. Their big thing is the Popo Agie river that disappears into a large cavern, the Sinks, and reappears a half a mile down stream i   n a trout filled pool, the Rise. It was pretty cool. We got to see a muskrat that kept swimming accross the Rise. From there we hiked to the Popo Agie Falls which was a mile and a half up the Popo Agie Canyon. We ate lunch at the falls and then headed back. From there we did the Loop Road which is a sixty mile trip through the mountains and canyons with lakes and rock formations. Beautiful scenery. 

Wednesday Happy Birthday to Lora! We left the Twin Pines CG drove into Lander to the City Park and found a spot to set up. Free campsite, no amenities except a bathroom. The toilet starts flushing as soon as you close the door, and if you wiggle on the seat it flushes and flushes. Very wasteful and then NO water in the sink to wash your hands. Hmmm. Time for a sightseeing tour. Red Canyon has really beautiful walls with a creek running thru it. We saw antelope and cows. The valley in the winter is the feeding ground for hundreds of elk. We were too early for that. We drove from gravel road to red dirt road, some ruts, washboard rough in places. We just prayed the last gate out would be open. It was. From there we traveled to the Carissa Mine and Mill closed to tours. On to Atlantic City to see the old western town. Historical buildings, just drove thru. On to South Pass City where we got tickets to walk thru the old town. State Historic Site. It's a cool place to visit, homes, jail, dance hall. saloons. Then on to Miners Delight, a ghost town. The biuldings here are not being restored, but are being supported with cables and poles. Different way to preserve. On the way past the first cabin we heard weird noises, may have been ghosts after all!

Afterwards back to town for dinner. After we had the birthday dinner we had birthday cake. After that we had to walk it off except we spent more time talking to neighbor campers than we we did walking. We didn't get very far before dark.

Thursday we got up and headed Southwest through Wyoming. We had lunch at a rest stop, supplies in Rawlins and hunting campsite in Laramie. We camped off 210 on BLM land with the cows. We went back to Laramie to tour before dinner. 

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Monday, September 14, 2020

Grand Tetons NP



It's Friday and time to move on. We drove through Yellowstone again on our way South to the Grand Teton NP. We stopped to see Lewis and Moose Falls on our way out of Yellowstone. We found our campsite on Grassy Lake Road and set up in time for lunch. After lunch we drove further into the park stopping at overlooks and Colter Bay Visitor Center. We took a side road in Oxbow Bend to the river access and saw where they used to have a log bridge crossing Snake River. Then we drove out Pacific Creek Road and up to Two Ocean Lake. No wildlife. We drove on to Signal Mountain and drove to the top for the views. Beautiful. Time to head back to the camper for dinner. After dinner we drove down Grassy Lake road to the hot springs trailhead and looked for wildlife. No luck there but we did see some mule deer on the way back.

Saturday we decided to hike Cascade Canyon. We started at Jenny Lake hiking around the lake and then to Hidden Falls and up to Inspiration Point. Ended up with thirteen miles in. Lot's of people on this popular hike. After we got into the canyon we saw three moose, a bald eagle, pika, chipmunks, and squirrels. Poor moose had lots of people waiting on them to do something special. Paparazzi everywhere. After our hike we relaxed and swam in String Lake. A lady next to us ended up losing a Croc in the mud at the bottom. We helped search. On the way back to the camper we drove by Oxbow Bend to see the bears. Oh my, what a mess of people. We just headed back to the trailer and got dinner in. While we were eating we got a visit from the Flagg Ranch Guy. Said that where we were camping was private property of the Ranch and that we would need to move on. Out to the parking lot with the rest of the homeless for the night. At least we got one night there. We talked to another couple that couldn't find a place to stay either from Denver. Told us a few places to check out on our way there.

Sunday we got up and headed back to String lake and hiked to Holly Lake up Paintbrush Canyon. 12.4 mile day. Not nearly as crowded and it was a beautiful canyon. It is a strenous hike 9410 feet. The only wildlife we saw were Pika, Falcon, chipmunks, and squirrels. We were exhausted after the hike. A quick dip in the lake to cool and clean off, dinner in the parking lot, and search for a camping spot. No luck. Ended up spending the night at a pull over spot. 

Monday we got up, visited the Mormans Row and the Church of the Transfiguration. Then we headed out to Lander to catch up with friends before they left. We are going to spend some time checking out the Wind River Range.

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Thursday, September 10, 2020

Yellowstone NP


Today we headed West again. This time we were heading for Cody WY where we had reservations at a real campground. They are calling for snow on Monday so we wanted to be prepared and over the mountains. On the way down off the Longhorn Mountains we came across Shell Falls which a wonderful water fall in a canyon. We saw lots of antilope on the way across the plains.

After we got set up at Parkway RV Campground we headed on West to Yellowstone because we just couldn't wait. We came in the East enterance checking out Yellowstone Lake and then turning North on the loop road to see the Mud Volcano, Sulphur Caldron, and Hayden Valley. We took the South Rim Drive to see the upper and lower falls. Then we took the North Rim Drive to the Grand View followed by dinner at the Eatery. By then it was getting late and we returned to our campground. We saw buffalo, Elk, Deer, Antelope, and all sorts of birds.

Monday we walked the Paul Stock Nature Trail by the Shoshone River. We didn't see any bears that the sign said we should watch out for. Then we drove about 20 miles east of Cody to hunt for the wild horses. We found them at the McCullough Peaks Wild Horse Management Area. It's 110,000 acres and home to about 120 horses, said to have ties to the horses from Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. Tests have shown the horses may have a bloodline from the Cleveland Bay Breed, established by England's royal family. We saw four at one entrance road, then a herd of 23. Camera didn't do as well as the binoculars. What a sight to see! Driving back to Cody, the incoming storm wind gusts kept blowing the canoe loose on top of the Jeep. Had to stop a couple of times to tighten the straps. Then some shopping in Cody at Sierra Trading Post where Lora got her birthday present. Got back to camp in time for the rain/snow mix, some big flakes, mostly rain and cold wind gusts.

Tuesday we got up and hiked the Sheep Mountain Trail. It was a steep climb, started out a little muddy so our boots got heavier. There was a lot of snow on the trees and hillsides. The cliff walls were beatiful with snow on top. We were following someone's tracks with dog tracks too. In the meadow we met the Fish and Game officer with 6 dogs that were a little too happy to see us. He said he only went to the sheep herder's cabin, but we could go further into a bowl or hike up to the top of the mountain. After stopping at the cabin we hiked into the bowl but with all the snow, we couldn't see the trail. Lots of beautiful views. On the way down we had lunch at the campsite on the side of the mountain. Then we hiked another draw for some more beautiful views. On the way back into Cody we walked the Colter's Hell Trail, interpretive self guided. The Old Cody city was here but there was no room to grow and the sulfer spring stank, no easy way to cross the river. So they moved it. 

Went into Cody to see the Murals but the church was closed due to COVID. (eye roll). On to the Irma Hotel for the Wild Bunch gunfight. Got to watch Wyatt Earp, Butch and Sundance have a shootout. Very entertaining.

Wednesday we had to move campsites but the one we were moving to was still occupied so we parked out of the way, packed up for a day in Yellowstone. On the way in on the East Entrance Road we saw a grizzly. Further along the way just before West Thumb we saw a bull elk with a huge rack. We drove counterclockwise around the loop to see the big geysers. Old Faithful really put on a show. The others blew a lot of steam and some water but we missed their erruptions. In the Biscuit Basin we hiked to Mystic Falls. On the way back I heard a thump behind me, turned and found Craig on the ground. He just keeps falling for me. We drove the Firehole Lake Drive, lots of steam coming from the lake. Saw a coyote here. Then drove the Firehole Canyon Drive, following the narrow road along a canyon. Had a very small area to pull off to see Firehole Falls which was incredible. Then on to Gibbon Falls, Virginia Cascade, then to a picnic area called Otter Creek on the Yellowstone River for dinner. Hamburgers on the grill, and a nice couple from Californina to talk to. On the way back we saw herds of buffalo, some swimming across Yellowstone River (with lots of people standing on the riverside with cameras...) Saw a beaver in the river, lots of deer, one really nice one with a big rack at the entrance gate. Then saw a bear jam and stopped to see what everyone was looking at. Another grizzly, a big one, and a motorcycle got his attention and he stood on his hind legs to see it. Awesome site. We got to camp, hooked up our camper, moving into our new site.  

Thursday we went back to Yellowstone for some hiking. Elephant Back Trail was beautiful, a climb thru the forest to the top for views of Yellowstone Lake. Lots of switchbacks on this trail. Still no moose, or an elephant. Then on to Pelican Valley where the Grizzlys supposedly hang out in the valley. We saw none, but followed a couple with some bear spray. We did find currants and they were delicious. Lots of dusty walking in this meadow of wide open spaces. We did see some bison and some ducks on the creek.  

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