Friday, June 27, 2008

Horse and carriage....

Friday was both busy and fun. We spent most of the day at the check-in lot, performing our Customer Service jobs. It's so interesting to meet the many RVer's who come to Escapade. Like the two sisters, from San Diego, California. They drive and handle their rig like pros and seem to have such fun traveling together, after they lost their husbands. I'm sure they are at least seven decades young and are an inspiration to observe!!

The day was again sunny and cool, about 74 degrees and we had jackets on until after 1 pm. It is arrid and refreshing!

The afternoon was spent inspecting the beautiful motorhomes that Guaranty RV has on display here. Eight or so of us ambled in and out, checking out all of the features and floorplans on the units. It was a most pleasant afternoon. About 4:00 they served us cake and drinks.....hmmmm...we can get used to this!!!

We got good news from my niece, Kristy yesterday. They found a bone marrow donor match for her and hope to be able to do the transplant before the end of the year. This is indeed good news, as neither of her sisters were matches. It was so good to hear the hopefulness in her voice today. So ya'll keep her in your prayers please.

Thursday evening on our walk around the complex, we came across this huge horse trailer, clearly marked as "Wells Fargo", and several horses were being unloaded into the paddocks here on the grounds. Conversing with the gentleman who was watering the horses, we found that he and his wife were contracted by Wells Fargo to drive and show the horses and coach in parades and other promotional events. They live in Montana, but load up the horses often and hit the road to promote Wells Fargo, much the same as the Clydesdale's represent Anheiser Busch.

He then took us to the rear of the trailer and showed us the carriage which they use with the horses in the parades.

It looks just like the Wells Fargo logo. There are five black horses which pull the carriage and they dress appropriately and drive the coach.

Another fun and interesting tidbit, encountered everyday in this beautiful country!!
Hugs to all of you!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Escapade Fun

The past few days have been busy with "preparing" for the Escapade....since this is our first year to serve, we have been been mostly observing and seeing how things are done. There is a great deal of work involved for a rally of this size (over 1000 rigs) so there are alot of volunteers here. Our "job" is in Customer Service, which means that we try to keep people happy. We solve problems and attempt to give people what they want...oh, and we ride around in a golf cart, picking people up and giving them rides to and from the different facilities here. It really is a rather fun position, and we are looking forward to working in the days ahead.

We enjoy our leader and buddies, Roger and Nora Hartzler, pictured above on the golf cart. Since the days have been sunny and pleasant, it has been a fun learning experience here.

How do you like this rig?...they drive the little Geo up on the bed of the truck, then hook up their fifth wheel and away they go! This wonderful setup belongs to Roger and Nora.

And here you see some of the staff....good friends Howie and Nora Glover with Roger and Nora...hard at work here in Wyoming....

Tonight we were served a lovely dinner. Here are Howie Glover, Rick and Terry Traver, and Connie and Paul Anderson.

Roger, then Jane and Russ Darrow, enjoy dessert at the table....

After quite a few Customer Service golf cart rides we took evening strolls and visited around the campground. This is a great line of work!

Hugs to everyone!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Surrounded by Buffalo...Custer, South Dakota

Yes, that's us in the lil' white station wagon...surrounded by buffalo!!

This was the site from which we took most of the "close up" buffalo photos last week on the Wildlife loop at Custer State Park. As we were exiting the dirt lane after the herd passed on, a nice couple approached us in their car and showed us the digital photo they had taken of us from the main road. They asked if we'd like them to email it to us, and, of course, we said "Yes!!". So today, true to their word we received this great photo from a lovely lady named Kristene. We're not sure which state they're from, but we think it was Minnesota or of those cold, lake states!!!
Thanks so much, Kristene for sharing the photo with us!! Big hugs to you and your family!! :)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Gillette, Wyoming

We pulled in to Gillette, Wyoming today around 11 AM. Made the requisite stop at the Wal-mart for a few provisions....the men here really dress like cowboys....many of them wearing Cowboy hats and boots, Levis and chambray shirts, and belts with lots of silver. They ALL drive really big trucks too. Must take alot of cowhands to handle all the cattle we have seen thus far in Wyoming!

Just after arriving we got a call from Roger Hartzler (our volunteer "boss" and a really great guy) saying that several rigs were going to overnight at the Moose Lodge we mosied on over after our shopping and have spent a nice afternoon and evening with Roger and Nora as well as Jim & JoEllen Gass.

Tomorrow morning we'll head out early to the Cam-plex here to get set up for our volunteer duties at the Escapade. Should be very interesting and fun!

Hugs to everyone!!

Devils Tower, Wyoming and chores

Devils Tower National Monument, and a visit with Norah and Howie was the plan for Saturday, as well as some housekeeping chores.

Saturday dawned, bright and pretty, so it was a good day to do those "chores". The windows really wanted to be washed; Bob washed the outside while I did the inside. All the screens were removed,vacuumed and cleaned. It is amazing how well the screens, tracks and windows are designed and built, to stay in such good shape after rolling down the roads in a MH that is almost seven years old. They still look like new, which makes me a happy camper.

Then the Vacuum Queen vacuumed every square inch of everything, and Bob washed the toad, so those little chores are done and out of the way, before we get to Escapade.

With the morning chores complete, we headed about 30 miles north of Sundance up to Devils Tower. Devils Tower was the first national monument in America, set aside by Teddy Roosevelt in 1906. So Wyoming is the home of both the first National Park (Yellowstone in 1872), and the first National Monument.

The tower, about 50 million years old, is a geological formation, formed when magma welled up into the surrounding sedimentary rock, then cooled and hardened. Over the years, old rivers eroded the sedimentary rock, leaving the harder, igneous rock formation in the shape now known as "Devils Tower", towering about 867 feet over the terrain. The Tower was culturally important to the tribal Indians that inhabited the area, as they believed that the "Great Spirit" pushed the tower up from the ground to save their braves from impending doom.

The landscape here in this part of northeastern Wyoming is lush, rolling green grasslands and Ponderosa pine covered hills, dotted with red clay outcroppings. There are many cattle farms; sheep, cattle and deer are abundant as they graze on the grasslands. I would guess that we saw close to a hundred deer, having their evening meal on the hillsides, as we drove the 30 odd miles back out to the Interestate. I know some "hunting men" at home who would just love to be out here during hunting season. (Two of them had anniversaries this week!) :)

Norah and Howie and Toby and Simba greeted us as soon as we arrived at the campground in Devils Tower!! It was so good to see them again....we all had such great fun, braving wind and cold together in Quartzsite this winter.

We enjoyed visiting out in the warm sunshine, then Norah and Howie grilled up some salmon and veggies for a delicious dinner. We got our Toby and Simba fix, and had a delighful afternoon.

We will meet up with them again on Monday when we all arrive in Gillette for the Escapade.... It was a wonderful day with good friends.

We were really impressed by the "snow fences" along the roads here. They are a heavy duty variety! The snow must be bodacious here...thank goodness we're not around to find out!!

And lastly this photo of the sign at the entrance to the campground store...

Some folks just have a way with words!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sundance, Wyoming

A brisk and refreshing morning greeted us as we left Custer,SD, heading West again. Following the scenic Route 385 throught Deadwood, SD, there was more beautiful Black Hills scenery. Deep blue lakes nestled in the little valleys of the steep hills were a real surprise for us. It reminded us a little of Maine, and at the same time we wondered if Alaska would look similar to this landscape. Hopefully we'll find out next year!! :)

Driving thru Deadwood, the cell phone rang was Jason Patton, our realtor in Warsaw, with the news that he had a good contract for our house!! The cell signal was so bad that we had to make about 6 repeat calls, but we finally got all the details and "got 'er done" by the time we arrived in Sundance, Wyoming, he had emailed the contract to us, we printed it and had it faxed back within the hour. Thank goodness for the electronic communications of today! So this is exciting and we will now have to focus on getting "moved".... I guess we will get it straight soon.

About Sundance,'ve probably not heard of Harry Longbaugh from Mont Clare, Pennsylvania. Not too much is known of him in his young years, but in the late 1880's he first ran afoul of the law for rustling cattle in Sundance, Wyoming. He served his first jail sentence in Sundance and soon after his release he got involved in bank and train robberies, ending up with Butch Cassidy and what was known as the "Wild Bunch" of Western outlaws. Thus, we all know of The Sundance Kid, as Harry Longbaugh became well known, due to his first imprisonment here in the Town of Sundance.

Again, bright blue skies, no humidity and a slight breeze keeps you feeling really lovely all the time. Going to be in the upper 40's here tonight and low 80's tomorrow. I might get used to this!!! Well the 80's part...but the 40's part is too chilly for me!!

We wish a Happy Anniversary to both of our kids this week....son Paul and our favorite daughter-in-law, Katie on June 17th and daughter, Tiffany and our favorite son-in-law, Scott, on the 20th!! We love you all so much and are very proud of who you are!! We are grateful to have you in our lives!!

Tomorrow we will try to make the trip to Devil's Tower and catch up with Howie and Norah Glover!

Hugs to each of you!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

More buffalo, beef and beautiful hills....

Thursday we took the Wildlife Loop through Custer State Park again in search of more buffalo. Bob had heard that there was a large herd of buffalo roaming the Park and we wanted find them. And find them, indeed, we did. What a sight to see hundreds of buffalo, roaming over the hills and down into the flat grasses. We watched them for close to an hour as they roamed closer to where Bob had positioned our car. It was thrilling to watch the lumbering animals with their calves as they grazed towards us.

Buffalo mission accomplished, we drove back thru the loop, watching for more Bighorn Sheep up on the rocks, as our photos from yesterday were at such a distance and thus not very clear.

Again, we found Bighorn Sheep and got much better photos today. These critters are amazing they stay on the steep rocks and hills is amazing. They are definitely sure-footed!

And last, and well, yes, least, we came upon the largest turkeys I've ever seen! (And I've seen a few big ones!) There are two in the tall grass in this photo.

Thursday morning Pat and Mike McFall came by the motorhome to get us set up with a Pressure Pro system for monitoring the air pressure in the motorhome and tow car tires. We had met them briefly in Casa Grande and they sure are a sweet couple. We enjoyed visiting with them so much. They helped Bob get the system installed, so now we'll feel much safer on the road.
We had intended to get the system from them at the Rally in Branson, but, sadly, their son Scott, succumbed his battle against Leukemia two days before the Rally started. We have thought about them so much, as our niece, Kristy, is fighting the same battle right now. He fought a valiant fight, but it is a vicious disease.
Later we drove to their site here in Custer, where they truly have a "million dollar"
view of the Black Hills and a lovely home base. We will look forward to seeing this very special couple again.

They also told us about The Alpine Inn in nearby Hill City, which offers a Filet Mignon dinner for $7.95, with salad, potato and Texas toast. Since we are in "beef country", we have been eating the beef, and have not been disappointed yet! So, it was yet another fantastic filet for dinner, even better than the last! And the setting in an old Bavarian Inn, is truly lovely! (There is a large German influence in this area) Beef is a bargain here, so since we don't eat much of it normally, we're making up for it while we're in cattle country.

Of course, we had to stop at The Purple Pie Palace for more pie today. Thursday is Chocolate cream pie day, so Chocolate it was, and a Brumbleberry piece "to go", just in case we get hungry tomorrow!!

It was cold again this morning and I wore a jacket most of the day. The heat is running tonight again...but it is really nice to have a little chill in the middle of June!!
Another beautiful day!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Beautiful Black Hills, and Custer, South Dakota

I remember Mom often saying how pretty the Black Hills of South Dakota were, but I never truly gave it much thought. Having now seen them for myself, I understand her fondness for their beauty. The Sioux Indians declared these hills sacred, and fought and died to keep them is easy to to understand their devotion and respect for this land. Over every knoll is another scene that just makes you say "What a wondrous site!

So we set out to see the lands, and of course, the Landmarks!

Mount Rushmore is the most famous Landmark here; the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln carved into granite rock. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum completed the 60 foot tall project in 1941, as a tribute to the growth of our country and it's leaders.

The monument to Crazy Horse, proud Sioux Indian warrior, is indeed, a work in progress. Started in 1948 by Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and Lakota Sioux Indian Chief Henry Standing Bear, the face was completed in 1998. Korczak died in 1982, and seven of his ten children, along with his wife, continue the work on the granite monument.

The carving is not a monument to Crazy Horse, but rather to the spirit of his peoples, and all American Indian tribes. The completed project will be over 563 feet high, and his outstretched arm points, in answer to the question posed by a white man, "Where are your lands now?", and Crazy Horse replied, "My lands are where my dead lie buried."

Interestingly, it is not a Federal project and is financed solely with contributions and admissions to the attraction. Grant money has been turned down, as the Indians wish it to remain a true memorial to their way of life, and endeavors to protect the Black Hills, called Paha Sapa, which were sacred lands to the Sioux and other tribes.

More about the Black Hills....Custer State Park is one of the finest state park we've seen...both in natural beauty and in the parks development and management.
Several hours were spent roaming the park, in search of buffalo, Big Horn Sheep, Pronghorns and more..and we were not dissappointed! Along with magnificent vistas and interesting "Pigtail bridges", wildlife was abundant! Pigtail Bridges, built in the 1930s, allow the road to navigate sharp changes in topography in limited space. The road crosses over itself, in the shape of a pigtail or corkscrew. A most interesting thing to traverse. There are many pigtail bridges in the Black Hills.

OK...the WILDLIFE...was unbelievable!! All of you hunters out there would go crazy here!!! The Mule deer and Whitetail deer are constantly popping across the roads and grazing in the meadows. Many of them with tiny fawns, or sporting still fuzzy antlers, which we saw up close and personal!

We really wanted to see the Mountain Goats and Bighorn sheep and we did....

along with more Buffalo and Pronghorns....

and we even saw pheasants, which we have decided are very dumb, close cousins of turkeys...just a little prettier!! One of them crossed the road, right in front of the motorhome in Kansas, and took his sweet time getting to the other side.

And this wild Burro, who was waiting to poach a snack from the passersby!

And a few more photos of the wildlife that we enjoyed so much in the park....

And some park scenes.....

There is an early morning chill here...temps in the low fifties are refreshing, but require heat for me in the mornings! :) Of course, it warms up to the low 80's by afternoon, still no humidity at all and mostly brilliant blue skies. Blue enough to make a rabbit a pair of britches!

What a busy day in Mother Nature's playground!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

We're not in Kansas anymore...

After the stormy night in Oklahoma, we turned north following I 35 and 135 thru Kansas, roughly following the Chisholm Trail. (Think Lonesome Dove, the TV saga). During the late 1860’s there were many Texas Longhorn cattle herded from Texas and Oklahoma to the stockyards in Caldwell and Wichita, Kansas along the Chisholm Trail. Wild Bill Hickok and Wyatt Earp are among the Cattlemen who frequented the cattle towns of Kansas.

The wheat fields and farms are never ending; a very “comfortable” scene, unless you remember The Wizard of Oz. You can “follow the Yellow Brick Road” to nearby Wamego, KS to visit the The Oz Museum. It’s very easy to visualize the tornadoes and violent storms that frequent this area.

The weather has been absolutely lovely…no humidity and low 80’s for temps, with a light breeze.

Leaving Kansas, we entered Nebraska on State Route 83, a scenic route which took us thru the little town of McCook then on to Interstate 80 at North Platte. We left the interstate at Ogallala, an old western Saloon town, and followed Route 26 along the banks of the North Platte River and The Oregon Trail. This was also the route of the Mormon Trail.

In the mid 1800’s this was a main thoroughfare of the great western migration. One can only imagine the hardships those pioneers endured as they “went West” to stake claims to free land and build lives for themselves. (Beatrice, Nebraska boasts the location of the first homestead obtained through the Homestead Act of 1862.)

The simple task of having fresh water along the way presented a major difficulty, thus the following of rivers and streams. Cross country in a Conestoga wagon?….I don’t think so….not unless it has A/C, heat and hot water!!! Those women were REALLY made of something!!!

Nebraska, with it’s corn and wheat fields and friendly people, makes you want to stay around awhile. The many tiny towns along the way reminds you of years past, most of them with railroad tracks running through the middle of town. Speaking of railroads, NEVER have we seen so many trains traversing a line…there was a constant stream of trains traveling along the Western Route 26. We started counting them but lost count at around 12, and that was only in about 80 miles.

Continuing North on Route 385, we passed thru the western edge of the Nebraska Sandhills and entered South Dakota. We soon had our first view of the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota....truly breathtaking!!

As we approached our destination of Custer, SD, we drove thru the Wind Cave National Park and were so excited to see our first BUFFALO, and PRAIRIE DOGS, and PRONG HORN antelopes!!!

There were several bison grazing along the road and we watched them for quite awhile. The prairie dogs played and barked or chirped away, as we took photos...what a wonderful sight!!

It was almost 6 PM when we arrived at Big Pine Campground in Custer, South Dakota, and a thunderstorm was just playing itself out with golf ball sized hail!!! So we quickly found our site up the hill amidst the pines and got settled in.

Wednesday we'll be exploring the beautiful Black Hills of SD and Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse monuments.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Rally end and Tulsa, OK

First, a few more photos from the rally in Branson:

Our group at dinner Ginger & Molly volunteer at registration Molly with Sherri and Speedy "The Hillbilly Woman"Howard and Linda, our hosts Moppah and JJ

Left, Barb and Roger
Right Chuck and Cathy

The rally ended Sunday morning with a great breakfast. We said our good-byes to everyone and got ready to head west towards Tulsa, OK, for a visit with Jay & Fay, one of our desert camping buddies this winter.

Around 2:30 pm we were delighted to see Lulu and Jay & Fay at their lovely home in Tulsa. Molly with Lulu

Jay grilled terrific Rib eyes with veggies and served us a delicious dinner upon arrival. It was great to see them again and we spent a nice afternoon chatting. We decided to head to the western side of Tulsa that evening to avoid the heavy morning traffic. The next destination is Custer, SD and Mt. Rushmore so we were traveling off the I 44 and across a limited access “turnpike” (short for Toll Road in OK).

Shortly after stopping for the evening at one of the “travel rest stops” along the way, we heard thunder and got the weather warning radio out. This was our first experience using it during a storm…..whewwwwiie….what a night!!! And what a storm!!! Thankfully, it was not a tornado warning…merely a “severe” thunderstorm with 60 mph gusts, the heaviest rain---raining horizontally….quite and event in my book!! A steady stream of lightning and thunder accompanied the downpours. This went on for most of the night so we were up and down, checking the alerts and deciding if we needed to leave the MH. It was a good learning experience for us, since it wasn’t a tornado warning, but it sure gave us a good idea of what takes place and how we need to be prepared!!

Monday takes us on to Kansas…hugs to everyone!!