A Final Editor's Note.
I will most likely add some photos to the last few days after we unpack and get settled at home. Please check back. The format may change, so that the whole travelog doesn't load all in one page. Please check back to see the last few photos. Please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a question or a comment, or would like to purchase one of my photos. My online gallery can be viewed at: www.twchadwick.com. Thanks for stopping by!
Tom Finds Some Interesting Shopping
We followed Interstate 80 east across PA until near State College. There we went southeast on Route 322 to Harrisburg. Near our RV Park were a woodworking store and a tool and equipment store. I did a little (guy stuff) shopping on my own. I am planning to take Letty to the outlet shops in Lancaster tomorrow to make up for it, and we are looking forward to eating at the smorgasbord at Hersey Farms (in Lancaster) on our way home. We should be home Wednesday night (6-27).
Camping at a Lake.
We found another state park campground to stay at. Since it has gotten hot lately, we are picking campgrounds with electric hookups, so that we can use the air conditioner if needed. We will often turn the air conditioner off after we go to bed, and just use the fan to keep a comfortable temperature in the motor home. I can't remember which nights we used the air all night, and which we didn't.
We Stopped Where We Stopped on Our Way West.
We found ourselves at the same place we stopped on the way out to Wyoming. It was at the right place at the right time on our way back to New Jersey, and we knew where it was.
In Transit in Iowa
A QUICK POST from the Iowa rest stop on Interstate 80. As of 06-24 at 2 PM CDT we are eating lunch and taking a rest stop. We will be heading for Gary, Indiana or further east for tonight's stop. Intermediate posts with photos will probably not happen until we are home. Expected arrival is Wed. 06-27 or Thurs. 06-28.
We found a wonderful small park with electric hookups. We stayed overnight among families spending a weekend (or more) together. They were all relaxing and enjoying themselves.
A Visit with a Friend.
We had a chance to visit with our friend, Ed, from the Handicapped Travel Club. We stopped in the afternoon, went to the Friday Night Buffet at the local cafe,and stayed overnight. Ed had a nesting Kildeer (bird) on his lot, and we got to see the mother and took photos, from which we could see 4 eggs, spotted to look like the rocks she was nesting on.
Arsenic in the Water.
We weren't sure we were going to find a campsite available at this National Forest Campground. After looking around, we found a suitable site, and stayed. I wondered about swimming in the community pool located at the campground. When I walked up to the pool, I found out that there was a $2 charge to swim. For some reason, I decided I didn't want to pay to swim. I did want to take a shower, and so did Letty want to take one the next morning. We were low on water and needed to empty to waste water tanks, so we took care of that in the evening, before I took a shower in the motorhome. While filling the tank I noticed that there was an official warning that the arsenic level in the water was slighly above the allowable level for the county. We decided that we would not drink the water, but would use it to get our showers and then drain and fill the water tanks at the next campround. We bought a gallon of bottled water to use to make coffee and drinks. I wonder what kind of water was in the pool?!
We Almost See a Musical
When we stopped at Fort Robinson State Park, we found many activities available. We only wanted to stay overnight, but found that they had a playhouse, with performances nightly in the summer season. The only problem was that the performance started at 8 PM, and we really needed to get up early the next morning to drive east. We settled for dinner in the restaurant at the Fort Robinson Inn.
An Overnight on the Way Home.
We stayed overnight at a state park near a reservoir.
A Little Shopping.
We visited the downtown area of Sheridan and the shops there, and found a few gifts and souveniers in a nice shop called "The Best of the West".
Through the Bighorns in One Day.
After driving up into the mountains from Greybull, WY on route 14, we decided we didn't want to camp in the mountains. The campgrounds are mostly down gravel roads through the mountains, and the area can be seen in one day. We did stop at a few places, and I was able to find some nice flowers and flower scenes to photograph. We decide to push on to Sheridan, WY.
A stop just inside the park.
Lupine and Dandelions.
A Free Stay at the City RV Park.
After attending the powwow, we left Cody and drove towards the Bighorn Mountains. We were not sure about the camping in the mountains, so we stopped in Lovell at the visitor center for the Bighorn Canyon Recreation Area, and found out that there was a city park where RV'ers could stay for free. Since it was late and windy, we decided not to go into the mountains until the next day. A woman ranger for the Bighorn Mountains helped us to figure out which way we wanted to go, and where suitable campgrounds were.
Southwestern Plains Indian Powwow
We found out on the way to Cody that there was an Indian Powwow in Cody over the weekend. Letty and I decided to go Sunday after leaving the RV park and before we left the town. The admission was minimal, and the powwow was easy to attend, since it was at the Buffalo Bill Historic Muesum, with plenty of parking and easily accessible. The event was held outside, and there were many Native American crafters with items to sell, mostly jewelry, which was fine with us. We love seeing Native American jewelry, and ended up buying a choker for me and a pair of earrings for Letty, both for a very reasonable price. During the event, people of all ages who were dressed in traditional dress danced and competed for prizes.
Powwow at Cody.
Shoshone National Forest
We ended our stay in Yellowstone today, going out the east entrance, which was under construction. In 1996, when we first visited Yellowstone, it was also under construction as we entered the park. It was very tedious driving then, and I didn't like driving the mountain roads under construction any better this time. On the east side of Yellowstone, heading towards Cody, Wyoming, we drove through the Shoshone National Forest, were we saw fields of Blue Flax and Lupine.
Along the east entrance road near Yellowstone Lake.
Blue Flax and Lupine in the Shoshone National Forest.
The Calypso Orchid!
I was very excited when I heard that some Calypso Orcids were spotted in bloom along the South Rim Trail near Canyon Village. I was all set to hike the trail, and took the camera gear, hoping to catch up with this elusive flower. When I got to the place that I was told to look, I thought somehow I was at the wrong place, or that the rangers had mistaken a Glacier Lily for the orchid. I felt let down until I looked very carefully though the area. Down a small embankment, just about 6 feet from the path were two very small pink flowers hiding in the grass. The blooms were only about 3/4 of an inch across, and stood up only about 2 inches, very easy to overlook. What a rare treat to see this unusual plant.
The beautiful Calypso Orchid.
Another view of the Orchid.
A view of the Lower Yellowstone Falls from the South Rim Trail.
The Upper Loop.
We set off north on the Grand Loop Road to see Mammoth Hot Springs area, and Dunraven Pass area. It's a shame that I couldn't get a bath in the spring water- that's not available at Yellowstone, but we did get some photography in, and also went out the north entrance to the town of Gardiner, Montana, where we stayed in a log motel 11 years ago on our way to California. All of Yellowstone National Park is beautiful, and it seems like you could spent 11 years here and not see it all.
We saw only a few Indian Paintbrush plants in bloom.
A mountain view near Mammoth Hot Springs.
Cactus along the north entrance road.
A bison scratches his back while horse drawn wagons set off through the meadow.
It's hard to come to Yellowstone and not stop to see the world's best known geyser do it's thing. It was high on Letty's list, and we devoted a dayto it, of course stopping to take photos along the way and the way back. We actually witnessed two eruptions, the first with me trying to capture the geyser and the people on film, and then again while making a phone call. How touristy to talk on the cell phone while Old Faithful was putting on a show!
Old Faithful goes off about every 93 minutes.
Back in Yellowstone.
We completed our trip north in Idaho, ending up in the town of West Yellowstone, Montana, just outside the west entrance to the park. The ranger warned us about a slowdown about 5 miles inside the park, and it took us about 20-25 minutes to clear the area of the traffic jam. We never did see any evidence of what was holding things up, although the ranger said it was due to bison on the road. Bison don't seemed to be bothered by anything, and often walk across or even down the roads, holding up traffic without prejudice. We set up camp at the more or less centrally located Norris Campground, where we were able to see Bison from the window in the evening in a meadow with a creek. We spent the afternoon at Canyon Village, looking in the visitor center and the shops. In the early evening, asked Letty if it would be alright to head north, to see what the Dunraven Pass area looked like, in anticipation of stopping later to photograph flowers. She said yes, and we went up the road, not thinking about wildlife. Near the pass, everyone was stopping to look at something up on the mountainside. Without trying, we had the chance to see a Grizzly Bear mother and two cubs (not up close).
A grizzly with two cubs.
Elk relaxing in a meadow. (Or are they Moose?)
Farms and flowers on the west side.
We traveled through scenic farm country and into the Targhee National Forest as we made our way north towards the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park. We stayed at a private campground in the National Forest and I found some wildflowers to photograph.
'Les Trois Tetons' from the west side.
White Mules are not as common as the yellow variety.
Blue Flax in the Targhee National Forest.
Over the pass to the other side of the Teton Mountain Range
We left Grand Teton National Park heading south into Jackson, WY. We needed to shop for food, and we found an Albertson's Supermarket in town. It was a good size store, and we were able to stock up. I was able to use my ACME discount card to get the better prices! I wanted to see the well known Jackson Hole Ski Area at Teton Village, and along the road to the Resort, I found a spot with a number of wildflowers along the roadside bike path and stopped to do some photography. Since we wanted to go into Idaho and north along the other side of the Teton Range, we drove over the Teton Pass, a long 10% climb and then a 10% downhill. The motorhome slowed down a bit in the climb, but we made it over without incident. After we reached the valley, I realized that I had left the air conditioner on- not what you want to do on a long steep climb.
Lupine with Tetons in the background
A penstemon ready to open.
The search for the elusive Calypso Orchid
We heard that a good place to look for Calypso Orchids, a flower similar to our own Pink Ladsippers in New Jersey, was the area near Jenny Lake called Moose Ponds. We went back to the Jenny Lake Visitor Center and I set off up the trail with camera gear, hiking stick, drink bottle, hat, and determination to see and photograph the flower. I came back tired and without seeing the elusive orchid, but I was happy to have had the chance to hike to a beautiful, peaceful area.
Put these two photos together and ....
... you get an idea of what the Moose Ponds area was like.
Here I am on the trail to the Moose Ponds.
|Date: 06-07 and 06-08|
The Grand Teton Mountains dominate the area.
Unlike my perception of the Grand Teton National Park eleven years ago, when I refused to drive through it, the roads in the park are rather level and don't have many hairpin turns. That year, 1996, we drove through too many mountains and when we got to Yellowstone National Park, I told Letty that I was tired of driving up and down and all around, and did not want to drive through the park. How mistaken I was. Instead of driving through the Grand Teton Mountains, you simply look up at them from a rather level valley called Jackson's Hole. Majestic views of the mountains and many wildflowers are possible from just about every spot in the park. It is hard to describe how beautiful it is- just look at the photos.
The Tetons from the marina at Colter Bay on Jackson Lake.
Arrowleaf Balsamroot and the Tetons at Colter Bay.
Snowstorm in June!
We listened to the weather service radio, and the forecast was for snow for the higher altitudes. Since we were at about 6900 feet, we were concerned, but our heater was working just fine, and we would be inside the RV. About 3:30 AM I looked out the window to see snow falling. In the morning, we saw a much more snow covered set of mountains, and a light covering on the vehicles and grassy areas. We found completely clear highways when we went out to see the park.
Reuben (Redbear) at his favorite leisure activity in the snow.
Snow on the mountains, windshields, and the grass.
Signal Mountain Campground
We arrived at the Signal Mountain campground of the Grand Teton National Park, and took the last campsite, with a view of the mountains. It wasn't the last available site, just the last site before you went out the exit. We passed the Chapel of the Sacred Heart, a log cabin church, with a spectacular view of Jackson Lake and the mountains. The church was surrounded by yellow Arrowleaf Balsamroot flowers. We made a promise to visit it the next day.
The Chapel of the Sacred Heart.
The view of the mountains from the Chapel of the Sacred Heart.
|Date: 06-03 and 06-04|
Buffalo and Glacier Lilies
We drove through Grand Teton National Park on the way to Yellowstone. There were many wildflowers evident in Grand Teton, fewer in Yellowstone. Driving around the lower loop in Yellowstone we saw hundred of buffalo, thermal features of the landscape, and other folks like us enjoying the area. We had planned to stay in Yellowstone a week or so before moving to Grand Teton, but decided that the flowers were not at their peak in Yellowstone, and moved south to the other park after two days. On the second evening I went for a short walk around the campground and found a whole meadow of Glacier Lilies in bloom, a new flower for me. What a pleasant surprise!
Buffalo like a sauna bath once in a while.
|Date: 06-01 and 06-02|
Thomas takes a hot bath.
Ever since we visited Hot Springs, Arkansas, and toured the bath house that was part of the state park there, but did not try a hot bath, I have been thinking about another hot spring bath. When we camp, we can get showers, but rarely a hot bath. When we found that we would be traveling near the town of Thermopolis, I insisted that we visit to see if I could get into some hot water. I could, I did, and it was free! Letty watched while I soaked myself in the indoor pool filled with 103 degree water from the hot springs. The limit of 20 minutes was not enough for me, but I enjoyed every minute of it. We walked on the boardwalk over the mineral deposits left by the spring water, found some wildflowers to photograph, and I bought a cowboy hat.
Tom gets into some hot water.
Teepee Fountain is covered with mineral deposits from the spring water.
Letty was able to go on the boardwalk over the mineral water falls.
Coal Trains, Chimney Rock, and Flowers along Route 26
We got off of I-80 and went on Route 26 towards Casper and Thermopolis. It is a beautiful scenic highway following the North Platte River Valley. All along the way we saw trains carrying coal headed in the other direction along the highway. Letty counted the cars in the trains and the trains. In about 5 hours of driving, we saw 13 trains of about 120 to 130 cars and three engines. We saw empty coal cars going the way we were headed. We encountered some wildflowers along the road and I stopped to take photos. We also visited the National Monument known as Chimney Rock, and learned (when I went into the visitor center to get Letty's National Parks Passport stamped) that more than one historic trail went this way. Among them were the Oregon Trail, the California Trail and the Mormon Trail.
A Purple Penstemon.
A field of Coreopsis.
Letty views the famous Chimney Rock
Finally Internet Access!
We found a private campground just off Interatate 80 in Ogallala that had wifi internet access, and cable TV. Finally we can get our email, and I can put up more entries of the travelog. We (Tom) are watching Dukes of Hazard while we work on the internet. I am expecting to add some photos to the log as well as to my www.twchadwick.com web site.
Pawnee Lake State Park
An overnight stay during a travel phase of our trip. There was a nature trail near our campsite, but we didn't go on it. We needed to move on, and there did not seem to be any wildflowers in bloom.
|Date: 05-25 to 05-28|
Camping at Saylorville Lake
We arrived at Acorn Valley Campground Friday night after visiting the Prairie Learning Center. We met our friends from Minnesota, who had gone ahead, and they had a new tent with fiberglass poles. Hopefully no more collapses from strong winds.
Saturday was a catchup day, and we used it to work on housekeeping and computer stuff.
On Sunday, 05-27, we ate lunch at Culvers Ice Cream Restaurant, a Midwest treat, and visited Reiman Gardens at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. The gardens were beautiful, and the butterfly wing of the visitor center had many exotic butterflies flitting around inside it. There was a childrens garden with a garden gauge railroad set up in it with live miniature trees and buildings.
On Memorial Day Monday 05-28 we visited the outside butterfly gardens on the bike trail near the Savorville Lake visitor center, and I was able to take some wildflower photographs along the trail.
A Penstemon, I believe.
Same flower, closeup.
Prairie Learning Center
We visited the Prairie Learning Center, which is (of course) out in the middle of the prairie. Actually, the land that makes up this National Wildlife Refuge is reclaimed farm land. The center has a small herd of buffalo and an even smaller herd of elk. Many educational projects take place at the center, including displays that the visiting public can view, and volunteer prairie restoration plots around the building. Hiking trails through the prairies are available. Not many wildflowers were in bloom at the time of our visit.
Letty on the Overview Trail
We dodged the showers on and off, but managed to get into town to visit a few shops and buy some bratwurst and cheese at the Amana Meat Shop and Smokehouse. We did eat lunch outside at the campsite. Tom and Carol decided to move on towards Des Moines because their tent collapsed in the horrendous winds, hoping to replace two tent poles and the fly, or find a new tent. Back luck, but what can happen when camping. We will catch up with them Friday at Saylorville Lake.
My first chance to photgograph wildflowers
We parked in the parking lot along the road to Porter Beach. I walked back up the road to the top of the hill and took photos of a few wildflowers along the side of the road.
Beautiful but not yet identified
Sand Dunes in the Midwest?
We stayed at a second Indiana State Park, a beautiful place on the south shore of Lake Michigan.
Gas prices going up!
More to come about gasoline. (Check back)
Just an overnight at a private campground. (No photos)
Reunion and Alumni Homecoming
A full day of visiting and activities, including bar-b-que lunch (inside because of spitting rain), buffet dinner and play put on by the students. Oh, did I mention that the president of the college and the Alumni Chairman jumped in the Long Island Sound? This was because the Alumni reached and surpassed the goal of 75% participation in the Alumni Fund Drive for the last year. We were allowed to park and stay on campus, which made everything much easier for us.
Driving on Long Island
Driving up the NJ Turnpike was not too bad, but trying to get off the Verranzo Narrows Bridge on to the belt parkway proved to be a bit tricky. After getting off the highway and turning around, we had to go under the bridge and then along the south shore and past Kennedy Airport. That was not near as worrisome as travelling along highways that were intended for cars only in a vehicle that is 9 feet 6 inches or so high in the middle where the roof air conditioner is. Especially on the Cross Island Parkway, the overpasses kept getting lower until one actually said 9 feet 8 inches clearance. Hold your breath, stay in the middle and pray! We made it, but got off the highway right away and used local roads to get to the Long Island Expressway. We arrived in Glen Cove in one piece for my 35th college reunion.
The Trip Begins!
I'm up at 8am trying to get all the last things done so we can leave at 10am. It look like a dreary, drizzly rainy, stormy day. The temperature outside is 50 degrees. I need to go wake Letty up.
Today is going to be the great get ready day. Everything needs to be finished by tonight so that we can get off early in the morning on Friday.
Reuben (Redbear), our CEB (chief executive bear) directed all of the packing.
Getting Ready to Go
Putting up this log is only a small part of our getting ready for our 2007 trip. Most of the packing is either done or organized and ready to be loaded. Cameras, technology and paper work are still on the list to load. Luckily, tomorrow is dedicated to getting ready. Don't forget cleaning up at home and letting family and other folks know what we are up to and how to get in touch with us.