Wednesday, June 25, 2014


We got to Wyoming the first of the week. It’s Friday now. We are slowly moving north along I25, enjoying parking in city parks and undisclosed locations for free. We are enjoying the openness, sense of freedom and the wonderful hospitality. Everyone we encounter seeks to do something for us. It’s like we have crossed into some time warp. Everything is small here. The capital is smaller than Montgomery. Unlike most capital buildings, you go in the front door. There is no security. The governor’s office is right inside the front door. We saw him on TV news. He was showing a new custom AR15 built by a Wyoming company. Nice advertisement.

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Wyoming Capital - [Can you name the city?]

The pictures I like to post here attempt to show places that might entice others to go there. I am not an artist. The pictures that excite me make me want to go there. Here’s one of Iceland that makes me want to go there.


It sure as heck beats Artists Palette in Death Valley three ways to Sunday


One more, Canyon de Chelly. We just might be able to get there on the way home.

Starting in grade school you learn of the western trails. Four trails run along the North Platte River in Wyoming. The Oregon, California, Mormon and the short lived Pony Express. Beyond South Pass, Wyo, they start splitting like rope fibers. But on this section they are all one, through mostly flat country, the mountains still ahead.

An observation on culture. I read that 3 of 5 recent college graduates are living in their HS bedrooms. These must the ones with the ever useful something-studies degrees. [The degrees which mean they claim to have read some book which profoundly affected them] Without a degree I had a job, which allowed me to buy cars, rent apartments, while I went to college. I was never broke. Is it so different now? Mexicans are working oil rigs in Wyoming. They don’t have degrees. They are driving new trucks.

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As seen on I25. The car had Texas plates.


Continued on Wyoming II

Wyoming - II

We left Lander for a familiar haunt of Pinedale on the west side of the Wind River Range. However, our CG of choice was closed for construction. Our next choice was swarming with mosquitoes, so we continued north towards the Tetons and found an adequate CG close to some promising places to explore.

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The Popo Agie River        Another mountain lake with the Wind River Range in the distance. We have been “with” wild flowers the last month everywhere we have been.

Next week is the dreaded Fourth of July. We need to find a place to hole up for that. It looks Idaho will be host to us for the Fourth week. We are about 98% certain that we will follow our original plan and go to Oregon. Instead of a month in the Cascades, we may spend it on the coast so to avoid any smoky fires. We do want to spend a little time in the general area of Bend, but this time explore some places that we never got around to on the previous trips. Without the kayaks lake camping is not a priority.

Wednesday, June 25 – A day of exploration or a day spent trying to find a good place to park. We first went down the Snake River. The Snake is everywhere. We will cross it several times between here and Oregon. On coming cars were flashing their lights and when we rounded a turn we found these characters licking salt? from the roadway.

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A semi truck moved them to the shoulder, but they were soon back on the road.

We got to a T intersection and I said we have been here before, but I could not recall why or when. An hour or so later, it hit me that we used the road to bypass Jackson going from Pinedale to Driggs some years back. Finding no places that worked for us, we headed north, to the dreaded Jackson, a town we have bypassed twice before.

On the way, I noticed man that first appeared to be wading in the Hoback River. Not an usual sight as fly fishing is common here. I thought how the heck is he managing to stand up in the strong current? Then I saw he was surfing a standing wave in the river. I pulled in the next turnoff and found this sign.

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No pic of him, as he was on shore when we got there.

Actually Jackson is not real bad, only two or three blocks of congestion with fat cheesy tourists. Still seeking a “home” we went out Elk Refuge Road through, what else, the elk refuge. We saw no elk, but we did make a lot of pictures of the Tetons from a excellent perspective. The campground was OK, high above the valley, err hole, but the last three miles were on a rough road that we decided KoKo would not like.

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The next campground on our list turned out to be a park service campground and we decided our hunt was over. We returned south and got KoKo and settled in. We sometimes spend more time in the Jeep driving than we do in KoKo. This was one of those days.  Six hours exploring, 40 minutes to move KoKo.

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No crash, they were turning on to final approach.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Parks And Monuments

We Have Been To 39 National Parks

Acadia National Park
Arches National Park
Badlands National Park
Big Bend National Park
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park
Canyonlands National Park
Capitol Reef National Park
Crater Lake National Park
Death Valley National Park
Everglades National Park
Glacier National Park
Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Teton National Park
Great Basin National Park
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Hot Springs National Park
Isle Royale National Park
Joshua Tree National Park
Kings Canyon National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Mammoth Cave National Park
Mesa Verde National Park
Mount Rainier National Park
North Cascades National Park
Olympic National Park
Petrified Forest National Park
Redwood National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park
Saguaro National Park
Sequoia National Park
Shenandoah National Park
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Voyageurs National Park
Wind Cave National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Yosemite National Park
Zion National Park

National Parks we have not been to and probably will not

Biscayne National Park
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Channel Islands National Park
Congaree National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Denali National Park & Preserve
Dry Tortugas National Park
Denali National Park & Preserve
Dry Tortugas National Park
Haleakala National Park
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Katmai National Park and Preserve
Kenai Fjords National Park
Kobuk Valley National Park
Lake Clark National Park
National Park of American Samoa
Virgin Islands National Park
Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve

We Have Been To 33 of the 99 National Monuments

Cedar Breaks
Craters of the Moon
Devils Postpile
El Malpais
Giant Sequoia
Gila Cliffs
Grand Portage
Grand Staircase
John Day Fossil Beds
Little Bighorn Battlefield
Mt. Saint Helens
Muir Woods
Natural Bridges
Oregon Caves
Organ Pipe Cactus
Poverty Point
Russell Cave
San Juan Islands
Sonoran Desert
Tent Rocks
Vermillion Cliffs
Walnut Canyon
White Sands

National Monuments on the bucket list

Canyon de Chelly
El Morro
Montezuma Castle
Pipe Spring

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Here I go making friends again. As Alice Roosevelt quipped, If you have nothing nice to say, sit next to me. Native Colorado women must come from hardy stock. They are universally homely, but they look like they can handle outdoor winter living. They have unique voices. Not shrill, more like a slightly muffled and well modulated air raid siren. High and loud. I should practice what Plato wrote, Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.

Sunday, we came down from the mountains. From 8,200 to 5,000 feet. We spent over $200 on groceries and still needed a Walmart run. By the time we got to Walmart it was 1:30, so we had French bread spread with gorgonzola cheese for lunch, then we napped before tackling Walmart. Finding we had a hot cell signal we opted to overnight at Walmart and surf the night away. It was nice to put on shorts after two weeks at altitude.


Speaking of mountains, did you know that Robert Redford’s character Jeremiah Johnson was based on Liver Eating Johnson? Yes, he ate the liver of those he killed. Powerful medicine I suppose.

I am posting this picture simply because I find it amusing. I do not plan on getting Rubi that close to the edge of the Grand Canyon. Nor would I ever, ever put my feet over the edge. Not even a toe. Most deaths at the GC are men that have had a few brews and decided to take a leak over the edge. I’m serious. Most of the other deaths there are alcohol related.

grand canyon

Back to Colorado. Monday we drove through Ft. Collins on US 287 which has every store one can imagine, many with cutesy names, it being a college town. Liquor stores are everywhere in the state. I think there are more here than in Louisiana. [There you can buy a bottle at the barber shop and get  drink at drive through daiquiri bars] In addition to liquor stores, Colorado is mountains, rivers, bicyclists and dogs. Oh, and wilderness areas. More than one can count. The greenies have done a fine job here of converting public lands to the coveted wilderness category. In case you don’t know, this means the only access is walking. I have mixed feeling about this. Yes, we should have some such areas. But, at some point it discriminates in favor of the able bodied.

This week we are parked along the Cache le Poudre River [pronounced pooder. Meaning cache of gun powder] It’s our first time in the area. The Wyoming border is mere miles north. The name of the river sounded interesting, so we came. [Thanks Mike C!]  There are many Forest Service CG’s along the river, we picked Dutch George. At only 6,600 feet the weather is delightful. Our site has a great view of the river and a bench overlooking it. The Poudre is a meca for white water, with Class 3-5 rapids and huge boulders to crash on. One rapid is named Dr. Suckhole and it certainly does have a deep hydraulic.

Dorothy has declared Dutch George to be one of her top 10 favorite campgrounds.

our site

Site #8 - $9.50 a night – Dorothy is on the veranda at the left

on the veranda

On the veranda

river action form the veranda

River action seen from the veranda

We hunted for a Jeep trail here, but all of the high roads are closed. Most from the severe flood damage last year, others have just not been opened yet.

Saw on the evening news that it is snowing in western Colorado. A winter storm warning is in effect. 80 and clear on the east side of the state.

Our neighbors from Ft. Collins, Tim and Chris, showed us the night sky with their telescope.

We moved north to Cheyenne Wednesday. So I will post this final edition of Colorado and start on Wyoming.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Adventures In RMNP

RMNP is not so different than Glacier, taller peaks here for sure. Both have roads that span the spine of the Rockies. Trail Ridge road (here) makes the claim of being the highest continuous road in the country. By continuous, they mean you can travel between two places, Estes Park and Grand Lake. The nearby Mt. Evans road is 2,000 feet higher, but dead ends at the top. I file this information with all the claims about so many bridges being the longest, highest, etc.

Like in Glacier, Yellowstone, etc. any four legged animal that can been seen from the roadside will cause a traffic jam. Today it was elk. Antlers are in velvet.

For our first three days here, the mornings have been warm and sunny. The afternoons alternate between clouds with rain/hail and then back to sunny. The wind swings between moderate and gusty most of the day. I think it’s called katabatic wind, cold air dropping down from the peaks.

We did a short, two mile, hike Wednesday morning. Dorothy was huffing and puffing before we got to the trail. The altitude affects her more than me. With several short rest stops we made it to a scenic lake. 

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Sprague Lake                                                My hiking buddy

So far the campground is mostly vacant and quiet. But the weekend is coming. We picked a site with no trees, so our solar panels are making juice all day. There is a dump and fresh water so we are comfortable. Four Asians were across from us one night. They were in a sub-compact Toyota. What was remarkable to us is that they slept in the car – all four of them. They cooked a large breakie on a hibachi. We went to the Discovery Center and then spent another hour taking photographs. When we got back they were still cooking but now steaks.

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Moraine Park

First decent picture I have gotten this trip. Slightly juiced with iPhoto. I usually avoid a scene with people in it. But, I decided what the hey, there is a fly fishermen in this one.

Friday is the day the unwashed hordes with their untamed kids and dogs appear. If they are wearing a RMNP sweat shirt with shorts they are tourists who never thought it might be cool at elevation. We have shared the campground with a few folks all week. Very quiet. Today tents are up in all directions, kids peddle by on their bikes screaming and those freaking little dogs that people hold in their arms dogs bark. God Bless America.

We hiked to Alberta Falls today. At 8:30 in the morning we were one of 13 cars in a line bound for the trailhead parking lot. Thankfully once on the trail we were by ourselves. The falls were impressive, but you could not view them face on. On the way back we missed the sign and hiked uphill a half mile out of our way. Retracing our steps back down the hill, we noted that you had to walk pass the sign, then turn around to see it. It turned a two mile hike into three miles. Grumble. Dorothy was about dead.  There was a woman taking pictures at the falls by going out on ledges and then holding her arm out. No fear. I kept my camera on her as I wanted a shot of her dropping into the gorge – certain death. Darn it.

Dorothy’s Version -

Friday, June 13 - When we arrived at RMNP, I decided that we should hike to Alberta Falls on this day since it was supposed to be the best day of our stay here.  It's a gorgeous day - sun shinning and warm temperatures.  We left the cg around 8:30 and were on the trail at 8:50.  It was a nice easy trail, so the elevation of 9200' did not bother me too much.  We have been at elevations above 5000' for about of month, but neither of us really adjust.  The falls are beautiful with lots of water running over the large rocks.  We stopped for a little while to make pictures, then decided to continue up the trail as it would probably take us to the top of the falls.  The trail is not as well maintained as it is to the falls and after a very short time, I decided that I should not go any further.  There was still a mile hike to get back to the car.  Don continued on a little ways and then returned to the falls and climbed up some of the rocks to get a better view.

I slowly continued walking to the car because the falls were getting crowded and noisy.  I walked very slowly (I could have been an employee  at the Jefferson County Court House!) and Don caught up with me.  We continued to walk and the trail got steeper and steeper.  This was making breathing a little difficult, so I had frequent stops.  We had taken the trail to Bear Lake, which is a pretty glacier lake.  Finally Don sees the parking lot, but I don't remember the shuttle stop (which only runs Saturday and Sunday). We were at the wrong parking lot.  We had passed the sign to Glacier Basin parking lot.  First we didn't see the sign and second, we didn't know it was Glacier Basin, after all we were hiking to Alberta Falls so that should have been the name of the parking lot.  We had to retrace our steps for 1/2 mile and the continue a 1/2 mile to the correct parking lot.  As we were retracing our steps, two people asked directions and they were also on the wrong trail.  The direction signs were pointed in such a manner that you can only see them after you passed them and then turn around and look.

When we returned to the cg, we were too tired to eat so we took at nap before lunch.  Lesson learned - I can go two miles, but someplace between two and a half and three miles is too much.  I will be recovered by Saturday and we can go on another hike.

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Alberta Falls – At The Bottom and The Top

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Bear Lake – Included Only Because I Am A Sucker For Snaggle-Tooth Peaks. This section of the park reminds us the mountain lakes along US395 because of the spruce and granite.

PS – to Fly Fishing, about 20% of the people on the trails here carry a fly rod. You are suppose to release what you catch in the park, but we also see fish baskets hanging on their backs.

Sunday we will go into Loveland to re-supply and then head to some place along the Cache la Poudre River. I am sure there will be no cell coverage there. Until next time.

Monday, June 9, 2014


What a difference a day makes. Just inside Rocky Mountain NP the scenery changes from so-so to pretty darn spectacular. Just when we were thinking of blowing the place off, we change our minds. We signed up for five days at Glacier Basin CG. No cell, no TV, but what a view from our campsite.

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              $40 a night in Estes Park                                          $10 a night at Glacier Basin

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             Dorothy’s shirred eggs

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All of the streams and rivers here are in full flow

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Rock Cut on Trail Ridge Road

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Sunday, June 8, 2014

In The Rockies

Sunday – June 8 – We are now in Estes Park, getting ready to enter Rocky Mountain NP. So this post will relate some of what we have been up to for the last week or so. Still waiting for the lighting to strike so we can see something really spectacular about this part of Colorado. So far, it’s has been about as expected, so-so. Given our history that when anything is really popular, we don’t find it to be so for us, we are not surprised. A surprise would be most welcome. We do know it really expensive here. Even California is less.

Catching up with pictures from places we have been.

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On a rural road close to Grand Junction we found all manner of architecture. This one may have been the most extreme. Note the bridge trestle from a freight car to a deck. Why?

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The Colorado Monument

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The interior of the Colorado Capital is perhaps the most ornate we have seen. Rose Onyx and brass are used throughout the building.

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This rock formation would look good in our back yard

This is our first time in mountains west of Denver. [Well that’s not entirely right, we did a fly and drive a decade back, We spent two nights in Winter Park and drove to Vail] As we pulled the grade west of Denver on I70 it felt like we had loaded the rig with rocks as KoKo was maxed out at 45. When I checked the elevation we were already at 8,800 feet. No wonder she was not peppy, even with 91 octane gas. The CG is at 9,680 feet. Naturally no cell signal. The sky is blue with a few clouds and the forecast is good until the weekend. The temp should be in the upper 30’s at nights. At noon, it’s 70 here. Down the hill in Denver it’s 82.

We drove the Mt. Evans road. The highest paved road in the country. It ascends to 14,100. It provides a fine view of this section of the Rockies. It was in the high 30’s up there with a 20+ wind. We were cold and we had on two layers. Half the folks were in shorts. Mt. Evans is managed by the Forest Service. They charge $10 a car to drive the road. There were hundreds of cars on the road the Sunday we went up. Do the math. Having the Geezer card saved us the ten bucks.

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The view from Mt. Evans, like the one at Wolf Pass is OK, but this section of the Rockies is just not as interesting as the San Juan’s are to us. The tops of the latter are jagged and multi-colored. Here they are all the same, undistinguished. We are trying to find something that really interests us here, but so far, not much. This area gets the traffic since major highways cross the range. The only access to the San Juan’s is the Million Dollar Highway, which scares the beejesus out of most folks.

We explored the area around Idaho Springs and Georgetown. Both have old buildings which have been turned into shops to mine tourist silver. Georgetown is ahead of Idaho Springs in that respect. We drove part of the Guanella Pass road, but we were not impressed. We then crossed to the north side of of I70 and took the Virginia Canyon road. Again nothing to write about. Evidence of mining all over the place. I wonder how many of the mines paid off? We looked for and found a place to park through the weekend as most places are reserved.

We have been seeking a decent fish taco since we chomped on Jorge’s in Baja in 2008. We finally found one in Georgetown. Pricey, 3 for $12, but huge. We were stuffed.

Guessed wrong on a turn coming back yesterday and Glenda took us back to Golden. An extra hour of driving. Glenda is evil and can not be trusted.

We are north of Idaho Springs for a few days, near Central City/Black Hawk. These adjacent former mining towns have more casino’s than Atlantic City. The action must happen on the weekends as you could shoot down the streets with an automatic weekdays with no risk of hitting anyone. We have marginal internet speed most of the time, with bursts high speed.

We tried two trails seeking scenic vistas. On the first one we encountered a wall of snow. I guess that’s why they say this area is not really open until July. On the second one, we chanced on one of the three residents of the former mining town of Nevadaville, who regaled us with the history of the place. I really should not say former mining as gold is still being taken, just not in commercial quantities. One guy takes ten five gallon buckets of ore to a smelter in Denver everyday. He averages an ounce of gold for each trip.

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We turned on the road you see in front of the Jeep and two miles later we found a five foot snow slide across the road. I had no idea what would happen if we tried to scale it, so we turned around.

Our drive the next day to Gros Reservoir was more rewarding. We have never seen Forest Service camp sites widely spread out the hillsides, each with a table and fire ring. Tents only, you could not get an RV on the road. Campers can choose from sites close to the road or ones a hundred yards or more off the road. Plenty of privacy. Very well done. And most sites were in use.

After leaving the reservoir, I intended to drive to some oddly shaped tilted rock formations called The Flatirons. This would add two hours to our drive and my back was already hurting, so we dropped down one of the steepest curvy roads known to man [19% grade] and found ourselves only four miles from Boulder. I queried Glenda about places to eat and she showed several dozen restaurants all clustered together. One was named Mediterranean Restaurant. We enjoyed some of the best tapas dishes in many a moon.

Today, we walked about Central City. Most of the shops are not yet open, as the season starts around the end of June. We tried our luck at one of the casino’s with the usual results. We had a fine prime rib lunch for $7.77 at another casino.

We got to know Ken and Dawn, who are full-timers. It possible we might hook up with them in Lone Pine in September.