Thursday, June 28, 2012

Custer Wild Life Tour

The Norbeck Visitor Center at Custer State park is one of the most impressive architectural design for a building of rock. Construction was done in the 1930s by the CCC. Within the park, there are several other stone built constructions. This is the most impressive.

Then it was off to do the wild life tour of Custer State Park. This is not a petting zoo, but that doesn't stop most of the travelers from making pests of the burros. I was not one of them.

The rest of the wild life stays wild. These pronghorn males were head butting. Just for the entertainment of the tourists.

Bison/buffalo are the most common wild life.

Wild life also includes birds. More difficult to get photos, but managed to get two to sit long enough for a photo op. A mountain blue bird and a barn swallow.

Great to get out to see the natural world.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Small World On Harney Peak Trail

Heading into Custer State Park heading to Sylvan Lake, clouds were resting along the road and among the treetops. It did not appear to be a good day for views from atop Harney Peak. (Highest point in South Dakota.) It was still early. Perhaps those clouds would burn off by the time I reached the summit.

This is the scene at the trail head -- a foggy world. No blue sky breaking through the low hanging clouds. 

Becoming discouraged by the prospects, I turned around and headed back to the trail head. Soon I met a couple going up the trail. They asked if it was clear at the top. I admitted that I had not gone. Not sure what they said, but I decided what's the big deal. Why not hike. Turning around, I started up the trail once again. Soon I caught up with that same couple reading an information sign.

As we stood there chatting, she said that we had met at Observation Point at Zion Canyon NP several years ago. We did! With a little explaining from Emmie, I realized that we had met at Observation Point. However, with apologies to Emmie and Ernie, I regret that I did not recognize them. It was a short time at Observation Point in our previous visit.

However, we made up for that previous short visit. We chatted throughout the hike to Harney Peak -- up and back. Everybody has a story; Emmie and Ernie provided a few more for my repertoire.

Soon we were at the peak and walked the steps up the 1930s CCC built tower.

The clouds were burning off -- very slowly. The surrounding peaks were just visible through the cloud cover.

The trail was quite open with dead and dying ponderosa pine most of the way. The beetle kill was quite extensive. From the tower view, the dead trees seemed to cover the hillside.

Forgot to mention that Emmie and Ernie are from Australia -- the city of Sydney. Amazing. Crossing paths with them on two different occasions. It is truly a small world.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Dealing With Internet Addtiction

Remote camping is great and very enjoyable. However, the downside is lack of internet access at decent speeds. All Verizon towers haven't been upgraded to 3G -- let alone the latest 4G speeds. Those Verizon towers in those parts of the west where the number of people per square mile is less than two persons just can't justify upgrading the Verizon towers to the faster speeds of 3G and 4G.

The very slow speeds of National Access is what I found when I arrived at Nebraska's Fort Robinson State Park. Passing through northwest Nebraska on my way to Rapid City, I stopped for a two night stay. Great place to park and explore.

A Fort Robinson Wikepedia entry tells the history of the fort. Today it is essentially a "state park resort". No swimming pool, but it is a place to get away from the hustle of the big city. In addition to RV and tent camping, original officer quarters are available for rent. Ride horses. Attend the rodeo. Canoe down the river. Have a steak in the restaurant. Or just hang out sitting on the porch and watch others.

The park is remote. The nearest town of Crawford has a population of about a 1000. A much larger town is about 30 miles distant.

So what's the problem. It's my internet addiction. The slow speeds caused frustration. Finally, I realized it wasn't going to get better. Decided I may as well turn the negative into a positive. Didn't take long to pick up some books to catch up on some "real" reading rather than the daily repeats (bad economy, poor governance, etc.) showing up in the Google reader.

Two days later when I had good internet speeds once again, there were about 100 "reader entries". Knowing that many of the individual site entries have essentially the same subject material day after day, most entries were deleted as read. After whittling the list down to the infrequent posters and road acquaintance/friends blogs, there was very little to read. Hmm. Perhaps I could learn from this experience about what is really important.

An addiction to Hawaiian shirts in harmless. Not so sure about an internet addiction.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Moose Sighting

Didn't have to go searching for the moose. They came to the campground. Looked out my window after breakfast this morning to see two moose browsing on the greens. Grabbed the camera and headed out to snap a few photos.

Those stubs of the antlers will grow to resemble the antlers on the statue in the photograph on yesterday's post.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Grand Teton National Park

Arrived in the Tetons last weekend in the midst of a cold spell. For two days the temps didn't get above fifty degrees. So cold there were times when flakes of snow fell from the sky. Spring time weather is still in control. At 6600 feet in elevation and at almost 44 degrees in northern altitudes, this place is cool. Too cool for shorts. Been wearing long pants ever since my arrival.

Actually, Teton Valley is more than cool. There really are no words to describe the craggy mountain scenery. Since my last visit here about 20 years ago, the mountains appear the same.

The change is the number of people admiring the natural world. The tour buses represent a number of those passing through as they ooh and aah at the scenery. And rightly so. I came for the scenery and some post card photos.

When I was at the Grand Teton National Park visitor center, took a photo of the moose statue in the event I would not be able to get a photo of the real thing.

In my walking/hiking/exploring I didn't see any moose. Nor did I see any bear. Or elk. But I did see buffalo. Shedding their winter coat they are a shaggy beast.

From the avian world, this meadow lark was posing on a fence rail.

Jackson is the destination for the tourists after a day of touring Grand Teton NP. So playing the tourist, I walked the downtown area with occasional stops at art and photo galleries. Around the downtown square are the arches of elk antlers.

Worked up an appetite as I walked the downtown. Checking for the unusual, I ended up at the Million Dollar bar for a naked buffalo burger. There I ate my burger on a bar that has hundreds of inlaid silver dollars. No. I didn't try to carve out a silver dollar to pay for my meal.

Note: Two of the above photos were taken with the iPhone. Takes some pretty good photos considering its size. The first photo of the Tetons is one. The other is the photo of the moose statue.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Crossing Paths

Doing my usual internet reading early yesterday morning, found that Wagon Teamster may have been just a few miles up the road from my over night at Warren Bridge. I may not have missed him after all. Yesterday morning I headed out early. It was cold and I may as well sit in the warm truck rather than my cold Wandrin Wagon. As I drove north on US 191/189, I noted the occasional road apples on the shoulder. Recognizing scat of different animals is a skill I established early in life as a farm kid.

Watching for any possibility that Wagon Teamster may be in meadows or turnouts along the road, I didn't spot anything. At one point I noted several horse trailers, but there was no Teamster in the group. Continuing on it became apparent that those horse trailers were for the cowboys who were moving cattle along the highway. There was lots of cattle scat (poop) on the road -- mostly squashed. May have been just a few miles where the destination of the herd was found. The cattle and calves were heading into a new green world as the cowboys were sitting atop there horses and doing --- whatever cowboys do after a early morning drive of cattle along a US Highway. Probably trying to figure out the logistics to get back to the horse trailers.

At that point, I was about to give up hope of crossing paths with Teamster Bob in his travels. I was less than ten miles from Bondurant when I saw Teamster Bob's outfit in the front yard of a home. Putting on my hazard lights, I pulled to the wide shoulder of the highway and parked. Grabbed my camera and headed over to meet Bob in person. This was definitely an experience. Been following Bob's travels since 2008 before he actually headed off on his journey to travel the US.

Bob and the team were getting ready to hitch up and continue the journey down the road. They were parked in the yard of Christine and Jim who summer here and return to their home in east Texas. When Christine spotted Bob in Pinedale, she offered Bob and the "lads" a one day lay over for some good grass and rest. Good to give the guys a break once in a while.

As we stood there chatting, it was hitch up time. Not leather harness in the 21st century, but lighter weight plastic/vinyl harness. Still heavy gear throwing 60 pounds up and over your shoulders first thing each morning.

Since I am full of questions, the answers came faster than I could remember them. How many miles on a set of shoes; about 1000. How much water; 100 gallons and lasts about three days. Not only does Bob plan for his personal food, he has to make sure he has hay and oats -- just in case he doesn't have road side grass for the "lads". Bob and Bill are Belgians and Doc is a Percheron -- one that survived the accident in Mississippi.

Soon it was time to move along. I thanked Bob for being here to allow the opportunity to meet with him. Always interested in the stories of people who don't follow the "shoulds" that seem to be part of our culture.

The kindness of strangers continued as Jim returned from the house with elk meats as a farewell gifts to Bob and me. No doubt this would certainly qualify as grass fed meat. As I continued my thanks for the gift, Christine got in the wagon with Bob to travel as far as Bondurant where Jim would pick her up later.

Soon I was on the road following Bob -- with Chistine as his short term passenger. My journey was another 70 miles before ending at the Gros Ventre Campground just north of Jackson. Not sure where Bob stopped, but it was no where near 70 miles.

May have been a cold gray day, but it was a day to remember as I crossed paths with Wagon Teamster Bob and the "lads".

Friday, June 8, 2012

On The Road To Jackson

After getting the truck back after the transmission transplant, I stayed another day in Rock Springs just as a precaution. Truck works fine. It seems to shift smoother than the old transmission. With this new transmission I took the suggestion of a mechanic met in Vernal to install a larger transmission cooler. Hopefully, this will extend the life of the transmission beyond the two previous transmissions of about 50K miles each. The truck diesel engine (245K) is doing fine. Should take me to the end of my traveling days. Not so sure about the transmission.

Hitched up in Rock Springs this morning and headed north. There were several options for a one night stop on the way to Jackson. After passing on the first couple possible stops, I ended up at Warren Springs BLM campground 145 miles into the day's journey. Five dollar price is right for this senior. Right on the Green River still carrying spring runoff, it might be better fishing some other time of the year. That didn't deter the great blue heron on the bank that I scared off when I approached the river.

Great views to the west. Unfortunately, the sunset was a bust, so this photo is from earlier today.

Tomorrow, I will complete the journey to Jackson.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Known more commonly as Wyoming, the state qualifies for renaming. Since my arrival a week ago, the wind starts early morning and continues all day until sundown. Yesterday was worse than the usual expected winds. Blowing about 30 MPH constantly with gusts at 50 MPH, it wasn't a day for exploring. Staying at home and doing tasks including laundry filled the day light hours. Took till nine last evening before the winds died down.

My home was rocking for the entire day. Considered Dramamine. At times, I was wondering what my escape plan would be if Wandrin Wagon was blown on its side. There is a scary thought. Considering the direction of the wind, which window would I have to use as an exit since the door would be on the down side.

With that on my mind, I wondered what my home and contents coverage was in the event of such an event. Called GEICO insurance to get the answers. With depreciated value of Wandrin Wagon and contents, I made the swift calculation that I would have enough money to replace the loss with a pop up tent trailer. :-)

Time to get out of this windy place. Silver Slug is out of the hospital after the transmission transplant. One more day of exploring with the new transmission before heading north to the Tetons and Jackson Wyoming. And away from the wind.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Real Hitching Up

This post is a result of Gumo's post today about WagonTeamster.

I've been following WagonTeamster Bob as he set off on his journey from New Hampshire in 2008. Followed his travels via his posts including the accident in Mississippi that caused Bob to take a break from his travels.

Bob travels in a wagon towed by draft horses. When Bob hitches up in the morning he puts real meaning into the term "hitching up". Throwing heavy leather harness over the backs of the draft horses and hitching them to the wagon is a way to start your day with some serious exercise. Hitching up a trailer seems a breeze by comparison. 

(photo from WagonTeamster's site)

I've often hoped that I could cross paths with Bob and his towing crew to say hello. That chance came as I was making my travel plans from Moab. As I looked at WagonTeamster's intended path, there was a very good chance I could meet Bob on the road. From Fruita Colorado to Jackson Wyoming we planned to follow the same roads.

That was the plan. Sometimes the unplanned happens. Since I am now laid over in Rock Springs for the transmission transplant, I will not be able to catch up with Bob and his horses. They will be far away. Traveling at about 20 miles a day, they may be through Jackson by the time I leave Rock Springs this weekend.

However, there is a positive to this story. There was "visual contact" with Bob and his horses on the road north (Hwy 191) out of Rock Springs. On one of my days of exploring, I was driving along Hwy 191 and noted some "road apples" now and then on the shoulder of the road. Pretty sure those "road apples" were a result of the team passing through the area. The spotting occurred just two days after the WagonTeamster followed the road out of Rock Springs.

For me, I'm impatiently waiting to getting Silver Slug out of the "clinic", hitching up Wandrin Wagon and moving along to follow some of the same roads that WagonTeamster took when leaving Rock Springs.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Want Versus Need

Discriminating shopper that I am, I gave into "want". Added another item to my collection of Apple products.

A previous iPhone review was posted in December as Smart Phone Shopping.

That was then. Never stopped looking. If I was near a Verizon store, I had to touch one and tell myself how it would make my life better. In those previous visits to Verizon stores, I walked out remembering that I didn't need the iPhone.

Two weeks ago I made the fateful decision to visit a Verizon store once again. The iPhone was purchased.

The iPhone's immediate internet access along with the iPhone apps have proved its worth over these past two weeks; finding Ford dealerships, finding an RV park in Rock Springs, locating the US Bank in Rock Springs, etc. As I become more familiar with the iPhone, no doubt it will become indispensable. It already is approaching that status. Perhaps one day I will even take a photo with the iPhone.

Sometimes it might be good to give into "want". After all this is the first day of the rest of my life.