Sunday, August 29, 2010

Journey’s End

After six weeks to the day, nine states traveled, close to 5,000 miles driven, and wealth of wonderful experiences, we arrived home in Idaho Falls about 11:00 am on Saturday, August 28th.  On this journey we spent time with all of our children and all of our grandchildren, five of Jim’s siblings, one aunt, two nephews and too many cousin’s to count.  We stayed in 17 campgrounds, most of them public State Parks, BLM Land and Federal Lands.  We camped on private property of friends and family and slept one night in a real house (Jim’s brother’s home in Eaton, CO).  We had weather from the low 40’s at night to over 100 during the day.  We experienced some heavy winds, but not much rain.  Both dogs had to visit vet’s during the trip; Sammy for a swollen leg and Annie for throwing up for several days.  We both managed to stay healthy for the entire trip.  The camper fared well with only one glitch when the refrigerator gave us some problems, but this was cured by a generous soul at an RV Repair Shop in Denver at no cost.  There are still a lot of good people in this world, despite what we see on the news.  Speaking of news, we had very little TV and very few newspapers to read.  A scan of the cable news networks on our return shows very little has changed during our travels.
My last post was from Roundup, Montana.  After I completed my work assignment on Thursday, we relaxed for the remainder of the day.  Friday morning we hitched up and traveled to Henry’s Lake in Idaho.  Every time we go to Henry’s Lake, we marvel at how beautiful this location is.  Rosie and the dogs enjoy the long trails starting at the campground.  I enjoy the lake and the opportunity to wet a fishing line.  We met a nice couple from Grand Junction, CO in the campground.  Jim and Carol Erickson are retired and travel often in their 5th wheel.  They were planning to go to Lake Louise, Banff and Jasper in Canada in a couple of years, so we shared our Canada/Alaska DVD with them.
It was a bit windy when we arrived, but Saturday morning there was only a slight breeze and the water was calm.  As dawn broke, about 10 boats showed up on the lake in view of the camper.  There were also ducks, pelicans and one muskrat in the lake.
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The two hour ride home was with mixed emotions; the trip was over, but we were ready to come home.  Jim is rethinking how ready he would be for “full time” RVing.  Even though our new camper is spacious compared to our first camper, it can still be confining after long periods of time.  We found our house as we left it, except for the huge stack of mail on the kitchen counter.  The yard looked great, thanks to recent rains and the diligence of our good friend Kym Lewis who performed the lawn care, mail retrieval and house plant watering during our absence.  We should get the camper unpacked today and also get it cleaned up inside and out; then off to the storage lot for awhile.  We do not plan any more major trips this year; just some local Idaho trips during the when the camping population is less than the weekends.  We will update this blog on our next trip.  So long for now.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Journey Home – Part One

It was really hot and humid on the last day at the reunion, so Rosie asked me if the weather would be better where we were going next.  It should be, said I, since it is north and west of here.  As we approached Mobridge, SD, the thermometer on the truck kept creeping up; 98, 99, 100, up to 103; and the wind was fierce out of the south at over 35 mph.  So much for my “sensible” weather forecasting.  We set up the camper at Indian Creek State Recreation Area.  It blew hard all night long.  The pooches were restless and whiney all night.  By morning the wind started to die down.  We went for a fuel and grocery run in the morning.  Then Rosie spent an hour and a half at the Laundromat.  On Tuesday morning, we awoke to a beautiful sunrise


and no wind.  So we had a leisurely breakfast and hitched up and headed for North Dakota.  Our destination there was Buffalo Gap Campground in the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands area west of Medora, ND on Interstate 94.  What a pleasant surprise.  A well arranged Federal Campground with nice trees, flat paved sites and only a couple of tent campers in our loop. 


View through the camper window.                           Our site.  $3.00 a night for Golden Age folks.

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A typical site set up.  Really nice.                          A great moonrise. 

The temperature was a balmy 75 when we arrived and it got cooler as the evening wore on.  I actually put on the heater when I got up at 5:00 am to take the pooches on potty call.

Wednesday , we hit the interstate at 7:00 am, headed west and south on 94 into eastern Montana.  Our destination was Roundup, a small town north of Billings.  I had found this on the internet under “Free and Low Cost Camping”.  Roundup has a city park along the river that has grassy sites and a lot of big shade trees.  Camping is “free”, but there are signs soliciting “donations” to help maintain the park.  We will cheerfully make a donation before we leave because this is really nice and not crowded.  I have an Insurance Company Inspection to do on a large farm about 40 miles from here, near Ryegate, MT.  Doing inspections along the way helps pay for these extended trips and I am grateful for the supplemental work.

Here are some pictures from the city park in Roundup.


Our site.                                                           An overview of the park.

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The Sathe family in relaxed mode.                         Annie is ever on the alert.

We plan to be home on Saturday.  One more overnight at Henry’s Lake in Idaho on Friday night.  I will write the final blog for the trip early next week.  Thanks for following along.  Feel free to make comments on any of my posted blogs.  I welcome feedback (except critical writing advice from my author daughter :-))!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Family Gathering

This is the 17th consecutive family reunion Rosie and I have attended in Colome, South Dakota.  This event was the focus of our summer vacations when we were working and is the focus of our summer RV travels now that we are are retired.  The primary organizers of this annual event are my 3 cousins, Connie, Gaye and Jeanne, who are daughters of my aunt, Rita Stroschine.  2009 was the 20th annual reunion and was very well attended.  Rosie and I typically arrive on Thursday.  Most of the other out of towners show up on Friday and many local neighbors join us to enjoy the evening meal on Saturday.  Locally grown vegetables are in abundance.  I have the honor and privilege of being the Grill Meister on Friday night with able assistance from my brother Roger.  Burgers, dogs and brats hit the grill about 6:00 pm and everyone has a great time.  This photo is from 2009:


The weather this year was definitely  among the hottest ever, hitting 100+ on Saturday; and the humidity was up there also.  We spent most of the afternoon in the camper hoping the generator wouldn’t quit on us so we could get some cool air from the air conditioner.   Fortunately the nights were very cool by comparison and sleeping was comfortable.

Here are some pictures from this years event:

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RV Central                                                            Some of the younger generation.

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Chow down on Saturday night.                               Typical scene for a mid-day meal.

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Staying cool in the shade.                                     The kids love the horseback rides.

Nothing eventful in our trip here from Yankton.  It is only about 125 miles over rolling country highways.  I had the truck 5,000 mile service attended to in Yankton.  I was concerned about the brakes after that descent down Monarch Pass, but they passed inspection with flying colors.  We left the reunion site about 10 am on Sunday headed for Mobridge, South Dakota; specifically Indian Creek State Recreation Area on the Missouri River.  That part of the journey will be covered later.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hometown Visit

After leaving my brother’s home in Eaton, we continued eastward towards my hometown of Yankton, South Dakota.  We stopped over a night at Lake Maloney State Recreation Area south of North Platte, Nebraska.  This is a very pretty campground located right on a large reservoir with a lot of boating activity.  The sites are large and of the 40 or so electric hookup sites, we were one of 3 campers.  Of course it is Sunday evening so the weekenders have left.  Here are some scenes from this campground,including a nice sunrise at 5:30 am:

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The original plan was to stay over a night in northern Nebraska, but we decided to pull  all the way through to Yankton.  The biggest adventure on the drive was when I tried to save a few miles from the journey by taking a straight route from O’Neil, NE east instead of curving southeast then back north again.  It looked like a piece of cake on the map, a nice straight line east out of town.  The nice straight line turned out to be a paved, but narrow country road through farm country and up and down the rolling hills of Nebraska.  We often found ourselves behind very large and very slow moving farm equipment.  It seemed forever before we came onto Nebraska 14 north to Niobrara.  A note of history here, my great grandfather on my mothers side homesteaded in this area in the 1800’s and I have a copy of the original homestead document.  Someday it would be interesting to go to the county records department and find out where that land is and go see it in person.

We arrived in Yankton about 3:00 o’clock and found exceptionally cool and dry weather for this part of the country.  My sister-in-law, Joanie, had told us that a severe wind storm had passed through the area a week before blowing down many trees at Chief White Crane SRA, our campground destination.  When we arrived, we found the campground pretty much cleaned up of all fallen trees.  There were some large uprooted tree trunks left around, but the fallen trees and branches had been removed from the facility.  This is one of the nicest campgrounds we have ever visited.  The sites are spacious and the pads are paved and level and there is electricity on site.  Here is a picture of our site on this trip:


Tuesday morning we restocked on food and supplies at the local Wal-Mart Supercenter and filled up the truck with the lowest price diesel on the trip at $2.85 a gallon.  I had arranged to meet my brother Larry to go fishing in the Missouri River nearby at 1:00 pm, so I had purchased a 3 day fishing license and some bait.  After 3.5 hours of fishing, I had brought in two fish to small to comment on, but Larry pulled in 4 large fish in the last half hour.  Here is a picture of Larry and his fish.  That is Lake Yankton in the background, not the Missouri River.


Larry and I did the fishing thing again on Wednesday with no more than a few bluegill to show for our efforts.  In the evening, we prepared a picnic supper for Larry, another brother Danny and his wife Marcia and my nephew Chad.  Grilled and broasted chicken, potato salad and baked beans were the main items on the menu (good country cuisine).  We had a good visit with all of them; showed off pictures of our travels so far this summer and sat around a nice campfire until breaking up around 10:00 pm.


Larry, Rosie, Chad (standing), Marcia and Danny.

It is now Thursday morning and the humidity is slowly returning to southeast South Dakota.  It is a good day to be heading west.  The magic line for bearable and unbearable humidity seems to be the Missouri River.  We will be crossing the Missouri early this afternoon on our way to my family reunion in Colome, SD.  Interestingly, the reunion is held at a farm about 6 miles south of the land that my mother’s parents homesteaded and where my mother grew up.  We will stay at the reunion until Sunday; then head north towards North Dakota with one more stop in a South Dakota SRA.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Back in the “hood”

We had the great pleasure of spending 4 days back in our old neighborhood this week.  Our former neighbors let us park the camper in their back yard from Tuesday to Saturday.  We got reacquainted with old neighbors and Rosie was delighted to be able to get out into the mountains on Thursday and hike with her former hiking group.


After the hike there was a gathering at the home of our hosts Mark and Janice, with all the hikers and some other friends that Rosie had not seen in many years.  Mark boiled bratwurst in beer and water, then touched them up on the grill.


Janice spent many hours preparing a very special sauerkraut. The guests all brought a variety of yummy side dishes and I managed to eat way too much food.


There were many hours of lively conversation and catching up with the lives of many old friends.  Before people starting heading for home we managed to get a picture of the whole group.


I managed to keep busy with some maintenance work on the camper in between games of billiards with Mark.  Friday evening the four of us enjoyed a superb dinner at the South Park Steakhouse in Fairplay, CO.  Fairplay is the county seat and a delightful old small Colorado town that has been resurging in the area with new eateries and shopping venues.  I wish I had taken my camera to capture the food presentation.  I had BBQ braised buffalo short ribs with caramelized onions that was incredible.  The French Onion Soup was also to die for.

Saturday morning reality returned as we were preparing to leave.  The refrigerator refused to switch to gas and it would not even light up when I put a grill lighter torch to it.  Since we were headed through Denver, we stopped at Camping World to see if we could get it looked at.  The lady behind the service counter said they could get to it on Friday.  I said that I had to be in South Dakota on Friday.  She pulled out a card and referred me to an RV repair shop about 2 mile away.  I called them and they said “Sure, we can look at it right away”.  When we arrived, a service tech came out, opened up the refrigerator panels, removed the metal coverings around the burner mechanism and pointed to a BB sized accumulation of gunk on the pilot lighting mechanism.  He pulled out the air hose, gave it a couple of blasts of high pressure air and lo and behold, the flame started right up.  He would blow it out and it would immediately re-ignite.  After he buttoned everything back in place, I asked him how much I owed him.  He wished me a good day and safe travels.  I insisted 3 times on payment for his service and he continued to decline.  This is an example of the good people in this world.  We feel so fortunate to have this problem fixed; and to have it fixed at no cost is incredible.

After fixing the refrigerator, we continued on our journey to our next stop, the home of my brother Bill in Eaton, CO.  Bill and his wife, Joanie, have just moved into a beautiful new home about 2 weeks ago. We had a great time catching up with them and their son, Brian and his family.  We will be heading out for North Platte, Nebraska shortly on our way to my home town, Yankton, South Dakota.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Kanab to Bluff to Ridgway

Michelle and Stefanie came over for breakfast at 7:30 Sunday morning.  They got Rosie’s special apple pancakes and we all had a good time reminiscing about the last few days.  They left about 8:30 and we hooked up the camper and headed east for Page, AZ.  I did not know that Page was the main gathering point for activities surrounding Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Recreation Area.  There were campers and boaters everywhere.  We got through town and headed east in northern Arizona.  We stopped for fuel and groceries in a little town called Kayenta.  When we headed north towards Bluff, UT we were stunned with the beauty of a place called Monument Valley.  The bluffs and rock formations were incredible.  Here are some samples of what we saw:

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We were looking for Sand Island Campground just before Bluff, UT.  The map I had printed showed two entrances, which turned out to be incorrect so I ended up going down the wrong highway for about 8 miles before I found a spot to turn around.   We did find this Federal Government campground after a another mile or so on the road that I turned off of (I hate when I do that) and selected a great site with no one else around.  The price is right here; $5.00 per night for us Golden Oldies.  It turns out that Sand Canyon has huge walls full of ancient Petroglyphs from ancient Native Americans.  It was very interesting to see and of course I took a few pictures.

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Sometime this evening Sammy developed a problem with the paw on his left hind leg.  He was licking it a lot, then starting limping and then just carrying that leg and using the other 3 legs.  We checked his paw and could not find a thorn or glass or anything so we surmised that he sprained it.  He is using it more now and seems to be recovering.

Monday morning we broke camp and drove through Bluff where we were greeted by more stunning rock formations

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and the rusted remnants of what appears to be a 1953 Mercury.

After entering Colorado we had a somewhat hair raising experience coming down a steep grade following a pilot truck.  The cliff drop off was on my left.  The driver usually doesn’t see this angle.  The road crew was doing rock scaling (bringing down boulders from the cliff on the other side before they would fall “accidently”) . As we got close to the bottom of the grade we could see why; it looked like there had been a small rockslide of some pretty big rocks.  I am glad we were not there when they came down.

We are now set up in Ridgway State Park about 5 miles north of Ridgway, CO.  My wonderful bride of 43 years took me out to dinner at a local fine dining establishment.  We both had Mexican food which was delicious.  The restaurant provided the Mud Pie (to die for) as a birthday gift.  Here we are celebrating my big 66:


Tomorrow we are on the our old neighborhood where we will be “camping” in our former neighbors yard.  We will catch up with all of you in a few days.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Family, Friends and Best Friends in Kanab, UT

This is a special stop in our trip for Rosie.  Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is a place Rosie has visited several times.  It is a very large, no kill, animal rescue organization with extensive facilities located here in Kanab, UT.  Joining us here is our daughter, Michelle and her friend, Stefanie, from Salt Lake City.  We arrived Thursday afternoon and set up in the Kanab RV Corral RV Park.  Quite a different setting than the woods where we spent the last two nights.  Here we get full hookups and neighbors less than 8 feet away on both sides.  Friday morning I had some business to attend to in Colorado City, AZ; a small town about 40 miles away.  Friday evening, Michelle and Stefanie came over for dinner in the camper.  Saturday, Rosie, Michelle and Stefanie volunteered to take care of dogs at Best Friends.  They had a great day walking dogs and helping with grooming, pen cleaning, etc.  Saturday night Michelle treated us all to dinner at a local restaurant.  The food was fantastic; here are pictures of our dishes:

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Pasta with Prawns                         Baby Back Ribs                         Seafood cakes

We also walked the dogs on a local trail before dinner.  The puppies really enjoyed getting out and getting off leash for a little bit.  I got the truck washed; we got some groceries and I did some maintenance on the camper.  Tomorrow morning we hitch up and head towards Colorado, although we won’t get there until Monday afternoon.  Tomorrow night we will be at a remote site in Utah.  Monday night we will be in Ridgway State Park in Colorado.  It will be the big 66 birthday for me and Rosie has kindly offered to treat me to dinner in Ridgway.  Tuesday we will arrive in our old neighborhood in Shawnee, CO where we will be camped at our former neighbors home for 4 nights.  We were very sad to learn today that our longtime Colorado friend, Anita Williams, passed away a few days ago after a long battle with cancer.  Every day we are grateful we are both healthy and able to follow our travel dreams like we do.  You never know how long you have to pursue your dreams.

Here are some pictures from our time in Kanab:

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Great city sign                                           Pretty rocks

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More pretty rocks                                      Very happy pooches

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Mich and Stef                                             All of us.