Sunday, September 11, 2011

Home Again

I guess I should know by now that lines on a map don’t reflect reality when it comes to elevation and terrain.  US 14 from Ranchester, WY to Cody, WY doesn’t look too bad on the page; in fact the road surface and width are great.  However, this is a steep grade up and down the Big Horn Mountains.  It reminded me of Highway 12 in Idaho; miles and miles of trees, granite and wondering if we would ever get to the top.  I was carefully monitoring the temperature gauges for the engine and transmission on the Chevy.  I guess the recent oil change and complete transmission service paid off.  Temperatures did rise slightly, but nowhere near as high as they have in past experiences.  We ran into a fellow “Alpenliter” at a pullout viewpoint about 3/4 of the way up the hill.  He and his wife have been full timing in their 2001 Alpenlite for about 3 years and love every day of it.  He has installed a solar panel system that works very well for him.  I picked up a lot of great information from him that will be useful when we enter our full time phase.

The KOA in Cody is pretty ordinary.  For some reason unknown to me, we got a free upgrade to a “deluxe” site, meaning we had a patio slab with a patio table and four swivel chairs.  However, we were only in Cody because I had some work assignments in the area.  It took me a whole day to visit 3 remote natural gas processing stations.   My final assignment was in town and I did that one on the way out of town in the morning.

We pulled into the East Entrance of Yellowstone Park about 11:00 am.  By the time we could see Yellowstone Lake the air was heavy with smoke from a fire many miles to the south of our position.  We pulled over for lunch near Fishing Bridge.  Gave the pooches a chance to walk in the woods and check out the good smells that dogs seem to relish in.  About 30 minutes down the road from our lunch break, traffic came to a complete halt and we couldn’t see why.  After a few minutes traffic started moving ever so slowly and then we got the first glimpse of the cause.  It was a “bison jam” on the highway.  Buffalo were on the road just sauntering along; seemingly oblivious to the cars and RVs all around them.
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A little further down the road, Rosie got this great shot of buffalo cooling off in the Yellowstone River.
We arrived at Henry’s Lake in Idaho about 3:30 pm.  Rosie loves Henry’s Lake because of the extensive hiking trails nearby.  I like it because it is a popular fishing destination.  This is an Idaho State Park which means the sites are large and the fee is low; $19.08 for 50 amp electrical service.  I threw a couple of lines in the water, but (as seems to be normal) no fish were interested in my offerings.  Rosie was on a hike with the dogs when she noticed a Moose Crossing sign.  She was really surprised when a cow moose with a calf came ambling by.  She was afraid that Annie would start barking and making a scene which could agitate mama moose; but Annie strangely enough was silent for a change.  Maybe she realized she was not safe in the back seat of the truck and that really big animal might hurt her.

After four weeks and one day on the road, we returned to Idaho Falls about 11:00 am.  After much reflection on where we are in this stage of our lives and what we want to do with the rest of our time; we have decided to embrace a full time RV lifestyle.  We had planned to spend the winter in warmer climates this year as a final test of whether we were ready for this new adventure.   However, we have come to the mutual conclusion that RVing is what we want to do for as long as our health holds out.  So we will put the camper in storage for the winter and start the process of divesting ourselves of our house and most of the “stuff” we have accumulated over the years.  Sometime in the late spring or early summer of 2012, we will begin our new adventure.  That means I will get to write more blogs about our new life.  Until then, thanks for following along. 

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Shufflin’ off to Buffalo

Buffalo Wyoming that is.  Wow.   How time flies.  It has been almost two weeks since I last wrote about our adventures, so I have a lot of catchin’ up to do.
IMG_4436I last wrote from the campground in Yankton, SD after catching a rather handsome catfish.  The other thing I caught on that fishing day was a good sunburn on my feet.    After a whole summer of wearing socks and sneakers, I decided to spend a day fishing (in the bright sunlight) wearing sandals.  Rosie has been questioning my intellect lately, maybe she is onto something Surprised smile.  Several applications of a good Aloe lotion is helpful.
We pulled out of Yankton on Thursday morning on a little over 300 mile push to Lake Maloney State Park south of North Platte, Nebraska.  We discovered this place last year.  It is a good stopover between Yankton and my brother Bill’s place in Eaton, CO.  We already had a State Parks sticker from Chadron earlier in the trip, so the cost for this overnight was $15.  It is set on a lake with big sites and wonderful sunrises.
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We decided to take the “back roads” to Colorado instead of the interstate.  Two event occurred on this journey; first I turned over 200,000 miles on the Chevy and we got a close up look at a lot of corn fields and grain storage silos.  These silos are right on the Nebraska/Colorado border.
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We arrived at Bill’s home in Eaton about 3:00 pm.  It is nice to wonder around a large home for awhile.  Bill and Joanie found a real gem in this house last year; about 3,000 sq. ft. with a 3 car garage and a large, beautifully landscaped yard, complete with hot tub.
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Bill and Joanie have 3 sons and 6 grandchildren.  Sunday afternoon is dinner at grandma’s.  It is sort of controlled chaos, but mostly chaos.   This Sunday’s feast included pulled pork sandwiches with a lot of good side dishes.  I don’t think anyone went hungry.  Bill presented me with a large bottle of Stolichnaya Vodka for my birthday, which I reluctantly Nyah-Nyah accepted. 

On Monday we headed up the into the mountains southwest of Denver to our old neighborhood in Shawnee, Co.  Shawnee is so small that you are required to go to the post office to pick up your mail.  There are no retail stores in Shawnee.  We set up the camper in the yard of our former neighbors, Mark and Janice Richter.  They have a beautiful home on a mountain hilltop.
It is a little tricky getting the camper into their yard, but once there it is a great setup.  The builder originally built it for himself and included RV connections, including sewer, in the yard.  Obviously he changed his mind and sold the house, but that little feature sure comes in handy.  Mark and Janice are great hosts; treating us to a filet mignon dinner the night of our arrival.  Mark has a pool table, so I always pack my personal cue on these trips.  We based our operations from here for a week.  I took the truck into Denver to have major service work done (an expensive celebration of 200K miles) on Tuesday.  Also got some personal shopping done while the service was happening.  Thursday Rosie went hiking with her old hiking group; followed by a gathering at Shari Sorensens's home in Conifer.
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Friday night we and the Richter’s enjoyed dinner out in Conifer.  Saturday morning Mark (a former truck driver) expertly helped me get out of his driveway and we headed back to my brother’s home for the Labor Day Weekend.  On Saturday afternoon, I had two work events, one in Cheyenne and another in Laramie.  Rosie and the pooches went along for the ride.  That evening, we enjoyed a great meal in a snazzy Mexican Restaurant in Greeley with Bill and Joanie.  On Sunday, Bill cooked up two fantastic pork loins for the family gathering.  The food was excellent and the company wasn’t bad either.
It is now Monday and we are in Buffalo, Wyoming for a night stop over on our way to Cody, Wyoming.  I have 4 work events in the Cody area and will get them done on Wednesday and Thursday.  We are in a great campground in Buffalo with very large sites and full hookups, 50 amp. electric, water, sewer, Cable TV and a good wi-fi connection.  The dogs are settling it to a more restrictive environment after having the run of Bill’s big back yard for several days.  Rosie and I are settling back into the quiet life on the road.  Life is good.  We expect to be back home in Idaho Falls on Friday.