Saturday, June 30, 2012

Legion Lake Campground, Custer State Park

On Friday we made the 111 mile journey from Keyhole State Park in Wyoming to Custer State Park in South Dakota.   The air is a little more humid here, but the temps are about 10 degrees cooler.  I must say the Black Hills are a more scenic surrounding than the area around Keyhole SP.

This is a small campground of about 20 sites, all with 50 amp electric; but no water or sewer hookups on site.  The reservation web site says there is fresh water and a dump station here.  Yes for the fresh water; no for the dump site.  Fortunately we had dumped when we left Keyhole.  We pulled over here with a nearly empty fresh water tank as we are already a “tad” overweight, and not hauling 800 plus pounds of water is the right thing to do.  However when we arrived, we discovered the fresh water spigot was about 45’ from the nearest place I could get the camper.   Fortunately, I met a fellow camper coming out of the men’s bathroom who was kind enough to lend me his 25’ hose.  Backing into the site was pretty much a snap, not much adjusting was needed.  The sites are paved and almost flat; we had to lift our curb side by the height of one yellow pad.  The rate here is $24 a night, a little over our $20 target, but well worth it.
IMG_5328  IMG_5324
                     Campground entrance.                                          Legion Lake is across the highway.   
IMG_5332  IMG_5321
          Campground is set in the trees.                                                        Our site.
We were surprised at the number of pop-up tent campers on the site.  A lot of these were occupied by young families with little kids.  In some cases, there were multiple families with tents set up in addition to the pop-up campers.  Struck up a conversation with a guy from Illinois.  When I learned he was from the Chicago area, I commented that 90% of my time in Chicago was at O’Hare Airport making connections.  Turns out he is an Air Traffic Controller at O’Hare.   That started a conversation about air travel and frequent fliers, which I used to be one.

This morning we struck out with a goal of finding a hiking trail before it got too hot.  About 10 miles away is the Creekside Trail, a paved (my favorite kind) walkway about a mile or so long paralleling a stream.  At the end of the trail there was an area with some cabins and a large meadow.  In the middle of the meadow a bull buffalo was munching away on the lawn.  He was quite a ways away and facing away from us, so I decided it wasn’t worth it to take a picture of a buffalo’s butt.  On the way back we checked out another trail head and also went to check out a cabin that was the home of Badger Clark, a Poet Laureate who died in 1957.  The cabin is open to the public about 3 days a month and this was not one of those days.  The cabin is right on the Centennial Trail; a trail that passes through most of the Black Hills.  This trail is not paved (Rosie’s favorite kind) and goes through the woods.
IMG_5301  IMG_5305
           Me and the pooches on the trail.                           Rosie and Sammy at the end of a bridge.
IMG_5295  IMG_5315
                The stream along the trail.                                   The cabin of Badger Clark.
IMG_5309  IMG_5320
                 My kind of trail.                                                       Rosie’s kind of trail

It is the last day of June, so a Full Timer expense report is due.  Campground Fees – $561; Diesel fuel while pulling the 5th wheel – $265; generator gas and propane – $56.28; Truck/RV service and repairs – $241; Satellite TV and Radio - $102  Total $1,225.28.  Average campsite cost per night – $18.70, a little under our target.  We feel pretty good about those numbers.

Thanks for stopping by.

Updated July 1st with corrected expenses.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Photos From Keyhole State Park

This is our last night at Keyhole SP in Wyoming.  We have enjoyed a week here with a water and electric site about 100 yards from the water.  The only down side is two days of temps in excess on 105F.  However, the nights have been cool and the mornings/evenings have had a cooling breeze blowing through.

I am continuing on my personal journey to live more in the moment that always living in anticipation of the next move, the next site, the next trip, etc.  For a person that has always lived 6 to 12 months out in the future, this has been a challenge.  This week I have caught myself just sitting and reflecting on what I am seeing, hearing, feeling at the moment; and it is pretty good.

Other than doing laundry and having one work assignment that took about half a day, we haven’t left the campground.  The sites around us were pretty full Saturday and Sunday, then they started to clear out and we kind of had the place to ourselves.  I took a lot of pictures and thought I would share some with you:


This rock formation across the lake looks like a giant chair and ottoman.


Evening Sky.


Calm Water


Four ladies and their kayaks.


This is my kind of “trail”.  Annie is on the lookout for field mice.  She actually caught one.


View from the “end of the trail”.


Sammy got really excited when he saw this Jack Rabbit.


Rosie and Sammy on the “trail”.




Tomorrow we travel about 140 miles to Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Keyhole State Park, Wyoming

My how time flies when we are having so much fun.  I last posted on Tuesday from Lander, WY and here it is Saturday already.  Thursday we pulled from Lander to Casper, WY.  I had a job to do in Casper, so we had to go somewhere for the night.  Ended up at Fort Casper Campground, a large gravel parking lot with full hookups at $35.  Casper is a tough place to find a decent campground with any attractive features; like grass or trees or something more beautiful than the side of another fifth wheel or motor home 10 feet from your front door.  This is oil and gas production country and a lot of workers in this industry live in campers parked at places like this campground.  What was amazing to us were the number of beautiful big Class A’s pulling in for the night.  Quite a contrast to the guy we talked to from Washington State that was pulling a little teardrop with a RAV4.  Here are side by side views or our site at Ft. Casper and our site at Keyhole State Park:

IMG_5152  IMG_5168

Keyhole State Park is on a large reservoir northeast of Moorcroft, WY and about 20 south of Devils Tower.  We stopped at Wal-Mart in Gillette to stock up for a week out here.  Our GPS, “Barbie”, led us astray and took us into the little town of Pine Haven on the west side of the reservoir.  So I called the nice Ranger Lady at the Park and she says it happens all the time and gave me good directions on how to get where I wanted to go.  There was a substantial line at the Park Entrance, mostly pickups pulling boats heading into the lake for some fishing this weekend.   After a short time, we checked in and got a map to our site.  Got to the site and it was long enough for our 34’ rig, but I had to back in “uphill”.  Called for a little 4WD time.  Once on the pad, I found that it was pretty level; only needed one yellow pad under each wheel on the right side to get it perfect for side to side and front to rear was a snap.  The site is spacious with a concrete picnic table, benches and a steel fire ring.  Plenty of room to set up chairs and under some big ole shade trees to boot.  The sites are staggered in elevation and angle so everyone gets a good view of the water.  Lots of boating, fishing and swimming going on.  There is a nice family from Gillette on our lake side with kids, a boat and lots of water toys.  Seems like everyone has a dog, or dogs, and Annie is on the alert for trouble.  Here are some pictures of the area:

IMG_5160  IMG_5161

View from our window.                                                      Rosie morning coffee.

IMG_5164  IMG_5171

Jim morning coffee watching the sun rise.                     Nice fence leading to the water.

IMG_5172  IMG_5173

Water view.                                                                    Having fun jumping in the lake.

Tomorrow we will be visited by our long time friend, Carol Shreve, from Gillette.  Carol lost her husband to cancer in 2010 and we haven’t been in the area to visit with her since.  We look forward to sharing a day with her.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Two Month Anniversary

Yep!  We have been full timers for a whole two months now.  RV miles traveled so far; a whopping 481 miles.  Ok, so the first month was in an RV park 5 miles from our former home Open-mouthed smile.  Then we hung around locally for a couple more weeks working out bugs in our power systems and keeping local medical and other personal appointments.  But NOW we are getting serious.  Pulled the RV from Idaho to Montana to Wyoming in the last 12 days.  In another 10 days we will be in South Dakota.  We would be there sooner, but I am “working my way” east.

I was planning to spend two nights at the City Park in Lander, WY tonight and tomorrow night.  But when we arrived at the City Park this afternoon, it did not feel comfortable to either of us.  Kind of like setting up in a parking lot.  So, we pulled over to the Sleeping Bear RV Park and checked in for two nights.  Full hookups vs. boondocking; but $37 a night vs. free.  Oh well.  Such is life.  This is a nice park with friendly, helpful owners on duty, but sites are 10’ apart with a lot of long term residents.

We did get to a local Safeway Supermarket to get a few items prior to a Wal-mart visit scheduled tomorrow in Riverton, WY for a major replenishment.  Not much here in the way of scenic dog walks.  There is a trail along a small canal leading away from the campground.  We walked about a half mile down the trail when we saw a young buck deer with antlers in velvet chewing on the flowers in someone’s back yard.  Rosie keeps reminding me to take the camera everywhere.  One of these days, I may take that advice to heart.  No interesting pictures from the trip today or of our site.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Day In Dubois

We are in Dubois, WY.  Now you may wonder how that is pronounced.  The proper French way would be Du-bwah;  but the local’s when the town was named didn’t want anything to do with those fancy French folks; so they proclaimed it would be Du-boys, and so it has been ever since. 

When we arrived at the campground on Sunday (a nice place we have stayed at twice before) we were informed there was to be a County wide power outage on Monday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.  That also meant no water since the water pressure is from electric pumps.  This meant Rosie could not do laundry during those hours.  So she and the pooches came along on my inspection trip to the Guest Ranch/Lodge high in the mountains to the south of town.  It was a spectacular ride with some great vistas to be seen.  Tomorrow we drive a short 75 miles to Lander, WY for two nights free camping in the Lander City Park.  We will let all of you know how that goes.

Of course, to get to Dubois yesterday, we drove through Yellowstone National Park.  The prettiest animal sighting was two mama elk nursing their calves about a 100 yards off the highway.  Of course, about 50 cars were stopped and there was a Ranger on hand to keep anyone from trying to get “closer” to the animals for that “special picture”.  Since I was pulling 34’ of camper, I did not try to pull over; so no picture.

Rosie did get some good pictures from the passenger seat on the way; and here are some samples:
IMG_5035  IMG_5043
                                                                                           OK!  I took this one.
IMG_5053  IMG_5066

When we arrived last evening, Rosie went looking for the geese that usually hang around next to the river. They have little geese.  Here are some pictures of them:
IMG_5085  IMG_5094

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Goodbye to Montana

Our last day at Baker’s Hole was restful, with a touch of excitement.  The temp got up to 72F.  Overall a very comfortable day with only a few clouds drifting by.  After a great breakfast of French Toast prepared by my lovely bride, we wandered into West Yellowstone to get propane and grub.  The propane was very pricey, $3.75 per gallon.  My last propane fill in Ririe, Idaho was $2.50 per gallon.  At least diesel prices are dropping; I topped off in Ennis the other day at $3.95.  The price in West Yellowstone dropped from $4.17 nine days ago to $3.95 today.

When we returned from our shopping trip, we hooked up the pooches outside.  I came in to check on the blogs, etc.  Looking out my “office window”, I saw a large brown animal about 200’ out.  My first thought was “I hope that is not a bear”.  Then I thought it was a cow; but it turned out to be a wayward bison wandering out of the Park, which is about 3 miles to our east.  I grabbed my camera and was lucky enough to get a good picture (aren’t zoom lenses great):


Spent the afternoon reading a 30 year old book on “The Cosmos” by Carl Sagan.  I really enjoy reading about geology, earth history and the universe.  After a wonderful dinner of grilled Italian Sausage with Linguini, I walked out to the river and picked up a few pictures of anglers trying their luck in the Madison River:

IMG_5024  IMG_5028

I will wrap up this West Yellowstone blog with a shot of a decent sunset from Thursday night:


Tomorrow we hit the road through Yellowstone Park, past Old Faithful south into Teton National Park towards Jackson Hole.  Then we head east on Highway 26 to Dubois, WY for another guest lodge inspection and a couple of nights of full hookups.  We are both looking forward to a long, hot shower.  We managed to make it for 10 days on 100 gallons of water and we still have 1/4 tank left. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ennis, Montana and Ted Turner’s Buffalo

As I mentioned in my prior post, we went on a road trip Tuesday so I could complete two work assignments.  The first assignment was a fly fishing lodge near Ennis, Montana.  This is a very scenic area of Montana, right on the Madison River.  The town has about a 1,000 residents.  Main Street is very touristy and we had a nice lunch at the Ennis CafĂ©.  Here is a shot looking down Main Street:

After lunch we drove about 30 miles west to the town of Alder, then turned south for 25 miles to get to my second assignment, another fishing lodge.  About 20 miles into the journey, we saw a large herd of what we thought were cattle until we got a little closer and realized they were buffalo.  This photo shows only about 10% of the buffalo we saw for the next 3 to 5 miles.


Here is a zoom shot of the herd:
Seeing all the buffalo brought to mind news stories we have heard about Ted Turner owning vast lands in Montana where he grazes buffalo.   During my visit with the owners of the fishing lodge, they confirmed that these were indeed some of Ted Turner’s buffalo herd.

On our return trip we encountered other interesting animal life, including these pelicans:

Longhorn Cattle (zoom lens, I didn’t get anywhere near this big fella):

and a great view from a scenic overlook.  Imagine the view from the house in the picture:

The town of Ennis is in the trees in distance (center) of this picture.

For those who have never visited Montana, this is why they call it “Big Sky Country”. 

We left camp at 8 am and returned a little after 5 pm.  The pooches were happy to get out of the truck and run around in the woods for awhile.

Today (Wednesday) the weather has not been so good.  It started out sunny and we took a long walk with the dogs.  About 9:30 it clouded up and the first of many thunderstorms rolled through, some of them with small (pea size) hail.   Most of our neighbors cleared out today (was it something we said?) and it is pretty quiet this evening.

I get to visit the McDonald’s in West Yellowstone tomorrow.   I have inspected a dozen or so McDonald’s the last few years and found (so far) they are exceptionally clean and well managed.  Not my type of cuisine, but the back areas not seen by the public are really in good condition.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Snow In June??

It started snowing about 7 pm last evening and we woke up to a slight accumulation this morning and it snowed until about 9:30 am.  Here are some pictures from the window of the camper:
IMG_4986 IMG_4987
West Yellowstone is known for colder than typical weather year around.   Minus 40 degrees is common around here in January and February, so 30 degrees in early June should not be too much of a surprise.  When I opened the door at 6:00 am to let the dogs out, little Annie had no interest in going out in “that”.  She took one look out the door and jumped back up on the couch.

Yesterday we wandered into town to check out where we could dump the tanks when we leave here.  There is a huge RV Park in town with a dump station for a $6 fee.  We also checked out a supermarket and a bakery.  Picked up a few basics.  We also found a Laundromat as we plan to get the weekly wash done on Monday.

I have 3 work assignments this week, on Tuesday and Thursday.  For those that don’t know me well, I still do some work for a former employer.  I was in the insurance industry for 40 years as a Loss Control Consultant.  Basically, I do insurance inspections on businesses for their commercial insurance coverage.  On Tuesday, I will be visiting 2 Guest Lodging operations that provided lodging and guide services for fishing and hunting customers.  On Thursday, I will be visiting the McDonalds in West Yellowstone.  Since my former employer provides this service to Insurance Companies in all 50 states, I will be able to do this anywhere I happen to be.  It is kind of my version of WorkCamping.

We seem to be doing okay stretching out our water supply.  There is a clean, and not smelly, pit toilet nearby and we use it during the day.  Also taking very brief showers every third day; using paper plates and minimizing the use of pots and pans by using the microwave and the grill.   As of this morning we have 3/4 of our fresh water left and 1/4 full waste tanks.  Will let you know how that works out as we have a whole week to go before we move on next Sunday.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Out Of Idaho At Last

We have finally thrown off the bonds of Idaho after 6 weeks of full time RV living.  Yesterday we crossed the border into Montana at the top of the Continental Divide on US Highway 20.  We made a left turn in West Yellowstone and drove 3 miles north to Baker’s Hole Campground.  This is a National Forest Service campground with 73 sites; 33 of them with electric hookups.  After 6 days of boondocking we were ready for the convenience of an electric connection.  Since this is a “first come – first served” campground, we really didn’t know how crowded it would be; and hoped that an electric site was still available.  We pulled in the entrance to find a handy faucet with a sign saying “Fill water tanks here”.  That was good, because we had pulled up here with about 10 gallons in our fresh water tank to lighten the load since we are already overweight without 110 gallons of water.  After taking a few minutes to fill up, we drove into the campground to look for an electric site big enough for our rig.  We found about 6 sites with electricity big enough for us.  We settled into a "back in" site in the woods with a view of trees.  The only problem was that there were so many trees that I could not get a satellite connection for DirecTV.  Verizon service for phone and internet access was great.  We did get NBC and ABC from our rooftop antenna, so we settled in. 

I was still missing satellite TV this morning when I noticed the guy in the “pull-through” site across the road was due to leave today.  In fact, he was starting to pack up his stuff, including his DirecTV dish.  I asked him how his reception was and he said it was “Fantastic”.  To make a long story short, we moved to his site as soon as he pulled out.  I checked with the Campground Hosts and it was not a problem for them.  So here we are with 50 amp electric, cell and internet service and satellite TV; in the woods next to the Madison River for $14 per night.  How sweet is that.  All we have to figure out is how to make 110 gallons of water last the 10 days we are scheduled to stay in this wonderful spot.  Here is a picture of the Madison River I took 100 yards from our front door:
Here are some pictures I took from inside the camper looking out.  I think you will get the idea of our environment:
IMG_4983  IMG_4984
Before we left Idaho Falls, we had the wheel bearings packed, the final maintenance item on the camper that needed to be done.  We learned the magnetic brakes in the trailer were still at about 80% of capacity and the shocks were fine.  I did a cold tire pressure check this morning and all of our tires are holding the required 80 lbs. psi.  So it seems all systems are go.  I am still not understanding why the batteries seem to do well the first 3 days of boondocking, then lose capacity rapidly after that.  Maybe it is something as simple as unreasonable expectations on my part Eye rolling smile.

Thanks for stopping by.  If you haven’t already done so, be sure to sign up to follow us by e-mail or with your Google account.