WESTERN VACATION TRAVELOGUE
LATE SUMMER, 1987
This was a trip planned by four families, the Bergs, the Cockrells, the Grays, and the Griffins. Our itinerary included Mt. Rushmore, SD, Yellowstone Park, WY, Salt Lake City, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Park, UT, the Grand
Canyon, AR, and Rocky Mountain National Park, CO.
The Bergs, the Cockrells, and the Grays left Brandon on Friday morning, August 21, 1987, each pulling their own camping rig. The Griffins met us later in Rapid City, SD, after flying to Denver and renting a motorhome there. Our destination for the first night was Perry, GA, which we made with no trouble. Saw Don and Phil Bradley for a short visit before retiring for the night at Perry Overnite Park. It was hot and muggy, but it was the last night for that type of complaint.
Saturday, August 22nd - We continued up I-75, through Atlanta. There was a tremendous construction project on the interstate system just south of town. The highway is being widened in an underground complex in which it seems they are shoring up the entire southern part of downtown for the underground road system. Traffic was fairly light, and we had no delays getting through. We bought the cheapest gasoline on the whole trip at an Amoco station in Marietta - 79.9 cents. (We later paid $1.30 per gallon in Arizona.) We stayed on I-75 to Chattanooga, TN, then took I-24 through Paducah, KY, then I-57 north to Mt. Vernon, Ill. I had picked Archway Travel Trailer Park out of our campground book as the place to stay, but it turned out to be undesirable, so we continued to a campground at Washington County Recreation Area. This was a rustic, woodsy setting where we had our first campfire. Weather during the day was still hot, but it cooled off nicely at night. The trip for the day was very uneventful. Lamar had trouble with his CB, but that wasn't serious. We're adjusting slowly to the camping routine in the pop-up trailer. Pulling it is much easier than the large Airstream, and sleeping is fine, but it is more difficult organizing where to stow our gear. Takes 10 -15 minutes to set up.
Sunday, August 23rd - We were up at 5:00am (6:00 Florida time), and soon on the road again. St. Louis was only 60 miles away on I-64, so decided to stop there for a short tour of the Arch. It was a beautiful, clear day, and the arch stood out nicely against a blue sky. No one wanted to make the trip to the top, so we just browsed around the displays in the underground rooms. Bought Golden Eagle passports for $25 for use in the National Parks and Monuments later, then got on the road again. Took I-70 west to Kansas City. Traffic was very heavy. We decided that it must be college kids going back to school. At KC, we turned north on I-29, which lies between the Missouri River to the west and the bluffs of Iowa to the east. Near Council Bluffs, Iowa we stopped at a rest area and saw the Thunderbirds performing over Omaha, Nebraska. We never quite set foot or wheel in Nebraska, but we were just a short ways away. Our campground for the night turned out to be an excellent one - The Blue Lake KOA, near Onawa, Iowa. We had travelled about 600 miles, but were in camp earlier enough to enjoy a good meal and then a walk through the corn fields. The people of Iowa seem to be especially friendly. It rained a little during the night and was pleasantly cool. Electric blankets felt very good.
Monday, August 24th - We were up and on the road before daylight, as everyone was getting anxious to get these long travel days behind us. The eastern sky was just beginning to show its pink sunrise colors. We continued up I-29 to Sioux Falls, then turned west on I-90. As we progressed west, the corn fields thinned out, and we travelled through some very deserted countryside for many miles. We arrived at Badlands National Park about 1:30pm. We were now in South Dakota. It was threatening rain, so we did not linger in the park. The area is certainly appropriately named. Odd formations of earth and rock are colored a greyish color, tinged with red. Haskell was now having trouble with his CB, so communications were poor between vehicles. It really makes a difference in the pleasure of a trip together to be able to talk back and forth. Not having CB communications made us appreciate that fact. Our next stop was at Wall, SD, at the famous Wall Drug Store. What a disappointment!! I'm not sure what we were anticipating, but that was the largest tourist trap yet. I've yet to see any pharmacy. The story behind the drug store is an interesting one, beginning with their offers to travellers of a free drink of water, etc., and they have certainly created a reputation that draws tourists in. There were mobs of people there. We drove on to Rapid City, then left the interstate system to drive down to Hill City and the Rafter J Ranch, which would be home for 3 nights. A light rain continued through the night, which made for goodsleeping. We had driven another 600 miles.
Tuesday, August 25th - There was no sign of the Griffins when we awoke, so after breakfast we went back to Rapid City to try to find new CBs for the Lamar and Haskell. They opted for hand held sets which could easily be moved from one vehicle to another. Haskell's worked well but Lamar continued to have trouble. Upon return to camp about noon, we found that the Griffins had arrived. They had flown to Denver, rented a Tioga motorhome, and driven most of the night to get to where we were. After lunch, we all piled into the Berg Suburban, and drove into Custer State Park to travel the Needles highway and see the buffalo. Needles highway is a beautiful, narrow road in the mountains which goes between some very unusual looking spirelike rock formations. Many sections were one-way. At one particularly narrow place, there was a crevice, which had been slightly widened to make a tunnel. It seemed impossible for anything wider than a car to get through, yet there was a Greyhound tourbus just behind us that made it through, much to everyone's surprise. We then asked a ranger where to find the buffalo, and were told that they had been seen that morning along the Wildlife Loop Road at a certain gate. After driving along this road for several miles, we failed to see any buffalo. We then turned off on a narrow gravel road to see if by chance we could find the animals there. After a couple of miles, we came upon them. This is the largest herd of buffalo in existence on this continent - about 1500 strong. It was really a sight to behold! The hillsides were dotted with them in all directions. They were crossing the road right around us. The males are great shaggy beasts. In reading about them, we learned that at the beginning of the last century, there were an estimated 100 million buffalo in America. By the end of that century, the total had been diminished to only a few hundred. Wholesale slaughter to harvest the hides was encouraged by the government in order to rob the Indians of their food supply. This ultimately defeated the Indians and forced them into the reservations.
We also saw some wild burros along the road. These were very docile animals which came right up to the car looking for handouts. They had no fear of people, allowing themselves to be petted, etc. We saw a few antelope and a few deer, but the buffalo were the main attraction. They made the trip to Custer very worthwhile.
Our next stop was at Mount Rushmore. We were still having light rain, and the clouds kept us from seeing the monument well at first, but what we did see was very impressive. The four former Presidents on the side of that mountain, Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt (Teddy), and Lincoln, represent a lot of American history. We decided to stay until evening to see the night program, in which the mountainside is flooded with light, after a ranger presentation. We ate dinner at the President's Restaurant, had some buffalo meat, then drove into the little town of Keystone to kill some time. Keystone is very touristy, much like Cherokee, NC. Then Back to Mt. Rushmore for the show. The ranger told the story of each of the great men and what each had contributed to the history of the country. Then they played the Star Spangled Banner and turned on the
lights. The sky had cleared and was full of stars. It was an awe-inspiring moment. No one could experience that without some renewal of patriotism. The sculpture took 14 years to complete - from 1927 to 1941. The sculptor shared a characteristic with the four men he was cutting into the granite. He never gave up when the going got tough.
Wednesday, August 26th - We woke up again to rain. It let up a bit about 10:00am, and we drove over to Crazy Horse Mountain. This is a mind-boggling project which has been going on for 14 years and is only in its early stages of completion. Chief Crazy Horse is being immortalized in a sculpture which dwarfs the sculptures at Mt. Rushmore. It is a project being done with private funding by one family. It is hard to imagine that a family can devote their lives to such an undertaking. The father, who began the project, has already died, and the project can not be completed by the present generation. I could not help but think that such dedication could be more helpful to mankind in some other endeavor.
We had a hot dog for lunch and then went to Bear Country, USA. This is a 20 acre enclosure in which the tourist drives in right amongst the animals. There are deer, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, elk, wolves, buffalo, and hundreds of bears. The trees were full of bears, and on one stretch of road, there must have been fifty bears lumbering about. This was an interesting exhibit, but a shame that the animals have to be penned up this way. The buffalo on the open range in Custer State Park were more enjoyable. But, it was something different.
We spent another two hours in Rapid City, shopping for "stuff." The weather cleared. We went to the top of Dinosaur Park on a hill overlooking Rapid City. Saw many plaster and cement dinosaurs, and a spectacular view of the city and the Black Hills. The Black Hills of South Dakota are distinctively beautiful.
That evening we went to the Circle B Ranch for a chuckwagon dinner. The weather was cold. There were several staged gunfights in the streets and the meal was good. Then the cowboys put on a western song show. They were continuously interrupted by young people doing various funny things. The whole thing was just corny enough to be entertaining. It was not nearly as professional as a chuckwagon dinner we attended in Colorado Springs a few years ago, but that was not necessarily bad. We got back to camp about 10:00pm after a full day.
Thursday, August 27th - Awoke to a beautiful sunny day. Left camp about 6:30am for the drive to Cody, Wyoming. We made a slight detour (about 25 miles) off I-90 to pay a visit to Devil's Tower. This was really an awesome sight. As we approached the tower, there was an area of ground fog around the base of the tower. From the approach, the tower appeared out of the top of the fog in an unusual fashion. Then, as we arrived the fog cleared out and the tower stood out in regal splendor. This is a national monument in the northeast corner of Wyoming on the edge of the Black Hills. The surrounding countryside is hilly, but nothing dramatic. The tower rises 867 above its base, which is 1000 feet in diameter. The top of the tower is relatively flat, containing about 1 1/2 acres. We walked a trail around the base of the tower, and watched several people attempting to climb the steep sides. We saw quite a bit of wild life - deer and prairie dogs. It was certainly and interesting diversion and an unusual sight. We used our Golden Eagle passports for the first time.
Leaving Devil's Tower, we returned to I-90 and continued west to Buffalo, Wyoming, where we turned into Ten Sleep Canyon to travel through Powder River Pass across the Bighorn Mountains. The elevation at Powder River Pass was about 8,600 feet. This was a beautiful drive. The Bighorns were snowcapped, there being more snow there than at any place along our trip. We eventually reached Cody, Wyoming and a KOA campground for the night. There was a convention in town of motorcycle riders. Some 10,000 cyclists. The campground was crowded with them. They were not the Hell's Angels type, and we re very well disciplined. No problems. A rodeo in town took most of them away from the campground until later. We ate at a nice restaurant in Cody, the Sunset House, a buffet style, excellent meal.
Friday, August 28th - The drive from Cody to the east entrance to Yellowstone was beautiful, following the Shoeshone River through very spectacular mountains. This is the most spectacular of the four entrances to Yellowstone. We stopped at Fishi ng Bridge campground, but found that, although it is the only campground in the park with electric hookups, they only allow hardsided vehicles to stay there. A grizzly bear had been seen passing through the area only a week before. So we drove on around Yellowstone Lake to Grant Village campground. This was a beautiful site on the southwest side of the lake, but there was no electricity. We thought we could handle that, but did not expect the sub-freezing temperature that occurred. It was cold!! Before settling in for the night, however, we again all piled into the Suburban and drove over to Old Faithful. We had about a 45 minute wait before the eruption. An earthquake in the area about five years ago has changed the timing of the geyser. It is not as predictable as it once was. Neither was it as high as we remembered it before. That may have been partly due to the wind which was blowing pretty hard. Nonetheless, it was a strange and unusual sight. We also walked around many of the boardwalks and saw other geysers and hot pools. We were blessed with clear air and blue skies the entire time we were in Yellowstone. We saw more buffalo than we had seen before. One old bull was grazing almost at the front steps of Old Faithful Lodge. Saw two small herds of buffalo, one of which we had to wait on while they crossed the road in front of us. Each of the herds contained maybe 50 animals. We kept looking for elk and moose, but saw none that day.
Back at camp, we enjoyed a delicious meal of steaks, potatoes, beans and biscuits. We had a campfire and enjoyed a relaxing evening. I broke out the new Coleman lantern that John and Barbara had given me. It worked well. This is the kind that mounts directly on a bottle of propane gas and has an electronic starting device.
We slept very little that night. The temperature plummeted to 28 degrees. With no heat and no electricity for the blankets, it was cold. I put on a plastic rain suit, which worked fairly well. The consensus in the morning was to get out of there into some warmth for the next night. We called for reservations in a cabin at Mammoth Hot Springs for the next night.
Saturday, August 29th - We drove north in the park to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and viewed the Lower Falls from several points. Some of us took the Uncle Tom Trail which descended almost to the bottom of the falls. Over three hundred steel steps have been mounted to the wall of the canyon. We climbed down for a very closeup view. We were puffing hard by the time we got back up, and wondered whether it was really worth it. The views from Artist Point and Inspiration Point are much prettier. The stairs were about the equivalent of climbing down and then up a 30 story building. We had a picnic lunch on a rock wall at Inspiration Point, then motored on in to Mammoth. It so happened that a herd of elk had invaded the little town of Mammoth and were grazing all over. We counted 54 elk in town. The entire herd must have numbered 200. Later, we saw the unusual sight of the bull elk rounding up his herd and driving then across the highway and up the mountain. There was no doubt that he was the king and very much in charge. He had a tremendous rack on him - 12 or 14 points.
We drove over a narrow one-way gravel road to the little town of Gardiner, Montana, at the north entrance to the park. Saw some antelope and got some pictures. Ralph and I went over to the hot springs for a preview of what we would see again in the morning.
Sunday, August 30th - We awoke to a brilliant sunshiny day, had breakfast, and then went up to the springs. These are unusual formations, created by minerals in the water which solidify as they cool. The terraced pools that result are magnificent. The colors are white, yellow, red, and green. In some areas the springs have dried up, leaving the terraces as evidence of previous activity. These are all grey and white. It is a continually changing sight.
On the drive back to Grant Village to pick up the campers, Lamar noticed some animals in a creek a fair distance off the road. We circled back and found a small elk family wading in the clear water. A bull, cow and calf really posed for us as we took pictures and enjoyed the scenic beauty. Before we left, there must have been 50 people around who had also stopped to see what was going on. We kept looking for moose, but saw none. We picked up the campers and headed south to the Tetons, where we camped at Coulter Bay Village. This campground is on the edge of Jackson Lake across from Mount Moran. The area is one of the most beautiful places in the world in my opinion. As we watched the sun set over the mountains, a small deer came out and waded in the edge of the lake.
The campground itself was a bit disappointing. They allowed no fires at the campsites, had no picnic table at the sites, the toilet houses had no showers (showers cost a $1.25 over near the stores), but it was nonetheless a pleasant place to stay. We built a campfire at a picnic area over by the lake and enjoyed a good meal there. We stayed there 2 nights.
Monday, August 31st - While Haskell and the girls went in to Jackson to shop, Ralph, Lamar and I played golf at a beautiful golf course at the base of the Teton mountains. The view was spectacular - our scores were not. When we returned to camp, the others had purchased fresh mountain trout to cook for supper.
Tuesday, September 1st - We broke camp early, and headed south through Jackson Hole. Our first stop was at Jenny Lake, where we took the boat ride across the lake. This was a 10 minute ride which left us off at a trail which led up to Hidden Falls. We walked the half mile to the falls, and some went on up to Inspiration Point (el. 7,200 ft.). The weather was still excellent. The water in Jenny Lake is crystal clear. Every pebble on the bottom can be clearly seen. The scenery on that walk is indescribably beautiful. The boat makes the trip every 20 minutes. On our last trip in 1976, we weren't aware of the boat and walked five miles around the lake before going up to the falls.
We then pulled our rigs on into Jackson where we found a KOA campground for the night, out on the road to Teton Village. Being so close, some of us decided to take the gondola ride to the top of Rendezvous Mountain. Each car held about 60 people, and they were full. We were packed in like sardines.
The views from the top were really spectacular and made the ride worthwhile. This is a ski area in the winter, but there was no snow at this time of year. The Tetons aren't quite as pretty bare of snow.
Back at camp, we played a few games of dominoes, enjoyed a campfire, some music, and then retired.
Wednesday, September 2nd - This was the day Gloria had planned a whitewater rafting excursion down the Snake River. She and Ralph, along with Lamar and I, were the only brave ones. The scenery along the river was outstanding. The river was flowing rapidly, but it really wasn't very rough, except for two isolated spots. The ride lasted about 1 1/2 hours, and was enjoyable. There were 10 people in our raft. The guide did most of the work, although each of us had a paddle to help. I didn't think that it was nearly as strenuous as the Nantahala River in NC. No one was lost overboard. The bus ride back was not too comfortable, as there was no place to change our wet clothes.
We went into Jackson later to look around, and then went back to camp. Clouds were gathering, posing a threat of rain. Also the air was becoming very hazy. We had to deal with this for the next several days. We learned that it was coming from several forest fires in California and Nevada.
Thursday, September 3rd - Broke camp and went into Jackson to look at video pictures of yesterday's raft ride, and decided to purchase it. This is a good example of entrepreneurship at its best. The cameraman had set up at a point on the river where he could take video shots of the rafts going over the Great Kahoonah (the roughest spot on the trip), and had videotaped and photographed each raft that came down during the day. By giving them the time and guide's name, they could find the right sequence. They then coupled our sequence with those of some other exciting descents and produced an interesting video tape - for $45. That also included prints of five still photos. The tape was mailed, and was waiting at the postoffice when we got home. From Jackson we drove to Salt Lake City, Utah, through some beautiful mountain scenery along Hwy 89. The best scenery was just north of Logan, Utah. We arrived in Salt Lake in time to tour the Mormon complex and have a good meal at JB's. Thursday is the regular day for rehearsals by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, so we had an opportunity to watch and listen to that for a while. While others were touring, I visited the genealogy library. I quickly learned that it would take several hours just to learn how to use the library, before actual research could be started. There was a short introductory film which identified several areas of the library, told why the Mormons do this, and told how to get started. I left convinced that there is a tremendous amount of information there, but that it would take time to find it. Consequently, I did not learn anything specific.
We camped at a KOA almost in downtown Salt Lake. At this point we had to accelerate the trip to get Lamar back to Colorado early since he had a lawsuit coming to trial and had to get back. Having seen most of the significant things in Salt Lake City, we decided to pull out early the next morning.
Friday, September 4th - We headed south on I-15 to Zion National Park. The air was very hazy. We could tell that there were huge mountains to our east, but all that could be seen was a vague outline of them. We arrived at Springdale, Utah, just outside of Zion, fairly early in the day, and set up camp at an RV park there. We then went into the park for a closer look. The road into Zion follows the Virgin River upstream. The farther up the canyon we went, the closer the walls of the canyon came together, until there was no longer any room left for a road. We parked the car and took a foot path for about a mile, until there was not even room for that. From that point many people were wading into the river and walking further into the canyon. We elected not to continue on. We were told that the walls of the canyon continue to close in until they are just a few feet apart. Wading the river is a dangerous thing to do, because flash floods can come at any time. Then, there is no place to go, but to be flushed out with the river.
Zion really is a magnificent place. The walls of the canyon rise some 2,000 feet above the floor. They are various shades of red, with some blacks and some white. The mesa called "The Great White Throne" rises 2,500 feet above the floor.
Saturday, September 5th - The drive out of Zion to the east is almost as beautiful as the canyon itself. There are many spectacular views. From Zion we drove south for about 100 miles to Arizona and the north rim of the Grand Canyon. This side of the Grand Canyon is much more scenic and much less touristy than the south rim. The road led us through forests of large aspen and evergreens. At the north rim, we took a mile walk down to Bright Angel Point. The panoramic view is beautiful beyond description. There is just no way to adequately describe the vastness and beauty of the canyon. We stayed about two hours, then headed back to Utah and to Bryce Canyon. We arrived at Bryce about 5:00pm. Bryce does not look the same without a clear blue sky. Nevertheless, it was still an awesome sight. Ralph, Gloria and I took the two-mile Navajo Trail down into the myriad of red spires and weird formations, while the others returned to camp. It had been a hard day. We saw a few deer and small wild life.
Sunday, September 6th - We left Bryce at daybreak (6:45am) for a long day's drive to Granby, Colorado (just west of Rocky Mountain National Park). This was probably the longest day's drive to date - about 675 miles. We crossed the desert on I-70. The first 100 miles were spectacular, then we had 2 hours of boring desert. Then the towering mountains of Colorado came into view. We passed through Grand Junction and Vail, then the Eisenhower Tunnel. At this point, I was particularly glad that I did not have the Airstream. We really labored to get up the mountain. We went through passes at 11,000 feet. By the time we got to Granby it was late and we had to take the first campground we came to. It was quite primitive, although they did have electricity. Haskell made friends with some Texans that were also camped there, and came away with fresh sausage and eggs. Ralph built a good fire and the girls prepared a good meal. After supper we played dominoes. Ralph donned his horror mask and duped Haskell into chasing him out of camp.
Monday, September 7th - We broke camp early and headed on in to Rocky Mountain National Park. Approaching the park from the west side requires travelling the Trail Ridge Road. Again, I was glad that I was only pulling the pop-up. In fact, it was the prior knowledge of this road that influenced me to take the pop-up in the first place. About 11 miles of the Trail Ridge Road lie above the timber line, and it reaches 12,000 feet at it highest elevation. There are no rails on the sides. We stopped at the Alpine Visitor's Center at the top and did a bit of shopping. Several of the party were having trouble breathing. The air was cold and still hazy from the California fires. We finally descended into Estes Park and found our campground to be very nice. A cold front passed through during the afternoon and evening, and the air cleared beautifully for the next day. The afternoon was spent following the girls around town shopping. At dusk, we drove back into the park to watch the elk come out to feed. We saw a small herd of about 14, led by an old bull. This was not too spectacular after all the elk we had seen in Yellowstone. The moon was now near full, and was beautiful rising above the mountains in the now clear air.
Tuesday, September 8th - On our previous three visits to the park, the Fall River Road was always closed because of snow. This time it was open, and we finally got to make the trip up. This is a one-way gravel road that was the first to cross the Rockies at this point back in 1920. It was built by convict labor over an eight year span. The convicts used shovels and wheelbarrows. The road has many hairpin switchbacks, and gets a bit hairy to maneuver, but the views and scenery are magnificent. The main feature that is most talked about is Chasm Falls, a pretty little waterfall about half way up. The road ascends through beautiful forests of aspen, spruce and many varieties of pine. The aspen trees were now turning in most places and were a bright golden yellow. It took us 2 hours to traverse about 9 miles. The road joins the Trail Ridge Road at the Alpine Visitor's Center. From there we came back down the Trail Ridge again. We stopped several times to watch squirrels, chipmunks and marmots. There was an especially interesting family of marmots living in the rocks just over the precipice at the edge of the road. Five or six of them seemed to be waiting for cars to come along, so they could put on their begging act. There were some signs that some snow had fallen during the night in spots.
That afternoon, we drove over to Bear Lake, had a picnic, and walked the trail around the lake. Many ground squirrels and chipmunks greeted us and begged for crackers and peanuts. We also saw several varieties of birds - jays and mocking birds. The colors of the fall foliage was very pretty. The mountains are always beautiful, but I thought that at this time they were a little too bare without snow.
We walked from our campground to a very nice restaurant. Afterward, we said goodbye to the Cockrells and the Grays. They planned to break camp before dawn the next morning, heading home.
Wednesday, September 9th - Ralph and I played golf at the Estes Park Country Club, while Gloria and Ann went into town for more shopping. It was a relaxing, uneventful day.
Thursday, September 10th - We drove over to Bear Lake again, this time to walk one of the trails leading up into the mountains from that spot. We chose the trail leading to Emerald Lake, about 3 miles round trip. We first came to Nymph Lake, then Dream Lake, then Emerald Lake. Much of the trail was simply scrambling over rocks and climbing some pretty jagged cliffs. Seeing Emerald Lake up close was very much worth the effort, however. It was an emerald color, true to its name. It was located right at the edge of the timber line, at the base of Hallet's Peak. The elevation at the lake was 10,000 feet, while Hallet's rose another 2,000 feet to 12,000 feet elevation. Perched on a rock at the edge of the lake, we ate our lunch. This was a highlight of our entire trip. The scenery was simply magnificent. The golden aspen were at their peak of color; the air was clear and the sky a deep blue; the temperature was pleasantly cool. On the trip down, Ralph decided to blaze a new trail around the wrong side of Dream Lake. That may have been the last time I follow him anywhere. We climbed over fallen trees, and scrambled over some huge boulders, and finally made it out. The girls were patiently waiting for us in the parking lot. "Tired" doesn't really describe the way I felt. We went back into Estes Park and found a very nice restaurant, The Timberline, for dinner, then played a quick game of cards and retired for the night.
Friday, September 11th - It had really turned cold during the night. The car was covered with frost in the morning. Ralph and I had planned to play golf early, but found that the golf course was covered with frost too, and the club rules prohibited playing until it melted. So we waited for a while, then decided to play only the back nine holes. We had a fairwell lunch with the Griffins in Estes Park, then broke camp and headed south to Colorado Springs to see Larry and family. The drive through Boulder and Denver was easy although the Friday afternoon traffic was quite heavy We made the trip in 2 1/2 hours. We found a campground near Manitou Springs, not far from Old Colorado City - The Golden Lane Campground. It proved to be very noisy, being next to a busy highway. We later found the Garden of the Gods Campground and resolved to stay there on the next trip. We went over to Larry's after supper, and found them all to be well and fit. They have a house full of dogs - thoroughbred Chows. "Sheena" had just had 7 puppies, all jet black, which were about 4 weeks old. "Mingah" was an all black male, which is about 6 months old, not the sire of the pups. They were looking forward to selling the pups in two to three weeks. Timmy and Larry were doing well in school. Larry, Sr. will finish his college course in December. He had an English exam the next morning, which, if passed, will enable him to avoid taking several English courses. Debbie, I think, is looking forward to "retiring" from Progreesive Insurance Co., when Larry gets located in a job.
We watched some of our video pictures on Larry's TV. They appear to have come out pretty good. This was the first opportunity we had had to see a real TV since leaving home. Some of the sequences will have to be edited out. I have taken about 6 hours worth of video, but need to get it down to 2 hours or less so it won't be too boring to watch.
Saturday, September 12th - We walked around Old Colorado City for a while in the morning, then went to Larry's for lunch. Debbie had fixed sandwiches to eat in their back yard. The weather was clear, cool and very nice. After lunch, Larry and I played nine holes of golf at the Valley Hi course. Debbie cooked spaghetti and meatballs for dinner that night, and we "pigged out."
Sunday, September 13th - Larry and family came to our campground about 11:00am, and took us to the Garden of the Gods for a picnic lunch. We had considerable trouble with yellow jackets wanting to share lunch with us, but we finally found a place to eat in peace. We toured the "Gardens", then drove through Manitou and up to the Cave of the Winds. We had supper at Starvin' Marvin's, sort of like our Po Folks. It was good food, but rather noisy. The country restaurant that Debbie had wanted us to go to had gone out of business. We had a nice visit with everybody, and then said our goodbyes. They seem to like Colorado as a place to live. They have done an excellent job of keeping their house nice, both inside and out. Their yard is the best kept in the neighborhood. The next few months will determine whether they stay there or not. Larry starts interviewing for a job in October.
Monday, September 14th - We noticed that the voltmeter in the Suburban was reading overcharge, and decided to put in my spare alternator before starting our trip home. That delayed our leaving for about an hour. We then headed south, along I-25 through Pueblo to Raton Pass. We turned east on Hwy 87, and went to Amarillo, Texas, then east on Hwy 287, to Vernon, Texas, where we spent the night. It rained on us most of the afternoon. Reports on the radio indicated a tornado watch until 10:00pm, so, decided to find a motel, rather than worry about a tornado in the pop-up. We stayed at the Vernon Inn. The room was musty with stale cigaret smoke. It made us appreciate the fresh air at the campgrounds. We had another "pig-out" meal at a Golden Corral. We had driven about 600 miles, so were ready to turn in.
Tuesday, September 15th - Drove on east through Wichita Falls, Ft. Worth, Dallas, Shreveport, Monroe, and then into Vicksburg, Mississippi. It was an uneventful day, until we pulled into the Vicksburg campground. Just as we were parking in our assigned space, up drove a familiar looking van and trailer. It was Charlie and Dollie Chiles, camping on their way to see their daughter in Missouri. If we had planned a meeting there, we could not have arrived in such a simultaneous manner. Of course, we were glad to see them. We went to dinner together, then drove through the Federal Battleground Memorial at Vicksburg. It was too late in the evening to really see it good, but we saw a lot of monuments to the Federal troops, and very few to the Confederacy. We left wondering how the Mississippians allowed such a one-sided display to exist on their soil.
Wednesday, September 16th - After goodbyes to the Chiles, we again head east and south on the last full day of driving. We drove through Jackson, Hattiesburg, Mobile, Pensacola, and Tallahassee, then pulled into the Suwannee River State Park, near Madison. The facilities there were excellent. This is near where the W ithlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers come together, a very nice setting. This was one of the nicest campgrounds we had stayed in. The ranger in charge told us how the State of Florida was making a determined effort to improve the facilities in all of the state parks. They had electricity and exceptionally good shower rooms.
Thursday, September 17th - Back on the road, we soon were rudely reminded of some of the not so pleasant aspects of life in Florida. The heat was again with us, and it was the season for love-bugs. I scrubbed the windshield three times in 250 miles, before getting home. But we were home. Our neighbor, Buck Yost, had done us a giant favor by looking after the place. He had even kept the lawn mowed. Except for being dry from lack of rain, everything looked pretty good. We spent the rest of the day reorganizing our things and thoughts, so we could resume the mundane habit of living in a house. The trip had been delightful. We had driven about 7,500 miles, entered 18 states, 2 of which were firsts (Iowa and South Dakota), and had seen a truly beautiful part of the country. The fellowship with our friends and fellow travelers was superb. Now, its back to living in the real world again, but we can't wait until we can get out again.
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