May 2012

This month started off with a drive to visit Lucille and Vinny’s house to have wonderful conversation, shrimp cocktails and wine.  We then headed out for a wonderful dinner – so nice to be with friends.

One day we cruised on the boat up the Cooper River as the weather was just perfect.  We got to enjoy the dolphins, the water and the peace and quiet.

On May 4th we attended the Air Force Picnic where we had a wonderful pulled pork sandwich, coleslaw, bottle of water and a chocolate chip cookie.  Great time and it was all free. The picnic was held as an appreciation picnic.

That night we attended our daughter’s 40th birthday party.  She was really surprised to see us and what a beautiful party it was – great food, wine and guests.  It’s hard to believe that time has moved so quickly, seems like a short time ago that she was a tiny little baby.  She is a beautiful woman whom we are so proud of.

May 5th we left Charleston and headed west on I-26 thru North Carolina and into Tennessee.  We spent the night at Volunteer Park in Heiskill, Tn.  We had a nice dinner and then took a stroll around the campground. 

Sunday took us into Kentucky where we stopped at the Artisan Center in Berea.  Everything that is sold here was made by local state artists.  Tim bought we a beautiful pair of earrings.  After touring the store we had our lunch in the camper and hit the road again.  We stopped for the night at Yogi Bear Camp Resort in Scottsburg, Indiania.  Another night to take a stroll around the campground and enjoy the pleasant weather.

Driving along the highway we saw a sign that said “No Animals On Foot” – guess they have smart animals that can read.  LOL

Qucik drive thru Illinois and on into Iowa.  We stopped at the rest area and were surprised to see a sign that said “No Smoking Allowed in Rest Area.”  Guess lots of travelers are upset to see that sign.

Our next stop was Amana Colonies Rv Park in Amana, Iowa as I wanted to tour this old German town.  In 1855 God fearing immigrants settled in Iowa River Valley on 26,000 acres where they settled seven villages.  They lived communally, worked the land and built industries to provide only the necessities of life.  Each member worked a particular skill.   Each resident received home, medical care, meals, necessities and schooling but no one received wages.  They lived this way from 1855 until 1932 when they set aside this way of life.  We took a wonderful tour of the town and got to see the Amana meat shop, general store, antique shop, church, Ackerman Winery and also visited many shops.  We also got to see the Giant Rocker which is 11 feet tall and weighs 670 pounds made out of solid walnut.  Quite a site.  We had a nice lunch at Ox Yoke Inn where they serve german food.  All the food is grown locally and was very good.  We sure enjoyed this wonderful town which is now a National Historic Landmark.

Red Barn RV Park in Tea, South Dakota was our next stop.  We just relaxed and watched some tv.  The next day we went to Emery, South Dakota to pick up our mail.  Back on the road stopping at an 1880 town and Longhorn Ranch located in Murdo, South Dakota.  It is an authentic 1880 town with barns, hotels, Well Fargo Office, Livery, Churches, land office, homes, fire companys and school house.  In all they have over 30 buildings which was very interesting.  They also have a museum with alot of the props from the movie “Dances With the Wolves.”  Very interesting stop.

We stopped at Wall Drug Store which is advertised all along the highways.  It is a huge store with 26 retail departments, restaurants on over 76,000 square feet.  Real tourist trap but loads of people were enjoying it. 

Our next stop was the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site.  This is a launch control facility and a nuclear missle site built during the Cold War.  We toured the control room to see how the end of the world could have happened.  The tour guide told us they had a Russian man visit and he said “They were always afraid we would start the process” – same fear that we Americans always had about them.  It was a very imforative site.

We stopped at Ellsworth Air Force Base which would be our home for 7 days as we toured this interesting area.

Badlands National Park has 244,000 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires blended with mixed green prairies.  The Lakota Indians gave it the name “Mako Sica” which means land bad.  This park is considered one of the worlds richest mammal fossil beds.  We got to see bison, pronghorns, mules, deer, prairie dogs and rabbits.  They also have coyotes, eagles, hawks, porcupines, bighorn sheep, bob cats and fox.  We had a wonderful day exploring this park and also enjoyed the visitor center where we watched films about the park.  A must see place.

Mother’s Day was another beautiful day.  I got to talk on the phone to both of my beautiful daughters and enjoyed that very much.  I also reflected on my wonderful mother whom is now in Heaven and I miss so much. 

We took a ride to Deadwood which was started as a mining camp in 1876.  Wild Bill Hickock was killed here.  Today it is mostly casinos and shops.  We had breakfast at a casino restaurant called Bully’s.  Very good food. 

Our next stop was The State Railroad Museum located in Hill City.  The museum was free that day and we enjoyed looking at the displays of model trains.  They also had a train ride which goes from Hill City to Keystone for a 2 hour 20 mile round trip.  We would have loved to do this but missed the train by an hour.  Day late, dollar short lol.

Custer State Park is a 71,000 acre park and I believe the largest state park in the United States.  It has an 18 mile wildlife road where you see elk, antelopes, pronghorns, deer, prarie dogs, burros, and over 1300 bison.  They also have lakes, hiking trails, resorts, campgrounds, swimming, fishing and all kinds of programs.  Every year in September they have a buffalo roundup which I would love to see.  They say it is really cool because you hear the thunder of hooves pounding the praries soil.  They told us bison weigh more than 2000 lbs and are 6 feet tall.  They are huge animals and interesting to watch.  They seem so layed back but they say they can be very aggressive.

We drove up to the Crazy Horse Memorial and could see the memorial but decided not to pay to visit the site this time.

Onto Mount Rushmore!  Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers sculpted the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln from October 4, 1927 until October 31, 1941.  The faces are 60 feet tall and cost over $989,992.  The main tool for this was dynamite which surprised us.  We enjoyed the visitors center were we watched a movie, visited the sculptors studio and gift shop. 

We returned one night to see the impressive night ceremony and the spectucular lighting of the faces.  It was just beautiful and made you proud to be an American.  They also have the Avenue of flags which was really interesting.  A must see for every american.

Our week stay in South Dakota made us realize what a beautiful state this is when off the major highways.  We had a wonderful week.

We started west and our first stop was the rest area in Wyoming.  We were so impressed by the displays in this rest area and how helpful the girl working was.  We started back on the interstate and a deer ran in front of us – we found out how great our new truck really is – it not only slowed the truck down applying the brakes but stopped the ca
mper and we did not hit the deer.  Praise the Lord.

Wyoming is another beautiful state that we had never visited before.  We took a route thru the Bighorn National Forest and what a beautiful ride that was.  We had spectular views all thru the Greybull Highway route and actually saw snow on the mountains.  We stopped at Loaf Mountain Overlook and could not believe the beauty of the area.  We stopped for the night at Worland RV Park in Worland, Wy and had a wonderful sleep.

On the road again about 9 and headed to Cody, Wyoming and a visit to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.  This wonderful museum celebrates the spirit of the American West.  It tells the history of the Plains Indian People, Buffalo Bill’s Boyhood Home, sculputure gardens, display about Yellowstone Natural History, firearms, Western Art and a beautiful Museum store.  We had a nice lunch in their cafe and really enjoyed the day.  When we got ready to leave it was pouring and we were parked quite far away – run run run we went still getting very wet.

The 18th was our granddaughter Emily’s 13th birthday.  Happy Birthday to a beautiful young teenage girl – we love you so.

Next stop was Yellowtone National park coming into the East Entrance.  We have a Golden Age Pass so all the National parks are free for us which makes it wonderful.  As we were driving on the road we noticed lots of snow still all around us and it is the middle of May.  We checked into Fishing Bridge Campground where the cost for full hookups is $50.79 a night with tax.  We are going to stay for 7 nights with no cell phone service or internet which should be interesting.  After setting up the camper we headed east to get cell phone service and call our granddaughter.  On the way back to the campground we saw a grizley bear with her cub right along side the road.  It was so cool.  Also saw lots of bison.  We made a nice dinner and watched alittle tv that we had recorded  and worked on our family tree.  Wonderful first day.  The low for the night is going to be 25 – yikes I thought it was spring.  This campground is in bear country and only hard sided campers are allowed – no picnic tables or grills.

Saturday the high was 50 and the low 20 which is not to bad.  We slept really well as no street noise, airplanes plus pitch black.  After our showers and coffee we headed out to see what else we could find.  We again rode near the beautiful Yellowstone Lake.  The area had been hit by fires so you see lots of destroyed trees.  Today we saw moose, bison, wolf, geese and elk.  We also went over the continental divide.  We saw flurries at certain times during the day but the weather was quite pleasant.  We arrived at the visitor center, watched a film about Old Faithful and then went outside and watched it erupt.  Pretty amazing site to see steaming water thunder into the sky.  We also saw firehole falls and Gibbons Falls on our travels today. 

Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872 as the first national park.  It covers over 2.2 million acres and spans three states, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.  The highest point is 11, 358 feet so you must let your body adjust to the different altitudes.  There is 370 miles of roadways and the lake has a shoreline of 141 miles long.  Quite a huge park but what an amazing experience.  They have the most active geothermal region on earth with over 300 geysers. 

Sunday was another animal fun day – saw a mother bear sitting at the bottom of the tree while her two little cubs were high up in the tree.  We saw wolf, bison, geese, ducks, and moose also.  Every few miles you see something and being at the park in May we did not have the crowds that normally would be there.

Monday we saw buffalo swimming down the river, saw bison with their calves crossing the street, brown bear running back and forth across the road – just amazing. 

Each section of the park has a visitor center, store and a movie about that area of the park.  We sat and watched the bison play today as the calves love to run and nudge each other.  Really cool

Snow flurries and sleet was the weather on Wednesday morning but cleared up around noon.  We watched a cinnamon bear munching on the grass for about 20 minutes.  Again today bison which are everywhere, fox, bears, and elk.  I have never seen so many animals running in the wild as I did here.  You can sit and watch the wolves pacing, animals swimming and mothers protecting their young.  What a great way to teach children about nature.

Thursday morning we woke up to snow.  It was just beautiful on the trees and covering the ground.  It reminded me why I loved winter in the northeast early in the morning.  Today we took a ride to Teton National Park which sits right next to Yellowstone.  Today was opening day for most of the lodges, stores etc after along winter.  Teton became a National Park in 1929.  Another amazing park with a beautiful lake, jagged peaks, deep canyons and spectuclar scenery.  We spent a few hours here but sometime in the future we will return.  We saw a sign alongside the road that said “Slow Down Cowboy”!  Because of the snow today they closed the entrance to Yellowstone but by the time we got back it was reopened.

Again Friday morning we woke to loads of snow and today was our day to leave.  Tim swore he would never drive in snow but guess what – he did a wonderful job.  The park is just spectuclar with snow covering the trees and ground – looks like a winter wonderland.  It took us 90 minutes to go 35 miles.  Today is our granddaughter Julia’s 8th birthday.  Happy Birthday Julia.  We stopped in Livingston, Montana and did some grocery shopping and then stopped in Butte for lunch.  We went into the visitor center and it started to snow.  The lady in the center told us the only month it does not snow is August.  Yikes I think I would be sick of snow by then.  We stopped for the night at Turah Rv Park in Turah, Montana and slept really well.

On I-90 we saw a guy pushing a wheelchair full of stuff alongside the road.  Looked really strange.  I must say the state of Montana is just beautiful also.  As a matter of fact every state is beautiful – we live in an amazing country.  We stopped at Cabela’s and bought a pair of hiking boots for me for our trip to Alaska.  Very friendly salespeople and a beautiful store. Our next stop was Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington where we will spend the weekend. 

While at Fairchild we shopped and walked around base looking at the displays of trains and airplanes.  I never knew the Air Force had trains, learn something new every day.  The campground here was really nice plus got alot of laundry done so it was a good stopping place.

On the 29th we headed across the state of Washington stopping  at Fort Lewis Army Base near Tacoma Washington.  What a huge base – it has 87000 acres of land and a beautiful campground.  While here we were able to stock up on food, supplies for our cruise, and relax for a few days.  We did take a ride to the Mall in Tacoma and stopped at Panera Bread for a great cup of coffee. 

The end of the month took us to Sea Tac Airport in Seattle to pick up our daughter Susan and granddaughter Emily.  It was so great to see them again.  We drove them to the Marriott Waterfront saying goodnight and see ya tomorrow.  That ended another great month.