Thursday, May 30, 2013

Another rainy day!

We left Great Falls this morning and planned to cross the border into Canada at Sweetgrass/Coutts. It rained on us the entire trip today. . . hard at times. Then came the winds. Ugh. I thought at one time something was wrong because it seemed that the little motorhome was actually stalling. But it was the head wind of 40 mph pushing against us. That was a really weird feeling.

We crossed the border around 11 a.m. We were asked a few questions and we were through. No big deal. We were well prepared, but they didn't ask any of the things we thought they would. No questions about food or anything.

We drove on through Lethbridge and on to Fort Macleod, Alberta. We are camped at Daisy Mae RV Park. It's not too bad and we are right on "Old Man River." After we had lunch we decided to go to the "Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump." It is about 15 miles away. This is supposed to be the best preserved and represented buffalo jump in North America. It is quite interesting and they had a very nice interpretive center with relevant displays and many artifacts. There was a walkway out to the actual jump site. It was a little difficult to see the cliff, because you were looking out from the top. This is where the Indians would stampede the buffalo and they would fall to their deaths over the cliff. It sounds cruel. Any animals who survived were quickly killed by warriors who were waiting down below. Once the kill was over, they dragged the carcasses out into the meadow to butcher. All parts of the animals were used and the Indians would process all the meat for the winter season when food was scarce. Having visited both the Vore Buffalo Jump in South Dakota and this one, I think the Vore jump is a little more impressive. It is much, much smaller, with just one kill site, but you actually walk down into the pit where the buffalo landed. A building has been erected over the actual archeological dig and you can see the actual excavation in process. At Head Smashed In, the actual archeological site is not visible. There was a path below which may have gone there, but it was misting, so we didn't take that.

We would have spent more time, but there was a group of children there from a local reservation. They were rude and obnoxious. When we were out at the cliff, they pushed and shoved us as we were on the highest part looking down to take pictures. Deanna was afraid one was going to push me over. I finally moved him aside with my arm telling him I was trying to take a picture. The same thing happened when we were inside looking at the exhibits. Although we tried to stay ahead of them, they were moving faster because they weren't reading anything. (How is it that this was any kind of educational experience for them when they weren't trying to learn anything from it?) I again moved a little snit out of the way with my arm when he invaded my picture. As I walked away, one of the chaperones tapped my shoulder and apologized for the student. I told her I thought they were very rude and that they had been rude out on the jump side as well. She apologized again and I told her again I thought they were disrespectful of others who were there. As we walked away I heard her tell the group that they needed to be respectful of others who were visiting the museum.

When we left, I made comments on the visitor's roster saying that I thought they should have days set aside for accommodating the general public and not have any school groups on those days. We learned that four busloads of students had just left when we arrived. We probably would not even have gone in. It is a shame that paying adults have their experience cut short and ruined by unruly groups of students, most of whom I would guess learned nothing from the experience. And remember, I am a retired teacher of 34 years. But it was a great historical site and one I had read extensively about. I am certainly glad we went.

We had our first casualty of the trip today. Tab and Deanna's windshield took a rock and cracked. The 10" crack kept running while on the trip to the buffalo jump site. I told him he was supposed to wait until Alaska to break a windshield.

When we returned, he called from the phone in the camp office and found a place that would replace it tomorrow. So at 8:30 in the morning they will be going to get that fixed. We are going with them. They really don't want to leave their motorhome and I thought it would be good for us to go and we can just all sit in our motorhome and watch a movie, plan the next drive, and generally keep an eye on their motorhome. So that is what we are doing. We may return here tomorrow night or we may move on. Just have to wait and see how the repair goes.

As you can see, we have free wifi tonight! AND. . . it's working great.

Till next time. . .


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Great Falls, Montana, staging for the run across the border. . .

100% rain was the forecast today for Columbus, Montana, and every place between there and Great Falls, Montana. And that is exactly what it did. . . RAIN! But it wasn't a real hard rain, just a good soaking rain. It wasn't difficult driving through it, but it did require reduced speed.

We traveled along the interstate for about 35 miles, then turned north onto a good two-lane road. Can you believe the speed limit on certain two-lane roads is 70 mph? Certain areas of the roads are straight for several miles and that would lend itself to those speeds, so I'm glad it was raining because it gave me an excuse to drive a bit slower.

We got in to Great Falls at about 12:30 p.m. and fixed our lunch. Then it was off to Walmart to stock our cupboards again. We have heard about the high prices for goods in Canada and Alaska, so we wanted to be able to eat in a lot.

We have been finalizing our plans for tomorrow. It looks like we will be crossing the border at Sweetgrass/Coutts in Alberta. We will drive up to the Ft. MacLeod area near Lethbridge. Then it is on to Banff.

Once we cross the border tomorrow, we will not be using our cell phones or internet services. We may purchase a Canadian phone card to use at pay phones and will use internet when we have it at various venues. I will try to blog every day, but I may not be able to publish on a daily basis.

Our son Brandon has emergency contact information if there is a need. Everyone else in the immediate family knows how to contact him. Once in Alaska, we will be back on line.

Till next time. . .


Little Big Horn Battlefield

Today we left camp a bit earlier than usual and made good time on I-90. As we got further west, we saw some snow capped mountains in the distance. We think these are the Big Horn Mountains. Custer's Last Stand, now known as the Battle of Little Big Horn National Monument, was our destination. It is someplace that Terry and I have always wanted to see, but we have never been to Montana.

The Battlefield is right on the road, so it is an easy stop. We got there about noon, so after we parked, we ate lunch. Then we went into the Visitor's Center and read through a lot of the displays. The timelines were quite interesting and there were other artifacts from the battle that have been have been handed down by both Indians and whites.

We then went out and walked the short distance to Last Stand Hill which is where General Custer and his officers staged their last battle. There are dozens of headstones and they represent where the soldiers fell on the battlefield. Their remains have since been removed from where they were originally buried and interred under the large monument on the hill. It is a moving scene to imagine the terror that the soldiers felt when they knew their demise was imminent.

Across the road was a monument to the Native Americans who were lost in the battle. Part of the renaming of the historic site had to do with honoring the Indians who also participated. The various tribes have stories that tell their involvement and list the warriors who died. There are a few headstones depicting where specific warriors fell and they are different from the soldier's headstones.

We drove throughout the hills to other areas where there were skirmishes and headstones littered the hillsides. The entire area is quite large and very hilly. It would have been difficult with their resources to fight such a battle.

We spent a couple hours at the Monument and at the National Cemetery which is on the grounds. It was a somber end to the Memorial Day holiday for us.

We drove on to Columbus, Montana, and are staying at the Mountain Range RV Park. Tomorrow we head to Great Falls, Montana.

Till next time. . .


Monday, May 27, 2013


We left the park at Hermosa, SD, after filling with propane this morning. Tab took the lead this morning and I drove MinnieMee. The weather has been crazy. Yesterday it started out extremely foggy and raining, then later the sun came out and it warmed up so we sat outside. Today started much the same way, except the fog wasn't quite as bad. We got on I-90 and drove out of Rapid City and into the countryside which is really stunning. Everything is very green and lush looking.

We eventually drove out of the fog and didn't really have any rain. We stopped at the Visitor's Center in Wyoming and we decided to go see the Vore Buffalo Jump. Unfortunately, it was closed as they are working on a new exhibit, so we had to cross that off the agenda. We drove on to Moorcroft, Wyoming, to the Rangeland Motel and RV Park. They have 5 RV spaces on one side of a motel. The motel is very neat and very clean as are the full hookup RV sites. We talked with the owner who is originally from Michigan. Very nice people and we are enjoying our time here. We feel rather protected here because of our location and, other than the train nearby, hope to have a good night's sleep. We have come to find out that like lumber yards, RV parks are normally situated near railroad tracks.

We took Tab and Deanna in our motorhome out to the Devil's Tower. It is the core of a volcano exposed after millions of years of erosion by the Belle Fourche River and the weather. Tab and Deanna took the 1.3 mile trek around the base while Terry and I relaxed and I snapped pictures of the two climbers on the tower. Climbing is allowed, but you must sign in. On the way out of the park, we stopped to snap a picture at Prairie Dog Town.

I took these pictures with my new camera. I say it works pretty good. The lens is built in. . . I don't have to swap out a lens or anything. I didn't want that in a camera. . . I am just no good at that and really, with a camera that does this good, I don't need anything else. It is a Sony CyberShot 18.2 Megapixel DSC-HX200V. It has GPS for the pix and a lot of stuff I won't use, but I really do like it.

Till next time. . .


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Day of rest. . .

We woke up to rain this morning and were glad we had planned a "down" day. A day to finish laundry, get some foodstuffs ready for the week of driving and a chance to rest and relax.

We were surprised this afternoon when the "Rollin' Hubbs" from our Class of 2005 rolled into camp. We had met up with them earlier this week when we were all at the Badlands Visitor Center. We were able to sit and visit with them awhile and learn about what has happened with them for the last few years. They actually have a home now, close to their daughter and travel extensively when they want to.

We spent some time watching the Indy 500 and now we're watching the Nascar race. I actually cleaned today, which took about 20 minutes. LOL

Tomorrow we leave here and will spend the night in Moorcroft, Wyoming, after we visit Devil's Tower.

Till next time. . .


Saturday, May 25, 2013

. . .where the buffalo roam. . .and the deer and the antelope play. . .

 The moon was BEAUTIFUL last night!

We left the park this morning in Tab and Deanna's rig again, since we were going in search of the buffalo herd in Custer Park and the non-transferable window tag was in his rig.

We entered the park and stopped at the visitor center and asked there where the herd was located. One of the woman workers there told us just where they had last been reported. At least, the "women and children" of the herd. It would require traveling on some of the interior dirt roads, but Tab decided that would be acceptable. So off we went on a mission.

We saw more antelope and I'm ashamed to say we had seen more of them yesterday than anything else, so they barely warranted a slow-down today. Once we got on the dirt road, we kept a sharp eye out and we were afraid we were once again going to be disappointed. But that was not the case. Soon after, we saw cars stopped and as we got closer, we could see a group of about 50 cows and calves resting and grazing in a meadow. We stopped and got lots of pictures. Once traffic cleared we pressed on. I lost count of the number of times we stopped, but we took probably 1 1/2-2 hours to complete the few miles left on the road. The buffalo were everywhere. The road wound through the rugged terrain with rocky hills on both sides, so the buffalo were traversing the area primarily on the road, so many times we had to stop while the animals walked in the road or too close to us to move safely. They truly are amazing animals. It's hard to believe that millions once roamed out here. The herds were decimated by the buffalo hunters hired by the government to slaughter them in order to drive the Indians out. At one time fewer than 2000 remained. The herd at Custer is about 950 in the winter. Spring birthings raise the population to about 1450. They round them up in the fall and sell some of the animals off in order to keep the population of the herd at a point where the park can sustain them. So our foray into the park today was an unqualified success. We have seen more animals this trip than we have ever seen.

We then detoured back through Custer and stopped for lunch. We are now back at the camp and plan to do some laundry and rest up. Tomorrow is a day of rest for us. Then we start our trek again heading into Wyoming first and plan to cross into Canada next week.

Till next time. . .


Friday, May 24, 2013

In and around Custer Park.

Here is a picture of our campsite. Very nice park.

Today we started out a little more leisurely than we have been. Today was a day of sightseeing and we certainly got the job done. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm, but still WINDY. . . did I say it's been WINDY here in the Black Hills? Whew.

We all climbed into Tab and Deanna's motorhome and took off for Mt. Rushmore. We spent some

time there taking pictures and perusing the various exhibits. It is an impressive sculpture and we never tire of seeing it.

Leaving the mountain, we traveled on down the road and ended up in Hill City. We parked and walked the main street and found a restaurant and had lunch. It was very good. We walked a couple of blocks in town and took these pictures of some art sculpture. These animals were made of anything and all things metal, including tools and other sculptures.

We all wanted to see the Crazy Horse Memorial, so we drove on. Admission is $10 a piece or $27/car, so we paid the $27. We were here three years ago and quite honestly, I can't see much difference. Not sure how much progress has been made on it. But we did have an enjoyable visit and spent a lot of time looking at the displays and artifacts on exhibit. It will be a beautiful mountain when it's finished, but I'm sure I won't see it in my lifetime.

We then took the road into Custer and the wildlife loop in the park. We were rewarded with lots of wildlife in the area. We did see buffalo, but were hoping to see the big herd. We didn't, but we saw bison, prairie dogs, mule deer, antelope, elk and wild burros. So we were pleased with our day's adventure.

Not sure what tomorrow will bring yet!

Till next time. . .


The Badlands, Wall and the Black Hills!

It was a busy day of driving and sightseeing today. We started out before 9 a.m. and drove to the Badlands. We got there and started in through the gate. We had been seeing a lot of rock outcroppings so one always gets a taste of what's to come, but nothing can compare to the actual landscape of the Badlands. The first vista was just past the gate and we stopped to take pictures. We let Tab and Deanna take the lead through the park then. Since this is our third time here, we let them choose when and where they wanted to stop and take pictures and we followed along. Most places I got some great shots. . . probably just like the ones I took last time, but I do have a better camera. And I have a panoramic setting on my camera, so I experimented with that. It's pretty cool.

There certainly was no shortage of photo ops! At one point just before the visitor's center, parking was a little tight, so we went on to the visitor's center and perused the museum and waited for our friends to catch up. While we were all there, we were surprised by some other fellow classmates of the "Fulltiming Class of 2005," a group of people who met on and formed an "alliance" with others who went fulltime the same year. Glen and Diane, "Rollin' Hubbs," were in the area and were actually camping at the Badlands Visitor Center Campground. We had a nice visit with them before we rolled on.

Never before when we were here did we ever see any animals, but we were not disappointed this time. We saw quite a few antelope and my zoom lens on the new camera captured their images. We also saw prairie dogs, but they are small and further from the road, so it is a little harder to see them. We also had "close encounters" with some bighorn sheep which were grazing right next to the road. One big guy walked across the road in front of us and nimbly climbed up the steep rock. Amazing. They were not afraid of us, but we were careful not to get too close. Some people weren't as smart, but I wouldn't want a big sheep to start butting me off the mountain. It was steep terrain and they can walk it gracefully, but it's not for humans!

We continued to be mesmerized by the beauty of nature in the Badlands. Even though the area is not useful for agriculture, it serves as great historical importance and a home to the bighorn sheep and a herd of bison, which we did not see.

We rolled on to Wall, South Dakota, and had lunch and visited the world famous Wall Drug Store. It is an interesting stop and Tab insisted on getting his picture taken on the jackalope, so we complied. Hah! We also partook of the free ice water. . . you can't go to Wall Drug and not get a drink of ice water, although it didn't seem to be very cold.

From Wall, we drove 67 miles to our camp in Hermosa, South Dakota, which is just south of Rapid City. It is a little further away than some other camps, but a lot of the camps in the park have limited services and we wanted to crash for a few days and get some laundry done, etc. We also are at a Passport America camp which is $18 for FHU. Most camps in the area are $50 a night. Since this is a holiday weekend, we thought perhaps most camps would require you rent for the weekend, so we wanted a cheaper place. We have been here before and enjoy this camp. The people running it are very nice and we will have a nice relaxing stay.

Till next time. . .