Category: On The Road


Golden, Colorado  Up on Lookout Mountain you can find Buffalo Bills Grave and a Museum.

At the Dog Park, Estes Park, Colorado

On I-70

Georgetown, Colorado Historic Victorian Mining Town, gold and silver ore and the Railroad.

Yep, not in Kansas anymore, well didn’t make it to Kansas on this trip. In the window at a shop in Georgetown.

 

Headed West on the I-70.

I Decided it was not reasonable to return to the Northeast. The wild weather continues with so much reverberating thunder that Olympia has lost interest in being afraid of it. I’ve avoided damaging hail and have not been flooded out which I must consider a success. It’s time for a rest. This is only the second time I’ve traveled with all four of the dogs together and the previous was a short trip where we mostly stayed with friends, the weather was fine. With all three Lagotti and little Mason I am reluctant to walk city sidewalks, we need a lot of space. Mason drags behind, Jackson pushes fast forward and Jeana zigzags in circles like a trip wire on her lead. Mason doesn’t want to walk on gravel or open fields, he doesn’t want to get his feet wet and insists on stopping under shady retreats.  Jackson and Olympia believe they must both ride in the pup-saver seat which is barely suitable for one, otherwise Jackson will contort himself in the most unnatural positions I’ve ever seen for a dog.  I wake at 5 am and rarely to sleep before 11 pm often needing to take out one or another of the dogs in the middle of the night. If I’m not going east, then I want to slow down.  My Mom has been helping me figure this out. I’m tired, my shoulders are tired from the leashes. If not for threatening weather it’d be good to peace out wherever I am. It’s not peaceful in wads of sticky mud, freezing wind and wondering if the next lightning strike will be too close. A lot of the camps are being used by workers and residents needing cheaper more affordable accommodations. This is not a trend I like, nor the spike in fees and stiff regulations on dogs, power, water.

Welcome to Fort Collins

Cheyenne to Fort Collins is less than an hour and then the Rocky Mountains. It will be an easy day I promise myself. Somewhere in that exact second or two when I crossed the state border cars appear. Lots of cars with bicycles and kayaks attached; by the time I reach the information office the roadways are buzzing. It’s like they had been held inside a big mosquito net, buzzing and waiting, not allowed into Wyoming. Wham here they are!

Think Quick! I got honked at trying to decipher this, There was a lot more signage I could not fit in this photo. I think I’d need about a half an hour to figure out what they were really trying to do. Is that a computer screen up there? The bizarre (I mean unusual) street designs and presumed traffic flow patterns of this city were rather incredible. Could be an interesting life here, but hard on pass through.

With the help of the information person we decide I’d spend the rest of the day and that night relaxing at Boyd Lake State Park, the next day I’d head for the city of Estes Park, then a trip into the Rocky Mountain National Park. She was fascinated by my travels, I was dead tried, she wanted to talk and ask questions. Am I that fascinating? I gave her some information and took hers but then changed it.  She was sending me to Costco or Walmart for food when only a few extra miles away was a nice food co-op and I needed gas too and more bottled water for the dogs. By some miracle or the early hour of the day I managed to park and in the shade so I could run into the co-op which was on the main drag downtown. I had to carry all the water and some food back to my van. Well, no problem, then I tried to get coffee; being a college town should have been easy. My GPS signal on my phone decided right then and there to go haywire sending me on a bizarre tour of the city, but no coffee. I tired 4 different places, no parking, not there, directions wrong, getting myself wound up tighter and tighter in an invisible maze of indecipherable roadways and mysterious signage. Please someone hire this town a spatially kind city planner, one not on mind flights!  I gave up on coffee and eventually found a gas station I could maneuver into. I tried one last time for coffee finding a place out of the city center and some easy shade to park in!  Cool, oh, they had nothing to eat in there, not even one piece of day old pastry. I bought my cappuccino and left. I didn’t try sipping it until I was halfway to the Boyd Lake.  My tongue folded in-half lengthwise but I tried more; it had to be good, I’d watched her make it, not actually I’d gone into the bathroom.  I reluctantly threw it out after my head started pounding and my stomach was screaming at me, my entire mouth went dry and pasty. Don’t know what that shit was but it was spoiled and toxic.

I waited forever in line to get into the State Park. It was still early  but obviously popular, there had to a space for me. Yes, there were some spaces left, but no, nothing quiet. The Ranger explained the configuration as double rowed RVs stacked one in front of another in big loops on gravel. She said it was noisy and busy, nearly full but not quite. I asked if I could look. Nope, didn’t allow that without paying. The line behind me was getting longer. I was reasoning to myself that it couldn’t be that bad, she must be exaggerating while she was telling me it was a mess in there. I gave up, told her I’d go look at some other places and come back if they were not any better. That caused her to take pity on me and she told me where I could find a more peaceful day. The directions were too complicated for my sleepy head but I managed to get one of the GPS working and off I set to find nirvana. I will note that when people give directions they generally forget to tell you how far away they are sending you.

I was led on a lengthy unmarked, never even once did I see a sign for the place I was looking for, drive into the mountains, wondering where this would take me and where I might be. It was getting hot. I was amazed to actually find the location and that yes, they did have camping and the sites did have power.  Finding my way to check out the camping sites took another hour and half or so, spread up and down treacherously steep grades, no signs of course and I was instructed to look for the tiny slips of paper at each space and read the dates to see if was reserved or not, so I was guessing and backtracking and trying again which is why it took so long. I did find a lovely space and eventually was able to register for it. It was midday now. We needed water! It was HOT HOT HOT.

The overpriced water I had just bought had burst. Going up the mountain caused the flimsy plastic to break at the seams. I saw it break but of course I was driving and could not do anything about it.  I now had my own lake on the floor of my RV and was drastically short of drinking water. There was a little harbor with a store on the dam, I tried to get in there.  Parking was way way way over there in the full blazing sun. I took all four dogs and hefted up the hot hill to the store; nope no dogs allowed on the porch, no dogs allowed in the deck near the store, no dogs allowed really anywhere other than in the blazing sun and burning gravel.  I was carrying Mason it was so hot.

I had to give up on getting water, it was now about 4 o’clock and the store was closing anyway. We’d have to ration. It must have been 100 deg or more and high altitude, I gave the dogs water but did not give myself any. I plugged in and set up all the sun blocking devices and turned the air on full blast. Mason was looking sickly. All the Lagotti had diarrhea, one of them threw up in the van.  I hefted all the soaking and messy floor covering and bed covering and everything else, rung them out and laid them in the scorching sun to dry. The CO2 monitor on the RV began to go through a series of loud screeching piecing alarms, terrifying the dogs, Jackson ran away and I didn’t know where he’d gone, the others were rolling their eyes and looking like they would puke again. I hauled everything else out of the rear of the RV.  I knew what it was so dug out my mechanic box and was able to locate, release, detach and the cut the wires on the back of the alarm.  Why they are made to do this, who knows? Fortunately Jackson hadn’t gone too far I found him, he was shaking. I got him a ball to play with and started to put the van back together. Mason just sort of collapsed, I wet him down which he hates quickly cooling his body temperature and force fed him what water I had. By this time my heart was struggling with rapid irregular beating, I was lightheaded, dizzy, nauseous and so weak I had to sort of crawl to get back in the van and shut the door with air on full blast. It was only about 10 deg cooler inside than out but the best I could do.

There were packs of happy deer all over the place.

It was hard to get air in my lungs and it hurt. I took off my cold weather clothes, ran the tank water and poured it over myself sipping on what I thought I could spare of the drinkable water for the dogs, I stuck my feet in water, and wrapped a wet rag around my neck and head, my hands were red.  I ate something salty in spite of feeling sick to my stomach. Mason had stared going into labored breathing. I did calming massages on him and applied water esp to his belly, the bottom of his paws, the inside of his ears and again forced him to drink by mixing in some chicken in the water and dripping it into his mouth and on his nose.  I also gave him something for his stomach. I gave all the dogs a treatment. I shut everyone inside and we just sat or laid there until my head stopped spinning. So far everyone was still alive. I fixed up a comfy bed for Mason and then took the others for a potty walk. Then I made very soupy and liquidity rice in the microwave and after the evening began to cool gave everyone a very hydrating dinner with the soggy rice and chicken. Mason ate some as soon as the long dusk arrived the temperature dropped. I had to take back inside all the drying and still soggy rugs and such.  I did the best I could. I put Mason’s jacket on him as now he was cold.

Eventually I took the 3 Lagotti for a fairly long walk. I’d had exactly 0 minutes so far that day to rest. I wasn’t sure if Mason was going to be alive in the morning. He wanted to be alone under the bed so I made him comfortable, his heart beat was back to normal.  In the morning he was weak but he had popped back out and was next to me as I was walking up. I gave everyone a ricey breakfast and took the entire gang for a walk. We walked slow for Mason. I think I slept about 4.5 hours.  It was pretty, scenic and rustic. We saw parades of deer, other campers were scarce likley out on the lake. The heat started early, I searched for a nice place for the Lagotti to swim but eventually gave up when the Ranger told me the place I found was not good due to stagnant water and pointed me in another direction that I was unable to find.

 

It was way too hot to think of spending another day at this location. I needed to find us something cooler and I needed to get drinking water.  The dogs can’t have local water. After a what seemed a very long (but scenic) drive I located a park in a nearby city with lush cool grass and we all walked, the dogs digestion was improving, they all got another pill with breakfast. I was illegally parked but I wasn’t’ bothered.

I went on to Estes Park and to Lake Marys camprground,  Bureau of Reclamation, a little cooler since we were up at over 9,000 feet but so windy I could barely stay on the road. Again it was still early and I landed a nice space with electric, they had several available.  It was available for 2 nights…  I should have taken that as a hint and reserved both nights. Was expensive but available – that was key! The town was super busy, well manged. Traffic moved efficiently including officers helping move everyone through the busier intersections. It was a relief to see the signage easy to understand.

Now this is a dog park! There were two of them, big dog and little dog. Only the big dog one had access to the beach. The little one had canine play equipment so they were both fun.

The camp hosts gave me info for dog friendly locations and we found a great dog park complete with a swimming beach!  All of us were overjoyed!!!! Mason came back to life, the Lagotti went swimming . It was cool and lush and green. We had to leave early as it started to get crowded with other dogs. I went shopping bought food, bottled juices, replaced the spilled water, filled up on gas, I even bought myself a hot dinner.

I left for the National Park before 7 am. the next morning which was my good fortune. Less than a 15 min waiting line to get in. In spite of Mason doing well at the dog park neither he nor I were out of the woods. I’d suffered a heat exhaustion or a partial heat stroke and maybe Mason had too. You have to act quickly, if you do it’s easy to reverse. If this happens to you, don’t wait thinking it will pass. I did not sweat, have any feelings of thirst or have cramps so more likely going into heat stroke; both my skin and Mason’s skin were turning red hot and dry.

 

These are the symptoms of Heat Stroke

  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness and light-headedness
  • Lack of sweating despite the heat
  • Red, hot, and dry skin
  • Muscle weakness or cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat, which may be either strong or weak
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Behavioral changes such as confusion, disorientation, or staggering
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

It’s a Rocky Mountain High in Colorado on US 36

Hidden Valley, Rocky Mountains National Park

 

I did not let Mason out of the van as I climbed the road into the Park. There were already a lot of cars, not quite bumper to bumper but crowded, the line of us dutifully stopping at each viewpoint. It was lovely but I felt a bit like Disneyland with the slowly twisting climbing road, the cars with cheerful people popping out for pictures speaking a multitude of languages with big smiles and pony tails. I did see many dead and dying trees which depressed me deciding I would not head all the way through. Close to the summit I turned around. Almost no traffic going the other way, I took the side-roads and explored, managing to obtain parking at both Sprague Lake and Bear Lake. Truly lovely but I could not have my dogs as company, they are not allowed on any path or trail. There are tour buses and shuttle buses dropping off tons of people!

Bear Lake Rocky Mountain National Park

As I was leaving the lakes I notice a police / ranger blockade, the road was being closed due to overwhelming traffic congestion, even the shuttle parking lot was filled. As I left the Park the line to get in had gown to several miles!!!!

I would have loved to return to the fun dog park and then to my campsite but that area was now full. I headed down the scenic Hwy 7, little traffic until you get to the lake parking which is beyond jammed as is each and every wilderness campsite packed! crammed! even the muddy soaked sites are occupied. The Colorado people really enjoy being outdoors, which is great except there’s not enough space. I spent the rest of that day driving and driving, each and every campsite no matter where I went was filled. I drove through Boulder for a quick tour finding I could not stop downtown due to very confusing parking restrictions.  I couldn’t understand them and was not going to leave my dogs parked at a distance in the full sun in any case.

South east of Boulder I found a delightful camping area filled with petting animals, a heard of goats, glorious trails and water but completely filled. They were kind and tired their best to help me locate something anything in the region. Everyplace was filled. I hunted and hunted and drove and drove and drove as it got later and later and me more and more exhausted. It was simply too hot to just stop and face the weather. Way too hot. I longed for Wyoming and Montana but up there were fierce floods and to the South fires had sprung up forcing evacuations.

Dog walking area, across the road is the RV camp. It was hot and full 😦

Golden, CO

I spent my first night illegally camped and worrying all night long.  Every legal spot in the entire county was filled, A kind fellow owning a campground gave me advice on where to spend the night; he said ‘I didn’t hear it from him’ so I won’t repeat it but it worked. I was so nervous I never undressed.  I knew what to say, I was too tired to drive which was so true.  By law you must be allowed to sleep. No one disturbed me, it cooled off enough to be comfortable with just the fantastic fan running. I woke before 5 am and took off for a local park to walk and feed the dogs, eventually I had something to eat myself. By then I’d found a big parking area for a recreational space that quickly filled with joggers and walkers.  If I’d felt better about all this I might have tried again to get into a legal spot where I could get power for the air-conditioning and maybe shade in the City of Golden which I loved no matter being overpriced, and hung out with my feet in the river and had some well needed relaxation but I didn’t, I moved on. My brain and my body were exhausted, I wasn’t thinking clearly. I was afraid to wait until the heat intensified and find no availability. I felt ashamed of my free night which was really silly, as if I’d stolen it. My mantra that day was that we were all alive. esp Mason.

Look at those faces. Downtown Golden CO

 

Much later I discovered the problem with Boyd Lake.  I might have done okay there for one night but it’s more an activities park than what I thought of as a State Park. They offer boating, fishing, 148 gravel camping sites, swimming, hiking, biking and hunting with motorboats, jet skies, fishing boats, sailboats being the main draw on a reservoir.  It likely was a zoo in there. Hunting and killing small game and waterfowl with bow and arrow as well as other weapons / firearms too. Sigh, don’t know why killing natures creatures is so fun it’s a big draw sport. In Colorado you can kill mule deer, whitetail deer, elk, black bears, pronghorn antelopes, elk, moose, coyote, bobcats, red, gray and swift fox, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, mountain lions, beavers, raccoons, skunks, muskrats, ground squirrels, snapping turtles, cottontail rabbits, marmots, tree squirrels, opossum, voles, rats, porcupines, rattlesnakes, bats, salamanders, prairie dogs and all manner of birds including crows, magpies, starlings, sparrows, pigeons, doves, ring neck pheasants, blue, sage and sharp tailed grouse, prairie chicken, Bobwhite quail, Gambel’s quail, chukar and so on.

 

Rocky Mountain National Park

Lake Estes Dog Park, Estes Park, Colorado

 

Since 1911 “The Historic Virginian Hotel” has been the “gathering place” in southern Wyoming for over 100 years.  Set in Medicine Bow, Wyoming it was the biggest hotel between Denver, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah and is registered a National Historic Landmark.

 

If you should get out to the little town of Medicine Bow be sure and see the Haunted Virginian Hotel and across the street, Medicine Bow Museum  I enjoyed the great collection around the railroad, Native Americans, ranching, homesteading, the US mail route, telegraphs, domestic inventions, working equipment, transportation, arts and crafts and the Virginian. Nostalgic, for those of us old enough and interesting. The River here was good medicine to the Plains Indians.

Found this cute photo on the wall in the bathroom.

 

Saw an entire top of a pickup truck, and still in one piece, flopped over in the roadway, some guys in their white truck coming to get it. Pays to keep your eyes active and not drive too fast. People sometimes tell me stories, heard about dogs, children, husbands, grandchildren and women, cats, mice, those wanting to retire. Guys with lots of tattoos, boots and cigarettes. Hate when the coffee I get doesn’t have enough caffeine in it but of course too much gives me the jitters.

Laramie on quick tour seemed to have a lot of bars, think there’s a lot of churches too.  Summer and Winter are the only seasons and Winter is long and the wind is strong. I Imagine though that they do have Fall and it’s likely beautiful. Wyoming is a Conservative state but these college towns are a mix. I didn’t find an easy or available spot for the night so another 45 minutes to Cheyenne. Lots of no vacancies even in the national forest land.

I did stay in Cheyenne, my protector Mom helped me out and continued to when I was stuck. And I got stuck plenty. I could swear I’ve been to this Park before, I remember the BBQ chicken and how the last time I was there (or I thought I was there) they also did not have any. The chicken needs to be watched and only one of their staff people apparently is able to do that and he’s not always working. Oh, the chicken BBQ is their most asked for meal but they don’t make enough and/or don’t make any. Weird, I was not happy as it’s a main draw for their campsite…  dinner!!!! I had to make do with being creative.

My passing image of Cheyenne were these boots everywhere and the pretty red brick architecture. The Wrangler Store and the Depot Museum were not open when I passed through. I did land a coffee and a bit of “comfort food” for breakfast.

Think they should call ’em horse-boys instead of cow-boys and girls! Don’t see too many real horses but I drive past enormous ranch lands.

 

Wyoming land of open skies, dramatic weather, wildlife, romances, shoot-outs, haunted relics, long winters and hardy active people, spectacular natural elements and scenery, where cowboys still roam and horses still buck. I did not stay nearly long enough in Montana and Wyoming. Go earlier or later than I did or make pre-reservations; it’s also full of tourists. I don’t like to reserve ahead as I never know which way I want to go until I get there….  and then there’s Mother Nature in a huff doing some rapid alterations all over the globe.

Missed posting this one from Big Horn National Forest:

Can you imagine a wagon train at about 2 miles per hour and walking across an unknown land. If you’re lucky 5 or 6 months or so more likely a year or two or never. So many did not make it.

Can you imagine the excitement of the first cross continental train? And flying? Taking a ship from New York to California was another option.

National Historic Trails, Casper Always Free. Fun place to explore with guided tours, information, art and interactive displays including a trip across the treacherous river by ox pulled wagon.

Advertisement For Rufus Porter’s Aerial Transport New York To California In Three Days – 1849

“Porter’s interest in aerial navigation dates from sometime around the 1820’s, when he began to ponder the design requirements for an aerial ship. His booklet “AERIAL NAVIGATION – The Practicability Of Traveling Pleasantly And Safely From New-York To California In Three Days,” published in 1849, set out his design in considerable detail. His AERIAL LOCOMOTIVE, with a hydrogen-filled compartmented gas “spindle” 800 feet in length and 50 feet in diameter, was to carry between 50 and 100 people at a speed of 60 to 100 m.p.h. The great machine was to be remain aloft for 12 hours at a time, propelled by two steam engines driving two “fan wheels or propellers” each of which would be 20 feet in diameter and revolve at 200 r.p.m. He estimated that the machine would weigh a total of some 14,000 pounds and would generate a total buoyant lift of 56,000 pounds, leaving 42,000 pounds for 200 passengers and luggage. Passengers were to be assured that they were in little danger, and each was to be provided with a parachute to further allay any fears. The gas-filled spindle would be constructed of a spruce framework covered with cloth and coated with “India rubber.” Porter believed that by revolving the spindle the resistance of the spindle through air would be reduced markedly; he thus termed his gas-filled spindle a “revoloidal spindle.””  

The Perfect Road! Gas is cheap and the roads are long. When you come over the ridge the road disappears and you just see clouds, you can jump into the clouds and fly.

All those masses rushing to be in the same place at the same time and out here there is such amazing space. With my trusty LTV nothing is impossible. Remember to gas up before heading out on these roads, no services and often no cell signal. The thunder clouds would form and dissipate, then reappear making shadows on the ground to drive though like secrete gateways.

 

WY Wyoming

I want to note for those following my blog that I am posting after my actual time; the date of the posting is not the date I’m a writing about. Sorry if that’s confusing…  the weather and conditions for the area will have changed. I was not able to post at location as I need a new laptop…  will be coming soon, likely another ASUS with a matte screen. I did bring my Sony camera but did not use it, alas. Not enough hands free so all photos taken with my older Note 4 Android phone.

Okay that explained, the rain did come. Not just rain, I love rain, I love water, but with the kind of wind that knocks my little van and wants to tip it over. But it didn’t!  All the modifications I’ve made to my camper have paid off!  It’s very roadworthy and can take a battering.

I headed into Buffalo. I stopped at the information office and picked up a walking tour of the downtown which I enjoyed. I then asked about the weather as I was thinking of taking the scenic road into the windy mountain pass, the reply was, oh, of course, it’s safe it’s a highway after all but she did not at all advise my attempting a few more local sights as floods were eminent. After getting into the The Big Horn National Forest I realized that apparently I was just lucky.   After the fact, if you are headed this way here are current road conditions.

Fast running river water with a nice walking bridge; something we don’t see often in Southern California.

Horses everywhere. Not on the roads but evidence of their importance bejeweled and commemorated all over this part of the country.

“Everywhere you walk in this famous hotel, you will be walking where many famous people of the Old West walked – Butch Cassidy and the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, Calamity Jane, Buffalo Bill, Tom Horn, the young Teddy Roosevelt… and many more.

And everywhere you look, you will see the Old West the way it really was.

Because the beautiful embossed ceilings you will see over your head in the lobby and in the saloon are the original ceilings. The magnificent back bar that you will see in the saloon is the original back bar that was brought in by wagon a hundred years ago. And the chairs you will sit in are likely to be antiques that are original to the hotel.”

 

I made a loop from Buffalo through the mountains towards Worland to Shoshoni and then to Casper. No particular reason I headed towards Casper except it seemed a good way to go at the time…  or maybe it was the storm chasing me; really didn’t want to get stuck in mud or flooded out at a wilderness campsite. Folks camped out there all had big all wheel drive trucks esp Fords with trailers or 5th wheels.

I start-up into the mountains. All the roads have alarm notices that say if the lights are on then you need to turn around and go back to the last town asap. No alarms today. The further I traveled the less traffic I saw.

There was a crowd here of a handful of vehicles stopped on the road: There were 2 moose cows (only one in this photo); fairly sure they were females as their faces were light colored and of course no antlers. Using my binoculars I could actually read their tracking tags. I saw a little herd of Pronghorn Antelope later but no Big Horn Sheep.

“Moose are the largest in the deer family, and live in cold regions of Europe and North America. They cannot sweat, and their bellies generate heat, so they cannot stay in warmer environments. They are known to be strong swimmers and can reach up to 9.5 kph in the water.” 

Must be covered in wildflowers come summer.

About 9,670 feet. Side roads, lake, hiking, rustic camping, solitude, If you’re staying watch for falling rocks, bring an AWD Truck or SUV unless it’s summer and plenty of water. Don’t expect cell service.

“The Big Horns are a high and wide range that runs north and south. They’re about 30 miles wide and 90 miles long.

On top there are rolling meadows and pine forests. In early summer, lupine and balsa root color meadows purple and yellow. In September, the golden hues of autumn appear.

The range lacks the rugged appeal of the Tetons, the Sawtooths or the Wind Rivers. But what it doesn’t have in rocky peaks and craggy cliffs, it makes up for in broad vistas. From viewpoints looking west, for example, you can gaze across the Big Horn Basin all the way to Yellowstone.

On a clear day you can see almost forever.

By most people’s standards, north/central Wyoming is the middle of nowhere. Unless you’re going from Cody to Sheridan, or vice versa, you won’t stumble on the Big Horns unless you make a point of it.” 

I give a try to a selfie. Yep I do all the driving. See that big yellow rain slicker behind me! I was wearing that and layers of warm things when I ventured out of the van; even then it was biting COLD. Very scenic too.

The dogs and I went for a walkabout at the summit. Mason would not get out of the van. He at first wanted to but one sniff of the frigid cold and nope, he jumped back into his cuddly bed. The altitude and cold didn’t hit me at first, (remember I live at sea level in a very moderate climate,) after walking awhile I too was eager with a pounding heart and crisp edged fingers to get back into the van. My Lagotti…  no problem, they were ready to take off running for the snow. Saw one other car up there, roads were a bit icy, on and off a bit of rain.

Back down on the other side; hot and muggy.


Resting Here. Tons of thunder and lightening!

Videos of the last curves heading down before leaving the mountain. Traffic had reappeared, spectacular (runnable, I think) white water that I was unable to safely stop and photograph.

 

There is simple beauty of water reflected in the sky and in the land. In the evening the moon plays along with the extended dusk. Up on the hill are “acquaintances” of the moment in a Pleasure Way Lexor on the Sprinter Van. They’ve moved three times now, first in to one of the few powered space, then to the other side away from the main path and now past where I am parked to the top of the hill sans power. When I arrived at this little lake it was like an invading a private party, which in a way it was; a fishing derby for the Lyons Club had attracted a large crowd. The husband in the PW encouraged me to stay and I’m glad he did. He told me how he admired women that took off on their own in a camper van….LOL! My site is $10 right on the water. I admired his sleek new Pleasure Way and his wife happily chopping vegetables for their dinner.  He told how his wife can sleep though anything, but he needs quiet.  Yep, I can relate! I’ve moved as many times myself. The storm, the latest of a series is still on the way.  I have not outrun it.

Only a few other campers stayed. There were signs to stay in your vehicle if there was lightning strikes. As it turned out this was a beautiful stop and there were no problems.

“Deep-blue body of water in Johnson County is a jewel. And it’s a jewel that possesses not just beauty, but plenty of legend as well. Named after the first white man to lay eyes on it back in 1840, Lake De Smet is a huge, deep watery Wonder of Wyoming. Oh yes, the lake took it’s name from a Jesuit priest, Father Pierre Jean De Smet, who when travelling with fur trappers came upon Lake De Smet. It’s a well-protected jewel, nestled in among the hills that surround it on virtually all sides. It pops up, all the sudden, off to the east from Interstate 25. Lake De Smet is a stunner, in a breathtaking setting, just a strong stone’s throw from the base of the Bighorn Mountains, and smack dab in a place with a wonderfully-long history. And, of course the history of Lake De Smet goes back long before it became Lake De Smet. Legend has it that survivors of pre-historic monsters inhabit the lake, and there is one, the real star of the legend, that is believed to rise from the vast depths of Lake De Smet at times, even today. This sea-creature, that has made a centuries-long home in the “fresh water” of Lake De Smet, goes by the name of “Smetty”. Lake De Smet lies over great masses of coal. Smetty is a pre-historic, dinosaur-like creature. Hey, makes sense to me, I’m a Smetty-legend believer. Lake De Smet was also the scene of many an Indian legend. The tragic Crow love story of Little Moon and Star Dust happened here, and to this day, when the wind blows over the waters and creates those “moaning” sounds, that is the Warrior calling. The Sioux firmly believed the lake had magical healing powers, and prompted visions.” 

Been listening to local Cowboy Radio, I like it. After some time however with the love of  family coming on strong and the land so wide open and all, I felt teary, never wanted to be alone and certainly not struggling with each day as appears. There can be a certain stupidly in being faithful, no I mean loyal. An old friend mentioned that there was a value in loyalty maybe he had missed but when used badly it brings heartbreak. I have been so adamantly loyal that no amount of hardship could turn me aside; so many doors opened then closed. I didn’t make the choice to get on and pursue those dreams. Now I temper loyalty, let things drift, open my arms to change even if its solitude in a van full of canines. Living’s not what we think it’s going to be, at least it has not been so for me.  Many of us try too hard, battling to maintain stasis.  We can’t “live-awake”  (to borrow a term) if we’re absorbed in not letting life move though us. Instead of worrying all the contradictions and complications that slog the daylight hours and toss and turn the nights. Nature is not rigid, nature has no concept of absolute no matter how many rules we apply, we really don’t know. I just get up and feed my hungry dogs.

After a nice warm afternoon walk, the night turned cold and my little Mason was tired.

Several far away friends wondered if I was having fun. In truth, the answer is determined, stoic and driven to make it to the Great Lakes or BUST. After the comforts of visiting homes, it’s been drive like mad in the unpredictable moods of the elements with my aging van and pack of dogs. It was a good wake up call; time to reassess. Solo RV’ers like me know we don’t always get to our pre-determined destination, unless there is a real purpose to be at a certain place…  meeting someone, visiting family, an event to attend. Rather our destination becomes wherever we go. I considered this before I announced that I was heading for the Great Lakes but I was proud of saying I would travel all the way there and back but I did say it would depend on the weather, the dogs and my little LTV.

The weather has been scary. I’d heard on the news how a few smaller RV’s like mine flipped with dire results only a week ago in heavy flash flooding and winds. Being so tired driving these roads alone sometimes with no cell coverage isn’t smart. Bring someone with you, drive a vehicle made for bad weather or be willing to hang out and wait for clear passage. I’m confident I can make it but like Mason I’m near exhaustion.

Such a beautiful evening!

Bumpy, rumbley, clangy with stressed and throwing up dogs, dogs wanting to go out at 1 am, 3 am yet I was determined BECAUSE! I said I would. A dastardly romantic notion of camping on the shores of Lake Huron with wild birds and big waves…  oh and wait since I was late getting started will there be huge crowds and super high fees at my destination as I’m starting to find here too? This lovely little lake is Great Lake in my eyes.

My merry band. They each have their personality and issues but we are a team. They stay within the borders of my campsite and heed my call to load up (get back in the van at once) if there are distractions. It’s a judgement call for me, a smoothly operating training for them. well behaved dogs are far more welcomed. I see people all the time that have out of control dogs but I see far more that are really great travelers. Was much easier without the combo of my boy Jackson with his mom Olympia, it’s a challenge.

The speed limit in Montana is 80 mph but when the rain is fierce it gets under my RV and stalls it out. It was suggested I hide out for a few days until the weather cleared. The region is also affected by drought and dying crops, will this rain help? After this storm more are on the way with lightning and sporadic heavy winds and flooding. South Dakota where I’d had my sights on was being flooded right at the moment. It is peaceful here today but the storm is coming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dogs, drive, stop and feed dogs, drive, stop and sleep, drive, stop and let dogs have a break. My Daisy is not built for speed, nor built for long hours. Noisy, really loud noisy, bumpy, rumbley, clangy with barely sleeping nights, stressed dogs, throwing up dogs, dogs wanting to go out at 1 am or 3 am dogs. and me falling asleep behind the wheel. I was determined no matter what even though I told others that how far I got depended on the weather, the dogs, how I felt,  oh no, I was just determined BECAUSE! I said I would so I would. I wanted to know what the Great Lakes were like. And that dastardly romantic notion of camping on the shores of Lake Huron with wild brids and big waves.  My trip wasn’t really going to begin until I reached the Great Lakes….  I nixed Port Townsend and Sequim. Put the coffee in and it goes, but a little fermented kombutucha or a wine spritzers and it stops. She has a lot of ambition but she fails to deliver. Well no, that’s not right..  I’m the one that does too much and then retracts and does nothing al all, it’s that loyalty thing.   It’s that fundamentally being lost thing. Knock Knock, who’s there. No One, I took everyone away, why are you still asking!

 

So where was I? Somewhere in Montana with the 80 mph speed limit that the flooding rain started. Love that Montana.

Loving Montana

We went up high in the mountains and we came down, we went up in the beautiful mountains, down and up and up and down again and again; cloudy, pretty, oh so green! It’s not crowded, it’s like a song or an opening scene from a classic movie, really lovely. My eyes are taking pictures. Passed through some huckleberry land a ways back.

Community Food Co-op on Main Street in Bozeman (thank you Bob.) Loved this place. Photo is the upstairs cafe and coffee bar. I’d say this is an exceptional co-op. Nice lively trendy downtown area too.

Not crazy about KOA’s. Some are amazing, most are so-so and some are really terrible. Consistency varies widely. Many are overpriced. This one was on the okay side of in-between. Mostly nice people except the guy with 2 BIG dogs that broke loose and came barreling towards me and my dogs as were walking!!!  I don’t get why people tie their dogs anyway expecting that will be sufficient …   can’t you train them? No?  Maybe you should not take them camping then.

Spent a night in Billings, Montana at the first KOA campground in Montana. My space is in the back with the pond at my feet. i.e. the rear of my van where my bed is. It’s as I asked, quiet and calm. That’s a miracle as there are 165 spaces and the camp is mostly full. The one and only dog exercise area is ridiculously petite. The camper two spaces down has a bloodhound and 2 pigs he’s traveling with, right next to me two senior women with 3 little yappy white poodles, across the way is part of a family meeting up with others on the other side of the camp, they have 2 dogs, one of which bites children! They are here to meet their grand kids and are driving a 1990 RoadTrek on the Dodge Ram, like my base unit, but they are having trouble with theirs. Saw a couple with 3 Burmese Mountain Dogs, still I’m that “crazy-lady” with the tiny camper and 4 dogs! No I don’t know what they call me, but everyone does notice me, I stop and talk to people interested in the breed, and sometimes women that are wondering how I can do what I do. The comments about my dogs being so well-behaved surprise me. I’m a good camper though, I always turn out my porch light, I don’t walk through other people’s sites, I keep my dogs quiet and happy, I don’t leave trash, don’t blast music or make piles of smoke; really its super easy but I’ve been camping and road tripping in one form or another since I was a baby.

RV camping around Billings as it turns out is EXPENSIVE and minimal. I tried to stay closer to town but RV spaces were sardine-jammed and all on gravel… terrible for my dogs. Another “camp” down the road from the KOA was over $80 for partial hook-up or maybe that was without services. They had a sign saying not to freak out about their prices that they had some discounts…  ha-ha.  Everything was nearly full so guess they can charge whatever they want this time of year 😦 I needed heat and air-conditioning (for my dogs) so could not do without power and somewhere to safely exercise them. Billings did not look like the best town for Boondocking but I learned later that I might have checked Cabela’s or Sam’s Club, no power though and of course noisy but worth checking out if you are passing though and are not looking for a place for your kids to play.

 It’s 9 pm local time, I’m running my air conditioner in a dry spell, for the moment, in an ongoing storm with more rain for the next few days, a break and then more rain, heavy rain.  I’m bit up with mosquitoes; forgot to get lemons when I stopped at the Coop in Bozeman. Loved that Coop, actually loved the city of Bozeman and would have stayed except the rain is expected to produce heavy flooding and even stronger wind than I’ve been battling. I was hoping (erroneously) I could outmaneuver the worst of the storms and make headway east. Driving has been intense, loud, and stressful.. The dogs freak out, been giving all them calming pills, Jackson gets extra.

Every Morning Olympia carefully checks out the site for the day.

The distance to the Great Lakes is seeming like a joke. Other than visiting friends it’s been rest stops to walk the dogs, get gas, search for a sleeping / resting place for the night, clean the van, feed dogs, exercise dogs and occasional food stops for me. I’m driving all day, resolving problem as they occur, not sleeping very much, waking at 5 am, certainly not relaxing (there’s always something that needs doing and only me to do it) and super tired. The last part of today I picked up the speed. For the last 2 weeks I’d been keeping a steady 60 to 65 (except for the slow crawl in gridlock)…  today was 70 and at times 75 as it seems the more I drive the further I have to go… My little camper is running strong.

The windshields are dirty and for some reason almost every gas station lacks cleaning substance in their window washing supply, is mostly dirty water. Why is that? A new mood in the country, dirty windshields? Somewhere in my supplies I have soap, my own bottle of water and cleaning wand but it keeps raining anyway. Love these trains.

My hair is drenching hot, it holds warmth perfectly but I want to be cool. I slugged an entire bottle of Orange Recharge, refilled it with water and drank that too, all of which seemed to vanish directly, evaporating as fast as I could take it in.  I should let the dogs out more to play, but not tonight.  We did several spins in the way-too-small dog exercise area and walked all over the roads here including a path by the Yellowstone River and even through the tent area on the other side of the pond since no one is in a tent tonight.  All those swollen inflamed bites on my arms, and toes, the back of my neck are heavy.  The river too is swollen having flooded recently and from the looks of things it will flood again soon, it might flood tomorrow from listening to the news. The dogs all had Kaopectate with dinner as I’d let them drink some local water a few days ago, same as what I was drinking but that didn’t settle well for them. They responded by gobbling big wads of native grasses this morning then of course throwing that up along with waking me up during the nights for potty breaks. Mason was sluggish, I had to carry him for our walk so we all will rest. Jackson and Olympia of course disagree and want to go out and play! Olympia is liking the spot I made for her under the bed. Mason was the first to discover that space, he was so cute under there, I had the back door open, was the first night we actually camped and he ran under there all excited. He was so happy, I really meant the space for Olympia but both Mason and Olympia enjoy the crawl under spaces.  I have not missed not carrying the dog crates and exercise pen, my dogs are well-behaved, they stay close to home-base.

Battle of The Little Bighorn, known to the Lakota and Plains Indians as the Battle of the Greasy Grass.

Or known as Custer’s Last Stand

Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, leaders of the Sioux tribe on the Great Plains, strongly resisted the mid-19th-century efforts of the U.S. government to confine their people to reservations. In 1875, after gold was discovered in South Dakota’s Black Hills, the U.S. Army ignored previous treaty agreements and invaded the region. This betrayal led many Sioux and Cheyenne tribesmen to leave their reservations and join Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse in Montana. By the late spring of 1876, more than 10,000 Native Americans had gathered in a camp along the Little Bighorn River–which they called the Greasy Grass–in defiance of a U.S. War Department order to return to their reservations or risk being attacked. . . .”

 

 

This was the morning traffic jam before I left my campsite:

 

Chattering away at the gas stop.

Arrived in Idaho. I partook of a cup of free coffee and 2 chocolate chip cookies. The bathroom was being cleaned for an extraordinarily long time. Trail behind the reststop in case you wanted to walk for a few hours or so, we did about 20-30 minutes.

Lovely walking in Idaho.

Gorgeous Montana

River Edge Resort Montana on the Clark Fork River, 30 miles west of Missoula. Everyplace was crowded but I landed a perfect spot overlooking the river. Dry camp (no electric, tent site about $20.)  Was planning on breakfast in the morning in the restaurant but as it turned out I left before they opened.

A view of the river, taking a walk from my camping spot.

This was a funny sign, they meant it literally as the path led right into deep water. Decided not to risk it with the dogs, water seemed to be moving fast.

Montana is beautiful, filled with whitewater, the Rocky Mountains, long open drives, big skies, endless stars, stunning lakes, bright flowers, cool air, waterfalls, rainbows, the Continental divide, snow-capped mountains and vast prairies (the last I did not see.) I like Montana, I like wide open county. From a woman who hates gridlock, billboards, cheap developments, urban decay, distressed horizons, endless blacktop, all those signs that say no; Montana in the lush Springtime says yes.

 

Busy Reststop in the Washington Cascades. Look at all those big Class A’s! So roomy compared to my little camper.

It was so hot…  in the mid 90s!  I put up all my sunblocker curtains and was running the air-conditioner as low as it would go. You need to do that and leave it running as the window type air conditioner will otherwise at best only lower the temp by 10 degrees.  If you work at it can do better, maybe 12 to 15 degrees. The volunteers at the Park told me it was fine to take the dogs for a swim which I did! The water was perfect, the walk was perfect. Was a great stay here.  This was the quiet peaceful part of the park, down below closer to the water were groups and families. The volunteers warned me about a snake that liked to hang out on the other side of the fire pit where my dogs were playing catch but none of us ever saw it. We (I, the human) checked carefully esp in the morning. Saw plenty of bunnies!

After our swim. They were making faces as they still wanted to PLAY and chase chase chase the tennis balls.

Approaching Spokane

Driving through Spokane. A rather confusing and spread out city with differing sections.  A newer fun looking downtown and older run down sections, very evident of homelessness and a sense of loss yet also has organic foods (I took the opportunity to restock my frig.) Trendy in parts with parks, bike paths, bridges and big box stores, a nearby State Park along the river which I’m sure must have been jammed.  Lots of traffic.  Would this city, or near this city be livable? I’ve driven through before but have never stayed long enough to explore it. Is there a City Plan or does it sprout ideas in increments?

I love my friend’s garages! Winter snow and summer grass takes lots of labor to maintain.

A sweet night at Jane and Pat’s home in Loon Lake Washington. I felt very welcomed and very much enjoyed my visit. The dogs did too, our apologies to the resident cats.  Mason was quite afraid of the fiery little black one!

I fit right in! 🙂 I listened in awe to amazing tales of adventure and perseverance that my friends told about their travels ( major challenges) in their big RV! Wow! They have a trailer too.

Jane and Pat treated me to breakfast at their regular Saturday hangout. Hmmm… maybe I will remember the little town and name of the popular Cowboy restaurant where they know your order and my host and hostess have been known to get up and help serve coffee and food. Maybe it was Pauline’s Place in Deer Park? Lots of gravy and biscuits, chicken fried steak. . . “comfort food.”

Very touched by the hospitality being shown to me and my dogs. Jane is a new quilter, loved her work, wish I had a picture to show. Maybe she will enter a piece for the quilt show in Santa Barbara since she is from here? Very impressed with Pat’s hand designed and created greenhouse he’s crafting. He showed me the machine that will form and shape the plastic sheets into arch pieces that will create the greenhouse and of course he built the machine as well! So incredible! Lots of snow in Loon Lake and lots of summer sun and lots of trees!

More Great People

Coffee and light breakfast off the I-90 heading East

Granite Falls was as far north as I traveled. The Olympic Peninsula is a favored locale but I sought the not so much known way, heading for the I-90. Before the turn east I stopped to visit another Lagotto friend, Jan Danielson. I had not met her in person nor her dogs.  She’s planted truffle inoculated Hazelnut trees in her yard! How cool is that! I know of one person who reportedly attempted to cultivate truffles where I live, they quit the effort. I have not spoken to them to hear the story; will they or will they not grow here or wild in the Las Padres forest? In Oregon and Washington they can be found wild and cultivated. In time, when it’s the right, my dogs and I will head to OR and WA during (actual) truffle season and have some of these great people and their dogs teach us how it’s done.

Vasa Park…  the neighbors who were interested in my dogs left super early that morning for a medical appointment. Doesn’t look tight now that they were gone and the other neighbor was not hanging out playing cards outside their rented rig, but it was a tight squeeze to get my little van in that spot. As far as I could pull up I could not reach the power box so had to use my extra power cord and adaptor; so glad I had it along. (No, backing in would not have worked either although sometimes I can twist the power cord under the van and reach the outlet on the other side. ) 

I camped for the first time on this road trip at a commercial park; by day it was open to anyone who paid the entrance fee being situated on a small lake with a children’s playground. Dogs were not permitted for day users. Dogs were permitted to overnight “campers.” RV’ers  park like this to be legal, receiving hookups (water, power, sewer, cable for your TV (if you want it,) wi-fi, often some outdoor furniture, a bathhouse, sometimes a swimming pool and spa, a game room, laundry room, dog play-exercise area, sometimes nice and interesting walking trails, sometimes group activities, happy hour, arts and crafts or tours, bicycle rentals, kayaks, a library, can even be meals provided and brought to your rig . . . all depends. Some are no more than an ugly squeezed in parking lot, others are glorious. This “campground” had a terrible identity confusion…  really needed to have some therapy on who it wanted to be …  Dogs allowed? Dogs not allowed? Big signs saying no dogs, yet dogs all over, even the proprietors had dogs. Not OK to walk dogs on the beach or in the park even after the day use was closed. Why? Because the day use people could not have dogs even though the day use visitors were required to leave at night and as noted there were dogs a plenty. Instead it was required to take your dog across the heavily congested road to an open field where they could run and play on or off leash. Dangerous scary cursing as you try to get across, crossing with no signal.  Do such owners stay up all night dreaming up this stuff? Can you imagine the planning discussions?  Arguments? Debates?

My neighbor (for the night) when they showed up back to their trailer jumped out of their car…  Oh, I LOVE your Lagotto Romagnolo’s!!!!  Say what? Hardly anyone knows this breed. Guesses range from them being certain that it’s a Doodle to a Poodle, a Bedlington Terrier, a Wheaten Terrier, a Bichon and some really odd guesses even once a Sheepdog. I’ve even been asked after explaining that no, these are not crossbreeds but purebred esp to the doodle People. . .  (they give a funny look first as they try to take this in) ‘Okay, what was mixed with a poodle then to get these fancy Lagotto mixes then?’ Or. ‘is this a poodle mixed with a Lagotto?’ Choke! No, you fool, purebred! All these hypnotized crossbred aficionados have no idea what they have.  Yes my breed is special and it’s a real breed with honed instincts, personality, character with developed type and conformation. An Italian dog. And then there’s Mr Mason. Everyone says he’s part Corgi, they call him the Yoda dog. A Chi-Terrier something mix for sure, Mr. Lovebug.

Kate playing with my gang in the park, she snapped some photos of them all. Good to see her.

Short visit with a high-school friend, Kate Johnson in the morning at a local park near her home. Found out that white fluffy, not so fluffy when it started piling in huge drifts and getting clammy sticky when wet stuff. . .yep, it was raining …that fluff at first so lovely but now annoying is residual remaining after the pollen from the Cottonwood (Poplar) Tree.

Litter blowing off the Cottonwood tree.