Life at Gros Vente Campground Grand Tetons, August 3, 2017

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This is what you see when you walk out of the Krogers Supermarket in Jackson, Wy.

Terry and I are spending the day in Jackson doing some boring things.  After we put our laundry into the “Lost Sock Laundromat” we slipped into Krogers Supermarket for a few things.  We were so shell shocked from the Jackson traffic that it took two trips to Krogers before I looked up and saw the mountain.

We’re not thrilled with the traffic snarled streets — and we keep wondering what this will be like in a couple weeks when the hordes come pouring in for the eclipse — but today there were a few reminders that we are definitely NOT in NJ.  Or in western New York for that matter.

 

 

 

For example, in the shopping center there was a charging station for electric cars.

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We ran into a woman the other day who was planning a foray into the Black Hills of South Dakota.

We told her not to go.  For the next ten days, approximately half a million motorcyclists will be in the Black Hills for the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.  It is likely that every motel and campground has been booked for months — and the roads will be clogged with motorcycles. AND campgrounds and hotels charge way more during Sturgis than any other time of year.

Terry looks wistfully at the bikers in our campground — I told him maybe we should get a toy hauler (an RV that has a garage).  He knows I’m not serious.  Once upon a time I liked the role of Motorcycle Mama and we did some touring, but for me the thrill is gone.

. . . . . .  . It is now August 9

Fishing Jem view of river

The Gros Ventre River is just a couple minutes away from our campsite. I go there in the mornings to practice Tai Chi. Here Terry and the grandsons are trying a little fishing.

     

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We’d heard that Gros Ventre campground was known for the moose that come through — and finally one morning on the way to dump water I saw two of them grazing by the restroom. I ran for Terry who followed them to take pictures. Moose can run 35 mph and swim 6mph for up to two hours.  They also have no upper front teeth.  Someone said there were a couple of buck with huge antlers on the nearby road,  but we haven’t seen them yet.

Slide-view-from-rubble

In between the hills in the background and the rocks ins the foreground lies the Gros Ventre River.  The rocks you see were carried from the hills during a monumental rock slide in 1925.  See the next picture for the details

Gros VEntre Slide Info

Two years later there was another rumble and the top 60 feet of the dam broke away and charged down the river, destroying homesteads and killing several people.

AND FINALLY:TUTORIAL ON DRY CAMPING:  (experienced campers might want to skip the next 2 paragraphs)

 

 Here in the Tetons we are constantly cautioned to BEWARE OF ATTRACTING BEARS.  It’s actually as much for the bears’ protection as our own, because if bears aggressively go after campers’ food, they may need to be killed.  So we are allowed to leave nothing food related outside.  This means that if you are washing dishes outside you can’t pour your dishwater on the ground — even if you have used biodegradable soap — because the smell of food in the dishwater could attract a bear.  You are expected to carry your water to what is a giant toilet and flush it down.  Even though we are in a trailer and I mostly wash dishes inside, I carry my dishwater to the giant  toilet because we don’t have sewer hookups — and once our gray water tank is filled — that is it.  We have to move the trailer to a dump station or cease using water inside.

     For us this is not such a burden since we are right across from the giant toilet.  But others in the campground might need to walk more than a couple city blocks to the giant toilet.  And if they have lots of dishes the buckets could be heavy and they might need more than one trip.

OKAY — EVERYONE ELSE CAN NOW JOIN THE POST

DID YOU KNOW:  In many of the Canadian Provincial and National Parks that we’ve visited, campers are supplied with sinks for washing dishes — so there’s no need to lug dirty greasy water.  Sometimes there are protected areas where tent campers can eat when it rains.  Not so much in American National Parks.  Of courses Canadian public parks are usually more expensive than American.  But then — Canadians have National Health Insurance.   If we had National Health Insurance — and Americans didn’t have to worry about being bankrupted from a hospital stay — most of us wouldn’t grouse about a few extra dollars for campgrounds that supplied us with  camper sinks.

Taggart - The Lake

The other day we hiked to Taggart Lake — we were in complete denial about the weather so had no rain gear and we got completely soaked. But it was a beautiful uphill path and after hiking all summer in extremely hot conditions this hike felt great — even with the rain.

Charlie

I’ve done a fair amount of bonding in the bathroom. Pictured here is Charlie who was camping for the first time ever when I met her. Then I found out that she saw a solar eclipse in France in 1999 — on August 11 — which was her BIRTHDAY!!!! I’m looking at this chance encounter as an omen that there will be good weather on MY birthday on August 21.

 

And so, on that note, I leave you.  The weather has turned rainy and cold.  There is haze settling over the valley from fires in Utah, Montana, Idaho and nearby Teton National Forest.  This, of course, makes us nervous about viewing conditions for the eclipse.  But I tell myself over and over that this trip is about the journey.

With love,

Ruth

 

We’re Halfway Home — Gros Ventre Campground, Grand Teton National Park August 1, 2017

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Gros Ventre Campground in the southeast section of Grand Teton National Park is the closest campground to Jackson, Wy. For those who don’t know — and there are many of you — Grand Teton is south of Yellowstone and adjacent to it.  Also, it should be noted that Gros Ventre is pronounced “grow-vont”, as the French do.

 

We’re camping here for two weeks. There’s no rush to go here, there and everywhere — and FINALLY we put up our 35 pound screen tent that admittedly takes up too much space in the car. I have gotten a LOT of grief for insisting on taking it — Every time I complain about Terry’s bags of camera equipment, his extensive fishing equipment, the two cases of wine AND the COOLER FOR HIS CIGARS, he gets a look of glee on his face and refers to the “compact” screen tent.

HOWEVER,  we are BOTH enjoying the fly free dining.

Antelope_close_3

Gros Ventre is known for moose sightings — even in the campsites. The other morning I took a walk to look for a moose and Terry took the car to do the same thing. Instead he saw this antelope — which number one grandson says is really a pronghorn.  I was unsuccessful but as I walked I thought that maybe I didn’t want to encounter a moose face to face, so it’s just as well.

Did you know that moose are considered to be the largest members of the deer family?

Anyway, the other day we got out of bed — again without the coffee — and got to the moose overlook just in time to see what follows:

Moose_profile

It was almost too easy. We got to the “moose overlook” around 6:30 A.M. and there was this Mama Moose drinking — and drinking — and 15 minutes later still drinking. We were stunned because two years ago when we showed up at sunset Terry remembers that “all we got were mosquito bites.” It could be that because it was cooler this time, the moose are out more. They can’t sweat, so they really don’t like the heat. 

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After waiting about 10 or 15 minutes the baby came out from hiding and joined its mother. I don’t know how old this young one is, but I learned that there is something like a 50% death rate of young moose (I’ve seen different numbers but they are all high) especially in the first six weeks. They are easy prey for bears and wolves.

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If you look carefully you can see Mama and Baby kissing. Now that Mama drank what seemed like gallons of water, she is grazing. Moose are herbivores and can eat 50-60 pounds a day.

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Taken from Mormon Row — where once there was a Mormon settlement near our campground

A park worker told us the other day that 100,000 people are expected to descend upon Jackson for the eclipse.  The town managers don’t know exactly what to expect so it’s hard for them to prepare.  The National Park Service asked the Federal Government for money to hire 30 extra people on eclipse day to help with the congestion and possible chaos that could affect emergency responders.

Our Federal Government said “No.”

Before we left I was on the phone so much with my congress people’s offices that they were starting to recognize my voice.  I haven’t done that since we left, but this trip is reinforcing my belief that it’s necessary to keep up the pressure on the politicians.  When we were in Custer State Park we met a married couple who until recently were teachers in Arizona.  They decided to move to Colorado while their teaching licenses were still worth something.  Arizona has made it legal for people with two year degrees and no education background to be public school teachers.  According to this couple, the science that is being taught is a joke.  I asked why this is happening and they said two words:  Betsy DeVos.

A couple that we met from Michigan are similarly upset about DeVos.  And while we love staying in the national parks, it’s clear that money needs to be spent for roads and such basic things as camper sinks and bathrooms.

You might ask why I think about politics while on this glorious trip. Well, partly because I hope to see these places be saved for the next generation.  But beyond that —  it is only my white middle class privilege that would even allow me to forget about the politics that threatens so many people’s daily lives.

Mormon_panorama

With love,

Ruthe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking the Waters — Thermopolis July 26, 2017

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The night before we left Casper for Thermopolis, Terry took this picture of the North Platte River, acquiring too many mosquito bites in the process.

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Thermopolis, Wyoming has  the largest mineral hot spring in the world, and I convinced Terry that we needed to go out of our way to come here.

In case anyone was wondering, this kind of travel does have its ups and downs.  When you travel so long you can’t leave things like bill paying and laundry and food shopping behind.  And sometimes the campground where you end up leaves something to be desired.

When we pulled into our reserved site in the RV Park in Thermopolis, I remembered all the reasons why the Sheraton might be preferable. Our site is so tiny that we could barely fit the car, and as we unhitched, the two dogs in the next trailer didn’t stop barking.  As I anxiously awaited the arrival of the grandchildren, I had a heavy heart, while Terry played Pollyanna.

Large Red Rock Ruth

What made it particularly hard was that we’d just come through the Wind River Canyon for which no superlative will suffice.  Dry camping (no hookups) was possible there, and I was wishing I’d known about that when I made our reservations in Thermopolis.  The reality, though, is that this gorgeous spot would not have worked out for our family this particular time.

Wind_River_Ruth

Thermopolis Wind River Canyon Flower

Thermopolis Wind River Canyon Terry

When daughter and family joined us they said it wasn’t so bad.  The next day the barking dogs pulled out and Terry and I visited the free Bath House in Hot Springs State Park.

And it was fine.IMG_5886

The mineral pools have no chlorine added.  While some prefer the natural pools deep in the woods – and we may still find some on this trip — there is something to be said for a free pool that’s easy to get to, with showers and changing rooms.  They are free because when the Native Americans “sold” the land to the government, there was a stipulation in the treaty that said the waters must be available to the public for free.

Soaking in a hot tub is one of Terry’s favorite things.  The grandkids and Sara and Jeff were also interested in the commercial water park — with slides and baby pools — When Sara went down the 250 foot slide, Terry said he hadn’t seen a look like that on her face since she was 4 years old.  I wish I had a picture of that.

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Carina has been full time RVing for 16 years and serendipitously was camped right across from us in Thermopolis.

Michigan_neighbors

One positive thing about being squeezed in so tight is that you do meet your neighbors. This couple is traveling from Michigan – they were kind enough to lend us a voltmeter during the 100+ degree day when our air conditioner kept going off — Speaking of  traveling with dogs — Terry says he’s surprised that Escape Trailer Industries didn’t demand to see proof of dog ownership before they sold us our trailer.  EVERYONE except our family has at least one and usually more.

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Hot Spring Terraces from across the Wind River

 

Our third night here it cooled down so much that I actually had to wear a fleece.  Sara made us a picnic supper and we walked along the  boardwalk near the Bath House and saw the terraces and the mineral deposits as well as the swinging bridge that as near as I can tell was at one time the only way to get to the mineral waters.

“There are several large hot springs near the Wind River Canyon in Hot Springs county that all flow into the Big Horn River. The water originates from an underground flow from the Owl Creek Mountains.”

“The Thermopolis Hot Springs are one of the largest worldwide and the water flow is over 18,000 gallons/day. The temperature of the hot springs is about 135 degrees (F), but the pools that visitors swim in are regulated to between 102-104 degrees (F) for safety and comfort. To the west one can see the terraces formed over thousands of years by mineral deposits. The mineral deposits are primarily composed of lime and gypsum layers known as travertine. The color of the travertine is influenced by the many species of algae that can be seen thriving in the warm waters here at the park.”

https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC5PXMG_mineral-waters?guid=78c9b6fe-1412-474e-8c30-e43b244759a9

view from swinging bridge

This is the view from the swinging bridge. A few more facts: “The Thermopolis hot springs originally were part of the Shoshoni Indian Reservation Treaty of 1868. In the following years the hot springs gained popularity and Congress requested to set this area aside for a National Park Reservation. In 1896 Congress sent James McLaughlin to negotiate a treaty to purchase the Hot Springs with the Indian Chiefs of the area. Chief Washakie of the Shoshoni Tribe and Chief Sharp Nose of the Arapahoe Tribe were both in attendance for the treaty signing once agreeable terms were reached. This agreement allowed ‘purchase’ of the Hot Springs for $60,000 worth of cattle, dry goods and other items.       https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC5PXMG_mineral-waters?guid=78c9b6fe-1412-474e-8c30-e43b244759a9

 

Tomorrow our plan is for us and the grandkids to get to Gros Ventre Campground in the Tetons.  We’re supposed to be able to see moose there — the animal that has consistently evaded us throughout our travels.  There is a classical music festival in Jackson for which we already have tickets, as well as free movies having to do with space.  The eclipse is advertised everywhere now because we are in its path.  Thermopolis is having a free pancake breakfast the morning of the eclipse.  A camper just told me that Idaho is gearing up for the thousands of people who will be flocking there.  We will be getting provisions for us and the six other members of our family who will be joining us the week before the eclipse.

I’m anxious and excited at the same time.

Internet will be spotty from here on in because we need to drive to the Jackson Library to go online.

I’ll blog whenever I can.

With love,

Ruth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 20, 2017 Getting closer to our goal

Ruth_soaking_wet
Observation: Bathing suits are ridiculous. We’d just finished a hike in Custer and ended up at a pretty little lake, but I didn’t have my bathing suit. Just think — if we lived in a world where it was normal to swim without clothes, life would be so much simpler.. Since that was NOT an option, I poured water all over myself, which felt great until we went out to lunch in an air conditioned restaurant.

We are in Casper, Wyoming in an RV park that is basically a large parking lot, but it’s right on the North Platte River, and I’ve already managed to do three loads of wash and tomorrow we’ll stock up on food.  The woman at the desk told me that they’ve been booked for the eclipse for a year and they are getting 50 calls a day from people trying to make reservations.

As for the title of this post — I realize in the metaphysical sense there are no goals, but we haven’t reached enlightenment yet and we really are attached to the idea of seeing the solar eclipse (on my birthday, in case you forgot).

The concern about the eclipse for us — and 12 million other people — is the weather.  Ideally, we would watch the weather predictions, and if the Tetons are predicted to be cloudy we’d drive somewhere else.  We’re in Casper because Terry has planned a route from Casper to the Tetons to check out road conditions.  However, I am skeptical that we’ll be able to go anywhere on eclipse day because I think the roads will be clogged.

So I’m visualizing clear clear skies on August 21.  I’d appreciate it if you would too.

Now I’d like to talk about photography.

I have one small camera that is set on automatic.  Terry is the real photographer and of course he has a Sony on his belt at all times, and a Nikon with a zillion attachments and a tripod and then there is his smart phone and a video camera and he takes wonderful photos.  The challenge is getting him to put them on the computer in a timely fashion.  After I posted the Badlands pictures Terry commented that he never downloaded the Nikon photos.  And that is why we are about to go back to the Badlands (pictorially speaking).

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Above is a better version of one that was in the previous post.  The rest are newSunrise_2_Nikon

 

Sunrise_rays_2_NikonSunrise_backlit_NikonRuth_Walking_Nikon

Okay, so now everyone should have a real feel for the South Dakota Badlands through our eyes and we can move on.

. . . .  (the next day  July 21)  The big excitement last night was a huge wind storm.  I came out of the shower house and was just a couple hundred feet from the trailer but I almost couldn’t make it back — felt like I was being blown away — and dust was swirling all around me.  At the same time Terry was dealing with the awning, which was filling up like the sail on a boat and threatening to blow away.  He managed to stow it and when he checked this morning it was okay.  We were surprised to see that our propane tank cover blew off.  Terry says the wind would have had to get through from underneath the trailer in order to blow it off.

. . . . .  We’re going to jump back to our exploration of Custer State Park — From Wolf Camp we were able to explore Custer and visit the Crazy Horse Memorial.  We also were able to go on a cave tour at Wind Cave National Park.  About that I will just tell you that one of my children has still not quite forgiven me for the time we were at the Liberty Science Center in NJ and I wouldn’t let him go through the touch tunnel because I knew it would make me claustrophobic and I was afraid to let him go without me.  BIG MISTAKE.

Wind_Cave_2

Above is the boxwork on the cave walls and ceiling.

Wind Cave Railing

This is the closest I can come to a picture that might give you an inkling of what it was like to be in the close quarters of this cave.

Anyway, that’s how I feel about tight spaces, but I was determined to survive the cave tour — and I actually enjoyed a lot of it.  I’m doing something called Mussar and — long story short — the day we were on the cave tour I was practicing compassion, which came in very handy when the three year old on the tour started to scream.  As we walked through the narrow cave tunnel and had to duck down to avoid bumping our heads and there was no way out until the end of the tour, and the poor little kid kept crying, I truly felt compassion for him and his mother — and for me.

At the end of the tour came a claustrophobe’s worst nightmare — one of the elevators to the top wasn’t working and there were a LOT OF PEOPLE from earlier tours waiting to get out.  Terry muttered something about “infrastructure” and — I couldn’t help myself — I responded,

“Trump’s gonna fix that.  He promised.”

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We took the Cathedral Spires hike at Custer in the heat of the day.  The needles are like a Rorschach Test.  See what you can see.Spires_3

The_Face

Terry took this picture of the flowers and it was only later that we realized that he’d also taken a picture of what is called the “figure of the robed man.”

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During the Depression, the CCC did a lot of work at Custer. However, there were not steps like this everywhere.  Several times it was rock scramble time.

. . . . . . . . . . .

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On this hike near Center Lake at Custer we saw several people jauntily strolling across these streams, but all eight times it was a challenge for me (I won’t speak for Terry).

The one lane tunnels made driving at Custer interesting, particularly because people (like us) tended to park on either side to explore the needles.

Begging-Burros

Driving along the wildlife loop in Custer we saw a pack of burros poking into people’s parked cars and being fed. We didn’t stop — and this picture is from the internet — but I later googled and found out that the “begging burros” are descended from pack animals used during the gold rush days. Now they’re sort of wild, but they literally beg and get annoying if people don’t feed them. Usually the rangers say not to feed wild animals but in the case of the begging burros, they look the other way. Good thing we saw them because we didn’t see any other wildlife that day.

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Wild Bergamot. When we were climbing the Cathedral Spires Trail during (of course) the heat of the day I felt really draggy. Seeing the flowers was like having a friend say– you’re doing great. I looked at them and Terry photographed them.

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The Crazy Horse Monument seen from the visitor center. That’s as close as we got.

“The government made us many promises and they kept only one.  They said they would take our land — and they did.”   Chief Red Cloud of the Oglala Lakota.

We’ve never felt a strong urge to visit Mount Rushmore, but one of Terry’s friends (an actual friend) suggested on Facebook that we go to the Crazy Horse monument — a work in progress.  Crazy Horse unified the tribes and beat Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.  He was stabbed in the back by a U.S. soldier during truce talks.

The elders of the North American Native American tribes wanted a sculpture of Crazy Horse to appear at Rushmore — but guess what — the U.S. said “No.”

We didn’t know what to expect when we got there and were a little overwhelmed by the huge complex of exhibits. We couldn’t go up to the sculpture because it is being worked on (and we opted not to go on the bus ride that skirts the bottom).  Instead we watched the film that depicted the life’s work of sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski who began work on the monument in 1948 (my birth year :)), and took a guided tour of the exhibit halls.

Eventually the monument  will show Crazy Horse astride his horse, pointing to “the lands where my dead lie buried.”

When  Ziolkowski died, his wife and several of his 10 children continued on.  The work is supported strictly by donations and has evolved to include not only the cultural exhibits but an education center that will eventually be a college for Native American young people.

We were sad to leave the Black Hills.  There’s so much we didn’t see.  Goddess Willing — we will return.  BUT TOMORROW we are going to Thermopolis, Wyoming, where there are natural hot springs AND our GRANDCHILDREN will be waiting for us.

With love,

Ruthe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

South Dakota Musings Part II

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After a side trip to Wind Cave National Park, we came back to this rainbow at Wolf Camp. That’s me in the yellow slicker and you can see our Escape Trailer tucked between two larger ones.  Terry wants you to notice how the colors are reversed in the secondary rainbow and that you can see Alexander’s Dark Band which makes the space between the rainbows much darker than anywhere else.

 

Not having internet all the time here at Wolf Camp means that I still haven’t posted the great pics we have of the Badlands at the same time that I want to shout out that a couple days ago I, the great claustrophobic, went on a cave tour with 40 other people.

Okay, now that you know that, here’s a look at what we saw in the Badlands and I’ll tell you about the cave tour in a later post.

4:40am

This is Terry’s proof that we really did get out of bed at 4:40 in the morning

So, as I noted previously, although we are the type of people who like to take our sweet time in the morning, we had no choice but to get up early in the Badlands.  No coffee, no tea — just roll out of bed and out.  There is NO shade on a Badlands hike.

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This Bighorn was waiting for us on the side of the road as we drove to our 4:30 destination with the sunrise.

Sunrise_day_1Grays opening upBird on Top RedsBlack-eyed Susan Sunrise WalkRuth Sunrsise4:40pm

Both days we were back at our campsite by 7 A.M. and spent the rest of each day feeling tremendously virtuous as we felt the heat rise.  We ate, we slept, we read, and watched the shifting light as we followed the shade from our awning and our trailer.

Today is our last day at Wolf Camp.  Yesterday we hiked in the morning and then visited the monument to Crazy Horse.  Pictures to follow in the next post. In the evening, Terry drove a half an hour each way to find a spot where he could conduct some business on his cell phone.  Tomorrow it’s on to Casper, Wyoming.

By the way, we both enjoy getting your comments.  Please keep them coming.

With love,

Ruth

 

 

 

 

 

 

South Dakota Musings

We’re still at Wolf Camp –we’re so happy to be in one place for a whole week! — and with the slowest internet connection in the world I’m trying to catch up.

A few days ago, when we were hiking around Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park (see above photo) we were chatting with a woman from Iowa.  When we told her how much we’d enjoyed her state — we were thinking of the bike trails and the ball game in Des Moines — she smiled and said, “Yes, Iowa is still safe.”

Later Terry asked me if I thought a Clinton voter would have said that.

But the bigger question is — safe from what?  Certainly not pollution.  Both lakes we visited at Saylorville Dam had issues with high bacteria counts and blue green algae.  Nuclear war?  If Trump gets into a showdown with North Korea, Iowa is not safe.  But let’s assume the lady was talking about crime. A quick google demonstrates that Iowan cities like cities most cities in the U.S. have murders and rapes and property theft.

And finally — If I were a person of color I wouldn’t feel particularly safe in a state that supports Representative Steve King who is quoted as saying that America shouldn’t have to apologize for slavery. http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/steve-king-stirs-controversy-d-c-still-popular-iowa-n734071

I guess it’s a matter of perception.

It is lovely having an endless supply of running water inside the trailer.  At most places we only have electricity (either from a hookup or from our solar panel) so we fill our tank when we enter a campground and ration out the water during our stay.  When we transition to a city water hookup I’m very conscious at first about wasting water.  After a few days it gets easier to give in to the temptation to just let it run.  I’m working on that.

We’ve passed through Sioux Falls several times in the past few years and we have our favorite Vietnamese and Cambodian restaurants. This time we found a new neighborhood and a place that features a mostly gluten free buffet of food I usually can’t eat — like meatballs and tabouli.

So backing up a bit — When we left Des Moines (where we camped at the Saylorville Dam) we went to Sioux Falls, South Dakota —

We passed this sign on the way to Sioux Falls — (full disclosure — we were going too fast to take a photo, but we googled it and found that someone else had posted it online)

There seemed to be less water at the falls this year.

I took this picture on the bike path in Sioux Falls, while we were resting in the shade. It goes in a loop for miles along the river, through one park after another.

Here I am, cheering on the Iowa Cubs against the Texas Round Rock Express. A verrrry long game but as usual, Terry kept up his running commentary and it kept me amused.  This picture is out of order because I thought it was me cheering on the Sioux Falls Canaries playing the Wichita Wingnuts.  Terry, however immediately realized that in Sioux Falls we sat on the first base side.

We left Sioux Falls on a Saturday morning, got to the Badlands in time for the sweltering heat and realized that if we were going to do any hiking it had to be at 5 A.M.  This is SO counter to our usual routine, but the first morning one of us got up at 4:30 A.M. and bullied the other one out of bed.  We got to the Castle trail without benefit of coffee or tea.

It’s 7 A.M. here in Wolf Camp — Internet was working pretty well, but now the sun has hit my picnic table so I guess I’m done for now.  Next time I’ll show you what else we saw in the Badlands.

With love, Ruthe

It was supposed to be an easy day


Advice to anyone who is not mechanically inclined.  Try your best to marry someone who is.   Under Terry’s high school yearbook picture  was written, “The difficult he does quickly, the impossible takes a little longer.”  I mention this because although we went through the same trailer orientation, he is the one who can open and close our awning in the dark in the middle of the night when the thunderstorms come, and he’s the one who just fixed our bathroom vent.

I’m writing from our picnic table at Wolf Camp RV Park, just outside Custer State Park in South Dakota, so named because they have wolves in a pen behind the office.  Periodically, they howl, which sets off the dogs.  A bit of local color.

 

Our morning and evening walks at Saylorville Dam (outside of Des Moines) were along the Des Moines River.

This is the spillway from the dam. Mesmerizing.

Terry and I made it to the butterfly garden on our last evening at Saylorville Dam near Des Moines, and we didn’t see a single butterfly, but we saw this sign.

An overview of the butterfly garden.

Anyway, since I last wrote we have camped at a dam near Des Moines, Iowa, in a fairgrounds in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in 104 degree heat in the Badlands and now we’re on the edge of Custer State Park.  We’ve seen two minor league baseball games, hiked a bit, AND had one 15 mile bike ride which nearly killed me but also made me happy.  I love my bike, and I love Terry, who is patiently trying to get me to understand  gearing.

These are all things we could do at home — but we don’t.

We hadn’t planned to come to Custer because from the name I thought it was all about battlefields and the glorification of Native American genocide. I did not realize that it’s an unfortunate name for a stunning park.  By the time I found this out, the only place open was the primitive campground, and I’m sorry to say that we are bourgeois enough in the heat to want air conditioning.  So we booked a site for 5 days in an RV park that sounded just great — right on a creek — full hookups — great bike trail running right through.  It was an easy peasy drive from the Badlands — thus the title — easy day — only when we got there it turned out that the RV sites were about 10 feet from a busy road.  The creek was pathetic. Tripadvisor had raved about the clean showers, but one look at this place and we were willing to stay smelly.

Way back in the day, when we were tent campers, we’d look at the people in the RVs and guffaw — Ha Ha — they think they’re camping.

How times change.

After the 104 degree days in the Badlands we were looking forward to a place with showers and full hookups and internet and the ability to do mundane tasks like defrost the refrigerator.   But we couldn’t bring ourselves to stay at that place.  So we ended up in the primitive campground at Custer after all.

We stayed there two nights and then moved to Wolf Camp, where we’ll be for the next week.  I’m going to cut this short because internet is SLOW. I’ll fill you in on Sioux Falls and the Badlands in the next post.

With Love, and Shabbat Shalom to those who so indulge.