Friday, May 31, 2013

From Casper: The Final Leg to Star Valley

We finally got into the rv shop and had some good news. The damage to the fifth wheel was a break in the side wall frame which allowed the wall to flex and thus separate and crack. It had nothing to do with the integrity of the frame and hitch. So after talking with Heartland’s Factory Rep and the mechanic, both agreed that we were safe to pull our fifth wheel to Star Valley and even to Indiana next fall. There the factory is going to rebuild our unit for free!

So we left Casper, in twenty to thirty mile per hour winds, and headed to Rock Springs. Reaching Wal-Mart, Renita was able to get her prescription refilled. As camping is so expensive there we took a break from the high winds and spent the night in the Wal-Mart parking lot.

Getting up early I looked out the window and saw a circle of trucks, all surrounding piles of antlers. Watching a bit I walked over and the people graciously allowed me to take some images. See in Wyoming its shed season and it was an antler buyer purchasing sheds.

Shed season is the time where people search for the antlers that deer and elk lose before they grow the new ones. It can be quite a bonanza as one lucky lady found a set of mule deer antlers that sold for six thousand dollars. Most however end up being ground up into powder and served to Asian men as a kind of natural sex enhancer.

After taking images we finished packing up and headed to Star Valley. Again we fought a head wind, which dropped our mileage. Luckily the snow and ice had all melted from Salt River Pass and we reached our lot in Star Valley RV Resort. That’s where we will be for most of the summer, except for a brief trip to the Escapade in Gillette in late June.

It has been the longest loop we have ever done, From Wyoming to Alaska and then wintering to Florida and Texas. We are both glad to actually sit for the summer and take our first big break from the constant driving. Now we have time to do some rock hounding!  Clear skies

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Fort Casper, Wyoming

After having lived in Wyoming for thirty five years, and after spending a lot of time in Casper, one would think we had already visited Fort Casper. One would be wrong and so while waiting for our rv appointment we decided to treat Casper like any new place and do the new visitor routine.

So as Renita was feeling better we drove all of two blocks to Fort Casper and its associated museum. Before entering it reminded me of Fort Bridger and sure enough it and Fort Laramie were built to provide protection for the Pony Express and the settlers traveling along the Oregon Trail.

Entering and paying the three dollar fee, we studied the artifacts that had been dug here and the nice display of Native American arrowheads and tools, The beaded items were mostly of Arapahoe manufacture and really quite good. The crowning jewel of the collection was a red beaded cape, at least that’s what I felt was the highlight.

There was also a good display of the mining in the area, and we both were surprised to learn that copper and silver mines had been worked on Casper Mountain. The jade map even held a surprise for us as it showed jade as being found on the north side of river from Sweetwater Station, (a place we have not yet prospected but hope to this summer).

Heading outside we saw the Fort had been reconstructed and while the round nails were evident the Fort was built following drawings made by the original commander. So it was a pleasant journey as we strolled and viewed the rooms. At the end of the Fort was a section of the Platte River Bridge and it kind of surprised me as to the extensive bridge that had once stood there.

All in all it was a nice two hour journey teaching us some history of our state, history that we hadn’t known or had forgotten. Check it out if you are in the area. Clear skies

Monday, May 20, 2013

Stormy Weather, We Made it to Casper!

Well the next three days were spent on the phone as we talked with Good Sam, our insurance company, and Heartland RVS. Of the three all I can say for now is that Heartland RVs came through for us and is going to rebuild our fifth wheel for free. Even though we are out of the warranty period, by about quite a bit, they still are going to step forward and so our hats are off to Heartland.
That wasn't the only excitement as a huge cold front came through and we had two days of big storms with lighting, heavy rain, and pretty good size hail. Luckily, we didn't have any damage even though one of the hail stones was almost the size of a silver dollar.
So a brief lull in the storms allowed us to make a run for Casper, Wyoming, where we are going to sit till our appointment to make temporary repairs to the frame.  These should allow it to hold up when we drive to the Heartland factory in Indiana,( We were worried about pulling to Casper but Good Sam's told us they didn't have the resources to tow our fifth wheel there and Heartland said we could make it, after viewing images of the damage) . Unfortunately this means we won't be going to the Balloon Fest this fall in Albuquerque.
Shortly after we got to Casper it started to rain and its still raining today. The rv park here is nice, Fort Casper Campground), but its like a deluxe Alaskan rv park in that its all gravel and therefore muddy. Its funny how we compare most interesting things to Alaska. Clear skies

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Yellow is the Color of the Day

Renita noticed the common yellow throats that flitted in the brush along the water. A yellow warbler perched in a ponderosa overhead as a yellow-rumped warbler made its appearance. Joining the color palette were two pine siskins and of course you have to mention the yellow headed blackbird that flew above the lake. It seemed pretty amazing to see it all from our camp chairs set up next to the picnic table.

Later as Renita read a newspaper, seven yellow and brown goslings paraded between their parents, watching her closely to make sure she wasn't a threat. They also eyed Molly, our dog, but she didn't seem too concerned with geese and never has figured out whether they are a threat.

In the lake below several mallards paddled and fed while two pairs of Great Blue Herons roosted in a dead pine tree across the lake. There were also other birds, black capped chickadees and white streaked sparrows present but yellow was definitely the color of the day.

We have been camped for the last three nights at Keyhole State park, and in our favorite campsite. I’ve been running to Gillette for my yearly doctors visit, (which went well), and now today we have to get the house in as a major problem that has developed in the frame.

Kind of weird really as it stood up to all the Alaskan frost heaves and then the front cap frame apparently has cracked and the front cap is separating from the rest of the house. This apparently happened when we hit some rough road on Interstate Ninety just west of Sundance. Luckily it didn’t fail completely.

I think of the pioneers crossing the Great Plains in their covered wagons and I am sure a breakdown must have been a nightmare but they usually had the help of the rest of the wagon train. Kind of like a caravan of rver’s, so anyway today’s agenda is calling Good Sam for support,( break downs are just a part of our lifestyle), oh and also looking for more yellow! Clear skies.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Resting and Recuperating In Rapid City

We left Kansas and headed into Nebraska with another three hundred and forty mile day. Renita was starting to feel like she was getting a scratchy throat and we both hoped she wasn’t coming down with something. At least the wind died down and we had an uneventful drive.

The next morning we only had three hundred and twenty eight miles left till we reached Rapid City and so we headed north through Nebraska. As we passed through Chadron we both remembered when our son graduated from there and how nice the college was for him.

Shortly after entering South Dakota, Renita suddenly exclaimed, OMG, as she noticed snow banks! Later we learned that the park we stay at near Rapid had forty four inches of snow and the people there were stuck for two weeks before they finally were able to leave.

Sticking to our goal we passed numerous places to rock hound and even passed Bobs Rock Shop near Hermosa. Believe it or not we actually have all the rocks we need, for now anyway. Renita was feeling worse and so we decided to rest for a bit in Rapid City before our years first boon dock adventure at Keyhole State Park.

I tried to set up my doctor’s appointment and couldn’t get in till next Tuesday so we set in for a week of rest and repairs on the fifth wheel. It always seems like there is something to fix, but it’s kind of like when we had a stick and brick house, the honey do list was also never ending.

So before you know it we have been here for almost a week, and that’s ok, as the doctor’s visit is a must to get new prescriptions. One of the difficulties of living on the road is the necessity of making yearly doctor’s visits, and you do like to be a little consistent with our health concerns.

Anyway tomorrow we head to Wyoming, for the rest of the summer. We have already heard from our Texas friend Mark who is going to meet us in Star Valley for a week in late May of rock hounding!  So another year of prospecting begins, maybe we will even find something valuable. It doesn’t really matter either way as it’s the time spent looking that is the most fun. Clear skies.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

From Grand Isle to Kansas

We left Grand Isle. and headed up the bayou. The road is pretty good, (after last year’s hurricane damage near Port Fouchon), but after turning on US 90 we started to run into some pretty bad stretches. Now I have often wondered why Louisiana has roads that resemble the Alaskan Highway and I suddenly had an epiphany.

See the bad stretches of road in Alaska are all were the drunken forests exist, and these are where the road crosses thawed out permafrost, (i.e. swamp land).  The bad stretches of road in Louisiana are where the road crosses the swamp land, and both are easily seen by the tilted forests, where the trees are literally sinking.

So we headed north, racing the approaching front, and we drove all the way to Livingston, Texas and the Escape Park. There we waited out the front, did laundry and picked up our mail. After two nights the winds died down a little and so took off for Oklahoma.

Strong winds made driving difficult and our mileage dropped as low as seven miles per gallon as we drove into 20-30 mph winds. Occasionally the road wound and we had strong crosswinds that threatened to rip the canoe off the roof. Luckily the straps held, but it was unnerving to say the least.

We made Ardmore, Oklahoma and stayed at a park that actually had a tornado shelter. It looked like it would hold quite a few folks and it was nice to see that the safety of the guests was actually considered.

The next morning the winds had died down so we stopped at Wal-Mart, and then headed back north for Salinas, Kansas. Again the wind picked up and again we fought strong headwinds and the occasional gust of a scary crosswind.

The temperatures dropped into the forties and we both wished we were back down south. There isn’t a lot in the way of campgrounds and so we spent the night in a pretty good KOA in Salinas. Tomorrow it’s supposed to finally warm up, as the low pressure is moving east, and the winds are supposed to abate so our target is somewhere in Nebraska and then Rapid City for a few days rest.

Hopefully the snows are finally done and we can enjoy the sights a bit as its forecast to be in the seventies. So maybe we can actually get out doctors visits done and then enjoy the summer. Clear skies

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Breakfast at the Snyders


Too soon our time on Grand Isle was over and the north was calling. Before Jenny left we had another huge breakfast at the Snyder’s where my sister Connie and Gary again put on the Ritz! Fresh scrambled eggs from the chicken coop with melted cheese along with freshly made cinnamon rolls and country fries topped the menu.

We took one last walk along the beach and noticed all the shrimp boats plying their trade. On a sad note we came across two dead sea turtles washed ashore during high tide. Who knows what killed them? While many may be quick to blame BP, my guess is they were caught in illegal shrimp nets and while there are other man made turtle death causes the nets made the most sense, ( They both washed up very near one another).

We love eating shrimp, but using illegal nets is just not right and I hope they get caught soon. Saying that we went to the shrimp market and bought sixteen pounds of 10-15s, (meaning there are 10-15 shrimp per pound), carefully putting them in the freezer. It was Renita’s birthday and so it was a special gift, breaking heads and putting shrimp away for the summer months! Happy birthday Nugget!

I never mentioned our walk on Elmer’s Island, and of course that is another thing to do while staying here. There are numerous places to kayak, but we never did. There is just too much to do here! Renita and Connie even hit the souvenir shops and of course there is the ever present birding.

Summer and Scarlet tanagers, along with indigo buntings all are common, at least after fallout, We spotted a nesting pair of black necked stilts and the ditches are lined with egrets and Louisiana herons.

On the last day Jim and Nancy arrived in the middle of a tropical storm and so we stopped to chat and talk about the fishing and travels. We hope to join them this fall at the Balloon fest in New Mexico.  So it’s time to head for Wyoming and our yearly doctor checkups and we are leaving today with miles to go before we sleep. Thanks again Sis and Gary and thanks again Grand Isle. Clear skies