Category Archives: Wyoming

Onward to Colorado

It took us a little longer than expected to pack up and head out of Bayard, Nebraska. It was after 10am by the time Donna returned from her bike ride. We pulled out at 11:30am Tuesday morning, but we only had about 150 miles to go to Cheyenne. We followed back roads and stayed off I-80. Our route took us along US26 to Torrington, Wyoming, then we headed down US85 to Cheyenne.

We found the Sierra Trading Post without any trouble and parked in their dedicated RV/Truck lot. I checked in at the warehouse office – all they ask for is a name and contact phone number in case they need to reach us for any reason and we were good to go. There were a few other RVs in the lot when we arrived.

Donna and I walked to their outlet store and shopped around. I didn’t find anything interesting and left after about half an hour. Donna stayed and tried on clothes – that stretched into two hours. Later Donna walked to the Walmart Super Center about a mile away to pick up a few items. I hung out and read a book. By 5pm, we were the only RV left in the lot. There was more train traffic overnight than we remembered from last year, but we both slept well.

On Wednesday morning, I pulled up to their dump station and dumped and flushed our tanks, then we were off to Colorado. We hit I-80 west for a few miles then turned south on I-25. Traffic was light. I stopped at the Pilot/Flying J Travel Center at exit 7 in Wyoming to top up our tank then had the coach and trailer washed at the Blue Beacon there. The coach was dirty from the dusty trip across Iowa and the thunder showers in Nebraska. We only took 40 gallons of fuel, but I wanted to top up the tank to get us through Colorado. There aren’t very many Pilot/Flying J truck stops in Colorado and most of them are in the Denver area where I would prefer not to pull off the interstate.

Our destination was the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont, Colorado. They have 92 RV sites there. Eight are long pull-throughs. Several other sites in the park are also pull-throughs, but they are too short for our rig. The sites ringing the outer boundaries of the park are very short back-in sites. All sites are first-come first – serve, no reservations. Stays are limited to 14 days per year.

When we arrived, we found the check-in process to be a little confusing. I parked in a large dirt lot across from the “office.” The office was un-manned and had a sign in front directing us to find a site, then pay at the automated kiosk. I walked into the park to see if any of the eight long pull-throughs were open. Meanwhile Donna found a park ranger who suggested we use site 1 – the longest pull-through they had. It was open! We paid for five nights using a credit card at the automated kiosk and we set up in site 1 in no time.

The longest site at the fairgrounds

I lived here in Longmont 40 years ago, but I don’t recognize the place today. These fairgrounds didn’t exist then and highway 119 – the Diagonal Highway between Longmont and Boulder – is unrecognizable. Back in the day, it was a rural two-lane highway through the countryside. It passed by a small village called Niwot. Today it’s a divided four-lane highway with shopping centers lining the highway through Longmont. Suburban sprawl lines the roadway with some farmland through Niwot all the way to Boulder.

We rode the Spyder to Bicycle Village in Boulder where Donna picked up her participant packet for the Venus de Miles women’s century ride. She raised over $500 for the charity event being held this Saturday. In her packet was a $20 gift certificate from the bike shop. She ended up buying a new pair of bicycle shoes – they were on clearance and with her gift certificate she paid $80 for a pair of $180 Pearl Izumi shoes. I’ll install the cleats on them today.

While we were out, I stopped at the Whole Foods Wine and Spirit shop. I splurged on a bottle of Balvenie Double Wood single malt Scotch whisky. This is a real goody that I’ll reserve for special occasions.

We were hit by a few drops of rain on the way back, but avoided any real rainfall. We had a quiet evening and I think we’ll enjoy our stay here. It’s remarkably quiet to say we’re right in the city. I think we’ll end up extending our stay by a couple of days to a full week. It’s $25 per day for electric and water – no sewer hookup, but there’s a dump station here.

The forecast calls for mostly sunny skies with highs in the upper 80s for the next week. There’s always a chance of a thunderstorm at this time of year. Typically you’ll see clouds building over the Rocky Mountains to the west all afternoon before they push east, sometimes bringing thundershowers with them before the blow east over the plains. Longmont is northeast of Boulder which sits at the foot of the Rockies. Boulder is at an elevation of about 5,700 feet above sea level. The Flatirons tower over Boulder at a height of 8,000+ feet above sea level. The mountains are spectacular.

Today Donna has a lunch date with a friend in Loveland – about 27 miles north of here. She’ll ride the Spyder there. I think I’ll take a walk to the mall about a mile from here. I need to stop at the bank and I’ll take a look around. Maybe later we’ll head over to Left Hand Brewing which is nearby. They brew some really fine beer there.

Back to South Dakota

We pulled out of the Broadus, Montana city park around 10am Sunday. Our route had us continue down US212 where we traversed the northeast corner of Wyoming before we reached South Dakota. We saw several antelope in the fields along the roadside this time – I expected to see them the day before but didn’t.

We drove through the town of Belle Fourche, South Dakota which has the distinction of being near the designated geographic center of the United States of America. This designation was  bestowed by the US Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1959 – after Alaska and Hawaii were admitted to the union. The geographic center of the 48 contiguous states is Lebanon, Kansas.

We drove through town on US 85 next to a truck pulling a fifth-wheel trailer which had a cargo trailer attached to it – you don’t see that very often! We turned southeast at SD34 while the trailer pulling a trailer went straight down US85. We hit I-90 at Whitewood west of Sturgis. A little while later, the trailer pulling a trailer passed us at about 70mph. He must have taken US85 due south and got on I-90 west of Spearfish. Ours was definitely the shorter, faster route.

We pulled into the Elks Lodge in Rapid City around 1:30pm. I parked in the front lot while we figured out how to set up. This is a very nice lodge – one of the largest and cleanest lodges we’ve visited. This is the first lodge we’ve been to where the bar is open to the public. This is due to the golf course on the lodge property which is also open to the public. The RV lot is for Elks members only.

We dropped the trailer in the main parking lot and backed the coach into site four. We have 50amp electric service and fresh water, no sewer hook up. We paid for four nights and shouldn’t have any worries about sewer. The 50 amp electric service was needed – we had to run the generator on the road to power the front roof air conditioner. Once hooked up, we ran both roof A/Cs – it was 100 degrees outside! The average high temperature in July for Rapid City is 85 degrees – we were in for a few days with highs above average.

We had a problem with one of the basement compartment doors over the last couple of days on the road. The door popped open a few times. I adjusted the plate the latch attaches to, but it still wasn’t very secure. On Monday, I found an Ace Hardware store and bought a flat brass bar one-inch wide. I had them cut a three-inch section. I glued this flat bar to the latch plate effectively extending the height of the plate. The door latches securely now and shouldn’t be a problem down the road. While I was out, I picked up a few groceries.

Meanwhile, Donna was out for a bike ride in the 90 degree heat. She planned a route looking at a map and headed out for a 24-mile ride. Little did she know her route included some steep climbs! She got through it though.

I went online Monday and found the local Department of Public Safety (DPS) licensing office. I found out they take appointments for driver’s license exams and renewals. Donna lost her driver’s license back in November in San Diego – she figures it must have slipped out of the slot in her purse when she pulled her cell phone out. I scheduled an appointment at the DPS office a few miles from the lodge for 10am Tuesday morning. They advise arriving 10 minutes prior to the appointment time.

We walked into the DPS office 12 minutes before 10am. They had a sign telling us to take a number after we completed the application paperwork. Donna had already completed the application so she took a number. Then I saw another sign telling us to notify a clerk if we had an appointment. Donna told a woman at the counter she had an appointment and gave her name. She was told that she would be next in line.

We sat down to wait and within two minutes Donna’s name was called. The woman at the counter entered Donna’s application in her computer terminal, took her photograph and printed her new driver’s license in less than ten minutes! I’ve never experienced such efficiency at a government agency.

We were back on the Spyder and on the road a couple of minutes past 10am. We headed up US16 and turned off at 16A. We were headed to Mount Rushmore. We visited the monument in 2013 when we first hit the road as full-timers (post).

Once we got through the tourist town of Keystone, we hit a traffic jam trying to enter the monument. There was a crew painting new road lettering and arrows and they had a lane closed. This confused the traffic as it was forced to converge into two lanes from three – the two lanes that are for entry to the monument. Through traffic had to go around the crew, then get out of the entry lane at the entrance and get back on the highway. We baked in the sun for 20 minutes trying to enter.

When we were here before, we paid the $10 fee to park and were planning to show our National Parks pass inside but there was no entrance fee. This time I showed my National Parks pass and was told the pass doesn’t do anything for me at the monument – everyone has to pay for a parking permit to enter the monument. So I paid $10 again. We walked through the monument viewing area. We both thought the famous sculptures looked like they had been cleaned since our last visit.

Donna in front of the state flags display

At the viewing pavillion

We didn’t stay long. We went back to Keystone for lunch at Peggy’s Cafe. We were disappointed in the food quality – not on our recommended list. I wanted to take the scenic drive down Needles Highway again but realized that would mean we had to fight our way through the traffic jam at the monument again.

I decided to ride the Spyder down 16A to SD87 and we could come up the Needles Highway from the bottom. This route took us through Custer State Park. At the park entrance there was a sign advising a fee for a park pass to use any of the parks facilities – through traffic on the highway didn’t need a pass. So I carried on without stopping.

At the turn-off to Needles Highway we were stopped and an agent told us we had to purchase a pass to enter the highway, even if we didn’t plan to stop. I didn’t recall paying anything four years ago when we drove down the highway. I paid $10 for a pass.

Needles Highway is very scenic – and it’s slow. The road is narrow and full of twists and turns. There are six tunnels – some a as narrow as eight feet seven inches. I don’t know how the tour buses which are eight feet six inches wide manage to get through, but they do.

I didn’t stop to take photos at the Cathedral Spires which are granite columns – needle like – towering along a section of road. I thought we would come back down the highway and I would get pictures then. We went all the way to Sylvan Lake before stopping to stretch our legs.

Sylvan Lake

We were hot and the route was longer than I anticipated. We didn’t have enough fuel to back-track down the highway. We cooled off in the shade and Donna even put her feet in the lake.

Donna cooling off in Sylvan Lake

We exited the highway at the top end and rode back to Rapid City. We had put in about 110 miles and spent four hours on the Spyder. We had enough sightseeing for one day – we were getting saddle sore.

We ended the day with grilled green chile turkey burgers cooked on the Weber Q for dinner and some leftover red potato salad.

Green chile turkey burger

I opened an IPA called Total Domination from Ninkasi Brewing in Eugene, Oregon.

Ninkasi Total Domination

We’re thinking about going to a barbeque and rodeo later today – it depends on the weather. For the last three days, a thunder shower developed in the late afternoon. Usually it blows through quickly but we had a considerable amount of rain along with high winds, thunder and lightning last night.

Tomorrow we’ll head east and probably make an overnight stop near Chamberlain before we check in for a week in Sioux Falls.

Back Roads to Greeley

After four nights in the Sierra Trading Post lot, we pulled out yesterday. We’ve been dry-camped for six nights straight and were getting a little concerned about our fresh water supply. We didn’t plan to dry camp this long and didn’t make water conservation a priority at first. Having said that, our time on the road has made water conservation habitual. We use much less water than we ever did when we were in a sticks-and-bricks home. We can usually make our fresh water tank last a week if we try.

Our first stop was the Pilot/Flying J travel center two miles down Campstool Road. We put about 30 hours on the generator while we were off the grid, plus we traveled over 300 miles since I last filled the tank. After fueling up, I drove us past the I-80 on-ramp and continued down Campstool Road. We were headed for Greeley, Colorado and I wanted to hit US85 for the drive south instead of taking I-80 to I-25. I didn’t activate Nally – our Rand-McNally RV GPS – until I was well down the road so she wouldn’t direct me onto the interstate.

I made a mistake though. I missed a turn and drove too far down the road. When Nally was activated, I was directed east and crossed the state line into Colorado at Hereford – well east of our intended route. Oh well, we just went with the flow and enjoyed the high plains grassland. There were large ranches and a few clusters of huge new homes. I surmised the homes were recently built during the oil boom which is now in more of bust cycle. Obviously some people in the Cheyenne area are doing well judging by the homes and this – I saw a cowboy park his Ferrari F360 at Sierra Trading Post.

Ferrari F360 Modena in the Sierra Trading Post lot

Ferrari F360 Modena in the Sierra Trading Post lot

Our route had us zig-zagging down quiet county roads. In the first 40 miles of our drive, we only saw four other vehicles. Some of the road surfaces were horrible and Ozark the cat lost her breakfast in her crate. She’s only been carsick a couple of times and it’s always been when we were pounding down a rough road. We also encountered a stoppage at a road construction site which had traffic following a pilot car down a single lane for about three miles. We weren’t held up too long though.

We arrived at the Greeley RV Park around 12:30pm. The check-in was very efficient – they had taken our information over the phone when I reserved the site and they knew our rig was long. They had a pull-through site for us and the woman told me to pull as far forward as possible and not to worry if our trailer extended a couple of feet past the rear of the site.

The sites here are relatively narrow, but we were easily lined up in the level gravel site. I hooked up our power, water and sewer and dumped the holding tanks. I’ll need to refill our fresh water tank – but first I needed to do some research. I saw a warning posted in the park office stating that the nitrate level of the water supply was higher than the 10ppm federally mandated maximum. The water here has a nitrate level of 11.3ppm.

Nitrates can seep into ground water from a few sources. It can be due to runoff from decomposing plants or chemical fertilizers or it can come from excessive amounts of livestock manure. Once nitrate is in the groundwater, it’s very difficult to remove it. It takes a special filtration process – our sediment filter and activated carbon filtration doesn’t remove it. The good news is, this level of nitrate isn’t especially dangerous unless it’s ingested by a baby under six months old. This is due to the bacteria in an infants digestive tract that can convert nitrate into nitrite and interfere with it’s ability to carry oxygen in the bloodstream. After about six months of age, acids form in the digestive system and nitrite is no longer formed.

I unloaded the Spyder and put an orange warning cone at the rear of the trailer which is hanging into the road.

Trailer extends past the rear of the site

Trailer extends past the rear of the site

The trailer shouldn’t be a problem – we saw a few sites with cars parked in the rear that also extend past the rear site border. Donna and I hopped on the Spyder and rode into town to take a look at the grocery store. King Soopers is the grocery chain in the area, they’re an affiliate of Kroger. The King Soopers here in Greeley is a large, well-stocked store and the prices look reasonable.

It was unusually humid here yesterday and the temperature reached the upper 80s. Thankfully we have a 50 amp service and ran both roof air conditioners. Today we expect the temperature to reach the upper 80s again but the humidity won’t be a factor – the forecast calls for a more normal level below 20%. There’s also a 20% chance of a thundershower this afternoon. I told Donna that when I lived in Longmont about 20 miles south of here, we had a thundershower just about every afternoon in August. The clouds would build over the Rocky Mountains to the west, then arrive over town around 5pm. It would pour down rain with lightning and thunder for about 15 minutes before it blew out east over the plains. Within 20 minutes, everything would be dry with clear skies. I’m wondering if we can expect the same pattern here.


*Just so you know, if you follow one of my links to Amazon and decide to make a purchase, you pay the same price as usual and  I’ll earn a few pennies for the referral. It’ll go into the beer fund. Thanks!

Christmas in August

A cold front was pushing down from the north on Friday. After exploring a few options, we decided the best bet was to stay put and hunker down for the day. The wind picked up in the afternoon, but most of the thunderstorm activity was to the south of us – we could see lightning and hear the thunder but we only had one squall here at Sierra Trading Post.

It was good day to kick back and read a book, so that’s what I did. Satelite TV reception was spotty in the afternoon due to the heavy storm clouds blocking the southern sky. The temperature dropped dramatically.

Screenshot of weather conditions on my smartphone at 7:46pm

Screenshot of weather conditions on my smartphone at 7:46pm

I couldn’t think of anything better to do, so I opened a bottle of Flanders Black Ale that I picked up when I visited the Deschutes Brewery. This is a limited release – you won’t find it in stores. It’s a bourbon barrel-aged black ale with brett bacteria.

Black Flanders Ale

Flanders Black Ale

It was strong at 10.5% ABV with very complex flavors and a sour finish. I thought it was delicious. I poured a taster for Donna and she agreed. It was also expensive at about a dollar an ounce! When the storm clouds thinned out, we watched some coverage of the Rio Olympics.

We rose to sunny skies Saturday morning. It was still cool out but the forecast called for temperatures in the 70s by the afternoon. We wanted to get out so we rode the Spyder downtown to the depot at the south end of Capitol Avenue. They have a farmers’ market there on Saturdays from 7am to 1pm beginning on the first weekend of August and running through the first weekend in October.

Farmers' market

Farmers’ market

It was a fairly large market with local produce sourced from Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska.

Depot plaza

Depot plaza

The entrance to the depot plaza which is the site for the market has sculptures of cowboy boots flanking either side.

Boot on the right

Boot on the right

Another boot on the left

Another boot on the left

We walked through the marketplace and Donna bought fennel and squash while I bought coarse grain habanero mustard – we sampled it and it was very tasty while not overly hot.

There was an art exhibit in the train depot that houses a gift shop and museum. The fee to enter the museum was $8 – we passed on it. We also checked out the Accomplice brew pub but it was too early to sample brews.

As we headed back to the Spyder, we saw a western wear shop called The Wrangler which is also a Boot Barn store. Donna’s been wanting me to buy cowboy boots to wear with jeans when we go out. When I’m not wearing flip-flops, I usually wear running shoes or cross-trainers.

I humored her and we went inside for a look. I haven’t worn cowboy boots since I was a kid. I posted about those cowboy boots here. For some reason, I imagined cowboy boots would be uncomfortable to wear. After browsing around for a while, I found a pair I liked and tried them on. They were a little tight around my forefoot and a little loose at the heel. I looked for a different size. I tried a larger boot, but it was loose. That’s when a store clerk came over to offer assistance.

I told him how the first boot fit. He told me that it sounded like a perfect fit – they should always feel a little tight behind the ball of your foot and have a little space at the heel. He said the leather would stretch and conform to my forefoot after walking in them and breaking them in. They were actually quite comfortable. The brand name was Ariat.

Donna made it Christmas in August and bought the boots for me. I also picked up some leather conditioner.

On the way back to the Spyder, we stopped at a used book store and found a couple of books for a dollar each. Donna asked the guy there for a recommendation for lunch. He told us we should go back toward the depot and try The Albany restaurant. It’s been family-owned since 1942. We dropped our stuff in the Spyder trunk and I donned my new cowboy boots to start the break-in process.

My new Ariat boots

My new Ariat boots

We had a nice lunch and the service was good. After we came home, Donna went for a walk. She ended up walking a few miles east, then came back and stopped at the coach before walking west to pick up a few things at Walmart, logging a total of 6.6 miles for the day. I watched the qualifying for this weekend’s Moto GP race in the Czech Republic.

Today’s weather looks good – clear skies with the temperature expected to reach the low 80s and not as windy as the previous few days. We’ll hang out here at Sierra Trading Post one more night before we move on to Colorado tomorrow.

Sierra Trading Post

We had a late start leaving Laramie – we pulled out of the Cavalryman’s parking lot around 11am. Our route took us east on I-80 for about nine miles up a steep grade. We were at an elevation of about 7,200 feet above sea level in Laramie. By the time we pulled off I-80 at Happy Jack Road (WY210), we were over 8,600 feet above sea level.

The terrain changed drastically as we climbed into the Laramie range of the Rocky Mountains. We were surrounded by coniferous forest now instead of the high plains grassland and sage brush as we drove through the Happy Jack Recreation Area.

WY210 took us through a section of Medicine Bow National Forest before we came through the Curt Gowdy State Park area at Granite Lake. This is beautiful country with stunning views of forest, open meadows and huge rock formations. WY210 – also known as Happy Jack Road and the Sand Creek Massacre Trail – is a relatively narrow, two-lane road through this area. I was wishing for a turnout so I could stop and take a few photos, but it never materialized.

East of Curt Gowdy State Park, we dropped down to an elevation of about 6,400 feet above sea level and we were in high plains grassland again. We saw a few antelope which favor this terrain over forest.

By the way, the Curt Gowdy State Park is named after a Wyoming native. Curt Gowdy was born in Green River and grew up in Cheyenne. He was the announcer for the Boston Red Sox in the 1950s and moved on to national television sports announcing first for ABC in 1960, then NBC in 1965. He covered many different sporting events and was called “the broadcaster of everything.” His career continued into the mid-1980s.

The detour from I-80 onto WY210 added about 10 miles to our trip but was well worth it. The scenery was spectacular. We eventually rejoined I-80 a few miles west of Cheyenne near the junction of I-25. Our destination was the Sierra Trading Post outlet and fulfillment center in Cheyenne. They have a large parking lot with RV and truck parking in marked stalls 100 feet long.

We checked in with the woman at the counter in the fulfillment center. She took down our information – name, coach description and plate number and an emergency phone contact. She said the information would be passed on to security and the lot is patrolled 24/7. We were welcome to stay through the weekend if we wanted, no charge.

Donna and I then walked over to the outlet store and saw a few things we would want to purchase before we leave. We could see heavy clouds to the southwest and we had a few raindrops on the windshield earlier. We came back to the coach for lunch. Donna wanted to go back to the outlet and shop. I needed to get the Spyder out and ride over to Petco – about four miles away – to get cat food. We were nearly out of cat food and Ozark likes the brand I find at Petco.

I knew I was taking a chance of getting caught out in a thunderstorm, but I quickly unloaded the Spyder and headed out around 1:30pm. Donna went back to the Sierra Trading Post outlet. I didn’t waste any time at Petco and returned just as a few raindrops were falling. I loaded the Spyder back in the trailer and came inside before the skies opened up.

We had a massive thunderstorm approaching. I had to pull the living room slide back in as the wind really kicked up. By 3pm, it was raining hard and there were lightning strikes all around us. Donna was still in the outlet. I sent her a text telling her to stay in the store until the storm passed. She was happy to do that as she was in her element trying on clothes and shoes.

The storm finally moved on to the east around 5pm – but Donna didn’t finish shopping until 6pm! I had the living room slide back out by then. Donna reheated some jambalaya she made in the crockpot two days ago and we watched TV until bedtime.

This morning, it’s cloudy and the high temperature is only supposed to reach 66 degrees. Another thunderstorm is predicted for the afternoon. We’re undecided at this point on whether we should stay put or move on. We have to hit an RV park soon – I’ll need to refill the fresh water and dump our tanks. Either way, I’ll hit the outlet and pick up a couple of shirts and shorts I saw yesterday that were real bargains.

The Virginian

Although we enjoyed the relative solitude of dispersed camping on public land, we decided to pull out from Rim Lake Wednesday morning. The weather forecast called for rain and that could leave us in a position of having to drive a large, heavy rig down muddy dirt roads.

We thought it would be best to move on to Laramie. Instead of droning along I-80 for 100 miles, we opted to take US30 through Medicine Bow. This route added about 25 miles to the trip but it was more interesting and easy driving. Traffic was so light on US30, we only saw a handful of cars during the first 60 miles before we stopped in Medicine Bow.

I know I’m dating myself, but I asked Donna if she remembered the old western serial from the ’60s called The Virginian. The setting for the show was Medicine Bow in the late 1800s. We pulled into a large parking lot by a small general store and Donna made lunch for us. Medicine Bow has a population of about 300 people. It has the Virginian Hotel and RV park, a store, two bars, an ice cream shop and a museum.

Medicine Bow Museum

Medicine Bow Museum

We walked across the street to the museum after lunch. There’s an old log cabin in front – the actual museum is in a house toward the rear of the property. Donna spied what appeared to be an early RV – it was actually sheepherders quarters.

Sheep herders mobile quarters

Sheepherders mobile quarters

Sheep ranching came to Wyoming in the mid-1800s. Beef prices were at an all-time high then, so investing in a sheep ranch was risky. However, sheep produced wool, mutton and lamb meat. The high demand for wool during the civil war made sheep ranching profitable. For the next 100 years, Basque immigrants were brought in to tend to the sheep. This was a lonely and hard job. The sheepherders would move with the flock, keeping them on fresh grazing land. They lived in tiny portable housing with no running water or electricity. In the early years, there was friction between cattle ranchers and sheep ranchers – mostly over grazing rights on public land.

In the 1980s, ranchers were having a hard time finding Basque immigrants willing to do the job. They turned to South America where sheepherders from Chile or Peru were willing to emigrate and take the job. A New York Times article from 2009 stated that sheepherders still lived in very primitive conditions and worked 24/7 for a monthly pay of $750. They didn’t have much in the way of expenses though – food was provided and they had shelter, although most were still without running water or electricity. The current situation is mostly unchanged save for the decline in numbers of sheep on the range.

The museum itself is a self-guided step back in time. The house has every room filled with artifacts and trinkets from the late 1800s to the 1960s. Donna found high-quality dress leather shoes from a century ago and remarked on how small the women must have been. The shoes and boots were tiny as was a dress on a mannequin that must have had an 18-inch waist.

We continued on US30/287 and saw dark clouds and rainfall to the southwest. I think we made the right choice to move on. We hit a few stray rain drops, but not much – the road remained dry.

We drove through Laramie south of I-80 past the fairgrounds to the Cavalryman Steakhouse. They have a large parking lot in back and Donna heard that they would allow overnight parking. We pulled in and parked around 2:30pm. The steakhouse doesn’t open until 4pm. We saw people going in and out of the building though, so we walked over toward it. A guy came out and got in his car. He drove up to us and told us they would open for dinner at 4pm. We asked about overnight parking in our rig and he said we were fine right where we parked. He was one of the managers.

Awhile later, Donna received an e-mail from Kathy Crabtree – we met Kathy and her husband Ray in San Diego last year and hooked up with them again this year in Portland. They were on their way from Portland to Ohio in their car and were eastbound on I-80 about an hour out of Laramie. Donna replied and told them where we were. The stopped by the steakhouse about an hour later and we chatted for about twenty minutes before they had to continue their road trip. They had reservations at a motel in North Platte, Nebraska another 270 miles east on I-80. Cars on this part of I-80 travel at 80mph – so they had another three and half hours of driving time.

We went to the Cavalryman Steakhouse for dinner around 5pm. They were well staffed and the service was great. Donna had a prime rib dinner while I had an open-face steak sandwich with garlic mashed potatoes. The food was excellent.

Today we’ll move another 50 miles east to Cheyenne as we inch our way to Colorado. We may spend a couple of days in Cheyenne so we can get some shopping done, then we plan to go to Greeley, Colorado from there.

Across the Divide

On Monday morning, Donna saw that UPS tracking indicated the delivery of her new laptop would arrive by 8pm. I was hoping it would be well before before 8pm because the Sweetwater Fairgrounds office closes at 5pm and they would take the delivery.

I went to the office and told them we expected a delivery and asked when UPS usually delivers – I was told between noon and 3pm. I paid for another night here to be sure we could get her laptop. I then made a run to town on the Spyder to pay for the diagnostic fee and retrieve her bad hard drive and also pick up a few necessities.

Around 4pm, I asked Donna to check the status of her laptop delivery – the woman in the office said she would call me when UPS delivered, but I hadn’t heard from her. The UPS tracking showed “Delivered and handed to local resident Adams.” What?

I went to the fairground office and the office manager Erika said that UPS dropped everything back in their shop since they delivered some large boxes. She led me back to the workshop area and there it was – Donna’s new laptop. I have to say, the office staff at Sweetwater Fairgrounds and Events Complex are some of the nicest people you’ll ever encounter.

Fairgrounds building

Fairgrounds building

They do a great job of keeping the area around the events center clean and well-landscaped.

Nice Flowers by the office

Nice flowers by the office

More flowers honoring the sheriff's department

More flowers honoring the sheriff’s department

However, the RV area is nothing more than a large gravel lot with 1200 hook-ups. The caretaker doesn’t seem to do much. Donna and I slept poorly most nights as we had issues with barking dogs early in the morning and long-term residents heading out to their workaday lives. The barking dogs were especially bothersome. A couple in a site near us had three dogs and it seems that they thought it was okay to just let the dogs out in the morning around 6am to do their business. The dogs would bark constantly as they ran around loose for what seemed like an eternity. Then the caretaker’s dogs would join in the barkfest.

Donna spent most of Monday evening getting her laptop configured. Of course this meant using a lot of data on our Verizon plan, but what can you do? I have to mention that Verizon’s coverage is incredible – it’s rare for us not to have a usable Internet connection.

Donna defrosted some grass-fed lamb rib chops we bought from the rancher in Portland and made lamb chops with a red wine, rosemary and garlic pan sauce. As usual, I’m dining first-class.

Lamb chops with red wine, rosemary and garlic pan sauce

Lamb chops with red wine, rosemary and garlic pan sauce

We were watching the Rio Olympics on TV when dogs started barking non-stop near our coach after 9pm. I looked out the window and sure enough, our neighbor with the three dogs had let them out. I walked over to his site and knocked on the door. He and his wife were totally oblivious to the barking dogs running loose. It wasn’t a pleasant exchange.

We got a late start Tuesday morning. It was 11am by the time we pulled out. I had to circle back before we left the grounds when I realized I left our jack pads behind. Our first stop was the Pilot/Flying J at I-80. We took on 45 gallons of fuel at $2.42/gallon. I wanted to have a full tank as we weren’t sure of where we’ll stop for the night and how much generator run-time we might have in the next couple of days.

We stopped at the Love’s travel center in Wamsutter for lunch. It was a crowded truck stop with back-in spaces. I had to jockey back-and-forth a few times to get us into a parking lane, but no harm done. Over lunch, Donna and I discussed our options for the night. We decided to hit a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) site south of Rawlins at Teton Reservoir.

Heading eastward on I-80 we crossed the continental divide twice. The continental divide is a hydrological divide where watersheds drain either westward to the Pacific Ocean or eastward to the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic. In southern Wyoming we encountered the Great Divide Basin. This is a region where none of the water falling to the ground drains into any ocean. We were at 7,000 feet above sea level at that point.

We pulled off I-80 at Rawlins and headed for the BLM site. On the way, we passed a sign for Rim Lake which also turned out to be BLM public land. The road we were on turned to gravel five miles before Teton Lake and I stopped in a turn-out. I was leery of continuing to Teton Reservoir. The road surface looked okay at that point, but there was no guarantee of its condition further on and being able to turn around. We made a several-point turn-around and came back to the Rim Lake turn-off.

It was a gravel/dirt road that took us a couple of miles to the small lake. On the way, we spied a few pronghorn antelope. That’s Wyoming – you’re likely to see more pronghorns than people in many areas. This is not a bad thing.

We found a level spot that I can easily exit from and we set up for the night.

Our quiet space

Our quiet space

Our Rim Lake view

Rim Lake view

A few cars and pickup trucks came through the area in the afternoon but didn’t stay long. Three bicyclists rode in around 7pm and set up tents for an overnight stop. They were far enough away from us that we couldn’t hear them. We heard a pack of coyotes howling after dark and the gusty winds woke me a few times in the night. But it’s nice to be away from it all and only waking to the sounds of nature instead barking dogs and vehicles early in the morning.

The weather forecast for today looks good – sunny and mid 80s. We’re debating about moving to Teton Reservoir and staying overnight there. I’d like to check it out, but there’s a 50% chance of rain by tomorrow and we’ll be five miles down a dirt road that could become muddy. Also, it’s not likely that we would have internet at Teton Reservoir. Our other option is to head to Laramie where we won’t have any worries about mud. We’re in no hurry, so we’ll decide later this morning.





Blues ‘n Brews

Our highlight for the weekend was the Sweetwater Blues ‘n Brews Festival held in Bunning Park here in Rock Springs, Wyoming. This was the 10th anniversary of the event. We rode down to Bunning Park on the Spyder around 2:30pm. The festival started at noon and was scheduled to run until 10pm. There were six blues bands in the line-up with each band performing for about an hour and a half.

Blues 'N Brews line-up

Blues ‘n Brews line-up

We parked in the free parking lot next to the park off Elk Street, only a few miles from the Sweetwater Events Complex where we’re staying (map). Nothing in Rock Springs is more than a few miles away!

The first thing we did was sign Donna up for the Designated Driver program. This entitled her to free admission and a goody bag with a T-shirt and a few other items. I paid the $5 entry fee and bought five beer tickets for $20.

There were 11 kiosks under portable canopies – each had three or four different beers from brewers in Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Goose Island Brewing in Chicago. I don’t know why I see so many Goose Island beers in the northwest – they obviously have a good distribution network here. The beer isn’t anything special in my opinion. I had one bartender tell me Goose Island beer is made with Northwest-sourced ingredients. Well, most craft brews will have some Cascade, Centennial or Magnum hops – all sourced from Washington, Oregon or Idaho.

When we arrived, the David Gerald Band was on stage. David Gerald hails from Detroit, Michigan. He’s a real blues-rocker and his band sounded great.

David Gerald Band

David Gerald Band

Next up was the Andy T and Nick Nixon Band. Andy T is a guitarist originally from southern California. He teamed up with vocalist/guitarist Nick Nixon to front the band in Nashville, Tennessee. However, Nick Nixon was under the weather and couldn’t come with the band. A vocalist/guitarist from Mississippi filled in for Nick Nixon – I don’t recall his full name – he was Zach something or other..

I was blown away at how tight they were able to perform with a replacement singer/guitarist. The stand-in was the front man singing and directing the band and he happened to be a first-class guitar player as well. A couple of songs were improvisations – they made it up as they went along and it was great.

Andy T in the center and a stand-in at the mic

Andy T in the center and a stand-in at the mic

All six bands tour the country and come from different areas. It’s impressive how a town with a population of 24,000 people well off the beaten path can put together an event such as this. By the way, the nearest “big city” is Salt Lake City, 180 miles away.

It was warm and sunny out. After a few hours of music and beer, it was time to go home. I rode on the passenger seat of the Spyder for the first time. Designated Driver Donna chauffeured me home and did a fine job of it.

Back at home, I watched the first weekend of pre-season NFL football. I had to stay up until 10pm to catch the kick-off of the Chargers game.

Sunday was a low-key day. I watched the Moto GP race from Austria and it was a good one. Donna rode the Spyder to town for groceries. It was a little windy, but otherwise a fine day. We grilled hot Italian sausages and Donna made sandwiches on hoagie rolls smothered in peppers and onions. Yum!

I should give you an update on our damage claim from the encounter with the suicidal buck in Idaho. A claims adjuster from Allied Insurance (a Nationwide Insurance company) phoned me on Friday. We discussed the accident and the damage. Our current travel makes it difficult to get an inspection and estimate done. The adjuster was very accommodating – we plan to have the coach inspected when we reach Colorado Springs at the end of the month. He’ll call me on Monday, August 29th to make the arrangements.

I’m doing some research to see where we should have the work done. It won’t be a simple patch job. I’ve read so many horror stories about this type of repair that I’m preparing for a drawn-out, painful ordeal. Hopefully we won’t be sharing a horror story, but I think it’ll take weeks to get the work done. We’ll see.

Today we expect Donna’s new laptop to arrive. I have to go to Sweetwater Technology Services to pick up her dead hard drive and pay for the diagnostic work. I’ll extend our stay here at the fairgrounds for one more night, then we’ll head east.

Be Careful – Shift Happens

We pulled out of our roadside boondocking spot at Georgetown Summit around 10:30am Thursday morning. Our route took us down US30 to the Wyoming border. As we continued on US30, we crossed a few summits over 6,000 feet above sea level and one summit near Diamondville over 7,000 feet above sea level. It wasn’t too bad though, we weren’t much below 6,000 feet at any time.

We made our way to I-80 east and about 25 miles later, stopped for lunch at Little America. I remember stopping here twice traveling cross-country with my parents in the ’60s. The food wasn’t anything to rave about but the break was needed and they have ample parking.

Around 30 miles later, I-80 took us past the town of Green River. I could hear John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival singing in my head;

Well, take me back down where cool water flows, yeah.
Let me remember the things I don’t know,
Stopping at the log where catfish bite,
Walking along the river road at night,
Barefoot girls dancing in the moonlight.
I can hear the bullfrog calling me.
Wonder if my rope’s still hanging to the tree.
Love to kick my feet ‘way down the shallow water.
Shoefly, dragonfly, get back t’your mother.
Pick up a flat rock, skip it across Green River.

Our destination was Rock Springs, Wyoming – more accurately the Sweetwater Events Complex, home of the Sweetwater County Fair and many other events. They have more than 1,200 RV sites with full hook-ups. As Escapees members, we could get a site for $21/night. We want to spend a few days in the area and attend the Blues and Brews festival today.

We found the complex without any trouble, but the check-in was a little different. We followed signs to the caretaker’s house. I knocked on the door and a woman invited me in. I told her we would like to stay for four nights. She asked if I was paying with a credit card. I said yes – she told me I would have to go to the office building then and gave me directions. I’m glad we didn’t arrive on a weekend – the office is only open Mon-Fri 8am to 5pm.

At the office, I paid for four nights and asked if there were any pull-through sites. The woman said no. Then she looked out the window at the size of our rig. She got a map of the RV sites out and told me what I should do. She said to park adjacent to two sites on the end of the row, with our rig on the side of the interior road. She said that we should be able to reach the hook-ups and have plenty of room for our length.

I could hardly believe they would allow this, but the place is fairly empty and it looked like a good plan. The regular sites are all back-in and laid out strangely. The sites are fenced off with wooden rail fencing on three sides. The hook-ups are in the rear, behind the fence and are shared with the site behind.

Fenced back-in site

Fenced back-in site

Confusing looking rows of sites - they look like pens

Confusing looking rows of sites – they look like pens

I studied her map carefully to be sure I understood what she was telling me to do. I pulled into the area she indicated and stayed close to the fence to keep us from blocking the road.

We're on the side of an interior road adjacent to two sites

We’re on the side of an interior road adjacent to two sites

It was a fairly long run to the water and sewer hook-ups, but I managed. The living room slide came within an inch of the fence. Shortly after I got us hooked up, a thunder shower hit us accompanied by gusty winds. I had to pull the living room slide in to keep the slide topper from flapping itself to death.

Long run for water and sewer

Long run for water and sewer

One of the things we always have to be careful of after a day on the road is opening cabinets. Like the airlines always say, cargo may have shifted in the overhead bin. Donna had her laptop on the floor in front of her seat as she was using it as we traveled down the road. When she opened the overhead cabinet in front of her seat a remote for the satellite receiver fell out. It landed with a bang on her laptop about six feet below the cabinet.

The impact was too much apparently. No visible damage, but her laptop wouldn’t boot up. It went to a blue screen with an Aptio set up utility. The utility wouldn’t work – it just went in circles back to itself. She texted our friend and computer guru, Joel Myaer. He said he thought the hard drive was toast. I called my friend, another computer guru and former colleague, Bob Clogg. He had me try a few things, then suggested I buy a special cable and remove Donna’s hard drive. I could use the special cable to connect it as an external hard drive on my laptop and maybe retrieve her data.

On Friday morning, we went to a computer shop called Sweetwater Technology Services – there’s no Best Buy in Rock Springs – in fact the nearest Best Buy is in Salt Lake City! I found  a device to hook up her hard drive. We also shopped for a new laptop at a few stores but didn’t find anything she wanted.

After removing her hard drive and connecting it to my laptop, I couldn’t retrieve anything. The hard drive was recognized by my OS, but it couldn’t read any files. I took her hard drive back to Sweetwater Technology Services and asked them if they could retrieve the files. The minimum charge to hook up and diagnose was $41. I left the hard drive with them.

Later they called Donna. No dice. The hard drive is toast. If she really wanted the data, they could send it out to a specialist, but she would be looking at $1,200+ to get it. Donna used to use Carbonite for back up, but we don’t do that anymore since our data usage is limited and backing up to a remote site means double dipping on data. She’s sorry now that she didn’t do more frequent backups to her external hard drive. From now on, we’ll do that.

Donna ordered a new laptop on Amazon and we should have it Monday. That means we’ll extend our stay for another night here.

The weather on Friday was much nicer. Not much wind, clear skies and a high temperature of 79 degrees. Donna went for a short run and did a workout in a grassy area nearby. She said she could feel the effects of the elevation – we’re nearly 6,800 feet above sea level.


*Just so you know, if you follow one of my links to Amazon and decide to make a purchase, you pay the same price as usual and  I’ll earn a few pennies for the referral. It’ll go into the beer fund. Thanks!

Devils Tower

Yesterday we left the Heartland Campground in Hermosa, South Dakota. It was our last day in our newly adopted home state.

After coffee and breakfast, we had the slides in and the jacks up a little after 9am. There were a few things I wanted to do before we departed. First I wanted to photograph a couple of unique RVs in the campground.

The first one is a Vixen 21 TD. This was a futuristic RV produced from 1986 to 1989. Less than 600 were ever built. It featured aerodynamic body work and light weight. This unique RV claimed a top speed of 100 mph and also claimed to attain 30mpg. It was powered by a BMW M21 turbo diesel. The deal breaker for me is the inability to stand fully upright in it.

Vixen 21TD

Vixen 21TD

The other unique RV was built on a Mercedes chassis. This in itself isn’t unusual. What makes this one unique are the license plates. This vehicle was brought over from The Netherlands! I didn’t get a chance to talk to the owners, so I don’t know the story.

Note the license plate. Netherlands (on  the rear also)

Note the license plate – Netherlands (on the rear also)

Before we left I decided to fill our propane tank. When we left Michigan the gauge indicated 2/3 full. After a month on the road it still showed 2/3 full!! I was concerned about the accuracy of the gauge.

It only took six gallons to fill it. It’s an 80-pound tank so six gallons works out to about 1/3 of the capacity. I guess we don’t burn as much propane as I thought. At least I know I can trust the gauge.

In Rapid City I added $170 worth of gas to the tank and then we hit I-90 west. We drove through the Black Hills into Wyoming. We exited I-90 at Wyoming exit 199. There is a visitor information center at this exit. The center i s fairly large and clean with several covered picnic areas outside. They offer free road maps (we love good old-fashioned paper maps) and brochures on tourist attractions. Volunteers there can give directions or advice on local restaurants and whatnot.

Donna at the info centerr

Donna at the info center

We followed WY111 north to WY24 west. This led us to Devils Tower National Monument. You can see the tower of stone jutting up into the sky from several points along the highway. Devils Tower was the first national monument in the USA. Wyoming also boasts the first national park – Yellowstone.

We entered the park and drove three miles to the parking area. The road goes through a prairie dog community;we saw several of the little critters poking their heads up out of their holes or running around.

Devils Towerr

Devils Tower

The RV parking is limited, but we found a space. It was very warm with temperatures in the 90s. At 1pm a National Park Service ranger gave a presentation. She spoke of the geology of the tower and the history of the area. She also spoke about the spiritual customs of the Native Americans.

We took a short hike up the hill to get a closer view of the formation. It was too hot to do much hiking. Donna wanted to walk the path that encircles the monument. I wasn’t up for that, so she settled for a short hike to get a closer look while I waited on a bench in the shade.

We drove south on WY14  which brought us to I-90 and into a little town called Moorcroft. We were hungry, so we stopped at a little diner. I found a parking spot on the street next to a park. We didn’t have high expectations, but were hungry and would settle for what they had to offer.

We were pleasantly surprised. Donna ordered a chef salad and I had a French dip sandwich. Her salad was made with a fresh assortment of lettuce and peppers and chunks of ham and turkey  (not deli slices). My French dip was made with roast beef that looked to be shredded from a home-cooked roast. It was tasty.

We got on the interstate and droned west. The route climbs gradually. The climbs weren’t bad but the headwind was relentless. I can only imagine how many (or should I say how few) miles per gallon we were achieving.

We amused ourselves by spotting antelope along the roadside. We arrived in Sheridan around 5pm and found a Walmart Superstore where we could park for the night. It was hot so I ran the generator to power the A/C units. Since I had electricity, I also turned on the TV and watched a pre-season football game. By bedtime there were 10 other RVs parked here.

Donna resupplied our provisions in Walmart and also got a pedicure. This morning we are debating whether we should take WY16 to Yellowstone for a drive through the national park or should we continue to drone up I-90. I think I know which route our readers would suggest.