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Author Topic: Long awaited retirement trip finally here  (Read 12102 times)

John Stephens

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #30 on: June 13, 2019, 09:38:32 PM »
Today was the nicest weather we have seen since getting to the Black Hills, getting up the low 70's and staying sunny most of the day. We got a decent early start at 8AM, left the dogs in the coach again, and headed to Crazy Horse.

I was disappointed with Crazy Horse. It has a $12 per person entry fee and another $4 for catching the bus to get close enough to the monument to take pictures. The $12 entry fee is for allowing you into the buildings that house genuine Native American artifacts, a theater, a gift shop and most importantly, the rest rooms. That's an expensive pay toilet.

You are not allowed to walk the ¾ mile to the monument; you must take the bus. Although the bus tour guide was quite informative and humorous, I feel the bus ride should have been included in the entry fee.

My disappointment with the monument is due to the fact that they have been working on this monument since 1948, 71 years, and only have part of the face and left arm cut. Granted, this is a massive monument, considerably larger than Mt. Rushmore, and when finished, will be the largest monument in the world, several times larger than the Egyptian pyramids and Sphinx. But they admit that at the rate they are going, it won't be finished for another 100 years. No one was working on it while we were there. They are proud of the fact that they have received no state or federal funding for this project; all their monies come from the public admission fees. But to charge $16 per person to see a monument from a quarter mile away that is roughly 25% finished is excessive. Yes, it is much larger than Mt. Rushmore, but I was moved when I saw the latter and felt robbed when viewing the former. And since both Judy and I have Native American heritage, I can honestly say this opinion is not racially motivated.

From there, we decided to skip Custer State Park until tomorrow and drive to Mt. Rushmore. In retrospect, I feel it was an excellent idea to go from one monument to another so we could make a more accurate comparison. We chose to skip Custer for now because we spent considerably more time at Crazy Horse than we thought we would and assumed correctly that we would do the same at Rushmore. The drive between the two was great; I love driving on mountain roads and it gave me a chance to see what our new Equinox could do in terms of handling and pickup. It excelled in both and I was quite impressed in this SUV with a 1.5L engine that I bought for my wife.

If I had to describe Mt. Rushmore in one word, I think I would use "awesome." Regardless of how patriotic you are, seeing this monument and learning how it came to be will drop your jaw. We opted for the audio self guided tour and spent close to two hours walking the path in front of the monument. One reason I felt this monument was more impressive than Crazy Horse was because this monument was completed in 14 years. There are a lot of steps to climb and we both learned just how out of shape we are since both of us recently had surgeries from which we just recovered. Our cost was minimal; we got a 50% discount on parking and paid $5 instead of $10, and we paid $10 for both of us to have audio wands instead of the normal $25 because we had the senior national park pass. Since we only paid $10 for this pass before the price rose to $80, it has paid for itself many times over just in the past week. But back to the subject, I strongly recommend seeing Mt. Rushmore to anyone that visits the Black Hills. Plan on being there for at least two to three hours to fully appreciate the site.

I haven't heard from the RV dealer I wrote to about the jack solenoid warranty replacement, so I'll call them tomorrow to determine if they can do the work. I'm glad all the jacks are deploying because we are having trouble with the coach continually sinking on one side due to the rain this area has received. I took four 2x12's with us in the event we needed more than the plastic jack pads we use, and have used all of them, two under the jack that has the bad solenoid. I have wondered if, since we know the valve is bad, maybe it is leaking and allowing the jack to retract a little, but every time I look at it, it appears to be deployed the same amount as the last time, so I'm apt to believe it's the soil and gravel sinking. Speaking to the management about it, he seemed to understand the problem, as though this isn't the first time he's seen it, and he told me he has extra blocks to put under the jacks if I need them. When we returned this afternoon from our journey, the list was so bad, I had to turn off the refrigerator until I could get it leveled, and then reinstall the Dish antenna because its position had changed on top of the coach.

I had an interesting conversation with my next door neighbor when we returned today. He has a '99 Gulf Stream, about the same size as ours. He says he's got 90,000 miles on it and has never pulled the engine cover off of it. I asked him if he has ever changed the plugs and wires and he said no, it doesn't have wires, with each plug having a dedicated coil, and the plugs are still going strong, so he isn't going to fix it if it isn't broken. Well, more power to him. I wish I had that kind of luck with mine.

Tomorrow we will pick up where we left off today, driving the same route but a little farther to Custer State Park and if we have time, down to Wind Cave. This will complete our bucket list of things to see at this location other than spending a half day in Deadwood and Lead, which we can do on Saturday before we begin packing up to drive to our next location, Ten Sleep, WY. I am sure that driving a gasser and towing four down will prove interesting when traversing the Big Horn Mountains.

Bill, thank you for the kind words. Tonight, Judy and I decided we were hungry for fish so we headed down to the office where we were given rods and reels and told to catch our own fish. The pond is so well stocked, it took Judy and I both less than a minute to hook fish. She caught a 12" and I caught a 15" rainbow trout. They prepped and fried the fish for us and we had a good meal. The dogs got jealous when they smelled fish on our breath.
John
Cape Coral, Fl.
2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J
2018 Chevy Equinox

Bill N

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #31 on: June 14, 2019, 06:51:22 AM »
WOW what a difference in the many years since we left the area. Crazy Horse was not much less finished than you mention - Korzack (sp?) Ziokowski (sp?) was still alive and he and his family were pretty much the only workers. Keep in mind that was at least 50 years ago.  No charge to see what he was doing but donations were accepted.

As for Rushmore, it has always been an inspiring place but sounds like it got a lot more expensive.  On all of our many visits while residents of the area there was no charge to park or view the monument but, since then, the entire visitors center has been torn down and rebuilt and there was no walking path with a lot of steps as you mention.  For me, if there are steps, I am not a player anymore.

The Black Hills of South Dakota are truly beautiful and we used to enjoy exploring the back country on the gravel roads that led to some great fishing like Deerfield Lake where we did a lot of night fishing.  Enjoying your posts and when you leave the Black Hills you will be taking us on places we have never been so keep those posts coming.

Bill
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RVMommaTo6

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #32 on: June 14, 2019, 08:34:39 AM »
Will you be driving the RV down to Wind Cave or leaving it parked and taking the car? I've read (maybe it was even on this site, I don't remember) that driving through Custer SP is impossible with an RV.
Amanda
Mommy to 6 great kids who love camping and traveling
Aug 1, 2019- began our 10 month cross country trip
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UTTransplant

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #33 on: June 14, 2019, 10:25:31 AM »
Will you be driving the RV down to Wind Cave or leaving it parked and taking the car? I've read (maybe it was even on this site, I don't remember) that driving through Custer SP is impossible with an RV.
You certainly can drive through Custer SP in a motorhome, but not all the roads are suitable. The Wildlife Loop is only for cars IIRC, and don’t even think of going down Needles Highway! But much of the park is accessible, though it is definitely best in a car. There are a number of campsites in the park suitable for bigger RVs too.
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John Stephens

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #34 on: June 14, 2019, 10:43:06 AM »
Will you be driving the RV down to Wind Cave or leaving it parked and taking the car? I've read (maybe it was even on this site, I don't remember) that driving through Custer SP is impossible with an RV.

Amanda, I chose our campground specifically because it was a centralized location for all there is to see in this area. That way, we don't have to take the coach anywhere. Yesterday, we drove the car to Crazy Horse and Mt. Rushmore and today we'll drive it to Custer SP. i wouldn't trust being able to take the rig, especially while towing the car, to any of the state or national parks with its length being about 58'. On all of our stops, we will be in a campground outside the parks we will visit, and then drive the car to the various thing we want to see.

Getting ready to leave now, the wife is walking the dogs for the last time. I'll post today's travels tonight.
John
Cape Coral, Fl.
2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J
2018 Chevy Equinox

solarman

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #35 on: June 14, 2019, 10:49:03 AM »
You certainly can drive through Custer SP in a motorhome, but not all the roads are suitable. The Wildlife Loop is only for cars IIRC, and don’t even think of going down Needles Highway! But much of the park is accessible, though it is definitely best in a car. There are a number of campsites in the park suitable for bigger RVs too.

or even better on a motorcycle.. especially when stopped in a herd of buffalo on the road, close
enough to feel their breath on my arm !!  :o :o

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RVMommaTo6

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #36 on: June 14, 2019, 03:13:27 PM »
Ok, I want to do Needles Highway, it's om my list, so we'll park and take the car.
Thank you!
Ps- sounds like such a great trip!
Amanda
Mommy to 6 great kids who love camping and traveling
Aug 1, 2019- began our 10 month cross country trip
2015 Thor Motor Coach A.C.E. 30.2 aka "home" 
2010 35ft Springdale bunkhouse TT
2001 Jayco Pop-up
https://rvmama6.home.blog/

John Stephens

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #37 on: June 14, 2019, 07:22:47 PM »
We just back from Custer and I must say that it has gone to the top of my list for favorite places to visit, just ahead of Yosemite.

We picked a bad day to go for seeing wildlife because it rained most of the day, sometimes very hard and there were a number of lightening strikes close by due to all the iron in the mountains. We were able to see two male bison apart from any herd grazing a couple hundred feet from the road, a group of burros next to the road, and two herd of bison so far away from the road, all you could make out were black spots. I'll blow up the photos we took and see if we can make out the individual animals. No antelope or sheep. I would imagine most of the animals were trying to stay dry, just like us.

After doing a minimal amount of research, we decided we would have the time to take two roads: the Wildlife Loop and the Needles Road. The Iron Mountain Road sounded like something we would like to see, but we took the Wildlife Loop from the west side and could only take either Iron Mountain or Needles, not both without doubling back, and we didn't have time for that. We left the dogs in the coach and didn't want to stay gone for more than six or seven hours.

What was said about these roads is correct; you cannot take them in a large coach. We saw several Class C's on Wildlife Loop and a couple of small 5'ers and A's, several trailers, but nothing very large. I think most of these RV's were coming from campgrounds that did have easy accessibility, but further down the road there were a number of switchbacks that I would not try to take my 39 footer down. On the Needles Road, there are numerous switchbacks, hairpins, and three tunnels a decent sized coach would not make it through. The Needles Eye near the end of the road is a tunnel that has a 9' clearance and is 8' wide. When we got up to it, a smaller than average tour bus was attempting to enter the tunnel. We waited for over 20 minutes while the bus driver got his bus positioned and pointed exactly right because he had absolutely no clearance. Why any tour bus driver would attempt to do this is beyond my comprehension. But he made it. When we finally were able to enter the tunnel, we could touch the side walls on both sides at the same time - that's just how little clearance there was, and this was in a small SUV. We saw the bus parked a mile down the road at a lodge. From a distance, it didn't appear as though it had lost anything.

While the Wildlife Loop didn't live up to our expectations from the rain, the Needles Road made up for it. The formations of rock that appear like needles standing straight up in the air are fascinating and worth dozens of pictures at the numerous turnoffs available on the road. But then the road travels up into the needles so you are even with them! I would post pictures of them but I can't get my photo editor to make them small enough for the forum to accept them. This road is a must see for anyone visiting Custer State Park.

Entry to the park costs $20 per car or $10 per motorcycle and the pass is good for a week. We stopped at one welcome center (there are several because there are several entrances) that had an excellent display of the history of the park and a very good education about bison. I never knew bison and buffalo were two different animals, always thinking the names were interchangeable. A theater inside shows an 18 minute film about the park narrated by Kevin Costner and shot from a helicopter, giving you a very good view of much of the scenery. If I ever have the chance to return to the Black Hills, and I think I might put it on a future list, I will definitely go back to Custer State Park.

At present, it is pouring down rain again and I think the burgers I was going to grill will be cooked indoors instead. Tomorrow, we will drive into Deadwood and check out some of the casinos, comparing them to the Vegas casinos we used to work in and frequent when we lived there.
John
Cape Coral, Fl.
2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J
2018 Chevy Equinox

John Stephens

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #38 on: June 17, 2019, 12:49:46 AM »
Yesterday, Saturday, was a take it easy day since it was the last day we had until hitting the road again. A bit of housework, computer work, making out the bills for the next month, and then heading into Deadwood to see a little bit of the town. We didn't know we had picked Wild Bill Days this weekend, an annual event with a lot of activities and several decent musical groups including Tracy Byrd. We walked down Main Street, saw where Hickok got shot, where his killer was caught, grabbed a pizza at a local bar, and played video poker at two of the only machines we saw in the entire town, playing for over an hour and losing only $16.75 between the two of us. This is little more than a tourist trap town, but we expected that.

Today, we got up and out in less than 90 minutes, getting better and faster at our PTI and hitching up the car. For the first time, we had an issue with the slides going in and I thought we were going to have to get a new motor and pump installed just after visiting HWH a week ago, but it turned out to be a weak chassis battery after having sat all week without being charged from driving. I told my wife to start the coach and then try it, and it worked. We dodged another bullet. It took me a little longer than it should have to hit the road today because earlier in the week, I had put our satellite dish on top of the coach to get a good signal and today had to climb up and take it down. Tonight, the dish could not be used.

We drove west on I-90, catching some bad concrete after the state line into Wyoming for a few miles, but we avoided most of it by driving in the inside lane until we could tell the road was once again good enough to keep from shaking the coach to pieces. I watched the elevation continue to rise on the Garmin for much of the trip today until it peaked out at 9,700 ft in the middle of the Big Horn National Forest. The mountains are spectacular there and at our highest, we were level with snow still on the ground. In June! The drive was rough at times because it rained much of the way, causing us to be extra cautious when going back down the 6% grade on wet roads. The slowest the coach ran was 20 mph when climbing the 8% grade up to the top. The worst mileage according to the computer was 4.9 mpg and the best was 15.8 coasting back down the other side. I'm hoping this will be indicative of what we will see for the rest of the Rockies as far as engine and transmission performance are concerned.We filled up in Gillette for $2.50/gal.

We spent two hours off the road trying to get the WiFiRanger working by downloading new firmware, and it turned out to be a complete waste of time. The tech working with me on the problem told me he will ship me a new system when I can give him a shipping address. I'll have to see if my campground in W. Yellowstone will accept packages.

We got into Ten Broek RV Park at 5:15 just as the owners were closing up the office. They told me to park the coach for the night and then come back to the office and settle up. Nice folks. But the campground is old and has the hookups on the wrong side of the RV with the water and electric on the right. And, the sewer could not be hooked up because the pipe is in a concrete encasement in the ground and my connector wouldn't fit. We'll dump in the morning, not a big deal.

But the big disappointment was not being able to get the Dish satellite dish to work. Apparently, some of those bad roads took their toll because we have lost communication between the cable connection inside the outer compartment and the other end that connects to the receiver. Just to troubleshoot the problem, I connected the cable from the dish directly to the receiver through a window, and it worked so I know it isn't the outside cable. It makes sense that the problem is at one end or the other since in between, there should be nothing but wiring, the connections that could be shaken loose being on both ends, so I'll look at those places first.

Another issue we had was the jack that has the bad solenoid didn't want to deploy. Apparently, this morning when I flipped the valve open to retract the jack, I must have disconnected the wiring harness. A simple fix.

This is a primitive campground with no television stations or cable, but good, strong wi-fi. possibly because the campground isn't full. The owners are friendly and accommodating and the price is reasonable.

Fish N Fry in Deadwood has very friendly owners that make you want to return, but only at a different site. We had problems all week long with flooding from rain and sinking in, even with a gravel pad. Every morning when I got up, I could tell the coach was no longer level. I also have never had water as bad as this at anywhere in the United States. Maybe as this trip progresses, I'll find out there is a lot of iron in the water in different locales, but this water was a real shocker. Yellow to brown every morning, you didn't want to shower or rinse out your mouth after brushing your teeth because of the smell and taste. Very strong iron taste making you think you were eating rust. The first morning, I accused Judy of not flushing the toilet because the water was yellow. When I flushed the toilet, I realized I owed her an apology. It made me wonder what our clothes were going to smell like. I refused to fill my holding tank with this water, choosing to wait until we got to a different spot. Now that I'm a few miles further down the road, but in the mountains, I am realizing we might be in for the same thing for much of this trip because the water at this campground isn't any better.

Tomorrow, we head to Cody by way of the Gooseberry Badlands. I don't have a reservation for that town, so we'll have to hope the RV parks aren't completely full on a Monday. We plan on staying there for a couple of days and then backtrack down to Dubois.
John
Cape Coral, Fl.
2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J
2018 Chevy Equinox

John Stephens

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #39 on: June 18, 2019, 10:57:11 PM »
Yesterday, we drove to Cody. We had planned on taking the road past the Gooseberry Badlands, WY421, but it snuck up on us so quickly, I couldn't make the turn with an 18 wheeler breathing down my back without him seeing what I had in the toad. So we took the long way through Thermopolis but still made good time and enjoyed the scenery. Near the end of the trip a few miles outside of Cody, the road, WY120, got so bad, I thought I was on I-10 driving through Louisiana again. Since I lost my generator on that trip due to it bottoming out on its springs and severing the conduit to the transfer switch leaving us with no electric, I decided that this time I would slow down to a crawl to make the bumps caused from poorly patched raised slab edges much more reasonable, and I think we made the trip without damage.

Since we didn't have reservations for this town, I called Absaroka Bay RV Park Monday morning and had no problem getting a spot. With Good Sam discount and only a 4% Wyoming sales tax, the price was very reasonable at $39 per night. We decided to stay two nights so we could see the northeastern quadrant of Yellowstone along with the town and what it has to offer.

When we arrived, we found a nice campground with plenty of room between sites, good utilities, a friendly and helpful manager, and a lot of dogs for ours to bark at and spend plenty of time and energy sniffing out who had been in the dog walk area for the past couple of weeks. That afternoon, we grabbed a pizza on Main St. and walked several blocks looking for things to take back home. We wanted to see the western museum but needed a third day for that, so it got skipped.

Today, we wanted to see the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway and the Beartooth Highway. We didn't realize that meant we had to drive all the way to Fishing Bridge and essentially cover the northeastern quarter of Yellowstone. While in Montana, we paid $3.20/gal for gas, the highest of the trip thus far. Fortunately, we dealt with little slow traffic and were able to make the trip in eight hours, the limit we want to leave the dogs in the coach. We missed a couple of sites I would have liked to have seen, but will have the chance to pick them up when we stay in W. Yellowstone for two weeks. I think this was the correct decision to see this portion of the park while staying in Cody rather than trying to make an even longer day of it from the other side of the park.


Seeing the wonders of Yellowstone from the plains to the snow covered mountains and everything in between will make anyone who doesn't believe that God created this planet think twice. The beauty is simply astounding and something I would not get used to for a very long time, maybe never. Of course, this is coming from someone who has lived in Florida for over 20 years, so seeing anything that isn't flat is exciting. But we took so many pictures, we ran the camera's battery dead and forgot to bring our second. So the phones came out and finished the job. For wildlife, we saw countless bison over the entire area we covered, some at a distance, some crossing the road in front of us and then taking a dirt bath on the side of the road. This, of course, caused slowdowns, but no one seemed to care because everyone wanted pictures. It was absolutely fascinating. We also saw pronghorn antelope fighting on the side of the road with the females beginning their climb up the cliff, one black bear, chipmunks and marmots, but no elk, moose or grizzlies. We look forward to seeing those animals on our return visits with two full weeks to spot them.

We made it back in good time, even with the Fishing Bridge roadwork slowing us down. For those who don't know, Fishing Bridge RV Park is closed and several miles of the road around the park has been torn up and is nothing but dirt and gravel, one lane for quite a distance where each traffic path must take turns. If you want to see this part of the park, plan on taking extra time.

Tonight we dined at Irma's Buffet, supposedly a must do restaurant while in town. I was not impressed and the meal did not meet my expectations. Afterward, we went straight back to the coach so the dogs wouldn't think we had abandoned them. Tomorrow, we head to Dubois, again without a reservation for one night before driving to the Grand Tetons.
John
Cape Coral, Fl.
2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J
2018 Chevy Equinox

John Stephens

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #40 on: June 25, 2019, 11:28:09 PM »
I am back among the living. Gros Ventre in the Grand Tetons has a very weak cell signal, no wifi, and likewise, no internet. I haven't had a chance in the past week to log an entry on this thread. Thank you for your patience.

We drove from Cody to Dubois so we could be closer to Gros Ventre. I had picked an RV park when planning this trip but didn't make a reservation, not wanting to tie ourselves down to another day without fail. Before we left Absaroka Bay, I called the Longhorn Hotel and RV Park to make sure we could get a spot. There was no problem, although during the time we were there, the park appeared to be close to full.

The Longhorn was a little more expensive than I like but when we got there, we understood why. For a pull thru standard size site, they charge $59 per night and accept Good Sam, so the price for us was $53.10 plus tax, which in Wyoming is only 4% with no other hotel taxes, service fees or any other of what I refer to as prostitution taxes (for obvious reasons.)

We planned on staying at the Longhorn for one night and then head out to Gros Ventre for four nights, originally five before we decided to stay in Cody for an extra night. But for the reason I chose not to make solid reservations for any of these parks being having the freedom to go where we wanted and stay for as long as we wanted, we once again changed our plans once we saw the park.

The Longhorn is the best park we have stayed in thus far on this trip, and one of the best parks we have ever stayed in. Hence, the justification for the higher price. This is an old cattle farm that was converted to a hotel and RV park and it has an old West feel in the air. The park has plenty of very large trees which has pros and cons; shade as a pro but poor satellite reception as a con. But the trees add to the beauty of this park. No cable and poor wi-fi are detrimental to any rating to be given, but water pressure was very good at 60 psi and the dump was an easy connect. The electric apparently had issues because each night we were there, the new Progressive surge protector I had purchased for this trip cut the service, reinstating it 2:16 later as dictated in the owner's manual. The first night it happened, we didn't know what went wrong and wondered if the entire park was down, but a couple of minutes later, the power returned. That made me think it may have been the surge protector doing its job. Sure enough, the next night when it happened, I told Judy not to worry because I had a feeling the power would return in just a couple of minutes. I walked out to the power pedestal and looked at the readout and found the voltage had dropped below 104 volts, making the EMS unit stop the power until the voltage rose to an acceptable level, which in this case was instantaneous, but the protector always takes 2:16 to reset. I am now a strong proponent of this sort of protection. Prior, I wanted one but didn't want to spend the money for a good one. But while planning out this trip and realizing just how many different RV parks we would visit, making the chances of getting poor service go up considerably, I decided to buy one through Amazon a week before we left and am very glad I did.

The site was reasonably level, gravel, well packed, with room behind or in front for our SUV. I think these sites were all designed to hold 45' RV's along with a car or truck. On our way to the site, we drove past their dog run. We were surprised and very glad to have this since we thought we wouldn't see one until we got to St. Louis in August and the poor dogs weren't going to have any opportunity to burn off the energy they were building up and storing. Any dog owner knows what can happen when this occurs. Especially with smart herding breeds, dogs will get so bored if given nothing to do to burn off their energy, they'll find something to do on their own, and it will usually be something you won't be happy about.

We didn't unhitch, thinking we were only going to stay one night. As soon as we got connected and leveled with the slides out, we took the dogs down to the dog run. This run is probably about a half acre with a giant tree in the middle, giving male dogs a way to talk to each other, and plenty of room to run and chase balls or frisbees. When I looked out across the lake they have between the dog run and the horse corral and stable, I saw what I considered to be one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen in my life with rolling hills past the horse area and snow capped mountains behind the hills. I asked Judy if she would like to stay another day there. It took her no time to respond in the affirmative, so I walked back to the office and told the nice lady who had checked me in that our dogs had told us they wanted to stay another night. Between the views and the dog run, we were sold. All the workers there were very personable and helpful. We really enjoyed our stay.

While there, we did some driving tours of the area, taking in the scenery and snapping a lot of photos. We drove all the way up the Union Pass and back down, and checked out the petroglyphs south of the RV park. We would have stayed another day but we had already cut our stay at Grand Tetons from five days to three, and I was told we would need at least three days, if not five, to see the Tetons. So on Friday, we packed up and headed for Gros Ventre.

The drive to the Grand Tetons was sometimes difficult with 6% grades, taking our speed down to the 20's on occasion and forcing me to smell for burning brakes on the way back down, even with using the grade brake and the stabbing method of braking. But when we got over the initial mountains, we were stunned by what was in front of us. The Grand Tetons is without a doubt the most stunning eye candy I have ever seen, and what one always pictures in their mind of what the Rocky Mountains are supposed to look like. I have been told and have read that the Tetons are the most beautiful mountains in the United States, only surpassed by the Canadian Rockies for this continent. I tend to agree with my limited experience. I told Judy I was afraid these views were going to spoil us for the rest of our vacation and with the exception of the Icefield Parkway, we probably wouldn't see anything this beautiful again. I didn't realize there are still glaciers in the Tetons. albeit small ones due to climate change. But I thought I would have to wait until we got to Glacier NP before being able to see one. Needless to say more, we were most impressed with the scenery while in this park.

Gros Ventre is a nice, cozy park that has either electric hookups only or no hookups at all. We got there early enough, thanks to Jackie Mac on this forum, to be one of the first to ask for electric and were at our site by 10:30. The site was asphalt, new and smooth, but not level at all. We had to put two 2X12's under each front jack along with the jack pads to get the front end raised high enough to be able to turn on our refrigerator. The front tires were off the ground a couple of inches, something I don't really like seeing, but the jack solenoids on the front jacks were strong. The park is very nice, cut right into the woods and with strict rules about bear proofing any food or cooking utensils outside the RV. It is mandatory to put your grill back inside your RV once it has cooled down because this is in bear territory, along with moose, wolves, coyotes and other animals always looking for an easy meal. There were clean rest rooms and showers within close walking distance, although we had no need for either. The park rangers with whom I dealt were very friendly and helpful and there is a dump as you leave if needed.

While we were there, we drove to Jackson a couple of times to look around and dine. We tried Pinky G's pizza and found it to be good but not great and slightly overpriced. But what do you expect in a tourist trap town? When that is taken into consideration, the price wasn't that bad. One day, we decided to stop at the Dairy Queen while beginning to head out of town on the way back to the campground and realized it was a mistake because there was a tour bus full of Japanese tourists that had stopped for lunch taking up every single table in the restaurant. Apparently, the manager made the decision to make up multiples of their most popular sandwiches to avoid taking too much time. We both got our meals too quickly to have been made fresh, and that was borne out with the first bite of each of our meals.

We tried to cover most of the major roads in and out of the park so we could see whatever there was to see. We did not have the luck to see any moose or elk, but did see pronghorns and longhorn sheep along with several deer on the side of road, mostly standing up. We drove up Summit Drive and saw an outstanding panorama of both the mountains as well as the valley known as Jackson Hole. We were able to get photos that I think will be good enough to blow up into wall hangings when we get home, one of the major goals of this trip. Jenny Lake was beautiful, as well as Jackson Lake, and we drove some back roads that allowed us to see things normally not on most tourists' to do lists.

On Monday morning, we really didn't want to leave that beautiful sight, but knew we had to because we had a paid in advance two week stay in West Yellowstone beginning that day. So we pulled in the slides and put the jack system in store mode and I began taking the jack pads and wood from under the front jacks and stored them. Until now, I had always gone to the rear of the coach to make sure the driver's jack wasn't coming up and then would flip the valve on the solenoid to get it to rise. But on this morning, the jack was returning on its own, just as fast as the others, and this was a cold morning when jacks have to be given more time to retract. I was shocked to see that jack completely retract and the front jacks took longer. All of a sudden, I didn't have a solenoid problem anymore. A couple of days before, that jack wouldn't deploy so I looked at the solenoid to make sure I had flipped the valve back closed and noticed the electrical connector had come loose from its mate. I plugged it back in, ensuring it was locked in place and the jack then deployed. Now, I wonder if there is a chance the connector was only partially connected and this may have caused the jack's inability to retract on its own. For now, it appears to be working well and I have written to HWH to let them know, and I will cancel the appointment I made with an RV dealer in Kalispell, MT two weeks away. I have kept an eye on that jack and have found it also no longer appears to be leaking and retracting slightly on its own as it was doing a couple of weeks ago.

We drove to W. Yellowstone without problem, enjoying the views of the Tetons one last time. My Garmin wanted me to drop south to Jackson and take US 22 into Idaho to reach our destination but I chose to ignore it and take the Rockefeller Memorial Parkway instead so we could see the sights of both national parks on our drive. It may have taken an extra few minutes and cost me some mileage climbing mountains, but it was worth it.

Our park in W. Yellowstone is what I call a city RV park. Buffalo Crossing RV Park is the only park I found in my research for this trip that didn't raise their prices when Fishing Bridge closed for the entire season. I wanted to stay at Grizzly since it had been reviewed and rated very highly, but they raised their rates $25 per night from last year. I have no interest in paying $89 per night and not receive any kind of discount, either for weekly, monthly or GS, veteran, etc. With Montana taxes and service fees, this would have cost us close to $100 per night. Buffalo Crossing cost $65 per night and gives a GS discount of 10%, enough to cover the taxes and fees with a little left over. It is gravel from the time you enter the park, but well taken care of with new gravel and chat laid down apparently each season. The site we have is perfectly flat with no need for deploying the jacks other than for stability. It has good electric, water at 52 psi, easy dump connection and a wooden slat porch right out your steps with a nice picnic table on it. There is no cable but it has the strongest wi-fi I have seen in an RV park, good enough to stream at a steady 5+MB. It has no fire pit due to city ordinances disallowing any fires. It has a dog walk, partially grass and the rest being gravel, but dogs cannot be left off leash. Just like Gros Ventre, there are strict rules about food and grills because the park is only one block away from the national park and bears routinely walk through looking for food. The office manager who checked me in told me that just a week ago, he watched a mother bear and her cub walk right through the RV park, cross the street and walk toward the local McDonald's before he lost sight of her. I asked if she walked through the drive up and ordered a happy meal for her little one.

We took it easy yesterday and today, did our weekly housecleaning after having our doggie day spa. I brush Toby, our rough Collie every other day which means that Cameron, the smooth Collie also must be brushed because he is the alpha dog of the house and loves to be brushed. But once a week, we clip their nails and give them (read Toby) a thorough brushing trying to remove as much loose undercoat as possible before vacuuming the carpet. Afterward, we walked the dogs in town to give them new smells to catalog and so we could see what shops we wanted to visit later without them. I have a strained back/rib muscle so walking is about as physical as I'm getting for the moment. I'm trying to lose 20 lbs. during this 3 month trip to make my doctor happy and have cut down portion size considerably. But I still need exercise and have not been getting much.

Tomorrow, we will begin driving in the park and seeing the sights. We have decided to leave the dogs in the coach for nearly every journey after watching Cameron stress out in the Badlands. We think they will be happier in the coach, even for extended periods of time. We will make sure we're not gone longer than six to eight hours each day.

The weather thus far has been drastically cooler than I expected. I know from my research that it can get cold any month of the year this far north and it can snow any month in Glacier NP, but I didn't expect the cold temps further south that we have seen so far. Low 30's at night in the Tetons with highs in the low 50's. Today, it got warm enough to wear only a light jacket and it's supposed to continue the warming trend for the entire week. This Florida boy has had enough of this weather and has been reminded of why I moved to SW Florida. And I'm not finished heading north yet!
John
Cape Coral, Fl.
2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J
2018 Chevy Equinox

John Stephens

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #41 on: June 28, 2019, 12:10:28 PM »
Since my last post was exceedingly long to catch up on several day's activities, I'll keep the next ones relatively short.

We drove a quarter of the way down the south loop of Yellowstone on Wednesday, seeing quite a few of the sites along the way, making Old Faithful our farthest away stop, but not the last. Research taught me to catch the most popular sites early in the day to keep from becoming part of the crowd looking for a parking space. If you want to ensure getting a spot and being able to see what there is to see, you need to begin your drive from W. Yellowstone no later than 7AM and preferably earlier. This is what we did on Wednesday and everything worked out very well.

On the way back, Judy got her wish to see bison closer than what she had been seeing when trying to take pictures of herds or singles from a couple of hundred yards away in a field. While still on the loop going back to the drive that takes you to the W. Yellowstone entrance, we got stopped in traffic and didn't know why. After a few seconds, Judy saw a couple of bison walking along the side of the road and that told us what the holdup was. But it got better when the couple turned into an entire herd that walked along the side of our car and in front and to the other side, allowing me to get a three minute video of them within arm's reach. That will probably be the highlight of this stop in Yellowstone.

On Thursday, we realized the importance of getting out early when we left the coach at 8:15 and were able to see the Norris Geyser Basin but were unable to get a parking spot at any of the several places surrounding the Mammoth Hot Springs at 11AM. We decided after circling the lots three times to go back a different day and getting out no later than 6:30 so we can make it up there by 8:00. with the road construction that slows you down 30 minutes each way. We were still able to get lucky and find a parking spot at the Paint Pots on our way back, where I twisted my ankle, forcing me to take at least today off from very much walking.

An interesting observation we have made during our four weeks on the road is that it appears 1 out of every 3 Class C RV's are Cruise America coaches, telling us there are many people that want to see these national parks in an RV but don't want to own one, or are trying it out to see if they like it enough to buy one. We have also noticed there seems to be more fifth wheels on the road and in the parks than any other type of RV, with Class C's coming in second, Class A's in third and trailers coming in with the fewest seen. It does my heart good every time I see a Class A on the road that is older than mine and frankly, I have been surprised at how many older coaches are still on the road.

Something that surprises me is that for all the places to see and visit in Wyoming, there are very few RV dealers, repair facilities or Camping Worlds. Needing a warranty repair to one of the jack solenoids installed by HWH, I was shocked to find out I would have to wait until I got into Montana to get the work done because there are no dealers in Wyoming that work with HWH. Here in W. Yellowstone, there are few places to find supplies and we will have an 80 mile drive to the closest Walmart if we want to go shopping.

Living in SW Florida, I thought I was used to tourist trap prices since most of the state's coastlines are filled with tourist traps, but those prices are nothing compared to the areas surrounding the national parks. We have paid as much as $3.35/gal for gas and when Judy went to the local store for groceries a couple of days ago, she paid $4.00 for a loaf of generic bread. The top named breads were $5.00 per loaf. The local McDonald's is 60% higher on its breakfast sandwiches than what we pay back home, and I know those prices are higher than in the middle of the country. Eating out is also considerably more expensive that what we budgeted with lunch averaging $35 for two people for sandwiches and sodas. I'm glad we planned on dining in rather than out for most of our meals.

Today, we'll take it easy and give my ankle a chance to heal. Maybe a trip to Big Spring in Idaho on our way to Rexburg to do a little shopping at Walmart. Dinner tonight was planned out to make our second trip to Wild West Pizzeria, probably the best pizza in town and possibly the state at a reasonable price. The weather is continuing to improve, meaning getting warmer for me, and it might be time to pull the shorts out of the drawer for the first time in the past three weeks. Even with my research for this trip, I missed seeing that in this part of the country, the lows at night can go below freezing and there will be snow on the ground in June and July. Having basement air with a heat pump that automatically switches to the furnace when the temperature drops below 45 has been a blessing.
John
Cape Coral, Fl.
2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J
2018 Chevy Equinox

ArdraF

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #42 on: June 28, 2019, 05:17:04 PM »
John, the fuel out here in the west is quite a bit more expensive than the southeast.  California is highest and Nevada is next.  Gas in Las Vegas is about $3.19 this week.  It's been about $3.35 for a few months but has dropped.

ArdraF
ArdraF
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Old_Crow

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #43 on: June 29, 2019, 07:44:30 AM »
I paid $3.79/gal yesterday in Big Pine, CA.  $75 to fill up a pickup.  Glad it was the company truck.
Wally Crow
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steve407

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #44 on: June 29, 2019, 04:04:05 PM »
John and Judy:  Great blog. I'm enjoying living through your experiences -- some good & some not so much!  Hey, just remember, it's ONLY money when things go wrong. There's no ATM'S needed in heaven!  :-)  Keep up the blogging

Steve/Kathy
Someplace new is always just around the next curve. 
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John Stephens

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #45 on: June 29, 2019, 06:19:55 PM »
John, the fuel out here in the west is quite a bit more expensive than the southeast.  California is highest and Nevada is next.  Gas in Las Vegas is about $3.19 this week.  It's been about $3.35 for a few months but has dropped.

ArdraF

Ardra, I checked Gas Buddy for the entire trip to determine where the cheapest gas prices were and was shocked to see the prices in Vegas so high, nearly what California has. We lived in Vegas for 13 years and knew what the cost of living is in that town so we're mentally prepared for it when we arrive there the first of August. We knew the prices would go up after we got out of Iowa, but what surprises me and makes me think the prices are fixed is knowing that prices have come down across the country in the past couple of months, but the prices at every station in W. Yellowstone have been the same for the past two months.

We drove to Rexburg yesterday because that was where the closest Walmart was located and we needed a few things for the coach. It gave us the opportunity to check out a couple of places along the way that were outside the national park.

Today, we got another late start so we didn't try to get into Mammoth. Instead, we took the south loop to W. Thumb and then up to Fishing Bridge and the Canyon, allowing us to see the lower falls and the canyon, something I didn't expect to see in Yellowstone and something I consider truly amazing.

Tomorrow, we will stay at the coach with the dogs and give them some badly needed attention. We've been driving every day and are beginning to get tired, so a day off will be in line.
John
Cape Coral, Fl.
2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J
2018 Chevy Equinox

Lou Schneider

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #46 on: June 29, 2019, 07:49:23 PM »
Ardra, I checked Gas Buddy for the entire trip to determine where the cheapest gas prices were and was shocked to see the prices in Vegas so high, nearly what California has. We lived in Vegas for 13 years and knew what the cost of living is in that town so we're mentally prepared for it when we arrive there the first of August.

If you're heading towards Death Valley after Las Vegas, fuel up over the hump in Pahrump and then use Bel Vista Ave. on the north side of town to get to Amargosa Junction and CA 190.  Prices here are consistently 15 - 20 cents a gallon cheaper than Vegas due to lower taxes in Nye County.

Currently the average price in Pahrump is $3.05 a gallon with a couple of stations around $2.77 a gallon (regular gas).
« Last Edit: June 29, 2019, 07:54:58 PM by Lou Schneider »

John Stephens

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #47 on: June 30, 2019, 10:30:28 AM »
Thanks for the advice, Lou. However, we will be making Vegas our farthest west stop and will be heading to Kingman, AZ after that. I noticed this morning when checking Gas Buddy that there are several Sam's Clubs in Las Vegas with prices at $2.78, so I'm hoping by the time we get there in August, the prices will drop a bit more. For our trip, it appears our highest prices will be where we are now, in Canada, obviously, and in Idaho, Utah and Nevada. So the comment about gas being higher in the West is correct. I saw prices in Tulsa as low as $2.05.

A friend told me that the two highest state gas taxes are both going up the first of the month - California and Illinois. It looks like when I get to Illinois and stay for two weeks, I'll be seeing prices about $.20/gal higher than what they are now. When we went through that state on our way up here, we filled up in Paducah, KY, drove through the entire state without getting gas, and got our next fill up in Iowa. That saved us roughly $.60/gal that equates to $35.00 for a tankful. When we go back through Illinois, we'll fill up in St. Louis and make it all the way through the state to Kentucky before getting more gas.

Judy and I decided to stay "home" today. We have been averaging walking 3.5-5 miles per day for the entire week and have realized we're getting tired since we're not used to that much exercise. We bought a bathroom scale while at Walmart because I forgot to take ours along. I wanted to see if my belt tightening equated to weight loss as I suspected, and it did, showing I have lost 10 lbs. already in the first month we have been on vacation. My doctor told me he wanted to see a 20 lb. loss by the time I get back in September, so I'm making a good start. But not being in good shape means this exercise is beginning to take its toll on my joints and muscles, and it's time for a break. Besides, the pups have been left by themselves every day for 4-6 hours and feel we are neglecting them, so it's time to give them some loving. I'm wishing we had a place to let them run because they are building up a lot of energy that needs release.

Another reason I think I have been having some physical problems is because I'm not able to breath well in this high altitude. I find myself having to catch my breath every few minutes, even when sitting down, and that causes trouble when trying to sleep, providing less sleep. So I'm hoping just taking a day to rest and take it easy will give my body a chance to recover a little. Reading, computer work and television will be the pace for the day. We plan on getting up early and driving to Mammoth in the morning, so we'll have another long day of walking to which to look forward.
John
Cape Coral, Fl.
2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J
2018 Chevy Equinox

John Stephens

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #48 on: July 01, 2019, 10:12:01 PM »
6:00 usually comes only once a day for me, but we were up bright and early this morning so we could make the 90 minute drive to Mammoth Hot Springs. It was well worth it.

We drove through the West gate at 7:05. The traffic wasn't bad that early in the morning and the usual 30 minute backup on the north loop for road construction was only about 10 minutes, so we made it to an half empty parking lot at Mammoth by 8:20. Shortly before getting there, we hit a traffic jam because a park ranger was shooing a black bear off the roadway since it was getting too close to the attraction right up the road. The rangers seem to take seriously keeping the wildlife and humans separated since it is too easy for someone to get killed.

We got a good parking spot and made the trek up to the top of the springs, quite tired by the time we got there. But if you're going to look at the attraction, you can't see it from below. When we got to the top, we were amazed at what we were seeing: a steady flow of water over a large expanse of travertine 100 feet tall. The sight was astounding and we took plenty of photos. After driving away toward Tower Roosevelt, we also got some good shots at several elk along the side of the road. Elk and a bear in the same morning was enough to make the day.

Tower didn't impress us but we were able to finish our tour of the northern and southern loops. Along the way, we gazed at waterfalls, cascades, and some of the most beautiful landscapes we have ever seen. It will be difficult to top Yellowstone for shear beauty, especially when you take into consideration all the varying scenery there is - snow capped mountains, rolling hills, forests, meadows, waterfalls, hot springs, geysers, and the list goes on. Making this land a protected national park was a very wise move. We still have a little less than a week to see more of the park, but we plan on seeing areas outside of the park to take up some of our time.

I also plan on trying to find an appliance repair store and find a new valve for our ice maker since we just ran out of ice and I just determined that once again, my mechanic was premature in wanting to replace the ice maker when it stopped working four years ago. It now appears the only thing wrong with it is the inlet valve. If I can find one, I'll replace it myself and save some money. I'm also thinking about looking into a new thermostat because the slide switch on our Tru-Air thermostat is beginning to get difficult, a common problem from what I understand. Rather than buying a better one that would take an electrician to wire for me, I'll stick with the original item, hoping that it will last for at least five years. We don't plan on having the coach longer than that.
John
Cape Coral, Fl.
2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J
2018 Chevy Equinox

UTTransplant

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #49 on: July 02, 2019, 07:02:09 AM »
Nothing like getting up early in Yellowstone. We would try to get to the gate by 5:30-6:00, a painful alternative, but one we never regretted once we did it. You say you’ve got some time to see outside the park. Think about Bozeman to get to a decent hardware store and have a fun time. They have downtown street fairs regularly, and the Museum of the Rockies is truly outstanding. The Bozeman Hot Springs can be a great way to pamper some tired muscles too.
Pam and Kevin plus Lily the cat
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nibroc

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #50 on: July 02, 2019, 11:06:08 AM »
good thread----long read though

RVMommaTo6

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #51 on: July 02, 2019, 11:09:39 AM »
Is it always that crowded? We're going in early September. Are all the national parks like that?
Amanda
Mommy to 6 great kids who love camping and traveling
Aug 1, 2019- began our 10 month cross country trip
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John Stephens

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #52 on: July 02, 2019, 11:40:02 AM »
Nothing like getting up early in Yellowstone. We would try to get to the gate by 5:30-6:00, a painful alternative, but one we never regretted once we did it. You say you’ve got some time to see outside the park. Think about Bozeman to get to a decent hardware store and have a fun time. They have downtown street fairs regularly, and the Museum of the Rockies is truly outstanding. The Bozeman Hot Springs can be a great way to pamper some tired muscles too.

Thanks for the advice on Bozeman. I'm waiting for a return call from an appliance shop and if they have the part, we'll head up there, get it, and check out the museum.
Is it always that crowded? We're going in early September. Are all the national parks like that?

Amanda, the busiest tourist season for Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and Glacier is July, August and September. We chose to go in June because we knew it would be slightly less busy. Most of the RV parks we have seen both inside and outside the park are declared full every day we drive by them. Our park just took down their "full" sign and it appears we have a half dozen spot open today. Give it till the end of the week and it will again be full. If you are wanting to see Yellowstone in early September, you should already have reservations somewhere. If you don't, I suggest you begin trying to find a park right now. 60 days this time of year is usually not enough lead time. I made my reservations when I was allowed. This meant some were made last December and some were as late as March, whenever the parks began taking them over the phone or online.

Something else I will strongly suggest to anyone wanting to visit Yellowstone is if you want to avoid as much traffic as possible, get into the park as early as possible in the morning. When we went yesterday, we hit the gate at 7AM and there was a small line. 6AM will have no line. But when we returned home at noon, the line at the gate was all the way into the city of W. Yellowstone, a good ½ mile long. As I type this, I am watching the line get longer than that because we have had a heavy rainstorm all morning and people waited for the rain to stop. It is now 10:35AM and the line is more than ½ mile long. When we entered the park later in the morning, we had to fight a lot more traffic and had a considerably more difficult time finding parking spots. But when we went early at 6 or 7, there was very little traffic to contend with and the parking was easy. That also means less people within the confines of the attractions so it's easier to take photos and see what there is to see without feeling pressured to keep moving.
John
Cape Coral, Fl.
2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J
2018 Chevy Equinox

RVMommaTo6

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #53 on: July 02, 2019, 04:24:23 PM »
Luckily I have reservations! I assumed after labor day would be pretty empty, guess not lol, that's ok, we'll get an early start then.
Amanda
Mommy to 6 great kids who love camping and traveling
Aug 1, 2019- began our 10 month cross country trip
2015 Thor Motor Coach A.C.E. 30.2 aka "home" 
2010 35ft Springdale bunkhouse TT
2001 Jayco Pop-up
https://rvmama6.home.blog/

maddog348

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #54 on: July 02, 2019, 05:46:44 PM »
Never ~~ Assume ~~
Pam (a.k.a.-Maddog  (driver))
Kate (a.k.a.-One Eyed Old Lady {nagivator))
 
2 furry copilots ('Charlie' 15# Terrier/X &  'Bella' 10# Min.Schnauzer/X'

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UTTransplant

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #55 on: July 02, 2019, 08:28:11 PM »
Luckily I have reservations! I assumed after labor day would be pretty empty, guess not lol, that's ok, we'll get an early start then.
Get there really early on the days you are concentrating on wildlife. By 9:00 am the wildlife has already been spooked away from the roads in many cases. We try to be at the gate by 6:00, or as soon after sunrise as we can. Even the thermal features are so much more noticeable in the early morning while it is still cool. The steam shows many more thermal features in the cool morning than you would guess at by midday.
Pam and Kevin plus Lily the cat
2018 Tiffin 37PA
2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk toad
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maddog348

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #56 on: July 02, 2019, 10:02:44 PM »
utt Transplant.  ~~  Very well said  And remember speed on the road depends on the traffic ~~  FURRY TRAFFIC.  Buffalo amble at a very slow pace.

JM2¢  ~~  YMMV
Pam (a.k.a.-Maddog  (driver))
Kate (a.k.a.-One Eyed Old Lady {nagivator))
 
2 furry copilots ('Charlie' 15# Terrier/X &  'Bella' 10# Min.Schnauzer/X'

2007 Itasca 'Sunova' 26P ~ 2003 Rav4 'toad'(remco tranny pump)

John Stephens

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #57 on: July 02, 2019, 10:28:11 PM »
You're absolutely right about furry traffic. In the 8 days we have been here, we have seen traffic slowdowns or standstills due to bison, elk or bears a total of 5 times. I have a great 3 minute video of bison walking in front and around both sides of my car. Total standstill was only about five minutes, but you'll also have slowdowns from people seeing an animal 200 yards away and stopping in the middle of the road to snap a picture that probably won't turn out anyway, and not caring they are stopping 20 cars behind them that may have someplace to go. The worst I saw was our first day here when on the lower loop road going through construction with the road being closed down to only one lane of dirt road and no pavement (yes, you'll see a couple of sections like that on both loops as long as five miles) with a lead truck guiding the cars on when and where to go, one idiot stopped in the middle of the road, got out of his car, and walked to the side of the road to snap a picture of a bison 100 yards away, not caring that he was holding up traffic going both directions since the other direction was waiting for us to finish our trek so they could begin theirs. After about 60 seconds of people honking their horns, another driver got out of his car and yelled at the guy to get back in his car and drive.
John
Cape Coral, Fl.
2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J
2018 Chevy Equinox

John Stephens

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #58 on: July 05, 2019, 11:50:35 PM »
On Tuesday, we stopped by the visitor's center a door away from the rv park and wished we had done it our first day in town. The very nice lady there asked us where we had been so far and what we had seen. She then told us just how much we had missed and suggested we retrace some of our steps and revisit a few of the places we have already seen, but this time, do more and see more. So we decided to revisit Old Faithful and take an entire day to see the Upper Geyser Basin where it is located on her advice. Actually, since then, we have taken 1-½ days there.

On Wednesday, we met JackieMac and her partner, Steve, at Grant's Village just south of West Thumb. We had lunch in the dining room there and enjoyed a couple of hours of scintillating conversation, then decided to go back to Old Faithful on their advice to visit the Inn. Jackie and Steve are so knowledgeable about traveling through the West and know so much about things to see, places to go and things to do, we could spend weeks with them, listening to all their suggestions. A special thanks goes out to them for both the time spent with us that day as well as all the preplanning suggestions they made prior to this trip.

The Inn at Old Faithful is phenomenal. Made completely out of wood harvested from the surrounding area with a 550 ton fireplace made out of granite mined again, from the park area, this building is impossible to not be impressed over. Everything about it is impressive, including the ice cream Steve was kind enough to treat us to. Between them and the lady at the visitor's center, we were convinced that there was enough to see in the park during our second week here that it was unnecessary to find places to see outside the park.

On Thursday, we stayed at the coach for our dog's sake. Not knowing how many fireworks might be shot off during the day, We didn't want to subject our dogs to possible loud noises without us being there to comfort them. We had a relaxing day and was surprised at how long the W. Yellowstone Independence Day parade was, lasting about 25 minutes. Frankly, I didn't know there were that many vehicles in the town. Of course, part of the parade was horses and riders, so there you go. That night, I stayed in the coach with the dogs to try to keep Cameron, our Smooth Collie who has severe problems with loud noises, as calm as possible with his Thunder Shirt worn with lavender sprayed on it, while Judy sat outside taking in a pretty nice fireworks display considering the size of this town. We were impressed.

Jackie and Steve convinced us that we needed to spend more time at Old Faithful seeing the other attractions around the big one and take a several mile walk to do so. So today, we drove back and had breakfast at the Inn before taking the entire loop walk around the Upper Basin. The breakfast was a disappointment. Judy got the buffet and found the only eggs they served were scrambled and powdered. No omelets, pancakes, or french toast, although they had both bacon and sausage and fresh fruit. For $14.25, it was grossly overpriced for what was available. I ordered a ham, cheese and onion omelet and waited for 25 minutes, long after Judy was finished with her buffet, before it arrived. When it did, the plate was burning hot, telling me it had been sitting under the warming light, having been forgotten to pick up by our completely incompetent server. Since Judy is a certified server trainer and I have worked in restaurants before, we are good, and usually excessive, tippers, so this was the first time in a long time that I left the server a 10% tip.

After breakfast, we walked the geyser loop, a 2.8 mile journey that took us by some of the more interesting geysers and pools. We were lucky enough to wait only 45 minute to see Castle Geyser erupt, probably one of the most impressive geysers in the area, much more so than Old Faithful. We waited over an hour to see the Grand Geyser but got tired of waiting. There were many other attractions that were worth seeing and we took plenty of photos. But we forgot two things that made us want to cut the trip a bit short - water and a second camera battery. So we went back to the car after walking this loop and got both. Then we walked to Geyser Hill and were fortunate enough to be able to see the Beehive Geyser go off, one of the tallest at roughly 180 feet, and unfortunate enough to be standing downwind and being drenched with ice cold water. You would think that since this water is superheated to over 200 degrees while underground, it would come out pretty hot, but that is not the case. After that, we walked back to the car since it was now mid afternoon and we didn't want to leave the dogs too long. The entire day's walk was 7.1 miles.

Before we left on this trip, I installed a Dirt Devil central vacuum system in the coach. During the trip, we have found it to be below standards regarding picking up dog hair in the amounts we have. So last week, I ordered through RVUpgrades.com a Rugrat attachment for it, having it sent to Send It Home a block away from the RV park since the park doesn't accept packages. On the way home, we ran into two very long traffic backups caused from people attempting to find parking places along the side of the road at major attractions and became worried that we might not make it back before this store closed. The usual 45 minute drive took us almost two hours, but we made it in time.

For anyone interested, the attachment we bought make all the difference in the world for picking up dog hair and we are very glad we purchased it. It is very small in size and takes considerably longer to vacuum the rug, but does so in one pass, while using the attachment that comes with the vacuum takes five passes and I can still find more hair in the carpet, so it actually takes less time with the Rugrat.

It was also suggested to us that we drive through Yellowstone during the late afternoon and early evening hours since we have only gone early in the morning, so tomorrow, that is what we will do, staying home with the dogs until 3 or 4 PM and then try to see some animals we have yet to see, such as grizzlies and moose before dusk. It will be our last foray into the park since we will relax and get ready to leave on Sunday for Monday's trip to Garrison, MT on our way up to Glacier National Park. Besides, after today's 7 mile walk, I don't think we'll be moving too fast in the morning.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2019, 12:22:48 AM by John Stephens »
John
Cape Coral, Fl.
2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J
2018 Chevy Equinox

maddog348

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #59 on: July 06, 2019, 01:15:36 AM »
Good Choice John ~~ About every 5 years we take a week or so to visit ~~ Have not run out of things to see yet.

JM2¢  ~~  YMMV
Pam (a.k.a.-Maddog  (driver))
Kate (a.k.a.-One Eyed Old Lady {nagivator))
 
2 furry copilots ('Charlie' 15# Terrier/X &  'Bella' 10# Min.Schnauzer/X'

2007 Itasca 'Sunova' 26P ~ 2003 Rav4 'toad'(remco tranny pump)