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Author Topic: Florida to the Pacific NW  (Read 15726 times)

skyking1

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #60 on: August 22, 2013, 10:21:00 PM »
Glad you had a good time on the mountain :) The weather has been spectacular for sure.
If you need a rest from all that great hiking, check out the grizzly and wolf discovery center in West Yellowstone.
http://www.grizzlydiscoveryctr.org/
Kelly and Mary

1996 Dodge CTD 2500 "Woody"
1991 Avion 29.5 ST
Washington State

http://boondockerswelcome.com/users/skyking

therealsimpsons

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #61 on: August 23, 2013, 09:36:11 AM »
We stayed at Yellowstone Holiday RV resort on Lake Hebgen in late June and early July. The hosts were wonderful and this was a nice park, about 11 miles to W Yellowstone from there. If you do get reservations, we'd recommend trying for a spot on the southeast section near the water. If you are in to reading, they have a book exchange library in the office.

In W Yellowstone itself, (highly commercialized) the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center is a must, as Kelly mentioned. There is a neat little bicycle shop in town with some cool stuff. And the owner has pictures of a mamot that lives on the block and divides his time among the shops in the winter to keep warm.

Without a doubt you must take the 15 mile trip west of the RV park to see the site of the largest recorded earthquake in the Rocky Mountains. You will see a 6 million pound boulder that moved over a half mile in 90 seconds. The quake actually formed a lake (Quake Lake) by damming the Madison River. Since 1959 the river is gradually eating away at the dam, and it is receding, and some day it will be just the river again. Fascinating stuff there.

Enjoy Yellowstone!
« Last Edit: August 23, 2013, 09:44:03 AM by parttymer »
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skyking1

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #62 on: August 23, 2013, 09:42:55 AM »
Patty, thanks for bringing up Quake Lake. We have driven by it many times, but need to stop and check it all out.
Kelly and Mary

1996 Dodge CTD 2500 "Woody"
1991 Avion 29.5 ST
Washington State

http://boondockerswelcome.com/users/skyking

hoddinron

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #63 on: August 23, 2013, 09:01:15 PM »
Quick status update.

Got underway at 8:40 PST, and headed toward Butte, MT with a planned stop at Missoula for groceries at the local Wal-Mart. We like using Wal-Mart because they usually have room in their Parking lot for us, and we can pick up RV items that we run out of.

On the way, we left WA, passed through northern Idaho, and cruised into Montana. A three state day. Almost the entire day we were in mountainous terrain, climb, climb, climb, and then swoop down the other side. This time the downside runs included pretty tight turns for which the suggested speed was usually 65, or if it was really tight, 55. This was too much for me, so we took 5mph off of all those suggested speeds and felt comfortable. Again the engine brake and automatic transmission controlled the speed going down for the most part.

Getting to Missoula was pretty and easy, finding their Wal-Mart not so much. We got off at the wrong exit depending on th iExit app on our iPad. It was five miles off, so we figured it out and back tracked. We shopped, had lunch and had Joyce's reading glasses repaired! It set us back 90 minutes, but was worth it!

So, Butte was supposed to be the easy half of the day. It was only 120 some miles away, but the wind kicked up against us. About 30 knots of wind! This is significant drag on the fifth wheel, which towers over the truck. I eased off the cruise control to 55 as I saw the MPG gauge start to drop. Anyway, with losing an hour of time, as we were now in Mountain Time, and the 90 minutes at Wally World, we didn't get to the Butte KOA until 5:45. There was a line at check in. Luckily they had a Chicken and Fish concession on the premises, and we ordered a chicken dinner to be picked up after we set up, about 7pm MST.

Dinner was quite good, and now we're listening to the Rays kick the Yankee's butts! It's 7 to 2 in the ninth. Tomorrow we do have reservations at Holiday Lake Hepken Resort a few miles out of West Yellowstone on Lake Hepken. We've stayed there before and loved it!
  We have three days reserved, but if it's a good site, we'll tack on a few more!  Glad you had a good time there Patty.  We're starting to run out of books, so we'll have some to contribute, too!


Ron & Joyce - Retired
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2016 Sabre 25 RL 5th Wheel

therealsimpsons

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #64 on: August 24, 2013, 12:30:31 AM »
Patty, thanks for bringing up Quake Lake. We have driven by it many times, but need to stop and check it all out.

Glad you had a good time there Patty.  We're starting to run out of books, so we'll have some to contribute, too!

Just for the record, (still chuckling  ??? ) my name is Stan. The user name is a mis-spelling of part timer (on purpose).  ::)
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hoddinron

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #65 on: August 26, 2013, 08:52:45 AM »
 :). Sorry about the confusion with your name, Stan!

 
Ron & Joyce - Retired
2012 Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel 2.73 axle
2016 Sabre 25 RL 5th Wheel

hoddinron

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #66 on: August 26, 2013, 10:02:33 AM »
From Butte to Lake Hepken we decided to take the I90 exit that goes south along the river, on route 191.   You  exit at Belgrade, and follow the sign to the left for 85.  Then it goes south(right) and shortly becomes 191. There was reportedly smoke from a fire to the SW along the other route which I think is 289, and goes through Ennis.

GoogleMaps said the way we took was a bit longer, but following a river is usually following a valley that the river carved, instead of looping up, over and around the hills and mountains.   This turned out to be true, but some sections of the road were being repaired, and we had some short delays while we waited for the cars going the other way passed by, and it was our turn to go forward. 

We stopped along the way to have a bite of lunch.  The river to our right at the time, was roaring along over the rocky stream bed.  It was peaceful there, and we were happy not to have to travel too much further to get to camp. 

One last hill to climb and we were inside the caldera of Yellowstone.  You could look in every direction and see a rim of mountains.  They say that if Yellowstone ever blows its top it will make Mt. St. Helen look like a school model of a volcano. We  cruised south into the Yellowstone caldera keeping an eye out for Lake Hepken Rd.  there aren't many turn offs except for dude ranches along there so it was pretty easy to find.  Turning right, and another four miles, we could see the lake shining in the afternoon sun. 

The hostess at the check-in deck called Joyce by name when we walked up, which put a smile on her face.  We checked that we really did have site 30, and then added two more days to our stay for a total of five.  After setting up, Joyce got the laundry together and I set up the reclining chairs outside on the grass at our site.  Everything is so well cared for here,  it's a pleasure to stay here.  Yes we're 14 miles from West Yellowstone, but that's a small price to pay for such a great campground.  From our site we can look out over the water and marina, and watch the boats come and go.  There was a poker run in progress when we arrived, so there was a lot of activity, but it was a Saturday!  Also a few sailboats were out on the lake, which made us feel at home.

Sunday was August 25th and a special day for Yellowstone and the Old Faithful Inn!  It was free entry day at the National Parks, and it was Christmas in August at the Old Faithful Inn!  But first we went to see the Grizzlies and wolves at the Discovery center in West Yellowstone.  An educational and well done exhibit.  We enjoyed watching the bears hunt for their  food when they were let out of their hidden enclosures.  They turned over rocks and heavy logs with ease, demonstrating their strength and speed.  The wolves were sleeping when we went to visit, but they don't work with them until three PM, so that's why, I suppose. 

After checking out the western most street of West Yellowstone, we headed into the park.  It was Sunday, and Free entry day, so it was quite busy and traffic was heavy.  We decided to go to Old Faithful to see what Christmas in August was all about.  Along the way we followed the Firehole River and at one point watched several men wading across the river.  I commented to Joyce that it looked cold and somewhat dangerous, as the river was flowing swiftly!  We learned later that there is a certain spruce tree on the other side that gets decorated on August 25th as part of Christmas in August!  People were wading over to decorate the tree! 

When we arrived at Old Faithful, we were surprised at all the new buildings, mostly hotels, that have sprung up!  Also there is a new Educational building right in front of Old Faithful that I don't recall in 2008.  I think they were building it then.  We found a parking space, and went right to see Old Faithful geyser.  We had to wait about 25 minutes along with hundreds of others, but when she went off, as she always does about  every 90 minutes, it was worth it!

We then headed over to the Old Faithful Inn to see how they decorated the insides for Christmas in August.  I know it sounds impossible, but the whole thing got started in the 1930's when a freak August snow storm stranded the guests at the Old a faithful Inn for several days.  The staff and guests decided to celebrate Christmas early, so they decorated a tree, made a special Christmas dinner, sang carols, had hot apple cider, cooked Christmas cookies, and just made the most of being stranded!  Sounds pretty great to me!  So, the story goes, ever since then Christmas has been celebrated on August 25th at the Old Faithful Inn!

The insides of the Inn, which is an all log structure four stories tall and all open on the inside, were strung with Christmas lights.  A Christmas Tree was near the huge fireplace, along with staff dressed as elves.  Inside the gift shop, hot apple cider was free for everyone. Cookies were being baked, but not being served until later, and the carols were also for the evening hours.  It was charming!  You could imagine all those years ago, the stranded vacationers gathered round the Yuke log singing "Jingle Bells."  It was a simpler time.

We checked out the new General Store, and Educational Center, and then headed home to Lake Hepkin, about an hours long drive.  Fueled up and got some fresh bread in West Yellowstone.  Joyce made quesadillas for dinner with chicken and cheese, and read until our eyes closed.  Went down to 41 in the night.
Ron & Joyce - Retired
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hoddinron

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #67 on: August 28, 2013, 03:45:32 PM »
Woke up kinda sore from yesterday's hiking in Yellowstone Park. Took a long hot shower, had breakfast and began to feel better. Yesterday we went Bison and Elk hunting, and we found them! Of course in Yellowstone, that's not too remarkable. We drove to Madison junction, then on to Norris Geyser Basin, and on to Canyon, where we headed south along the Grand Loop Rd toward the Agrand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and Hayden Valley. Along the way to Canyon we came around a turn and there was a lone Bull Bison just Ka-lumping along the side of the road. Joyce grabbed her camera, and we paced him for a minute while she snapped photos. I was ready to zoom out of his way if he got tired of us being alongside. Call it a close encounter of the motorized kind. You'd never want to get that close on foot!

At Canyon we wanted to get out and hike, so we pulled into a parking lot on the north rim road to hike to the falls. I'd forgotten how many trails there are around the falls, and we picked the Lower Falls Brink Trail. It was great going down, but I kept thinking about the return trip! It was pretty steep, and even some people who looked fit were gasping on their way back. Watching the water spill over the edge was great and we were really close to the power of the falls. It's a 600 foot drop! As suspected, the climb back up was tough on this old codger, but I only stopped to rest at every other bench, and do feel stronger than when we got out west! I said to Joyce, "Remember, we're not just climbing, we're climbing at 7700 feet of elevation." Back at the top, we grabbed a snack and water, and set out to find Artist's Point, where in 1871, Thomas Moran had painted Yellowstone Falls, as his part of a government expedition to document the West.
We drove back around the Canyon Visitor Center, and south to find the South Rim Drive, where Artist's Point is located. No long hike to get to it this time! But we did run into a Park Ranger who was walking our way with a stack of photos under his arm. "Are you going to do a talk?" I asked. He replied that indeed he was in about fifteen minutes, and told us where to look for him. We love Ranger Talks. So after getting some photos of the most photogenic waterfalls in America, we met him where he said he would be.
Ranger Steve was very informative regarding the history of Yellowstone including the first white man to stumble upon it, John Colter, who went with Lewis and Clark, but asked to be relieved of duty part of the way back. The party voted on it and allowed him to wander off into the wilderness in the middle of winter, alone. It was the fist time in American history that a black and a Woman were allowed to vote! The woman was Sakajawea, and the black man was the cook for the Corp of discovery. Then he told us about the first photographer, and about Thomas Moran, the painter who went along and managed to sketch, and paint many scenes from the Yellowstone area.

When his talk ended we were starving, because we hadn't eaten lunch. Driving on down the road towards the Hayden Valley we stopped along the road, and ate in the truck. This was the area where bison herds were supposed to be gathered, and they were! They were pretty far away from the road, but we studied them with our binoculars. Also in this same area are thermal features, so we stopped at "Mud Volcano" to check them out. Of course this involved walking along a board walk about 3/5ths of a mile, up a hill, around the hill and back, taking in the features as we went. Just about half way there, we spotted a huge bull Bison lounging next to a steaming sulfur lake. He seemd to be enjoying the fumes and dust. I got closer to him than Joyce like, but felt somewhat safe as I was on the boardwalk and he was not. He tolerated me for about 30 yards and then I quietly backed away.

Also in the same parking lot were two fire trucks. The firemen were aiming their binocs toward some smoke up ahead, the Alum Creek Fire. An information officer was giving people facts about the fires and answering questions. There were signs up that the next six miles were smoky, and to drive slowly with your headlights on. Instead, we turned around and headed back to West Yellowstone for a Bison Burger and Fries.
Ron & Joyce - Retired
2012 Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel 2.73 axle
2016 Sabre 25 RL 5th Wheel

skyking1

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #68 on: August 28, 2013, 08:45:27 PM »
Ron, it sounds like you two are doing it right.
Two years ago we went with family and saw many of those same sights. My brother and I and his sons pushed and carried my sister's husband up many of those trails, including that mud volcano boardwalk and stair cases. He is in a wheelchair.
Kelly and Mary

1996 Dodge CTD 2500 "Woody"
1991 Avion 29.5 ST
Washington State

http://boondockerswelcome.com/users/skyking

hoddinron

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #69 on: September 03, 2013, 08:26:42 AM »
It's been a while since I checked in!  We spent the next few days mostly around camp at Lake Hepken, did some shopping in West Yellowstone, and got ready to go to the Grand Teton National Park.

This late in the year it was possible to get reservations at Colter Bay RV Park with full hook ups for three nights, so we headed back into Yellowstone and south along the Grand Loop Road towards the Tetons.  We were hoping that most of the smoke was gone, and were pleased to not find much at all along the way.  The two parks are almost joined together so once we exited Yellowstone, it was only ten miles or so before we entered the Tetons.  And there they were!  I think of them as the Fanghorn Mountains, as I don't think there are any younger or sharper peaks anywhere in the US outside of Alaska. They are quite distinctive.  We actually spotted them from the air flying to Vancouver a few years ago. 

The check in at Colter Bay RV Park were quite friendly and helpful, and assigned us a site on the A loop close to the back of the general store.  Aside from a general humming noise, it's was quite convenient to be there!  The site was a bit unlevel, but two boards under the right tires fixed that.  We took a walk down to the information center, and the marina office, and was shocked to see all the floating docks completely out of the water!  Colter Bay was so low that there was no water at all in the bay!  I asked a couple of people about it I during our stay, and basically got the answer that Idaho owns the first 39 feet of the water in the lake, and they were draining it off Jackson Lake to keep the water flowing in the Snake River.  The fishing guides liked that, and I'm sure agricultural interests did as well.  A bad (low) snow season in Idaho was the reason given for the low water levels in general.

All of that took little away from the majesty of the mountains!  Best time to photograph them is in the morning, as they are well lit from the east at that time.  In the afternoon they are in shadow.

We had two main goals while we were there, other than relaxing and having fun.  First we wanted to go back to Jenny Lake and take the boat over to the Hidden Falls trail, and second, I wanted to ride the Tram that went up to the top of a mountain down at Teton Village.  We'd done the Hidden Falls trail back in 1991, and were anxious to compare what we remembered with the ways it is now.  So, next morning we struck out for Jenny Lake along the park road stopping to take some breathtaking photos of the Tetons along the way. I guess this trip has been well advertised over the years, because the whole area was bigger and more popular than I remember!  The concession that runs the boats had several large aluminum, craft that could hold about forty people each. In 1991 it was a wooden lapstrake runabout, inboard, that could hold maybe ten!  But that was OK.  The trip across was quick and then we were on the trail which was just about as we remembered.  Great!  As we climbed into the rocky sections above the Hidden Falls overlook, we started to look for the picas and marmots that we saw on our last trip up to Inspiration Point, but they were sadly no longer there.  Probably the larger number of tourists passing by their rocky homes had caused their numbers to dwindle, or else feeding by said tourists had caused their demise.  I don't know.. Maybe they were just sleeping in that day!

I'll pick up this thread later tonight.  Joyce wants me to make breakfast, and we have to get on the road to the Black Hills of South Dakota today!

Ron & Joyce - Retired
2012 Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel 2.73 axle
2016 Sabre 25 RL 5th Wheel

hoddinron

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #70 on: September 03, 2013, 05:54:57 PM »
On the trail to Hidden Falls and then on up to Inspiration Point at 7200 feet (400 ft rise from the lake), I was constantly inspired by the folks on the trail, from all over the world, all were doing well, even those older than us!  I must add that we did better than the fat lady who stayed at the dock and didn't even attempt the trail!

The views were amazing and constantly changing.  Joyce spotted a doe and fawn just below us on a switchback of the trail.  As we got near the point, there were several places where we could stop on a rock and look out across the lake.  I kept hoping that each one was Inspiration Point, but looking up, I could see people above us who were more inspired than we were!  We did finally reach the Point, just in time for a huge thunder clap!  I had been noticing dark clouds streaming over the mountain tops, and had said something about it to Joyce, but I doubt if we would have turned back any way. We put on jackets and started down, not knowing how long the storm was going to last or how wet it was going to get. It turned out to be not bad at all.  Seems a lot of the thunderstorms out west are what they call dry storms.  Thunder and lightning, and not much else.  Weird! Oh we got a little wet, but we were all dried out by the time we got back down to the boat dock!

After returning to the parking lot and retrieving our picnic lunch, we found a spot by the lake to sit and eat.  People were actually swimming!  Well, diving in to show off for their girlfriends is more like it.  The water was something like 62 degrees, which is about 20 degrees too cold for these Floridians!

After lunch we headed down toward Teton Village, and took a road that is only paved part of the way.  I creeped along at 15 MPH because every dip and bump felt like an earthquake with 80 pounds of air in the tires! When we got to Teton Village, we were flabbergasted.  We knew for sure that we weren't in the National Park anymore !
I guess it's really a ski lodge in the winter that they've dressed up as a summer resort of sorts to keep business going all year.  Very flashy and Yuppyish. Joyce said it was like Gatlinberg in NC.  Everything was on sale in the shops for 50% off, and the prices were still outrageous!  I'm not sure we fit in real well, with our "right off the trail" attire.  Anyway, I went up to see how much it would cost us to ride the tram up to the top of their mountain which as something like 10,400 feet up.  It was 42 dollars each, I think, and that was the senior rate.  I was ready to pop for it, but then another storm came over the mountain with a lot of rain and thunder and they put a hold on the tram trips for the day.  We looked around in the shops and had a coffee and decided to bag it.  There were places ahead that we could drive our truck up higher than 10,400 feet for Pete's sake! (And we did!)

We took the long loop around, on 191 north, to see another side of the park and had to go through Jackson to do it.  Wow!  That place has really grown in 22 years!  There was construction downtown and we had to creep along in the bumper to bumper traffic to finally emerge out onto the open road of the park where the speed limit is 45MPH.  On the way back we saw a herd of Antelope, and stopped to photograph them.

Our second day in the Tetons we decided to stay in the northern part of the park near Colter Bay. We took it easy in the morning, and then took a hike to Swan Lake form the Marina Parking lot.  It was an easy hike with mostly level trails. On the way out, not a half mile from the trail head, Joyce spotted a beautiful eight point buck above us about ten yards.  He didn't look the least concerned that we stopped to take his picture!  In fact he laid down and stayed right there, probably thinking that we couldn't see his head above the grass.  Joyce picked up a stick and dragged it along to scare off any bears.  I don't think they were too impressed with her stick.  We got to Swan Lake and sat down to admire the scenery.  The lake was covered in lily pads almost all the way across. 

That night I grilled some filet Mignon on the grill right by the camper and several folks came by to comment on how good it smelled. Temperatures that night dropped into the upper thirties!  The furnace ran for quite a while the next morning, our last in the Tetons.  We were moving on to Cody Wyoming via Yellowstone National Park.
Ron & Joyce - Retired
2012 Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel 2.73 axle
2016 Sabre 25 RL 5th Wheel

vetmom

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #71 on: September 03, 2013, 06:29:02 PM »
Nice going, making it all the way to Inspiration Point!  Sorry you weren't able to do the tram, some amazing views up there but if you are still at Colter Bay if you have half an hour before you leave I'd recommend the drive up Signal Mountain.  Going south from Colter Bay make the right after Jackson Lake Lodge for the inner road, shortly after you pass Signal Mountain Lodge on the right is a road going off to the left, goes to the top of Signal Mountain, some of Ansel Adams famous shots were from up there.  If not, enjoy Cody and be sure to hit the museum and the Irma though sounds like you are probably eating just fine on your own. ;D  I'm enjoying your adventure!

Cheryl
2000 Damon Escaper DP
2013 Honda CRV
Frederick, Maryland

hoddinron

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #72 on: September 03, 2013, 06:57:04 PM »
Ohh!  That's right!  We did go up signal mountain on our second day in the Tetons!  How could I forget! Great views, except too much smoke on the east side from the Druid Complex fire in Yellowstone.  And we saw a beautiful doe on the road going up! And spotted antelope near a lake to the east.  Thanks for reminding me about that!

Thanks for following and commenting on our travel blog, Cheryl!

Signal mountain was one of the few spots in the northern part of the park where we could get decent cell signal!

Ron and Joyce headed for the Black Hills.

Ron & Joyce - Retired
2012 Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel 2.73 axle
2016 Sabre 25 RL 5th Wheel

therealsimpsons

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #73 on: September 03, 2013, 07:12:07 PM »
We made that trip down Moose-Wilson Rd three times this past summer. Its where we saw a really big beaver lodge, and several beavers stocking the pantry with twigs and leaves for winter. After two times of jarring road, we finally learned to just move from side to side to avoid the biggest ruts and hope no one was coming around one of those many curves. We drove right on by Teton Village. Looked way to "touristy" for us.

Glad you had a good time. Have fun in the Black Hills.

Stan
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hoddinron

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #74 on: September 03, 2013, 08:02:42 PM »
That's the one, Stan.  Moose-Wilson road.  Really rough on the 80 lb tires!  Sure saved a lot of driving, but Teton Village wasn't worth our time.  Good call.

Ron
Ron & Joyce - Retired
2012 Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel 2.73 axle
2016 Sabre 25 RL 5th Wheel

hoddinron

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #75 on: September 07, 2013, 06:13:11 PM »
Wow!  Four days since my last update!  Getting lazy!

We left the Tetons and headed back into Yellowstone so that we could visit Cody Wyoming.  They have a great museum of the west there, and of course the Cody Stampede!  We didn't have any trouble with smoke going through Fising Bridge area of Yellowstone, so I guess they are getting that fire under control.  The road out the east side was fun with some seriously long grades of 6 and 7 percent, as I recall.  Again the RAM 2500 diesel handled the down slopes quite well, using the exhaust brake and downshifting automatically. 

When we got into Cody, it seemed larger than I recall, but it had been 22 years since we were there!  We found Absaroka Bay RV park on the east side of town on 14/16/20 up a hill on the left behind a Burger King.  Check in was fine, and we got a pull through full hook up site.  The downer was that we got there a day late for the Rodeo!  We got there the day after the finals!  Our consolation was that we went to two Rodeos during this trip, anyway.  One at Cheyanne and the little one at West Yellowstone.  For some reason we didn't feel like spending a whole day at the museum either, and I know you have to spend at least one day there to see it.  So we decided to take the advice of folks on this RV forum, and boating friend Hugh Horton's advice and spend a day driving the Bear Tooth Highway. Hugh spent his youth in the area around Red Lodge and the Bear Tooth on a summer camp for boys.  He raved about it as well.  On top of all this good advice,  neighbors in the fifth wheel beside us had just returned, and they were gushing about the Bear Tooth!  About the hairpin turns, the high elevations, the scenic vistas.  Sold us!   

So next morning early we headed out of Cody taking 120 to Chief Joseph Scenic Highway to link up with the "All American Road" The Beartooth Highway!  As we ascended, the morning became cooler, and the views ore stunning.  The altimeter on my GPS said 11,090 at the top, although all the maps say it's really more like 10,400.  Anyway, it was cold and windy up there above the trees!  Old snaggletooth, as I nicknamed him, was sighted across the miles.  We came to one pull off with several other cars and there was some kind of cable car arrangement that seemed to go straight down!  I didn't dare look over the side as there were no guard rails!  Another stop off was a canyon bridge where a group of teenagers were dropping huge rocks to see how long it took to hit the bottom and listening for the boom of the rock exploding on the larger rocks below. A one turnout along the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway we saw Sun Light Valley that was used by Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Indians to escape from the Calvary in their bid to reach Canada and freedom.  We stopped at a high mountain lake, where there were a few fishermen trying to catch trout.  After reaching the top of the Beartooth, we headed down the spiraling dizzying hairpin turns.  I was glad I took the advice of experts on the forum about leaving the trailer behind on this drive.  Could I have made it?  Probably yes, but without it back there it was easier and safer, and I could find places to park on the pull outs and overlooks.  Our last turnout had a walkway out to a point with a waist high stone wall, and an additional steel railing to keep you from falling straight down a thousand feet or so.  Chipmunks were scurrying about getting nuts from visitors.  The kids loved this!  But we didn't love the way some parents put there one and two year olds up on the wall with only a short railing to keep them from tipping over the side!  And the parents were not holding on at all.  In fact one father kept turning his back while the little girl jumped up and down and sat on the railing with her back to the abyss!  I couldn't watch. We left and continued down the road to flatter lands near Red Lodge, taking 308 to 72 which became 120 when we crossed back into Wyoming. 

We only had two nights in Cody, so the next day we headed out hoping to make it to Custer SD, but it was too far for us to do in one day, so we stopped off in Buffalo, at the Deer Park Campground.  Nice overnight stay with very friendly hosts.  Trees in the campground and good facilities.  One reason we didn't make it to Custer was that we stopped to check out the Little Bighorn Battle National Monument along the way, and stop at a Wal-Mart to stock up on food.

We hadn't been to the Little Big Horn since it was renamed in 1991, shortly after we were there, by an act of congress and the signature of George the first.  It was done so that the native Americans could also put up a monument and headstones to honor their dead who lost their lives in the battle.  The Native American monument was closed for renovation, but we did see some of the headstones of Cheyenne Warriors, which said "A Cheyenne Warrior fell here on June 25, 1876, while defending the Cheyenne way of life".
Since we're on the way to Buffalo, and had a reservation we only spent about 90 minutes there before moving on.

The next day we made it to The Black Hills of South Dakota and the Custer in good time, and found Broken Arrow campground right where we left it in 2008.  New owner Jerry signed us in and was very helpful even though he had problems of his own with his huge bus type of Motor Home.  "Big Motor Home equals Big Problems," he said.

Broken Arrow is one of those campgrounds that caters to horse people who come to the Black Hills to ride, and meet their friends there,  with the season winding down they had curtailed the weekly Chuck Wagon dinners for the season, which we were looking forward to.  Half of the campground is for RVs and the other half is horse trailers,  some of these have living quarters for the owners in the front! 

Our goals for the Black Hills were to see Crazy Horse Monument, Mt Rushmore, and drive the crazy highway that loops over on itself with views of Mt Rushmore as you drive through tunnels.  Word of warning!  Three tunnels have height restrictions!  One is only 10.5 feet tall in the middle!  Don't bring your fifth wheeler through there!

This was our last vacation stop before hitting the road hard for our home in Florida, so we didn't want to wear ourselves out!  We did Mt Rushmore one day, and enjoyed the loop trail to the base of the mountain.  On the way we drove the loopy highway, Iron Mountain Road, and drove through Custer State Park's Wildlife loop.  We spotted elk, antelope, prairie dogs, and of course bison!  They are getting ready in a few weeks to do a bison round up, so there weren't blocking the road as we'd experienced before, but were mostly back behind high fences.  Close enough though. 

On the way back to Custer we were caught in a terrible hail storm, but luckily we lead no damage to the truck!  The night before Crazy Horse Mountain area was hit by baseball sized hail, and several vehicles in the parking lot were totaled a,  they had nine wreckers out there that night knowing them away! We got hit at our camp by the same storm and saw golf ball sized hail.  I forgot about our slide topper and it now sports some fine new viewing ports!  Forum members advised me to call my insurance agent right away (thanks Gary), and we'll take care of it when we get home.

Crazy Horse Monument was celebrating the Sept 6th birthday of the sculptor, Korzack, and honoring the death of Crazy Horse which happened on the same day, not same year!  It was to start at dark, and if you brought three cans of food for the poor you got in free!  The place was packed, but well staffed with parking guides, so it wasn't a problem getting parked. You could see piles of hail which looked like snow that they had shoveled off the walks!   We had a cup of coffee and toured the museum of the Native Americans while we waited for the Laser light show and special once a year "Night Blast."  We peeked inside the restaurant which was closed.  They were getting ready for the after the blast celebration.  A huge five by seven foot sheet cake was laid out and everyone was invited to partake!  The laser light show was great, and featured themes related to the artist, and Crazy Horse.  The Night Blast was a BLAST!  A minutes long series of explosions lit up the night working their way from the base of the mountain up the ramps, and along the flat portion in front of the face of Crazy Horse!  What fun.  I mean what red blooded American doesn't like to blow stuff up?

After the Blast we flowed inside with the crowd, had some cake, and then headed out toward the door.  On the way, Ruth the sculptor's wife who is keeping the project going was standing there greeting people, so I shook her hand and told her about my father's connection to her husband.  It seems that during WWII, Korzack was in my father's company in France after D-Day.  Also, he made a bust of my father and the other company commander.  When I was there in 1991, I saw a photograph of the bust in a section of the museum called "about the artist."  This section is no longer there, and the photo is gone.  Anyway, Ruth was very interested in my story, and wanted my mother who is 92, to contact her with more information.  There's more to this story that my dad told me long before I knew who Korzack was, but it would take too long to tell, and this is l Ingerson than most of my posts!

Today was the day before we get going on the road, so we spend the day around camp.  I checked all the lug nuts with my torque wrench for tightness, checked the air in the tires.  Cleaned up a few things inside the trailer, put away the lounge chairs, and went into town for a few last minute groceries.  Oh!  And I wrote this log!

We hope to make it back in seven or eight days, driving 300-350 miles per day, and taking maybe o me day off along the way.  I'll check in if we have decent 3G or Wi-Fi.

Ron and Joyce about to leave Custer South Dakota for home.
Ron & Joyce - Retired
2012 Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel 2.73 axle
2016 Sabre 25 RL 5th Wheel

hoddinron

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #76 on: September 10, 2013, 07:33:37 AM »
Two days of travel toward home and we're just north of Kansas City.  Wow!  It's HOT!  Saw 99 on the highway yesterday in MO.  We stopped yesterday in a funky old campground that turned out to be a PassPort America camp.  Twenty bucks a night, but it wasn't much, just a place to park with hook ups right off the highway.

We plan to stock up at a WalMart this afternoon before stopping. We'll stop thisafternoon before getting to St Louis.  Don't want to go through there at rush hour.  We're 1400 miles from home, so we'll take six days to get there at 233 per day, or five days at 280 miles per day.  300 miles is a long day for us and we trundle along at 55 MPH all day long, averaging 50MPH for the whole day counting stops for fuel and food.  Maybe we can make the last week fun?

Ron and Joyce in St Joseph, MO on highway 29



Ron & Joyce - Retired
2012 Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel 2.73 axle
2016 Sabre 25 RL 5th Wheel

hoddinron

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #77 on: September 10, 2013, 05:49:38 PM »
At the Lazy Day Campground in Danville, MO.  It's near Montgomery City, MO, just west of St. Louis about 50 miles.  As we drove in this afternoon, Joyce said,"I remember this place!  We stayed here on the way west!"  It took me a minute, but then I remembered it too!  It was packed in July, but now in September, there was plenty of room.  We got a nice shady spot, hooked up, turned on the air, and went to the pool!  It's been hot in the center of the US!  Yesterday I saw 99 on the road, and today, 95. 

The pool was pleasant, with a temperature of 83 or so.  It felt good to us!  It was kind of a hectic day, even though it wasn't long.  We stopped at a WalMart in Columbia, MO. The traffic getting into and out of Columbia was bad.  Lots of trucks!  Must be a distribution center for a lot of companies.  Joyce said, "Half way between Kansas City and St. Louis."  Whatever it was, half of the vehicles were semi trucks and they were in no mood to slow down for us! 

The wind was with us after we turned east today, and the truck's MPG guage started reading in the mid to high 14s!  It's amazing what a tail wind will do!  Yesterday we were struggling to get 11.4 MPG.  Today 3 more MPG, and it's quite hilly here. 

Looking at our mileage since our oil change in Washington.  It's been 5000 miles since then, and we're due for a change.  Wonder if I can stretch it an additional 700 -800 miles to get us home, or should we stop a day and get it changed now?  What do you think?

Ron and Joyce in MO





Ron & Joyce - Retired
2012 Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel 2.73 axle
2016 Sabre 25 RL 5th Wheel

Jim Godward

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #78 on: September 10, 2013, 08:20:39 PM »
If the level s OK, go for home!  I would.   :)
Jim
Jim & Pat Godward
AC7PO & KD7ZDM
Hillsboro, Oregon

hoddinron

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #79 on: September 11, 2013, 05:51:09 PM »
Drove from 75 miles west of St Louis, around St Louis and down to Clarksville Tennessee today. About 370 miles best I can figure. Only stopped for rest breaks and fuel, once. Getting 13.9 even with all the hills. Going to get the oil changed at Gary Matthews Motors, a Chrysler RAM dealer in the morning. RAM dashboard display tells me it's time to change the oil whenever I start the engine.
Campground is Clarksville RV Park and Campground. Full hook ups, gravel pads, etc. A former KOA apparently.

Will be here tonight and tomorrow, a day of rest. :)
Ron & Joyce - Retired
2012 Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel 2.73 axle
2016 Sabre 25 RL 5th Wheel

hoddinron

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #80 on: September 12, 2013, 04:42:35 PM »
So much for plans of staying here and resting. 

I got back from having the oil changed and Joyce said," Why don't we pack up now and hit the road? We could be in Georgia by this afternoon." She had just completed the laundry and there was really nothing else for us to do. We thought about it for about five minutes and I started getting ready to go.

We traveled through Nashville, and across 24 to Chattanooga, went through it, and landed at a KOA in Ringgold Georgia. All set up and thinking about grilling a couple of steaks tonight. Joyce will make baked potatoes.

Now were 200 miles closer to home than we would have been if we'd just sat there!
Ron & Joyce - Retired
2012 Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel 2.73 axle
2016 Sabre 25 RL 5th Wheel

hoddinron

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #81 on: September 13, 2013, 04:08:37 PM »
KOA at Ringgold was so noisy from trucking at night that Joyce couldn't sleep until she was exhausted at 4am. 

We got up and got out of there by 9am.  Drove 344 miles through Atlanta and the rest of Georgia.  Now poised for a return to our home state of Florida tomorrow morning.  We're five miles from the border!

The NW wind was blowing when we set out, and our mileage benefitted from the tailwind!  Saw 15.2 on the MPG gauge at one point, and 15 and 15.1 for over a hundred miles until we out ran the cold front.  Then MPG gradually dropped to 14.6, 14.7.  Still very respectable for towing a fifth wheel.  The secret is keeping the speed steady and right around 55 MPH.

Tonight we're at the Eagle's Roost RV park, and it's quiet here under the trees with Spanish moss draped from the trees.  Feels good to be close to home after two months on the road!
Ron & Joyce - Retired
2012 Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel 2.73 axle
2016 Sabre 25 RL 5th Wheel

hoddinron

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #82 on: September 14, 2013, 05:32:25 PM »
We completed our 11,000 mile trip from Florida to the west coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington and back today about 3:30.

We had no flat tires or blowouts on our Goodyear Marathon ST trailer tires. They performed flawlessly.
We kept our speed under 60 the entire way.  Mostly 55-58 MPH.  Checked the tire pressure almost daily.  50 PSI.

Fuel mileage exceeded our expectations - over 14 while towing the entire 9 weeks on average.  15.2 while towing was the highest we saw with a tail wind a few days ago.

Highlights were - the California and Oregon Coasts, the Olympic Loop, Mt. Rainer, Yellowstone and the Tetons, and Custer S.D.

Thanks to everyone who followed along with this journal and made suggestions as we went along.  You are all appreciated.

Ron and Joyce at home in Florida.
Ron & Joyce - Retired
2012 Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel 2.73 axle
2016 Sabre 25 RL 5th Wheel

indiana journey

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #83 on: September 14, 2013, 11:04:02 PM »
Thanks for sharing your travels with everyone. We hope to make that trip again someday from Indiana.
Thanks,
Indiana Journey

therealsimpsons

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #84 on: September 15, 2013, 10:13:29 AM »
What Indiana Journey said. I followed your posts from the day you left FL. Thanks so much for sharing.
05 Beaver Monterey Laguna IV
400 HP C9 Cat
06 Honda CR-V toad with Blue Ox

DKL

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #85 on: September 15, 2013, 01:07:37 PM »
Thanks for sharing your journey, I also really enjoyed following along.

Cheers,
Alisa
David and/or Alisa
2006 Four Winds C
1999 VW Eurovan Camper

hoddinron

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #86 on: September 15, 2013, 01:41:21 PM »
Thanks Stan, Alisa, and Indiana.

This forum has been great for posting our travels, and getting feedback on our thoughts and plans as we traveled across the country.  Your suggestions were appreciated!

Going so far and spending so much time on the road, isn't really what we most like to do, but how else to get there?  Fly?  Rent an RV?  Possible but not really our style. 

Next summer we'll probably pick one place and spend a month there!!  Our favorite camping vacations have been when we drive less and relax more!

Ron and Joyce cleaning up after a long trip.
Ron & Joyce - Retired
2012 Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel 2.73 axle
2016 Sabre 25 RL 5th Wheel

Betty Brewer

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #87 on: September 15, 2013, 07:53:38 PM »
Like others have commented, I enjoyed following your travels.  I have noted  many spots I'd like to visit as a direct result of your informative, interesting posts.  Thank you for the efforts!
Betty Brewer

see where we are

hoddinron

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Re: Florida to the Pacific NW
« Reply #88 on: September 16, 2013, 08:04:43 PM »
Thanks Betty!  :D

Ron and Joyce at home
Ron & Joyce - Retired
2012 Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel 2.73 axle
2016 Sabre 25 RL 5th Wheel

 

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