Archive for July, 2009

Change of Plans

Yep. I’ve made some changes that I feel are better for me in the long haul.  Day after tomorrow I’m heading back to Montana till its time to head down to Az. for the winter again.

I’ve had a darned good time for the most part these past three weeks, but therein is part of the problem.  I’ve only been gone three weeks and I’m about to go batty!  I’m so accustomed to working and staying busy as a result that this forced vacation stuff is not making me the happiest of campers.  Heck, I’ve seen places that I’ve not seen in 50 years, and am so thankful for the opportunity to have seen them again, or in the case of Crazy Horse Memorial (the first time). But, I would need to be hauling in major bucks to see all the other things there are to visit in western South Dakota, and that just isn’t happening right now.  There are caves, Black Hills Gold factories, theme parks and all sorts of other stuff to visit, but I just can’t afford to.

So, still being within 750 miles or so of western Montana, I’m going back to where I can just stop and wait out the rest of summer and visit family in the process.

I’m not parking in the kids driveway though, will actually be in a small KOA campground in Dillon, which is only 20 miles from the kids, so it will be easy to run out any time they aren’t otherwise occupied and at the same time will still give me some space to call my own here in my little house on wheels and them the space they deserve in their own home.

One day I will get back to Nebraska and Colorado, just not right now.

My son and I are going to try and plot me a slightly different route down to AZ. while I’m over near them.  If all goes as hoped, I may be seeing more of Idaho and some of Utah and less of my old route through Nevada, just depends on what kind of large hills might get in the way of the van hauling this trailer over then! LOL

When we know, I’ll let you all know!

TATA for now!


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I’m Back!!!!!

From the Badlands!  Yep, I decided yesterday that I wanted to take a ride, so about 2 in the afternoon (and didn’t get back here till 9 p.m.) I headed down the road thinking that I might go back towards Mt. Rushmore and actually visit Crazy Horse…. But, I just wanted to drive and not get out of the van unless I really felt like hopping out, so down the road I went.

Drove thru Sturgis which is gearing up for Biker Week and I mean they are gearing up!  Tent stores set up with thousands of t-shirts and other stuff to appeal to biker fans who will be flocking to this area within the next week.

Not being a biker, I passed on checking out the goodies and headed on down towards Rapid City where I knew I had to decide just where I was going.

Seeing more and more Wall Drugstore signs as I went, I knew it was time to hit the Badlands!

Last time I was thru them it was late evening in March (20 years ago) so I didn’t see much at the time.  Yesterday was a whole different matter.  If you have never been there, you have got to go!  Not only does it look like a moonscape but the National Grasslands add their own appeal to the area.  The views were breathtaking!

To think that the last time I really saw any of the views offered was 50 years ago just blows my mind!  Just wish a family member was still around for me to pin down the actual year I saw all the wonders of western South Dakota and Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, but I just have to be content with the knowledge that it was when I was between 5 and 7 years of age, I guess.

Since I was near Wall Drug, I did stop in to look around there, too.  I remember stopping there with my brother 20 years ago though we had only popped in for a few minutes, but I have to tell you…….  Nothing seems to have changed! LOL  That place is a great tourist “trap” and well worth stopping by to see!

Well, I have to do some laundry and a few dishes and get myself into town for an oil change, so I guess I’ll hop off till the next time!

Since I am only here in South Dakota for another week, I know I’ll be popping in again before then.  Crazy Horse still awaits!

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And so my journeys continue!!!!

When last I wrote I was down in Mesa, Az. for the winter….  Now it is full-blown summer 2009 and I am on a journey the likes of which I could only dream about before.

Last March I was okay’ed to return to work up in McCloud, Ca. by the owner’s wife, so when May 1st rolled around I was already heading that way, having departed Mesa the evening before accompanied by my dear son and his family who had come down a week before with the notion of seeing me plus making themselves a nice little vacation by travelling to California my way!  My way being back up through Nevada and in through Calf. via Susanville since the van cannot haul the trailer over Donner Pass.

We took off in the middle of rush hour traffic for Flagstaff, Az. the last day of April.  Spent the night in the parking lot of Wal-Mart with scads of other rvs’ doing the same as us.  The following morning we headed towards the Grand Canyon!  Yes, I got to see it for the 1st time in my life!  I was over the moon and have plans to go back when I have time off again this fall, because for all that I saw of it I still have seen only a small portion of that beautiful creation.

We next headed towards the Hoover Dam (which I had sworn to never cross again, but had to eat my words and actions!)  A few miles after turning off at Kingman my son suddenly signalled to pull over, their 2 month old truck was sounding “funny”.  Luckily, there was a small gas station out there in the middle of nowhere, so we pulled in and ran the diagnostics on it.  Being a diesel it can run tests on itself, but everything seemed normal.  Well, figuring that for some unknown reason it might be overheating (the van wasn’t), we let it set for about 30 minutes and slowly headed back on the road.  Trevor felt that he would be better taking her slow till he could figure out what might be going on, so I followed with my hazard lights blinking for both rigs.  Trev didn’t want me to have to stare at their hazards as we trailed down the road, so he left them off.

About 15 miles south of the Hoover Dam, about 8 p.m. at night I suddenly was enveloped in this beautiful blueish cloud of the stinkiest smell you have come across unless it was the smell of a skunk.  Trevor realised it was the truck and once again pulled off the road.  So did I.   At that point he had to turn on his hazards to warn everyone that we were in trouble.  I sat behind them realizing their lights were not running in sync with mine. Mine would blink off and theirs would blink on.  Darned things continuously blinked and reflected into my eyes either straight from their rig or straight off of their rig because mine shown off the paint job!

Upshot of that night, and for which there is a whole separate story about (I’ll consider writing it all out another time)……….  A semi capable tow truck was sent out to collect their truck and fifth wheel trailer, plus several family members, as myself, my daughter-in-law and middle grandson drove across the dam into Boulder City to be met with winds gusting in the range of 45 and 50 miles per hour.  I pulled into a strip mall parking lot and there we sat from 10:30 p.m. till the tow truck appeared at about 2 a.m.  I just couldn’t drive in that wind so my son and I swapped places for the ride into the Las Vegas KOA where we had reservations for the night or what was left of it. Oh, we got settled about 4 a.m., so that will give you a clue of how little of the night was left!

One thing lead to another, the truck was picked up the next morning by the Ford dealership and there we all sat.  Kind of a good place to be stuck, there were stores within walking distance and taxis available if needed.  I only spent an extra 2 nights there as I needed to head for Cal. once it was determined the family was not going anywhere any time soon.  Seems as how there had been a recall on some parts that the kids were not notified about and that was what had malfunctioned.

They spent most of a week in Vegas and I spent most of that time in Cal. as I only needed 2 more days of travel to reach my destination.

Imagine my surprise (and that of Tricia, the manager) when a day or two later the HR dept. head called wanting to know what the heck I was doing back without her prior permission.  Well, one thing lead to another as Tricia and I tried to get her to understand that permission had been granted even though it had come from higher up (the owner’s wife) when she had not answered the emails Tricia had sent back in March.

So, after waiting a week for season to really spring into action, I went to work part time for one week and then full time for two weeks thereafter.  Then, the axe fell and I found myself without any more employment as the owners had other plans for the park.  They didn’t include me nor did they include Tricia who had managed the park for nearly 3 years.

Well, to backtrack a bit.   My son and family did arrive in McCloud during that first week I had been back.  We enjoyed each other’s company and grandma got to be grandma with her 3 boys a whole bunch!  I even took them fishing one afternoon and made them the proudest of grandsons, cause they caught trout!  And, I mean trout!  Between them, in less than 2 hours they caught 11 “keepers”!  We had fish for dinner that night!  And, the next afternoon they went back alone (it was only across the road from the park in a creek out front of the Forest Service Dept.) and they caught 7 more! LOL  Talk about some happy fishermen!

Anyway, they finally had to take off after being there for a week, and I needed to start working full time by then.  Little did we know how things were going to change on June 1st.  That was my last day of work though I sure had no clue until that day was over.

So, I did the only thing I could, I raced for Montana, after warning the kids I was on my way.   Only took 3 days, even in gusting winds, hail and torrential rains.  Man, I was glad to finally be able to stop and rest after that trip!

Then began the frustrating try for another job to get me through the summer till time to head back down to Mesa.  I actually was 1st place for a position in New Mexico, until a couple who had worked in that little park saw the ad and asked for their old jobs back.  They won out and I went back to looking.  Granted, there are lots of jobs out there, but either they were so far away from this end of the country or they needed people to stay longer than I could or they didn’t pay worth a hill of beans, and so passed the month of June with me sitting in the kids’ driveway.

Okay, I could handle being sort of idle for 3 months (the kids taught me how to 4 wheel, so idle wasn’t really what I would have been all of the time) if needed, but the kids didn’t need me parked there disrupting their lives for that long, so the more I tried to find a job, the less fortunate I became, and the more unhappy I became, as they noticed.

It was time for something to change, but what?

The kids came up with the answer, bless their hearts!  Not one that I really wanted to accept, but one that was the only way to solve my problems.  They gave me a really awesome early birthday present that I still cannot believe I have accepted, but also know that it was the only way to turn my life back around.  Yep, they gave me some expense money and sent me on my way (no, I didn’t have to leave, but that’s what I have done).  They needed their own lives back, and I need to not be feeling like a total mooch while I wait for the middle of Sept. to arrive with me then in Mesa once more.

The money was to allow me to wander wherever I might care to, even if it was little jaunts around the area, but I took it one step further as had they and am now on a very extended vacation, the first I have taken in 30 years.

So, where has this vacation taken me so far?  The first night I made it as far as Billings, Mt. where I stayed the night in the world’s 1st KOA campground!  Yep, that’s where those parks all began, who would have thought?!!

The second day found me on the road towards North Dakota.  Bowman, to be exact.  My plan was to spend a night there and then head down into South Dakota.  Well, I saw Bowman for just a few minutes and then I took off once more.  The weather reports had not been delightful with threats of hail the size of golf balls, so I decided I had to stay ahead of the storms.  I covered over 400 miles in just one day thanks to additional threats of tornadoes!!!!!!!!!!  I had forgotten that I was headed for Tornado Alley!  Well, I landed in Belle Fourche, South Dakota without any mishaps and there I stayed for a week.  Found an inexpensive little park by the river and used it as home grounds while I scoped out the area.   Actually, I took a day trip to the Devil’s Tower in Wyoming (a place I hadn’t seen in 20 years) and then I explored the little city of Spearfish, SD, where I finally started collecting the makings for a scrapbook of my travels since turning to full time rv’ing as a way of life.

In the process, I also found another little RV park much more to my likng and so I moved here on Wednesday of this week.  It’s still part of Belle Fourche, but it’s 3 miles out of town on the Red Water River.  Great park, lovely owners and I would recommend this park to anyone!  It’s called Wyatts’ Hideaway Campground & RV Park, on route 34.  At this point I am set to leave on the 22nd, but am thinking of extending yet another week, leaving on the 29th.  Sturgis Biker’s Rally begins the 1st of Aug. , so I want to clear out before the crowds begin to hit.  I have nothing against bikers, but I just feel that I will need to be gone by that time.  Heck, I still have places to explore beyond the state of South Dakota!  With the time I have to fill, moving on once in a while is the only thing to do, though I prefer not hitting the summer heat of Az. any sooner than I have to.  If all goes as planned, I will drop down into western Nebraska next (my birth state) and then angle into the flattest parts of Colorado, down around Colorado Springs, I hope.  And, after checking out such places as Mesa Verdi and maybe even Telluride, I will head into upper New Mexico if it isn’t too steep for the van, trailer and I to drive into.  Going to take I-25, so hopefully it will all be passable for my needs.  There I hope to see Taos, Santa Fe, etc. and then later in August head down towards Las Cruces to begin my swing back into AZ. via Tombstone and Tucson!!

Actually, I explored a couple of places just a couple of days ago.  I drove back to Deadwood/Lead area by traveling through the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway.  Gorgeous trip right into the Black Hills!  Haven’t been in this area in 20 years (and that was only a pass through on the way to my father’s funeral in Nebraska, that’s when I also last spotted Devil’s Tower as my brother and I drove along the interstate).

Well, Deadwood and Sturgis have both changed in ways that broke my heart.  20 years ago there were no real casinos in Deadwood, it really lived up to its name then, now it is overwhelmed with casinos for those who enjoy that kind of life.  Personally, I do like to hit a casino now and again, but not when I am unemployed!!!  So, I rattled around the hills for an afternoon and then came back to my little home on wheels.

Today I took another road trip, one that I haven’t taken in 50 years!  Yes, I wrote that right!  50 years!  I was all of 5 or 6 years old when I last was at Mt. Rushmore………  Heck, Mt. Rushmore wasn’t much older than I was when I was there for my 1st visit!!  It was finished in 1941 and I was born in 1952, so I was there some time in the latter part of the 50s’ when the mount was only about 15 or so years old. Now while the approach is the same, the area is so much more grown into what that spectacular mount deserves.  The grounds are developed so one and all can see this wonder and revel in the beauty of this dream come true and still not intrusive.   My breath was totally taken away when I drove around that last curve before my arrival at their gates.  No, I can’t begin to describe this wonder, it has to be experienced by each and everyone of you to be understood.  So, if you haven’t been to Mt. Rushmore make plans, do it this year or do it as soon as you can, just DO IT!  It is a lifetime experience no one should miss.  Oh, and remember Crazy Horse is in the same area, just a slightly different road to get there.  Because I was so overwhelmed with my trip today I didn’t go see Crazy Horse yet, but I will be heading out again on Monday or Tuesday, just for that purpose and for another look at Mt. Rushmore.

I have been so blessed to be making this journey back in time (my lifetime, that is).  A child will go where it is told, an adult will go where it chooses, most of the time at any rate, so the experiences are totally different.  What I have seen both at Devil’s Tower and Mt. Rushmore have reminded me of those family trips taken as a child, but these adult trips are worth a whole lot more!

I nattered on long enough, once again.  Next time I’ll try to make it shorter, like after each little expedition, okay?  Much easier to write and read if it is done as a travel blog and not as a book with each entry.

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