Posts tagged Mt. Rushmore

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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