Tag Archives: Go West Young Man

Home on the Range

Second day in Salt Lake City area and its was a full day of sightseeing. First, we started with a ride over to Antelope Island State Park and then downtown Salt Lake City to the Mormon Tabernacle and the LDS Convention Center.

History

Let me start with the State Park:

Artifacts reveal prehistoric people inhabited the island 6,000 years ago. John Fremont and Kit Carson made the first known Anglo exploration in 1845 and named it after observing several pronghorn antelope grazing on the rangelands.

Great Salt Lake is the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi River. The lake is a remnant of pre-historic Lake Bonneville, which covered more than 20,000 square miles during the last ice Age. On average Great Salt Lake is 75 miles long by 28 miles wide. the average deepest depth is about 33 feet.

The island has several freshwater springs found primarily on the east side supporting island wildlife. Bison are the island’s most famous residents. Twelve animals were introduced to the island by Kit Carson in 1893. Today the herd is around 700 animals. Many bird species also inhabit the island. The above info came from Utah State Parks.

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Causeway to Antelope Island

Our exploration of the island started fairly early to beat the heat and also to view the Bison while they were active. The causeway is several miles long and gave us insight into this island geology. The park attendant directed us toward Fielding Garr Ranch for the best view of the Bison. With one or two cars on this road it wasn’t long before we spotted our first Bison walking about 200 feet offshore. The salt crust is strong enough for his weight. I took pictures and drove on until another small group were grazing down by the water. Just before arriving at the ranch, large herds were observed. I got many photos!

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Not a bad scene…just Bison in the wild!

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Geology

 

Garr Ranch

Rock Salt ~ Antelope Island State Park

Rock Salt ~ Antelope Island

At the Fielding Garr Ranch, we were the first to arrive and the volunteer guide was very informative. He had lived in this area all his life and boy did I ask him questions. I was especially interested in Promontory, a place that the East and the West railroads meet. It was 61 miles from Hill AFB. That meant that would be 122 miles round trip. I asked him if I continued on the way out of town and circled around Salk Lake and picked up I-80W in Nevada. He told me I could do that, but earlier this spring some of the county road had been washed out. There went that idea. The best two tips he gave me was to take the “Legacy Highway” eliminating the I-15S traffic. The second and absolute best tip was how to visit the Bonneville Speed Way going South and than West on I-80W. I’ve been waiting 52 years to visit the Bonneville Salt Flats! In 1965 Craig Breedlove held the honor of being the first man to go faster than 400, 500, and 600 miles per hour. His record of 600.601 miles per hour, set on November 15, 1965. I was a teenager at the time and that was of great interest to me then.

Driving back towards the Visitor Center, a different type of terrain was encountered. Down closer to the shore, the rock formations were very different from what I’ve seen before. It was explained, later at the Visitor Center. Frankly, it was a little complicated in terminology, but interesting to view the samples. Helen and I both enjoyed our visit to Antelope Island!

Salt Lake Tabernacle

Next came a forty mile ride into Salt Lake City to visit the Mormon Tabernacle Convention Center (LDS) and the Mormon Square across the street. Non members are not allowed into the church. We were allowed into the LDS Convention Center. Wow, what a massively large convention hall! It is the largest in the world and holds 21,000 people! A tour guide took us around the four-story building ending on the roof, with a waterfall cascading down over the four stories. On the interior, massive atriums with paintings of their religious beliefs are displayed. Naturally, they gave us their religious views.

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Picture Perfect

Across the street, we visited the largest pipe organ in the world. Everything including the grounds outside were perfect! Everyone has their own beliefs and that is what makes this country great.

That is what we saw and did!

Aug 2, 2017 116 miles traveled (locally)

Trouble uploading this morning!

Utah ~ Most Scenic!

The Road Trip

Road trips are great, even though long days on the road can be strenuous. This journey is to do the Pacific Coast highway from Crescent City California to Olympic National Park in Washington State. Part of the real adventure is getting there. This country is so diverse and beautiful, it is nearly unbelievable. Take for instance, yesterday, at the first visitor information center in Utah, we stopped and as we were walking up to the building, we both noticed the lavender in bloom. This wasn’t so abnormal, but what really caught our eyes was the bees pollinating the lavender. They were huge, about an inch and a half long. It is these little wonders that make the road trip a learning adventure.  

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Inch and a half long Bee

Leaving Fruita, Colorado, a town that we visited back in 2013, left a second fine impression on this community. The Visitor Center has a large parking area even with an RV dump station and fresh water fill. (5 stars)

On The Road

Landscape dramatically changes leaving Colorado into Utah. Colors are golden wheat, brown, reds, creosol green clumps of darker greens high up on the Mesa. From flat land to high Mesas this land is different and very scenic. Some spots on the road have signs that say, “No services for 110 miles”. Speed limit is 80mph!

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Flying on I-70!………

I cruised around 65mph, a little higher than my usual 58mph. Following I-70W for part of the way, than US-6 to Provo, UT for the rest of the journey to Ogden, our stop here for a couple of days at Hill AFB, Famcamp. Let me say that once we reached Provo on I-15N, the traffic was heavy, four lanes, 70mph, for about 50 miles. All the way through Salt Lake City, it was heavy concentration!

Let me talk a little about temperature. The late afternoon has climbed to 115 degrees, but it is very true that it is very dry! Ok, this is how we deal with it. When we stop, all windows are open and four fans come on to evacuate the heat inside the camper. It literally takes three to five minutes to do that.

A restaurant takes care of dinner time and than back at the Famcamp, the community room has A/C with TV and high speed WiFi. By now it is after sunset and the temps are dropping fast. It is very comfortable to sleep with the windows open. Early morning finds us actually under the covers. That’s life in the sunbelt! Remember some people come from Phoenix, Arizona to Salt Lake area to escape the heat! That’s life in the sunbelt!

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Welcome to Utah

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Amazing Geology in them there hills!

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It took alot of Din-o-mite to put this road in!

That is what we saw and did!

Aug 1st, 2017 …..330 miles traveled today

 

Rocky Mountain High!

John Denver’s song “Rocky Mountain High” would be appropriate for this blog, as I sit here in an overflow campground named Meeker Park. Before I recount the end of the day, I must begin at the beginning, early this morning. I had mentioned that we stayed at the Sterling Visitor Center. The management said they do allow overnight parking. The restrooms are open and cars come in, use the restrooms and some sleep in their cars and trucks. The other side of the Center, the big trucks park and stay the night. They are far enough that the running engines noise is negligible. After our tour of the town and their tree and bronze sculptures, we went back to the Visitor Center. The clouds in a distant were getting darker. I got my camera out, hoping to get some heat lightning pictures. The lightning came and went, but I didn’t succeed except for the practice of getting night time shots without a flash and still getting a good focus photo.

We went to bed around 9:15pm, with only one other car in the lot. By morning there were six overnighters. We had a chat, in the morning, with one of them who was interested in my truck camper. I guess it was around 7:30am when we pulled onto I-75W. It was about 148 miles to Estes Park (Entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park) (RMNP), but we drove another 12 miles or so to find a campground that wasn’t full! Nothing new here, I expected the area campgrounds to be full, especially on the weekends.

After leave the Visitor Center in Sterling, we noticed a big difference in the landscape. So far our entire trip everything was green, but now everything was a blonde, dry landscape. Occasionally, giant green circle of crops dotted the land, of course this was from irrigation. When we left the Mississippi River Delta, the elevation was off and on around 100 feet above sea level. Now we were at 3,000 feet and rising. We are now at 7,240 feet above sea level.

Back to the landscape, a couple of noticeable features, oil rigs both installed and new derricks drill for that black gold. The very noticeable black and white feature was thousands of dairy cows in several places along I-75. Our first faint view of the Rockies Mountains was in Loveland about 23 miles from Estes Park, our base camp to find our bearings.

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US Route 34 from Loveland to Estes Park

After leaving Loveland, the traffic decreased a lot. The road went from straight to straight up! Switchbacks, river racing down the steep gorge. We rose a lot in just a few miles finally reaching Estes Park, a town with everything you could ask for including a first class Visitor Center!

I knew I wouldn’t be able to get a campsite in the NP, especially of a Friday afternoon. We decided to take the free shuttle around the area to see where we could camp either at a campground or boon docking. Mary’s Lake looked very good, mountain views all around. The 53 minute shuttle tour ended and I called Mary Lake Campground…No luck (full all weekend)! We decided to drive down route 7 paralleling the National Park. The National Forest does allow boon docking in certain areas. Well here we are at Meeker Park Overflow. Senior Pass (National Park)  half price, so $6.00 isn’t so bad. No internet or electricity, but Honda Generator is taking care of that. I’m writing my blog and when I get to a WiFi Hotspot I’ll shoot it off. I didn’t get many pictures today, but I was able to shoot a short video coming up that winding road.

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Notice in the background…thousands & thousands of cows!

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Oil Fields Equipment ready for production

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Loveland, Colorado nice town

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Rocky Mountains 1st View

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Church built on a rock! 

That is what we saw and did

July 28, 2017 ~ 160 miles today

Nebraska Pioneers ~ The Lincoln Highway

The Platte Rivers

We are on the confluence of the North and South Platte Rivers tonight. Here they join and form the Platte River. Covered wagon pioneers of the 19 century liked to joke about Nebraska’s Platte River. This excerpt taken from National Trails System, National Park Service. Quote: “Too thick to drink, too thin to plow, too pale to paint. A mile wide and an inch deep. A stream flowing upside down”.

It goes on: “The river’s setting, too, seemed strange. Surrounding praise, frequently cleansed by wildfire, was burned bare of trees right up to the water’s edge, and a line of low sand hills, looking like a storm-sacked beach, rimmed much of the river valley.

Yet the yellow Platte, that treeless ‘Coast of Nebraska,’ was an emigrant’s lifeline—a water source that snaked 800 dusty miles between the Missouri River and the uplands of central Wyoming.

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This painting depicts how it must of been

As I drove on I-80 West for some 307 miles today from the Missouri River to North Platte River, I can’t tell you how much history we drove by from Pony Express, to the Walker family, first settlers using this path to Oregon, to the Mormons who were also headed to Oregon, but were shunned and instead headed to Utah.

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That must of hurt! “The Walker Family”?

Even though we are to be slowing down and smelling the roses, there isn’t enough time to really study the history of this region. What I will do is when I return home and have the time is do the research. Buffalo Bill Cody was from this region. Heck, John Wayne was born in Desoto, Nebraska right down the road from here.

Nebraska is flat as flat can be. The I-80 heads west and doesn’t seem to wander from the West compass reading one degree. The speed limit is 75mph, heck again, we came across a construction zone with usual signs, “Fines Double in Construction Zone,” but the speed limit at the sign said, 75mph!

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Fines double? What does that mean…going 100mph?

I-80 Lakeside Campground

Tonight we are at I-80 Lakeside Campground on the Platte River. We were entertained by a couple next door who were on their way to a dog show in Casper, WY. They have 15 National Champion Huskies in their toy hauler RV. Two dogs at a time came by for their evening walks. Each came over for a friendly pat around their ears. Paula, we were thinking of you as we learned a little of theses beautiful Huskies.

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National Champion

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Helen’s new Friend!

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Amazing how they can talk to you…This morning they were houling for their walk

That is what we saw and did!

July 26, 2017 ~ 307 miles today

Iowa and I Thought Wisconsin had Corn!

Corn, Corn and more Corn

Wow, rolling hills with endless corn fields. When the big planting machines plant corn everything is measured from inches between seeds to space between rows. Now driving down the highway these rows appear like someone took a comb and perfectly separated them. We both tried to take pictures of this when moving down the highway at 60 mph, but we just can’t seem to duplicate what our eyes see.

This morning I got up and being in Iowa I was determine to have corn flakes and a muffin for breakfast. Yup, it hit the spot! We packed up the camper and drove to the new shower room in the lower campground. To our surprise the water had come up another two feet. Last night we walked down there and this morning that walkway was flooded. I took a few shots with the iPhone after showering.

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If I was a drinking man Amana Villages

Disappointed

Our goal today was to go to the Amana Villages to see old German settlements. Well, the villages are very neat and pretty with flowers, but nothing more than modern gift shops. The girl at the coffee shop said that their wasn’t one original settler family left in the area. We walk a little and headed West on I-80 toward the Nebraska border. Oh, on the way down to the Amana Villages, in Cedar Rapids to be exact, we both smelled a pleasant aroma. A short distance up the road we spotted General Mills Plant, yes, they were roasting “Corn Flakes”!

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The Geese are on my site!

Iowa County Campgrounds Rocks

Iowa is a long state and as the day progressed the temperature climbed and so did the humidity. Thank God for the A/C in the truck. The UV index, we were toll on the radio reached 107. Come 4 o’clock it was time to find a campground for the night. I use Allstays app on my phone. Its the best app I have and very accurate. We are at Arrow Head County Park (exit 23) on I-80 near Council Bluffs, IW. Full hookups, free powerful WiFi and showers. Iowa does it best! Even their rest area have excellent WiFi. My kind of State!

That is what we saw and did

July 25, 2017 ~~ 268 miles covered

La Crosse & the Missisippi

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A Long Distant View of La Crosse from GrandDad Bluff

After filling up the fresh water tank and dumping the grey and black tanks, we headed out of St Joseph RV Campground around 7:30am. Our destination was La Crosse, WI on the banks of the Mississppi River. George, our friend near Oshkosh, had recommended that we visit GranDad Bluff. We weren’t disappointed! GranDad Bluff sits high above LA Crosse and the Mississippi Delta. One can get a spectacular view. The story goes that in the 1850 to 1867 several fires burnt the town to the ground. The town then required that buildings were built with stone and brick. This was the start of GranDad buff quarry. They would simply cut the large dolomite bedrock and let it roll down the cliff where at the bottom it was processed for buildings and the tailings were used to make roads. The ride up to the bluff was worth it.

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Mississippi Delta from GrandDad Bluff

Just prior to going up to the bluff, we took a short ride over the Mississippi to Petibone Park. This is located just over the bridge to the north. Large oak trees adorned the grassy park. A view across Mississippi revealed a paddle boat that could have been used by Mark Twain on his journey up the mighty Mississippi!

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Petibone Park along the Mississippi

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I love trains! They run along side the “Big Muddy” all day

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Not a scale model, but from atop the cliff it looks that way!

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Notice how long the train is. The water above is floodwaters from the Mississippi

Down the Mighty Mississippi in 1814

Our journey could have continued due west from La Crosse, but as the song goes, “1814 took a little trip down the Mighty Mississippi,” I wanted to travel along and experience how and what it felt and looked like. This section of the river is in a Delta with very little land between the river and the Dolomite cliffs. Some places there is room for only the railroad and a two lane highway. Occasionally a narrow valley opens up and scattered houses are poised near or on the cliffs. The river itself, for the most part is very wide, maybe a mile wide. We only viewed three barges being pulled by a tugboat. I should note that in three places we saw Army Corp of Engineers dam and locks. Two coal fired power plants were spotted. Next to them a huge mountain of coal being manicured by a monster of a Cat bulldozer.

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Four Barges being push North Bound on the Mississippi

Prairie du Chien

Many of you will translate this subheading to “Prairie Dog”. This is as far south as we traveled down the Mississippi. I think about 60 to 70 miles. This is a good time to talk about the muddy river. A few days ago, Western Wisconsin and Iowa received sever weather with as much as 10 inches of rain. This has made the river rise. As a matter of fact, the first town into Iowa called Marquette had a tornado touch down and did some damage. We saw several oak trees, two to three feet at the but snapped. Some road signs with three steel H beams whaled over to the ground. Before any of you think that we were in any danger, let me say we haven’t encountered any wind or rain to speak of since we left Michigan.

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5 Star Campground when not under water

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Notice the Electrical site boxes!

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102 sites under water and still rising!

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When not underwater it really is a 5 star campground ***** Our site on the hill was safe!

Iowa Corn!

The landscape, nearly immediately changed from trees and cliffs to vast slightly rolling fields. My plan here was to witness immense yellow/brown dry fields of corn and other crops. Well, to my surprise the fields did have corn and other crops, but green as green can be. I can only describe the rows planted perfectly and sometimes rolling with the terrain. It is done with machines that are 32 feet wide, some wider, and with the precision of a surgeon. I deliberately took (IA13) into the heart of farm land. Remember that States farther away from the East Coast are all laid out North and South, East and West. These roads, for the most part as straight as an arrow.

Iowa Conservation Information Center

Time to take a break and find out what is a must see when traveling through Iowa. The lady was very helpful. Tomorrow, we will visit the “Amana Colonies” just south of Cedar Rapids. More to come on that subject. Tonight we are at a five star rated campground. Pinion Ridge Campground everything is a five star! The campground is divided into two areas, the Plains area and the Flying Squirel area. The latter is down at the bottom of the hill near the Wasipinicon River. Remember the 10” of rain? Well the river has flooded 110 campsites? We are on the top…high and dry. Always an Adventure!

That is what we saw and did!

Monday, July 24, 2017 ~~~218 miles today

PS No WiFi here tonight, I’ve got two blogs to upload!