The Current River and follow on activities

We left Mark Twain Lake and headed south to the Ozark National Scenic Riverways and the Current River. I just love this area of the Ozarks! We camped at Pulltite campground, a NPS site along the Current River. We had reserved our favorite site (#28) months ago, and it was plenty big for the travel trailer and truck. We even had some decent sun for the solar system, a luxury in these deeply forested hills. The weather was all over the place: rain on Tuesday, cool on Wednesday, warm on Thursday, warmer on Friday, and damned hot on Saturday. It just isn’t right to have temperatures of 90 degrees in mid October in south central Missouri!

On Tuesday we did boring housekeeping tasks like laundry. On Wednesday we did the Cedar Grove to Akers run on the Current. Thursday we did Pulltite to Round Spring, and on Friday we did Akers Ferry to Pulltite. Lots of nice paddling with a really fun crew. By Saturday we were really tired and a little sore so we went to The Haunting of the Hills put on by the OSNR at Alley Mill. There were lots of historic activities demonstrated by costumed interpreters, plus the mill itself is really lovely. It was so hot we were really worried about keeping the trailer comfortable enough for the cats, but the vent fans on all day plus leaving the windows open on the north side of the trailer kept is under 85 inside. Love the solar! We would have been challenged to run all the fans without turning on the generator before Kevin installed the system.

Forecasts showed rain on Saturday night, so we packed up a lot of outdoor gear before going to bed. We also decided to start our gradual trek back to Iowa by heading to Mark Twain Lake again for a couple of nights. This time I remembered to take pictures!

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At Mark Twain Lake
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Pulltite Campsite
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Canoeing on the Current? Note the gorgeous color of the water.

RVForum.com Rally in Lanesboro, MN

We met up with friends from the RVForum on Wednesday for a mini-rally at Eagle Cliff Campground just outside of Lanesboro, MN. What fun! The first night was good weather and we had a campfire. We got to meet a number of new folks, and that is always fun. Thursday wasn’t too bad with just some light rain/mist. We did some sightseeing and had lunch at a nice little place in town. Then it started raining in earnest! It rained all Thursday night, all day and night on Friday, and most of the day on Saturday. I really should hire myself out as a rain maker since it always seems to rain when I go to Minnesota!

We did get to spend time with friends Heather and Marshall on Thursday after they arrived, and we spent a lot of time with Greg, Lisa, and their three girls after they arrived on Friday. Also on Friday  we had the traditional rally potluck, and we also had the traditional too much food! Luckily the campground had an enclosed pavilion since it rained so hard. I got to do a little singing too, always a fun thing.

By Saturday around 7:00 pm the rain finally stopped. We had a great group campfire at Eric and Max’s campsite, the rally organizers. Sunday morning saw us saying goodbye and heading south. We had hoped to do some biking and canoeing, but the weather just didn’t cooperate.

We are making our way to the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, and we drove quite a bit of the trip today. We are now camped at Indian Creek campground (Corps of Engineers) at Mark Twain Lake in Missouri. What a gorgeous place! Since it is a federal campground our senior pass meant we paid only $9 for a water and electric site. The campsite isn’t too level, but it is very large and heavily wooded. If they are open when we come back through in a week, we are thinking of staying here a few days on the way back to Iowa.

I remembered just as I started to write this post that I took exactly zero pictures at the rally. Sorry!

Running from snow, Central time, and a closed campground

We had a great time with friends from the Wasatch Mountain Club this weekend at Antelope Island State Park. I led a paddling activity with 3 tandem canoes, two inflatable kayaks, and a white water kayak. The 9 of us had a good time. A few pictures taken by someone else:

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Obviously the day was a bit rainy, but the significant rainfall held off until we were all safely back at camp. We even ended up with a gorgeous double rainbow!

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This also was taken by someone else using a panorama mode on their camera. Impressive!

We left on Sunday morning to head to Iowa. As we got farther into Wyoming there were warnings about a winter snowstorm headed our way. Instead of stopping for our normal night in Laramie, we decided to run ahead of the storm. We ended up in Sydney, NE at the Cabela’s parking lot. Nice place and free. We set our clocks to Central time and decided to just stay on that for the next few weeks.

We were up and out early, planning to overnight at Adventure Land park in Des Moines where we stayed last year in mid October. We got there, and they had closed the campground to prepare for some Halloween activity! Even though it was after 6:00 pm we decided to drive the remaining 125 miles to the town our daughter lives in. We are now comfortably established in at Squaw Creek county park in Marion where we will stay until Wednesday. One of the cats doesn’t seem well so we are taking her to the vet too. Sigh. It is a laundry day too. We get to see our daughter, her husband, and our grandson tonight too, a real win.

Leaving Grand Teton and off to Lava Hot Springs

We left Gros Ventre campground on Friday. Lots of rain and cold temps were forecast so it seemed like a good idea. We decided to take KOA up on their offer of “pay for Friday, get Saturday free” and go to Lava Hot Springs KOA, Idaho. On the way out of GTNP I finally got a decent picture of the swans on the Flat River on the edge of Jackson.IMG_1017

The KOA itself is decent with ok sites, grass, and trees, but the noise! I expected a lot of families because of the springs, but it is the train track right at the edge of the campground that is dreadful. I only woke up a couple of times, but Kevin wasn’t as lucky. He couldn’t stay asleep at all, and trains come every 30-60 minutes. Based on the cars, this is obviously a main long distance line. We certainly won’t come back.

We did do some exploring on Saturday though. The Oregon Trail and a number of its variants went through the area, and there is a lot of history here. We found Hooper Springs near the town of Soda Springs, a naturally carbonated spring that has been used for centuries. Can you see the bubbles from the spring?IMG_1024.JPG

We looked for Formation Springs, but had trouble finding it. The recreation site wasn’t hard to find, but most of what had once been springs were dried up. We could hear water, but it was buried in  dense shrubbery, so we gave up. We were lucky enough to get to Soda Springs geyser just after it started erupting. Quite impressive! There is a small geyser near it that gets stronger when the big geyser stops erupting. Soda Springs (the town) has been the center of a big earthquake swarm for the past few weeks. We haven’t felt any ourselves, but this entire section of Idaho so very seismically active with lots of lava beds and springs.

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We also went to Chesterfield Historic Site, a fabulous ghost town from the turn of the century or so. They have tours during the summer, but all we were able to do was look at the outside of a number of restored homes. Pretty impressive.

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Today we head back home. We will have a week and a half to get ready for a big midwestern trip that actually begins at Antelope Island. I am looking forward to it.

 

Grand Teton National Park

We left Baker’s Hole on Sunday the 8th. We have been camped at Gros Ventre campground in Grand Teton National Park since then. We intend on staying until Friday. It might snow then, so that means it is time to leave! We have been enjoying it here. We took the bikes into Jackson and peddled to the Fish Hatchery, a round trip of only 7 miles or so. We also did such exciting things as laundry and grocery shopping. There is a new laundromat in Jackson that we tried. It is all front loaders (four different sizes!), very clean, and lots of big dryers. The only disadvantage is that it is expensive for the washers, but the clothes were really clean so I guess it was worth it. We have had dinner in town at Bubba’s BBQ which was pretty good. Of course, being as it is in Jackson it cost more than it would in any other place.

One of the treats we gave ourselves was an evening at the Bar J Chuckwagon. We had a blast. The food was good, but the show was tremendous! It was an hour and a half of comedy and music. It was soooo much better than the one we went to in South Dakota.

The stage at the Bar J.

I was also able to do some sewing. We have had trouble with inverters (changing 12v to 110v), but we actually found a Radio Shack with a nice selection. That let me connect my Bernina 440 to the electrical power in the trailer without using the generator, a big plus. However using the iron requires the generator, so I haven’t pressed the borders on this one. It is an appliqué kit from AQS called “Lunar.” I used a fusible backing then used a button hole stitch with invisible thread. I like it!

Ignore the unpressed borders. And it is straight – promise!
Close up of the appliqué stitching.

Today we went to Jenny Lake and took the scenic boat tour. As many times as we have been to GTNP, we have never taken the boat so it was a new experience. The smoke has disappeared mostly so I got some great pictures of the mountains.

The Jenny Lake boat.
The top of Grand Teton is covered in clouds but still gorgeous.

We are having scattered showers which has cooled things off. The solar is still keeping things charged nicely.

Yellowstone – fabulous and smoky

We are back on the road. We left Tuesday after waiting for the Labor Day crowds to go home. We arrived at Baker’s Hole campground around 4:00 and got the next to last spot here. It is a huge site next to the river with a good open exposure. We were really interested in how the solar set up would work, and it is wonderful! We have turned on the generator only long enough to run the expresso machine in the mornings. The solar has brought the battery up to full charge every day. We have run the fans all day, used the satellite television system extensively, and run the heater quite a bit at night and in the mornings. We have been more extravagant with power than we usually are, and it is still lovely.

For the last few years we have concentrated on seeing animals while in the park. This time we decided to concentrate on the thermal features. I always recommend first (or second) time visitors to Yellowstone really spend time at the variety of thermal features. The animals and scenery are spectacular, but there is nowhere else on earth with such an abundance of funeroles, hot springs, paint pots and geysers like YNP. My back is still bothering me, and Kevin’s knee is still a problem, but we did take some short loops to see some of the best spots.

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The basin from a distance on a cool morning
An itty bitty geyser on a ~5 minute cycle
Another geyser
Old Faithful from the walking trail
Another view of Old Faithful

The park is weirdly smoky, though the pollution is still better than at home.

A very smoky sunrise heading into the park
The smoke was intense. Trust me, there are mountains over there.

We were planning on heading to Mammoth Spring campground from here, but the road between Norris and Mammoth is closing for construction on Sunday. The detour is something I do NOT want to do with a trailer, so we decided to go to Gros Ventre in Grand Teton National Park again. Tomorrow we will ride the bikes into West Yellowstone and visit the museum and Visitor Center there. Oddly enough, I haven’t ever been to either of them.

The Great American Eclipse

On Friday, 18 August, we headed to Silver Creek campground in the Boise National Forest for the eclipse. The campground is 2 1/2 hours from Boise, 75 miles. Yes, the road is that slow! It is up the Middle Fork of the Payette River, the up a tributary. There is a hot spring there, but we didn’t go swimming because it was just too crowded. There is a small resort associated with the spring and the campground. They operate a cell booster that allowed limited Verizon voice calls and simple texts, but nothing else. The sites were roomy and well separated with some shade, and all for $7.50 a night with our senior discount. We made our reservations in mid February after being alerted to the spot by a member of the Wasatch Mountain Club. It was in the path of eclipse totality, and that is what we got on Monday! It was glorious. I had all these plans for pictures I was going to take, but I was so awed that I didn’t get hardly any of them! Kevin got a few, so here are a few.

Pretty impressive!

While we were in Idaho, we also went to a Winnebago dealer in Meridian to look at Class A motorhomes. We are thinking about buying one in 4-6 years, getting a condo, then being gone even more than we are now. We don’t want a new one since the depreciation is so extreme so we will be looking for a 3-5 year old one. That means the ones new now will be on the list when we are interested. We really like the Forza 36′ so it will go on the list to look at in a few years. We also took a trip up to McCall to see if it was a place to spend time on another trip. spoiler alert – it was!

Catch-up posts – Yellowstone, Bozeman, and The Book of Mormon 13-16 August

I am way behind on posting because I was waiting for pictures from Kevin’s camera. I finally got them, so I will work at catching up.

We decided to sell one of our cars to my son living in Bozeman. To get him and the car in the same location, we decided to drive up there while spending a couple of days in the Yellowstone area. Then we would go to Bozeman, pick him up, and head back home in time to attend The Book of Mormon musical. Since the trip was going to be short, we decided to take the itty bitty motorcycle camper. It is a pop up that is designed to tow behind a big motorcycle, but a Kevin modified the lights to work with a car. We left on Sunday morning early and got to Baker’s Hole campground not long after noon. Baker’s Hole is one of our favorite campgrounds. It is 3 miles north of West Yellowstone so it provides easy access to Yellowstone. It costs less than campgrounds in the park, and the sites are more attractive and roomy than the park campgrounds. You do have to take the 30 minute drive in through the West Entrance, but that is part of the experience. The campground even had decent Verizon data access.

Here is a picture of the little camper as Kevin is getting it ready.

It is called a Bunkhouse model.

We had a great animal viewing experience! We saw both a big bear and a wolf, a rare combination.

The bear walked right up to the road then walked away again.
The wolf was protecting a bison car case from other scavengers.

We spent Tuesday night at the Bozeman Hot Springs campground in town so we could get an early start. Fairly boring, but convenient. We made it back by 3:30 in time to unpack, take showers, and go to the musical which was wonderful! It was funny how certain comments in the show that might have gone straight over the heads of most audiences got roaring laughter in Salt Lake City with a Mormon-knowledgeable audience.

Bonus picture: Moose along the Gros Ventre River in Grand Teton from the last post.

Nebraska, I wronged you

I generally travel across Nebraska on I-80. With the exception of the hills along the Missouri River and the Sand Hills area, I have always found it pretty boring. This trip we are traveling across Hwy 20, and until the middle of the afternoon today, my beliefs seemed justified. This we came into the area around Ft. Robinson State Park, and it is gorgeous. Badlands, rolling hills with pine trees, incredible broad meadows with bison and longhorns grazing, pronghorn, and deer. Wow!

Looking along the Smiley Canyon Scenic Drive
Longhorns!
Bluffs with the sunset gold on them
Even more sunset
Did I say something about sunset?
The bluffs yet again

They have a lovely campground. An electric site was $20, but there was an additional daily Parks Pass fee of $8 for an out of state resident. The fort itself is wonderfully preserved. There are many original buildings and a number of reconstructed ones. The old officers quarters have been converted into rental units. They are full many weekends, but not during the week. We road our bikes all over the main part of the fort. Of course we also included the University of Nebraska museum with a lot of fossils. I hadn’t realized just how close this place is to the southern Black Hills. I definitely am going to plan a longer trip that will include the wonderful southern Black Hills plus this area. There are a number of National Monuments and Historic sites.

I wish I could post an audio recording of the campsite as I sit outside on a warm summer evening. Lots of birds (including a mourning dove) plus a small babbling brook at the edge of our site. Quite nice!

Into Nebraska

We left Iowa this morning. Yesterday’s baptism went really well. Darling Clay slept through much of the service, but he woke up when the pastor poured the water over his head! Isn’t he adorable?

Dad, GS, Mom, and the two pastors.

You can see the long skirt that buttons onto a romper. There are actually three sets of pintucks, each 7 rows.

The romper part of the baptism outfit.

The romper has 13 sets of pintucks down the front.

Regarding Iowa, I said I would post some wildflower pictures.

To give some help with scale, the yellow rockets are higher than my waist.

These pictures were taken on the bike path at Pinicon Ridge County Park, but Squaw Creek (where we camped) was the same.

We decided to head toward Gros Ventre campground in Grand Teton National Park. We also decided to not head out on I-80 but instead take Hwy 20. I must admit it is not the scenic path, but at least it has the advantage of newness. We are now camped at Carney City Park in O’Neill, NE. What a lovely little place!

Shade, concrete pad, electricity, and water.

There are quite a few sites available. It is on a voluntary donation system, so we left 10 dollars. We won’t use any facilities except the electricity so it seemed fair.